Andrew Jackson pulled his pickup truck into the last parking spot in front of the café and turned off the engine. As he stepped out a gust of wind swirled up and blew the old John Deere hat right off his head. He watched it sail up over the faded restaurant sign and had just resigned himself to spending a hatless hour in the café when the gust died as suddenly as it had sprung up and the hat tumbled down towards him.
With an air of complete nonchalance he reached up, caught the hat on its way down and put it back on his head. As he turned to enter the café he saw his friends watching him through the window, applauding. He reached up again, tipped his hat modestly and then went inside.
When he got the usual table at the window, the conversation was already in full steam.
“Gerry Ritz’s idea of public consultation,” Grant Toews was saying from his seat at the end of the table, “is to lock himself in a room with two of his friends and tell them what he’s going to do.”
“That’s assuming Gerry Ritz has two friends,” said Arnold Bargen, who was sitting across from Grant.
“True enough,” said Grant. “Maybe he just locks himself in a room and tells himself what he’s going to do. That way he can be reasonably sure that the results of his public consultation won’t get leaked to the media and spoil the surprise for all of us.”
“I don’t get what people are surprised about,” said John King, who was seated next to Arnold. “This government is the most predictable one I’ve ever known.”
Andrew took a sip of coffee and then set his cup down on the table. “John has a point,” he said. “They generally do exactly what they say they’re going to do.”
“True again,” said Grant. “They say what they’re going to do, and then when there’s a public outcry they do a bunch of consultations, at the end of which they do whatever it is they said they would do in the first place.”
“Totally predictable,” said John.
“Ronald Reagan said it best,” said Arnold, “back when he was running for the presidency.”
“He did?” said Grant.
“I don’t remember that,” said John. “I guess I was too young.”
“Ronald Reagan said government is not the solution to our problems because government IS the problem,” said Arnold. “And then he spent the next eight years proving that he was right.”
There was a brief silence while the others considered this.
“So if government is not the solution to our problems,” said Andrew, “then what is? Anarchy?”
Grant raised his coffee cup. “Anarchy rules!” he said.
The others stared at him for a second, and then Andrew laughed. “Good one,” he said. “I saw what you did there.”
John and Arnold looked confused.
“He made a play on words, see?” Andrew explained. “He said anarchy rules, but the whole point of anarchy is that there are no rules. Get it?”
It was pretty clear that they didn’t.
“Never mind,” said Andrew. “Anarchy might be an improvement over what we have now, but I’m pretty sure it’s not a solution.”
“So that leaves us with what?” said Grant. “The NDP?”
“In that case, I vote for anarchy,” said John.
“You can’t vote for anarchy,” said Grant. “If there’s voting, then it’s not anarchy.”
“Whatever,” said John. “It’s a free country. I’ll vote for anarchy if I feel like it. I mean goodness, if the provincial NDP blames hog farmers for the pollution in Lake Winnipeg, can you imagine what the federal NDP will do if we elect them? Blame dairy farmers for the hole in the ozone layer?”
“They already blame dairy farmers for that,” said Arnold.
“Actually they blame the cows,” said Arnold. “It’s the cows that produce the methane. Mostly.”
“How the heck did we get on this topic?” asked Andrew. “I don’t even remember how this conversation started and now we’re talking about blaming the cows.”
“We were talking about Gerry Ritz’s idea of public consultation,” said Arnold. “So naturally we end up blaming the cows.”
“Why exactly?” said Andrew. “Did Gerry Ritz consult with the cows?”
There was a moment of silence.
“Maybe he did,” said Grant. “That would explain a lot.”
“It would explain why, when I told my cows about the new AgriStability rules,” said John, “they weren’t at all surprised.”
“So the cows knew all along?” said Arnold. “And they didn’t leak it to anyone.”
“Well, you know why they didn’t leak it,” said Andrew.
“Really? Why?” said Arnold.
“They didn’t leak it,” said Andrew, “because it isn’t methane.”