Editorials - May 19, 2022
Losing a loved one to suicide is one of the most difficult things that anyone could ever bear, but having it happen to a celebrity family certainly adds some additional stress. When country singing star Naomi Judd tragically took her own life last month, the family immediately announced that they had lost their mother to mental illness.
Rarely are families willing to talk about suicides, avoiding age-old stigmas attached to depression and mental illness. The Judd family, including Naomi, had long been public with her battle with depression but their open dialogue in the media about her suicide is beyond brave.
The simple act of Tweeting the sentence, “We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness”, and then being willing to talk about the fact that she had shot herself with a firearm in subsequent interviews not only shows the courage that all families dealing with mental illness must possess, but goes farther than any corporate marketing gimmick could in opening communication lines about mental illness and eliminating the stigma from it.
For many years, families hushed up the manner of death after a suicide in the family, as if mental illness were a defect rather than an illness, like cancer or heart disease. Thank you to the Judds for opening up this honest dialogue, and telling the story of the loss of their mother, Naomi Judd, to her mental illness. – DS
Sign o’ the times
Pierre Poilievre’s campaign to be Canada’s next Prime Minister appears to be ripped from the headlines of questionable (both in terms of ethics and factual accuracy) social media posts, appealing to the “right-wingiest” of right wing voters. His generic calls for “freedom” echo those who protested for it in Ottawa, for whom he has voiced his support, in the same non-specific, amorphous way.
His supporters are thrilled to finally have someone who speaks their language. For critics, however, his words ring hollow. As a career politician who makes nearly $200,000 per year, Poilievre could easily be considered one of these elites he so reviles. Even his fellow Conservative Party leadership candidates see some of his statements as irresponsible, while those on the left have accused him of pandering to conspiracy theorists and engaging in the lowest of political theatre.
However, he is considered the frontrunner to win the leadership race and has ignited an interest in his politics as he holds rallies across the country. To critics, he’s doing so by stoking the flame of division and ignoring the social niceties of national politics, which is exactly what makes him appealing to his supporters. However, others see this as a fork in the road for the Conservative Party of Canada, with members needing to decide if they want to unite the country or divide it further.
Some see an umbilical cord between the vitriol and death threats hurled at federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh faced in Peterborough last week and Poilievre. Critics claim that what Poilievre says at rallies manifests itself on the street with that kind of behaviour.
Canada deserves civility and dignity in its politicians. You’d be hard-pressed to find a perfect politician, but being civil, comporting with dignity and respecting the truth need to be pre-requisites. – SL
While the getting’s good
There’s something to be said for “reading the room” or making your actions and comments appropriate for the space you’re in and embattled Woodstock Mayor Trevor Birtch may have missed that life lesson.
Birtch faces six charges from two women, including sexual assault allegations, and continues to take part in civic politics which is, at best, inviting criticism. Whether Birtch is innocent or guilty, and whether he’s found as such in a court of law, Birtch has continued to flaunt what many would consider good taste in continuing to serve as Mayor of Woodstock and as a municipal representative at Oxford County Council meetings.
Ignoring the fact that other politicians in his same position have taken a step back to focus on righting their image and their life (just look at Conservative Party of Canada leadership hopeful Patrick Brown for how to handle these issues with decorum), Birtch has refused to pick up on the fact that he is being invited to step down in a respectful way, or just refused to acknowledge it. His fellow Woodstock Council members have given him a paid leave of absence while the case is ongoing, so he didn’t have a choice in the matter, but his fellow municipal leaders on Oxford County Council approved a motion allowing him to take a leave of absence, not even resigning, yet he continues to show up for meetings.
That’s right up there with jiggling the keys as you try to say goodbye - both councils are trying to allow the legal process to play out, so they don’t impact the ongoing business of running a town or a county.
Birtch, however, hasn’t addressed the allegations publicly and hasn’t entered any plea in court, suggesting he doesn’t believe the charges will hold up or he is proclaiming his innocence in an odd way. Regardless, Birtch should take a step back while it’s still his choice. – JDS