Opinion

Vic Toews, You Could've Been Our Cheney

Eclipsed by media-hog mayors and senators, the Public Safety Minister resigns. Too soon, I say.

By Steve Burgess 10 Jul 2013 | TheTyee.ca

Writer Steve Burgess, like Vic Toews, is on the brink of infamy as a new political columnist at The Tyee.

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Resigning Public Safety Minister Vic Toews: never so scandalous that people stopped mispronouncing his name.

Vic Toews is leaving politics. Last Monday, the Public Safety Minister announced his plan to resign his cabinet post and his seat in Parliament. Toews' statement declared that he plans to focus on his family, so it might be a good idea for Toews' family members to change their email passwords. As for the rest of us, let the word go out: the heat is off. It is now safe to get with the child pornographers.

It was early last year that Toews endeared himself to Canadians by suggesting that those who opposed plans to ease police and government access to private communications were siding with the kiddie porn crowd. Toews also oversaw the scrapping of the long gun registry, rejected plans for independent oversight of the RCMP and won the Nobel Prize for his role in bringing an end to South African apartheid. (Note: While catching up on this week's news I may have opened up too many browser tabs.)

No, Toews' departure has been marked by a distinct absence of tears and/or candlelight vigils. It may be that Toews' supporters are intending to mark his resignation privately. If so, the RCMP may want to monitor their communications to make sure nothing inappropriate is being planned. Vic's true supporters will understand.

Yet even for those who loved to hate Toews, his quiet resignation in the doldrums of summer has to rank as a major disappointment. It's like a Star Wars remake where Darth Vader eventually decides to close the Death Star to save on hydro bills. We don't want our villains to leave with a whimper. A figure of Toews' stature deserved a Nixonian send-off -- some sort of “You won't have Vic Toews to kick around anymore” statement, or even “I am not a crook, or a paranoid small-minded mall cop who somehow got a cabinet post.”

It's sad when a man loses even the basic human urge to read other peoples' mail. Summer ought to be a prime season for Toews. All that sunscreen -- just what are people trying to cover up? All those secret messages flying back and forth describing plans for large groups to gather and set fire to piles of charcoal briquettes. Now that Vic's gone we'll have nothing to keep us in line but Spell Check.

Coulda been our Cheney

For a while Toews looked like he might have the potential to be our very own Dick Cheney. While Toews never actually shotgunned anybody in the face, his efforts on the long gun registry made it easier for others to enjoy the freedom of unfortunate Cheney-like gun incidents without intrusive government interference. And Toews' willingness to wield shotgun political rhetoric of the “disagree-with-me-and-you're-a-child-porn-cheerleader” sort demonstrated a genuine flair for the sort of political villainy that made former vice president Cheney a potential star of some future Batman sequel.

But Toews lacked the gravitas, the sense of genuine menace brought by a Cheney. Nobody could ever picture Vic Toews as an evil puppet master pulling Prime Minister Harper's strings. Easier to picture Toews tying his own shoelaces together and then blaming socialists and the media.

It didn't help that Toews was eclipsed by newer, flashier villains. Sure, scandals swirled around Toews, but there was never any video. When it came to spectacular and allegedly recorded misbehaviour, he fell a crack pipe short of glory. Nor was Toews a senator. These days, if you're not in the Senate, you're strictly minor league, villainy and malfeasance-wise.

What's next for Smiling Vic? We can only theorize. It now appears that NSA leaker Edward Snowden may be decamping for Venezuela. For Toews, the man who revealed the true extent of secret government surveillance must rank as the biggest child pornographer of all. Toews is now free to pursue Snowden like Javert after Jean Valjean, until at last, one day, the world will be a safe place for the next Vic Toews to look over your shoulder. To you from failing hands he passes the binoculars. And Vic? Do let us know how you're getting along.  [Tyee]

Read more: Federal Politics

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