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Monday, June 22, 2009

i'm pretty sure that even don draper would find this offensive.

I really didn't want to write on this topic. It pains me that in the year 2009, I am actually writing about this.

Edmonton-Calder MLA Doug Elniski (@elniskimla) gained some unflattering notoriety today after Edmonton-Strathcona MLA Rachel Notley made public a speech that the PC backbencher posted on his now defunct blog. In the speech, which was apparently delivered to a Junior High graduating class, Elniski sounded like an MLA from a previous era as gave some pretty tasteless advice to the young women in the audience:

'Ladies, always smile when you walk into a room, there is nothing a man wants less than a woman scowling because he thinks he is going to get shit for something and has no idea what. Men are attracted to smiles, so smile don't give me that "treated equal" stuff, if you want equal it comes in little packages at Starbucks.'
I am not going to write any more on this, as I think Elniski's comment speaks for itself.

As I wrote in a previous post on the topic of social media and politicians in Alberta, it becomes mistakes like these that make it increasing difficult when trying to convince traditional old-school political thinkers of the important role that these online tools and social networks play in the 21st century. Our elected officials need to exercise some common sense and maturity if they are serious about employing online social networks in an atmosphere of positive engagement with citizens.

*The title credit goes to the Chief of Staff to the President of Daveberta, a frequenter of this blog's comment section.


Anonymous said...

That title = WIN!

Tim Osborne said...

How long until the PC Party has a "free vote" on whether members can write their own blogs?

Cody Civiero said...

An off-the-cuff bit of oral stupidity from a politician is one thing, but it's hard to fathom someone actually thinking of such a comment, typing it out, and clicking "post" without considering the implications.

You're right; there's not much more to say here.

rc said...

Off-the-cuff? I'm not so sure - it looks like, maybe, he's been saying this for a while and only now did someone notice. The CBC article Dave linked to said that, "Elniski posted the text of a speech on June 13 that he said he gives to junior high school students at Grade 9 graduation ceremonies."

So, I would guess he's apparently cool with belittling gender equality in front of 15-year-olds.

Keep it classy, conservatives.

FD said...

Time to resign, Doug. Even in the 1950s, no one would spout off tripe like this so crassly. This is beyond embarrassing.

Elizabeth said...

I agree that the comment does not sound 'off the cuff'.
That whole "if you want equal it comes in little packages at Starbucks" sounds like something that he came up with one day and decided that it was the funniest thing ever and made it his new catch phrase.

kenchapman said...

Command and control governing demands obedience and compliance. Media messaging focused on staying out of trouble demands discipline, obedience and compliance.

Doug was clearly being Doug. I don't know him well but he has been engaging and open to communicating directly with the public on Facebook, Twitter and yes his not defunct blog too. For that he gets a lot of credit from me. His recent set of comments is over the line but they are out there and there is a learning opportunity for all of us as a result.

I am sure he learned a lot more post Pride Parade than he did pre-Pride Parade - and clearly more than during the parade. I wonder if the powers that be in the PC government that exercise the command and control such situations have learned any new lessons from the experience? It would appear not much as they are responding in the same old-school fashion to such controversy.

Of course Doug is to be taken to task for the comments. Words hurt but they also display the individual values of our elected representatives. Good stuff to know; don't you think?

It expression of personal values (like Iris Evans recently did too) is something that never happens at election time. A candidate is not entitled to have an opinion or a personal position. This is forbidden in a "winning" centralized command and control political campaign. This mode of election campaigning is as much the fault of the indifferent and shallow engaged citizen as it is the fault of the faceless and nameless party operatives - of all stripes - who are the ring masters that run these circuses.

What is worse is if someone in or running for office or serving in office actually changes their opinion at any time and for any reason. That is the sin of flip-flop. That means our politicians are not allowed to learn and adapt. If they come to office ignorant the modern command and control mediated political game demands that they stay ignorant.

How stupid and insipid have we citizens become in how we evaluate our governors and in how we decide whom to grant our consent to govern us?

