By MURPHY BROWNE (Abena Agbetu)
“I think there’s probably an awful lot of factors that come together to shape societal behaviours, whether it’s certain types of music – there’s a lot of misogyny in certain types of music. There’s issues around pornography and its prevalence now and its accessibility, which is something I’m really wrapping my head around as a father of kids who are approaching their teen years. Just the shifting parental roles as well. There’s a lot of communities in which fathers are less present than they have been, or they might be, in the past. There’s more need to have engaged, positive role models.”
Excerpt from answer the leader of the Federal Liberal Party gave to a question about domestic violence.
Canadian citizens will be going to the polls as early as Friday, October 9, 2015 to elect the men and women who will govern this country for the next four years.
This has been the longest campaign period for a federal election since 1872. The 78-day campaign has allowed time for political candidates to put their feet in their mouths and show their true colours. Some candidates were forced to resign while others brazened their way through. Many of the disgraced candidates were outed and ousted because of comments they made on social media years ago. By the end of September there were 11 candidates dropped by the political parties for various “infractions” committed either on Facebook or Twitter. There were Facebook posts that expressed scepticism about the September 11 attacks, other posts that were pro-marijuana, comparison of the beliefs of a certain religious sect to those of the Taliban, expressing that a certain country was engaged in “ethnic cleansing”, old tweets telling someone they should have been aborted with a coat hanger, another to “go blow your brains out” and alleged sexist comments made online on a newspaper’s comments section.
There were some candidates who apologized and were forgiven, even after making comments considered violent, misogynist or otherwise offensive. The Conservatives were forced to get rid of two candidates near the beginning of the race. One candidate who worked as a home repair person several years ago was caught on camera relieving himself in a home owner’s coffee cup. The other candidate was identified as a prank caller with several egregious prank calls to his credit. At the time in early September, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, who was at a campaign event in Summerside, P.E.I., said the incidents showed that Harper was out of touch and “didn’t bother” to find out the past of two of his candidates.
Fast forward barely a few weeks later to where the Liberal leader himself is making pronouncements about “certain types of music” and “communities in which fathers are less present” as reasons why there is violence against women. The premise being that the people that he has relegated to these communities have higher levels of violence against women. It leaves one to wonder just who the members of these communities are that the Liberal leader has painted with these broad brush strokes.
Misogyny, patriarchy, violence against women; these are not the culture of any one group of people. The former Canadian politician who was convicted in 1984 of brutally murdering his former wife had probably listened to “certain types of music”. What kind of music would have propelled this privileged (millionaire) son of a former premier of a Canadian province to brutally murder the mother of his children? This convicted murderer grew up with a father but was accused of domestic violence during the murder trial, which eventually led to a murder conviction and decades spent in jail.
Violence against women transcends class, education, race and religion. Patriarchy, which in many cases leads to men feeling ownership of women’s bodies, has been around long before any of the music we hear today, before pornography and even when every home had a man as “head” of the home. Some who perpetrate violence against women learned from observing their mothers being brutalized by the man of the house, who could be a doctor, lawyer or mechanical engineer.
The leaders of the major political parties (the two that have formed governments and the one that has achieved official opposition status) do not present much choice for Canadians. There is not a whole lot to choose from between the Conservatives, the Liberals and the New Democrats. Apart from the troubling spectacle of Prime Minister and Conservative leader Stephen Harper dividing the country into “old stock Canadians” and those others, Trudeau making distinctions about certain groups that may be more apt to commit domestic violence based on music and fatherlessness there are other concerns and questions.
How many women are candidates in each party’s slate? How many racialized candidates have been fielded by each party? The NDP has 43 per cent women, Green Party (whose Federal leader is a woman) has 39 per cent, the Liberals have 31 per cent and the Conservatives 20 per cent. When it comes to racialized candidates, the numbers for each party are: the Liberals at 41.5 per cent, the NDP at 36 per cent, the Green Party at 30.3 per cent and the Conservatives with 27.5 per cent. Of the 338 ridings across the country the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP have a candidate running in each riding, the Green Party has 336 candidates. With almost 1,800 candidates representing 23 parties depending on where you live, some of the other choices are the Libertarian Party of Canada with 72 candidates, the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada with 70 candidates, the Rhinoceros Party with 27 and the Communist Party of Canada with 26. Yes, there is a Rhinoceros Party, which was founded in 1963 and in 1980 had 120 candidates across Canada and garnered 110,000 votes.
On October 19, Canadian citizens, who have not taken advantage of the advance polls (October 9-12) to cast their votes will have the opportunity to elect the government that will be in power until 2019. Consider carefully which of the political parties have your best interest at heart before casting your vote. So far none of the party leaders have addressed racial profiling, racialized poverty, child poverty or minimum wage. However with Harper’s old and new stock Canadians and Trudeau’s take on what causes and which communities are prone to violence against women, none of that is surprising.
Although there does not seem to be much to choose between the various political parties it is important that we go out and vote either during the days of advance polls or on October 19.