MacKay sheds modern family man image
Peter MacKay, his wife Nazanin Afshin-Jam and baby Kian arrive at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Monday, July 15, 201. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
Published Friday, June 27, 2014 5:50PM EDT
If nothing else, Peter MacKay has been a fountain of entertainment around the water cooler of Canadian politics for the last two weeks.
It’s been an old-fashioned media feeding frenzy, a gift that keeps on giving as daily developments turn the summer news trickle into a gusher.
First, the Justice Minister suggested women in motherhood bonding created a female deficit in the judiciary. Then he signed off on mother and father’s day greetings clearly differentiated along old-school gender duty lines. He promptly blamed those statements on a female staffer. Now his glamorous wife has put herself in the spotlight to bolster his innocence.
Is it all a bit over-the-top? Absolutely.
But the source is just as intriguing as the substance of the comments, in my humble view.
Peter MacKay was the last leader of the moderate Progressive Conservatives, the man who enabled its reunification with a Canadian Alliance which allegedly represented the Mad Men mentality of today’s Conservative party.
And after dating many strong-willed women, he settled down and had a son with Nazanin Afshin-Jam, a fearless and articulate advocate for an Iranian girl on death row.
That made MacKay the official poster politician of the modern family man.
So if there was any Conservative who should’ve grasped the sensitivity of his remarks, it was Minister MacKay. And, voters may well wonder, if he harbors a mentality out of sync with a vast swath of female voters, how does the old grey gang in his party view the gender divide?
This is partly a failure in communications. MacKay should’ve dealt with it all head-on instead of retreating inside a bunker, refusing comment beyond a Facebook post insisting it was all a drive-by media smear.
With each new misstep, reaction has become more polarized. Some women think he’s talking Neanderthal; others see it as a reality reflection. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair went plain silly by demanding MacKay be punted out of the justice job.
But as the lone male in a family of five who works as the only man on a Power Play team of four, I’ve learned the golden rule about engaging in any Venus-Mars debate over defined gender responsibilities.
When in doubt, always shut up.