Our hearts go out to the students who reside in the Calgary West riding. Since 1997 they have had the undue embarrassment of putting up with the ranting, snoozing and general ineffectiveness of their Member of Parliament, Robert J. Anders. However, Anders's antics may finally be catching up with him, and we might now be capable of imagining a future Calgary that is free from the dead-weight of Rob Anders.
During a Veteran's Affairs presentation and discussion in Halifax on homeless veterans, Anders (who had showed up considerably late) managed to stretch out and sleep through most of the session.
As if falling asleep wasn't bad enough, when the meeting's presenters Jim Lowther and David MacLeod-- both of whom are Canadian Forces veterans who volunteer to aide homeless veterans-- complained about the mp's dozy behaviour, Anders responded by denying that he had in fact been sleeping, and called the men (who are both card-carrying Conservatives) "npd hacks" and supporters of Vladimir Putin. Making matters worse, Anders issued an apology sent to the media via the Prime Minister's Office, stating, "I want to apologize for any offence my comments may have caused veterans or anyone else," which failed not only to personally apologize to the men Anders had insulted, but he refused owning up to being caught sleeping on the job. Lowther and MacLeod, understandably even more offended, rejected Anders's apology and have since asked for Anders to step down.
What's most painful is that the incident is not a first for Rob Anders, nor do we doubt it will be the last if he manages to stay in politics. Last year Anders was caught on film sleeping during a session in the House of Commons. The video quickly went viral, but Anders dismissed it by claiming he was recovering from injuries. However, as Liberal mp Sean Casey, vice-chairman of the veteran affairs committee who witnessed Anders's napping during the veterans affairs presentation stated, "It's a regular occurrence . . . I sit across from him when we meet in Ottawa and I've seen his neighbours poke him awake sometimes." Anders, true to his character, responded by saying that Casey is in the pockets of the ndp. Anders, whose career in parliament can be described as lacklustre at best (the highlight being his and Ezra Levant's attack against the cbc), seems quite capable of one thing: digging himself deeper into trouble.
It might actually be the case that Anders, as a result of a collision with an 18-wheel truck that he claims happened "out east" giving him "whiplash," now suffers from a medical condition rendering him incapable of staying awake while on the job. But the frequent denials by "old snoozy" (as Lowther has nicknamed Anders) are downright childish and embarrassing. Add to it the fact that Anders repeatedly uses the same obscene accusation towards his detractors, calling them 'terrorists' or 'communists' (like he called Nobel Peace Prize recipient Nelson Mandela in 2001).
While many of Anders's fellow Conservative mps defend him and applaud his 'outspokenness,' we can hardly stand the sight or sound of him. As Rosie DiManno wrote of Anders in The Toronto Star in 2001, "[He] is a callow . . . mp for Calgary West, [a] cipher of high dudgeon and low intellect, a sadly misguided voice who knows little of history and shamefully less of global politics." While Anders naps away-- possibly dreaming of 1950s Red-scare America, sitting beside Joseph McCarthy and denouncing all those he opposes as communists-- the rest of us are not only wide awake, but are appalled that such a wretched individual has managed for 15 years to waste the time and resources of the Calgary West constituency. Lowther and MacLeod have asked Anders to step down in his role on the veterans affairs committee, but for the sake of all Canadians we hope he leaves politics entirely.