OK, so calling political opponents “unmitigated morons” and “scum” not worthy of tying Minister Pat Bell’s shoes is over the top.
But MLA Kevin Krueger has never been known for using much of a filter and now that he’s retiring from politics, is likely even less inclined to consider tempering his opinions.
Despite calls Wednesday by Kamloops-South Conservative candidate Peter Sharp for Krueger to apologize, the MLA remained unrepentant.
Yes, it was over the line, breaching conventional business wisdom that you should try not to offend others you may have to interact with again.
And his early defence that he intended the email to stay with the intended recipient, the B.C. Conservative Party, rather than shared with media, was naïve.
But it’s nice to know, now and then, that politicians still have a pulse and have not been totally indoctrinated into the bland, politically-correct automatons that so many of them become.
Once they move beyond the level of municipal mayor — a creature still refreshingly inclined to say what he thinks — provincial and federal politicians are frequently a colourless mass.
They try so hard not to offend while toeing the party line that when one of them actually sticks his foot in it, it’s kind of a relief.
They’re still human. They’re spontaneous, do dumb things, make mistakes. They’re like us.
While we may not relate to their antics, we relate to their human foibles.
After all, it’s unlikely the average person would call a peer a “moron” or “scum,” but the workplace and political world vastly differ.
Some might wonder how I can go from preaching civility last week to suggesting there is any merit in Krueger’s rant, which Sharp said amounts to bullying.
It doesn’t have to be about politicians behaving badly, though, rather allowing a bit of their personality to show — be it through good or bad behaviour.
There was former prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s famous pirouette behind the Queen and his one-finger salute to protesters in Salmon Arm; Stephen Harper playing the piano while singing a Beatles song at an Ottawa event; the infamous hallway scuffle in the legislature between then B.C. premier Glen Clark and small business minister Rick Thorpe.
“Get your hands off me or you’ll be down, bud,” Thorpe warned Clark.
It was a real exchange between real people — not the polished behaviour we usually see.
Maybe if more of those we elect to office said what they really think sometimes, showed a more human side, more people would pay attention to politics and actually vote.
As for Sharp likening Krueger’s pot shots to bullying, the MLA did call his opponents unkind names, so guilty as charged.
But anti-bullying strategies also counsel standing up against those you believe are picking on someone you care about, which Krueger told CBC was at the root of his verbal assault.
“Whenever I see a good person being attacked unfairly, it really gets my hackles up,” he said.
Fair enough. He may not be a poster boy for civility but at least he’s real.
Tracy Gilchrist is city editor at The Daily News. Reach her at email@example.com