I blundered into a room in the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa recently looking for a washroom. I saw numerous cameras and lighting equipment and panic-stricken people running around.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“We’re shooting a promo of the PM for the upcoming election,” said a man standing at the back of the crowd.
“We’re going to have a federal election?!”
“Shhh. Nobody’s supposed to know.”
“As soon as we finish this video.”
“Is that Crouton up at the front?”
“Yeah. Are you the guy who’s supposed to ask him for his autograph?”
“Well, I’ve got Lucien Bouchard’s and Rene Levesque’s. I could always do with another one.”
“Get up there, then. They’ll be calling on you soon.”
I made my way through the crowd to the front and found an aggressive young man directing the prime minister.
“What we want, Jean, is to show you as a man of compassion – that you do care about the downtrodden, the street people, the unemployed, the unborn … Oops – sorry about that.”
“Watch it.” said Chretien grumpily.
“We want to show you as a kind, loving person – catching you off guard spontaneously. Tell us how you reacted to that bum 20 years ago you gave five bucks to? Camera! Action!”
“It wasn’t five bucks. It was fifty cents. But I guess it was like five bucks in those days before dat inflation.”
“OK, Jean, let’s get back on the rails.” said the director. “Here comes Bill Clennett! Jean, he was the guy you tried to choke to death on the Hill four years ago. Camera! Action!”
“What?!” shrieked Chretien.
“Yes, we’ve arranged for Bill to come here and apologize for causing you all that embarrassment.”
“I thought we’d paid dat guy off!”
“Bill is still seeking your forgiveness. Bill! Come here!”
A scrawny looking little guy wearing glasses and a ski cap came forward. Chretien looked suspiciously at him and asked.
“You’ve come to ask my forgiveness?”
“No,” said Clennett, quickly giving Chretien an envelope out of his coat pocket, “I’ve come to serve you with a subpoena. My new lawyers think that I was a fool to settle for the lousy money I got. We’re going for big bucks this time!”
“You!” screamed Chretien, grabbing Clennett by the throat and shaking him like a rag doll. Chretien’s security people pried them apart and took Clennett away, yelling at the top of his voice: “Justice!”
“Cut!” yelled the director. “Don’t print that. Well, that didn’t work out too well. But we are getting a lot of action shots. Let’s get back on the rails. Jean, there’s a guy here who says you’ve made him a lot of money. He wants to publicly thank you.”
“Oh, who’s dat?” said Chretien.
“He won’t give his name, but his initials are G-S-T.”
“Get him out of here! You’ve been suckered again!”
“We managed to locate that street guy that you’re always talking to and getting advice from on how to run the country.”
“Dat guy’s invisible! How could you find him?”
“We had to audition – I mean search high and low – but we did locate him and he agreed to come here. He goes by the name ‘Preston Manning.’ Mr. Manning, help our prime minister who will be seeking re-election very shortly. Your advice, sir.”
“A flat tax and a course in anger management.”
“Get that Alliance patsy out of here!” screamed Chretien. Manning was hustled out of sight quickly.
“Cut! Don’t use that. Camera! Action! Now, we’ve got Dr. Morgentaler here, who claims to be a big friend of yours. You always do what he tells you. He wants to talk to you. Dr. Morgentaler!”
Morgentaler races up to Chretien and puts his arm around him and says, “I want more money!”
“Get out of here!” Chretien yells.
Morgentaler is hustled away by the security people.
“Cut! Well, that didn’t work too well. This will be a fun segment. We have a fellow here with a cream pie as big as a card table and, Jean, he’d like to give it to you.”
“Out!” screamed Chretien.
The director sighed. “Lastly, we have a fellow here who has been trying for years to get your autograph. Hey you!”
He pointed directly at me. “Come here!” I did what I was told, and they gave me an autograph book to use.
“You want my autograph?” asked Chretien.
“Yes,” I said. Chretien gladly obliged.
The director piped up. “What do you say?”
I replied, “Three more of these and I can swap them for an autograph of Stockwell Day.”