October 25, 2005

Play it again ... Jack.

This past Saturday, the Great Hall at the Museum of Civilization was packed with politicos and media types for the annual Parliamentary Press Gallery dinner.

This is a chance for politicians to ham it up -- with a healthy dose of self-deprecation, if they know what they're doing -- in the hopes of increasing their likeability with the journalists and others in attendance (and, now that the event is broadcast, the public). It's an "I may spew venom in Parliament, but deep down I'm a funny, approachable MP" kind of event.

It's at the U.S. equivalent of this event in March 2004 that President Bush aired a very poorly received video making light of the fruitless search for WMD in Iraq (the video depicted Bush scouring the Oval Office saying such lines as "Those WMD have got to be here somewhere" and " and "No, no weapons over there".) So events like these always involve a delicate balance.

But I digress. I didn't see the dinner live (read: no, I don't sit around watching CPAC), but I did watch some highlights. Although Martin and Harper apparently both had their funny moments, none of them seem to have made it into the highlights (apparently the latter did an impression of Revenue Minister John McCallum that brought the house down -- those crazy guys!). Not surprisingly, the Prime Minister couldn't quite pull off the delivery; at least Harper can mock his own reputation for dryness (the PM had his self-deprecating moments too, I am assured). Harper ultimately loses for deciding to tell this abomination of a joke:

"The first time Jean Chretien went to the Calgary Stampede he wore a fox hat. I was told this is how it came about ... his scheduler asked him if he wanted to go to the Calgary Stampede. [Chrétien accent] 'They want me to go to Calgary? Where the fock's that?'"

Michaelle Jean got a lot of laughs for her unexpected explanation of why Paul Martin selected her as Governor General:

"Not because I am a woman or an immigrant or black. He gave it to me because I'm hot."

I have to admit that I loved Brian Mulroney's brief but to-the-point intervention* in the evening. The former Prime Minister appeared on tape and very formally acknowledged the various dignitaries and audience groups before delivering the shortest speech of the night: "Peter Newman: Go fuck yourself. Thank you. Good night." (Incidentally, did you know that "fuck" is too risqué for either the Globe and Mail or CTV to print?)**

In my books, though, top prize of the evening goes to Jack Layton for pulling out a guitar and singing, to the tune of King of the Road:

Party for sale or rent,
will support any government.
No principles, no guts, no spine
no tape recorders when we dine.
Make us an offer we can't refuse,
anything to get me in the news.
You need bills approved so let's move,
make me a deal."
Somehow Layton just keeps making all the others look bad, inside and outside of Parliament.

Gilles Duceppe, in case you're wondering, didn't show (and not for the first time either, apparently.)

Check out some of the clips from the evening on the CTV.ca website.


* Note: Aven points out that Rick Mercer covered the event on his often-entertaining blog. Apparently the Mulroney tape was the tail-end of Martin's time on stage. Interesting.

** Note: Alasdair has corrected me. Apparently the Globe and Mail is more than happy to print the word "fuck" once in a while. There's even something resembling a policy on it. Check out the comments on this entry for his explanation. Word is still out on whether the CTV is up for some good swearing when it's warranted. Posted by anatole at October 25, 2005 11:38 PM


Did you read Rick Mercer's account of the event? http://rickmercer.blogspot.com/

He seemed amused by Jack, too. I think he's really finding Parliament in its current configuration quite congenial -- it suits his desire to DO something!

Posted by: Aven at October 26, 2005 09:12 AM

OK, that's pretty damned funny. Turns out that the NDP are good for both being Parliament's social concience AND its funny bone!

Posted by: beltzner at October 26, 2005 10:47 AM

It sounds like we need to work on getting a group invite next year. ;)

Posted by: Amy at October 26, 2005 04:41 PM

> (Incidentally, did you know that "fuck" is too risqué for either
> the Globe and Mail or CTV to print?)

Ooh! Ooh! I know this one!

The Globe has actually published it many times. A quick search since 1991 shows it's been in 267 times for the 4-letter version and almost as many for the -ing version, a fact I attribute to general disregard for the official policy on the matter among the various sections of the paper. The policy calls for it to be printed only when it is "news in itself" (rather than merely being uttered by a newsworthy figure, I guess) - which I think actually applies here.

Posted by: Alasdair at October 26, 2005 11:15 PM

Aven: Nice! I had forgotten to check Rick Mercer's blog for a while. I didn't realize the Mulroney gag was part of Martin's stint on stage. What a coup!

Alasdair: (expletive)ing-A! :) I can always count on you for the inside scoop. Update coming!

Posted by: Anatole at October 27, 2005 11:48 PM