Parties and political operatives, including our leaders, have too much power because we defer and almost delegate it all to them as we mostly abstain from the political life of our society.

I am glad you wrote the post Dave. I think we need our politicians to be free to speak their minds and make these mistakes in public. I am disappointed that Doug's blog is no more. But command and control demands discipline from the top.

Too bad this and other issues get swept under carpets hoping the public's short attention span and monumental indifference will make the story "go away" and the "damage" will be diminished or forgotten.

How can we all learn from each other’s mistakes about how to be more inclusive and accepting as a society when we stifle the opportunity of the "teachable moment?" I hope we do not forfeit a sense of humour as a society in the process of creating a better society - one citizen at a time.

Feynman and Coulter's Love Child said...

I am not going to write any more on this, as I think Elniski's comment speaks for itself.

Yes, indeed. They are some of the tamest "controversial" comments I have ever heard. I said more outrageous things than this discussing cat food with my aunt yesterday. The fact that liberals can find these things even remotely risable (even in 2009!) is just a sign that they seriously need to get out more.

Anonymous said...

I don't like Elniski's comments at all, and I accept his apology. But did you ask him for a comment on here? Doesn't appear as if you asked Elniski either. Shame on you for both of those.

Open the pod bay doors Hal said...

Anonymous - It's a blog. It's opinion commentary. It's not journalism. Welcome to the interwebs.

Debra Ward said...

I agree with Ken Chapman's comments but will interject some personal reflections.

I do know Doug Elniski, MLA as he is both my MLA and a friend. While I do not agree with the comments that he made I truly do not believe that Doug intended to be sexist. Doug has three very independent and savvy daughters and a wife who more than holds her own as well.

He said (wrote)it. He was admonished. He has reflected. He has removed the offending comments and is ensuring that no other potentially offensive remarks are on his blog. He has apologized. This is not censorship nor was an attempt to change what was. It is a matter of reflection only. End of story.

As always Dave, I love your writing and thank you for holding the GoA and its representatives to task. As indeed they should be held to a higher standard.

I however have to ask if surely Albertans and the Government of Alberta do not have more serious matters to discuss during these of global uncertainty? I know I do.

Calgary Conservative said...

And Ed is still silent. Where is the leadership in this party? Where is the leadership in this province?

Anonymous said...

The Alberta New Democrats need to breathe in....relax...apparently MLAs aren't allowed to have a sense of humour anymore...

People don't like to hear constant outrage at every little joke. Maybe that's why the AB New Democrats only have two seats?

Anonymous said...

This province is run by idiots. But that's because it's full of other idiots who elect them. This is why no one outside of here takes our province seriously, except as a source of incredibly cheap oil.

Kyle said...

"Our elected officials need to exercise some common sense and maturity if they are serious about employing online social networks in an atmosphere of positive engagement with citizens."


This MLA is a moron. He apologized. Nuff said. Move on.

Great post Dave.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Denis did anything wrong. He was making a joke and was a victim of gotcha politics. However what was Elniski thinking?

Anonymous said...

Will the real Progressive Conservative Party leader please speak up?

Does Ed Stelmach accept these comments?

Where is my leader? Where is my Premier?

Is he on vacation?

Is he even interested in being leader anymore?

Lorne said...

To those who accept his apology: I heard his apology on the radio today. He apologized for posting the preamble, not for saying it to a school of Junior highers.

The PCs should stay away from Junior High schools (for their own good). A number of elections ago, I attended a speech by Ralph Klein at my daughter's school. He made disparaging and inappropriate remarks about Grant Mitchell, the leader of the Alberta Liberals. What made this even more offensive is that Grant's son was in attendance at the forum, as he was a student at the school.

Edmonton Calder should remember this when they have a choice of an effective member of the opposition (both NDP and Liberal over the years) or another back bencher who is only noticed for exposing his lack of couth.

By the way, has anyone checked out Starbuck's lately to see if they actually serve Equal?

