07.13.2010 10:19 AM

New boots and smellies

On the one hand, I winced at the “sulphur” remark. On the other hand, as a boot-ownin’ Cowtown boy, I thought the boot-haha about the origins of Ignatieff’s footwear was a bit silly.

Likening Stephen Harper to Satan – because that’s what the sulfuric statement arguably did – isn’t the most adroit strategic move. I mean, what do you say next? That he has the fashion sense of Vlad the Impaler? That he has Attila the Hun’s aura on a bad day? All of those guys worked the Devil. Once you deploy the rhetorical A-bomb, there’s no other weapon to reach for. You’ve said your opponent is the Prince of Darkness. What can you call him after that?

The cowboy boot imbroglio, meanwhile, is no rhetorical High Noon. As anyone who has traveled into the Québeçois hinterland will tell you, the wearing of cowboy boots is something that lots of folks do, not just Calgarians. In fact, I’d wager that there are more cowboy boots worn in rural Québec, chaque jour, than in all of Alberta.

Besides, and since I’m on a bit of a opinionizing roll here, the Stampede irritates me. My family lived in Cowtown for 30 years. As a charter member of the city’s diaspora, I can assure you that long-time residents usually endeavour to be elsewhere when the Stampede kicks off – ideally in another country. I mean, there’s only so many sightings of businessmen barfing all over their brand-new Howdy Doody polyester outfits – on downtown streets, broad-daylight, in front of horrified schoolchildren – that you can take before you want to head for the Rockies. If a real cowboy has ever been in Calgary during Stampede, I’ve yet to meet him.

Anyway. Sulfuric boots, whatever, blah blah blah. It’s Summertime: I had wagered that Iggy would have a pretty tough time attracting media attention on his bus tour. But I guess I was wrong about that.



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    Don Carruthers says:

    The sulfur comment reminds me of something I read in one of Paul Wells’ articles in Maclean’s a while ago: Sen. David Smith was quoted as saying something like “Most Canadians dislike Stephen Harper.” Wells immediately followed the quote by saying something like this: “Actually, most Canadians that David Smith hangs out with dislike Stephen Harper. That’s an important difference.” You could argue that Iggy made that comment in the capacity of what he is: a 416 area code Liberal, who is perpetually surrounded by other 416 area code Liberals who see the world the way he does. It’s one thing to make a comment like that at a Liberal fundraiser in the Annex (hopefully where no media people are present); it’s quite another to make such a comment on a goodwill-building tour of the rather considerable parts of the country where the Liberal Party is on life support and people don’t generally view SH as the antichrist. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

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    matt says:

    Nothing wrong with boots from Quebec. Everything wrong with going to the Calgary Stampede and saying “My boots are from Quebec!” as part of trying to show you have the common touch.

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      Ted says:

      Unless you are trying to win votes in Quebec and not Calgary.

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        matt says:


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    sj says:

    My grandfather was a rancher and was a boardmember of the Stampede, he hated all the city boys in their shiny boots. And having been the staffer picked to accompany a minister to the Stampede several times, I can tell you their is no other event that causes as much concern about wardrobe. State dinners are easy compared to Stampede. New ministers are well advised to buy good leather boots that actually fit, spend time getting a hat that flatters and avoid the syllabub.

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    J. Coates says:

    I love my cowboy boots. Had them hand-made in Mexico for next to nada. I’ve had the soles replaced twice now. They are extremely comfie. They have lasted longer than the cheap garbage Mountain Equipment Co-op passes of as hiking boots and walking shoes.

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    Sean Cummings says:

    It would have been more effective, I think, had he said Harper smelled like Brut 33.

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      Warren says:

      Or Axe! My sons spray that stuff on themselves like it’s water.

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        Paul R. Martin says:

        I doubt that Iggy knows what “Axe” is. I expect that Harper’s son uses it.

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        allegra fortissima says:

        The post “Axe” stage: “Malibu Playboy”, 150ml for $6.99, right next to Axe on the upper shelf. The Shoppers’ audience surely enjoyed the fierce discussion between mother and son which culminated in the juvenile statement: “See the bunny – it’s about naked girls, Mom!”

        There is nothing to beat that!

        We still have some bottles of “Chocolate Axe” left – free, sender pays for shipping!

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    The Other Jim says:

    William M – That’s exactly the crux of the problem. You don’t have a problem with the comments. Few of the “converted” do. Unfortunately (or fortunately if you are Stephen Harper), you and yours only make up a small percentage of the voting public. More to the point, you’ve made up your mind on Harper and nothing positive or negative is going to shake you from that conviction. The vast majority of us, though, neither hate Harper nor think that its exceptionally clever to compare him to Bush and/or Satan. We just want a viable alternative to his exceptionally mediocre government.

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      Emily says:

      Well I’m not fond of any of them. I’d prefer a totally new party.

      One for the 21st century.

      Fresh start, new people, no baggage.

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    Wascally Wabbit says:

    Warren – on the boots thing…next time you are the way up to the cottage – stop at the Mfg. Outlet on 400/89.
    Great boot store there (parent store west along 89 on Alliston main street!)
    Lots of Ontario farmers – particularly the horse farmers wear them.
    [I confess – mine wear purchased in Dallas a long long time ago and I can’t wear the darned things out!]

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    H Holmes says:

    I am going to Stampede like I do every year.
    Few other cities have a sense of civic pride like Calgary.
    It bothers me that people have to slag it, in order to be from Calgary and cool.
    My brother was like this until I finally dragged him kicking and screaming to the Rodeo.
    Now he likes to go as much as myself.

