You Don’t Say: Volume 43 – by Ray Hudson

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Election Perspective

Ray Hudson
Ray Hudson

Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote: George Jean Nathan, American Drama Critic and Editor.

It seems like we’ve been trapped in a paradigm like the movie Groundhog Day, where every morning the radio starts the day with the same political rhetoric as the day before, and it seems to never end. Well, fellow Canadians, it will end this Monday night, unless the vote is so hopelessly close as to put us into a never-ending series of minority governments with elections every 6 months.

This week, I wanted to share some fun and wisdom on Canadian politics.

One thing about vote-speak, you must never say anything that can be proven to be an absolute commitment. Three words you will seldom hear as a complete answer to a question: Yes, No, and, I don’t know. The response/promise/commitment is more likely qualified, has a timeline in excess of the next mandate and starts out with a succinct response:

  • “Let me say this about that” …. and the thought that goes with it (think fast – what am I supposed to say?)
  • “I’m glad you asked me about that” (No I’m not! But I need to get the answer to the question about Arctic Ball Hockey over to ship-building in Halifax – seamlessly)
  • “Let me make this perfectly clear” (and confuse the heck out of all of you who won’t remember the question that was asked in the first place.)!

But if you think things have been nasty this time around, consider some of the insults from years gone by, in the house and out (from the Oxford Book of Canadian Political Anecdotes):

  • During the election of 1863, Sir John A. Macdonald threw up during a campaign speech and when his opponent pointed this out, Macdonald responded: “I get sick, not because of drink (but because) I am forced to listen to the ranting of my honourable opponent!”
  • John Diefenbaker whose 1958 campaign left painted footprints on fences, sidewalks and walls saying, “Follow John.” After he had a falling out with fellow Conservative Flora MacDonald he quipped, that she was “The finest woman ever to walk the streets of Kingston.”
  • About the man credited with getting away with an “F bomb” in the House of Commons claiming he had only uttered “fuddle-duddle,” David Lewis, the Leader of the NDP in 1969 proclaimed, “There, but for the grace of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, sits God.”
  • In 2005, when a Liberal cabinet minister was asked by reporters whether he offered an ambassadorship to Tory MP Inky Mark in return for Mark giving up his seat in the House of Commons, thus making the Liberals’ minority government a little more secure, he replied, “Frankly, if I was going to recruit somebody, I’d go further up the gene pool.”
  • You got to love a man who knows where he’s going: “My strategy has always been to stay on course unless a change, of course, is announced. And if it is, of course, we will announce it.” John Turner former PM.

I’ll leave you this week with the words that Pierre Elliott Trudeau had pasted in his daily briefing book. It may be prophetic at this point in the election, but it would always be useful to keep in mind as our politicians move to the next election….whenever,

“O Lord, help my words to be gracious and tender today – tomorrow I may have to eat them.”
Bon appetit