Will you marry me, Stinky?

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - Camp­bell Web­ster Camp­bell Web­ster is a writer and pro­ducer of en­ter­tain­ment events. He can be reached at camp­bell@camp­bell­web­ster.ca

It wasn't re­ally a bad date, but it sure felt like one. On elec­tion night in the 2011 Fed­eral elec­tion, a cou­ple of NDP sup­port­ers and I stopped by the vic­tory party at a Char­lot­te­town bar to con­grat­u­late the newly elected Lib­eral MP and his sup­port­ers. It was a cu­ri­ous time for them, for de­spite the mod­est lo­cal suc­cess; in the coun­try as a whole the Lib­er­als had just been se­verely creamed, get­ting less than 19 per cent of the vote.

But in Char­lot­te­town, one of the safest seats in the coun­try, they had pre­vailed, and had done well in At­lantic Canada, their last base of sup­port, de­spite be­ing re­duced to a rump in the rest of Canada. In­deed, over 30 per cent of all Lib­eral seats were from our re­gion, which rep­re­sents less than six per cent of the na­tional pop­u­la­tion. Sud­denly, chang­ing the Lib­eral party name to Bloc At­lan­tique seemed like a rea­son­able op­tion.

So to say that the Char­lot­te­town vic­tory party was a place where Lib­eral ac­tivists were of two minds, would be an un­der­state­ment. How do you get your head around be­ing thrashed and win­ning in the same con­test? One strat­egy ex­er­cised that night by two Lib­eral en­thu­si­asts seated at the bar, af­ter a se­ries of high-fives were ex­changed, was to de­clare, “...that Is­land Lib­er­als, at least, know how to win!”, as they pointed to the three out of four MP's who were Lib­er­als.

But per­haps the most preva­lent sen­ti­ment at that Lib­eral vic­tory cel­e­bra­tion/wake, was how var­i­ous Lib­er­als were talk­ing en­thu­si­as­ti­cally about merg­ing with the NDP. A sen­ti­ment which was brought home neatly by one of their se­nior ac­tivists, who ap­proached us ex­cit­edly to dis­cuss the idea.

Rec­og­niz­ing us as “known NDP sup­port­ers” he used the metaphor that it was “time we drank from the same glass!" as he held up his gold­fish-bowl­sized glass of red wine, the elixir cre­at­ing a small tidal bore as he waved it from side-to-side. Hav­ing so bru­tally be­ing con­signed to the far corners of the House of Com­mons, he, and oth­ers, thought it was time to set this right and get back to power. And sip­ping from the same gob­let was the way to do it.

It wasn't re­ally a bad date, but it sure felt like one.

What made it feel so crummy was how he did it, and how the merger idea can of­ten be pre­sented, by both the NDP and Lib­er­als to the other side. Sim­ply put, both par­ties have some ac­tivists who can rhyme off the other's de­fi­cien­cies, then pro­pose merg­ing. On that elec­tion night, with the tide set­ting in and out on his small sea of red­wine, the Lib­eral ac­tivist brought this ap­proach home neatly, by list­ing off all the things he found unattrac­tive about the NDP. Then he sug­gested we drink from the same large chal­ice of vot­ers.

Which is why it al­ways seems like such a bad date, when ei­ther party does it. On that cu­ri­ous night of Lib­eral exultation and de­pres­sion and vats of wine, the lousy courtship skills of the Lib­eral were akin to the worst mar­riage pro­posal ever, “You have oily skin, ratty hair, usu­ally have a foul stench about you, and are crude and thought­less. I don't like much of what you think (Hic!) Let's get mar­ried.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.