Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Monday, October 24, 2005
Productivity index slips; wacky photo index rises
The Gods have delivered. Start your photoshop!
This past weekend the National Press Gallery Dinner was held at the Museum of Civilization in Hull Quebec. This is an annual shindig that sees members of the parliamentary press gallery invite politicians and other non-press gallery members to a fancy black tie evening of dinner and debauchery.
I won't say which member of the Press Gallery invited me in case it reflects badly on his taste in friends. Likewise I won't comment on his taste in fancy dress because he wore a kilt.
The big draw is the speeches. The Governor General and all the party leaders are required to deliver a speech that is, in theory, supposed to be humourous. I've never attended the dinner before, so for a geek like me it was a thrill.
Anyone who is anyone in Ottawa attends. If seeing Mike Duffy and Don Newman together in the same room gives you a boner; this is the place you wanna be. It is sexy, it is glamorous, and it is broadcast live on CPAC. To put that into context, the Oscars are watched by over a billion people worldwide, the potential television audience for the press gallery dinner is upwards of 60 people, 71 if you include Quebec.
Where you are seated, and how close you are to the stage and the Prime Minister speaks volumes about how important you are in the Ottawa firmament. I don’t want to brag here but how important am I you ask? Lets just say that I was at a table with Sheila Copps. I think if Ernst Zundel got back in the country he could get closer to the action than I was.
Here is my thumbnail review of the evening.
Anthony Germain - Our Master of Ceremonies . The host of CBC radio’s The House was very funny and very saucy. My guess is that he has recently won the lotto because he seemed totally fine with the idea of pissing off anyone and everyone in Ottawa. My guess is he will never work again, which in comedy is a great compliment. Congratulations Anthony! Bonne Chance.
Michaelle Jean - Foxy new GG. Tough gig for her being the neophyte in the room. She was pretty funny and didn't pull punches. She slapped everyone including Adrienne which people seemed to especially enjoy.
Paul Martin - Goofy Prime Minister. The best speech of the night. He had a bizarre confidence I have never seen before. This may have something to do with the fact that Martin ended with a video, which featured Brian Mulroney saying, "go fuck yourself". This was a huge coup for Martin and kind of embarrassing for the Conservatives who either didn't think of getting Mulroney or worse, couldn't land him.
Stephen Harper - Tory Leader. He really does do great impersonations. Harper had my favourite line of the evening when he described the entire evening as a night where "people who aren't funny tell jokes to people with no sense of humour". Great line, but not entirely accurate. But hey, good comedy is like good policy, you don't want the facts get in the way of the joke.
Jack Layton - Fearless Socialist. Jack Layton sang and played guitar. I have to admit when I saw the guitar I feared for the worst. I kind of panicked at the idea of being trapped in a room while Layton strummed a guitar and sang songs by 70’s super folk rock band Bread. It didn’t happen though Jack surprised us all. Jack did three "funny" songs and then left the stage leaving them wanting more and he never uttered a spoken word.
Gille Duceppe - Coward. No show.
Nothing else to report really. Sheila Copps should probably check her meds and Belinda’s dress was all the talk. One of those bright young conservative MPs in the Tory youth caucus asked me if I thought Belinda’s dress was "appropriate". Maybe he was confusing me with his pastor. Usually when guys in their 20’s talk about boobs they are pro cleavage. Maybe next year she should consider a Hugo Boss Burka so as to not offend the young conservatives.
Happy photoshopping. Send your crafty and offensive creations to Rick@rickmercer.com
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Operation Enduring Blogger
Rudyard Griffiths, the giant brain who founded the Dominion Institute, snapped this picture. He suggested that the caption read VOTE MERCER STRONG ON DEFENCE 2008
He might be on to something. With that caption, this photo and the right team I could go on to win my father’s old seat on the town council in
I have just returned from a week in
It would be near impossible to sum up the entire experience in
Here are a few observations.
There are lots of rules in the Canadian Forces. A very simple rule is that you must have your flack jacket and helmet with you at all times, and when you are not wearing them you must know where they are. This is pretty important.
On one occasion, as I was once again wandering around looking for my helmet, a soldier asked me sarcastically if, in my other job, I was used to having people follow me around to keep track of my clothing. In fact I do. It’s called the wardrobe department. I chose not to pass this on, as it seemed a bit unmanly to admit.
The other problem I would have is the briefings. They love to give briefings in the army. A briefing is a bit like school. At least it seemed like school to me because more often than not I didn’t have a bloody clue what anyone was talking about.
