In other words, don’t exploit someone’s passing to further your campaign. It’s just, well, ghoulish.
New Brunswick MP John Williamson found himself in contravention of that guideline this week when he posted a eulogy on his Facebook site to a young reservist in his riding.
Here it is, as quoted by iPolitics:
“It is with great sadness that I learned of the death of Samuel Nadeau, a reservist with the 8th Canadian Hussars, at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown. My thoughts and prayers are with his family who are grieving his loss.
We are a nation at war, explicitly targeted by an enemy that is setting a new standard in barbarism.
Volunteering to put on the uniform and take up arms for one’s country takes on a special significance under these circumstances.
Mr. Nadeau’s life was much too short.
But his spirit of service and love of country will live in our memory. He died a loyal and patriotic Canadian. May he rest in peace.”
A noble offering of condolence, except for one thing: Nadeau was killed Monday during training exercises at CFB Gagetown.
The official notice of his death from the Department of Defence makes no references to ISIS or barbarism or direct threats to Canada.
It appears Williamson simply used the opportunity to repeat much-touted Conservative Party talking points at a time when offering comfort to the family should have been paramount.
It’s not the first time Williamson has come under scrutiny.
Even his own caucus colleagues cringed in March when he complained about Canada paying “whites” to stay home while bringing in “brown people” to work as temporary foreign workers.
There’s a twist to this week’s story, however.
The Liberal candidate in the district, Karen Ludwig, condemned the partisan messaging, but then said this to iPolitics.
“Having lost my brother Jeff, an officer in the Canadian Armed Forces, in 2012, at CFB Kingston in a military training exercise, I personally can appreciate the sadness and shock experienced by Private Samuel Nadeau’s family.
There is not a time when I see the ‘Highway of Heroes’ sign that I don’t think of Jeff and how proud he was to serve his country.
This is a time to offer comfort to the family, not politicize a tragic loss. Mr. Williamson might have been wiser to express his condolences to the family and leave it at that.”
So, wait a minute.
In complaining about exploiting tragedy for political gain, Ludwig brings up her own brother’s death, and uses it to one-up Williamson.
It’s all just a little unseemly.
Here’s what should happen: when someone dies, offer your condolences.
Don’t colour it with self-serving baggage.
It’s that simple.