N.S. Liberal party aims for NDP, shoots self in foot

NDP candidate Lenore Zann says she was disappointed but not surprised to learn a Liberal campaign worker leaked a nude photo of her to the media.

The photo of a topless Ms. Zann, an actor, was from an episode of the lesbian drama The L-Word she filmed in Vancouver in 2007.

“Everybody warned me before that politics is dirty, that if they can’t find something on you, they will make something up, that smear campaigns are quite the norm, which I think is really, really a shame for our democracy,” she said in a phone interview from New York on Thursday.

She was there auditioning for an episode of Law & Order.

Ms. Zann, who will be officially nominated Tuesday as the NDP candidate in Truro-Bible Hill, said Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil phoned Thursday to apologize. She accepted.

“He said he was extremely sorry about what had happened and he said he would like to meet with me in person sometime and offer me an apology. So, I said, when I am elected as an MLA and I am in the legislature, we can have that conversation,” she said, chuckling.

— Amy Smith.  “Tempest in a C cup?“, Halifax Chronicle Herald, April 10th, 2009.

I am surprised by three things in this article.

First, the statement by the candidate, Ms. Lenore Zann.  They made up the fact that you showed your boobs on TV?  Really?  Aside from that, yes, smear campaigns are the norm.  They have been the norm since the early days of Athenian democracy, when Demosthenes and Aeschines were busy slandering each other (and their respective family members).  To be ignorant of this fact is to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of politics.  Although I am certain Ms. Zann is merely misrepresenting her rarified understanding for political gain, like any good politician would.

Second, that any Liberal operative or supporter would think that showing a topless photo of an opposing candidate would somehow drive down support.  Italians, for example, have elected porn stars and men’s magazine models to their parliament, without much fanfare.  If that example teaches us anything, it is that showing one’s boobies increases the likelihood of getting elected.  Getting fully nude on the Rick Mercer Report certainly didn’t hurt Bob Rae’s political career.  He hurt it all by himself back in 1990 by getting elected Premier of Ontario.

Third, the overblown statement of ACTRA president Richard Hardacre:

“This is a blatant sexist, personal attack on a worker and one of our members,”” Richard Hard-acre, ACTRA national president, said in the release.

“”We are alarmed that someone would exploit an individual’s professional performance in an attempt to smear their character for political gain.

“This smacks of censorship and dirty politics.”

It may be lame politics, but this is the 21st century.  If you show your boobs on television, it is an ironclad certainty that those images are going to end up on the internet sooner or later, and used for purposes far removed from the original performance (i.e. it is guaranteed to appear on sites specialising in celebrity porn).  Using those images to try and slime a political career is hilariously tone deaf in this day and age, but let’s face it, any time an individual’s professional performance could potentially be wielded against them as a political weapon—whether that performance is in the boardroom or in a studio—it is a safe bet that the opposition will use it.

Politics is all about attempting to smear the opposition’s character by exploiting their professional performance for political gain.  This is why most civilians regard politics as only slightly less sleazy than more honest work, like say prostitution and narcotics trafficking.

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