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CanadaEmma Teitel: Why is Maxime Bernier so obsessed with tampons?

21:25  08 may  2019
21:25  08 may  2019 Source:   thestar.com

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Emma Teitel: Why is Maxime Bernier so obsessed with tampons?© Adrian Wyld People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier says it’s not the government’s role to subsidize menstrual products.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Maxime Bernier: political leader, provocateur, enemy of white pants.

It’s not the epitaph I’d want on my tombstone, but it might someday be inscribed on Bernier’s: a man fundamentally and obsessively opposed to the idea of free tampons.

If you don’t believe me, take a look at Bernier’s Twitter page, home to various screeds about a recent federal government proposal to make menstrual products free and accessible in federally regulated Canadian workplaces.

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The reason for this proposal is simple.

There still exists around the world and, yes, even in Canada, stigma around menstruation, not to mention a disturbing lack of access to the typically expensive products women use when they are on their periods.

“Period Poverty” is a real problem in this country. A study published last year by Plan International Canada, determined that one third of women under 25 had a hard time coming up with money for menstrual products.

Of course Bernier doesn’t appear to care about this public health crisis, because in his mind, a government handout, no matter how humane, is still a handout.

The leader of the People’s Party of Canada tweeted several frenzied objections to the proposal this month. Here are a few of them.

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“So many people have become so used to get freebies, and to have the government hold their hands throughout their lives, that it’s become normal for a political party to campaign on free tampons. Not for me. Time to bring back COMMON SENSE and PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.”

“Hurrah! Our caring and generous government is removing another major social inequity by solving the Great Menstrual Products Unavailability Crisis of the early 21st century. How in the world were previous generations able to manage their lives without such help from Ottawa?!”

“Gender equality bla bla bla they use these products regularly bla bla bla why not hand them out for free to buy their votes.”

At this point it’s entirely fair for Canadians to ask: Is this man a political leader? Or is he a stingy bathroom attendant posing as one?

I used to think Bernier was fixated on a host of issues, from the alleged threat of “mass immigration” to “political correctness.” But these days, at least where his social media presence is concerned, it’s menstruation all the time.

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Perhaps he isn’t a political leader; perhaps he is a plant hired by Tampax competitor Diva Cup to advocate against the use of disposable menstrual products. Or more likely, he lacks the empathy required to understand the government’s policy and why it would make this country a better place.

According to the Canada Gazette, the government publication where the proposal was announced earlier this month:

“Lack of access to menstrual products can create barriers for employees to participate fully in society, including in the labour force. For employees in remote locations, the negative impact to their physical and psychological health may be heightened due to greater barriers.”

The government’s making these products free and accessible would not only chip away at the stigma around menstruation, it would make international news and spark debate about a topic wrongly deemed awkward and “unclean.”

It would set a precedent that menstrual products are essential to the health, happiness, and productivity of Canadians who get their periods.

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In April, the B.C. government announced that by the end of the year, all schools are required to provide free menstrual products to students.

This isn’t the policy of a people that shirk “common sense” and “personal responsibility,” but a people, rather, that champion human decency. That believe it is contrary to Canadian values to allow teenagers to bleed through their pants because they can’t afford a box of Tampax.

This should be the policy in schools everywhere, in Canada and abroad. But it’s not. In the same vein, some version of this policy should exist in most modern workplaces too, but it doesn’t.

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Isn’t it funny that so many new-agey offices are quick to offer unconventional workspaces, flexible hours, and complimentary La Croix in the fridge, but go to the bathroom and there’s nary a tampon in sight? Women’s stuff is still widely considered to be superfluous stuff. It’s not essential stuff.

A government policy normalizing menstruation might change that. Unfortunately it won’t change Maxime Bernier.

If life were a movie on the Women’s Channel, Bernier would wake up tomorrow morning a menstruating woman and by end of week, after befriending a generous ladies room attendant who slipped him a Tampax Pearl in his time of need, learn the error of his ways. But life is just life. And Bernier is Bernier. He will keep on doing what he does best: waging war on white pants. Stock your handbags accordingly.

Emma Teitel is a columnist based in Toronto covering current affairs. Follow her on Twitter: @emmaroseteitel

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