Anonymous said...

Doug Elniski's post was wrong. He apologized. Good for him. Let's move on and have a Starbucks.

Anonymous said...

Funny, a Conservative old white man dissing gender equality. How predictable.

Aaron said...

Doug Elniski's daughter is speaking on Rutherford at 11:30am.

This should be a done issue. The PCs are dragging it out with these kind of interviews.

Anonymous said...

Giant foot in mouth. Shouldn't ah published it, Doug. It's common sense. Same as it has always been.

Adam Snider said...

To those who accept his apology: I heard his apology on the radio today. He apologized for posting the preamble, not for saying it to a school of Junior highers.

That's because he didn't say it to a school of junior high students. He wrote it in the preamble to the actual speech, i.e.: it was on the blog, but he doesn't include it in the speech that he gives.

Were the comments offensive and inappropriate? Yes. But Elinski never actually uttered the whole "Equal is at Starbucks" line in front of an assembly of junior high students.

Cody Civiero said...

Eh, sorry. I was tired yesterday and misread it. I thought that he wrote it in a blog post instead of saying it during a speech. He's still a troglodyte.

Party of One said...

I don't really care if Elinski "apologized" or not. It wasn't a real apology, anyway...he's sorry if anyone took offence...that doesn't mean he's actually thought through what he said...or wrote...and realized their utter vapidity. He's only "sorry" because he has to deal with consequences...rather ironic, isn't it?

But once, just once, I would love to hear about a really really smart thing that someone in the PC caucus said, something that wasn't driven by political calculation, or circumscribed by party discipline. I would like to see a party caucus member get up and stand on their hind legs and demonstrate intelligence and leadership and compassion and even an appropriate sense of humour.

Darren said...

I read the post. From what I understand, the offensive comments were in the preamble to the speech he gives to grads, it wasn't part of the speech he gives to grads. The speech itself appears to be a slightly tweaked version of the "wear sunscreen" column written by a Chicago columnist about 10 years ago.

Unknown said...

I actually found this quote creepier than the whole "equal" thing. That one was ridiculous enough [to me, anyway, that I could chock it up to a "wow get your CA to read this over first" comment]:

"The girls, are gorgeous, not grown up but certainly getting there.
Babies with pretty satin dresses, bouffant hairdo's trying to walk in heels for the first time. It's quite a leap from runners to stilettos and I think this is a very special womanish transition that men, do not understand."

FYI Elniski: Women aren't all little pageant dolls.

Kelly said...

Let me get this straight:

1) Elniski published the 'ladies advice' on his blog in a post titled 'Grad Speeches' and later said he never actually used said speech at any school graduation.

2) Elniski then admitted that the 'ladies advice' really belonged to a comedian.

So is he a sexist, a liar, or a plagiarist? Or all.

Anonymous said...

The guy has been posting garbage like this for months already. The real outrage is that he was making these remarks on a government-issue blog as an MLA, not a "civilian." How the hell did he think he could say things like this - let alone swear - and get away with it or that it was appropriate? And what the hell were the Tories thinking not vetting him?

Anonymous said...

Typical NDP trash trying to find a scandal around every corner. This is why you only have 2 seats. Grow up, Rachel.

Anonymous said...

Is anybody starting to take wagers on how long the other PC MLA's will be forced to delete their blogs and twitters? The problem was not his blog it was his stupid comment.

Where is the leadership on this?
Where is Ed Stelmach?

Anonymous said...

Peter Lougheed would not have tolerated this. Why is Ed Stelmach?

Anonymous said...

He's 6' 7"
Didn't know you could pile 'stupid' that high.

Mellina Huitema said...

Sure, Elniski's comment made him sound like an idiot, but the people demanding that he resign over it or "immediately apologize" are making themselves the bigger idiots, IMO. It's a politically incorrect statement, sure, but as a woman I certainly don't feel "hurt" or "disrespected". And the controversy over what he said during the Pride Parade is just complete, pure BS. I cannot find anything even slightly off-putting let alone offensive about noting that there are more pink coolers in the beer gardens than beer.

