Deputy PM? Consider this my application…

My Fellow Inebriates,

I was prepared to be outraged when my mother casually mentioned that Canada doesn’t currently have a deputy prime minister. The subject came up because Miss P had come home from Grade 2 enthusing about Alberta (Oil! Dinosaur bones!) and asking when we could go there. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is from there and has made a career of exploiting that province’s oil reserves, ripping up boreal forest with abandon and draining rivers to supply an unsustainably water-intensive dirty-oil industry that’s quickly rendering much of Alberta more like a Martian landscape than the pristine Canadian wilderness where fur traders and settlers once tromped. O Canada.

Stephen Harper with a kitten

Just the mention of Alberta was enough to get us hatin’ on the Harper Government.* Only the beady-eyed Harper, who has kiboshed no less than 3,000 environmental impact assessments, loosened regulations to allow corporate food producers to conduct their own safety inspections, fired a whistleblower for reporting weaknesses in the Chalk River nuclear facility, refused to sign a UN declaration citing water as a human right, cut science funding, issued generous tax cuts to frackers, repeatedly attempted to institute comprehensive Internet surveillance, and removed historical pictures of past prime ministers from the House of Commons and instead festooned it with at least 25 pictures of himself, could be such a colossal dickhead as to fly without a deputy, right?

stephen harper with a bear

When you walk in the door, all you see are pictures of Stephen Harper … I’d say between every window, in every available space of the wall, at eye level, every available space has a photo of Stephen Harper … You’ve got photos of Stephen Harper, but not of previous prime ministers … Photos of Stephen Harper in different costumes, in different settings, dressed as a fireman, in Hudson Bay looking for polar bears, meeting the Dalai Lama, even the portrait of the Queen had to have Stephen Harper, but in a candid, behind her. — Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada

So when Mum said we had no deputy prime minister, I thought WTF? and looked it up, only to discover my outrage wasn’t legitimate. Turns out the position is fairly modern (1977), fairly nebulous and often ceremonial. Unlike the American Vice President, the Canadian Deputy Prime Minister does not expect to ascend to leadership in the event of the PM’s untimely death. In fact, only one deputy prime minister, Jean Chretien, has ever gone on to become prime minister.

Harper is all about letting the fox mind the henhouse.

Harper is all about letting the fox mind the henhouse.

Still, the Deputy Prime Minister’s does have the job of answering policy questions during Question Period. But Stephen Harper isn’t big on his government answering questions. Still… You’d think he’d at least install some toothless moppet to sit in Parliament and nod its head.

And once again I found myself writing a political letter….

letter to Stephen Harper

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

I just noticed today that you don’t have a deputy prime minister. While I understand you probably wouldn’t want some outspoken, informed person at Question Period, perhaps you could use a head-nodding imbecile such as myself.

I could even help out with duties such as watering your plants or stroking your cat (that’s not a metaphor). Let me know, dude.

stephen harper with wormy thing

I don’t know, my fellow inebriates… Will another of my political rants go into the cyber void?

 

 *Only a total dickhead with dictatorial aims would actually rechristen “the Canadian Government” officially with his own surname.
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ALEXANDER KEITH’S RED AMBER ALE

My morning child abuse (abuse by children, if you haven’t been following) came with a reminder that today is a special day. I truly wouldn’t have remembered if Miss P hadn’t bounced around all morning about it—today is the day we defer to a soil-dwelling rodent on questions of climate. It’s Groundhog Day, my fellow inebriates, which means the creature will give us an opportunity today to either laugh off global warming or get up in arms about it.

Of course there’s a multiplicity of prognosticating vermin throughout North America. With a six-year lifespan, you can bet Punxsutawney Phil isn’t the original Punxsutawney Phil—unless Chuck Testa did an unusually good job reanimating him. Groundhogs mate like crazy between March and April, producing two to six young at a time, so there’s always a fresh supply for—given the media resources that get dedicated to the annual event—what must be the deadest day ever for actual news.

Cheesy Canadiana and/or Americana always make me feel like a beer, and with Miss P safely off to grade one, I decided to crack an ALEXANDER KEITH’S RED AMBER ALE. The cans had appeared in our fridge following a rare visit from (even rarer) friends of my parents—a “slumming it” product that I would certainly buy to take to someone’s house if I didn’t necessarily care about retaining their respect, or if I thought maybe I could trade up to something better in their fridge.

Everything about the pour suggests mass-produced domestic beer—hockey beer, if you will. The color is aggressively orange, the head loose and half-hearted. In terms of smell this amber ale doesn’t give much away; you have to just take the plunge and taste it.

And much the way my on-again-off-again-mostly-off girlfriend Dolly describes an evening with me, ALEXANDER KEITH’S RED AMBER ALE is pretty much a waste of time. It’s ordinary: tangy but sweet and thin with insufficient malt—the sort of brew that reinforces a general sense of unmet expectations and thereby propels the drinker toward more serious alcohol earlier in the day than planned. I do therefore recommend it for non-daytime imbibers as a method of jumping the mental hurdle into “Why not?” territory.

As I started a second can, I wondered if Dolly would be interested in Groundhog Day simply because of her fur fetish. Plenty of people share her proclivities, and with Valentine’s Day looming, they are probably stirring in their burrows much like Punxsutawney Phil and Wiarton Willie.

Social stigma hinders fur fetishists even more than it does daytime drinkers. According to my sources, “furries” fall into five categories, none of which dovetail too well with mainstream mores.

  • Fursuiters (those who like to dress up)
  • Otherkins (those who believe they are animal in spirit)
  • Furries (those who enjoy roleplay)
  • Furverts (those with fur fetishes plus every subset you can think of)
  • Trans-species (those who physically alter themselves to resemble kindred animals)

It was sweet of Dolly to cross the line into full-on bestiality with me, but I have to realize it’s over, and there are enough other bears in the house to give her whatever it is she needs without subjecting her to the odor of rancid beer. Drinking ALEXANDER KEITH’S RED AMBER ALE is my way of accepting Dolly’s rejection.

We all slum it sometimes, whether it be with Malibu or Alexander Keith’s. Dolly slummed it with me, but I think that was the bottom for her. And I don’t want to say anything mean about her. I really doubt she’d get that interested in a groundhog, even if it could predict the weather (which would be amazing given that the weather channel can’t).

So what happened anyway with North America’s groundhogs? Did they see their shadows?

According to the three most closely watched of these psychic vermin, spring is coming. So get out the hay fever meds, brush up on your climate-related conversation, and (Dad) take the Christmas tree down. Spring is sprung and love is in the air (unless you’re me).