Last night when the story of Laureen Harper first, hosting/sponsoring a cat video fundraising thingy -- in kitty ears to boot -- then dismissing a question from a young woman on missing and murdered indigenous women at that event hit the news, I was enraged but couldn't put my finger on exactly why.
Then I read this:
True, I don't like cats. The time, attention, and money spent on them -- and pets in general -- makes me want to hurl. Laureen Harper is repeatedly referred to as a "cat foster-mom" though it's not clear that she herself does.
So, there's that on one side. People who go gooey over animals and whistle past a homeless person with a cap out on the sidewalk.
And on the other, the immense, ongoing national shame of at least 824 murdered and missing indigenous women in Canada. This government not only repeatedly and routinely dismisses any calls for action or inquiry, its treatment of indigenous peoples -- here and everywhere it or its minions have interaction with them -- is simply disgusting.
Laureen's callousness is not surprising then, but breathtaking nonetheless.
“We’re raising money for animals tonight. If you’d like to donate to animals, we’d love to take your money,” she said to lots of clapping, before suggesting dealing with the issue a different night: “tonight we’re here for homeless cats.”
So, now we come to Laureen Harper. I frankly don't give a rat's ass if she's living with her husband or the hunkiest RCMP officer -- of any gender -- in the land. I don't give a flying fuck what she wears, what she eats, what she says.
Because in Canada, mercifully, she is a complete nonentity, no matter what some sycophants would like.
Some commentators have tried to style prime ministers' wives as "First Lady of Canada", similar to the style of First Lady used in republics, but this is not a recognized title. Use of the term is based on the pervasive influence of American media and not a defined public role or title for the prime minister's spouse. In any case, both the spouse of the Canadian monarch and that of the Governor General of Canada take precedence over a prime minister's spouse, rendering the notion untenable.
We just do not *do* First Ladies in Canada (check the wiki link for some interesting people who have wrestled with the role).
Plus, there's that oh-so-Canajan thing of leaving families of politicians alone. "They weren't elected," the manners police sniff. "It just isn't done to attack them."
Unless, of course, the family members chose to become part of the political pageant. Like this.
The federal Conservatives have plotted a road map to a 2015 election campaign that counts on a massive donor- and voter-targeting effort, a communications onslaught, and a bid to “leverage” the popularity of Laureen Harper, the prime minister’s wife, according to documents obtained by the Star.The simple fact is that Stephen Harper is perceived to be at the very least, a cold, controlling micro-manager, and at worst -- by a scarily increasing number of Canadians -- an outright psychopath.
In short, he has a teensy problem with that whole "human" shtick.
Enter Laureen, who it is hoped/prayed can if not "humanize" him, at least "demonsterfy" him.
It's been tried repeatedly, to little success, whether in an awkward kiss or in sketchy panda embrace.
But hope springs eternal in the CON sausage factory. They're at it again -- now with homeless cats.
Pro tip: If you're going to try to "leverage" someone with as little natural charm as Laureen, get her some fucking media/public speaking training. Try to get her to understand in advance that all "good causes" are not equivalent, and in particular that 800+ missing and murdered women are not a "good cause" just like spaying stray cats.
(Hm. Maybe the issues are analogous in such twisted brains.)
To sum up: Laureen is NOT First Lady. She IS fair game. She DID put herself in a totally frivolous situation. She DID fuck up. In CAT ears. (Imagine the withering look an aide would get with: "Hey, Mrs. Obama, we want you to wear these really cute cat ears.")
But maybe the whole exercise was not for naught. On the YouTube page with the Shit Harper Did video, there was this comment from someone named Paul Gillett.
Before reading about this in the news today, I wasn't aware of the problem of murder in the Indigenous community. Though I don't fully agree with this activists' tactics, I have to say, good job. I also think it is troubling that the conservatives would use the Prime Minister's wife to manipulate Canadians.
I end with this tweet. This was tongue-in-cheek from a friend, but I got many other similar ones -- not so cheeky -- last night.
ADDED: Share your pet pic. From here.