Prelates and Princes
by Dan Jamieson
The Prime Minister made his way down the staircase. Reporters were held well away from the route he would follow into the Commons Chamber, kept in place by a phalanx of security officers. Just another day at the office, the Prime Minister thought.
As he left the final step in his descent his serenity came under attack.
"Have you seen the latest Conference Board report?" a reporter called out.
The Prime Minister ignored him. Conference Board reports never said anything that the average Canadian cared about.
"The one that says Holland has more good places to smell the flowers per capita than Canada," another yelled.
The PMís step faltered.
"Canada was ranked fifth for good fishing holes," another reporter called out, waiving a sheaf of papers.
The PM slowed his step. He was clearly upset.
"Hot off the presses," one of the scribes said. "Canada ranks fifteenth in percentage of the adult population that has made love in a canoe."
At this the PM stopped dead in his tracks, his jaw dropped and his eyes opened wide.
"That canít be true," he said.
As if this were a signal, the reporters pressed forward, overwhelming the security guards, who seemed to be in shock themselves. They crowded around the PM sprouting microphones, tape recorders and questions all at once. The scrum, long banned by PMO decree, had returned to parliament hill.
The PM turned and fled back up the stairs.
"I thought we ranked better in the making love in a canoe category," one of the reporters said, examining the paper in her hand.
"Check out the break-down," another told her. "The adults rank fifteenth. The teenagers improve the average considerably."
The PMO brought spin-doctoring to new heights that day, blaming the sorry state of affairs on the previous government and promising immediate action to return Canada to its former status.
Nothing worked and they now turned to the PM as the ultimate spin doctor.
"We could survive placing behind the Dutch in places to smell the flowers," he said. "Even being fifth in fishing holes isnít the end of the world.
"But fifteenth in making love in a canoe! This is an absolute disaster. To be fifteenth in the very thing that defines us. This is like the Canadians retreating at Vimy or the Russians winning the 1972 hockey tournament. In short, this is the end. No government that receives such a devastating report on its watch can survive.
"The only option open to us is to generate an immediate change in the statistics. I want you to get as many members of cabinet and caucus as you can round up to meet me by the canoe rental on the Rideau Canal in an hour with their wives or girl-friends."
The following day a weary and water-logged caucus unanimously passed a resolution requiring the Conference Board to stick with things that donít matter to Canadians, like the economy, and leave the important issues to Parliament.
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