September 21, 2017
WINNIPEG - On Thursday, I was asked about Wab Kinew and his leadership of the Manitoba NDP, and in comments to reporters I made my position clear.
I stated that what is at issue is not the kind of person Wab Kinew was ten or fifteen years ago. I agree that people can change, and should get a second or sometimes even a third chance.
It is about what Wab Kinew and the Manitoba NDP are doing right now: saying that the woman accusing him of domestic abuse is lying.
Only one of them can be telling the truth.
And we should have no illusions about who the victim is here.
The victim, in this case, the woman who has been driven into hiding for speaking up. She is facing terrible abuse and threats that she does not deserve. She is not just having her character questioned, she is having her life destroyed.
When it came to the choice between believing and protecting a woman who said she had been abused, and believing and protecting a man they think is the key to returning them to power, the Manitoba NDP’s choice was clear. They chose power.
By accusing her of lying, Kinew and the Manitoba NDP have opened the floodgates to a torrent of misogynist hatred directed at her specifically, and women more generally.
This is shocking, because there are good people in the Manitoba NDP who are willing to be a part of this. Prominent victim’s rights advocates, and countless others who have demanded resignations for far less, are now willing to cast doubt on the accusations of a victim.
Where is the concern for the far more dangerous, and all-too-common message this sends to victims? That if they come forward, they will not be believed - they will just be ignored, or worse become victims again.
What we are watching unfold, in real time, is how an institution mobilizes to protect the powerful from allegations of abuse. Victims are silenced and discredited, and good people say nothing out of fear.
You cannot say you stand with survivors and call one a liar at the same time.
That is exactly what is happening right now. The Manitoba NDP and Wab Kinew need to face up to what they are doing - not in the past, but now.
This is what is at issue. It is what happened last week, what is happening today and every day. It has to stop.
Mistakes can be forgiven, but as a matter of justice and principle some acts disqualify people from holding certain jobs or positions. Because it may mean revictimizing people who were hurt in the past.