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Federal Politics

Please Advise! Has Poilievre Discovered the Real Source of Our Electricity?

No, says Dr. Steve. Waiting for a lightning strike to power the TV won’t work.

Steve Burgess 5 Jan 2024The Tyee

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

[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 Dr. Steve,

Pierre Poilievre recently released a new campaign video. He is seen speaking to a roomful of supporters in Vancouver, talking about ordinary Canadians who, he says, are extraordinary. “The electrician who captures lightning from the sky and runs it through a copper wire to illuminate this room and light up the world is not ordinary,” Poilievre says. “He's extraordinary.”

Is that how electricity works, Dr. Steve?



Dear Shocked,

It does seem like an odd scientific statement. But let’s not jump to conclusions. Poilievre was probably not including all electricians in his stirring peroration. Note that the Conservative leader referred to this magical electrical person as “he.” That's just one dude. Poilievre must be speaking specifically about “Sam’s Kites and Keys and Electrical Repair” of Peterborough, Ontario. At Sam’s they are electrical originalists who reject the liberal innovations of Faraday, Tesla and Edison, remaining true to the founding principles of Benjamin Franklin. No matter what your electrical problem, Sam’s has a kite and a key for the job. Also, Sam says, Pierre Trudeau is worse than Mussolini.

This idea that our electricity is powered by a Magneto-like master of lightning was not just a bright idea that Poilievre had in Vancouver — it has been a regular theme in his speeches. And it has, so to speak, generated comment.

In the video, Poilievre waxes poetic about extraordinary Canadians doing everyday jobs — the anonymous farmer, the ordinary waitress and no doubt the common violinist and workaday cello player who can be heard in the background providing inspiring accompaniment.

Dr. Steve was particularly struck by Poilievre's exemplary waitress who, the Opposition leader says, “balances 12 plates on a tray and serves 12 tough customers at once, works a double shift and comes home with enough energy to teach her kids math, and balances her budget on a minimum wage salary. She is not ordinary. She is extraordinary.”

She really is extraordinary. If she thinks she can balance her family budget on a minimum wage salary, what sort of math could she be teaching her kids? Five minus seven equals home ownership?

Maybe her budgetary math involves crypto, as Poilievre has previously recommended. And she’s probably flying kites with keys on them instead of paying the electricity bill. Certainly Poilievre doesn't mention anything in the video about raising her minimum wage. That would have been truly extraordinary.

But in his inspiring video, Poilievre intends to celebrate everyday Canadians. Take for example those 12 tough customers who work hard to make life miserable for that waitress. Somebody's gotta do it.

And considering Poilievre’s description of lightning-wrangling electricians, we can imagine some of the other Canadians he wants to salute: the priest who fights vampires, the librarian who keeps us from reading the wrong books, the bartender who smacks you with a crowbar when you’re not looking so you wake up on the floor despite really only having one light beer, the B-list actor/retired athlete who encourages you to bet responsibly, the bear handler who cleans up all the forest cocaine, the rancher who raises herds of cheeseburgers.

No tribute to doctors in the video, though. They’re always giving elitist advice about medicine and vaccines. An apple a day keeps them away.

Also, doctors go to school. They think they’re so smart, which apparently annoys Poilievre. His video speech refers scornfully to “brainy people who have a higher standard of virtue than the unwashed masses.”

This expressed disdain for brainy people implies that Poilievre considers himself to be of no better than average intelligence. It must be so, for the only other reasonable interpretation is that Poilievre does indeed consider himself to be a brainy person capable of gulling those so-called “ordinary people” with cheap populist rhetoric that will grease his path to power.

Poilievre, who previously referred to Justin Trudeau as a Marxist, here adds a description of the prime minister in his video as a man with “only two core principles — one, that the state should control everybody, and two, that he should control the state.” Why, Trudeau is the sort of scoundrel who probably believes in wireless radio transmission. Elect Poilievre and it will be a veritable cat’s cradle of copper wire in every Canadian home.

Dr. Steve often recalls the legendary campaign slogan of former Philippines president Joseph Estrada, as reported by columnist Patrick Brown: “You've tried intelligent people as president... why not try someone like you?”

It's a time-honoured approach for a political populist. But at least Estrada may well have been sincere in his self-evaluation. For Poilievre, it seems, an “ordinary Canadian” is born every minute.  [Tyee]

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