I’ve never paid much attention to Canadian politics and I’ve never really understood the cartoons that my colleagues north of the border draw.
But lately, the Canadian political cartoons have taken on a frantic tone and I asked two of my Canadian cartoonist buddies, Thomas “Tab” Boldt, of the Sun Media newspaper chain, and Patrick Corrigan, of The Toronto Star, to explain it all to me in a way that even an American cartoonist can understand.
CAGLE: What’s happening with the crazy politics in Canada?
CORRIGAN: Well, Daryl, we don’t elect our Prime Ministers up here, our Parliament picks them, and sometimes decides to throw Prime Ministers out with a “no confidence vote,” also known as “throwing the bums out.”
Our Parliament was just about to toss Prime Minister Harper out, so Harper decided to close Parliament down, as any bona fide third-world dictator would do.
On bended knee, Harper begged the Queen’s representative to Canada, a former TV reporter who usually doesn’t do much of anything except swan around and look official, to help him out.
She agreed to “prorogue” parliament … and if you say “prorogue” fast enough, it sounds like “democracy,” or, maybe not.
TAB: Not so fast here! Technically my colleague is correct, just a little hazy on the details. First of all, we had to suffer through an eye-glazing Canadian election just a few short weeks ago. Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party got more seats than the other parties, not enough to govern with authority, but enough seats to somehow run the country in cooperation with the other parties.
As it turned out, the opposition didn’t like the results of that election; they also didn’t like that Harper was attempting to withhold their public funding. So like bona-fide-tin-pot-would-be-coupists, the opposition parties tried to overturn the results of the election, claiming that the Conservative government was not acting fast enough on the economic crisis.
Prime Minister Harper’s main opponent, a chap named Dion, lucked into the leadership job of the Liberal Party. Dion’s main platform in the recent election was to raise “green” taxes. A sure-fire winner that somehow failed to get the voters excited.
Then Dion, still unable to articulate whole sentences in clear English, thought he’d have another kick at the can, this time without having to bother the voters or having to count ballots. It’s easier that way.
Dion’s slick move to oust Harper and the Conservatives was supported by the two other opposition parties, the Liberal-Socialist-Separatist Coalition, but we’re already seeing cracks in that group. Dion just got booted and the whole coup junta will last as long as an election promise.
Speaking as a cartoonist, it’s been an exciting time. It’s a little like shooting piranhas in a waste barrel, you can’t miss, and whatever you hit probably had it coming anyways. There are no innocent parties in this spat.
CAGLE: Yikes! When will Parliament come back and try to throw Harper out again?
CORRIGAN: Not until late in January. In the meantime we’ll all just cozy up in front of our TVs and watch curling … I can explain that too if you’d like.
TAB: Anyway, Harper’s main opponent, who is from Quebec and barely speaks English, and couldn’t lead anybody to the men’s room, is walking the plank as we speak. He’ll end up on YouTube selling organic backpacks.
CAGLE: So … what do most Canadians think about this mess?
TAB: All we can agree on is 100 lashes on the foot soles for every member of Parliament (double that number for the separatists).
CORRIGAN: I think Tab is sending out a petition in Alberta to quit Canada and hook up with Idaho — or Frankfurt. Nova Scotia has returned to Scotland and pledged allegiance to Sean Connery. Toronto has acquired Buffalo on the NASDAQ .
TAB: Actually, I’m sending out petitions to join Hawaii. It’s as close as Eastern Canada is to us in Alberta, but a lot warmer.
CORRIGAN: Harper gets a second chance, but the rest of Parliament will gang up again as a rickety “coalition” and try to throw the Prime Minister out. By then the Queen’s representative will be tired of canceling her dinner parties and make the clowns have another election. That’ll be sometime next summer, and by then, Canadians will all be unemployed; record numbers will go the polls and vote for a new and truly inspiring party… the Wayne Gretzky party
CAGLE: Should I be worried about our once reliable, stable neighbor?
CORRIGAN: Naw, we’re OK. We’ve put up “no trespassing” signs around all our nuclear reactors. Rumor has it that the Queen may intervene if things get out of hand. Apparently she’s more than willing to send Prince Charles over to take charge and become the King of Canada.
TAB: Should Canadians be concerned about the U.S. would be a better question. What we have seen these past 8 years wasn’t exactly confidence and friendship inspiring. We up north are old fashioned; we believe in the Geneva Convention and basic human rights. We are such softies.
CORRIGAN: Just tell your friends south of the border that an Alberta Clipper temporarily burst the pipes of Parliament so we shut her down for a couple of weeks. No worries. Until then, you can reach all 35 million of us in the Bahamas at the Banana Republic Lounge, leg-wrestling in the back corner, near the kitchen.
CAGLE: Very good. I’m relieved to hear that there are only 35 million of you.
Cartoons by Thomas “Tab” Boldt of Sun Media Newspapers, and Patrick Corrigan of The Toronto Star.
Daryl Cagle is a political cartoonist and blogger for MSNBC.com; he is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society and his cartoons are syndicated to more than 850 newspapers, including the paper you are reading. Daryl runs the most popular cartoon site on the Web at www.cagle.msnbc.com. His books “The BIG Book of Campaign 2008 Political Cartoons” and “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2009 Edition” are available in bookstores for Christmas.
See Daryl’s cartoons and columns at www.caglepost.com.