Let’s expect – and demand – more from our leaders ~ Kathleen May

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Creeps, Consent and Cause/Effect … 

Hi everyone – I’m Kathleen, your local opinionated women’s rights activist, or as some people call us, man-haters. Just kidding. #notallmen

I’m writing this because I noticed that, as a community, perhaps as a society, our standards for those governing us have become absolutely battered. We no longer expect, for example, leadership from our leaders. And I’m not just talking about Doug Ford, even though it seems like I’m always talking about Doug Ford.

When I read about Tony Clement’s ‘indiscretion’ (as it was diminished to at the time), I read with my mouth agape. Not out of surprise for his actions – I am not longer surprised when men in power abuse it. Heartbreakingly, I am no longer surprised when men in power abuse women. But I was blown away by the preemptive permission granted to Clement by a large portion of his constituency. It seemed that he had already been let off the hook before the metaphorical ink on the papers had dried. Certainly before the gory details really started to surface. And as is our wont as humans, most seemed to stick to that forgiveness line even as the dirt really started to fly.

I’m referring to, of course, the comments sections of our local new outlets. Some say, never venture there – but I need to know what we’re up against in the battle for women’s liberation, for justice, for leaders with good sense, respect for women and all people, and foresight.

I have been asked, within the depths of the comments sections, whether I have ever made mistakes. Aren’t I human?

Yes. I have messed up. I’ve made some pretty nasty, hilarious, awkward, and even hurtful mistakes. But I’ll tell you something my elders have told me since I was little: try not to make the same mistake twice. So that’s how I live my life. But that’s not what happened with Tony Clement. He made the same ugly, selfish, short-sighted error twice. And you know what? The only reason it was different the second time was because he got caught.

National security, access to top secret materials, extortion, scammers, dick pics… Not a good scene. I’m no prude, lest I be accused of pearl-clutching here. This isn’t about ‘going outside the marriage’ or judging prurience. It’s about power dynamics. Clement got fooled, but that’s only one part of the story. The context of power dynamics affects the nature of consent. That isn’t to say that a young woman cannot consent to an intimate relationship with an older man who is in a well-established position of power and privilege and who could sway her career in whatever direction he pleased based on how pleased he was… But I think it should be exposed to scrutiny. I believe that if we had the Monica Lewinsky conversation (22-year old intern and the President of the US) today, I think we’d be giving a lot more space to the word ‘consent’, and to the reality of power dynamics. Like we eventually did with Jian Ghomeshi.

I’d like to listen to some young women for a moment (since I believe they’re going to save the world). You don’t have to overextend your googling finger to find the screenshots of Clement’s online proclivities. Late night Tweets to accounts run by young women, DMs sent to very young women after sprees of liking all their selfies on Instagram…

If you didn’t grow up on the internet like me, maybe that’s another language. How’s this word: creep. One of my favourite words. No libel here, no indictment. This is the language of young women trying to describe someone who hasn’t done anything legally or even socially wrong. Many praised Clement for his social media prowess. But when young women use this word to describe older men in positions of power, my ears perk up and I listen hard. They use this word to say, “I don’t know why, but I don’t like this. It makes me feel uncomfortable or unsafe. I question this person’s ability to respect me or my boundaries.” All that in one little word.

So forgive me if I don’t care how Clement behaves at dinner parties in the company of his (long-suffering) wife and the people who can further his political agenda.  I don’t even care about his track record. For two reasons:

  1. I don’t believe that good work negates or balances inappropriate behaviour
  2. I believe that, in Muskoka, a leader who is capable of good work and ethical responsibility is waiting for the opportunity to lead.

Let’s raise the standards here. Let’s expect – and demand – more from our leaders. Good judgement, respect for women and marginalized people, the ability to foresee consequences especially of repeated behaviours, uncompromisable intentions to serve the people, and well, maybe an intern running the social media accounts.

What do you think? Have we decided that’s too much to ask?

