November 29, 2005

It's Who You Know

Today, for your reading pleasure, three little thoughts very loosely connected by a vastly overstretched thread:

  • The Liberal government went down tonight. Apparently the House was in a jocular mood with much hand-shaking and back-slapping and Speaker Peter Milliken joking about a post-vote reception. According to the CBC TV broadcast, Paul Martin tried to get the Press Gallery to do the wave but failed. If that's not a sign that your time is up, I don't know what is. So, get ready for a dirty election. If you want a campaign on policy and a positive vision of where Canada should be headed, don't hold your breath. The election bogeymen are all lined up. What are you most scared of -- Liberal corruption? Quebec separation? Seven-tier health care? Then there's the popular "who's to blame for all those canvassers drinking your eggnog and dripping slush all over your foyer?" game. It's who you know? Several parties are playing the celebrity card. The Liberals add human rights intellectual Michael Ignatieff (who's already facing some opposition from the Ukranian community in his riding and will no doubt come under fire for his longtime absence from Canada), while the Conservative Party has lined up sponsorship scandal whistleblower Allan Cutler to run against David McGuinty in Ottawa South. The bottom-line question: how angry are we? Everyone keeps telling us to be angry -- even Paul Martin. But I think the sponsorship scandal issue is largely burnt out. The last poll hit barely lasted a couple of days, and the exoneration of Martin and the current Cabinet certainly won't help the opposition. Things weren't going to get any better -- hence the no-confidence motion -- but Harper's best chance may have already come and gone in the form of the previous election.

  • Yesterday I went winter boot shopping. I have to say that I was genuinely amazed at the competition generated by the free market. All the stores I visited competed fiercely to offer me the worst possible service. At the Bay, one salesperson tried to help 10+ different customers simultaneously. When I asked about a size on a particular boot on display, I got a gruff "bring it to me" in reply. Several times the salesperson forgot what I had asked for. At Feet First (ambiguous, it turns out -- doesn't mean the customer's feet), my salesperson left the store after finding one of the two pairs of boots I was interested in. His colleague who took over stared off into space while I asked a question about the boots and then gave a half-assed reply. At Globo, the sales staff ignored me entirely after pointing me in the general direction of the boot section I was after. When I finally cornered someone to ask a question, they looked at me as though I had two heads (or perhaps three feet). The bottom line? Globo had the boots I wanted for $50 less than Feet First. The Bay didn't even have the sizes (memo to Jerry Zucker: are you sure you want this?) It's who you know? It was my mother who directed me to Globo for the good deal, naturally.

  • Adam Logan recently won the world Scrabble championship. Jack Mitchell's "The Roman Conspiracy" is getting a few good reviews on It's who you know? Both Adam and Jack went to the same high school as I did. Adam was impressing us with insane math competition placements before leaving at the age of 16 to pursue a mathematics degree at Princeton. Jack was a friend who, amongst other things, kept me entertained with creative late-night monologues at our friends' parties. These days you can catch Jack performing his Canadian epic poetry across the country.

Posted by anatole at November 29, 2005 02:01 AM

After watching the Globe and Mail's online audio slide show about the no-confidence vote, for some reason I'm most struck by the strangeness of our parliamentarians' faces. I've decided there may be some kind of white Canadian physiognomy I had never really noticed before. Anyway it's one of the most unflattering series of photos ever taken of anybody, I think. Not that American law-makers are prettier, necessarily, but all these sharp-featured, strange-haired old white guys make the House of Commons feel like a cult of some kind.

Posted by: George at November 29, 2005 09:40 AM

You mean you didn't watch the vote and aftermath live? Mark was making me watch the speeches because "if you don't, you won't understand Anatole's blog in the morning". We have such faith in you...

It was extremely grating watching Martin come into his caucus waving and high-fiving and giving "thumbs-up" signs, to the extended (and clearly artificial) cheers of his caucus. What the hell was he celebrating? Do you think we're stupid, or something? You can't make us think you won when you lost, just by chanting "Paul, Paul, Paul" through clenched teeth for 10 minutes. Ugh.

Posted by: Aven at November 29, 2005 11:06 AM

Martin appears finished. Some will welcome a little more Canadian cheer. Over on The Christian Prophet blog a message from the Holy Spirit hints that there is a better way.

Posted by: A Christian Prophet at November 29, 2005 11:25 AM