Please Advise! A Throne Speech from the Senate... Awkward?

Burgess offers feedback on Harper's great vision for the Canadian people.

By Steve Burgess 17 Oct 2013 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Read his previous articles here.

[Editor's note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a Ph.D in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

Another Throne Speech has come and gone. Once again my government has laid out its great vision for the Canadian people. How'd we do?


The Right Honourable Stephen Harper

Dear Steve,

First, please accept my sympathies. It cannot have been easy knowing the Speech from the Throne would be delivered from the Senate. Awkward hardly describes it. Talk about an elephant in the room, and I'm not making a Mike Duffy joke here.

With the entire country seething over Senate expense account shenanigans, it would have been a nice change of pace to deliver the speech from, say, the International Space Station, or perhaps have it sung by Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus and a bunch of lecherous teddy bears. But no. The speech is made in the Senate, so you could hardly avoid it completely. Thus you wrote in a brief reference to reform and quickly moved on. In fairness that was probably the right strategy. Nobody wanted to hear Henry VIII talk about marriage counselling either.

For a while, ours looked like the second-worst Senate on the continent. But it appears the Washington showdown has finally been solved and the Tea Party hostage-takers temporarily disarmed. Now the U.S. Senate looks good by comparison. In fact, considering the role played by Calgary-born Senator Ted Cruz in the whole government shutdown mess, the scientific view might be that Canadians make lousy senators in any country.

Pretty uncomfortable location for a throne speech, Mr. Harper. Raises a lot of unpleasant associations. It reminds me of a news story I read about the Toronto sewer system -- it seems they found a cracked pipe. But you won't see Mayor Rob Ford making a speech about that.

No way around it though -- the throne speech had to be made from the Senate. There you were like a kid caught holding a red paint brush in one hand and a bright red cat in the other, desperately trying to talk about something other than painted cats. What to do?

A speech for all

You knew the routine. You're a pro. What do you do when there are skeletons right on your doorstep? Easy -- you hand out candy. And so Halloween night came to the Hill. This throne speech had enough pandering to merit a 24-hour video feed.

Tackling the annoying marketing habits of cable companies, billing fees charged for paper bills, and the excessive roaming charges of cell phone giants? Brilliant. You could have done even more. Why not a tax on jerks who take up two parking spaces? Why not stiff penalties for people who write Facebook status updates about breakfast? A complete ban on hammer-licking in music videos?

These are bedrock Conservative principles. Or they ought to be, and God knows you guys need some new ones. Those old Conservative bedrock principles about thrift and political rectitude have been pretty thoroughly excavated by now. Time to rebuild the party on the firm philosophical footing of not having to subscribe to the Lifetime Channel when all you really want is TSN2.

You threw out red meat to the Conservative base with a veiled threat to continue your war against sensible addiction treatment programs like Insite, and by announcing a vague plan to require balanced budgets sometime in the flying-car future. Then you placated the effete, wine-sipping, Brie-eating left-wing crowd by promising easier access to interprovincial wines and snobby European cheese. Done and done.

I've got no tricks to teach you, Steve. You're the king. If I could have made any suggestion at all, it would only have been to deliver the throne speech while seated upon Mike Duffy. Everybody would have been comfortable with that.  [Tyee]

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