Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

Reality politics on Canadian TV



By G.D. Maxwell

How in the world can anybody not at least be interested in, if not absolutely fascinated by, politics?

I know Whistler is a shallow, hedonistic, self-indulgent town peopled mostly by folks in a state of suspended adolescence, people not unlike myself, but seriously, not interested in politics? This is the best reality television going. Average Joe, Bachelorette, Survivor? Get real. What bizarre, misplaced, voyeuristic porn-surfing glitch in someone’s DNA would lead them to prefer unreality and scripted schmaltz to the gritty passion play being presented every single night on the news?

We have the reality of Little Pauly Martin finally realizing his dream of at long last becoming his own, if not Canada’s, Idol. We watch him puff his chest with pride and anticipation as the GG, back from her five million dollar road trip, lipsyncs his Grand Vision for Canada: The Next Generation.

And then, like floodwaters bursting through a publicly-funded, shoddily-built dike, we watch breathlessly as scandal swamps the reconstituted Martin Parliament.

Love him or hate him – probably both – you know how Da Little Guy From Shawinigan would have handled this. He’d have shrugged his shoulders, appointed someone who he wished would commit political suicide to head up an investigation, played mute and dumb and stuck his nose back in the trough while his underlings took the heat. Hell, it worked for him since 1993; why not now?

What do we get instead? Sgt. Schultz. "I know nutting!" cries Little Pauly Schultz. "I know nutting; I see nutting."

Now if this were an episode of, say, Judge Judy, she’d roll her eyes, pound her gavel, point her bony finger at Little Pauly and proclaim in utter disbelief, "Hold on just a minute, Buster. You expect us to believe you, the Finance Minister, slept through Cabinet meetings all those years and didn’t even get a whiff of the putrid theft of public monies going on around you? Guilty!"

But hey, I can believe Little Pauly’s story. Let’s face it, Big Jean liked nothing better than holding a grudge and scrapping with anyone who challenged his leadership. I can believe he didn’t let Little Pauly join in any Cabinet Games with the other swine. I’m sure he treated Little Pauly like a lapdog who pukes all over your new $1,000 suit. Personally, I’m surprised he never had him put down.

Or maybe Little Pauly was too busy not running Canadian Steamship Lines to notice. Let’s see, divide by seven, multiply by 10 3 , carry the six, factor the square root of Pi… yup, I can see how you might think $161 million – $161,000,000 – was actually only $131 thousand, $131,000. It’s a rounding error. I make mistakes like that all the time balancing my chequebook. Thousands, millions… it’s all so confusing because, you know, Math Is Hard.