I'm just about the opposite of conservative and I don't agree with much of what conservatives have to say, but I don't think any of us have the right to demand that they retract their statements every time they express a conservative opinion. I'm so sick of this kind of nonsense from the non-conservative types in Alberta. Every right-of-centre statement seems to come through the lefty, ultra-PC information filters in our brains as "offensive" or "hurtful" or "disrespectful" when we all know that it's simply a belief that differs from our own. For example, I don't believe Iris Evans' last controversial statement was meant to suggest that the only way to properly raise children is with a stay-at-home parent--but even if that's exactly what she meant to imply, so what? She's CONSERVATIVE for heaven's sake, a lot of them do believe that. And it doesn't violate anyone's human rights to believe that or say it in public.

Anonymous said...

This guy needs to go. Who do I write the check to?

Kevin Colley said...

At least people stopped talking about Bill 44.

rc said...

Calgary Con;
"And Ed is still silent. Where is the leadership in this party? Where is the leadership in this province?"

With respect.... You're just noticing the lack thereof, now? I think you could argue that it's been years since we had actual leadership in this province - most of the past decade seems to have simply been the PCs' auto-pilot in control.

Tiny Perfect Blog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

And it doesn't violate anyone's human rights to believe that or say it in public

Who claimed their rights were violated?

It has nothing to do with rights, it has to do with sending a message to girls that the way to get ahead in life is to bat your eyelashes at men, look pretty, and smile.

It's not only sexist, it's asinine. Don't use your brain girls, just sleep your way to the top, or else look good and land a rich husband.

Even Elniski seems to realize his comments were inappropriate. I can't understand why others defend him when he won't even defend himself.

Aden said...

Thanks again for the post, Dave. Now I hate to add comments on this long of a thread, but I can't help myself:

Who cares that he made stupid comments? Sure they were dumb, and probably demanded an apology or retraction, but they are the smallest things going on in AB politics. Find a real issue to get outraged about, like mismanagement of fiscal planning. For example, AB now officially ranks as the worst province in Canada for oil-investor friendliness, and for countries, further behind than even Norway, which has a higher royalty rate! Stupid comments don't hurt the well being of the province, but stupid policies do.

Anonymous said...

How dissapointing to see Mellina, a one time VP General of the Alberta NDP, speaking in defense of Doug Elniski and Iris Evans.

Politicians are held to a higher level Mellina, they are our leaders, not our peers. The comments Iris and Doug made are NOT mainstream conservative views, despite your assertions so. They are redneck regressive views, reflective of small minded individuals. As a person of small c conservative thought myself, I can tell the difference. You should be able to too.

Saying "bikini carwash - the girls look cold" which we all know means their nipples are showing is not language befitting an elected MLA, regardless of where on the spectrum they fall. Elniski should leave or be canned.

Anonymous said...

While I don't agree with Doug Elniski's comments personally, I wouldn't necessarily say that they do not reflect the views of mainstream Albertans.
They certainly don't reflect the views of most Edmontonians, or Calgarians, but they do reflect the traditional values of many Albertans outside of the big and mid sized cities of our province.

I don't think Mellina is coming to Elniski and Evans' defense at all. I believe she is stating her frustration with the fact that we left wingers tend to get so up in arms about everything whenever any Conservative MLA opens their mouth and go on about how we and all average Albertans would find that viewpoint offensive. The fact is that many Albertans agree with what Evans said, and some even agree with what Elniski says, they agree with many things that the Conservatives say, that is why the Conservatives are so successful in this province, they generally reflect the values of mainstream Albertans. They may not be the views of those of us on the left, or political scientists, but they are still the views of many Albertans

We need to get out of this fantasy world where we believe that everyone must agree with all left wing positions deep down inside, but just vote Conservative because they don't know any better and accept that their is a reason that many Albertans do, and continue to vote for the Conservatives.

