I'm not sure what Conservative campaign spokesman Kory Teneycke thinks the "spoke" part of his job description is all about, but judging from his reaction this week when Global News' Tom Clark asked him about a recent Conservative campaign ad, I can only assume he has spent a lot of time learning to fix bikes.
He certainly doesn't seem to view speaking about the Conservative campaign as something he's obliged to do.
Mr. Teneycke took umbrage when asked about his party's recent attack ad – an ad that features Islamic State propaganda footage accompanied by an IS anthem – and not a small amount of umbrage, either. Mr. Teneycke took so much umbrage at Mr. Clark's questions about whether an ad that showcases terrorist propaganda might contravene the government's own freshly minted Bill C-51– a law that prohibits the promotion of terrorist propaganda – it was like he took umbrage, left the studio, rented a U-Haul, came back and carted away a whole lot more umbrage.
Word is, Mr. Teneycke was unhappy that he hadn't been given the interview questions in advance. Perhaps he'd have preferred a take-home test, in which case he could have deleted his embarrassing line: "We're better than the news, we're truthful."
That line was spoken in the tone of a man who cannot come up with one good reason why his party produced an ad that's approximately one-third grisly terrorist propaganda – the kind of thing that, as Mr. Clark made clear, most news organizations are very circumspect about showing – and two-thirds obviously misleadingly edited footage of their rather photogenic opponent.
"Whose idea was that?" I hear you cry. "Can we have them lead the country?"
The flustered Mr. Teneycke certainly tried to delete that line, doing everything but frantically pressing Mr. Clark's nose over and over in the desperate hope it would turn out to be a magical nasal backspace key. It was just one of many awkward moments for the Conservative campaign spokesman.
"Will you be using more terrorist video as the campaign goes on?" pressed Mr. Clark finally.
"Uh, well, wait and see," said Mr. Teneycke, who said "uh" so many times in that interview, it was like Global had finally scored a long-sought interview with a hawkish walrus in a suit.
I'm no Tom Clark, who let slide nothing Mr. Teneycke said – entertain for a moment the vision of one deft pair of hands and thousands of talking-point salmon swimming upstream in hopes of spawning with voters. What I've done, having a weakness for walruses, is concede to Mr. Teneycke's wishes – and more. Not only am I providing him with the questions for our interview, I'm giving him all the right answers as well. So here you go, Kory, it's on:
Me: How are you enjoying unemployment?
You: I am, surprisingly, still the Conservative campaign spokesman. Uh, make of that what you will.
Me: Do you believe that Canada's social safety net should be dismantled so that people like you will be motivated to work harder and answer questions on TV in a less disastrous manner?
You: Uh, in the future I plan on dedicating myself to trying to get through an eight and half minute interview without suggesting that my political party – or any political party – is more truthful than all journalists ever, because that never ends well.
Me: Do you think it's prudent to effectively co-produce a campaign ad with a murderous terrorist organization?
You: No. That's a terrible idea. A cynical, opportunistic, abhorrent idea. No human being with even a sliver of conscience would, uh, ever seriously entertain such a notion.
Me: Is it ever a good idea to use footage of people about to be killed – in unspeakably barbaric ways – in just the manner the people who killed those people intended it to be used? Thus giving these killers incentive to kill and film more deaths? Do you understand anything about how supply and demand and evil works? Why do you think they keep making Fast and Furious movies?
You: No. That's never a good idea – and it's not like I saw them in the theatre.
Me: So, Islamic State. That was an interesting choice. Are there any other homicidal auteurs you guys plan on working with in the future?
You: No. Film distribution's always been an issue in Canada, and government could be more effective in this area. However, we shouldn't prioritize distributing the work of killers over literally anything else. Even if it's just some boring crap about people being sad at a cottage.
Me: IS. Huh. Wow. Leni Riefenstahl wasn't available, I guess.
You: Sorry, Canada.
Me: You do know the little girl in Lyndon Johnson's famous "Daisy Girl" campaign ad wasn't actually killed by a nuclear bomb, don't you?
Me: Google it. Your party, the one at the forefront of making snuff campaign ads, is also intent on constructing the 24-metre-tall Mother Canada monument in Cape Breton. Is it prudent, in these – as your ads with a lower body-count like to remind us – uncertain economic times, and with the nation already embroiled in a struggle against IS, to simultaneously launch a war on good taste? Why Mother Canada, Kory, why?
You: [Sorry, Kory, we don't have an answer for you on this one. We sent 16 of our best people to Georgian Bay on a retreat to hammer this one out – nothing. We cannot begin to explain that monument. Best we can come up with is it's Canada's National Butter Sculpture and will at least come down when the Royal Winter Fair ends. I would just go with "Uh."]
Me: A final question: Do you think it's okay to use terrorist-produced images if the man you work for reeeeeeaaaaaallllly wants to be re-elected prime minister yet is struggling with an approval rating that had dropped soooooooooo low that, if he were a tomato plant, his party would have to bring him inside?
Me: So, will you be using more terrorist video as the campaign goes on?
You: What in God's name have I done with my life that I can legitimately be asked this question?
[Now, search soul deeply.]