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Author Margaret Atwood meets with members of the Globe and Mail's editorial board to talk about culture and upcoming federal election. (Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
Author Margaret Atwood meets with members of the Globe and Mail's editorial board to talk about culture and upcoming federal election. (Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

At the editorial board

Margaret Atwood at the editorial board Add to ...

The Mulroney Tories then became the Liberals of the 19th century.

Mr. Bardeesy: Political opposition often gains fuel by humour and is often expressed through humour. I'm wondering, in Canada, do we have enough humour in our opposition? Your piece was very funny, but do we have enough...

Ms. Atwood: I'm not a politician. Nor do I shill for any of them, particularly. I'm an independent observer.

Mr. Bardeesy: Perhaps "dissent" is the better word than opposition?

Ms. Atwood: Not even "dissent," I would say "critique." And I have done that in the past. I never actually got a chance with the NDP, but I certainly did it with the Liberals when they were in power for so long.

You can go back and read some of the old comic strips. We actually had quite a bit of trouble with the Liberals in the artistic community because Trudeau didn't want any of this cultural nationalism because he felt it played into Quebec separatism. So he was not very supportive in that respect at all.

Mr. Bardeesy: So, do we need more satire? More comedy?

Ms. Atwood: There is quite a bit of it out there. Don't know whether you trolled the web at all. There's - can I swear? Have you seen ShitHarperDid? Have you seen the one with the two little bears? And there's a whole series now called "Women Breaking Up with Harper" and they break up with him indifferent cities. Even Edmonton. Well, "Women Break Up with Harper Edmonton" probably is the most toughest one, but there's an Antigonish one, a Hamilton one, there's various different ones: "Steve, it's over. You lied to me. You spent my money. You took away my daycare and told the kids to stay at home."

I think the other thing that's really, really worrying is the extent to which watchdogs who serve the public have been shut down. I'm thinking in particular, of the nuclear regulator, who was simply fired. The long form census person who was forced to resign because they lied about what he said.

These are the acts of a dictation-minded outfit. In other words, truth is what we say it is. They lied about the Auditor-General, she caught them out. But this is the tendency, and this is why the Dictate-o-meter is going down, towards the dictatorship.

Julie Traves, Deputy Arts Editor: Is that what this election is missing? Sex appeal? I'm not being facetious.

The one that could best be turned into a Harlequin romance or a Harlequin non-fiction would be The Helena [Guergis]Affair. So it would be a book called Smeared.

I'm not joking. It would actually make a great story. Because whatever you think of her husband, what happened to her was not right. Maybe there are reasons for not telling the general public about what the cocaine sniffing off of prostitutes chests charges were, but there was no reason for not telling her. Once you are not telling a person what they are accused of, you write off an Inquisition and its really wrong.

Mr. Owen: How would you vote in Simcoe-Grey?

Ms. Atwood: I'd vote for her. I would. Partly because it makes a better ending.

And I think that story resonates with so many women because it is a lot like Mean Girls. The Mean Girls don't tell you what they are whispering behind your back. In Mean Girls the target of all of this strikes back, and Helena is striking back. But it is a lot like that, and it is a lot like whispering campaigns and witch burnings. The person is singled out for reasons that are not the same as the reasons that are put forward.

The other telling moment is "This Individual."

"This Individual" is from cop shows. This Individual is what you call the perpetrator climbing through the window. So they're not a man and they're not a woman. They're not a person.

It's a little photo moment of what happens to you when you're on the outs in some way.

The other telling moment is her statement: "I want to return to my Conservative family." So, there is a "Conservative family." You are either a member of the family or you are not a member of the family. If you are not a member you don't get in.

And that applies not only to her, who was kicked out. If you were doing a cartoon you could almost do the Victorian sending the women being out into the snow with her baby. This Individual is not going to be allowed into this house again.

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