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The tragedy of Two-Tier Tony

Tony Clement with gazebo as hat - by Tigana Flickr CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0
John Bell, Left Jab

November 9, 2018

After almost 20 years in “public service” Tony Clement’s career is in tatters thanks to news that he has been caught sending texts of his genitalia to someone who used the dick pix for extortion purposes. It seems Clement is on committees that give him access to sensitive security information.

That caused Tory leader Andrew Scheer to demote the veteran from his shadow cabinet. Clement swore it was a one-time deal. Then came a flood of information from women about a long history of creepy behaviour. Then it was learned that this wasn’t the first time he had been threatened with extortion from sharing on-line explicit photos. That caused Tory Leader Andrew Scheer to kick Clement out of his caucus.

A Harris MPP

Clement is asking for understanding for his weaknesses, and that we allow him to seek help. While we would love to be charitable, here are some facts from Clement's career that might inform that charity.

Wonder what might have led young Tony to a lifetime of being a dick? Maybe it was his time as a student “free speech” advocate busy in the pro-Apartheid struggle. He was one who fought to bring the South African ambassador to U of T to explain why whites should rule. You get the idea.

Clement has been nothing if not consistent. He was a leading figure in Mike Harris’s government beginning in 1995, took a little break when those provincial Tories were thrown out in disgust after two terms, then hitched his wagon to Stephen Harper. For the past 12 years he has pushed the same policies he championed as an Ontario MPP: slashing public services, deregulation, whipping up hysteria to promote policing and militarization, and blaming victims.

Under Harris he was in turn Minister of Transportation, the Environment, Municipal Affairs and Housing, and–most memorably–Health and Long Term Care. The privatization of toll-highway 407 was a massive cash giveaway, resulting in billing abuses, safety short-cuts, and police investigations. As for the Environment, the deaths from drinking water in Walkerton resulted from deregulation and weakened standards. Clement’s fingerprints are all over those debacles.

But it was as Health Minister that Clement won his nickname, Two-Tier Tony. Amalgamation and closure of hospitals meant layoffs of nurses and loss of beds–the origin of the “hallway healthcare” the Doug Ford is pretending to solve with even more cuts. Clement initiated the building of a new “public private partnership” hospital in his own Brampton riding. From the outset the privately built and run hospital met opposition from the community, workers and healthcare advocates. Cost over-runs, poor planning and mismanagement led to shortage of beds at the hospital, which–coupled with the closure of other public facilities–became the only ER to serve Brampton, one of the fastest growing towns in the province. The results were disastrous for health, but profitable for business.

Taking it national: Harper Cabinet star

After a brief hiatus during which he helped transform the rebranded Reform Party Alliance into the Conservative Party, Clement was back serving the interests of the rich and wrecking ordinary lives. Having ruined his reputation in Brampton, he sought bluer pastures, moving to the safe Tory seat in Muskoka.

As federal Health Minister, Clement led the charge to prosecute casual marijuana users, declaring “The party’s over!”. Under his leadership and hysteria over the evils of pot, arrests in some major cities increased by one third. He also set the template for Tory Health Ministers ignoring a mountain of evidence proving safe injection sites save lives and reduce addiction.

Ignoring harm-reduction facts and evidence, there was always right-wing ideology to fall back on: “The supervised injection site undercuts the ethic of medical practice and sets a debilitating example for all physicians and nurses, both present and future in Canada,” Clement pontificated. “This is a profound moral issue.”

Clement’s morality was on display in his next position, Industry Minister. There, he oversaw the shutdown of the federal census; undercut the CRTC when it threatened to weaken the telecommunications stranglehold of the big corporations; and divied up $50 million earmarked for security at the G8 Summit among small town mayors from his riding, to pretty up their store-fronts. Part of the dough went toward the Muskoka gazebo that will forever be part of his legacy.

Then on to President of the Treasury Board where his career-long hatred of organized labour came in handy. In charge of negotiating with federal workers, Clement promised to claw back their pensions, wages and benefits. “So that means taking a position that will alter the dynamics of collective bargaining as it has been done in this country over the last few decades.”

When Tory Senators Mike Duffy, Pam Wallin and Patrick Brazeau were implicated in scandals that hurt Harper, Clement was hardly clement. He tried to bring in rules that would strip disgraced politicians some of their pensions and perks: too bad it didn’t go further

In opposition: still a dick

Two-Tier Tony managed to keep his nose above water when Trudeau’s red wave swept away most of Harper’s worst. He announced his candidacy for Tory leader to replace Harper, but dropped out because no one came forward to support him financially or with endorsements–perhaps a clue to the observant that even his own Party was on to his now-known history of creepy behavior and marital infidelity.

Two-Tier Tony was recently seen on the town enjoying a date with his wife–spotted standing in line outside Roy Thomson Hall to see Steve Bannon (lying hater) debate David Frum (hateful liar).

And then came news that finally spelled his downfall–insert your own dick joke here. He is sorry and begs our understanding. After all these years, looking over the thread of his career, I think I understand him pretty well. The true tragedy of Two-Tier Tony Clement is that it took a tawdry little scandal like this to scuttle him. His politics of greed, callous inhumanity, and betrayal of the public interest should have been more than enough to do him in.


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