Readers of this column often find me taking cheap shots at politicians whom I have described at one time or another as stupid, narrow, deceitful, arrogant, opaque, stone-faced, weak-kneed, childish, squeamish, prudish, and, I am embarrassed to say, short, fat and bespeckled.
Now and then I have written about bureaucrats by using such descriptors as mindless, clueless and spineless. I recall conjuring up images of them being about as creative as gum, about as sincere as drool.
I once remember referring to Canadian peacemakers as adolescent pacifists on steroids, full of smiles and armed to the teeth.
I have sometimes placed corporations in that category we normally reserve for criminals: premeditated conspirators at war with human health, family stability and community sustainability.
And to the chagrin of some, I had the literary audacity at one point to refer to our current Prime Minister as — and I can’t believe I did it — boyishly shallow.
Lord, strike me where I stand!
If there is a journalistic hell my name must surely be embossed on a briquette.
But throw me a bone here, I don’t get paid big bucks to construe to my readers mere political frolicsome.
You expect more of me.
And I deliver.
If I think Jack Layton is unelectable until he either shears his upper lip or dons a rug, well I’m gonna say it.
Last time I was on Parliament Hill, sitting directly across from monsieur Duceppe, I couldn’t help but notice he — ever so slyly in a French sort of way — put his left index finger in his nose.
‘Jesus, Mary and Joseph,’ I thought to myself, ‘this great separatist leader is picking his nose!’
That, my dear reader, is noteworthy.
When scenes like this unfold in Ottawa you’ll get my take on it.
After all, I was there; you weren’t.
And when I could finally take my eyes off the separatist leader — hoping for his sake the finger to the nose was really an intransient political signal — I immediately became transfixed on Belinda Stronach’s hair.
My God, it’s dyed jet black.
Fake, listless, it hangs on her face like shameful noodles.
I poked the person sitting next to me in the gallery. Is that … no it couldn’t be … could it? Stronach!
When she rose to speak in favour of cutting all perks to the volunteer sector, I immediately turned my attention across the aisle to where Peter MacKay was roosting.
As her old flame, he of all people must know her real roots.
But he wasn’t even looking at her. Couldn’t care less.
In fact, he was casting a quizzical glance over toward Duceppe.
Was there something going on here, some sign-language across two sides of government?
Was it MacKay that Duceppe was signaling — if it was indeed a signal — with that hardnosed index finger?
Or like me, was MacKay just waiting to see where Duceppe’s left index finger went next: under the table, on the pin striped trousers, or disgustingly, and in absolute defiance, a quick flick in the air?
Harsh stuff here.
In politics everything is important.
Even the wave of an arm, the subtle movement of a single finger can be a decipherable nuance here in Ottawa.
But in the world about to unfold before us in 2007, my job is going to get a lot tougher.
I can ill afford to get sidetracked by the bad personal habits of some of our elected leaders. I will have to see over bad dye jobs and bald heads.
I want to be ready for the real day of reckoning.
Some day, some leader on one side of the aisle or the other, some wise man or woman elected by us to serve up the truth about the state of the world, the state of Canada, is going to say to the Canadian people:
“In order to become richer as a nation we will simply have to find ways to live poorer as a people.”
He or she will then go on to say:
“We have far exceeded the carrying capacity of the Earth, the crisis is real; it will not go away of its own accord.”
“If each of us strives to buy less, if we as a nation can learn to become content with owning little, this nation will survive.”
“For by living with less we will give to each other the great gift of our age: the gift of time.
“Democracy as an institution, all of us as family, as parents and as children, the Earth as the sphere of life, all need time to heal.”
When those words are spoken — and I am getting the sense we are about to hear them from some political quarter — I want to be there as both journalist and citizen.
For when that moment comes, I can happily fall back on such time-tested personal descriptors as learned, keen, compassionate, selfless, truly democratic, reconciling, and hallowed.
What a gift to receive.
What a year that’s gonna be!