By G.D. Maxwell
A new oxymoron has slipped into the Canadian lexicon, courtesy of the tightest federal election in recent history. Stable minority.
Paul Martin – who, rumour has it, sold his soul to the devil for the chance to be our elected Prime Minister and will now have to sell his manhood to the highest bidder to keep the job – says he has one. Looking every bit as sheepish as a man who dressed like a woman to slip aboard one of too few life rafts when the Good Ship Liberal Majority floundered on the rocky reefs of truth, honesty and believability, Little Pauly gave a victory speech worthy of the Been-To-The-Woodshed-and-Seen-The-Light school of contrition.
"We’ll do better," he said.
"Can’t do much worse," the rest of the country answered in unison, except for the snivelling whiners in Alberta who are already talking separation, as they have after every election since oil was discovered in that otherwise barren wasteland.
Eyeing the results, Ralph Klein, Premier of all Albertans, did something he’s never been known to do in recorded history – he didn’t say a word. Watching the Great Conservative Dream crash and burn – due in no small part to his intemperate remarks on what would happen to health care the day after the Conservative juggernaut swept across the land – it must have taken all the restraint he could muster to keep from calling for his car, falling off the wagon and heading out to cruise for homeless bums to rough up to salve his disappointment.
Overall, the election results posed more questions than they answered. The most obvious question posed is what exactly will the makeup of the new Parliament be? Several races were so close they’ve triggered automatic recounts; several others are close enough it seems likely the trailing candidate will request a recount. And right here in British Columbia, a scorned, former Conservative who ran as an independent was elected with no party affiliation. I’m sure Chuck Cadman will be a very, very well-courted man in the next few weeks, holding, as he may, the balance of power.
But if the numbers hold, Canadians have either been delivered the best of times or the worst of times – a Liberal minority government 20 seats shy of a majority and their "natural" coalition partner, the NDP, with 19 seats. This means a marriage between Little Pauly’s Libs and Diamond Jack’s New Dems – a marriage at least as stable as, say, Britney Spears and her Boy Toy du jour – still wouldn’t be enough to make things happen. Having embraced homosexual marriage, Canada, at least politically, must now welcome the formation of a ménage à trois of convenience. There’ll be more swappin’ and swattin’ going on in Ottawa than there is on New Year’s Eve at a swingers bar. Oh, the mendacity.