Political language...is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind. (George Orwell)
At ten, on April Fools morning, it was eerily calm, too calm. We should have grown alarmed an hour later when we began to smell the perfumed wind from Ottawa as the federal politicians descended from the clouds and grabbed taxis for the downtown Sheraton.
By noon, the fog cover over the city had disappeared completely and the sky had taken on a deep purplish hue, mimicking, I thought, the look of frustration on the faces of many of our upstanding citizens as they helplessly watched the actions of those they had chosen to lead them to the promised land.
I couldn't help thinking of another April morn nearly 90 years ago when a mob of the great unwashed descended in a tornado of fury on the seat of government in the city. The object of the mob's desire was the corrupt prime minister, Sir Richard Squires, who barely escaped their clutches by shattering a world record for the hundred meter hurdles, dashing across Military Road, through a stranger's kitchen, out the back door, across two vegetable gardens, over a ten-foot fence onto Colonial Street, and into a waiting cab.
To 'mitigate' their rage, the rabid rabble ransacked the Colonial Building, the ancestral womb of the political class in this fair land.
Just 20 months later, in February 1934, the new prime minister, Freddie Alderdice placed the whole damn country into receivership and invited the British back to clean up the mess.
End of democracy for 16 long years.
Not counting the benevolent dictatorship of Premier Joseph R. Smallwood, the hog-farmer from Gambo.
I had been glued to the people's channel all morning awaiting the grand announcement by Dear Leader Duh-wite and Minister Shameus from Ottawa. There were rumours, said the announcer, that a new deal was coming on the Atlantic Accord which would see billions more flow from the cash cow in our nation's capital.
And not a minute too soon for Dear Leader who faces an election as the second most unpopular premier in the country.
I was tempted at that early hour to reach for my Raspberry Screech by way of premature celebration.
Better sense prevailed.
Spouse had just returned home from a spending spree at the Thrift Shop over on Kenmount--avoiding the crowds by shopping early for a few pre-owned spring outfits in anticipation of the July arrival of that joyous season when the dandelions bloom on our pine-clad hills.
She had returned by taxi and was full of news about her driver from Nigeria who kept apologizing for not having any stories to make her ride a more meaningful cultural experience.
"When he dropped me off," said spouse, "he refused to charge me fare and tearfully told me he would be attending the Mitchelmore School of Cabbie Storytelling in the near future."
Immediately, a brain-worm kicked in and the creepy disembodied voice of Mitchelmore, Minister of Tourism and Stuff, repeated the refrain, 'they will tell you stories about the land....and the sea....and the sky....and everything in between.' he was referring of course to the current myth that St. John's taxi drivers immediately morph into entertaining raconteurs when they pick up a tourist at the airport.
"Quite frankly," I said to spouse, "if I jumped into a cab like that, I would be weirded out. My first thought would be that the driver was trying to induce a state of hypnosis after which he would rob me, mutilate my person, and then drown me to death by dumping my body in Deadman's Pond."
"You are being a drama queen," said spouse.
Just then, the people's channel cut to the conference room at the Sheraton. The cameras panned across the smirking faces of the Liberal herd, all of them anxious to reflect the blinding flash of billion-dollar light back into the eyes of the populace thus blinding them to rational thought.
Big Eddie and Dr. Dale were noticeably absent.
Minister Shameus and Dear leader Duh-wite stood at the podium exchanging exhilarating accolades in a feverish frenzy of Liberal lovemaking.
"Two and one-half billion spread over the next 38 years. $5000 per man, woman, and child to reduce the provincial debt by 16%. That money goes into the pockets of every Newfoundlander and Labradorian," said Duh-wite.
"Making it all possible," said Shameus, "was the calm negotiating approach of Premier Duh-wite."
The darling of Deer Lake had turned darkness into daylight. He is our saviour, said one staunch Liberal.
"That's a lot of filthy lucre from the feds," I said.
"That's $119.61 for every Newfoundlander and Labradorian each year for the next 38 years," said spouse who had been listening intently to the propaganda show. "By 2056, you and I will have contributed $9090.36 to help pay off the government credit card. That's about the same amount the Ball Government has fleeced from us over the last four years."
The woman is a human calculator.
Flashback to Saturday, January 29, 2005. "We've got it. We've got it," said Premier Danny (He-Who-Is-Without-Sin) Williams as he stood at the top of the escalator in St. John's Airport waving a cheque for two billion dollars just cut by Prime Minister Paul Martin. "A trust fund," said Danny, "for every Newfoundlander and Labradorian."
"We are in the Money," he said. "Finally, Newfoundlanders can hold their heads high and tell those snooty mainlanders to f... off."
"A clever boy," said his mother.
"He is our saviour," said Dougie O'Dea, a local tory.
No trust fund.
The two billion disappeared.
Muskrat Falls happened.
Provincial credit card overspent by $16,000,000,000 plus 13 more big ones for the Mighty Muskrat.
But shortly, the perfumed winds are forecast to reach hurricane strength across our smiling land, seducing the masses into electing the lesser evil.