Also there is the matter of cowardice. Perhaps I shall write about my overall cowardice in great length at another time.
On the second last day of the trip Guy woke up and played ball hockey with the soldiers first thing in the morning, then put in a full day that ended with a four hour flight to another camp in a Herc. When we arrived Guy went and played another full game of hockey 9:00 that night. He signed literally hundreds of autographs every day and seemed to accept that many men serving their country overseas were Leafs fans. I shared a room with Guy on a stopover at an airbase on the way in and out of the country; having to wake up Guy Lafleur at 4: 30 in the morning so we could go get on a Herc was one of the most surreal moments of my life. Guy…Guy…Guy…wake up! Rapide comme une Bunny!
Arseholes are a fact of life but, as God is my witness, I never met any on this trip and I met about 700 people. This must qualify as a statistical anomaly.
A Changed Country
This was my second trip to
Canadians on patrol in this area drive now similar vehicles made by Mercedes.
The Kids are all right.
Friday, October 07, 2005
Gordon O' Connor MP. Bloody Genius!
I never told anyone because when I agreed to go I agreed, for security reasons, to keep my mouth shut. I have never been good at the “following orders” thing but when someone is armed I tow the line pretty quick. This morning however I read on Bourque that the Conservatives have no problem talking about the trip and surprise surprise they are outraged.
In the Sun chain of newspapers the Conservative Defence critic Gordon O'Connor has blasted the Department of Defence for allowing “civilians” into a war zone.
May I suggest that as a former Brigadier General he should know that wherever there are Canadian troops stationed there are civilians. Canadian civilians do much of the important support work for our men and women in uniform. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet with hundreds of members of the Forces who risk their lives ever day doing their job. Likewise, I have met the civilians who work side by side with our troops, and they do it in war zones.
And as far as people like me? Civilians whose skills are woefully limited to strumming a guitar or telling a joke, we have been making these trips since world war one.
It’s called entertaining the troops. It’s not a great sacrifice on the entertainer’s part; in fact it’s a great privilege. A few years back Tom Cochrane, Damhnait Doyle and I were lucky enough to visit Canadian Forces Camp Julian in Kabul in December. We set up a stage in a mess tent and did three shows of stand-up comedy, Christmas Carols and rock and roll. Show-biz folk love a captive audience; we will gladly travel across the world and visit a war zone to find one.
If Canada as a nation is going to have troops positioned abroad, in harms way, members of the Canadian Forces and their families have to know that the country stands with them.
Mr. O’Conner is not sending that message.
In the Sun article Mr. O’Conner seems to indicate that his real problem with the idea of "high profile Canadians" going to Afghanistan comes from a desire to protect families. He is quoted as saying: “How are they going to explain to the families if some of these people get hit by bombs when they're over there?"
I would suggest they would explain it in the same way they have had to explain such occurrences in the past. I would also respectfully suggest to Mr. O’Conner that as an adult civilian, I’m allowed to make my own decisions concerning the risks I take in my own personal life. And don’t worry in the event of an accident; the tax payer will not be on the hook. I have signed my release form and it is crystal clear on that point.
For the time being the Tory position is that visits to Afghanistan be limited to “Defence Department officials and politicians who oversee the forces.”
I can’t speak for business leaders and athletes but I can speak for entertainers. If Mr. O’Conner ever becomes Canada’s Minister of Defence and he bars civilian entertainers from visiting the troops but encourages politicians to do so, he had better be prepared to put on a pair of heels and a dress and learn to sing for his supper.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Ruin Christmas? Just watch me!
So the Liberals think they have pulled a fast one by not scheduling any opposition days until mid November. Clever Tony Valeri (pictured above) thinks the Conservatives would never try to defeat the government now because it would mean an election around Christmas.
Valeri (pictured above) not only looks like he is part barn owl but he seems to think he is wise as one too.
This is the chance for Stephen Harper to say the hell with conventional wisdom and show he’s got the gonads to lead. Stephen Harper is in the position to give the gift of Conservatism to Canada this Holiday Season and he should leap at it like one of those ten Lords-a-leaping.
Personally I love the idea of a Christmas Election. Not on Christmas day of course, that day should be reserved for the sanctity of turkey, but the day after. Let’s go to the polls on Boxing Day. It’s not a High Holy holiday and most people already have the day off. The entire nation is just lying around bloated looking for an excuse to get out of the house. Let’s face it, come Boxing Day, most Canadians have had their fill of family and a civic duty is a great excuse to get in the car early and get away from the in-laws; “Sorry Hon, I’d love to sit around your Mothers living room for another twelve hours and listen to you and your siblings tell stories about growing up but we’ve got to vote so GET THE HELL IN THE CAR!”
