People and Places

ELECTION CHATTER (DAY 31): On the campaign trail with the living dead

Day 31: In which Ottawa Magazine contributing editor Mark Bourrie paints a disturbing picture of the federal party leaders as various incarnations of the living dead

I know I am the first member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery to raise the issue of the living dead being a potent force in the campaign. Now, it seems, the political parties have latched on to the problem, but in ways I have never expected.

Take Stephen Harper. The Prime Minister is a known Cyborg, composed of spare parts from various autopsies gone terribly wrong, some 1990s-era nanotechnology, and programming by the Republican National Committee. The hairpiece should have been a give-away, yet Canadians refuse to believe.

Then there’s John Baird. Mr. Baird is a known werewolf. The press downplays this fact, calling him an “attack dog,” when, in fact, it is quite obvious that Mike Harris went back to North Bay with Baird’s soul.

Now, I do not suggest anyone go after Baird with a silver bullet. Simply waving a cross in Baird’s face should cause an immediate and very obvious flinch. You should be able to back him into a corner and keep him cowering harmlessly until the small children make their escape. (Leaving raw meat nearby will not provoke a serious reaction. Baird caught on to that trick in his Queen’s Park days. Back then, he lived in the tunnel that connects the legislature building to the University Avenue subway line, and people used to amuse themselves tossing him pieces of hot dog.)

As far as I know, there are no other undead minions of Satan campaigning for the Tories, although Krista Erickson of the new Sun News Network looks rather unearthly. Strange moonlight rites could not revive Brian Mulroney, and poor Joe Clark had a stake driven through his heart some 31 years ago, and is thus unavailable.

So is Ed Broadbent. His protégé, Jack Layton, who limps because of “hip surgery” — in reality, difficulties with the embalming equipment — has managed to come across as a man who is actually one of the living. If the campaign lasted three more weeks, he’d risk having his ears turn green and fall off.

Then there’s Count Ignatieff who, as I have so often explained, travels with what staffers call “the sleeping coffin” and reacts poorly to mirrors and sunlight. The Liberals have foisted on us a count with a dubious family background who, supposedly, arrived on these shores from “Harvard.” But, as I have often noted, his accent has a distinct Carpathian Mountains twang to it.

Count Ignatieff no longer travels alone. Two other zombies, Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, have joined the Ignatieff campaign in a stratagem that can only be the work of the Prince of Darkness. Neither time nor the prayers of nuns have cleansed the soul of Chrétien, who is laden with the sins of Quebec ad men and sleazy small-town grifters of the Mauricie.

Poor Paul Martin was exhumed from the Eastern Townships to remind us of our former prosperity, but all those years in the same crypt as Chrétien have left him with a taint that no amount of Holy Water can wash away.

In a sad parody of Easter, the most despised of the Undead has risen and walks among us now. Black Jacques Parizeau is loose in the Quebec countryside, and all the roadside crosses and shrines of the Distinct Society will not bring him to heel. Parizeau is allegedly 80 years old. In fact, he has been around much, much longer. The Huron have an oral tradition of him stalking their cornfields and raiding their villages long before the arrival of the Europeans.

Back then, he sought small children. Today, he settles for support for his apprentice, Gilles Duceppe.

I think this may be the last election where the living dead are a potent political force. It’s fairly safe to assume that Count Ignatieff will depart for “Harvard” if things go poorly. Chrétien will retire to his mausoleum, Martin to his lonely New England-style graveyard near Knowlton, and Parizeau will end up howling in a bell tower in the wine country of France.

If the people of Ottawa West-Nepean have an ounce of Christian virtue, they will shoo John Baird out of their village, although, for the life of me, I can’t imagine where he will get his meat. He should turn up regularly on the Sun News Network, but that’s hardly a living.

We will be left with the Cyborg. Perhaps that’s what we need. Maybe we are not good people, and we’ll become better under the Tory knout. Unless the Rapture interrupts the process, we may learn that we get the leaders who most resemble us.

Canadians yearn for leadership from the land of the living, but, in our dysfunctional political and media systems, a person with an organically-generated pulse and a functioning brain doesn’t stand a chance.