Jeepers. Seems all I have time to post here these days is my column. Not for lack of ideas.... Anyway, here is this week's "Past Deadline," published in The Perth Courier on Wednesday, Sept. 17/08.
Armchair Express™ is environmentally friendly!
With the high price of gas and all, it’s a darned good thing my armchair runs on hot air.
Since there are only three newspaper issues left before the federal election, I figured I should dust off (as IF it needs dusting) ye olde Armchair Express™ and make a few mundane observations about silly season in Canada.
With election fever rising across North America there is plenty of fodder to be had for armchair pundits. Political junkies here and in the U.S. are treated to election highlights 24/7 if they so choose – including everything from pontification on policy to reflection on hairdos and motherhood.
As much fun (fun?) as it might be to contemplate the various purported character flaws of the newly crowned Republican superstar and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, this armchair is going to sail in Canadian waters for now. How’s that for a mixed metaphor? A sailing armchair. Can you imagine? Why, everyone knows the Armchair Express™ is a big election-style bus with a picture of me wearing a sweater vest plastered on the side!
Anyway, it seems a bit early to make any grand announcements about who is most likely to emerge victorious in this election that wasn’t legally supposed to happen until October 2009, but I can at least point out some of my favourite moments from the campaign so far.
First of all, I’m a little disappointed that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and NDP leader Jack Layton flip-flopped so quickly on the whole let-Elizabeth-May-join-the-televised-debate fiasco. I was looking forward to the opportunity to ask in this column, which I’m certain is read by all the leaders and their key staff, “What the heck are you guys afraid of?”
Instead of looking like prehistoric buffoons and giving May an opportunity to pounce on the sexism card, they could have welcomed her to the debate and exploited her weaknesses – just like they do with all the other candidates. Weakness is everywhere, I daresay.
Instead, Stevie and Jackie packed up their pails and shovels and said they weren’t gonna play no more ’cuz the new girl is ganging up on them with that Liberal buddy of hers, Stéphane Dion.
Now that everyone has decided to play together in the sandbox after all, we can look forward to some interesting television viewing.
Also filed under “interesting” is Stephen Harper comparing himself to a fruit during a campaign stop at a Winnipeg produce terminal last week. When a reporter asked him what kind of vegetable he would be, he likened himself instead to a fruit – “sweet and colourful.” Oh, yeah. When I think of our current prime minister, “sweet and colourful” is the first thing that comes to mind. (Shudder.)
This finely honed image of Mr. Harper (not necessarily the “sweet and colourful” one) is certainly not helped when his head communications guy is developing bizarre website content featuring a puffin pooping on Stéphane Dion’s shoulder, followed later by an inappropriate e-mail remark about a dead soldier’s father. Sure makes it hard to maintain that never-do-wrong image.
It’s probably all the media’s fault, though. After all, the national news media have been at war with the PMO since Mr. Harper moved in, so we probably hear all of the bad stuff and none of the good. Or something. Darned press. So, what was the good again?
Jeepers. I just realized I’ve spent most of this column dishing snark about the Tory leader. Dear me! After all, we all know elections aren’t about perception and image, they’re about issues.
So which issue in this campaign is driving the bus? Is it environment? Health care? Or has the economy hijacked the whole thing?
Are Canadians in the mood for a Green Shift carbon tax? Are Canadians ever in the mood for more taxes? Does Jack Layton look okay in orange? Should Steve and Stephane lose the sweater vests and just stick with being smart guys in suits? Does anyone really want to invite these “ordinary-looking guys” over for dinner or would we rather they just lead the country?
These are truly cerebral questions. At least the Armchair Express™ does not burn fossil fuels, so I can ramble around the campaign relatively guilt free.