My typical Ottawa wish list
Dear Santa: This year I have been pretty good except for when I was awake and stuff so I’m hoping you can grant a few modest requests.
I should mention that I’ve spent a lot of time in parliamentary committee hearings, which explains why I’ve been so unpleasant to children and little old ladies lately. You know how it is.
You don’t? Listen, Mr. Red Suit and Black Boots, forget sitting in a mall while kids ply you with avaricious requests for flashy electronic devices (though while I’m on the subject, when I was a boy all we had to play with was bits of cardboard and wood so we put a brave face on it and called it "chess"). You try sitting in a committee room while politicians demand stuff and see how long you can keep the Ho ho ho flowing. But I digress.
I have compiled a list, not of who’s naughty and nice (and I hope on yours my name is misspelled or something so we can proceed) but of what I think would be reasonable. Given, you know, the committee business. So enough chit-chat, beard dude. Here’s what I want for Christmas.
1. $300,000 in cash. Or $225,000. After all, who’s counting? Not Revenue Canada, that’s for sure. It’s in a safe- deposit box in New York. Or not. You’ll never know. Oh, and no need to bring it down our chimney where it might get, um, dirty. I’ll meet you in a hotel room. I presume Rudolph can keep a secret. Or a retainer. We can talk about all that in six years. If absolutely necessary.
2. I’d also like the ability to promise clients no fee increase, then break the news that actually, heh heh, the tab has gone up 4.9 per cent, and they just pay. Every year.
3. And a trip to Bali because I really, really care about the environment, which I gather has something to do with scenery.
4. Speaking of scenery, I’d like a laptop whose screen is not visible to people behind me.
5. And a huge advance for memoirs I pay someone else to write.
6. Or for memoirs I write myself that include everything but the kitchen sink and the bit about the envelopes in hotel rooms but say I was right all along and why oh why don’t people like me more.
7. A plan for health care that works for the long term, by which I mean until several weeks after the election is over.
8. Lucrative appointments and consulting work later on.
9. A Harvard teaching post when I get bored with Canada.
10. Heck, a Harvard teaching post, then a lucrative appointment. Or some corporate directorships.
11. The ability to blame other people when I don’t look after things that, on paper, I’m responsible for. It’s only paper. And not that nice coloured kind with pictures of people and security features.
12. A job where I can yell, call people names and jab my finger at them without being thought uncivilized, make barnyard noises for 45 minutes every weekday afternoon except Fridays and only visiting schoolchildren object, yell "resign" and be thought witty and ask "Will the minister resign?" and be regarded as public-spirited.
13. A free pass on how prepositions work in English.
14. A mayor who doesn’t uncannily resemble a space alien.
15. City councillors who don’t uncannily resemble mediocrities from the planet Taxon.
16. Nine lords a-leaping. No, wait. Scratch that. Wrong list. Plus they always leave the place such a mess, especially if they do their thing near the geese a-laying and the maids a-milking. I don’t know what interdepartmental committee set that up.
17. Enough snow for a snow job. My, that was fast. Now how about enough money for snow clearance in a $2-billion city budget in a cold place?
18. Or how about global warming that makes things warmer? I don’t want you to have to hitch Donner and Comet to a wagon or a kayak or anything. I just like names that mean something.
19. A health care premium ... uh ... tax.
20. A $2.6-billion revenue windfall.
21. Make that a health care tax and a $2.6-billion revenue windfall. Oh, and voters with short memories, low standards or both.
22. La langue français vibrant in Saskatchewan. Sorry, should that be française? François? I’m not sure. But I would like a grant du théâtre.
23. A Senate appointment.
24. A reputation for generosity because I give away other people’s money.
25. Oh, and did I mention the envelopes full of cash? Twenties, 50s, 100s, I’m not fussy.
If I get all that stuff I promise not to go into politics. Heck, I won’t have to.
[First published in the Ottawa Citizen]