As the week progressed, so did the SNC Lavalin scandal. However, several points appeared above the morass, and when we connect the dots, we get a disturbing picture.
Point 1. Bastions of Male Supremacy
I made the point in an article in 2015 that the reason we have so much harassment of women in traditionally male jobs like policing, firefighting, and the military is that it was destined to happen. You can’t change the tone of a bastion of male supremacy by shoving a group of women into the situation. Quite the opposite. You put a bunch of women into subordinate positions, challenging the status of traditionally oriented males, and all you do is set up a perfect storm for harassment and sexual harassment.
Point 2: Men Are from Mars, etc…
All right, somebody has to go out on a limb and say it. Women and men don’t think the same way. Not all women and all men, but a significant number of each gender tends to approach projects and problems in quite different ways.
This is considered an advantage in the political and commercial arenas. Having a gender balance in cabinet, for example, ought to create a better decision-making process. Ought to, except for the first point above.
As Daphne Bramham noted in her article in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesday, Justin Trudeau does not realize that half of his cabinet ministers don’t think exactly the way he does. So despite the politically correct makeup of his cabinet, he expects the members to all toe the line and do things the way they have always been done: his way.
Point 3: Charm
People who make their way in life by depending on their personal charm are usually deficient in dispute resolution. They are used to getting their own way because people like them. When somebody disagrees, they have no idea how to deal with it. Sound like anyone we know?
Point 4: Two Types of People
There are two types of people in this world:
- those who don’t care about winning because the truth is what’s important to them,
- those who don’t care about the truth because they just want to win.
Lest you think I’m trying to make the whole problem one of gender, this breakdown does not always occur along gender lines.
The problems start when two of these opposites have an argument. The guy who wants to win keeps pushing and pushing. If the other guy doesn’t push back but refuses to give in, the pusher thinks he’s still got a chance to win, so he keeps it up. Meanwhile the other guy keeps trying to get to the truth, and when his opponent doesn’t speak and act truthfully, he knows he’s winning. They are arguing at cross-purposes, because their objectives are different.
The nasty part shows up because the guys who only care about winning are more likely to be higher up the food chain, because if that’s what you focus on, you’re more likely to succeed. So one of these cross-purpose arguments is often between people of different status.
And the very worst is when the “win at all costs” person is indulging in harassment. Since his objective is to win and other considerations are secondary, he continues to push his point of view. His victim doesn’t want to even get in a battle, so he doesn’t fight back.
Point 5: Harassment
It is a common conversation, when a man with superior status is accused of harassment by a woman who works for him, to hear “Why didn’t she say something?” The answer is that she did, he just wasn’t listening. If she was someone like him, she would have said, “Shut it down you bastard and leave me alone.” But she’s not like that, and you don’t talk to your boss like that if you want to keep your job, so she probably found a whole bunch of other more socially acceptable ways to tell him, but he didn’t notice them. Partly because he didn’t want to, and partly because he just didn’t recognize them.
Put Them All Together
When we come to the testimony in the Jody Wilson Raiboult case, we hear, “I had already made up my mind in September, and I told everyone.” And then we hear, “I didn’t know she had made up her mind, “ and “Why are we having this conversation now? Why didn’t she say something in September?”
It is disturbing to note the similarities between a case of harassment and the way things are usually done at the highest levels our federal government.
He Said, She Said
I can make all of Jerry Butts’ testimony completely true. If you take all his statements that, “Everything I did was appropriate,” and change them to “Everything I did was normal practice,” suddenly his actions are all fine.
Unless you find it inappropriate that the normal practice in the highest levels of our government sounds a whole lot like harassment and abuse. And by putting a lot of women into that kind of situation without trying to change the style and atmosphere of Cabinet, all Trudeau has done is set himself up for a failure that he richly deserves.
On the Same Subject
In an attack worthy of Fox News in the Ottawa Citizen on March 5, Andrew Cohen does a good job of summing up the attitude of the Liberal power bloc, stated bluntly because he’s not up for re-election. “Maybe these cabinet resignations are about impulse, affront and self-righteousness…Wilson-Raybould and Philpott could not take the heat.”
In other words:
“Anyone who disagrees with me hasn’t thought it through logically.”
“Anyone who disagrees with me has a thin skin and gets upset too easily.”
“Anyone who disagrees with me is self-righteous.”
“This is the way we do things here. Get used to it or get out.”
I’m sure a lot of women are familiar with these lines. It’s a bad scene when they hear them from the Prime Minister’s Office.