Beer and PopcornBy John-Henry Westen

OTTAWA, December 13, 2005 ( – The remarks of chief Liberal spokesman and strategist Scott Reid on Sunday which said that parents couldn’t be trusted with the $1,200 per year per child Conservative Choice in Childcare Allowance because they would just “blow” the money on “beer and popcorn” (see coverage: ) have generated some very interesting feedback.

Political scientists are predicting major fallout from the slip-up.ÂHeather MacIvor, a political scientist at the University of Windsor told the Globe and Mail: “This is the first big gaffe of the Liberal campaign. The one issue that people are talking about [in this election] is child care, and that makes it all the more damaging for the Liberals. It’s quite remarkable that a senior Liberal official . . . would have put things in such an insensitive way. To paint yourself as worse than Mr. Harper is trying to paint you is really quite astonishing.”

Another expert agreed. Allan Tupper, of the political science department at the University of British Columbia, told the Globe, “The timing is not ideal because it will obviously be used in [this week’s] debates.”

While the issue is a major one for Canadians and even the normally Liberal-biased media, the publicly funded Canadian national broadcaster CBC, which has been described as an ‘alternative Liberal Party’, studiously avoided mention of the scandal in it’s The National news program last night. CBC Watch, a website which keeps tabs on CBC, reports “This has been ignored by CBC and was completely omitted from last night’s National. The National featured an attack by Martin on Harper, yet nothing in reverse over Scott Reid.” ( ) Many media outlets have acknowledged that Martin’s renewed attack on Harper on homosexual ‘marriage’ was meant to deflect criticism over the beer and popcorn scandal.

According to the official Liberal Party Blogster Scott Feschuk, the Prime Minister was quite upset about the remarks. “The PM was mighty cheesed about the remarks and told Scott so. Quite possibly more than once. Also, kinda loudly,” reported Feschuk. ( )

But calls for Reid’s dismissal, such as the editorial from today’s Edmonton Sun ( ), will fall on deaf ears. Susan Delacourt, the Ottawa Bureau Chief for the Toronto Star explains in an article today that Reid, 36, “advises not only on communication, but on policy, too.” Says Delacourt, “More than one person has joked that Reid may actually be running the government, since this is an administration clearly fixated on reacting to the media. For that reason alone, Martin won’t likely be asking for Reid’s resignation over this incident.” ( )

The reaction from grassroots Canadians has also been more animated than usual. One Toronto father set up a website yesterday to gather signatures opposed to the “beer and popcorn” Liberal attitude. already has thousands of signatures. Stephen Taylor, a Conservative blogger, hit back at Reid by posting his “hospitality expenses” tab from pubs so far this year ( )

Conservative Child Care Critic Rona Ambrose said during a press conference yesterday “Clearly, these top Liberals said what they really believe: that parents waste their money on frivolous choices rather than their kids’ real needs. She added, “The Liberals just don’t get it: parents make enormous sacrifices for their kids, and need every bit of help they can get. That’s why we’re proposing the Choice in Child Care Allowance – to let parents decide what’s best for their families, rather than the government deciding for them.”Â

She concluded with this challenge to the Liberals: “If the Liberals were really sorry for these patronizing remarks, then they would drop their plans for a one-size-fits-all bureaucratic scheme, and agree to respect and support parents’ child care choices.”

However, the “anti-parent – government insists it knows best and needs to do the parenting for you” attitude has been consistently expressed from the Liberal Party without repercussion.

Ken Dryden, Liberal Minister of Social Development, in comments made in the House of Commons this February, insulted parents who would like to have a parent spend time at home with young children.”If we asked them if they would like ice cream once a week and chocolate twice a day, about the same percentage would say the same,” said Dryden. (Hansard, February 15, 2005)

Last year, Dryden compared at-home parenting to denying kids proper medical care. On CFRA radio on November 18, 2004 Dryden dismissed helping stay-at-home parents by comparing it to parents who tried to treat their children at home rather than take them to a doctor or to the hospital.

In the recent past, Liberal Ministers were nearly turfed for similar anti-family remarks, but it seems there is no suggestion of forced resignation for insult to families today. In 1999 Jim Peterson, Liberal Trade Minister, created a firestorm that almost forced his resignation when he insulted stay-at-home parents, suggesting that fulltime parents don’t really work. The National Post reported that in March of that year Peterson suggested that parents who both have jobs outside the house work twice as hard as families in which one parent stays at home.