Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Mr Scheer Comes to Town

Hon. Andrew Scheer       photo:CBC
Hon. Andrew Scheer, Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition in Canada was in Halifax a few weeks ago, to address the Annual General Meeting of the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia.

During his speech he took a little dig at the Atlantic-Canadian Liberals, saying " Thirty-two members of Parliament all toeing the party line, being a spokesperson for Ottawa ... in their own ridings instead of being that strong voice for their ridings in Ottawa . . . " (CBC reporting)

The first thing that came to my mind was: there were quite a few Conservative Party MP's in Atlantic Canada prior to the last election, and now there are none. Now what does that tell you?

The second thing that amused me was the part about being "that strong voice for their ridings". For six years here in Cumberland-Colchester I was represented by Steven Harper. Of course, Mr Harper was in fact the MP for a Calgary riding, but when my actual MP Scott Armstrong opened his mouth, Mr Harper's words came out.  And if some unpaid intern in the Prime Minister's Office had not yet called Mr Armstrong with his speaking points, Mr Armstrong was silent.

The saddest story was when a professor from Saint Mary's came to visit Mr Armstrong; her father had died from asbestosis (a lung cancer caused exclusively from exposure to asbestos) and she was trying to get the Government of Canada to sign on to a United Nations resolution discouraging/prohibiting the use of asbestos because it was such a health hazard. Every other developed nation had signed on.

Asbestos was used for many years as a valuable component of insulation on hot pipes. When it is fully encased in the insulation and not exposed to air it poses no health risk. But once the insulation is damaged or removed, it's a big deal. Here in First World Canada, if a school or hospital is being renovated and asbestos is exposed everything stops and a crew dressed in Hazardous Materials protective gear (a HazMat suit) is called in to remove the asbestos. Asbestos in the environment is deadly.

Our MP Mr Armstrong could not support the lady's campaign against asbestos because a friend of our then-Prime Minister was proposing to re-open an asbestos mine in Quebec and ship the mineral to India, where it would be handled and used by workmen who might not / probably wouldn't  have access to HazMats suits. Of course the health hazards to unknown workmen in India was of no concern to Canadians; I am sure that Mr Harper or his people would have ensured that every shipment of asbestos was marked with appropriate warnings, and whether the importers heeded the warnings was no concern of ours. And there would be jobs for miners in Quebec and corporate profits for the friend of the Prime Minister. So our MP did not speak up on a matter that was purely humanitarian - workers in India would die from asbestosis, but we would have wages and profits.

Mr Scheer fancies himself as a nicer, sweeter version of Mr Harper. But he is still just that - a version of a man that many Canadians revile. Mr Scheer should probably do some polling . . .

There are some lovely phrases in English to describe putting a best face on a bad situation. Putting lipstick on a pig is one. Polishing a turd is another. A nicer, sweeter version of Mr Harper might be a third.

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