Runaway foot-in-mouth disease


And they all fall down, right on cue.

Nowadays, it seems, a hard-working, right-wing politician just can’t get his mojo on without, first, publicly blurting nonsense that offends a large number of Canadians and, second, immediately apologizing on social media.

I give you Exhibit A:

A couple of weeks ago, New Brunswick Tory MP, John Williamson told a friendly crowd in Ottawa, “(In) 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.”

In less time than it takes to kick oneself in that part of the body one tends to use for sitting, Mr. Williamson was issuing mea culpas to anyone who would listen. “Today I used offensive and inappropriate language regarding the Temporary Foreign Workers Program,” he tweeted. “For this I apologize unreservedly.”

To Saint John Telegraph-Journal reporter Chris Morris, he went further. “I don’t think there is any explanation for the words I used, which is why I unreservedly apologized,” he said. “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.”

I give you Exhibit B:

Last week, in light of a Federal Court judge’s decision to allow women to wear face-covering niqabs when they take their oath of Canadian citizenship, Ontario Tory MP Larry Miller told a radio talk-show host, “I don’t know what the heck our justice people. . .that isn’t right. Frankly, if you’re not willing to show your face in a ceremony that you’re joining the best country in the world, then frankly, if you don’t like that or don’t want to do that, stay the hell where you came from, and I think most Canadians feel the same.”

Faster than a speeding bullet slicing through the thin rhetoric of intolerance, Mr. Miller pivoted and was suddenly sorry. . .eh?    

According to a CBC item, posted online last week, “In a statement issued Tuesday morning, Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Larry Miller said that he stands by his views that those who wish to be sworn in as citizens should uncover their face. ‘However, I apologize for and retract my comments that went beyond this,’ he said.”

The CBC report added, “According to a post on the Broadbent Institute-affiliated blog Press Progress, Miller – who was once described by National Post columnist John Ivison as ‘the voice in [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper’s ear” – made the comments during an open-line talk show on local radio station CFOS on Monday.”

Kevin Menard with Citizenship and Immigration apparently emailed the public broadcaster that “These comments do not reflect the position of the government.”

Perhaps not. But, something’s going on here, and it’s not entirely due to backbenchers flapping their gums and freelancing their views unbeknownst to the Prime Minister and his people.

This is, after all, an election year, and no party in this country understands its support structures and voter base better than the Tories, where the politically incorrect take on hot-button issues is not always the politically unwise course of action. 

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