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Fotheringham

The Reminder is making its archives back to 2003 available on our website. Please note that, due to technical limitations, archive articles are presented without the usual formatting. In politics, hard work is a necessity. Intelligence usually helps.

The Reminder is making its archives back to 2003 available on our website. Please note that, due to technical limitations, archive articles are presented without the usual formatting.

In politics, hard work is a necessity. Intelligence usually helps. But the greatest asset of all is good old luck. Jean Chretien, the only man in Canada who can't speak either of the two official languages (Dalton Camp said he always looked like the driver of the getaway car), of course has been the luckiest of all. Holder of the ribbon of three straight majority governments thanks to the fact that the opposition has been our own version of the Three Stooges. Now Paul Martin, who doesn't even need it, has another pile of luck dumped into his millionaire lap. The farce of the Alliance Somethings and the Conservative Nothings in their public romance/divorce is akin to an act that not even Curly, Larry and Moe could duplicate. How could one, even in the wildest of political dreams, conjure up such a weak reed as Peter Mackay, proud inheritor of the party of Sir John A. Macdonald, Arthur Meighen, R.B. Bennett, ahem, and, er, Joe Clark? He the only personage ever to win his party leadership byÑlive and in colour on TVÑsigning a pact with a slightly-loony Prairie maverick named David OrchardÑand then within months going back on his written word and attempting to get into bed with a western rump party that wants to bring back the death penalty and children in the mines. The permanently western rumpÑagain luckilyÑled by Stephen Harper who more and more in every way turns out to be just a more handsome version of Parson Manning. He seems, inexplicably, to give the impression that he is in national politics supposedly aiming for PM but not actually liking the profession, the town (Ottawa) or his current life. There is more than a touch in him of Calvin Coolidge, America's 1920s president. Known as Silent Cal, he was approached by an excited matron at a cocktail party who informed him she had just bet her companions across the room $10 she could make him say more than two words. Silent Cal replied, "You lose." When someone rushed into a plush New York watering hole to announce that Coolidge was dead, Dorothy Parker said, "How can they tell?" The Ontario electorate feels the same about Harper. He never appears, never talks to, solicits, smarms or pleads to the one area of the country he must penetrate if he doesn't want to retire forever back to Calgary academe, which he seems to prefer. The Martinites are giggling in their Perrier, marching like Sherman through Georgia, on the way to Nov. 15 when Canada will display to the world that we are a banana republic, with one leader of the Liberal party which is in power and another guy who is prime minister and claims he will be so for three more months. To add to the hilarity, the Unite the Right that never was, actually contemplated as their new Lochinvar the improbable former golf-pro named Mike Harris. Aside from the fact that he can't speak a word of French. Aside from the fact that what the Alliance faithful voters in Western Canada really want is a resident of Bay Street, where Mikey now collects company directorships. Aside from the fact that provincial premiers, especially ex-premiers, have an astoundingly disastrous track record on the road to Ottawa. Nova Scotia's Robert Stanfield, the best prime minister we never had, couldn't make it. Newfoundland's yappy Brian Tobin, the former disc jockey, bit the bullet early and fled. Ontario's George Drew, the most handsome premier in Canadian history, tried for Ennui-on-the-Rideau and flunked. Manitoba's Duff Roblin tried, through a Conservative leadership bid, and fell short. When that province's NDP premier, Ed Schreyer was offered a cabinet spot in the Trudeau government but eventually settled for the Gee-Gee post at Rideau Hall, he was so bored he attempted to match a Winnipeg judge's feat of reading the Encyclopedia Britannica from A to Z. (He gave up at R.) Saskatchewan's Tommy Douglas actually got to Ottawa, but no further. British California, naturally, has never even tried, the province that has never produced a national party leader. John Turner was born in Britain. Kim Campbell, who like John was PM for 15 minutes, was chosen Tory chief by her delegates but never by the voters. Alberta, which has gone from poverty to decadence without passing through civilization, has wisely never tried to send an Aberhart, a Manning, a Klein, to the nation's capital. "Ralph can go to Ottawa," Mrs. Klein has said publicly, "and he will go alone." Peter Lougheed, the one unilingual hope, carefully avoided the federal trap. Mike Harris? They must be joking. True, because they are a joke.