Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Ottawa: A town without pity

I thought that I was finished writing about Senator Joyce Fairbairn today, but I'm not.
In fact, I would say I haven't even gotten started. What began as a small tropical storm this weekend has turned into a full blown Ottawa hurricane.
A lot of people on Twitter and Facebook have taken to their computers to write unbelievably unkind things about a person they do not know. What they presume to know is everything.
I heard someone muttering today that all the legislation passed when Joyce was sitting in her Senate seat, stricken by Alzheimer's, should be held void.
People presume Joyce had no say in the matter. Do they know that for sure?
Could it be that instead of taking that diagnosis and feeling sorry for herself -- in the minutes or hours when she found lucidity -- she decided to fight the disease instead of rolling over for dead?
She kept on trucking, voting, showing up at meetings, touring her riding. I worked with Alzheimer's patients in another life, and I know if she had become completely incapacitated, she would not have been able to find her toothbrush let alone hold her hand up in the Upper Chamber.
These know-it-alls simply presume that she was a wandering vegetable propped up by political operatives in a bid to prevent the Tories from winning critical votes.
I do not accept this as a fact.
What I know for a fact is that people are trying to turn a person's misery into a fucking Constitutional crisis.
This was a person not an omnibus bill. She was struggling to make sense of a disease that will surely kill her.
This story is not about the Senate and whether it should be abolished. Abolish it for all I care.
But anybody who thinks this is the "hook" to kill it is an insensitive idiot who surely should have better things to do than blorg on about things about which they do not know.
Let me tell you about this woman.
Did you know that when she worked for Trudeau, she made muffin batter and put it in the fridge the night before so that the next morning she would have fresh muffins for daily staff meetings?
That she spent years looking after her own husband, Mike, who had nearly died in his thirties and was never the same after that?
That she took in a fellow political traveller, after his hospitalization, when he was talking to the walls because he was suffering from alcoholic tremens? The man had nobody but Joyce and Mike, and they were always there for him and many, many other people.
She was, and is, among the nicest and smartest women I know.
That's all that should matter.
But it doesn't matter because this is Ottawa, the town without pity.
All people in politics care about are numbers and money.
People are disposable.
You, my fellow Canadians, are also disposable.
It's all about the show, don't you know?
It's on a day like today that I am ashamed to live in Ottawa and I don't mind saying so.
This place is a cesspool.
Full of rats.
Some are just bigger than others.

1 comment:

  1. I met Joyce more times than I can record. She always wore red... her Liberal colours. I didn't see her as diminutive... just short. But always upbeat and towering in her beliefs... about literacy in particular. She was an icon about literacy. To hear she has alzhemizers and is under care is such a huge change... I am dumbfounded.... Joyce... you made such a difference for so many...you have my heart, my love and my support.