As another Parliamentary session grinds to a halt, it is incumbent upon those of us who toil in the columnist class – albeit on a part-time basis, and for a mere pittance of a stipend – to attempt to raise your blood pressure. Summer is upon us, bien sur, but too much restfulness can lead to slothfulness, or something like that.
So, herewith and hereupon, a review of the Ten Greatest Political Outrages of 2000-2001, all calculated to sell newspapers by getting you mad as Hell.
1. “Shawinigate” – For weeks, the entire nation was held hostage by the piddling attempts of the Alliance, the Conservatives and the National Post to associate the good burghers of Shawinigan, P.Q. with perfidy and scandal. Try as they might, the CA, the Tories and the Post did not understand one key fact: Shawinigate was a concoction of piffle and bafflegab. Proof of this was found in the popularity of Prime Minister Jean Chretien, which went up – as in, not down – during this ridiculous Parliamentary Inquisition.
2. Rob Anders – Mr. Anders, as pretty much the entire planet knows by now, is the Member of Parliament from Wacko. Born in 1972, Mr. Anders – a kilt-wearing former heckler employed by the Republican Party – revealed himself to be shallow and callow when he termed former political prisoner Nelson Mandela a terrorist, while simultaneously delaying an attempt to grant Mr. Mandela an honourary Canadian citizenship. If anything deserves to be a political prisoner, it is Rob Anders’ mouth.
3. Two-faced MPs on the pay raise – Members of Parliament deserved to get a boost in their pay, the likes of Rob Anders notwithstanding. Most of them work long hours, and receive little thanks in return. But the ones who recently voted against a pay raise recommended by an independent commission – and then later suggested that they would not decline said pay raise – give an entirely new dimension to the phrase “political hypocrite.” (Most of the sinners, here, can be found in the Tory caucus, in case you want to clip this item and tape it to the fridge door.)
4. Ezra Levant – Ezra, who – in the interests of full disclosure, is someone with whom I am friendly – is not a Political Outrage. The outrage is that we will not, a la Nixon, have Ezra to kick around anymore. Any person who can go on national television, and declare with a straight face that he is a “Stock-a-holic,” is someone we need more of on Parliament Hill. His newlywed wife, however, is not likely to let him go, now that she has him back.
5. The Bloc Quebecois – When Lucien Bouchard unleashed the Bloc, more than a decade ago, he pledged that it would serve no more than one term in the House of Commons. Three terms later, it has became evident that the BQ’s raison d’etre is pensionable income, and not a sovereign Quebec. Mr. Bouchard eventually confessed to the futility of his cause, so why can’t the rest of the Bloc-heads?
6. The Loss of Jim Watson – The former Ottawa mayor – who, again, I confess is a chum of mine – is clearly someone who was genetically programmed to occupy high public office. What he is doing in the upper reaches of the bureaucracy, therefore, is a puzzling question. Former Industry Minister John Manley was smart to recruit young Mr. Watson, to be sure. But isn’t a shame to see him a go? As per Simon and Garfunkle: Big Jimbo, a city turns its lonely eyes to you. As it were.
7. The Absence of Stinson and Thompson on the Front Bench – Darrel Stinson and Myron Thompson, the stetson-toting pride of Okanagan-Shuswap and Wild Rose respectively, deserve a prominent perch on the Alliance’s front benches. In this way, all of Canada can be provided with visual evidence of why the Official Opposition deserves to be the Official Opposition. And not, say, government.
8. Outrage Three-Way-Tie: Wappel, Telegdi and Ablonczy – Liberal Tom Wappel refused to assist a disabled veteran who did not vote for him. Fellow Grit Andrew Telegdi likened Canada to Nazi Germany because, apparently, we are disinclined to grant citizenship to people who lie about their involvement with organizations that committed war crimes. And Alliance MP Diane Ablonczy equated the Prime Minister with an actual war criminal, Slobodan Milosevic. Each later apologized for their outrageous comments, but their comments remain outrageous, nonetheless.
9. Liberal leadership stories – These are North of the Queensway stories, and are utterly irrelevant to the priorities of real people. Besides, by my watch, Mr. Chretien was re-elected less than eight months ago. Given the state of his Opposition, and given his personal popularity, I suspect Mr. Chretien will still be at 24 Sussex when the rest of us are using walkers.
10. The Paucity of Liberal Columnists – Apart from Yours Truly, can you name one other who is shamelessly pro-Grit? I didn’t think so. The Alliance owns the Post, lock, (ahem) stock and barrel. The Globe is awash with conservatives, as is the Citizen. The nation needs more Grit pundits, now!
If that last one doesn’t raise your blood pressure, nothing will.