Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Parliament Hill: Sex and the pity

The federal NDP deputy leader, Megan Leslie, says she's shocked at the "casual sexism" on Parliament Hill.
“The first day I came to Parliament Hill in 2008, an MP told me I had a ‘fine body.’ I was startled and offended,” she wrote in the June 3 edition of Blacklock’s Reporter, an Ottawa-based subscription news outlet which reports on Parliament Hill.
Thanks, Megan, for the trip down memory lane.
Things seem to have gotten better on Hill, if the worst she gets is a compliment on her bod.
Good thing she wasn't there when John Turner was patting bums and the Deputy Streaker was prancing down the halls in Centre Block with a square of towel pasted to his genitals.
The Hill has always been an "if I have a nice body will you hold it against me" kind of place.
Especially during holiday season. Or after the Parliamentary Press Gallery dinner.
Or during voting at leadership conventions.
A big part of the issue is the acceptance of public drunkedness as the norm.
I've seen elected representatives in various states of undress and drool. I found one guy passed out in the bushes in front of Centre block (Ndipper)  and witnessed a Liberal (also the Deputy Streaker) commanding his press secretary to do a table dance in the Parliamentary Restaurant at 3 p.m. on a Friday.
The Hill, basically, should employ an addiction specialist instead of a budgetary officer.
It can be a lonely place and public policy debates don't always fill the void for MPs who are a long way from home and on a permanent road trip.
Over my many years on Parliament Hill, I've been grabbed, nuzzled, had a drink poured on my head and been chased down O'Connor street by a drunken MP. I was even burned once with a cigarette by an MP from Megan's own party who was pressing a particularly deliberate point over beers at the press club.
Ah, the tales that could be told by veteran assistants in MPs' offices.
There's a code of survival for women on Parliament Hill.
Sadly, it often involves waiting them out until you're too old or fat for them to care about you anymore.
Also, making sure there are witnesses. Lots and lots of witnesses.
Other tips.
Always travel in a group and avoid the little anterooms that I believe were designed especially for foul play.
Keep yourself to a two drink minimum.
Never travel to a second location.
And always carry a Smartphone.
Blackmail can be a woman's best friend on Parliament Hill.


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