Tag Archives: Power and Politics

No laughing matter; CBC political pundit’s wardrobe malfunction

In the midst of tension  between Canada’s federal government and the resolve of #idlenomore to address and redress the treaty rights of First Nations, there is this story in the Toronto Star (01/30/13/ – Tom Flanagan wears huge bison coat on CBC: Top 10 jokes.

It’s no joke that this was reported as a joke.

Even Flanagan is joking about it. Despite striking the wrong pose – politically, socially, and culturally – Bullfax,com reports Flanagan is unfazed by the uproar his stunt caused, saying, “… it makes me an icon of Canadian history.” Hardly an icon; more narcissistic.

Some people – particularly First Nations people – might not think of Flanagan as much of an icon, either, and that this is such a laughing matter.


The coat is a troubling symbol of the Canadian governments systemic, terrible treatment of First Nations people – the near extermination of the plains bison by colonial fur traders.The government’s desolation of Indian culture; Indian life. But here’s Flanagan – conservative pundit,  author, educator and former adviser to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper – appearing on the CBC’s political program Power and Politics – with his incredibly shrunken head poking out of the neck of his incredibly over sized buffalo coat. (Get this man a stylist.)

Flanagan yaks about the conservative slant on the day’s political cycle and he’s taken seriously in certain circles. But he doesn’t seem to be displaying any seriousness or sensitivity to #idlenomore; to what David Eaves sees as an “existential threat to what we believed Canada was.”

Flanagan is a regular pundit at a round table debate about serious political issues – in this case, trying to make clear the ominously named Clarity Act. (It legislates how the federal government would handle the question of succession by any province.) I watched the segment and was unable to pay attention to anything that he said, seriously. So distracting is the coat and  so insightful its meaning, is it any wonder that none of what he had to say about the Clarity Act was reported or remembered?

Flanagan explains that he was wearing the coat because it was cold in the CBC Calgary studios on the day he appeared for the show’s segment. As a former CBC news anchor, I sat in that same studio under similar studio lights and I can tell you that it never gets cold enough to warrant wearing a great, woolly, fur coat. If you’re cold – and even more so if you’re conservative – put on a sweater vest, for heaven’s sake, not a beast.

Could there be another reason? The American-born Flanagan, according to his Wikipedia entry,

“… has focused on challenging Native and Metis rights. In connection with his multi-year research and publications on Louis Riel, Flanagan published a reinterpretation of the North-West Rebellion, defending the federal government’s response to Métis land claims.

At least we know where he stands and what he wears. Perhaps he should interpret this:

“Fools… wear their hearts proudly on their sleeves, who cannot control their emotions, who wallow in sad memories and allow themselves to be provoked this easily — weak people, in other words…” – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix