Saturday, June 11, 2005

There's Something About Nina

Canada's National Newspaper has a most interesting article about MP Nina Grewal, whom the Globe's fair and balanced reporters portray as Gurmant Grewal's Stepford wife:

She learned everything she needed to know about politics from watching the parliamentary channel CPAC, her husband Gurmant Grewal says, but Nina Grewal's continued silence has a growing number of critics wondering if she was watching on mute.

When she gave a CBC radio interview after they both won for the Tories in the 2004 election, making history as the first husband-and-wife team elected at the same time, he whispered the answers to her.

In the hours of conversation Mr. Grewal had with the Liberals, she is referred to simply as his “wife” as the talk centres on a possible Senate seat for her — part of a deal that would have seen the couple leave the Conservative party or sit out the budget vote.

Her life before she got started in politics remains something of a mystery.

Born in Osaka, Japan, where her father had business interests, Ms. Grewal, 46, and her family moved to Liberia in West Africa when she was 4½ years old. From there, she was sent to Shimla, India, to study in a convent, finishing her college degree in history and English literature before getting married in 1982.

“My father placed a matrimonial advertisement in The Tribune newspaper and Gurmant's parents responded,” she said in a rare interview in November, 2004, for an Indian website.

“Not one person that I know has ever remembered her doing anything in the community. It's a big mystery about where she came from, what she did,” she said. “People here resent the fact that someone who was only known as the wife of a politician suddenly becomes a politician herself with nothing to show with any community involvement.”

You get the gist of the article (co-authored by giggling schoolgirl reporterette Jane Taber). The Globe is shocked and appalled to discover that Mrs. Grewal chooses to stand quietly behind her husband during his difficulties, instead of dumping him publicly or running to the microphones in his defence.

These cosmopolitan urbanites are no less shocked to discover that the Grewals' marriage was arranged through a matrimonial ad. Well, that's how they do it in Punjab. How's that different from posting a personals ad on Lavalife? Respect for other cultural traditions, people!

And horror of horrors, she might defer to her husband's judgment on occasion instead of being Superwoman.

To read the article, you'd think that Mrs. Grewal was practically barefoot, pregnant and chained to the stove. The subtext is unmistakable: here's another Indian treating his wife like property, aren't they all an unenlightened bunch?

Somehow I doubt the Globe would have written a similar hit piece about Jack Layton and Olivia Chow.

(And they've suddenly ceased to write about Belinda Stronach in the same vein, too.)

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