People are always telling me why the Conservative government is about to collapse. Some experts apparently feel that a new regime not yet two years old should resign because it found some cans of messy tuna. Others feel that the Mulroneyites should be tossed out of office because they didn’t detect soon enough that a couple of banks were about to fold. I am told, by sound minds, that the government is doomed to failure because one minister went to a
hootchy-kootchy joint in Europe and another almost wore out an Ottawa American Express card in her travels. How this can sink an outfit that still owns 211 seats has puzzled me, but now I think I have a handle on it. I have seen evidence that indicates the rule of Brian Mulroney may be coming to an end.
In the mail, by roundabout route, there arrives a fancy envelope from Room 200 at 161 Laurier Ave. W., Ottawa, KIP 5J2. It is a three-page friendly letter asking me to contribute money to the PC Canada Fund—being the slush fund that finances the operations that keep Mr. Mulroney and his friends elected. Included is a nice plastic card: “Here is your personal 1986 PC Canada Fund sustaining membership card.” It is engraved with my name—“Fotheringam.” My first name and initial are mixed up. It is addressed to a city where I no longer live and to an employer where Fotheringam hasn’t worked for years. At last things become clear. If the Tory party actually thinks Fotheringam is going to send them a cheque, then this government really is in trouble.
The effusive letter is signed by one David Angus QC, chairman/president of the PC Canada Fund. I have no idea who David Angus is, but he sounds to me as some perfect pompous stuffedshirt WASP who lives in Rosedale, probably bald, and undoubtedly has been married for 76 years to someone called Martha. He addresses his chummy let-
ter to “Dear Friend.” How can I be friends with someone I’ve never met? Typical Toronto pushiness.
“You were selected to receive this card because I believe you share with Brian Mulroney and PC members of Parliament a faith and conviction that Canada can regain its economic health and move toward prosperity and opportunity for our generation and for our children’s generation.” I have no faith and conviction in a party that actually thinks Fotheringam is going to send them money. Sounds to me like a party on the edge of delirium tre-
mens, if their computer is scratching this low in the barrel. Fotheringam indeed does fear for our children’s generation if some bloated twit is sitting in his Rosedale den writing letters to columnists in pleas for dough. Does David Angus, come to think of it, really exist? Or he is too just another computer printout, like “Fotheringam,” at the wrong address with the wrong employer? Wouldn’t be a bit surprised.
Chairman Angus waxes and wanes about “the gathering storm of the opposition campaign being prepared.” Get the Churchillian image of those 40-odd Liberals in the House of Commons bullying those lonely, frightened Tories who have only 210 votes because John Bosley sits in the Speaker’s chair? “John Turner and his pack of critics want to turn every policy decision into a political battle—” Shameful! Introducing politics into the Commons? It reminds one of C.D. Howe, during the high days of Liberal arrogance, who complained to the äPBgsi-
tion one day, “Let’s not let this degenerate into a debate.”
Close friend Angus, appealing to high principle, points out that up to 75 per cent of my donation can be written off on my income tax. If Fotheringam will contribute $100, it will cost Fotheringam only $25. Who pays the rest? Well, the ordinary taxpayer of course. It’s called democracy.
One of the reasons why we have a new government in Ottawa is that it has outcomputerized the complacent Liberals. Joe Clark, the guy who is good at organizing but wasn’t much
good at prime ministering, started it all by putting the Tories on a modern footing. Having sent factotums south of the border to learn the new political techniques from their Republican brethren, they introduced Ottawa and the country to computerized mailing lists and names of reluctant Canadians bought from magazine subscription files. That’s how, one supposes, we get the Fotheringams of the world into their unthinking computer brain. The Liberals, as John Turner found to his regret when he took over from the blandly oblivious Pierre
Trudeau, were miles and eons behind the Tories in such high tech. They’re only now trying to catch up, and the day I get a letter from Turner asking for bucks will be the day I know they have achieved the Conservative level of incompetence.
Brian, do you know what your computer is doing? If Fotheringam is a suspect as a “1986 sustaining member” for your pork barrel, who else is on your list? Does Iona Campagnolo get a nice plastic card in the mail? Ed Schreyer? Mackenzie King’s dog? Once a computer goes bonkers, there’s no stopping it. Is it possible that every single Canadian citizen is now getting a “Dear Friend” letter from chairman Angus? The plastic card isn’t quite as thick as an Amex or Visa card, but a lot of people might like to have it in their wallets, in case it impresses a cop the next time they are picked up for impaired walking. The fact that you are a personal friend of David Angus might impress them.
Allan Fotheringham is a columnist for Southam News.
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