The Jacksons – for Apr. 14, 2011

Raindrops splattered on the windshield as Andrew Jackson turned his truck onto the main street in town. Andrew reached to turn on the wipers as he turned into a parking spot in front of the café next to Grant Toews’ new Dodge Ram half-ton. He took a moment to admire the look of his friend’s truck before he got out and headed into the café.

Andrew stopped at the counter to pour himself a cup of coffee, then headed straight for the table by the window where Grant was already seated along with Bill Harder and George Frost. Grant was speaking as Andrew sat down.

“Come on George,” Grant was saying, “we don’t talk about that among friends. You know the rules.”

“Grant’s right,” said Bill. “You know the first rule of the wheat board.”

George looked sheepish. “Don’t talk about the wheat board,” he said. “I know.”

“We’re all friends here,” said Grant. “And we want to keep it that way.”

Andrew set his coffee cup down. “We got an election going on,” he said. “Do we need to make new rules, or what?” The others pondered that for a second.

“Nah, it’s not necessary for an election,” said Grant. “It’s not that big of a deal.”

“You sure?” Andrew sounded unconvinced. “You don’t think a discussion about an election has as much potential to kill a perfectly good friendship as a discussion about the Canadian Wheat Board does?”

“Heck no,” said Grant. “Well, maybe in the short term. I mean if George here told me he was going to do something stupid like vote for the NDP or whatever, I might have to reconsider my current amicable feelings toward him, but only for a month or so. Once the election’s over I’d forget about it faster than Stephen Harper forgot about reforming the Senate.”

“Wow,” said Bill. “That’s fast!”

“Yeah, it is,” said Grant. “I should have been a politician, I can forget things so fast. And the difference between the Canadian Wheat Board and a Canadian election is that an election is over in six weeks but the wheat board goes on forever.”

“So no rules about discussing the election then?” said Andrew.

“No rules,” said Grant. “You can say whatever you want.”

“Here’s my question,” said Andrew. “If we took Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff out to my place and set them up, one on each side of a fence post to see which one looks more wooden on TV, who would win?”

There was a moment of silence. “Definitely not the fence post,” said Bill.

“What’s your point?” asked George. “Are you suggesting we vote based on a candidate’s TV personality? Because if you are then I would have to vote for the fence post.”

“It would be a big mistake,” said Grant, “if Canadians decided to elect a prime minister on the basis of charisma or charm or intelligence. I mean Winnipeg elected a mayor like that once and look what they got out of that. A Salisbury House in the middle of the Provencher Bridge.”

“It’s true,” said Bill. “And we did elect a prime minister on that same basis once and all we got out of that was the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. What a disaster that was. Even Mr. Harper hasn’t been able to entirely ignore that. Although you have to give him credit for trying.”

“OK then,” said Andrew, “the next question is, on what basis are you going to decide who to vote for?”

“I’m going to vote for the party I think is most likely going to fix the rail companies,” said George.

“Right,” said Andrew. “And which party do you think that would be?”

“The Rhinoceros Party,” said George. “Hands down. It’s part of their platform. Whenever an engine falls off an Air Canada jet they plan to salvage it and install it on a CN locomotive. It’ll be like a poor man’s bullet train.”

“That could take awhile though,” said Bill. “It’s not like those engines fall off every day.”

“Or do they?” said George. “The Rhinoceros Party claims they do but the government keeps it a secret, so they have filed a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act and they expect to have that information by as early as the spring of 2075. Unless the Tories get a majority in which case it might take a little longer.”

There was a moment of silence. “I think people are right when they say

we don’t need an election,” said Andrew, “but unfortunately they seem to forget what we do need.”

“And what might that be?” Grant wanted to know.

” A government,” said Andrew. “We sure could use one of those.”

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