Friday, 1 April 2016

The Politics of Joy


Those young whipper snappers who run with Justin Trudeau might think that they invented the politics of joy in Canada.

They would be wrong.

We did.

Yesterday, I met up with my former colleagues from the Trudeau Liberal era. I haven't seen these bad actors for 30 years, and I haven't laughed so long and hard as I did last night in all that time.

We all worked together for a few years for the Liberal Party of Canada at a time when you were never quite sure your paycheque would be honored. These were ugly times in the early 80s after Pierre was resurrected, and before his walk in the snow. These were the days of endless wrangling over the patriation of the Constitution, Trudeau's quest for peace, and the boneheadedness of the National Energy Program.

My job was to write the propaganda that was sent out to the Liberal "militants' in the form of the badly monikered ad Lib newspaper. I would write lies, half-truths, nosestretchers, anything that would sell the Liberal brand. I also wrote fundraising letters and received the odd amuse-bouche from the electorate, such as one photograph of a constituent giving his contribution to the Liberal Party in a manner that would get him arrested in a park.

It wasn't a hard job, not even a great job, but it was made much better by all the clown hats I worked with. We had a hell of a time, and we all loved our jobs. And we were true believers in the brand even when others wanted to throttle us.

Othmar, on the left, was the broadcast director. He managed the television spots that all parties were allowed to run after the late news. He was most famous for a photograph -- I wish I had it -- which appeared in the newspapers during a Liberal convention in Winnipeg. The hotel caught fire, and Othmar rushed out onto the street wearing nothing but a small towel.

Viggo, in the middle, ran the Liberal Party print shop, and supervised a gaggle of Canary Row-themed characters. He was indeed an ink-stained wretch.

Man, we had a ball. Politics wasn't as serious as it is now. People from all parties used to congregate at the press club and get hammered any number of days of the week. I'm not sure how we all got home.

We are now a bit smarter, a little more humble. But there's no bullshit in this group. We all know each other's dirty laundry and we're ok with it.

It was just what I needed after a horrific health week. It made me feel 25 again.

Thanks guys, needed that.

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