Late at night, often on weekend nights, press releases come in from the Prime Minister's Office. Sometimes five or six in a row land in my inbox.
I always envision our Prime Minister sitting alone at his desk, typing things up – whom he has met or what he has done that day – and then pressing Send.
Especially if I'm out having fun, the volume and timing of these e-mails make me feel sad. There I am, out with my friends, while my Prime Minister is pretty much alone and drunk dialling.
I took myself off the PMO e-mail list to avoid this feeling, but the Conservatives released a new set of ads this week in which they demonstrated that they have a similar view of Stephen Harper, and they don't think I should be allowed to escape it.
I’m trying to understand the intent behind the new Conservative ad, “Rising to the Challenge.” It's the only non-attack ad in the group, the rest of which show Michael Ignatieff (images of him are always transposed to black-and-white, perhaps to make it look more surveillance-footagey) and end with the words, “Michael Ignatieff: He didn't come back for you,” ominously intoned.
Well, honestly, the only thing that could make me feel worse than my Prime Minister being alone on a Friday night would be to know Michael Ignatieff came back for me. I don't want the responsibility. What if I want to travel?
The look of the “Rising to the Challenge” ad is Canadian Gothic: Stephen Harper walks alone through the empty corridors of Centre Block, much like Will Smith in I Am Legend. Where is everyone else? Is he locked in? Or has everyone else been locked out? We don't know.
Bright light pouring in through the arched stained-glass windows suggests that either it's daylight outside or an alien invasion is under way. Either way, our Prime Minister is unperturbed.
He makes his way upstairs to his office, where, with the wooden blinds on the windows drawn fastidiously against the light, he works from a few tidy files, writing things on papers – according to the closing shot ( Exterior: Night, Parliament Hill), all night long.
There's no computer on his desk. I think this is meant to suggest an old-fashioned work ethic, but when I see a man without a computer, I immediately think, “Oh, condition of parole.”
The message seems to be: One man, and one man alone – entirely alone – can be trusted to protect Canadians from the marauding stock footage that is shown at the top of the ad.
Outside the House of Parliament, there are what appear to be Black Bloc rioters, plus a separate, fairly generic angry mob and a few palm trees. The stock market is there too, and a lot can go wrong with that.
(The stock market is more sensitive than we imagine. Just look at the way Apple stock dropped when Steve Jobs took sick leave this week. Did Apple investors previously believe that Steve Jobs is immortal? And if they did, did they not wonder why Apple can't make a power cord that lasts more than six months?)
I do agree about the threat of the palm tree. The palm tree is the most poorly designed tree in the world. How this tree ever became a symbol of luxury and relaxation I'll never know. The palm tree offers no shade, which might be a plus, because the last thing you want is more people sitting under palm trees.
What meagre bounty the palm tree does provide is pretty much inaccessible until it crashes down on your head and even then, the coconut isn't likely to open and thus sate any survivors.
And they're out there, palm trees. Points to the Conservatives for recognizing that. Much of the rest of the world is cursed with palm trees. We in Canada mostly are not – although, what with global warming, our current, blessed, nearly tropical-frondless state may be as precarious as our economic recovery, which is a hothouse flower to be sure.
Our economy, we are repeatedly told, is too fragile to withstand an election – that is, to withstand democracy. And our democracy's too fragile to withstand the occasional coalition (I wouldn't necessarily support a coalition, but I do wish the Conservatives would stop talking about it as if Sauron would be involved).
And only one man can protect us from all that: our lonely Prime Minister in the tower, holding back the Forces of Darkness, with what looks suspiciously like my mother’s recipe file.