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Kathleen May is a writer, speaker, and activist. Her work in our community includes co-founding the long-running Huntsville Women’s Group, being a Survivor Mentor in the pilot survivor-to-survivor program through MPSSAS, co-facilitating instinct-unlocking workshops for women through I Got This, working as a host and community producer of Herstories on YourTV, volunteering with Women’s March Muskoka, and her role as a front-line counsellor at a women’s shelter. Kathleen is a 2018 Woman of Distinction for Social Activism and Community Development and also received the Best Author award for her 2018 submission at the Muskoka Novel Marathon, a fundraiser for literacy services. Her dream is a sustainable women’s land co-operative in Muskoka.

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20 Comments

  1. Well said Kathleen. Creep says it all. And you are right, there are others out there who can walk their talk. We deserve better in Muskoka Parry Sound.

  2. Excellently said!! Not much to add! Let me give my ultimate reaction, How can anybody (particularly our “HONORABLE Mr. Wieny Wagger) be so STOOOOPED!!!! I don’t want to be represented in parliament by such a person!

  3. Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said that at a face-to-face meeting, Tony Clement had assured him the incident resulting in an extortion attempt was the first and only time he had done something of this nature. Only after more allegations of sexual impropriety were brought to Scheer’s attention did he ask Tony Clement to leave the caucus.

    Scheer was even quoted as saying “I don’t know that too many people … have to be told not to share explicit images and videos with people that you haven’t met but obviously this is a terrible decision, extremely poor judgment,”

    Tony Clement not only displayed extremely poor judgement but was less than forthcoming with the Conservative leader.

    Scheer’s reaction seems quite measured after Tony Clement had assured him that it had been an isolated incident. Especially when some complaints had already come to light months earlier.

    But it goes further than the issue of judgement. When holding a high level security clearance, one formally accepts that clearance and the additional responsibility that goes along with it. Failing to do so can result in action taken under the The Security of Information Act, formerly known as the Official Secrets Act.

    As a federal cabinet minister from 2006 until 2015, Tony Clement would have been warned about the threats he might face and the various tactics people might use to compromise Canada’s national security.

    Ronnie Marcoux, the Executive Director of National Security and Intelligence committee secretariat confirmed that a similar warning was given to all committee members shortly after they were appointed and that they regularly review their security obligations, given how important it is to the credibility of the committee.

    So here is an individual in a very high position of authority who: has used, what his party leader describes as extremely poor judgement; has been less than forthcoming or less than truthful with his party leader; has admittedly engaged in multiple inappropriate exchanges that crossed lines that should never have been crossed (incidents that have twice required police involvement); has not upheld an obligation he accepted when he accepted a high level security clearance on behalf of the nation and may very likely be the subject of an investigation under the country’s Security of Information Act.

    I have done my best to stay away from speculation and opinion in my comments above. But when we consolidate the information that has come to light, it is not difficult to believe the women who have come forward about inappropriate or uncomfortable approaches from Tony Clement. They are the ones who deserve our support. #believewomen

  4. Kathy Henderson on

    I agree Nancy. Not only is this a disservice to all women but it is a disservice to all good men as well and all Canadians. I don’t understand the sympathy and acceptance from some people of Tony’ s actions. Nobody cares about your boyfriends d**k pics but when you hold an important job working for the people this is totally unacceptable and he should be out. Would you let your child’s teacher away with this behavior or your pastor of your church? We expect a higher standard from our elected officials and of those in power and in a position to be blackmailed. BESIDES IT’S JUST CREEPY. I am so sorry for Tonys wife and kids. Tony was obviously only thinking of his self. From a Totally Disappointed Canadian.

  5. Your article, Kathleen, certainly attests to your worth as the 2018 Novel Marathon winner. And I didn’t detect one misstep or exaggeration in your entire argument. As you averred, it’s all about entitlement. POTUS is the best example; then how about (now) Judge Kavanaugh? Premier Ford (what gender is affected most by the dissolution of the office of Child Advocate?); and President (“I did not have sexual relations with THAT WOMAN, Ms. Lewinsky” Clinton. I’ll always remember those two words: from the used to the fallen, as the user scrambles to keep his job.
    .
    And further to Premier Ford, with cancellation of sex education classes, and the disgust he evinces at any mention of gender identity; how is society going to escape this quagmire by instilling proper values in the next generation?

