Sunday, September 12, 2010


It may just be that I have been wrong to dread the resumption of Parliament in the third week of the month. Despite all the issues which have kept the media active through the intervening period, it has been a long three-months' summer hiatus. It has become anecdotally obvious that the nation's Parliamentary scribes are perhaps just as anxious as our elected officials themselves to get into the mayhem of the House of Commons and the fireworks of Question Period for the Conservative minority government of Prime Minister Harper.

Good God, in the interim they've taken to equating politics with food. In the process eliminating one of life's few simple remaining pleasures; to wit: A decent meal un-interrupted by politicians, telemarketers and snake-oil salesmen.

In a short series of articles being published by the Toronto Star, journalist Susan Delacourt has been examining how and why politics has been swayed from the institutional towards an ever increasing market-oriented model. She concludes that it's not by accident..."that politicians see the voters as one big crowd of hungry consumers, and that the citizens think politicians like...merchants, see them simply as wallets."

In fact, it is an accident of the prosperous "boom" period following the Second World War. Bolstered by the desire to re-construct the North American economy; citizens were encouraged to acquire feverishly every possible consumer gadget and widget starting with the automobile, the first television sets and even their complementary TV-Dinners. It wasn't long before we were lulled into equating prosperity and consumerism as the product of good politics and by implication those representatives we elected.

As "The Star" explains, nowadays the shopping/consuming link to politics is often expressed through coffee choice: liberal lefties sip "lattes" at Starbucks; the common folk to Tim Hortons for a "double-double. Which explains precisely why the pollsters and marketing gurus amongst Leader Michael Ignatieff's "Liberal Express" Tour over the summer sought so hard to dispel the image, regardless of how uncomfortable it made their leader:

Without missing a beat the Conservatives this weekend have countered with the release of a "celebrity" cookbook authored by Ontario Conservative MLA (Nepean-Carleton) Lisa MacLeod - "I'd Rather Be Home Baking Cookies" lampoon's a Liberal blogger suggestion during MacLeod's last campaign that implied she'd be better at home baking cookies. Obviously the list of celebrity chefs' recipes is a who's who of Tory politicians including the Prime Minister (salsa), Ministers John Baird (cookies) and Peter MacKay (lobster bisque); and even Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien (french toast).

Bloated at first, and worried that I might be sick or fat by the time Parliament resumes, I've been relieved to learn ironically that "Tums", the iconic tummy ache tablet, turn 80 years old this week. "Tums" basic formula is unchanged in 80 years; and from its single plant in St. Louis, Missouri it churns-out more than 4 billion Tums tablets each year: I digress! (24 flavours)

Cynics define politics as the art of looking for trouble and finding it - Then misdiagnosing it and misapplying the wrong remedies. I conclude with the fear that regretfully "Tums" short-term flavourful relief may not be very helpful for what ails us.

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