Parrish the thought

I wrote an article about the media attacks on Canadian member of Parliament Carolyn Parrish. Her crime? Stomping on a Bush doll on a COMEDY show.

(None of the people denouncing her mentioned any real crimes, of course. Is that Canadian politeness overriding Canadian sense of proportion? Maybe).

(To be fair, Parrish showed a lack of imagination. See the article for my own suggestions on how she could have been more creative).


I wrote an article about the media attacks on Canadian member of Parliament Carolyn Parrish. Her crime? Stomping on a Bush doll on a COMEDY show.

(None of the people denouncing her mentioned any real crimes, of course. Is that Canadian politeness overriding Canadian sense of proportion? Maybe).

(To be fair, Parrish showed a lack of imagination. See the article for my own suggestions on how she could have been more creative).

Normal blogging soon — but at least until November 30 expect some focus on the Bush visit.

Justin Podur

Author: Justin Podur

Author of Siegebreakers. Ecology. Environmental Science. Political Science. Anti-imperialism. Political fiction. Teach at York U's FES. Author. Writer at ZNet, TeleSUR, AlterNet, Ricochet, and the Independent Media Institute.

8 thoughts on “Parrish the thought”

  1. I agree with you entirely
    I agree with you entirely about the reaction to Carolyn Parrish. Bush is a war criminal president who has to be held responsibile for his crimes (sanctioned torture, illegal wars, civilian atrocities and so on). He deserves no respect whatsoever. In fact, parliament should pass a resolution declaring Bush a war criminal before he gets here.

    The people lining up to denounce Carolyn Parrish are not just unable to take a joke, but are insecure that MPs who might sympathize with her could actually begin expressing the same opinions, thus such feelings need to be beaten back into a box.

    Peter MacKay’s comments about how Ms. Parrish should think of “businesses” before she speaks were particularly cowardly, but unsurprising.

    Thank you for the blog.

  2. I had thought that Parrish
    I had thought that Parrish was being push upon the progressive community in Canada in order to harm its image, and yet, here I find you rushing to her defence. Why?

    You surely know more about Canadian politics than I, so tell me, what would you recommend be done with someone who says that don’t care a whit about “their” party or its leader? And this person consistantly backs up that message with their actions. Parrish is a liberal like Miller is a democrat. Whatever else you think of her you can’t possibly be surprised that she’s been evicted from the party. And if you have a problem with that then you need to frame it within a more general critique of Canada’s political system, with it’s strong emphasis on parties and party loyalty.

    As for Parrish herself, she’s an idiot, and I can’t believe you’d defend her on a personal level. Imagine if you were in her shoes. Here you have been given 1) a responsibility to work in the interests of those who elected you, and 2) an opportunity to bring important issues into the public light (like Svend did). She’s failed at both. And failed miserably.

    How effective will she be for her constituants now that no other MP wants to come within a hundred feet of her? Her comments have isolated her from people who a)probably agree with the intent and message behind her idiocy b)are in a position to help her in the usual political backsratching way that things get done. Now? Gone.

    What about bringing important issues to light. Oh, like the important issue the president is “warlike”. Like the important issue that president bush deserves to be stomped, let me show you how. Bush is warklike. And you’re right, he does deserve to be stomped. But you can make those points. I can make those points. A haitian child can make those points. What none of us can do is bring these issues into the government circle jerk that is question period. Get it into the public record. Put difficult questions to elected officials publicly. Parrish? Squandered. She’s been marginalized and I don’t see how she can salvage her term. I don’t think she see’s how bad a job she has done. And I can’t believe you don’t either.

  3. I stumbled across your blog
    I stumbled across your blog through your ZNet commentary after searching on Carolyn Parrish. I am very happy to find a Canadian Blog that is politically focussed and intelligently written. Consider yourself bookmarked. I am sorry to say however that I must agree with the previous comment by Ted. Effectiveness in politics is a fine art. Intelligent discourse, moral high ground and impeccable timing are the hallmarks of all great politicians. Although Carolyn Parrish may have served her constituents effectively on a level warranting re-election, she has not shown herself to be a capable politician in the higher stakes of international diplomacy. The tools required to delicately communicate the attitude of Canadians towards the United States are not found on the playground where Ms. Parrish’s style is more commonplace.

