Dean Del Mastro resigns

‘I will not be a distraction in Peterborough,’ says the beleaguered MP as he leaves the House for the last time

This afternoon, a man from Peterborough, Ont., expressed his profound love of his hometown, his constituents, and the House of Commons. Dean Del Mastro, formerly a Conservative MP, stood in his place after question period ended and worshipped where he stood. “I hold this place in the highest regards,”he said. “I have never once taken that for granted.” Del Mastro struggled to maintain his composure as he defended his perfect electoral record, ostensibly stellar reputation in his hometown, and clean conduct on the campaign trail every time he asked for Peterborough’s collective vote.

Del Mastro reflected fondly, and passionately, on his achievements as an MP. The expanded local airport, he said, “used to be a flying club.” He facilitated government spending on a curling club here, a lawn bowling club there, the revamped Hunter Street Bridge, and a happy local theatre. He said when he came back from university in 1994, the rest of his high school’s graduating class had left for greener pastures. “I was the only one that went back,” he said. He knew he belonged in his hometown. “The electric city. God bless it.”

Peterborough’s greatest fan in Ottawa faced only one problem. A big problem. He broke the law during the 2008 election. That’s no longer an allegation. A judge convicted Del Mastro of electoral fraud. He may dispute that conviction, but he knows the gravity it carries. So he delivered two messages:

To his constituents: “I will not be a distraction in Peterborough.”

To his former Tory colleagues: “I will not be the one who divides you.”

With that, Del Mastro then tendered his resignation, effective immediately. He urged his colleagues to not take their positions for granted. He then sat down in a seat he officially no longer had the right to occupy, and the Tory benches rose to applaud.

The context

The Liberal caucus is now smaller by two, and it’s because Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti stand accused of personal misconduct. The Huffington Post‘s Althia Raj was among the first to report that the personal misconduct took the form of sexual harassment. Two parliamentarians complained, separately, that Andrews and Pacetti had acted inappropriately. One of the complainants took her case directly to Justin Trudeau. This morning, the Liberal leader ejected the two men from his caucus. Both deny the allegations, but Trudeau says the seriousness of the accusations warrants removal for the time being. Here’s one response from the internet.

Ponder that doubt, and then read what Ivor Tossell wrote for Maclean’s last year, after Toronto politician Sarah Thomson complained that Rob Ford had groped her.

Women in politics have to deal with an appalling amount of garbage. Regardless of what Rob Ford did or didn’t do, it’s safe to say that at this moment, another mayor, or senator, or MP, or senior staffer, or riding association president, or student leader, or blithely bellicose volunteer is busy making a young woman squirm. And if that woman does not deal with said garbage in the exact right way—a way so bizarrely proscribed I’m not sure it even exists—then her honesty, motives, ambitions, maturity and gender itself will get called into question.

Then, read what Denise Balkissoon wrote today in The Globe and Mail about how a fortnight of Ghomeshi headlines does not a watershed moment make.

I’m not swayed by the newly enlightened, standing with outstretched, protective arms, advising victims of violence that there’s no longer a need to be ashamed or afraid of coming forward. Let me tell you what too many have heard, and will continue to hear, perhaps forever.

I don’t believe you.

Ottawa is as ugly as anywhere else. This isn’t breaking news. Now, let’s watch question period.

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