Political staffers with a “parl.gc.ca” email address (ie. everyone who works on Parliament Hill) received the following email this afternoon in both official languages:
Dear Colleagues,You have perhaps noticed the poster in the window of 106 East Block
that says, “Defend Life”. I have been told that this is Mr. Anders’
office. Below is the letter I have sent him. If you believe, as I
do, that there is enough politics on Parliament Hill without putting
posters in windows, I encourage you to let Mr. Anders know your views.
Dear Mr. Anders:
I work in East Block and have noticed that in the window of your
office, looking on to Parliament Hill, there is a poster-sized sign
that says — in only one of Canada’s official languages — “Defend
Life” with a Knights of Columbus logo.
In the ten years since I have worked in Parliament, I have never seen
a sign in a window on the hill. I respectfully request that you
All of us who work here are passionate about politics and specific
political issues. But if we all start to decorate the exterior of
our windows as you have done, in no time, our parliament buildings
will look like a collection of university frat houses.
These beautiful Parliament buildings, where we are privileged to work,
constitute a historic and democratic space that belongs to all
Canadians — past, present, and future. As employees on the Hill, we
have ample opportunities to further our political beliefs. We don’t
need to put messages in windows.
Thank you in advance for your action to keep our workplace beautiful
and respectful of all of us who spend our days here, and those who
come from across the country and around the world to visit.
Very sincerely yours,
Amélie CrossonCommunications Advisor, Office of the Honourable Jim Munson, Senator
(Ottawa- Rideau Canal)
I have not seen the offending sign. But I’d hazard to say Rob Anders did do something wrong: He ought to know that Quebec has the highest abortion rate in the country, and therefore the sign should be first and foremost in French.
I’d also add this: As with every other moment of offence taken when the “A word” is concerned, tis not parliamentary aesthetics that bother this staffer. It’s the issue.
Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you always hear or see what you want to. If any letters of protest ought to be written, they sure shouldn’t go to Mr. Anders.
Brigitte adds/Brigitte ajoute: Boy, is this language thing annoying/Mosus, que cette manie d’être si sensible sur les questions linguistiques est ennuyante. [I’ll stop right here.] So is the hypersensitivity to anything that might perhaps remind pro-choicers that there could potentially be something not right about abortion on demand. Look, if there is a rule against posting signs outside your Hill office, then it should apply to all signs, including this one. I don’t know whether there is such a rule, being lucky enough not to work in politics. But if there is, shouldn’t it be up to the people in charge of parliamentary decorum to make sure it is respected, not individual staffers?
Andrea ajoute: If there is an anti-sign rule, then so be it, down comes the sign. But does it require lines and lines of flowery language to every staffer, declaring this a space available to all Canadians bla bla bla bla to do so? Or does it just require one short email to the person who removes signs? Methinks the latter. Point of interest: It probably did not occur to the sender that there are indeed people, those privileged to work in that historic and democratic space (add emphasis for dramatic effect) who actually want to see a “Defend Life” sign in the window.
Tanya remembers: Frat house…no kidding! This is just like the time Belinda Stronach put up that New Kids on the Block poster. (Just picking an easy, recognizable target…nothing personal.)