I don’t know about you guys, but on her way through here Leslie took my girlfriend’s screen door and frightened our cat to death. It also blew the lid off her landlord’s shed, just like I’m about to blow the lid off a few of these news stories.
I also totally understand if you want to offer me up as a blood sacrifice to ward off the next tropical storm, because that line was terrible.
Quebec voters said au revoir to Jean Charest and the provincial Liberal party last week, opting instead to give those lovable separatists in the Parti Québecois another shot at running the show –- albeit, this time with a minority government. There’s a good chance the turnover was prompted less by a legitimate desire to rip Canada in half and more by a desire to shake up the hilariously corrupt political establishment (and to express disapproval with the party that stomped all over their basic Charter rights in attempts to curb the student protests last spring), but it’s still a safe bet that we’re in for some good ol’ fashioned French-Canadian sabre-rattling. That said, the PQ might want to scale back its aggressive rhetoric a little in light of the events that transpired at their victory rally, when an elderly man in a blue bathrobe attempted to crash the party, set fire to the back door, and shot two people (one fatally) while shouting “the English are waking up!” While the tragedy was likely just the hideous intersection of untreated mental illness and contentious politics, it probably wouldn’t hurt the PQ to tone down the quasi-racist chest thumping. That and, you know, maybe a system for keeping track of who actually purchases semi-automatic weaponry wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
In significantly more hilarious news, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was named ‘Statesman of the Year’ this week by the New York-based Appeal of Conscience Foundation. The reward recognizes him specifically as a “champion of democracy, freedom, and human rights.” This designation is pretty impressive, considering he’s the only Prime Minister in the history of the country ever to be found in contempt of Parliament, he slashed funding and shut down numerous organizations devoted to promoting human rights both at home (e.g. the Court Challenges Program) and abroad (e.g. KAIROS), and has spear-headed an expansion of the prison system so drastic that even the law-and-order- obsessed Republicans in Texas cautioned him to ease up a little. This award will also be presented to him by none other than Dr. Henry “let’s just carpet-bomb Cambodia” Kissinger, conclusively ensuring that all the jokes in this paragraph wrote themselves.
Locally, Leslie wasn’t the only one blowing winds of change across St. John’s. In a surprise press conference on Thursday, long-time PC stalwart Tom Osborne announced he was quitting his party of 16 years to sit as an Independent in the House of Assembly. According to Osborne, the two big catalysts for his leap from the Tory Dory were his issues with Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s leadership, or lack thereof, and the ATIPPA-cally awful Bill 29 that the government rammed through over the summer after a week-long opposition filibuster (one wonders why he didn’t say anything sooner). Never ones to take this sort of thing sitting down, backbench all-stars Sandy Collins, Stephen Kent and Paul Lane (Paul, if you’re reading this, please unblock me on Twitter… I miss you) were quick to get online and express how much stronger the Dunderdale team was despite losing one of its most experienced members, and the Honourable Joan Burke broke a 20-day social media fast to pithily tweet “good riddance.” Osborne may as well change his first name to Ozzy, because from the sounds of his ex-comrades he’s the veritable Prince of Darkness. You can’t blame the Tories though, because between the plummeting opinion polls and veteran politicians jumping ship, I’d be worried too.
And that’s the news! Without touching on the gongshow that is the US Presidential Election, at least. Clint Eastwood literally argued with an empty chair on national television for 15 minutes at the Republican National Convention the other week! Isn’t it great to be Canadian?
(Stephen Harper portrait by Margaret Sutherland)