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Anti-bullying begins with the politicians

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So Premier Greg Selinger wants to combat bullying in schools.

I would suggest to him and politicians of every political stripe that they start with themselves.

Bullying isn’t an inherit trait. It’s learned behavior. One kids pick up from numerous sources – television shows and video games, adult role models.

Most kids don’t spend hours paying attention to politicians but their behavior still trickles down. People look to their leaders to set an example. Even if only on a subconscious level.

The constant harassment, name-calling, stretching of facts and delivery of complete lies is just not OK.

If we don’t want our kids calling each other names on the playground, if we shudder at the idea of how cruel kids can be in their intimidation and harassment of other kids they perceive as weak or vulnerable or just don’t like, we can no longer accept that to do the same thing in the political sphere is just politics.

Whether it is the senior minister of this province engaging in a bullying campaign against reporters like yours truly, attempting to intimidate me from writing anything critical of him.

Whether it is riduclous campaigns launched by the provincial NDP suggesting Manitoba Tory leader Hugh McFadyen wants you to swim in pee.

Whether it is a Liberal MP calling the defence minister a "slime" and then issuing a quarter-hearted apology that had her repeat the slur three times.

Whether it is U.S. politicians saying often enough that the current U.S. president isn’t American a quarter of Americans and 41 per cent of Republicans believe it.

The amount of defamation and slander that comes from the mouths of politicians and their minions these days is abhorrent.

There hasn’t been a significant debate or discussion on policy for months. Every House debate, every committee hearing, every news conference and scrum, is about outwitting, out-embarrassing, and out-maneuvering one’s opponents.

It’s not leadership.

It’s a form of bullying.

And it’s unacceptable.

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About Mia Rabson

Mia Rabson is a born and bred Winnipegger whose interest in politics seemed clear when she dressed up as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for Halloween in the 7th grade.

Her interest in writing was no surprise to her parents, who learned early in Mia’s life that no piece of blank paper — or wall, for that matter — was safe in her hands.

She holds an honours BA in English from Queen’s University, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and has completed a political journalism fellowship in Washington, D.C. with the Washington Centre for Politics and Journalism.

Prior to working for the Winnipeg Free Press, Mia briefly worked for the Detroit News in the paper’s Washington bureau.

Mia joined the Free Press team in February 2001, and in April 2001 was appointed to the Manitoba legislature bureau. In December 2004, she was appointed bureau chief at the legislature. She became the newspaper’s parliamentary bureau chief/national reporter in Ottawa in January 2008.

In 2008 she was nominated for a Michener Award with a team of reporters from the Free Press for its coverage of the province’s child welfare system.

She counts reliving the invasion at Dieppe, France, with veterans of the failed Second World War expedition and overcoming her fear of heights to touch the Golden Boy statue atop the Legislative Building among her favourite experiences as a reporter.

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