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Helena Guergis: More than just an “emotional outburst” March 17, 2010

Posted by Jarrah H in Can-Con, feminism, Politics.
Tags: , ,

Helena Guergis

Helena Guergis was elected in 2004 as the Conservative Member of Parliament for Simcoe-Grey. She currently occupies the position of Minister of State for Status of Women.

Last month, Guergis had a much publicized ‘emotional outburst’ (her words) at the airport in Charlottetown, PEI. Arriving late for her plane and anxious to get home and celebrate her birthday, Guergis was told to go through security and she lost her temper. The Minister reportedly threw her boots, attempted to force open locked gates, berated the airport staff and referred to the province as a “hellhole.”

Once this story hit the news, Guergis publicly apologized for the outburst to the staff members at the airport and admitted that her actions were not appropriate.

But that wasn’t the end of it…

Guergis has been the fascination of the media for weeks now. Her ‘outburst’ has been described as a “temper-tantrum” – wording that would probably never be used to describe males acting in the same way. The media is also guilty of constantly discussing Guergis’ actions in relation to her husband, who is of no relevance to the story. Can someone tell me why the media always has to discuss females in relation to men?

Back in Ottawa, the Liberal Party has been calling for Guergis to resign. Liberal critic for the Status of Women, Anita Neville has publicly blasted the Minister insisting that “an apology is not enough”

Here’s my position, there is no doubt that Guergis’ actions were unacceptable but, I believe that this issue has become about so much more than that specific ‘outburst’. Guergis has faced biased, unfair media attention, the kind which only seems to be reserved for female candidates and politicians and not their male counterparts.

Take for example, the Minister of Transport John Baird, who had an ‘emotional outburst’ of his own last June when he told the city of Toronto to “f*** off” over a stimulus application that was not filled out properly. This did not receive even close to the same amount of media coverage. Where were the calls for his resignation? After insulting 2.48 million people in Toronto (compared to 141,000 people in the whole province of Prince Edward Island), he apologized and that was the end of it.

There is a double standard and women in politics must demand balanced portrayals in the media!

Guergis apologized and I think it’s safe to say she has learned her lesson. So let’s move on already and focus on the real political issues.

-E. Cain

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1. Pat - March 21, 2010

Finally ….someone makes sense …I agree 100%

in addition if you look at the pictures of her before and after …the previous one try to portrait her as a beauty queen ….an image that as a politician she was trying to avoid. Now her pictures are harsh looking, she looks haggard and the last one her nose is up in the air ..obviously trying to portray her with a sense of entitlement.

Then is the issue of her MBA …she dare say that she had an MBA –they were people writing blogs, articles, and questioning her credibility …when they did find out it was true..then they began to question the institution and wanted disclosure on her marks, her papers and really WHAT MEN in politics goes through that scrutiny. Now they are critics are saying …that how can you be both the minister and do an MBA ….one article commented on her multitasking and how possible is this….

Then is the question of the other Minister that lost it in the airport ….the comments and the articles are a bit different …although it was reported that his actions led security to call the police because they felt threatened. NO ONE said he should be taser …YET for Helena, although it was clearly stated by the letter that she was talking down to them at no point did they stated that they felt threatened by her behaviour. Yet the articles called for her to be taser, imprison and more.

She is clearly portrayed as a child that needs to be told a lesson ….no doubt the male in uniform that even though she was already upset …began to tell her that she should be there two hours before –how is that de escalating the situation?? that is more like ….I am going to put you in your place and then ensure that everything you mumble and say will be recorded and then sent to the opposition party ….

I say Helena is questioned because she is too good looking to be smart and really she does not have the capacity to be in the cabinet …and more over she is white married to an immigrant who is a muslim …over all she does not fit the image …….NO ONE questions a guys ability to be in the cabinet ….or what their spouses do ….but I do think that the real Elephant in the room is what is stated above ….the fact that people can not attribute good work to women that look like that …soft spoken and with a face of a beauty queen..ALAS with all the witch hunt she has endure she has shown that she can take it better than any men.

2. Carla - April 1, 2010

Yeah. I think there should be a heavier level of scrutiny on all politicians, instead of singling out women like Helena Guergis. I don’t think her behaivour was appropriate, although I’m more concerned about the recent staff letter scandal than her airport incident, but it’s unfortunate that the media puts so much more scrutiny onto female MPs than male ones. Thanks for writing this!

3. SM - April 14, 2010

She got fired (or ‘booted’ out of cabinet’) for comprising her office and disgracing the people she represents. Also letting her husband (a private citizen) use her publicly funded office and blackberry, etc.., for private business. Now, this is not about gender, but rather about incompetence, arrongance, and incapable of conducting herself in a manner that is respectful of the office and people she represents.

4. Baird is Parliamentarian of the Year?: Oh Hell No! « Gender Focus - June 4, 2010

[…] This is what he is known for. In a previous blog article on gendered media coverage of politicians, I wrote about Baird’s ‘emotional outburst’ last summer which resulted in him telling the city of Toronto to ‘f- off.’  Sadly, this is not […]

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