Preparing for the road ahead

“Politics, even more than misery, makes

Strange bed-fellows”

Francis W. Grey

Signs pointed the way through the winding roads of Langley, B.C. to Gerry and Margaret’s place.  It was time to join Senator Gerry St. Germaine and wife Margaret’s annual end of summer barbecue.  When the invitation came we asked, “why?”  Then again with all the pressures of daily living we thought, “why not?”

The event was open to family and friends as well but we saw the chance to escape for an afternoon.  “See ya later,” we exclaimed as we quickly drove away in anticipation of a peaceful Sunday afternoon.

Invitations from the Conservatives are far and few between during these uncertain times.  For many it was a chance to renew old acquaintances and sneak a glimpse of where the party is headed.

Smaller than usual this year, the barbecue attracted a potpourri of politicians, all with the same intentions, no doubt, to investigate what was happening on the political scene.

The band played on

The western band played on, oblivious to the roaming crowd of hundreds while the smell of roasting chickens enticed guests to wander toward the barbecue and stand in line for what had to be the best chicken of the season.

It was a cordial event – too cordial, perhaps.  Although the grounds seemed to be covered by media, they too seemed unsure of just what was  news on the political scene.  Reporters quietly circulated, searching for a significant scoop.  It must have been a very slow news day.

Party diehards were cautious of any faux pas, and became very nervous at any mention of the current CSIS scandal.  “Not to be mentioned today” one high profile Conservative (is there such a thing anymore?) cautioned.

Although St. Germaine did his best to mingle with the crowd and make everyone feel at home, some tension permeated the event.  A certain animosity was evident as it became obvious no one accepted the blame for the misfortunes of the party.

Conservative leader Jean Charest blended with the crowd and it was apparent he has gained much respect since the election.  The hope of the party’s future, Charest, in a thought provoking speech emphasized the importance of Canada’s future and the work that must be done to leave a decent legacy for our young people.  It was a refreshing change to hear of the importance of families as a building block.

Former B.C. Social Credit Premier Rita Johnston was there, as was the former Grand Dame of the Socreds, Grace McCarthy.  Former B.C. Premier Bill Vander Zalm did not attend, although his name was quietly whispered throughout the event.  Seems he has gone to greener and more lucrative adventures.

The importance of humour

Senator Ed Lawson attended as did former NDP Attorney-General (1972) Alex McDonald much to the delight of many who still appreciate his sense of humour.

The presence of former Socred leader and now B.C. Reform MLA, Jack Weisgerber started the rumour mill buzzing.  But then again there was much speculation this particular afternoon.

It was an interesting event.  Nice weather, enjoyable food and good music saved the day.  Although there remains an air of uncertainty about the future of politics in both B.C. and Canada, one thing is clear.

Unless the Conservatives regain issues facing us, as we venture toward the year 2000, we had better be prepared to survive the coming onslaught.  If we could only take the best that politicians of different stripes have to offer, perhaps the world would be a better place.

If we are to communicate our important message it will be essential to keep an open mind and develop a sense of humour.  Like the politicians, sometimes we will have to cross the road to get a look at the other side.  But when things get tough, as they surely will, that sense of humour will keep us from getting roasted.