Column

‘Politicus Interruptus,’ starring a steaming Dief, Fabien Roy—and, of course, Himself

Allan Fotheringham April 9 1979
Column

‘Politicus Interruptus,’ starring a steaming Dief, Fabien Roy—and, of course, Himself

Allan Fotheringham April 9 1979

‘Politicus Interruptus,’ starring a steaming Dief, Fabien Roy—and, of course, Himself

Column

Allan Fotheringham

Sick of the election before the first week of the blather is over? Wishing you could hibernate your eardrums until May 22? Join the throng. Election ’79 may be the first one in history where the proprietors of our oneparty democracy have—through indecision, dawdling, delaying and hinting— bored the electorate before they have begun. It is the slogan of this campaign: Politicus Interruptus.

Why May 22? Despite the promise of Himself that he didn’t want to burden the voters with a campaign in the slush? Despite the headon confrontation with the Book? The Liberals panicked at the threat of yet another Garner Ted Armstrong rising from the double-knit and used-car belt of rural Quebec. This time the threat was Fabien Roy, an orator of the flared-nostrils-and-purple -prose style that has been missing from the ranks of the Créditistes since Réal Caouette. The Créditistes are a slumbering rump of nine in the House of Commons, capable of being ignited only by the spark of passion. Since the death of Caouette, past the sad car crash that killed André Fortin, through the insane experience of trying an Ezra Pound-scholar from Winnipeg, Dr. Lome Reznowski, as the newest ayatollah, the rump has been leaderless, bereft, brooding in its lonely Commons corner. Suddenly there was Roy—the lean good looks of a young Franchot Tone, now an independent member of the Quebec national assembly, a disaffected Créditiste who refused to attend the convention that chose Reznowski because of the ludicrous site of Winnipeg, where they haven’t seen a single Social Credit disciple since the last buffalo. Instead of the Grit craniums figuring on the collapse of those nine Garner Ted Armstrong seats, there was the threat of Roy taking them to 12 and 15 and whatever. Those savants in the National Press Club, whose pipes issue alternative white and dark puffs of wisdom in imitation of Vatican City, nervously adjusted their visions of Lord Byng, alias

Ed Schreyer, having to issue a papal bull on the problem of the NDP holding the balance of power and keeping this tired government in office. What if Fabien Roy, instead, held the nation’s fate in his grasp? That’s why May 22.

The Jockarina of Sport, Iona Campagnolo, the best-looking resident of Parliament since John Turner hung up his eyelashes, is in trouble. How certain is the NDP that it can regain its traditional fish-and-forest retreat of Skeena, snug up against Alaska? Well, Frank Howard, the longtime MP she defeated

in 1974, has moved from his retreat in Lucerne, Quebec, back to Prince Rupert to mastermind the campaign for the shiny new NDP candidate, Jim Fulton. Among the esthetic disasters that would occur if Ms. Campagnolo were to perish at the polls would be the death of Charles Lynch, the Bernarr MacFadden of the press gallery, who would impale himself on his nearest harmonica.

There is the ticking-time-bomb of Dief. As there was in 1968, 1972, 1974, with the infinitely patient Stanfield. Dief is unhappy at the perceived decisic/n from the Joe Clark camp that—in deference to his age and infirmity—he will not be asked to campaign. In fact, entrails Stirred by some of his circle indicate that in certain borderline Ontario ridings his lofty presence could tip the balance. The Clark people, quite aware of the walking hand grenade that masquerades as a politician, would rather there were seemly silence emanating from The Man from Prince Albert. Don’t count on it. He’s

steaming. Good luck, Joe.

Can one assume that the Trudeaucrats knew what they were doing in calling an election campaign that would coincide directly with the April-May cross-country book-promotion tour by Margaret? Her publishers at this end, Random House, had by early March booked her into specific TV shows in specific cities. Can one assume that the one-party democracy knew that they were safe to send their man across the land, secure in the knowledge that Margaret would cancel her plans—as she has done? Yes, one can assume.

Most devastating lines are the throwaway ones. Most damaging thing yet done to Clark was the windup to a Richard Gwyn profile of Joe in The Canadian: “ . . . there’s something more than a little disconcerting about a man who loves to talk about writing—but doesn’t read.”

The cynicism of a party that has been in power so long it blithely regards the country’s parliamentary system as its own porkbarrel preserve was demonstrated of course by hurriedly filling five Senate vacancies in Quebec after it had called the election (Mr. Trudeau’s riding chairman, a few party hacks, Tory Bob Muir in Cape Breton because the Liberals think they can win his seat). The real reason is that filling all the Quebec vacancies in the Senate destroys the Clark argument that if elected without sufficient Quebec Tories he will flesh his cabinet with prominent Quebeckers placed in his Senate. There is a method even in their cynicism.

Surely the Trudeaucrat whose judgment is in most peril is principal secretary Jim Coutts, the tiny, perfect manipulator whose genius devised the plot to lure Jack Horner from the Tories. Blundermouth Horner has already destroyed the Toronto seat of Culture Czar John Roberts and perhaps several more with his timely comments on the Arab boycott. The Coutts decision to recruit Horner ranks right up there with Rudolf Hess parachuting into Scotland.