The idiocy of Justin Trudeau’s government really seems to be unlimited. One would say that Canadians deserve better, but who voted him in? Twice, to boot? Martians?
The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, announced the appointment of the new Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson, Mr. François Boileau.
She found it necessary to emphasize that “this appointment was made via an open, transparent and merit-based process.”
Which only means it was nothing but.
Nothing against Mr. Boileau. He may be the answer to all that ails Canadian tax system (and, then again, he may not).
Here’s the idiotic part: Ms. Lebouthillier, in her announcement, thanked the previous Taxpayers’ Ombudsman, Ms. Sherra Profit (a strange name for an ombudsman, but that ought to be reserved for stand-up comedians’ routines). Ms. Profit, the minister said, was dedicated to her work and taxpayers during her tenure.
A stinking bomb
And then Ms. Lebouthillier dropped the bomb: effective immediately, her announcement said, the title for this position is changed from Taxpayers’ Ombudsman to Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson.
She proceeded to explain that “the Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson (OTO) operates to enhance the CRA’s accountability and service to the public. The OTO upholds taxpayers’ service rights as outlined in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights and reviews complaints from taxpayers to ensure a fair resolution.”
Whether those who were reading her public release got that far in reading it, as they lay on the ground convulsed in laughter (or in uncontrollable tears), is another question.
Ms. Lebouthillier’s nominal boss (taxpayers are her real boss), prime minister Justin Trudeau, became a laughingstock and comedy material all over the world just a few years ago after he interrupted a woman and corrected her for saying “mankind” not “peoplekind” at a town hall event.
Here’s what happened then: an audience member took about three minutes to talk about her church and the special power of “maternal love.”
She then asked Trudeau to look at laws surrounding the charitable status of religious organisations, explaining: “Maternal love is the love that’s going to change the future of mankind.”
Instead of answering the question, Trudeau said: “We like to say ‘peoplekind,’ not necessarily ‘mankind,’ because it’s more inclusive.”
Amongst the gales of laughter, critics accused Trudeau of “virtue signalling” (whatever THAT means), of being too politically correct (was pretty obvious), and for “mansplaining.”
This word deserves a bit of explanation: coined by a feminist writer named Rebecca Solnit, mansplaining is a pretty insulting term.
Ms. Solnit summarized the then-new word thus: someone (usually a man) comments on or explains something to a woman in a condescending, overconfident, and often inaccurate or oversimplified manner.
Ms. Rebecca Solnit added (in quite understandable anger) that this mansplaining phenomenon was actually a combination of “overconfidence and cluelessness.”
Something (a lot, in fact) to it.
All of this has roots in perfect illiteracy: the three letters (man) do not necessarily mean a male person.
First of all, herewith a bit of a definition: a government official appointed to receive and investigate complaints made by individuals against abuses or capricious acts of public officials is called Ombudsman in the Swedish language. An advocate for the general public. That’s whence the original idea has come.
There is no he or she in the name. To be strictly precise, an Ombudsman would be an it. Simply faceless as faceless can be. And genderless, too.
An old song
Not that the argument about the expression ‘man’ in a number of words is new.
In the early 1980s, Bob Skelly of the NDP represented the north of Vancouver Island in Canada’s British Columbia in the province’s legislative assembly.
For those who read this south of the 49th parallel, and are less than well-informed about Canada’s political parties: NDP stands for New Democratic Party. It is very openly a party of social democrats that is on occasion more left-wing, on occasion less, but always left-wing.
A party known as Social Credit (Socred for short) was not only firmly on the other side of the political spectrum at the time, it also was in government.
Anyhow, one day, Bob Skelly, representing Her Majesty’s loyal opposition, asked a question of a government minister, Grace McCarthy, who was at that moment chairing a committee.
Madame Chair, thus Bob Skelly, to which Ms. McCarthy shot back: she uses two legs to stand on, not four, and she was perfectly fine with the honourable member calling her the real name, that is, chairman.
In the general mirth that would follow, somebody yelled at Skelly that “she’s more man than you, Bob!” – thus demonstrating for all to hear that neither side was literate enough to know that gender had nothing to do with this particular title.
The new taxpayers’ Ombudsman, Mr. François Boileau is a guy of no mean achievement. A Bachelor of Civil Law from the University of Ottawa, and a Bachelor in Political Science from the Université de Montréal, and former Ontario French Language Services Commissioner. Not bad.
The irony is that his predecessor, a woman, was an Ombudsman. He, a male, becomes an Ombudsperson.
Of course, on the surface, the issue of indiscriminate changes and uncalled-for modifications made to the good old English language seems to belong on the back-burner of our everyday lives.
But it doesn’t. Just as the proponents of these changes argue they symbolize something, it is true. Except: they do not symbolize any progress in the male-female equality world. They symbolize an obsession aimed at diverting our attention away from real issues.
Such as: the idiocy of Justin Trudeau’s government really seems to be unlimited.