As if we needed reminding, Canadian politics does not take a back seat when it comes to juicy scandals. In the many recent cases of men behaving badly, the long overdue Me Too Movement (“#MeToo”), is showing that, most men have probably sexually harassed women in one form or another at some point in their lives.
The latest scandal is the shocking (but is it really?) revelation that the leader of the Conservative Party of Ontario, Patrick Brown, was probably involved in some inappropriate behaviour with a few anonymous women. It is important to note that these are all allegations and have not been proven in any legitimate, legal forum such as a lawsuit or criminal charges being laid.
In the current, hyper vigilant atmosphere of the movement, any male in a position of power can kiss his career good-bye at the slightest whiff of sexual impropriety (except if you are Donald Trump!). Harvey Weinstein is the poster boy of how a movie mogul finally gets his due once women have had enough and start exposing the seedy underbelly of the man and the industry. In Patrick Brown’s case, the two incidences, he was allegedly involved in, may have been inappropriate, but they do not meet the test for any type of legal action, nor do they compare to the disgusting behaviour of Weinstein and his ilk.
Brown, in both instances, which have been widely publicized, stopped his advances when asked to, and even drove one of the “victims” home. Of course, being a politician who is leading a party into an election in a few months, regardless of the veracity of the accusations, the party had no choice but to ditch him. I wonder if the same thing had happened in a private place of work, which is not under constant media and public scrutiny it would have been a cause for dismissal.
Regardless, the Me Too Movement is long overdue, and it is about time that we started listening to womens’ stories of exploitation and having to put up with disrespectful behaviour from, not only men in power, but men in general, who, for lack of better role models growing up or flaky laws, thought nothing of demeaning and abusing women since time immemorial.
But, a cautionary note. There is little doubt that few women would expose themselves to media scrutiny while trying to ruin a man’s career and life. But when an allegation can have immediate and lasting consequences to an accused person, especially in the internet age, we risk becoming no better than the abusers when we become over zealous trying right historical wrongs.
Unless we want the pendulum to swing to a time of the Salem witch hunts or the McCarthy Era, where people were burned at the stake in the former or lost their jobs and careers in the ladder, it behooves us to come up with a system where women can be heard and acknowledged, and justice meted out, in a fair and even-handed manner for everyone involved. In the current climate that may take some doing.
In an interesting twist of men standing up to their accusers, Patrick Brown is back in the race to regain his old seat. It should make the upcoming Progressive Conservative leadership contest an interesting spectacle.
In the mean time, of the many positive things that might come out of the Me Too Movement hopefully, one of them will be that more women will enter politics and assume top positions in corporations. It’s about time the other half had more of a hand at making the world a better place, a task, men have a lot to answer for.