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Big Ben in London, Thursday March 10, 2005. (John D. McHugh/ The Associated Press/John D. McHugh/ The Associated Press)
Big Ben in London, Thursday March 10, 2005. (John D. McHugh/ The Associated Press/John D. McHugh/ The Associated Press)

Rod Mickleburgh

No donnybrooks please, we're Canadian Add to ...

I was going to say something about the budget, but B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins persuaded me that, despite loud huzzahs from the usual suspects in the business community, it’s just another NDP-style “tax and spend” document. So dial up some quotes from the 1990s, and you’ll have the whole thing in the proverbial nutshell.

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Besides, there is far more stimulating news from across the brine in ol’ Blighty, where political dustups strayed on Wednesday into the realm of hockey-land. British Labour MP Eric Joyce, excessively bemused by the grape, is said to have headbutted, then punched, the Tory member for Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough.

Delirious dancing, flying fists and dumping drinks on the heads of other House of Commons imbibers are also being chalked up to Mr. Joyce during a wild night of unparliamentary debate at the Strangers Bar, an in-house watering hole.

Some honourable members: “Ouch. Ouch.”

Alas, politics as practised in our tea-and-crumpet, politeness capital of the universe, Victoria, is a tad more restrained.

Sure, Socred cabinet minister Jim Nielsen once showed up with a black eye, but that was administered by an aggrieved husband rather than an angry member of Her Majesty’s Opposition.

In 1983, NDP leader Dave Barrett was dragged out of the legislature by a couple of sergeants-at-arms who dumped him on his rump in the corridor.

And Liberal turned Socred Pat McGeer – of whom NDP wit Alex Macdonald once observed that while Dr. McGeer had a fine brain, he wondered why he kept it in a jar – famously showed up one strange day in robe and boxing gloves to take on a CBC cameraman. But it was all pantywaist posturing.

In fact, at the very moment the British MP was raining punches in all directions at the Strangers Bar, there was nothing but sweetness and light at the B.C. Legislature as the day’s business began.

Kathy Corrigan of the NDP told the world that “Burnaby is a great place to live, work and play.”

Agriculture Minister Don McRae welcomed to the gallery “chicken farmer and cattle rancher” Ken Friesen, Peter Schouten of Heppell’s Potato Corporation and Nick Moore “who teaches at my daughter’s school.”

Independent Bob Simpson revealed that he had yet to formally thank Rick Cash, his election planning committee chair for the past two elections. “I think I still owe him the beer.”

And political veteran Kevin Krueger from dusty Kamloops-South Thompson paid tribute to his “darling wife Debbie. She and I celebrate our 37th wedding anniversary today.

“In keeping with our family friendly theme, we spent Valentine’s Day apart, we’re spending our anniversary apart, but we’re doing the people’s business.”

No one felt the need to throw a single punch.

***

As far as I can tell, Premier Christy Clark has never met a mining executive she doesn’t like. Speeding approval of eight new mines and the expansion of nine existing ones by 2015 is a big part of her vaunted jobs plan.

But that love may not be shared by the cold, cold hearts of mining moguls. According to the latest Fraser Institute survey of mining executives, B.C. ranks ninth among Canadian provinces as a place for exploration and development. At least we’re ahead of Prince Edward Island.

*****

To mark the 69th anniversary (plus a month) of the general release of Casablanca, the best movie ever made, I offer this revised verse from the film’s signature tune, As Time Goes By.

“It’s still the same old Tory

A Toews of smut and sorry

A case of will it fly

Mr. Vic will always welcome data

As Tweets go by.”

Don’t sing it again, Rod.

***

There was a time when Vancouver was considered the peace capital of North America, when signs reading “Vancouver is a nuclear-free zone” were no laughing matter. (The signs worked, didn’t they? Nuclear annihilation never came near us.)

The reputation was earned during the 1980s thanks to the city’s annual walks for peace that regularly attracted up to 100,000 people, a remarkable feat for a metropolis this size. In 1987, such was the pro-peace tide that a young mayor named Gordon Campbell marched at the head of the parade.

President and co-founder of End the Arms Race, which organized the yearly events, was Frank Kennedy, long-time secretary-treasurer of the Longshoremen’s Union in Canada and a major force in the peace movement for years. He also co-founded COPE.

Mr. Kennedy, a native of Oak Ridges, Ont., just south of my hometown of Newmarket, died last week at the age of 80. Somewhere, he is marching still.

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