And the Meek Shall Inherit…

The stir raised by Ruth Ellen Brosseau’s win in the last election was amazing but understandable. After all, the cute young Brosseau was an assistant manager at a campus bar without diploma or degree who was on vacation in Las Vegas during the election, doesn’t speak French and has never been to the Quebec riding she was in the running to represent. When she was elected as the NDP candidate in her riding, her shocked and offended opposition began casting aspersions on her qualifications and challenging her legitimacy as a candidate. A surprised public do doubt thought it was funny that someone who had never been to her riding, didn’t campaign and couldn’t even speak the language of the people she aimed to represent could win against seasoned politicians. Brosseau hardly took the common path to public service.

It turns out that Ruth Ellen Brosseau’s path to Parliament isn’t quite so unique this year. In Southern Alberta, Lethbridge elected “The Man Who Wasn’t There’ to be their Conservative MP. Like Brosseau, Jim Hillyer was invisible during the campaign and has a questionable resume, yet still managed to secure a win in the election. And, while some will probably cheer these victories as “the little guy” managing to get ahead and common folk finding their way into the halls of power, to the betterment of our nation, what Hillyer and Brosseau demonstrate is that voting party preference sometimes saddles you with someone who doesn’t belong. The other sad conclusion is that parties are disinterested enough in individual ridings that they will allow unqualified and disinterested candidates to run for election in the first place, and we’re willing to accept the insult.


I voted party preference. I know nothing about the candidate in my riding who got my vote. I just simply don’t pay a lot of attention to local politics. I do know that the annoying dude with the arrogant smile who walked up to my car as I was trying to back into my garage and announced that he was the Conservative candidate irritated me. Maybe that’s not a good reason to not vote for someone, but ambushing someone in their driveway when they haven’t even shut off their car yet? Seriously?

I sort of assume that the candidates are actually qualified to represent me in a political arena. I don’t necessarily expect them to have PhDs or be third generation politicians, but I expect them to be intelligent and acquainted with the political process. I expect that they have been interested enough in getting the job that they have interviewed for it, or, in other words, campaigned. I may be using them as a tool to elect the Prime Minister I want, but I still expect that they aren’t just a placeholder that is likely no better suited to the position than I am. Otherwise, why the hell shouldn’t it be me?

Brosseau’s bio was “flawed.” It stated that she had a diploma from a college. In fact, she never finished the program. This was a big bone of contention for her opposition after she won. There was a mea culpa from the NDP, stating that she had never represented herself as a graduate and that the party had in fact made the mistake when they published her bio.Maybe they’re even right. Or, maybe her actual resume looked an aweful lot like she was saying she had graduated. People embellish on their resumes all the time, don’t they?

Hillyer is far worse. His employment history defies deciphering; there are claims that he held upper management positions in a number of companies, yet the only company for which he can actually verify he worked is DeVry Institute of Technology, as a student recruiter. His other jobs are self-described as “entrepreneurial.” I’m not sure how you get from student recruiting and self-employment to “many upper level management positions” with various companies, but it’s probably the same way you get to his PhD.

Apparently, Hillyer has a PhD in Constitutional Law. The fact that the degree was granted by a Mormon school run out of a building off the side of a road in Utah, a school that isn’t actually accredited to confer degrees, was not mentioned by the Conservative party in their bio. Hillyer defends this by saying, “Theoretically, a school could form it’s own accreditation body and call itself accredited.”

Yes, douche, they could, and they would still not be any more able to offer credible degrees to anyone. That’s why we have regulatory bodies for schools and institutions to validate the level and quality of program being offered by a school before deeming the school capable of offering degrees. Otherwise, I could start teaching and handing out degrees too.

The school Hillyer studied at was formed by a man who claimed that The Book of Mormon contains “all the necessary fields of study, at levels from kindergarten to doctoral studies … both for religious and secular education.” So, I feel pretty confident that Dr. Hillyer is well versed in Constitutional Law through his studies of the Book of Mormon and can adequately represent his constituents among his peers. I use the word “peers” very carefully, with reservations and pretty loosely.

Hillyer was invisible throughout the campaign, but that in itself doesn’t mean much. He refused to participate in public forums and interviews, but this, again, isn’t odd. The Conservatives run a tight ship, and they don’t actually want the people we are electing talking to anyone. My guess is that with candidates like Hillyer, there would be fewer people elected if they were actually allowed to open their mouths. So, it’s better to keep them under wraps. And, with the careful way Stephen Harper ran his own campaign and the degree of control he exercised over his caucus throughout his leadership of the country, it’s not surprising that candidates like Hillyer were muzzled and kept out of view.

So, a unilingual bar manager and a self-employed dude with a degree that came out of a bubble-gum wrapper are now both making over $150k as elected MPs in ridings that they didn’t campaign in.

This is the quality of candidate our political parties are gracing us with. They respect us, our needs and opinions so greatly that they can’t even give us candidates for election that are qualified, interested or honest. If you can’t see the insult in that, I’m not sure how much more obvious it needs to be.

Maybe I’ll run for election next time around. I mean, I must be at least as qualified as Dr. Hillyer. By the time I would need to campaign, I should be able to purchase at least two doctorates. And, my resume has actual companies and verifiable job positions on it.

I wouldn’t mind a $150k salary.

Of course, I wasn’t a life skills counsellor for an organization founded by the Bob Proctor, the self-help puts who wrote “The Secret.” Hillyer was. But, maybe he can teach me how to will the universe to bend to my desire for money, fame and females.

It seems to be working for him.

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[…] that had underdelivered than it had to do with the NDP themselves. I’ve written before (“And the Meek Shall Inherit”) that the calibre of candidate put forward by some of the parties is an indication of their abject […]

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