  4. ted and shockeymoe, you’re
    ted and shockeymoe, you’re missing the point, as I think a lot of Canadians are. The point isn’t Parrish. She’s a backbencher and bringing up questions to her own party would have been seen as no less “disrespectful” and “out of order” than her comments to the media. She is not the foreign policy critic of the NDP the way Svend was. Her “responsibility” within the rules of the political system isn’t actually to bring important issues to the public light. It is to sit back, shut up, and vote the way the party tells you to do. She is being punished for breaking the rules – and if you are surprised at me for ‘rushing to her defence’ (which I am not doing, by the way, I am more interested in pointing out the hypocrisy of those who denounce her, particularly those who are supposed to be to her left) I can’t help but read you calling her an “idiot” as an index of how effective the media demonization of her has been.

    You are both pointing to the impropriety of such comments, and I am wondering – as I do in the article – what happened to our sense of proportion. The truth is Parrish’s comments were a joke in the real sense of the word, a joke compared to the extraordinarily vast crimes and dangers to huge populations represented by the US right now. Making some comments that aren’t scripted in moments of extreme frustration (with two things that a decent person in her position ought to be frustrated with, her own party and the US government) shows me that Parrish has some basic human emotions that aren’t suppressed by the need to put a public face on things. That puts her far ahead of someone like Layton in my view, who, as I said, has plenty of opportunity to put things in the public record and does not do so.

    You are both attacking Parrish for not playing her hand well enough. Remember first that she doesn’t have much of a hand. Remember second that anything ‘anti-American’ in the Liberal party under Martin is going to be severely punished, if only because he wants to differentiate himself from Chretien, and the more ‘effective’ it is, the more harshly it will be punished. Remember last that unlike every other politician including the entire NDP right now she at least said something approaching honesty about war, occupation, Iraq, and the role the US is playing in the world right now.

    The truth is that if I were in Parrish’s shoes I would probably have been attacked far more harshly and far sooner, and I like to think I would have played even less by the rules. It’s hard to know, since I’d have to join the liberal party and run for office to be in her shoes, and until the liberal party adopts indigenous reparations, polycultural immigration policy, an anti-imperialist foreign policy, and maybe participatory economics (for good measure) or is on the way to doing so, I won’t be doing that. That’s not to say I don’t have criticisms of Parrish — but they have to do with her being too much of a politician, not not enough. As for what should be done with a politician who doesn’t care one whit about her party or leader – that depends. The Liberal party has demonstrated considerable contempt for the Canadian population’s wishes – which is why there are crises in health care, education, the CBC, housing, employment, and foreign policy… one might say, in a moment of frustration, that they don’t seem to care one whit about Canadians. Parrish was referring more to whatever bitter intraparty battles followed the Chretien succession and I don’t know (or care too much, except inasmuch as it might lead to a Conservative Alliance government soon) the details of it. But saying you don’t care one whit about the Liberal party or Martin is not something I find particularly upsetting, I’m sorry.

    Anyway thank you both for writing and I’ll see you in Ottawa I hope! I don’t think Parrish will be speaking at the demonstration, if it’s any consolation šŸ˜‰

  5. I’m willing to submit to
    I’m willing to submit to your argument that at least she has passion and a willingness to speak her mind. I guess it comes down to style rather than substance. I would be outraged if a politician with a visceral talent for eloquently communicating my utter dismay at the choices made by the American people and their government were to be dismissed as dangerous by the ruling Canadian poseurs. Unfortunately they will never get that opportunity because we have no such elected voice. Layton included.

  6. “Her “responsibility” within
    “Her “responsibility” within the rules of the political system isn’t actually to bring important issues to the public light. It is to sit back, shut up, and vote the way the party tells you to do.”

    Right. But between sitting back and shutting up and going on national TV to stomp a bush doll, or calling Americans bastards, is a lot of room for dissent. You’re right. My argument is a calculation. A few years ago (less?) she had the opportunity to visit Palestine, came back and raised a shitstorm about the conditions. Now? No more opportunities. If she raises these issues, she is easily dismissed by the media because of her stupid actions.

    “which I am not doing, by the way, I am more interested in pointing out the hypocrisy of those who denounce her, particularly those who are supposed to be to her left”

    But where’s the hypocrisy? Why can’t I hold opinions similar to her and yet not believe she has been a good MP, or expressed those thoughts well? If Parrish is the only MP we have that’s willing to ask the questions that need to be asked, I can still demand she do it in a way that gets taken seriously. But this hour has 22 minutes?

    “I can’t help but read you calling her an “idiot” as an index of how effective the media emonization of her has been.”

    Again, she is tactically and practically speaking an idiot for squandering her opportunities. Brave fool. But yes, there is something to be admired in never comprising. And yes, compared to what Bush has done while smirking and shaking hands, Parrish ‘s comments are indeed a joke. But then, we’re not holding her to a very high standard of action now are we?

