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 Amazon.com. 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.