    Its my favorite event.
    Also there are quite a few real Cowboys that go and even compete.

    FYI the second biggest outdoor rodeo in Canada is in Quebec, Festival Western de Saint-Tite.
    Would love to go to it.

    The whole sulfur comment was ridiculous.
    Oh well, I think by now every politician should now that anything they say will be taken in the least positive way.

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      matt says:

      Stampede requires me to wear jeans to work and drink as part of work. Who could dislike that?

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    Namesake says:

    Iggy was just on Power & Politics, & Evan (sigh) asked him about it. He acknowledged making the sulfur remark, but said not to take it seriously: it was just a joke. He disavowed any connection to the Chavez thing, saying it never occurred to him, & that they’re thousands of miles apart, ideologically speaking.

    I think he can be given the benefit of the doubt on this, & that he likely got sandbagged by his too-much-like-me speechwriter, this pimply-faced geek, his former student at Harvard, who is all of 23 (& most likely _did_ know & intend the Chavez/Bush ref.):


    He’s profiled at: http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/05/07/mountains-of-youth/ (and that photo I lined above was from 2005: http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2005/10/12/my-great-escape-when-i-was/ — before he starting wearing bow ties)

    and is semi-live blogging the bus tour at: http://www.liberal.ca/newsroom/blog/liberal-express-day-0-help-im-trapped-inside-the-new-liberal-ca/

    This’ll sound odd coming from me, but I think his Young Turks need more adult supervision to prevent that kind of gaffe. Young Adam got hired on all ruddy cheeked just a year after writing for Harvard’s student papers, a secular humanist context where it was ok to snicker at people’s religious convictions; he even referred to _himself_ and all fellow Canadian Liberals as “the antichrist” in most Americans’ eyes, in this piece: http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2004/10/19/dont-say-the-l-word-when-george/

    But if he’d ever written for a _real_ paper, he’d have been roasted alive in a zillion angry letters & comments for tossing around words like that (as I do, too, of course), and would’ve learned his lesson before landing his new boss in the doo-doo.

    It’s too bad that Evan has the attention span of a cocker spaniel, tho’: he only asked Iggy about issues from the past few days — not about his views on the G20 debacle & inquiries.

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    Masked Evenger says:

    Amazing. Truly amazing. In just a very short time we have seen the LPC go from the most successful political party of any country over the past 100 years, to an incompetent, incoherent mess. This is the party that actually elected Stephane Dion leader. The party that not only thinks Justin Trudeau to be highly qualified but even the messiah for the future. Just you wait a few years! The party that didn’t even bother to elect Iggy because, well, because he was just so great an intellectual mind he could not fail to captivate voters. What a stunning melt down we are witnessing. Hell, all the LPC needs now is for Iggy to make a few golf “….but the ball it does not know it…” jokes in Calgary. I’d wager not a single senior Liberal, not a one, has any idea of how it came to this and the faintest idea what to do about it.

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    ghoris says:

    Masked Evenger, please see:

    Turner, John – leadership of, 1984-1989.

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    Millgrist says:

    Sulfur, may be a direct thought connect to the devil, and lord knows it is well over the top as statements go, especially about a fellow that has fooled 34 percent of the population 9 out of 10 times + – 1%, and been raved about around the world by politicians that hardly know their own reason for survival in their 15 minutes of fame. Our fearless leader’s success lately is the natural outcome of Michael Wilson, Paul Martin’s and to some considerable degree Ralph Goodale’s steady hands on the rudder, however the real problem is if the NDP can’t explain to the other 66% that for the most part it’s old following has grown up left the building and are sipping Lattes,and are not an economic threat to sound business principles while the Liberals are trying to hang on to the belief that they still have some solid backing in the boardrooms of the nation, which they do but only as a corporate hedging policy. The Conservatives are now holding sway with the Joe and Jane sixpack(and Tim Hortons) and the recent immigrant and second and third generation ethnic vote has been co-opted for now by them as well, in this regard it is amazing that there remains 66 % percent of doubters and deeply suspicious voters, we indeed have moved our country to a literate level, that can at least read between the lines. And as the opposition parties are both now adept at channeling the Weimar republic of Germany of 1930’s fame, they would do Nero proud except they must remember Reels for eastern Canada and Blue Grass west of Winnipeg, cowboy boots optional but welcomed. The issue is at what point do the real Conservatives in this country rise and say enough is enough we have three possible poor choices one of them is our’s. Let us redirect our energy pick a replacement, because we love our country, not because we aren’t impressed with our leaders ability to Chameleon his way one step away from a cliff again and again, but the truth is there is no nation on earth that ever came out well when the leader embraced a party to do its bidding and further a personal agenda, rather than vice versa. Trudeau was sought out, headhunted so to speak to modernize Canada and the Liberal Party. What resulted was a mixture of the man and where the party already knew it wanted to get to. Where our present Prime minister was no less a straw man to the party, they were more the price of admission and giving the devil his due(theres that smell again) for the greater good of an agenda a lifetime in forment. The end game must be clear and outstanding in his mind as be has done a 180 degree turn on what is now dozens of preconceived hard spoken points of view, if he was a feather tick all the seams would be exposed by now. But as many well know the first sign of death and decay is the smell of sulfur, and there is much around Canada in at least three barn yards. Watch you don’t step in it with those shiny new boots.

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