Foot-in-mouth disease is a perennial affliction for politicians with too much time on their hands. Inevitably, they lunge to stuff their double-wide size-nines into their gaping maws before sandal weather makes even that routine task too noxious to contemplate.
Maybe this is why the malady always seems to emerge in the backwoods of the back benches just as a hard winter refuses to give up its ghost to a merry spring.
Maybe the Conservative Member of Parliament for New Brunswick Southwest, John Williamson, can explain the phenomenon as he is, after all, the frontrunner in the nation’s 2015 “Shut-Your-Piehole” sweepstakes.
So, boyo, what say you?
Calling his own comments at the Manning Networking Conference in Ottawa over the weekend, “the worst mistake” of his professional career, Williamson – a former communications honcho for the Harper government – apologized on Monday for stipulating that paying “whities” to sit on their arses, through the Employment Insurance system, while private businesses import “brown people” to perform all the heavy lifting in the goods-producing and service economies, defies logic.
According to the record, first reported by iPolitics, the gum-flapping MP originally told the crowd in Ottawa this:
“My part of the country, I deal with temporary foreign workers and the interaction with employment insurance, and it makes no sense from my point of view – I’m going to put this in terms of colour, but it’s not meant to be about race – it makes no sense to pay ‘whities‘ to stay at home while we bring in brown people to work in these jobs. . .When I have 10 to 12 per cent unemployment rates in my province, I’m not going to abide by a policy that encourages people to stay home and collect an EI cheque and bring people from overseas to fill these jobs.”
Then he told Chris Morris, legislative reporter for the Telegraph-Journal, this:
“I don’t think there is any explanation for the words I used, which is why I unreservedly apologized. This is the worst mistake I’ve made as an elected member and also over my 20 years of writing and commenting on public policy. . .I am deeply disappointed in myself.”
Still, this is not the first time young Johnny has found his mouth out of sync with his circumspection. Last summer CBC reporter Jacques Poitras revealed that the good fellow could not remember whether or not he endorsed a federally supported economic program. Not much later, following the item, the politico conceded that, yes, he did. Oops, sorry, eh?
Official apologies for the most egregious lapses in judgement have become the “free-get-out-of-jail cards” in this and every other democracy. An elected official says something breathtakingly stupid, insulting or (sorry, John-boy) patently, obviously racist, and the voting public is expected to let it pass – no harm, no foul.
Why? Because, more often than not, with more frequency than we ever have before, that’s exactly what we do.
We let it pass.
Oddly, Williamson’s mea culpa suggests that he knows as much about the lurkers and trolls of social media as he does about the true complexion of the Canadian workforce – the latter are more likely to forgive his transgressions against decency and tolerance than are the former for his “caving” to the so-called “brown people” in the midst of the Great “Whitie” North.
All of which says that this particular MP’s foot-in-mouth condition is only a symptom of a much more insidious disease infecting the body politic of this nation – in fact, it’s the least of his, and our, galloping ailments.