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The secret ingredient? (Peter Power)
The secret ingredient? (Peter Power)

Will the federal election come down to Schwartz's smoked meat? Add to ...

I uncovered - or rather rediscovered - a delicious election theory while researching this article on Schwartz's: The Musical.

See, for decades, politicians of all stripes have been spotted at Schwartz's in Montreal: Jean Charest, Daniel Johnson, Réné Lévesque.

"There's no politics here," George Bowser, co-creator of Schwartz's: The Musical, told me when I interviewed him in the Boulevard St-Laurent deli. (He pulls his Lucien Bouchard impersonation out of retirement to enact the ex-premier's visit in the show.)

And yet, according to one political postulation floating about - call it the Smoked Meat Supposition - since the 1970s, eating a sandwich at Schwartz's has been the key to winning a majority government in Canada at the federal level.

Consider the facts: Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Brian Mulroney and Jean Chrétien have all eaten at Schwartz's and gone on to solid wins in Parliament.

Joe Clark, John Turner and Kim Campbell, on the other hand, have never been seen at the eatery, and none of them ever led their parties to a majority in an election. Coincidence?

Okay, there is one: Paul Martin, who did not win a majority in an election despite a demonstrated predilection for Schwartz's smoked meat. (Breaking with his South Beach Diet, the then-Prime Minister carved a medium-fat brisket for media at a party at 24 Sussex Drive in 2005.)

But perhaps that's just the exception that proves the rule. Bill Brownstein, whose book Schwartz's Hebrew Delicatessen: The Story has just been re-issued in an expanded edition for the musical's opening, notes neither Stephen Harper nor Michael Ignatieff have yet been seen at the deli. (Ignatieff did make a trip to St-Viateur Bagel on a Montreal visit, but political scientists have yet to find a connection between O-shaped dough and electoral success.)

Will the election of 2011 ultimately be determined by whoever - Harper or Ignatieff - makes it to Schwartz's first? "I would like to think that that's possible," Brownstein told me, "but I doubt it."

 

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