Joe Oliver was supposed to speak about “the future of the Canadian economy” at the Cambridge Club, a swanky men-only club in Toronto, this Thursday. Then, just two hours before his scheduled appearance, Oliver announced that he would not show up. The announcement sparked outrage. People were so mad that they took to Twitter to voice a range of complaints.
Notably, people were mad that Oliver would dare speak at a men-only club, especially after the Conservatives and NDP announced that they would not attend a federal leaders’ debate on women’s issues. Fair enough. But did any of these angry people look at the club where he was scheduled to present? It looks awful. If the picture on the website says anything, people go to this club to dress like dorks while looking at the floor, at another man’s ear, or straight into a camera. All while drinking beer with way too much head. And seriously, Bud Light on tap? If men want to lock themselves up in there I say let ’em. And sure, take Joe Oliver too.
Image source: http://www.thecambridgeclub.com/Membership
People were also mad that Oliver was speaking in a private location rather than with members of the public, regardless of their gender. Some voiced a concern that Oliver’s constituents could not attend the event, and that Oliver should be more available to the public during an election campaign. Both concerns are valid, but each fails to consider an obvious truth. Joe Oliver is not going to talk to members of the public just because he does not talk to members of the Cambridge Club. That would be like arguing that Nigel Wright shouldn’t have paid Mike Duffy’s expenses, but then expecting Nigel Wright to pay your expenses. Sure, he says he was doing “a good deed,” but who’s to say that he’d view paying your mortgage the same way? We should expect that, like Wright, Oliver doesn’t care about us.
Lost in the shuffle was the state of the economy, perhaps the most legitimate concern during this economy-centric election campaign. We hear so much about the economy, yet we know so little. Since the last budget came in (late), economic forecasts have worsened. The price of oil seems determined to stoop lower than a politician on the campaign trail- and there’s still a lot of campaign left to go. On the national stage, critical questions remain unanswered. Is the Canadian economy in recession? Is there any upside on the horizon? Is Canada going to run a deficit in 2015? As it stood, the Cambridge Club event might have been our best chance to hear Oliver discuss these issues (through the grapevine). Hopefully if we wait we’ll receive another. A note to the impatient: remember, books cook slowly. If you want them to look just right, it takes time.
If this is anything like his most recent budget, Oliver will reschedule his talk for a few months from now. When he did this with the budget he seemed lazy, arrogant, and confused, but this time things are different. Now, Mr. Oliver is simply practicing forward thinking. If current polls are reasonably accurate, he will be unemployed come late October, so he’ll have plenty of time (and need) for public speaking. The forced retiree will also have much more time to spend with his buddies at the Cambridge Club. That is, of course, assuming anyone down there likes him. We don’t know what happens behind closed doors.