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Will he stay or will he go?
Boy it sucks to be Peter MacKay. Will he take the plunge? Will he get the hell out of Dodge? Will he give up the glamorous life as the safety critic in Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition to become the Premier of Nova Scotia? It must be very tempting for a guy who has spent his entire working life in opposition. For over a decade now he has been complaining about stuff but has never had the chance to actually run anything. Don’t get me wrong, Peter MacKay has held positions of great authority in the world of amateur rugby, but becoming a premier would entail at least twice the responsibility and workload. Personally, I know he could do it, he is definitely smart enough - in Question Period he has been known to wear glasses.
If Peter is anything like me (my inner child not being a child but a small bitter man) he is busy running revenge scenarios over and over again in his head. He is picturing himself walking into caucus, kicking over a few chairs, bitch-slapping Jason Kenney and Scott Reid, turning heel and walking out the door never to be seen again. The fantasy continues, of course, with his returning to Nova Scotia a hero. Premier MacKay then devotes the next six years of his life to running a clean and honest government by day, and leading a secret wing of the Provincial Police force by night. A much-feared collection of officers whose only mandate is to make Scott Brison’s life miserable. The fantasy wraps up, of course, with MacKay heading back to Ottawa to assume his rightful place as Conservative Prime Minister of Canada.
Although, if MacKay really is like me (and the more I think about it, the physical similarities are so eerie I assume that he is), this fantasy would quickly become replaced with a more terrifying scenario. One where he returns home and becomes Premier only to lose the following general election. It gets worse from there. The day after his historic defeat he goes out to the potato patch to grant sad interviews with the press but nobody has bothered to make the drive. This of course makes him sadder. This scenario ends years later with him working as a dishwasher at the Lower Deck in Halifax, spending hours on end plunging his prison-tattooed hands into scalding, soapy water. His only respite being the occasional breaks where he swallows whole pickled eggs for drinks and applause. All politicians fear that their careers will end this way and studies show that for 23 percent of them it is inevitable. This is the scenario of the dreaded night sweats.
Personally, I hope Peter goes for curtain number one and takes a shot at being Premier of Nova Scotia. I lived in Nova Scotia for over ten years. It’s an amazing province and MacKay would be an excellent Premier. Everyone in the Province likes him and his heart is certainly in the right place. I’m pretty sure that he would take a bullet for Nova Scotia without a moment’s hesitation. He is as Nova Scotian as they come. How Nova Scotian? He has been known to travel to Party functions with his own personal bagpiper. A conspiracy theorist might be interested to know that said bagpiper, the very charming and talented Tyler Cameron, is actually the grandson or grandnephew of current Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm. He explained the exact connection once but it was at a Tory party “blow out” and I couldn’t really hear him over the din of people complaining about the cash bar.
Of course, leaving Ottawa would be a big transition for Peter. I am sure there are many things that he would miss a lot about his life in the Conservative Party. As Deputy Leader I know he would miss the convenient way that he finds out about new Party policy: listening to the radio or reading Bourque.
Some things he wouldn’t miss. I have a sneaking suspicion that MacKay is not too big on all that Lord talk. It’s pretty much a confirmed fact now that before every caucus meeting the assembled MPs gather in a circle, hold hands, and rock back and forth until eventually someone asks “What would the Lord do?” According to reliable insiders, someone inevitably will fall to their knees as if in an epileptic seizure, begin babbling in foreign tongues, and start shouting “We must prepare for the coming of the Lord”. For MacKay, it must be very unsettling to so see so much attention being paid to the Premier of New Brunswick.
And finally, knowing what a benevolent soul Peter is, I’m sure he would miss the many opportunities to be involved in charitable acts right there on Parliament Hill. There is always some sort of fundraiser taking part on the Hill and MacKay is often an active participant, whether it is a Bar-B-Q for Katrina Relief or a Run for Cancer Research. Also, I know for a fact that he often takes time out of his busy schedule to spend quiet one-on-one time with those who are less fortunate than he. Why only recently I saw pictures of him on Parliament Hill throwing around a football with a man whom I can only assume was Stephen Harper’s mentally challenged twin brother.
And you know what? That is the stuff of heroes.
Good luck Peter, whatever you decide.