When Stephen Met Paul...


The photo on the right appeared on the front page of the Globe and Mail on Wednesday. It is a Canadian Press photograph taken by Jonathan Hayward. The caption reads, “Though sitting next to each other at a Canadian Arab League reception yesterday in Ottawa, Prime Minister Paul Martin and Conservative Leader Stephen Harper appear to be focused on different things. The opposition parties are expected to bring down the government next week.”

As purely blind writing (first draft, stream of consciousness), this is what really happened…

Paul Martin blinked when he saw the Cheshire cat smile of his nemesis, Stephen Harper. “So, you’re here too, are you?” he growled.

“It’s free country,” said Harper. “You didn’t have to accept the invitation.”

“You didn’t either.”

“I wanted to be here,” said Harper. “I love speaking in front of an audience.”

“No you don’t!”

“Well, consider this an opportunity to practise. I’m getting better at this gladhanding thing.” Harper subconsciously rubbed his palm against the side of his shirt. He looked up. “Aren’t you going to sit down?”

“You asking me to sit down?” said Martin.

“I’m just thinking you might get tired standing up.”

“Does my standing up make you uncomfortable?”

“I’m not uncomfortable,” said Harper. “I’m sitting down.”

“Well, then maybe I should sit down,” said Martin.

“Maybe you should,” said Harper.

“Maybe I will.”

“What’s stopping you?”


“Well, why don’t you sit down, then?”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

Harper shrugged. “Okay, then, stand if you like.”

“No, I’ll sit down, thank you.”

Martin plunked himself down on the chair next to Harper. The two leaders composed themselves, shifted in their seats, and glanced at each other. Then Martin took his chair and shifted it a quarter turn away from Harper. Harper looked away with a “Hmph!”

Minutes passed. Harper breathed deep and twiddled his thumbs. Martin looked around for magazines. Seeing none, he slumped in his seat. He sighed as well. Both leaders glanced around. Their gaze met briefly, and they turned away.

More minutes passed. And more sighs. Paul Martin looked sidelong at Harper. “Good trip?”

“I’ve had better.”

“Airport problems?”

“As usual.”

“We’ve got to do something about Air Canada.”

“Hey,” snapped Harper. “You’re prime minister. You do something about it.”

“Hello,” said Martin. “Minority!” Then something caught his eye and he looked past Harper. “Oh, no. It’s Jack and Gilles.”

Harper looked around. “Carrying a pale of water?”


Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe meander into the room and take seats beside Harper and Martin. “Hi, Guys!” chirped Layton. “How are ya?”

Martin and Harper grunted. Duceppe leaned back in his seat and crossed his legs.

“You look comfortable,” Harper grunted.

“I’ve got Quebec in my pocket,” said Duceppe.

“Is that why your—” Martin began.

“Great day here today, isn’t it, guys?” said Layton. “Of course, as with all Canadians, I’m concerned that these days might be numbered, what with the harm we’re doing to our environment—”

“Dear Lord,” said Martin. “Are you always on?”

“Of course! Canadians elected New Democrats to work hard for them, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and seventy-five days a year!”

Finally, one of the Master of Ceremonies appeared. “Mr. Prime Minister — Oh, and Mr. Harper, Duceppe and Layton, you’re here too? Good. We can get started. If you could proceed to the stage?”

“Yes, let’s,” said Martin, standing up. And then, putting on a burst of speed, he shouted! “Last one there’s a rotton egg!”

Harper leapt up, and with a surprising quickness, met Martin at the door. They struggled to get through the small space at the same time, and then emerged onto the stage with an audible “pop!”

Layton followed. “Just wait until they hear about my plan to fix municipal infrastructure with corporate tax hikes!”

Duceppe was left sitting. He leaned further back in his chair. “I don’t have to move. I still have Quebec in my back pocket.” He winced. “Pinches, though.”

And he settled in for some Zzz’s.

Not bad for a first (and only) draft.

My First Podcast

I was honoured to be asked by Greg Staples of Political Staples to join Greg Bester of Sinister Thoughts and Bob Tarantino of Let it Bleed for a Canadian political podcast. For those of you who don’t know, podcasting is audio blogging, so we four were participating in a people’s personal talk show. We had a good time, talking about possible election strategies, whether the NDP and the Conservatives could cooperate, predictions for the end results. I think it was intelligently done, even if we tended to beat up on the Liberals a bit. It was quiet and respectful political debate, possibly far more respectful than your average political talk show (but, hey, we’re Canadians), but it was interesting as well.

I’m hosting the first week’s segments here on my blog. You can find the links below. I only ask that you guys download these onto your harddrive and play these there. I have bandwidth to spare, but I don’t want to push it.

Be sure to check things out next week.

Before I go, click on over to the Canadian Lemming for the full story of Cameron’s television debut.

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