A wild rumour was circulating around Ottawa that Prime Minister Jean Chretien was planning to join Ted Turner’s Religion. It was going to be done publicly after the recently held Millennium Peace Summit on religion and world peace at the United Nations. As The Interim’sofficial rumour investigator, I was asked by our editor in chief, David Curtin, to investigate it.

I phoned the PM’s office in Ottawa and said that “Maurice Strong” wanted a private meeting with Chretien immediately and could it be arranged. When a Canadian billionaire wants an emergency meeting with the PM, yes it can be arranged.

I told Eddie Goldenberg in the PM’s office when I arrived that I was a member of the press and not the Maurice Strong but I was using “Maurice Strong” as a pen name in order to get in to see Chretien to debunk vicious rumours circulating that our prime minister was planning to join Ted Turner’s Religion.

Eddie realized the political dangers of a rumour like that spreading and he ushered me hurriedly into the PM’s office. Chretien just missed a short putt and put his putter on his desk and sat there glumly. I told him about this vicious rumour and asked him for his reaction. Angrily he retorted:

“I am a good Catholic. Look – my name is ‘Chretien.’ ‘Chretien’ means ‘Christian.’ Doesn’t dat mean something? How do deez horrible rumours get out?! And stop calling me ‘Crouton’ – it’s pronounced ‘Chretien.'”

I apologized profusely for mispronouncing his name and he accepted it readily.

I continued, “I guess it all started when you said that you firmly believed that politicians must not use government to impose their religious beliefs on others.”

“Dat’s what I said. Dat’s what Canada should be like.”

“But if Canada was founded over a hundred years ago as a Christian nation and people have flocked here for years fleeing persecution and poverty in countries dominated by their own religious persuasions – might it indicate by coming to Canada they want to live in a nation built on ‘Christian’ standards and values? They certainly didn’t come here for the weather.”

“There are many reasons for coming here. I admit dat the weather isn’t one. Many immigrants want to bring their own religion with them and promote it and dat is their right.”

“Now you are saying that only Christian politicians like Stockwell Day have no right to promote their religious beliefs or attempt to restore Canada to what was lawful when it was founded as a Christian nation over a hundred years ago?”

“I don’t want to talk philosophy. I want to know why are people saying that I am going to join Ted Turner’s crazy religion? Didn’t Turner a few years ago say dat the Ten Commandments were outmoded? Didn’t Turner want to replace them with Ten Voluntary Initiatives? How can you trust people to do what’s right? That would be as stupid as giving a free vote to our Liberal MPs.”

“Because Ted Turner thinks all religions are the same, Mr. Crouton.”

“Stop calling me ‘Crouton!'” he interrupted.

“Did I call you ‘Crouton?’ Sorry. You, Prime Minister, appear to be acting as one of Ted Turner’s apostles, and that is why people think you’ve joined Turner’s church. Turner and Strong want One World Religion founded on their beliefs, and it isn’t Christianity. And they have more money than our national debt and the connections to pull it off.”

“Dat is impossible to happen!”

“You, Mr. Crouton …”

“It’s ‘Chretien!'”

“Sorry. You, Prime Minister, must admit that you are not promoting Christianity in Canada but Turner and Strong intend to promote their religion all over the world. So if you’re not in the ‘Christian’ camp – what camp are you in?”

“I am in everybody’s camp! I am de prime minister of all de people of Canada!”

“Then to be perfectly fair, you must belong to a thousand conflicting religions, Mr. Crouton.”

“It’s ‘Chretien!’ I told you before! I am going to fire dat Eddie Goldenberg for letting a nut case like you into my office!”

“Well you might be right, ” I said. “I’ve got a pie in my briefcase for you.”

Chretien rang for security and then chased me out of the Parliament buildings waving his putter angrily after me.