I was confronted, last week, by someone who thought I was being a bit mean about Dean del Mastro’s conviction for electoral fraud. Apparently, he’s “suffered enough” and “doesn’t need people taking cheap shots.” Think about his poor family, I was urged. Think about their embarrassment. Think about how bad Dean himself has to feel about the situation. I was left with the impression that I should feel like the bad guy for kicking Deano while he was down.
First of all, and to quote Hunter S. Thompson, “the record will show that I kicked him repeatedly long before he went down.” I’m not piling on after the fact: I’ve been following — and condemning — Dean del Mastro’s behaviour from day one and in fact I’ve been quite reasonable about his whole trial. I’ve done my best to give him the benefit of the doubt in the past, because an arraignment is not a conviction.
But a conviction is a conviction, and electoral fraud is — in my opinion — a particularly heinous crime for a public official to commit. I’m sure that the verdict was absolutely humiliating for del Mastro and his family, but that is not my problem, my concern, or my responsibility. It’s all on Dean, and as I’ve said before his poor-little-me-I’m-a-victim-act does not impress me much.
Dean hasn’t expressed any remorse or regret. The closest he’s come was a sobbing apology to his mother for shedding crocodile tears during the disgraceful histrionics of his self-serving resignation speech. Bear in mind that he didn’t apologize for his actions — he gasped out “sorry mom” for crying during his speech. His disgraceful and cynical self-abasement in the House of Commons earned him a standing ovation from the Conservative caucus that he never really left… and preserved his $40,000 annual pension.
He’s not the victim here. The Canadian voters are the victims. Anyone who claims otherwise is either being a clueless idiot or a lying asshole. Dean del Mastro isn’t just scum, he’s arrogant scum who thinks he can get away with anything just because he’s Dean del Mastro. He’s a bully, a braggart, and a fraud: The first two aren’t crimes, and he’s been convicted of the third; Deano deserves jail time as a warning that breaking electoral law is a serious crime with serious consequences. Anything else undermines Parliament and cheapens our democracy.
Dean del Mastro is a cheap crook. Fuck him.
Del Mastro’s utter lack of class was demonstrated again yesterday, when he showed up at our local Remembrance Day ceremonies. Admittedly he was not welcome on the podium, so he attended as a private citizen… and then immediately co-opted the media spotlight. Rather than attending to pay tribute to Canada’s war dead, del Mastro was there to be seen. He went out of his way to give interviews to the media in a shameless attempt to misappropriate the Remembrance Day ceremony into a bit of publicity for himself… and he had to know that nobody was going to make a scene about his attendance, because even his most strident critics would have ground their teeth and stayed silent out of respect for the solemnity of the day.
Of all the things that piss me off about politicians, the hypocrisy surrounding Remembrance Day is at the top of the list. The very same Conservative MPs (and Deano was in their front rank) who cut veterans’ benefits; who ignore the suffering of soldiers suffering from PTSD; who deliberately discharge injured servicemen before they have the chance to qualify for pension benefits; and who have explicitly stated that Canada owes no debt to veterans… then stand up at the War Memorial once a year for a photo op and mouth rote formulas about duty and honour and sacrifice in order to demonstrate their patriotism.
Dean del Mastro’s attendance at the local service — followed by his impromptu press conference — was the same hypocrisy, just writ small. It was an attempt to co-opt a last, desperate veneer of respectability… without ever considering the fact that his actions were actually disrespectful to veterans. A memorial service for those who died to protect freedom and democracy is no place for someone convicted of undermining the democratic process and it certainly wasn’t the place for him to pose for a photo opportunity.
I wasn’t surprised. I wasn’t even that angry. I just felt drained and tired and sad: It was a selfish, petty act; petulant, inappropriate, and insulting… which have been the defining characteristics of Dean del Mastro’s public life, and which will undoubtedly be the defining characteristics of his legacy as well.