Mellina Huitema said...

Oh look, someone who must know me but is choosing not to reveal his/her identity. How very mysterious.

Tiny Perfect Blog, Rachel and others may not be calling for Elniski's resignation, granted, but they did demand and apology and they were overdramatic, as were many bloggers (such as yourself) by giving the issue altogether too much attention.

To the Anonymous who posted right after TPB, you're seriously stretching what Elniski said. I don't see where he advised women to "sleep their way to the top" or "land a rich husband". If he did, surely I would be offended. But as far as I read all he did was tell women to smile.

To the second Anonymous, all I was saying is that I don't agree with what Evans' is purported to believe but that it falls fully within the realm of acceptable difference of opinion and is not offensive. I know many people who believe that children are best raised by two parents, one who stays at home. Most of those people identify as conservative. I would never call them "rednecks". It's not some kind of crazy fringe view, it's just a conservative belief.

In Elniski's case, I agree that what he said was dumb but I also know that there are some very cynical, calculated efforts to blow this whole issue out of proportion going on by certain people on the other side of the floor. And the idea that these people believe this is an honourable way to conduct public business troubles me far more than a mild, politically incorrect joke on a blog.

As to my former political affiliations, I try not to let them muddle my common sense nor my belief in the sanctity of free speech and thought. I also don't have the Alberta NDP vet everything I post online, as much as they've demonstrated their willingness to do so.

Anonymous said...

know that there are some very cynical, calculated efforts to blow this whole issue out of proportion going on by certain people on the other side of the floor.

God forbid that the Opposition take an opportunity to knock the Tories down a peg or two. Boy, that would be terrible!

I for one am glad that the opposition (or the NDP at least) is learning to play dirty. The Tories have been doing it to us for years. What has playing nice ever gotten us?

Politics is a blood sport. For too long NDP and Liberals have shown up at gun fights carrying nothing an encyclopedia.

Notley learned the hard way weeks after being electeed when she was gooned by the Tories for a staff person she inherited from Raj Pannu. I'm sure she was smiling this week as she took a bit of revenge.

Mellina Huitema said...

Well, politics shouldn't be a blood sport. It's this kind of attack-mode politics based on scandals rather than issues that has turned people off from voting. You wonder why no one wants to listen to anything a politician has to say? They're either viciously attacking an opponent for something no one cares about, or they're saying something boring because they're too afraid to say something that will warrant an attack.

"What has playing nice ever gotten us?" As I recall, the NDP had 16 seats once under Ray Martin. They have 2 now. What has this kind of nonsense ever gotten them?

Tiny Perfect Blog said...

They fluked into 16 seats, played nice, and watched 16 evaporate to zero.

Perhaps politics shouldn't be a blood sport, but that akin to being thrown into the ring with a lion and trying to talk the lion down with reason.

Far from turning people off politics, more Albertans than ever were talking politics over the last two weeks. Why do you think the media were covering it? Why were on-line news stories flooded with comments? Stuff like this engages people. It makes them realize which side they are on.

Mellina Huitema said...

"More Albertans than ever"? Seriously? You know the term "Albertans" includes more than the people who comment on Daveberta and Dave Eggen supporters, right?

And even those people were not talking about "politics", they were talking about distracting BS that I've given way too much attention to by now.

Tiny Perfect Blog said...

Check out the CBC web stories on these two incidents. Hundreds of replies.

My blog hits went though the roof. Seriously. And not by a small amount. I had more hits than ever before in six months of blogging, by a mile. Other bloggers reported similar stats.

Everywhere I went, people were talking about Elniski. And to a smaller degree, they were doing the same with Evans before that. People who don't necessarily talk politics, and are not from Calder.

Alix said...

those people were not talking about "politics", they were talking about distracting BS that I've given way too much attention to by now.

Are you sure you're not a Liberal? Because that's the kind of condescending attitude that has won them so much love among Albertans.