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2011 Election, Federal Politics, Letters to Leaders

Dear Jack: Jesus tap-dancing Christ, right?

Dear Jack,

Image Courtesy of Maclean's Magazine

Cancer and a hip replacement were the best things that ever happened to your political career. I mean…wow. I don’t know if what you were selling was that special, but man were Canadians buying it on Monday. And your love of nude shiatsu rubdowns in seedy Chinatown massage parlours only seemed to have endeared you further to voting Canadians. Or they smelled a right-wing smear campaign when they saw one, and ignored it appropriately.

But damn, son. You earned that gross make-out kiss with Olivia on the podium. You’re taking her all the way to Stornaway, so you two probably could have verbed the adjective noun right then and there and people would have cheered you on. But we’re all kinda glad you didn’t. Even this image feels like too close a glimpse into your private lives, like when Kubrick made Eyes Wide Shut and cast Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman and everyone freaked out.

But what am I saying – you’re the Leader of the Opposition! You ran a spirited, passionate campaign based on the premise of co-operation and accountability. When everyone rejected the idea of an opposition coalition, you carved out a niche for yourself by being the only leader saying what a huge number of Canadians wanted to hear: that maybe, just maybe, the idea of parties working together to represent a larger percentage of Canadians interests was not a bad thing. In fact, maybe it was a good thing!

I applauded you then after the Leader’s Debate as the only leader who seemed to understand that Canada was built upon the notion of working with competing interests in the name of something greater than party loyalty. Michael Ignatieff paid for his hubris with his seat, his Party’s fortunes, and his personal political career when he said on Day Two of the campaign that a coalition with you would be out of the question.

And you got the last laugh.

And amazingly enough, you became the centre of the storm in the final weeks, the axis upon which the entire campaign spun. So worried did you make the other leaders that they abandoned their prepared attacks upon the Conservatives, or upon the Liberals, and had to rethink the entire focus of their campaign in its dying days to attack who was becoming their real rival – you. And you got where you are largely on the strength of your personality: you didn’t have to exclusively tear anyone else down to pull yourself up, which is commendable. And rare. And while you may have risked the longevity of your party by making yourself the focal point, who cares?! We’ll bask in our glory today, and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow!

But there were casualties, Jack. In a system with a finite number of votes, the votes you acquire have to come from some one else. And you did so well, that you sort of…well, decimated the other opposition parties. Not that you should have let up, or should feel pity now that the tables have turned: but you have helped throw the Liberal Party into a tailspin, robbed the Green Party of half of their 2008 election support, and replaced the Bloc as the voice of Quebec in Ottawa.

The last of these is especially problematic.Your success in Quebec was so staggering that only six Conservative MP’s now represent Quebec, an amazingly small number for such a populous province. Has Quebec lost its voice in government because of you? Is it that simple?

Probably not. But last night wasn’t even over before #jailbaitcaucus was a thing. People are right to be worried when you field University students as candidates, and holy hell, they actually win. Even worse when they take vacations during the campaign, and cannot speak French. In your effort to field 308 candidates from coast to coast to coast, as I have written about elsewhere, your pool of available talent got rather shallow, eventually.

And yet that didn’t give you pause, which frightens me. Rookie MP’s need to cut their teeth sometime, and what better time than now, I suppose. But so many at once? You have already had to defend your young MP’s, and you’re right when you say Canadian were looking for a change. But perhaps a change that doesn’t need time off for finals. I question how up to the tremendous task of governing some of these new MP’s are, or even could be given their young ages. But I am open to being proven wrong on this.

I’m anxious, Jack. This is uncharted territory, and people are right to be anxious, and excited, and confused, all at once. And I think Canadians are. You told us six weeks ago you wanted to be our Prime Minister, and we all sort of laughed. We had heard it before, and it seemed so far-fetched.

But once again – you had the last laugh.



About awreeves

Editor-in-chief at Alternatives Journal. Author of 'Overrun: Dispatches from the Asian carp Crisis'.


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