Eve Cor­bel

Stephen Os­borne says good­bye to Stephen Harper

Geist - - Features - STEPHEN OS­BORNE

The 99: Bus With­out Pity

On the day Stephen Harper dis­ap­peared from pub­lic life, in Oc­to­ber of 2015, I pinned a poppy to my coat for the first time in years. I had given up poppy-wear­ing as a protest against Stephen Harper, specif­i­cally as protest against the ob­nox­ious poli­cies of Stephen Harper, the ob­nox­ious non-poli­cies of Stephen Harper, the craven ethics of Stephen Harper and above all the per­son and the name of Stephen Harper; my un­stated in­ten­tion was to protest all as­pects of Stephen Harper as they con­tin­ued from term to term to re­veal them­selves in their ob­nox­ious­ness, by the stren­u­ous non-wear­ing of the poppy from Novem­ber to Novem­ber, etc., un­til the day that Stephen Harper would be out there no more, loom­ing over the na­tional hori­zon. That day came in Oc­to­ber, and I who had grown ashamed to be a cit­i­zen of this coun­try grew rapidly much less ashamed.

A few weeks later, on Re­mem­brance Day, the rain stopped in Van­cou­ver and the sun shone in a windy blue sky; a breeze blew: a day for walk­ing around with a poppy in your lapel. I went down the hill and walked through the park and then over to the Sky­train and took the Sky­train down­town and walked down a hill and up a hill and around the court­house. Then I went into the Hud­son’s Bay Com­pany and took the ex­press el­e­va­tor to Men’s Wear and bought a new shirt of light denim and one of heav­ier denim. I went back to the el­e­va­tor where there was a sign by the en­trance to the men’s room: This wash­room is pa­trolled by As­set Pro­tec­tion. A door marked As­so­ci­ates Only swung open and a big man with shopping bags came through. Great view of the city in there, he said. You might take a pic­ture. He showed me how to un­lock the door to get back out. I went through and looked at the view: it was not very in­ter­est­ing. A woman’s voice echoed down the stair­case. You shouldn’t be here, said the voice. You’re not an as­so­ci­ate, are you?—these stairs are only for as­so­ci­ates, you know. I pressed the but­ton the big man had shown me and went back the way I had come. Far­ther down Granville Street I went into the Mon­go­lian Grill and filled a small plate with car­rot slices, broc­coli, three kinds of mush­rooms, shrimp, squid slices, fat noo­dles and red onions. The grill man dumped ev­ery­thing on the grill and poured on the sauce, Thai gar­lic and chili, and grilled it all up; I sat by the win­dow: the win­dow glass was cold. Out on the side­walk peo­ple were walk­ing up and down, some with pop­pies, some with­out. It was the last poppy-wear­ing day of the year. Stephen Os­borne is a co-founder and con­tribut­ing pub­lisher of Geist. He is the au­thor of Ice & Fire: Dis­patches from the New World. Read his most re­cent piece, “In­sur­gency,” and many other works at geist.com.

As­so­ci­ate View, HBC, 6th floor

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