Tuesday, January 04, 2011

On rumours, private lives, and Norman Spector

I must have missed a memo or something, but judging by a flurry of activity over the holiday apparently there are still people out there who were still taking Norman Spector seriously. Who knew?

Personally, the former tobacco industry lobbyist has lacked any credibility with me since the fall of 2006, when he went on CKNW and called then Liberal MP Belinda Stronach "a bitch" and then refused to apologize, instead doubling-down:
"I think she's a bitch. It's as simple as that. And I think that 90 percent of men would probably say she's a bitch for the way she's broken up (retired hockey player) Tie Domi's home and the way she dumped Peter MacKay. She is a bitch."
"Why is it unacceptable? That's what I think about her. I think it was much worse - a few years ago - when one of the Liberal members referred to (former Edmonton North MP) Deb Grey as a slab of meat quite frankly. I think that was totally unacceptable. But bitch is a word that I would use to describe someone like Belinda Stronach. It is a word that I use regularly."
Why the Globe & Mail continues to give this asshat a platform is beyond me, and how anyone can consider him a commentator with any credibility beggars belief. Nevertheless, the Globe continues to give Norman a platform and, over the holidays, he posted a piece that speculated about marital trouble between Stephen and Laureen Harper as being behind their joint end of year television interview.

Despite the piece being pulled from the Globe following a flurry of negative commentary, not to mention there being absolutely nothing to back up Normans gossip mongering, Spector defiantly stood by his baseless accusations:
"I’m still of the opinion that the deleted piece constitutes a worthy explanation of why he and Ms. Harper decided to do their first joint interview since the government came to power in 2006."
First of all, Norman is a few years late to the party. These rumours have been floating around Ottawa for years. The media have all heard them. Hacks of all stripes have heard them. Heck, even bloggers like me have heard them. Some of them are quite out there, such as an affair with an RCMP bodyguard who was transfered to the Yukon in punishment.

I don't know who Norman talked to, but some time ago I spoke with journalists I trust about these rumours. And they told me that of course they'd heard them, of course they'd investigated them, and no, there is absolutely nothing to them. The fact that no one has published these rumours should be an indicator to their baselessness. It would seem even bloggers have higher journalistic standards than Norman Spector and the Globe & Mail.

On the larger issue though of the private lives of public people, if rumours were true, just what should be published and what shouldn't? I stand by the standard I outlined during the Adam Giambrone affair in Toronto:
I think politicians are entitled to a private life. As long as it doesn’t impact or interfere with their jobs, as long as it’s between consenting adults and doesn’t break laws, then it’s not relevant.
All kinds of rumours swirl around Ottawa. Some aren't true, some are. The tales of infidelity, of office shenanigans and what not, are voluminous. But unless and until it interferes with their job, or breaks the law, it's not relevant in my view, and should be left to the likes of Frank magazine and not the mainstream media, or even reputable blogdom. And publishing unconfirmed rumours is even more ridiculous.

As I've written before, people are imperfect. Politicians are no exception. If we try to hold them to a higher standard than we hold ourselves, we're only asking to either be disappointed or lied to.

As for Norman, the Globe needs to attract a higher quality of columnist. Just what does it take to get dumped as a contributor by Canada's national newspaper?

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