I knew there had to be a good reason why I could never vote for Andrew Scheer, the leader of the Conservative party.
Of course, I never have, and never could, vote for a Conservative in any circumstances, nor for a Liberal. But many people would not think that a good reason, or at least an adequate one.
I came across the real reason I could never vote for him in an article on his wife in today’s Globe and Mail. They apparently have five young children, which might be a factor nudging me towards voting for him. Maybe. But not quite. Like, not by a thousand miles.
No, the reason lies in a tiny item that gives him away totally in my eyes. He finds the time to spend with his children every evening, if he can, to watch The Simpsons ---- “always checking it in advance to make sure of its suitability.”
That’s the kicker info right there. Scheer is a man who brings up his children in a manner that insulates them against even the mildest impropriety. He’s not a man who, like me, will ever experience his seven- year-old son coming home from school and snarling at him, about his teacher, "I hate that shrimpy fucking nun!”
The little Scheers are evidently being brought up in a world free of obscenities or of difficult relationships. Or of sceptical opinions. Or of anything that might upset them in any way. Presumably they will go to some private school where they will be filled with twee ideas that will delight Mummy and Daddy, and Uncle David and Auntie Mim.
Perhaps I am being unnecessarily unkind to Chez Scheer, but I know I will never be close enough to them to be appalled by them. In their excessive concern for whitewashing the world in which their children function, they remind me of an incident I remember from the years I spent hanging around the National Film Board. That estimable organization had a number of studios devoted to special work. One, known as Challenge for Change, was devoted “ to preparing Canadians for social change.” That is the one I did most of my work for, although I admit it was based on a false premise, namely, that if only the government knew what was happening out there in society, it would make haste to do something about it.
Another studio specialized in animation films, in which they have attained an international reputation, and for which some of the world’s most skilled film animators carried out their daily tasks. It always seemed to me to be a complete justification for the very existence of the NFB that a modest little Scots-Canadian called Norman McLaren could be seen shuffling around its corridors in his slippers, a man who just happened to have made some of the most imaginative and beautiful animated films ever seen.
Another studio specialized in “women’s" films, which brings me to the point of my story. One woman producer employed by this women's studio reported that she was having a special difficulty because pornographic magazines were being placed in low positions in news agents racks, well within the reach of her 13-year-old daughter and “what am I supposed to tell my daughter about this?” My question was, what sort of mother would find it difficult to talk to her young daughter about pornography?
But the film-maker’s response was to make a film called Not a Love Story dealing with pornography and its horrors. This was a propaganda film, about which I had and have no qualms, but it was used to propagate a case for censorship, something I don't believe the NFB should ever have countenanced. Just incidentally, I doubt it was ever particularly effective in that aim; rather it had the opposite effect in that it was the first NFB film ever to be screened at lunchtime screenings in New York to audiences of bald middle-aged men.
One of my sons has warned me that The Simpsons could be a rather raunchy programme. He instanced a statement by Homer Simpson on one occasion that “I am a choc-a-holic, only with booze.”
Well, Andrew and Mrs. Scheer, I doubt that your little ones are going to be ruined by anything they hear or see on The Simpsons. They might be better prepared to face the world if they are permitted so see and hear whatever comes across their ken, and if any of it troubles them, if they are given by adults they trust some reasonable, factual information about its meaning or lack of meaning.
They might trust you, and I hope they do: but me? Since you seem to be asking I’m afraid I will never trust you, either to run this country, or to make any other decisions on my behalf.
Sorry about that, but wot the hell, wot the hell!