An off-the-cuff open letter to Charlie Angus

Dear Charlie,

Jane Taber reports over on that you want MPs like yourself to be banned from Twitter “to save politicians from looking like idiots.”

“Here’s a better idea,” wrote Jeff Jedras. “Stop being idiots.”

We could probably just leave it there, Charlie, but I want this point to be very clear. Our MPs are letting us down disastrously. There are many good individuals who sit in the House of Commons and you may well be one of them, but as a group you are delivering concentrated packages of FAIL on a daily basis. Our MPs do act childish, they do play games, and they have created a complete vacuum of leadership at a time when we need it the most. The solution is not to hide that disgrace, the solution is to change it.

I’m surprised that anyone who believes in transparent and accountable democracy could conclude that a tool that  “exposes” a problem with how Parliament (doesn’t) work should be removed from the equation. On the contrary, anything that exposes the pathetic sideshow that is the current Parliament should be amplified in the hopes that it will snap us out of our collective slumber and elect a group of people who will actually work together for the good of the country.

And Charlie, those of us who follow the tweets of public figures? We’re not “imaginary friends,” as you called us. We’re people, voters, citizens. Don’t call us names.

As for your claim that banning Twitter would somehow force MPs to treat each other like humans because they wouldn’t have their noses in their mobile devices all the time, I’ll grant you that sounds like good meeting etiquette. But when I read that you’re someone who “freely admits that he couldn’t do his job without his BlackBerry — he uses it at committee to check facts with his staff and to Google other points of discussion,” it seems like you’re specifically targeting tools that allow politicians to communicate with the public while giving a pass to other equally anti-social BlackBerry habits.

There, rant over. Let’s get back to work. It’s getting hot in here.



5 thoughts on “An off-the-cuff open letter to Charlie Angus

  1. Funny, this MP has been trying been to raise awareness about “third world” conditions on First Nation Reserves in Canada, and even INAC has done a pretty good job at ignoring the facts with regards to the tragic and extremely unfortunate reality of reserves in Canada. Yet all it takes is a comment about twitter, and it would appear many people are in an uproar of sorts. These priorities are bordering horrifying. Politicians aren’t the only idiots. Wake up Canada.

  2. @Kim Good point Kim (that there are surely more significant things for Canada to be discussing). I think one of the reasons this one got me worked up is because I place a high value on our political systems and processes themselves. I have to believe that one of the best ways to get results on things we care about (like the shameful treatment of Canada’s First Nations, for example) is to make sure we have a strong, functioning democracy. That doesn’t mean I consider Twitter specifically to be a foundational component of our democratic system (yet?), but I was shaken by what I saw as the assumptions behind Angus’ arguments (that it was better to mask the problem of Parliamentary dysfunction than shine a light on it would that it be fixed).

  3. Chris, I think that maybe you might have missed the mark here. Mr. Angus wasn’t talking about banning the tool, but talking about it’s use. I think that we can agree that while Twitter can be a great tool when used right, but I also think that we can agree that our MPs probably shouldn’t be Twittering during a committee meeting, especially about things that are less than material to the discussion going on in that meeting.

    Basically, he wasn’t arguing to mask the problem of our dysfunction issues in Parliament, but he was arguing that in order for our democratic system to work we need to focus on the issues and stay away from the other stuff that can surely create friction that stops progress on these other issues. Yesterdays Del Mastro/Simson blow-out surely proves that; how well are those two going to work together now in their committee after that episode?

    Finally, I’m not sure how familiar you are with Mr. Angus’s online activities, but he is one of the best MPs when it comes to the use of Facebook and other online resources to communicate with his constituents and push issues, like the plight of Attawapiskat (which he has been pushing with this government for years). He’s been quite the transparent MP in that regard. Anyway, that’s my take.

  4. @northwestern_lad The report I link to starts with the sentence “Charlie Angus wants MPs banned from Twitter,” so if he didn’t actually call for a ban that’s some bad reporting (possible). Even if we’re just talking about banning MPs from “Twittering during a committee meeting…about things that are less than material,” then it seems to me that’s up to each MP, isn’t it? I mean, if we’re going that route, why stop at Twitter? Why not ban MPs from saying useless off-topic stuff during question period?

    Wait…OK, maybe that’s a good idea. You might be on to something, Cameron. ;-)

  5. Tweets, twits, crackberries and cellphones have created a crisis of rudeness. These are addictions. People bump into you on the sidewalk because of them, they kill people and pedestrians while driving and using them, they blather loudly on cells in public spaces (often confined ones like public transit) and they are inconsiderate in the extreme to the rest of humanity because of their slavish attachment to these devices (and they are oh so environmentally unfriendly when you think of the e-waste and slave-labour mined minerals that go into them). Politics was much better in the 1970s when all we had was mail, the corded telephone and in-person meetings.

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