Surrounded by frickin’ idiots

My brother complained that my last post about Stephen Harper was just a little too fellatial, so it seems to me that I should say a bit more about the federal election.

(This is not without risk, given that I’m working on a government contract at the moment, and in the future there is always the possibility that I will be writing letters and briefing notes for a politician I take cheap shots at, but I think I’ll be okay; it’s not like anyone reads this thing anyway.)

The bottom line is that, despite my sordid partisan past, I’m politically neutral and have been for a decade. I’ve voted for each the three major federal parties at least once in past elections. And while the likelihood of my voting for the Bloc is less than zero, any of the remaining four parties (including the Greens) could, theoretically, win my vote. Though the course of the campaign may narrow my options, I generally try to vote for the best local candidate, on the basis that I’d rather have a competent, hard-working representative I don’t agree with than a meathead who’s barely capable of regurgitating slogans I do happen to agree with.

Now that that’s out of the way, let me say something about the Conservatives. Harper is widely considered a control freak; the emerging wag’s consensus is that that’s because he has no choice: in Dr. Evil’s words, he’s surrounded by frickin’ idiots.

Nowhere else is that more clear than in my own riding, where his Quebec lieutenant, transport minister Lawrence Cannon, is running for re-election. Now, I voted for Cannon last time — my anti-Conservative family members just had an infarction — in no small part to displace the incumbent Liberal M.P., a mediocrity with whom I was thoroughly unimpressed. (Bring back Robert Bertrand!) But since then, like his boss, he’s had some, um, staffing issues. Darlene Lannigan’s patronizing remarks to Aboriginal constituents were clueless enough to warrant Cannon canning her, at least in the opinion of his opponents, but she’s staying on.

It might well be that cluelessness in Cannon’s office is a relative concept. For one thing, his staff seems to have language issues — problematic in a riding that is 23 percent anglophone. When I wrote to natural resources minister Gary Lunn about his department’s decision to stop producing paper topographic maps (a decision Lunn later overturned), I copied Cannon as my M.P. His office sent me an acknowledgement, in English; to call it barely literate would be charitable. And last week, his campaign office called us, in French, asking for our support. Here’s a tip: if you’re going to canvass Shawville, a town that is 93 percent English, has no Catholic church and still worships the memory of John George Diefenbaker (In Quebec. In our province. I am not making this up.), you’ll probably want your anglophone volunteers on this particular job. Given the 80-percent-plus support the Conservatives get in Shawville and Clarendon, it shouldn’t be too hard to find one. (You can’t make Mayfred do all of it.) Very curious.