Please Advise! King's Landing Politics Are Harsh? Try Canada's

Tyrion Lannister whines of vicious schemers and insane rulers. It ain't so different here.

By Steve Burgess 26 Apr 2014 | TheTyee.ca

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

[Editor's note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD 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 politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Doctor Steve,

Please forgive the crude stationery. My faithful squire Podrick smuggled this letter from my prison cell in King's Landing where I am currently awaiting trial on a charge of regicide (which, to be fair, does run in the family). My father, Tywin Lannister, is one of the judges, but that's not quite the advantage you might expect. I am reaching out to you for some possible strategies I might employ in my defence.


Tyrion Lannister
King's Landing
Seven Kingdoms of Westeros

Dear Tyrion,

I am familiar with your case, though we occupy different worlds. You live amongst vicious schemers in a land where politics is bloodsport, rulers are insane and winter seems to last forever. I live in Canada. Perhaps I can help after all.

It's no wonder Game of Thrones is so popular in Canada -- we see a lot of ourselves in it. The show offers a combination of sex and warfare; we offer attack ads featuring Justin Trudeau taking his shirt off. Your people endured the reign of the Mad King and later the psychopathic Joffrey; in this country we know the feeling of being slaves to the loonie. Your House Lannister symbol is a gold lion; our political scene relies heavily on both of those (although we spell the second word differently). Westeros is full of magic, fantasy and stories that defy belief; we have Rob Ford.

Politics is a deadly game in the Seven Kingdoms, and it ain't beanbag here either. Just days ago, Green Party leader Elizabeth May described the Prime Minister's Office as "a $10-million-a-year partisan operation filled with ruthless, cutthroat psychopaths."

She later insisted she was joking. But it certainly suggests our public governance is conducted in a style you might recognize from King's Landing. Admittedly, the Canadian version is somewhat more subtle. The Conservatives like to poison reputations with negative advertising, whereas the unfortunate Joffrey was poisoned with, I believe, poison.

Our government officials can fall from grace as swiftly as yours, though. Ned Stark was once the Hand of the King, closest advisor to the Iron Throne. He was then beheaded, his head stuck on a pike to serve as a grisly warning to others. Nigel Wright could tell you all about that. Of course, that's more than poor Ned can do -- at least the chopping block is more symbolic here. Grant the Tories this much: they may suggest Justin Trudeau is in over his head, but as of yet they haven't actually tried to remove it.

But back to your case, Tyrion. You have some image problems. Once you were known as a hard-drinking, hard-partying child of privilege, which does not help you in the court of public opinion. Alas, you have no Jimmy Kimmel to champion your cause. But you do have some Canadian role models. Ask yourself: what would Mike Duffy do?

He'd go on the offence, that's what. Accused of all manner of malfeasance, Duffy stood in the Senate and began laying about him fiercely, declaring that he was just a fall guy and the real guilt lay elsewhere. In the process he managed to smear the institution as a whole. It could be a way forward for you as well, Tyrion. Why not blame the Lannisters? Sure, you're one of them, but you're hardly the worst. Isn't there a Pamela Wallin Lannister? A Patrick Lannister-Brazeau? Perhaps the key is to abolish the Lannisters and hold fair and free elections.

Then again, with Daddy Lannister as one of your judges that idea may not fly. It would be like striking a Senate committee to abolish the Senate. Perhaps what you need is a distraction -- something that will sow confusion, send your enemies running in the wrong direction. It could be dragons, wildlings or white walkers, but in Canada we prefer robocalls. Send out a few ravens announcing the trial has been moved to Casterly Rock, then make your escape. If Canada is any example, the subsequent investigation will turn up squat, especially if you manage to get Elections Westeros involved.

Best of luck, Tyrion. Those of us unfamiliar with the books don't know how your case turns out. But as for Canadian politics I can tell you -- SPOILER ALERT -- that before the next election is done, there are likely more stiff drinks to be poured at 24 Sussex.  [Tyee]

Read more: Federal Politics

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