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EXCERPT

An excerpt from Michael Healey's 'Proud' Add to ...

A first look at Michael Healey’s Proud , a satirical play about a fictional Conservative leader – the "Prime Minister." Here, the PM talks tactics with a backbencher from Quebec named Jisbella.

Scene 3

The Prime Minister’s office. It’s early.

PRIME MINISTER

Strategy is long-term thinking about how to achieve goals.

More related to this story

JISBELLA

Yes.

PRIME MINISTER

A tactic is an act you take in the short term that serves a particular strategy.

JISBELLA

Okay.

PRIME MINISTER

It always bugs me when people confuse the two.

JISBELLA

I bet. Can I get a coffee?

PRIME MINISTER

No.

JISBELLA

You have a coffee.

PRIME MINISTER

I do. Now –

JISBELLA

What time is it? I mean, holy [...]

PRIME MINISTER

Now. There are certain things the press pays attention to, and certain things they don’t. Sometimes we have a little trouble figuring out which things they’re going to pick up on, and which things they are going to ignore.

JISBELLA

That must drive you nuts.

PRIME MINISTER

The long-form census is an example of this. We thought we could kill it without the press noticing.

JISBELLA

Why would you want to kill the census?

PRIME MINISTER

I’ll tell you later. I’m making a point.

JISBELLA

Okay. Can I just get a coffee?

PRIME MINISTER

Absolutely not. So, in looking ahead, there are programs I want to enact, which I feel might raise the ire of the press, possibly of the people as well, and I want to do what I can to minimize the chance of that happening. Fortunately, the first thing I want to do is spectacularly dull. Odds are, it will go completely unnoticed.

JISBELLA

What is it?

PRIME MINISTER

I’m going to reform the Privy Council Office. Under the Liberals, the number of people working there ballooned. I’m going to shrink it again.

JISBELLA

Why?

PRIME MINISTER

It doesn’t need to be that big. Also, there are people there who are … resistive to our influence. It’s so petty. The PCO loved us at the beginning.

JISBELLA

They did?

PRIME MINISTER

Oh yeah. When we came in, in 2006, as a minority, we had a narrow agenda focused on five priorities. Remember?

JISBELLA

No.

PRIME MINISTER

No?

JISBELLA

No.

PRIME MINISTER

You don’t remember, when we got elected in 2006, how we focused on five things?

JISBELLA

Really?

PRIME MINISTER

Did you notice the GST went down?

JISBELLA

The GST went down?

PRIME MINISTER

I mean, really?

JISBELLA

I was busy in 2006.

PRIME MINISTER

The point is, the bureaucracy loved us when we came in, because we were focused. We had five things to do, not a thousand, and it was easy for them to plan and get things done.

JISBELLA

Sure.

PRIME MINISTER

But now I’m going to trim them, and I need your help with that.

JISBELLA

You want me to go fire some people? I’ve never done that before. Well, I fired a dishwasher at the restaurant I ran, but really, like, he wasn’t showing up for his shifts, so –

PRIME MINISTER

Ms. Lyth …

JISBELLA

– like, at all, so I called him and got his machine, and so –

PRIME MINISTER

Ms. Lyth …

JISBELLA

I called him –

PRIME MINISTER

I don’t care.

JISBELLA

I’M TALKING. I CARE.

A beat

JISBELLA

And I just got his machine, so I fired him over his machine.

PRIME MINISTER

I don’t want you to fire people. I want you to distract the press.

JISBELLA

Okay.

PRIME MINISTER

So, in a couple weeks time, you’re going to stand up in Parliament and introduce a private member’s bill.

JISBELLA

Okay.

A beat

PRIME MINISTER

Don’t you want to know what’s in the bill?

JISBELLA

That coffee you’ve got smells like [...] And yet I still want some. Can I have just a sip?

PRIME MINISTER

Yes, here, take the coffee. God.

She drinks

JISBELLA

You’re the [...]Prime Minister of Canada. And this is what you drink in the morning?

PRIME MINISTER

It’s decaf.

JISBELLA

You monster!

PRIME MINISTER

You’re going to introduce a bill limiting abortion.

JISBELLA

An anti-abortion bill?

PRIME MINISTER

A pro-life bill. We’ll draft it for you. I will pretend to be caught off guard, and I will say that you’re acting on your own, and that I strongly disapprove. The press will spend several days gleefully watching your rebellion, I’ll cut the PCO, and they will miss the story.

JISBELLA

And what happens to the bill?

PRIME MINISTER

If it ever comes to a vote, it’ll be defeated. And you’ll have a reputation as a maverick who won’t conform to party discipline. Okay?

A pause

JISBELLA

Okay.

PRIME MINISTER

Okay?

JISBELLA

Okay.

A beat

PRIME MINISTER

Any questions?

JISBELLA

No, I got it.

A pause. He’s looking at her

JISBELLA

What?

PRIME MINISTER

You don’t have a problem doing this? Morally?

JISBELLA

Nope.

A pause

PRIME MINISTER

That’s … um.

JISBELLA

What?

PRIME MINISTER

Well, I had assumed you were going to object to the plan. I …

JISBELLA

Yes?

PRIME MINISTER

Never mind.

JISBELLA

What?

PRIME MINISTER

No, I had come up with several compelling arguments, that’s all.

JISBELLA

Really.

PRIME MINISTER

Yes. Never mind.

JISBELLA

You were going to change my mind? On abortion?

PRIME MINISTER

Yes.

JISBELLA

Using arguments?

PRIME MINISTER

It’s –

JISBELLA

Well, now I would like to hear those amazing arguments. Because they sound like they would be amazing.

PRIME MINISTER

Well, sorry. Now I don’t need to deploy them.

JISBELLA

Dammit! But what if your arguments didn’t work?

PRIME MINISTER

Oh, they would have worked.

JISBELLA

But what if they didn’t?

PRIME MINISTER

In that case … I was going to flirt with you.

A beat. She’s dumbstruck

JISBELLA

You were going to try arguments … and then flirting?

PRIME MINISTER

I was going to, yes, flirt with you. My sense is that you respond to flirtatious behaviour. Am I wrong?

JISBELLA

No. In fact, next time skip the arguments and go straight for the flirting. Because I’m dying to see that [...]

Proud will have a fundraising reading at Theatre Passe Muraille on Monday.

Some expletives have been removed, indicated by ellipses in square brackets.

 

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