I answered the door and there was Prime Minister Paul Martin standing there. I expected him to be on time. “Are you the wise old sage I’ve been told can help me with the political disasters I’m facing?”

“Wise old sage?” I laughed. “I’ve been called worse things than that. I give advice to politicians and sometimes they act on it and sometimes they put it in the vertical file and often they regret doing so. Paul, I warn you that my fees are close to what Adrienne Clarkson spends on travel.”

“What?! Oh well, don’t worry about that. If you can get us out of this mess, it’ll be worth every cent.”

“Okay, then come in and sit down. Would you like a cup of Arabica coffee?” Martin nodded approval. “It’s delicious! Did you know that the Muslims invented coffee? It wasn’t accepted in Europe until the Pope had a cup of it and gleefully said: ‘We’ll baptize it!'”

“I didn’t know that,” Martin said, sitting down. I picked up the phone and said: “Rasputin, two cups of coffee and the perks.” Putting the phone down, I said: “I call him ‘Rasputin’ because he looks like a mad Russian. He’s my chauffeur, bodyguard and batman. Very opinionated.”

“What can you suggest we do?” Paul asked anxiously.

“Pray. Your problems, Paul, are all self-inflicted. They started long before you became the PM, when you decided to destabilize Jean Croutin’s government in order to hasten his exit. And you succeeded. But you left behind a bitter former PM who may remember that he told you about the 100 million sponsorship dollars spent in order to save Canada. And a lot of other things he told you. You may have the shortest term in office that any PM has ever had.”

“Ah, Mr. Sage, you’re presuming that Chretien told me.”

“That’s true. There’s no paper trail – no voice mail – to indicate that he did. It’ll be your word against his. Who will we believe? You or Jean Chretien? ‘The unconvincing truth is oft considered a lie.’ Before we can come up with a plan – let’s discuss your goofs.”

“My goofs?”

“Almost all the expectations we had for you prior to the election, you fumbled. You angered 25 million Christians at your inauguration when you had a Canadian Indian guru conduct a religious service for you.”

“Yes, I should’ve done more polling.”

“You’ve conducted a ‘search and unemployment’ party for Chretien loyalists. Not the way to go. You promised: ‘More free votes.’ Well – not really. One of your solid pledges made while campaigning for your job – to let MPs vet judicial candidates for the Supreme Court of Canada. Dead – but you claim it’s still breathing.”

Into the room hustles Rasputin, a big bear of a man with wild hair and a flowing black beard, carrying a silver tray with coffee, cups and perks on it. He puts the tray down and turns to leave. I called: “Rasputin, who would you vote for in the coming election?”

“Me? I’d vote for Adrienne Clarkson. She has demonstrated to the whole world how to live the good life.” He left.

I said to Paul: “He’s just an odd duck. He doesn’t figure on our radar screen.”

Paul said: “I hope not.”

“Now, for some tough advice. Kyoto and gun control are not big players. What’s going to play big is your blatant misuse of public funds and you can’t escape from being responsible. Nobody’s going to believe that the former Liberal finance minister was too dumb to know what was going on. The next fence to get over is ‘marriage.’ Who’s going to believe that the notwithstanding clause will be dragged out to protect the freedom of churches not to perform same-sex ‘marriages’?”