All I’m saying,” said the stranger who was sitting in the window chair at Andrew’s usual table in the café, “is that I expect it to be like watching the last 30 seconds of the Super Bowl. We’ll be shaking our heads and thinking, ‘Dude, it looks like you lost on purpose!’”
Andrew set his cup down on the table and settled into his chair. “The Oilers look like they lose every game on purpose,” he said.
There was a moment of silence while the stranger, along with Grant Toews and Bernard Jones who were also at the table, took that in.
“The thing about joining a conversation, Andrew,” said Grant at length, “is that the wisest course is to familiarize yourself with the topic at hand before voicing an opinion.”
Andrew took a sip of coffee. “I don’t have to know what you’re talking about in order to have an opinion. Are you disputing my assertion that the Edmonton Oilers tend to look as though they’re losing on purpose?”
Grant pondered that for a moment. “You have a point,” he said.
“I always have a point,” said Andrew. He looked at the stranger for a second, then at the others. “So tell me, if you weren’t discussing the upcoming Oilers/Flames debacle, what were you discussing, and who do you think is trying to lose what?”
“We were discussing the next provincial election,” said the stranger, “which I expect will be a debacle in its own right, and which it appears to me everybody is trying to lose. Except for the Liberals of course who obviously can lose without trying.”
Andrew nodded. “You make some salient points,” he said, “whoever you are, and you are clearly quite opinionated unlike those of us who regularly gather here. But what we lack in opinions of our own we make up for by harshly judging the opinions of others. So we want to know, in your opinion, who is trying harder to lose, the Conservatives or the NDP?”
“Well that depends on which day you ask me,” said the stranger, “but overall I’d say the NDP.”
“What has the NDP been doing lately that informs this opinion of yours?” asked Grant.
“They have been showing us, one after another, the stable of characters who may or may not be leading the party when the election comes along,” said the stranger. “If they were a stable of racehorses,” he continued, “the only way you could safely bet that any one of them would ever win a race would be if they only ran against each other.”
“And yet,” Bernard spoke up, “it appears that it won’t take much of a horse to give the Conservatives a run for their money, considering that the Conservative horse is running most of the time with one hoof in its mouth.”
“That is also a good point,” said the stranger, “but it seems to me it has been some time since the leader of the Conservatives has made a serious verbal blunder. Am I wrong?”
“Absolutely wrong,” said Bernard. “It’s only about a week ago, in the wake of that magazine article that called Winnipeg the most racist city in Canada, that Mr. Pallister chose to deny that there was a problem with racism in Winnipeg. And he chose to do this right after the magazine printed a followup article commending the province for not reacting to the article by denying that there was a problem. Which left regular people wondering, could he possibly have timed his statement that badly unless he was actually trying to do so, and wondering also whether the man had ever actually been to Winnipeg?”
“I hear what you are saying,” said the stranger, “but consider the three candidates that the NDP are foisting on us as their choice to lead their party, and in their fantasies the province itself. Mr. Selinger, who seems to have mastered the art of the hidden agenda. Mr. Ashton, who tried, unsuccessfully and possibly illegally to wrest control of Assiniboia Downs away from the Manitoba Jockey Club at great cost to the province. And finally, Theresa Oswald who is after all, Theresa Oswald. I ask you, are those the options they would give us if they were trying to win the election?”
There was a moment of silence.
“The man makes a valid point,” said Andrew.
“I can see where he’s coming from,” said Bernard.
“I can’t argue with his logic,” said Grant.
“In the end,” said the stranger, “we have to admit that we don’t know who will win. All we know is that whoever loses will have had to put some serious effort into it.”
“It’s an effort they are all capable of putting in,” said Andrew.
“Indeed they are,” said the stranger. “Indeed they are.”