(It has been my observation that the world is governed by 8-year-old boys, with no offense intended to 8-year-old boys. The following are the private musings of one such boy who left his thoughts on a stack of cocktail napkins at an airport VIP lounge recently. Some editing was required to improve coherence.)
When some guys invited me to lunch one day about four years ago, I was a bit surprised. I didn't really know them — just guys from the golf club.
Anyway, when they offered me the chance to run for the Party, I came close to choking on my martini olive. I'd never been interested in politics, never been a member of any party, and hardly ever voted in my life. Actually, never.
'A sure thing,' they said. `This *riding's a safe seat. No worries.'
I tried to be casual and said I'd think it over. They gave me until the next morning at 9. I didn't need that long. I already knew that this was going to be the best job I'd ever had, or would ever have. A backbencher with a safe seat.
Was I ever wrong on that one!
As soon as I was elected, I got a seat at the Caucus table! Every time anyone asked me anything, I said 'Sure!' What did I know? Nothing, and that's the way they liked it. Turns out that's all I had to do. Next thing I know I'm in the Inner Circle, one of the Chosen. The feeling of being Chosen was better than sex.
OMG, have I had fun!
We put together a 200-page dirty tricks manual on how to filibuster all-party Committees so no work could get done. We had all sorts of ideas on ways to promote our own agenda and not the Committees'; selecting witnesses friendly to our Party and coaching them to give friendly testimony, even how to shut down Committees completely.
We set up a firearms inquiry and advisory committee with mostly our pro-gun buddies on it. That got the wimps foaming at the mouth. You should have heard them. It's like teasing girls. I love it.
There were cover-ups and not quite exact information we had to give out, and it was fun fooling around like that.
When we did that, it was because our minority government was 16 months old and we knew that most minority governments only last 18 months and we weren't ready to go. I certainly wasn't ready to go.
To stay in the Inner Circle there are things you have to do. Anyone who steps out of line gets kicked out so it's mouth zipped until orders come down to unzip them. We get messages to send out to the public and these messages are precise, scripted to the tiniest detail so we don't get it wrong. The Boss gets really mad when we get it wrong and makes us make corrections in public. You only want to do that once! Not many people get off on humiliation (although I'm surprised who does).
Now I'm getting a little nervous.
I mean, this has been such a good job I don't want to lose it. I get a car and driver and go to a lot of parties. I'm in the centre of things but I haven't been here long enough to get any juicy Board, lobbyist or consultancy offers yet, or qualify for the nice pollie pension. If He forces an election hoping to get a majority, I'm cooked. My riding's not that safe anymore.
He's been playing king for one thing.
For example, He hates the Press and won't talk to them, so He thought He'd set up a 'dedicated press availability facility' where only invited Press could get in and ask pre-approved questions. Thankfully, that was scratched. It made Him look like a dictator. Not that any of us would ever talk about it. You don't know who will shop you.
Then, the other day, He set up a tame panel on Afghanistan chaired by a guy who's a bit of a loose cannon, which is appropriate, I guess. He used to be a member for the other guys but quit so he looks like he'll have some scores to settle. I don't know him or anything but he's got a reputation. We got into the mess by accident in the first place and folks want our troops home.
The Boss is buying time but even I suspect the panel's recommendations
have already been written.
We've used this play too many times and we need as many goals as we can get so we should have come up with something different. I don't like to lose, never have. You play the game to win. You don't bring in a player if you know he's not a team player.
So now we've had the Throne Speech.
Good name for it. I've been feeling sick ever since. Practically everything in it is a dare. If the other parties don't support it, an election will be triggered and I'm as good as fried.
The Boss is smart, Machiavellian and sneaky. We're not interested in 'social issues' like those do- gooders across the aisle, but the tax cuts should buy us a lot of votes. Then there's the Tough on Crime thing and no one's going to look good arguing against that since we've pretty well convinced the voters they aren't safe in their beds because the streets are full of bad guys. The rate of crime is down actually but it's fun and profitable to scare people.
He's also daring the Opposition to go to election when he says Canada won't meet its Kyoto targets even though that's a signed treaty, I think. I didn't know you could backtrack on that kind of thing. That's another risk because people in my riding are very worried about the environment. Most of them haven't been able to water their lawns every day or fill their pool in some areas, so they're hurting.
One of the Parties, especially, could take this opportunity to fight a battle over this and we're weak on this issue. They'd bring us down in a minute. They'd look green and responsible and righteous and probably smarter because they understand the science and we don't. Some of the guys don't even believe it.
And then there's the Values card. Hard to fight an election on Values since we don't have any, really. We just want to stay in power and what's wrong with that?
That brings me to our forgetfulness about economic policy. We don't have one. Just as well. I never understand that stuff.
We had a rough spring. How are we supposed to answer questions in the House if we don't know what they are? And the answers the Boss' staff gave us sometimes weren't right or were contradictory. I'd say one thing one day and the next day my deskmate would have another answer the next day. We both started smoking again.
The best thing that's happened recently was the day the guy in Opposition had to back down and support the Speech because he's not ready for an election, either. He chickened out and we **laughed like drains all through his response. People say he's principled but that's not a plus in politics.
When your Boss is a one-man band, there's not much to do except show up, listen up and suck it up.
I'm just a cog. What matters is the Boss and the Party, in that order. There's going to be an election and I'm going down. How do I know? Women hate us.
*The Canadian Parliament consists of 301 members, each representing a constituency or riding, each elected by popular vote at least once every five years to sit in the House. In each riding, the candidate who gets the largest number of votes is elected, even if his or her vote is less than half the total. This system is known as the "first past the post" system. With few exceptions, anyone who is qualified to vote can run for a seat in the House of Commons.
**To laugh coarsely or loudly, especially at the discomfort of others
Born and raised in a small Ontario town that became a large bedroom community post-war, Pat Beurteaux began her career as a primary school teacher, a career that permitted her to travel to Australia as a 'working holidayer' in the mid-60s. At that time any British Commonwealth citizen could travel and work in any other Commonwealth country under certain conditions; a good deal of fun was had by all. You may reach Pat by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org