  6. Your hatred for conservatives is showing .. big time … especially for the current CONSERVATIVE leader and government of Ont!
    REMEMBER … there was an election and YOU lost,… you know that democratic thing .. a election?.. .. so accept it ..and…give them chance to straighten out the mess left by your LIBERAL leader …WYNN ..a woman .. who’s party of Liberal ideology, narrative, SJW policy and procedures, socialism, total lack of fiscal responsibility, etc etc .. in the last 15 years of Liberal BS put the province and .. ‘ALL’ the people of Ont … 15 BILLION $$$ in debt! If that is what you support and encourage .. thank GOD we have that democratic process .. an election!

    • Well said Mr Slater.
      The main issue here was reasonably stated and with that I have little quarrel.
      However it is so typical that no opportunity to negatively implicate Premier Ford is allowed to go to waste by many. Prior to Ford’s election it would have been Mike Harris suffering these aspersions!
      It never ends.

    • I am a Conservative, and I fully disagree with your position. Kathleen is not conservative hating in this article. I could not care less if Tony was Conservative, Liberal, NPD, Green, or any other party, his actions are not acceptable for a public figure with access to classified information.

      Any private adult resident is fully entitled to share sexually explicit material and conversation with other consenting adults, but not our politicians. Period.

    • Thank you Bob Slater, for your intelligent, insightful response. Your summation of Kathleen May’s biased, opinionated, and judgmental tirade says it perfectly. Premier Ford has proven himself to the voters of this province who put their trust in him. He has more than risen to the challenge of resurrecting our province from the corruption of Liberals Kathleen Wine and McGuinty. He has earned the support of anyone who cares about the future of Ontario, in fact anyone who cares about Canada.

  7. Merrill Perret on

    Congratulations on publicly voicing what many (I hope!) are privately thinking. We have a right to expect our MPP to display common sense and good judgement, and Mr. Clement has shown a regrettable lack of both.

    I am disappointed by his actions, of course, but just as disappointed by the lack of criticism from his constituents! If we’re all going to bury our heads in the snow, we don’t deserve decent government. At the very least, Mr. Clement should resign his seat. If he were then to be re-elected in the subsequent by-election, he might claim to continue to represent this riding, sad as that would be.

  8. You state that as a society, our standards for those governing us have become absolutely battered. We no longer expect, for example, leadership from our leaders. And I’m not just talking about Doug Ford,

    I am questioning why, in this regard, you have failed to address the rock bottom standards of our current prime minister, Justin Trudeau, and the acceptance of this level of leadership by many in Canadian society? He most certainly does not, in any way, meet the standards that should be expected of the prime minister of our country. For you to discuss this would be appropriate. His betrayals of the Canadian people are too numerous to mention here. He has created generational debt, dismantled the energy sector, is well into surrendering our sovereignty to his Globalist Elite partners, most currently shown by his refusal to back off signing The Global Compact on Migration in a couple of weeks which will give the corrupt Globalist dominated UN control of our borders. He has created a culture of politically correct absurdities, totally jeopardized our security by welcoming terrorists back into our country, donated billions of our dollars to countries and groups that support terrorism, ignored our veterans and homeless people, vilified Christians, Jewish people, decimated our military, created poor relations with our Allies most notably America, walked away from our commitment to NATO, promoted open borders with no vetting of aliens, created divisions in our country beyond even what his father did, reduced the Canadian Government’s gold supply from 3 tones in November 2015 to below 77 ounces by spring 2016. His fiscal incompetence and refusal to account for his misuse of our money is truly frightening. This is just a short list of Justin Trudeau tragic treatment of the people of this country.

    You neglect to mention the fact that Conservative prime minister, Stephen Harper, gave our country exemplary leadership . We could always have confidence in his decisions knowing that they were made in the best interests of the Canadian people.

  9. To Tony: Resign now! For the sake of our Country, and your family. You were acting like an idiot and that’s not acceptable! I can’t imagine what Christmas in your house is going to be like this year. Tony, you were not a bad person, just a stupid one!
    To: Premier Ford, do what you were elected to do, try your best to clean up the financial mess the previous government handed you.
    Trying hard to remember what it was that recently departed George H.W. Bush said in a letter to incoming President Clinton, something about “don’t let your critics dissuade you from doing what you set out to do.” You have a tough row to hoe Mr. Premier.

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