I called Premier Mike Harris recently, and was shocked when the premier himself answered the phone.

“Mayor Harris here! Er … I mean Premier Mike Harris here.”

“Did I hear you say ‘Mayor Harris’?”

“Yeah, I just fired Mel Lastman and I guess I’m now the mayor of Toronto.”

“Why are you doing this?” I asked.

“I’m trying to save money! There are too many politicians around. The Common Sense Revolution is on a roll! I fired all the Toronto councillors too. I fired all my staff too. Did you hear who answered the phone? I even tried to fire Ernie Eves – the deputy premier – but he won’t come out from under his desk. He claims he can’t hear me. Yeah, right.”

“You need some people to run the show,” I advised.

“Yeah, but I’m getting it down to a tight little group. I even fired all the members of the Legislature. They weren’t around here very much anyway – hiding out in their constituency offices, and afraid to answer the phone when I called.”

“What about all the school trustees?”

“I fired them too! Now when you think of ‘trustee,’ you’ll think of ‘prison trustee.’ When I cut them to $5,000 a year and they still wouldn’t quit, I decided to get rid of them all.”

“Don’t you fear too much centralization of power in one branch of government – the premier’s office for example?”

“Nah, this is just Jenny Craig applied to the government bureaucracy. We’re slimming down.”

“I notice that you’ve got a ‘For Sale’ sign on the building here at Queen’s Park.”

“We don’t need all this space. Why, you could run the government out of my hat. Besides Wal-Mart has made us a good offer.”

“I heard that you’re trying to sell the 401.”

“Yeah, we made a billion-and-a-half out of selling the 407, and I figured we could do a lot better out of the 401. It’s longer.”

“But haven’t you heard the complaints about the 99-year deal you made with the Quebec consortium? They’re gouging us. And drivers can’t complain about their bills because they can’t get through to them on the phone because they haven’t hired enough people to answer the phone! Worse, if you don’t pay your goofed-up bill, your licence will be suspended.”

“Yeah, I hear they run a pretty tight ship there.”

“You must have noticed, Mike, that there’s much more garbage on the streets and some of the street lights are broken. The streets are so clogged up with broken-down cars and trucks and you almost need a helicopter to get here.”

“Try to look on the bright side, Frank. We’re saving money.”

“They tell me that when the fire department or the police arrive, they want to sell you a Lottario ticket.”

“They’re paying their way now, Frank. You should be proud of that fact.”

“Did you ever ask the speaker of the House to rule on the validity of some of these bills you rammed through?”

“I would have – except I fired him.”

“What about the courts?!”

“I got a little too worried about the bottom line and I sold a couple of our court houses …”

“Oh, no!” I screamed. “And what have you done about the emergency room crisis in our hospitals? What?”

“The ER problem? Solved it. We have declared Buffalo to be a Canadian city.”


“It’s got a fine Canadian ring to it. There will be aircraft leaving on the hour from every airport in Ontario that hasn’t been closed to handle serious ambulance emergency cases by flying the patients to Buffalo. Even with our cheaper dollar, we have calculated that it is less expensive to do it that way. We’re saving money!”

“I heard that both you and Ernie Eves have set aside a little pension nest egg of $850,000 to draw from when you guys retire at 55.”

“Yes. When you do so much for Ontario, it’s only fair that Ontario should do something for you. A small pittance for the money that I and Ernie have saved the people of Ontario. Hey, you wouldn’t happen to be going north, would you?”

“No,” I said.

“Oh. I just remembered I fired my chauffeur and sold my limo. I guess I’ll have to take a cab home to North Bay.”

“A cab all the way to North Bay?!”

“Well, it’s cheaper than going by government aircraft.”