First off, let me declare that I am not a fan of Olivia Chow. When we had a chance to meet in person a few years back at a charity ball, I walked away with the impression that she was a distant person. At the time, I simply chalked it up to the fact that there was very little fibre in the three-course meal that was served that evening. After all, it is impossible to know when someone is actually standoffish, and not just suffering from prolonged constipation. (I look like I have facial paralysis if I fail to work a salad into at least one meal of the week, so I can sympathize with sufferers.)
However, it seems that Peter Shurman, a former Ontario Progressive Conservative MPP, found a definite answer: Olivia Chow is just a “major league biatch.” (“Hey, it’s not like he said ‘bitch’, right?”) Shurman, the master wordsmith who resigned last year over an expense controversy, sparked the shitstorm while he was a guest on Newstalk’s 1010 “Moore in the Morning” radio show on Wednesday. When speaking of the raucous mayoral debate held in Scarborough the previous night (during which Olivia Chow threw multiple jabs at both Rob Ford and John Tory), Shurman commented, “Olivia is a continuation of [former Toronto mayor, David] Miller and she proved herself to be, last night, pardon me, a major league biatch and not worthy of listening to, as far as I’m concerned.”
He was not the only one to say so. Christie Blatchford, a National Post columnist, joined the discussion, and added, “I did not find [John Tory] to be bitchy at all. Olivia was bitchy. And not a terribly attractive candidate, frankly.” When Moore pressed Blatchford about her comments, asking whether or not it was appropriate to describe a female candidate as bitchy, Blatchford said she was referring to Chow’s “cattiness” and “small-mindedness” (the comments begin approximately at the 19:20 mark) when she suggested that Ford and Tory are one and the same.
Naturally, the comments have been challenged by Olivia Chow’s campaign. In an e-mail to HuffPost Canada, Jamey Heath, her campaign’s communications director, called Shurman’s remarks “disgraceful.” Suggesting that there is more than one double standard at play in this game, Heath wrote, “As usual, men being aggressive are seen as tough, while women are called names… But there’s also a double-standard in that Rob Ford’s many factual errors are taken through the ringer, while Mr. Tory has a series of patently false statements that the establishment refuses to call him on.” Keeping in mind that John Tory used to host a show on the radio station before becoming a mayoral candidate, one cannot help but conclude that the whole situation reeks of collusion.
First impressions aside, Olivia Chow deserves far better than this sort of petty schoolyard name-calling for having the best interest of the city at heart. She was the only candidate was had the guts to call out Rob Ford’s failed attempts to rehabilitate himself. As such, if talk show guests are going to indulge in blatant acts of political favouritism, the least they could do is use proper terminology.
Not only have they infuriated Olivia Chow supporters and the vast majority of the Toronto electorate, they would have also pissed off the Association for Canine Advancement in Sports (ACAS) (if it existed). But if it did exist, I am convinced that there would be a large amount of canine excrement on Shurman and Blatchford’s lawns come next week when female career dogs take to the streets to demand an apology.