The plot con­tin­ues

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION -

Read­ers of this col­umn may re­mem­ber a plot I have men­tioned in the past. A plot aimed at me per­son­ally. I have writ­ten about it sev­eral times, par­tic­u­larly on oc­ca­sions when the news of the day made its ex­is­tence un­de­ni­able. I should clar­ify a lit­tle. Though I take it per­son­ally, it must be said that this plot is not aimed at me alone, but at all car­toon­ists. In fact, it is aimed at all peo­ple in the goofi­ness trade. All of us start by har­vest­ing the raw ma­te­rial of hu­man folly. We then mix it with a dash of wit, a pinch of skep­ti­cism, sev­eral litres of ex­ag­ger­a­tion and a healthy dol­lop or two of sauci­ness, pop it into the oven, bake it at 440 F for 20 min­utes and voila, our daily bread.

The plot works like this: pub­lic fig­ures world­wide share in­for­ma­tion and tips on how to be­have in a man­ner so pre­pos­ter­ously ex­ag­ger­ated that no car­toon­ist can top it. What they get up to is so loony that no car­toon can pos­si­bly be more out­ra­geous. Once a news­pa­per editor be­comes aware that read­ers are laugh­ing or scream­ing hys­ter­i­cally at fac­tual news re­ports and star­ing stone-faced at car­toons, the car­toon­ist’s days on the job are num­bered.

I ad­mire the idea that world lead­ers can find some­thing on which they can co-oper­ate. I just wish it wasn’t putting me out of work.

Let’s take a look at some news items. You can de­cide for your­self if they seem like part of the plot I’m de­scrib­ing. A warn­ing: Some read­ers may find the fol­low­ing too fool­ish to talk about.

In Marys­town, the CEO of Ocean Choice In­ter­na­tional Martin Sul­li­van clearly iden­ti­fied him­self as one of the plot­ters. You will re­mem­ber that OCI was born out of what re­mained af­ter the rape and pil­lage of Fish­ery Prod­ucts In­ter­na­tional by John Ris­ley. When FPI folded in 2007 and OCI as­sumed the pro­cess­ing part of their em­pire, Sul­li­van saw only blue sky.

“We are in this for the long haul,” he in­sisted to those who won­dered about OCI’S large debt to an Ice­landic bank. No prob­lem, said Sul­li­van, we have a good re­la­tion­ship with our bank. Shortly af­ter­wards, all the banks in Ice­land crashed. No wor­ries, said Sul­li­van. That was then. Last week, Sul­li­van claimed that their Marys­town op­er­a­tion was on thin ice. As things stand the plant is los­ing mil­lions. If the provin­cial govern­ment would only per­mit OCI to ship 100 per cent of the tiny yel­low­tail floun­der to China for pro­cess­ing, Sul­li­van pleaded, Marys­town would be able to eke out $100,000 profit an­nu­ally and be able to con­tinue op­er­a­tion. If the govern­ment says no, the plant will close and thou­sands will lose their jobs.

The short ver­sion: Sul­li­van can save the jobs in Marys­town by send­ing them to China.

The man should quit the fish­ery en­tirely and go straight into stand- up com­edy.

I was be­gin­ning to think it might be a good idea to drop by the EI of­fice to fa­mil­iar­ize my­self with the lay­out, so I’d know my way around when the time came to file my claim. I no­ticed a sign at one of the wick­ets. “In view of the large num­ber of claims from laid-off car­toon­ists, please take a num­ber. Your claim will shortly be pro­cessed by our Inu­vik branch. You may be re­quired to ap­pear there for a per­sonal in­ter­view.”

Last week, a huge num­ber of vot­ers turned out for the first le­git­i­mate Egyp­tian elec­tion in many years. With tears in her eyes, a wo­man l eav i n g t h e pol l i n g s t a t i o n ex­claimed, “I am so happy to be able to par­tic­i­pate at last as a cit­i­zen in our democ­racy.”

Im­me­di­ately af­ter win­ning her first elec­tion as the leader of her party last Oc­to­ber, Premier Kathy Dun­derdale an­nounced that the House of Assem­bly would not sit again un­til the spring.

“I don’t find it a place for a very healthy, open, con­struc­tive de­bate to start with,” she said.

Back home from the EI of­fice with a claim form in hand, I sat down at my draw­ing ta­ble. I re­ally didn’t want to look at the form. What I needed to do was think up a way to foil the world­wide plot to put me out of busi­ness. I pushed the form over to the side of the ta­ble. Sud­denly, it came to me. I have spent my whole pro­fes­sional life fol­low­ing the lead of var­i­ous po­lit­i­cal fig­ures, try­ing to make fun of the things they do. I am al­ways re­act­ing. Re­act­ing to things I don’t like. In­stead of do­ing that, why not be proac­tive and take the lead? Maybe if I drew car­toons of politi­cians do­ing things I agree with, they would be­come con­fused. Con­fused enough to fol­low my lead. Hmmm.

I picked up my pen­cil. Now what do you sup­pose would hap­pen if I drew Stephen Harper cut­ting the rib­bon to of­fi­cially open a brand new en­larged and im­proved Search and Res­cue Mar­itime Sub-cen­tre in Gan­der?

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