    “Remember first that she doesn’t have much of a hand. Remember second that anything anti-American’ in the Liberal party under Martin is going to be severely punished, if only because he wants to differentiate himself from Chretien, and the more ‘effective’ it is, the more harshly it will be punished. Remember last that unlike every other politician including the entire NDP right now she at least said something approaching honesty about war, occupation, Iraq, and the role the US is playing in the world right now.”

    Yes, I agree, although, what I know of the situation comes in large part from reading your articles, so perhaps that’s not surprising that I do. But it is surely possible to denounce her and yet still carry on her message. At least, for those who wish to. But not for her. If the media has convinced Canadians that she is an idiot she has herself to blame. As the CBC is being taken apart (as it has been for the last, what 10-15years now?) she stomps on dolls. As the missle shield is being tossed on the table and arguments are put foward that go something like “we’re not going to stop it from happening so we might as well help”, she is calling them names.

    “The truth is that if I were in Parrish’s shoes I would probably have been attacked far more harshly and far sooner, and I like to think I would have played even less by the rules.”

    And yet, I can’t imagine you opening yourself up to the kind of easy criticsm that she has. Yes, sadly I’m sure the machine would do a very good job of marginalizing you, but you wouldn’t be helping them do it, would you? I would hope you wouldn’t play by the rules, and yet, I would hope you would frame you criticism more eloquently than simly calling them “bastards” or “idiots”.

    “But saying you don’t care one whit about the Liberal party or Martin is not something I find particularly upsetting, I’m sorry.”

    No indeed, neither do I. I was simply referring to the fact that she was kicked out of the party, and I perhaps mistakingly thought that you were surprised by this. But certainly, from the point of view of the liberals, you could hardly expect otherwise.

    Best of luck in Ottawa,

    Regards,

  7. Canada’s Crimes: youm ention
    Canada’s Crimes: youm ention all of Canada’s complicity in crimes and say Vietnam was the worst but you forget all of Canada’s actions against Germany from 1914-18 & 1939-1945: Canada was never at risk from Germany yet sent troops, aircraft, & ships to bomb, shell, shoot & kill millions. Same could be said of actions against Japan in the same times periods; also against Korea 1950-52. Also agressive shameful ‘peacekeeping’ missions with armed thuggery around the world in Cyprus, Palestine, Golan Heights, Bosnia, Serbia, Somalia, Rwanda, & so on..

  8. Parrish’s actios and
    Parrish’s actios and comments have been vilified by the media and other politicians as “anti-American,” whatever that means. It seems every criticism of US policies or leaders is called anti-American. The only reason she was criticized is because she spoke out againt Bush and US actions. However, not one word has ever been said by the media or other politicans when Canadian leaders have defended Bush and US aggression. For example. when the US caught Hussein, Martin held a press conference to congratulate the US on their “success.” Sure the government stayed out of Iraq, for the most part, only because of public pressure. However, to come and congratulate Bush for his “success” in what is an illegal and unjustifiable invasion tesitifies to the support for US actions that Canada actually has regardless of any statement(s) to the contrary by Canadian leaders. In essence, by congratulating Bush, Ottawa showed that they stood behind US aggression in Iraq. Yet, nobody in politics or the media called the government on their support for Bush. Yet, Parrish comes out and criticizes, perhaps through some immature means at times, Bush and the US and suddenly she is Ottawa’s greatest villian. All Parrish did was, for at least once in her political career, stand up and criticize “our friend and ally” the USA. Nobody in the mainstream ever comes out and criticizes politicians and people of influence for supporting the US, but criticize it and suddenly your are an “anti-American idiot” worthy of being shot to Mars. Sure, you can disagree with the US sometimes, like on softwood lumber, but you cannot criticize it.
    As for Parrish’s criticism of Martin, well sure here in Canada you have this concept of “party loyalty” regardless of whether or not its leader or policies are positive or negative. To get into her comments about Martin is also to get into a whole discussion of the political system in Canada, which I would say needs to be completely over-hauled. Canada’s system of government is not very free, open, or democratic. The role of MPs is to represent the Party and to vote with the Party and not to represent their constitutents or vote for how the voters want. But insofar as Parrish’s comments on Bush go, the only reason she was attacked is because she spoke ill of Bush and the US; had she followed the typical commentary here in Canada and congratulated Bush or say how great a leader he is then most of Canada would still probably not know who Parrish is.

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