A metaphorical cry for help

One flourish from the Finance Minister’s speech yesterday has since been the cause of particular consternation in the English-speaking world. To wit.

In the global recession, the ship of state has had a difficult voyage. But we can see the harbour lights. And that’s just when a would-be captain and his ragtag crew are trying to storm the bridge. If they seize the wheel, ladies and gentlemen, they’ll have us on the rocks. And that’s not how this voyage should end.

This has been interpreted as a reference to piracy; a suggestion that the opposition parties are like marauding outlaws on the high sea, preparing to board the S.S. Harper and steal all the gold doubloons. These metaphorical pirates would then, either intentionally or drunkenly, crash the ship into the nearest metaphorically rocky shore.

Alternatively, this could be read as a warning of potential mutiny.

In this case, the ship is Parliament and Captain Stephen and his crew are outnumbered by ill-intentioned usurpers who intend to seize control of the wheel (which is to say, the executive branch of government). These metaphorical mutineers will then, either intentionally or drunkenly, crash the ship (which is to say, Canada) into the nearest metaphorically rocky shore (which is to say, socialism).

The latter would seem a metaphorical suggestion of metaphorical treason, which, while serious, is essentially what was said, somewhat less metaphorically, the last time the Conservative ship appeared doomed. The former, while also somewhat criminal, is at least funny in that it involves imagining Michael Ignatieff with an eye patch and a parrot. Either way, one hopes the Finance Minister would at least metaphorically inform the Attorney General of this metaphorical threat.

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