COLUMN

It gets even funnier— if space allowed

Why did Canadians fail to explode in giggles when the senators gave themselves a nice little bonus?

STEWART MacLEOD August 27 1990
COLUMN

It gets even funnier— if space allowed

Why did Canadians fail to explode in giggles when the senators gave themselves a nice little bonus?

STEWART MacLEOD August 27 1990

It gets even funnier— if space allowed

Why did Canadians fail to explode in giggles when the senators gave themselves a nice little bonus?

COLUMN

STEWART MacLEOD

What’s going on here anyway? For reasons unknown, not a day goes by without someone yapping about our infamous “summer of discontent,” leaden with national disunity, regional strife, ethnic anger, domestic turmoil, detested politicians and any other assorted plague that mangles the mind.

If there was ever before such a dreary litany of woe, it must have been interrupted by a world war. As a nation, it would seem, we’re heading towards hell in a motorized handcart. We haven’t seen a newscaster crack a smile since Prince Philip unleashed one of his legendary quips—“Not more Brownies?”

And why? Granted, we have a few basic problems, but overall, this must surely be one of the most entertaining summers since our Centennial Year in 1967. It’s been a beautifully bizarre and zany year, and yet we’re not even lifting our eyes to notice. Meech Lake did, of course, contribute handsomely to the sedation of our national psyche, but we can’t go on blaming that disastrous document for everything.

For what good reason, as an example, did the nation fail to explode, or implode, in giggles when honorable senators decided, with traditional Sober Second Thought, to give themselves that nifty little attendance bonus. It’s not every day that guests of the taxpayer, already earning $72,000 in salary and expenses, grant themselves another $153 a day, merely for showing up and shouting “Present!”

We quietly pray the precedent will spread to the workplace—and quickly.

Did you hear any rejoicing? Not a titter. For all we cared, the Chamber of Sober Second Income could have been discussing the abstract poetry of pathologists.

In fairness, it should be noted that, at the time, we were distracted by the budget-leak trial, the one where we were reminded that information cannot be technically stolen—just

the material containing it, such as paper. Without going into all the qualifications—that would require research—we can only speculate on the curious consequences for, say, spies and copyright violators. If they were simple paper thieves, perhaps we treated them somewhat harshly in the past. Executing them, for instance.

A wonderful field for summer exploration. Trouble is, the media once again led us off track with another round of those debilitating diatribes about some mysterious victory for freedom of the press—a conclusion we can magically manufacture even from the depths of garbage bins. Lord, that’s boring stuff, the literary equivalent of Lawrence Welk playing Spanish Eyes on a button accordian.

However, that’s a mere digression. Other things happened this summer that weren’t the least bit boring. And they included that astonishing opinion poll by Dr. Gallup’s people— asking whether Brian Mulroney, Jean Chrétien or Audrey McLaughlin would make the best prime minister.

And, in case you were vacationing in Peru at the time, the second-place finisher in most regions was someone named "None.” In British Columbia, None actually finished first, an

electrifying ego stimulant for the three leader who came equipped with names.

Incidentally, anyone out there by the nam of Mr. or Ms. None would be a damned fool nc to enter politics.

Moving right along, what about the Prb Minister’s trip to Houston where he and Red

dent George Bush announced that Canada-TJ *

talks would soon begin on acid rain? Now it comes to proven entertainment materialO is hard to beat. Spectators on both sides of iñ border have been lapping up the same ann show since 1985—when Mulroney and forrr* president Reagan launched the acid rain r&\ along with their famous singsong, at the She -rock Summit. If an agreement is actm signed some day, we deserve nothing less O' music from the Mormon Tabernacle ChoiE Summer of discontent? Nonsense! ^ Now, about that wondrous byelection in tl. Montreal riding of Laurier/Ste-Marie—tsfe the federal one in which only one single cand date was a federalist. Good thing it wasn provincial byelection, eh?

But that’s not the funny part—although

come to think of it____No, what’s so absolute1-

Conservative about that contest was the \ the federal Tories nominated a self-dedaL gay sovereigntist and then tried to help him w. one of the poorest ridings in Quebec by « nouncing a $5.5-million grant to a corned; museum. He got four per cent of the vd& Come on, think about it. Wouldn’t you like to tx the angel who broke the news to John Diefen baker? Unless Monty Python got there first. Still in the doldrums?

We’re not through. The best entertainn*er might yet be coming when the Prime Ministe plugs every Senate vacancy—and perhaps cr ates a few new ones—to ensure that tl. government’s precious Goods and SerVL* Tax won’t be blocked by the same obstinat Grits who held up the Free Trade Agreement He could be playing with up to 17 openings, this is not time for political magnanimity.

We’re into hardball, finding 17 men women who are not only dedicated Tories bu also unflinching supporters of the GST. i x Could be some dülies in that bunch. Speaking about patronage—which we defi nitely are—didn’t you admire the appointment by the Prime Minister, of Jean-Carol Pelleue to the number two job in the Canadian Embas^; in Zaire? No diplomatic experience but, wha the hell, he had been national director of Conservative party, a chief of staff to a Tor minister and director of the party's researc1 office. With these qualifications, we’re tole he’ll earn about $90,000 a year in Zaire, wMc should amuse his boss, the ambassador, wb gets closer to $77,000. In fact, he might fina l absolutely hysterical. f

Mr. Pelletier comes from Baie-Comeau. Now, for a real treat, let’s go to the Briti^j Columbia legislature for a jaunty recap of dazzling Cellular Phone Olympics. ... ipDam, we’re out of space. Always happen; just when you get to the good part.

Stewart MacLeod is Ottawa columnist for Thomson News Service.