Call me strange. But on a dreadfully dull day this week, looking for something to ease the boredom of the worst NHL playoffs in memory, I turned, not to the gripping drama Real Housewives of Vancouver, but to the outwardly placid pages of Hansard.
There, hoped I, the wit, quips, barbs and verbal thrust and parries of the province’s best orators, our esteemed elected representatives, would suffice to lift my woe-begotten, Wednesday soul.
Alas, limp was the order of the day. Harry Bloy was nowhere in sight to liven proceedings with a fresh, outlandish accusation of thievery against Adrian Dix, and the Kamloops Claxon, Kevin Krueger, was restricting his over-the-top bombast to the legislative corridor, rather than the august chamber itself.
I did manage a mild chuckle at Everything-but-the-Kitchen-Sink Minister Ida Chong, who told the house: “I want to be clear.… This is specifically a mountain resort municipality. Therefore, it requires a mountain.”
But Michelle Mungall’s mild sally against Naomi Yamamoto – “It’s a real shame that the Minister of Advanced Education is looking for a new job title, the minister of rhetoric, because that’s all she just offered” – was as pointed as the NDP got.
On the other side, the often droll George Abbott could manage nothing better than: “It’s obvious from the questions we’ve received today that this supposed government-in-waiting is going to be waiting for a long, long time, Mr. Speaker – a long, long time.”
Z-z-z-z-z. The song Killing Me Softly came to mind.
It was enough to make an aging hack nostalgic for the good old daze. We take you now to April, Friday the 13th, in the year of George Orwell, 1984.
Socred cabinet minister Bob McClelland is jawing at NDP MLA Gary Lauk, who is quibbling about a legal deficiency in a human rights bill.
Hon. Mr. McClelland: We’ve had better advice than you give.
Mr. Lauk: From the Court of Appeal of Tasmania?
Mr. Lauk: Some of my best friends are Tasmanians.
Hon. Mr. McClelland: Name three.
Mr. Lauk: Mr. Speaker, it always happens when the Wink Martindale of the legislature comes in and interrupts me.
An Hon. Member: I don’t like your Lester Maddox drawl.
Mr. Lauk: Who is Lester Maddox?.… Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your rapt and uninterrupted attention, while you’re reading the predictions of the Bishop Omarr, or whatever.
Deputy Speaker: Is the member finished?
Mr. Lauk. I finished some time ago. Before I take my seat, I want to bring to the attention of the poor wretch up in Trail who is looking for his Volkswagen car seats, that I think they have now become the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs’ jacket.
You couldn’t make it up.
Haynes happy at last
It was, thought the old trade union leader, a blot on his labour copy book.
Despite active involvement in the trenches of numerous wildcats and illegal strikes, particularly the bitter Lenkurt Electric shutdown of 1966 that sent four labour leaders to jail for contempt of court, and seven years at the helm of the then-powerful B.C. Federation of Labour, Ray Haynes had never been arrested.
The fact gnawed at him. Until now.
Last Saturday, still militant after all these years, Mr. Haynes stood on the railway tracks passing through White Rock, and briefly stopped a coal train headed to Roberts Banks. He was arrested by the RCMP, along with 12 other protesters, including Simon Fraser University professor and environmentalist, Mark Jaccard.
“It’s off my bucket list,” a smiling Mr. Haynes said of his arrest.
The experience didn’t come easily. He travelled the day before from his Sunshine Coast home for the anti-fossil fuel protest, arrived on the scene at 5 a.m. and waited all day through the chill, before a coal train finally showed up about 6 p.m.
By then, the feisty trade unionist could barely move. His legs were essentially frozen stiff. “I was in bad shape,” he recalled. “I couldn’t get into the paddy wagon. They had to lift me up.”
He was booked, photographed and fined $115.
The cause was worth it, according to Mr. Haynes. The threat to the global environment from fossil fuels, such as coal, is simply too stark to be ignored, he said.
“The experts are saying that if we don’t do something, it will soon be too late.” Mr. Haynes turns 84 next month.
Preparing for storm Krueger
The province advises us to prepare a basic home emergency kit in case of Kevin Krueger. Sorry, I mean in case of a natural disaster. Among the suggested items: change for payphones. How quaint.