MISSISSAUGA, Ont.— The recent brouhaha about Conservative candidate Justina McCaffrey — Should Andrew Scheer fully disown her? Must McCaffrey herself fully denounce her pal Faith Goldy and distance herself from Goldy’s hard right-wing views and past affiliation with white supremacists? — made me think about the nature of friendship.
Liberal Maryam Monsef, Canada’s first Muslim Cabinet minister, thoughtfully re-released on social media Saturday a 2013 video. At the time, the two women were apparently trying to pitch a reality show called A Wedding Dress For Everyone But Me, the “me” being McCaffrey, who is a wedding dress designer.
In it, the two are fairly hideous, albeit not in any white-power way.
McCaffrey complains that while she is all the time surrounded by “brides and brides” in her business, she hasn’t yet found a man she wants to marry, thus the lack of a need for one of her own fabulous creations.
At that point, Goldy takes over to explain that, “See, if you’re hot, smart, pretty and roll in the right crowds, I basically want to be your friend.” She’s not, she says, the jealous type, the clear inference that she herself is sufficiently hot that she’s not threatened by other hotties.
She and McCaffrey, Goldy says, are the closest thing to socialites in their town, though it’s vague about what town that is — McCaffrey’s Ottawa-area riding of Kanata-Carleton, or Ottawa itself. In any case, all any social event really needs, Goldy says, is the two of them.
Now McCaffrey didn’t help herself, or Scheer, by literally running away from reporters who wanted to ask about her friendship with Goldy, a speedy effort that was captured by a CBC camera.
Later that night, the Conservative war room issued a statement from McCaffrey in which she said, “This video is from 2013. I haven’t seen her in several years.”
It was not going to be enough; that was immediately clear.
Quickly, someone dug up a picture of the two women from 2017. Question: What is the definition of the word “several”? Answer: From Bill Clinton, what is the definition of the word “is”?
So on an overnight flight to British Columbia, Scheer held an unscheduled scrum on the plane, wherein he said that so long as a candidate “takes responsibility for what they said” and apologizes, he accepts “that people make mistakes in the past and can own up to that and accept that.” This won’t be a blanket policy, he said, in that past remarks will be judged on a case-by-case basis.
It seemed entirely sensible to me, but I’m betting it won’t be enough, not in 2019, and that either McCaffrey will have to publicly dump on Goldy from a great height, or Scheer may have to cut McCaffrey loose.
Such is the way of the modern world, and it’s not just an issue for the Tories, because all the major parties, and even the Greens, have had problematic candidates in this campaign — anti-Semitic remarks from a Liberal (the party apparently knew about his postings before they became public); a Green who joked about mailing pig parts to Muslim protestors, etc., etc.
But the McCaffrey/Goldy controversy is the first one to so directly touch upon the nature of friendship.
If you run for public office, should you be required to disavow controversial friends and their controversial views?
That would certainly put a big dent in a lot of my friendships. Most of my good pals are at the least progressives, and the dad of one, I believe I’m remembering correctly, was an actual card-carrying Communist.
Would I be expected to distance myself if I was a Conservative candidate? Would my friend with the Commie father renounce him and his views if she did (the chances of that range from zero to nada)? If she ran as a New Democrat, would she have to denounce her association with me?
One of my good friends was once convicted of a violent crime. When he got out of prison and was living in a halfway house, we had dinner weekly. When he got parole, he moved into my basement apartment.
He has been nothing but an outstanding citizen and man ever since, gainfully employed, tax-paying, nose clean.
I am terribly proud of him and love him to bits. Yet I’m reasonably sure that candidate Blatchford would have to publicly pronounce upon his crime and distance myself from him.
I believe in second and third chances, and for addicts, 25. I believe in my friends, as I hope they believe in me, no matter how different our political views might be. We have had some raging disagreements for sure but we remain friends.
There will never be a Candidate Blatchford, not that the country needs or wants one.
But as a hypothetical exercise, if you ever find yourself wondering about the calibre of those either leading the parties or running for office, ask yourself if one should be required to have the requisite cold, cold heart.
I hold no brief for Faith Goldy. Don’t know Justina McCaffrey. Don’t much like them from that video, but then, I’m not hot enough anyway. That said, I rather hope McCaffrey doesn’t throw Goldy any further under the bus and that Andrew Scheer doesn’t ask her to do so.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019