Up in smoke, eh?

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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Photo via the Toronto Star.

The most entertaining political farce on the planet right now isn’t taking place in the US & A or even at Westminster in woody old England. it’s happening in, of all places, Canada. Other than Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Canadian politicians tend to be on the dull and bland side, and damn proud of it.The current Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has helmet hair and is resolutely boring even while dragging his country kicking and screaming to the right. In fact, Canada is the only country I can think of who elected a man, Jean Chretien, with a minor speech impediment to be Prime Minister 3 times. And he was a good PM who kept his country out of the Iraq War.

That’s all changed with the current Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford. I’m sure everyone has heard the allegations that there’s a video showing him smoking crack with a drug slinging gangbanger. Some reporters have claimed to have seen it and Gawker even made like Zach Braffand raised money on Kickstarter to buy it from the dealers.There’s a problem: the video is “gone.” I’m not sure if it’s Gone With The Wind, gone, or just plain gone but apparently, it’s a goner.

Josh Marshall is inclined to think that the video will resurface and I hope he’s right. There is, however, a side benefit to all of this, Ford’s colorful woes may be rubbing off on the colorless Stephen Harper:

But again, there is a video
– though yet again, few have seen it. It was taken in Rob Ford’s mum’s
backyard two summers ago, during a barbecue party in honour of federal
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, whose riding is in Toronto’s eastern
suburbs. The videographer was an unknown conservative stalwart, thrilled
to record the surprise appearance of the prime minister himself.

Harper’s
brief remarks to the delighted backyard crowd contain two somewhat
awkward revelations. The first was that he and Rob Ford had become fishing buddies – a condition of some intimacy in Canadian politics.

The second was his appreciation of the political situation:

“We’ve started cleaning up the left-wing mess federally in this area –
Rob’s doing it municipally – and now we’ve got to complete the hat
trick, and do it provincially as well.”

The “hat
trick” line carries the two men’s relationship beyond intimacy, into a
unity of purpose, a joint political identity. This implication was not
lost on the prime minister’s office, which within 48 hours had the loyal
videographer take it off YouTube – nor on the anti-Harper legions, who
put it back up again, where it is beginning to attract renewed media
attention.

So even if the Rob Ford crack smoking video has gone up in smoke, the right-wing Prime Minister may suffer some collateral political damage or is that suffer from second hand smoke? I’m not sure what I really mean but who knew Canadian politics could be so wild, eh?

I’ll let John Hiatt, without the Goners, have the last doggone word and then I’m gone, baby, gone:

2 thoughts on “Up in smoke, eh?

  1. Beauzeaux says:

    Jack Layton was anything but bland. We still miss him.
    Rob Ford is a not-funny joke.

  2. Collin says:

    I appreciate that Americans must view politics outside the US through the left wing/right wing ideological filter in order to comprehend but Canadian politics are more nuanced. In his video remarks, the PM did not say “cleaning up the left-wing mess”, he said “cleaning up the NDP mess”, a reference to the New Democratic Party, which has on occasion, governed various parts of the country. Granted, they are a left-of-center party, but Harper’s comments are focused on the party not ideology. You are lazy to quote the Guardian reporter without checking his interpretation.

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