Every now and then the TV networks almost accidentally give us some genuine behind-the-scenes insight into the political process. The evening of the May 2nd Federal Election was one of those moments. The insight didn’t come from any of the pundits’ prognostications. For once most of them confessed they didn’t have a clue in hell as to how it was going to turn out. That in itself was refreshing.
But what grabbed me was some early chat between experienced speech writers who said that each of the leaders would already be armed with end-of-the-evening speeches. But not just two – humble acceptance or gracious defeat. Oh no. For that evening as many as five. Five speeches! Apparently the results could be so convoluted that all the bases had to be dusted off ahead of time so the leader could be armed with a carefully scripted spontaneous address to the Party and to the nation.
Now of course my aging memory can’t possibly recall all of the permutations described but I did try to listen carefully to all the leaders’ speeches. Unfortunately I finally fell asleep in the middle (Middle? How do I know – I was asleep) of Mr. Harper’s peroration so I’m not sure what he said.
However, since it was certainly an historic occasion and he and his people had just won a hearty majority in Parliament, I would assume he voiced full appreciation to all those loyal people who had voted for him.
If I were his speech writer I would have crafted the thank-you portion something like this (and, being a sometime playwright, I’d have put little interpretive suggestions into brackets.)
My dear friends, Party workers, and all those loyal supporters out there in Your-land-is-now-My-land, let me offer you my heart-felt thanks.
Even though a majority of the Members of Parliament had found me in contempt of Parliament – a relatively minor misdemeanour like the one that unfairly cost Charles the First his head – yes, in spite of that, you remained faithful. I trust your continued support will see that the same fate, figuratively speaking, doesn’t happen to Harper the First. (Sir, a self deprecating chuckle would play well.)
I know that a while ago, when it appeared we were going to lose a vote of confidence, I shut down Parliament using that quaint manoeuver called prorogation. But you didn’t hold that against me.
I thank you for it.
You know, because most of it has been reported, that over the last few years I’ve not agreed with the opinions of a good many bureaucrats and have either removed them – you’ll recall the head of the Nuclear Safety Commission – or offended their professionalism enough to cause them to resign – you no doubt remember the head of Statistics Canada – and of course the head of the Military Police Complaints Commission had to go what with all that unpleasant stuff being sanctioned in Afghanistan. (Sir, don’t be tempted to list any more. There’s not enough time.) But as I say, you showed your appreciation by voting for me.
I sincerely thank you for it.
Speaking of the nuclear safety issue, I might remind you that a Chalk River nuclear reactor was shut down – totally shut down – just because a double back up safety system of pumps or something was not functioning, or needed repair, whatever. I of course went on TV and assured you there was no danger, and also got rid of the offending bureaucrat. After all, the shutdown was affecting the sales of medical isotopes and we all know that health business is good business. You, my loyal Toronto area supporters, generously overlooked the fact that both Ottawa and Montreal are directly downwind of Chalk River but of course you’re a bit off to the south and west. Anyway, my supporters in my Alberta heartland don’t care much for either of those other two cities so I was confident you would all stay faithful. And you did.
So again, I thank you.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all those disaffected Liberals who voted for me instead of for Iggy or Jack. The political scene has changed so much in the last two decades that now a good Liberal is one who votes for me. (Sir, another chuckle here would be nice.) But seriously, those Liberals knew their priorities and they weren’t mislead by my “Canada” banners.
So I thank them, too.
As for Jack, he gave a new twist to the idea of a Phyrric victory, and I applaud him for it. (Don’t explain, Sir. It sounds literate and those who don’t know can look it up. Remember, the ‘Ph’ sounds like an ‘f’.) Jack has told his team to roll up their sleeves and get down to work. He wants to “fix” Ottawa (Chuckle again, Sir) and to give families a break. You and I know that Ottawa is working perfectly well and that it’s the corporations and their CEOs who need the break. That, I am sure, is why you voted for me.
So yet again, I thank you.
Happy Jack is telling his team to start building the Canada they want, where no one is left behind. That is one dream, of course, but thanks to your support we’ll carry on with my dream. What’s left behind is Jack, in a bigger RV, granted, but I’m ahead in an eighteen wheeler. Happy Jack is in the dust. (Sir, our people will like the RV bit, smacks of holidaying while the 18 wheeler means business.)
So again, all you who voted for me, I thank you.
I’ve been accused of having a hidden agenda. You know that is not true. It has been correctly reported for several years that top notch advisers from George W. Bush’s camp have been in Ottawa to advise me and mine, and certainly their Republican philosophy is well known, so where is the hidden agenda?
To clarify this nonsense about agendas let me simply quote from an excellent book called “The Wrecking Crew – How Conservatives Rule”. It was written by Thomas Frank, an American author, journalist and former columnist for the Wall Street Journal. (Sir, that’s from Wikipedia as is the following quote.) He said that “bad government is the natural product of rule by those who believe government is bad.” I agree whole- heartedly and since I think that government by me is just great it is obvious, thanks to your votes, that you’ll be getting the government you deserve. (Be sure to play that straight, Sir, because it’s true. Some people might take it as a joke.)
As for Mr. Frank, he said – writing about the Republicans of course, but as you well know – (Sir, don’t worry about this long, broken sentence. It makes it sound natural, like you’re one of them.) — you must know because you voted for me, and again I thank you – (Be casual, Sir.) – yes, as you well know, these days the terms Republican and Conservative are more or less interchangeable – the words switch at the border but the philosophy doesn’t – anyway, he said, or rather wrote, “Conservatism speaks not of compromise but of removing its adversaries from the field altogether. While no one dreams of sawing off those branches of the state that protect conservatism’s constituents – the military, the police, the legal privileges granted to corporations – conservatives freely and openly fantasize about doing away with those bits of ‘big government’ that serve liberal ends. And while defunding the left is the north star of the conservative project, no comparable campaign to ‘defund the right’ exists; indeed it would be difficult to imagine one.”
(Sir, be careful of that word “defunding” – taking away all financial support is the goal. An accidental use of the word “defining” would be counter productive. And now, Sir, you’re into the windup thank-you portion of the speech. It would be nice if you could raise your voice, maybe even your arms, and show thankful enthusiasm.)
There you have it, my friends, my supporters, My Fellow Canadians. (Sir,”My Fellow Canadians” will remind our seniors of Diefenbaker and create the illusion that the old populist Conservative Party is still here.) Nothing is hidden. It’s all been in the open. And, as you well know, even in a minority position your Government, Canada’s Government, the Harper Government, has already taken actions to remove financial support from many many agencies. I’ve been criticized but you have shown me that you approve. And now, because of the marvellous support given to me, by you, through the ballot box, and courtesy of our antiquated electoral system, let me just say thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, and –
(Sir, pause dramatically. And I know the bad grammar isn’t really you but, like the sweater and the piano, it makes you look human. So, after the pause, let ‘er rip!)
— and you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!
I wonder. Did Mr. Harper follow a script anything like that? I’m afraid I don’t know. Like I said, I went to sleep. Sorry about that, Mr. Harper. But from here on, I swear, I’ll stay awake.