How they spent their summer vacation

Scott Feschuk on Justin Trudeau’s confession and other highlights of the season

Illustration by Levi Nicholson

There is a name for those who tune out politics in Canada during the summer. This group of people is known as “Canadians.” As a public service, I resolved to put together a review of all the important developments you missed during the past few months. But because my column needs to be longer than zero words, I wrote about some of the other ones, too.

1. Justin Trudeau is a pothead. Or something. I’m not really sure because the story about the Liberal leader’s drug use—in which he admitted to having smoked marijuana since being elected to the House—was so very dull. Trudeau went back through every moment he’d ever spent in the vicinity of weed. Gripped by the tale of the Joint He Puffed on Once After Dinner? You’ll love the sequel: the Joint He Briefly Held But Passed On Without Smoking! Basically, the whole interview was what Breaking Bad would have been like if it had been made by the CBC.

Based on this experience, I’d recommend never asking Justin Trudeau if he enjoyed his sandwich. “Well, the first bite was good, and the second bite was good, but the third bite was just OK, you know? And the fourth bite was good and then I gave the fifth bite to a hobo. I don’t really love sandwiches, if you know what I mean. I’m just not a “Sandwich Person.” But I’ll eat a sandwich when friends are eating sandwiches. The sixth bite was good, by the way. The seventh bite . . . ”

Peter MacKay was quick to criticize Trudeau for engaging in an illegal act, saying “his credibility [as an MP] is a little up in smoke.” Yes, MacKay said “up in smoke.” Even if we’re split as a society on whether pot should be legal, surely we all support mandatory minimum sentences for this kind of wordplay.

2. Mike Duffy had a pretty great summer. The highlight was several enjoyable weeks he spent not being Pamela Wallin. An extensive audit concluded that the senator from Saskatchewan(ish) repeatedly billed taxpayers for travel that had nothing to do with “Senate business,” which it turns out is an actual thing and not just a euphemism that Patrick Brazeau uses when heading to the restroom. Bottom line: Wallin owes us about $139,000. Or, as Nigel Wright thinks of it: about 1.5 Duffies.

Of particular note was the revelation that Wallin or members of her staff went back and altered her electronic calendar in an effort to make past flights and hotel stays seem more legit. Hey, it was worth a shot—what were the odds that the auditors would have heard of “computers?”

Not that Duffy is in the clear. He’s still the subject of scrutiny, investigation and, of course, ridicule. In July, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation unveiled a giant inflatable balloon made to resemble a certain bald, rotund senator who happens to be holding a briefcase stuffed with money. On the bright side for Duffy, the balloon is exactly three storeys high, which makes it perfect to claim as his primary residence.

3. The Prime Minister goes North. Visiting the Arctic for the eighth straight summer, the Prime Minister summoned the cameras and fired off a few rounds from a vintage Lee-Enfield rifle—because nothing says “I’m committed to modernizing our armed forces” like having your photo taken with a gun first manufactured before motorized fixed-wing flight. A gun we still actually give to actual people who patrol our actual Arctic, by the way. One can only assume the greatest threat to our northern sovereignty is invasion by the American Confederacy. Those musket ballers don’t stand a chance!

In any event, the sight of a smiling Harper gripping an antique rifle and happily firing off shots reignited speculation that he is preparing to retire from politics to return to his first love: keeping kids off his lawn.

For the record, I’m a fan of the PM’s annual northern trip, partly because I’ve spent a fair bit of time in the North and I support his efforts to showcase the region—but mostly because I like to imagine Peter MacKay sneaking into the PM’s office while he’s gone, sitting at the big desk and pretending to make important phone calls. “No, you listen to me, Mr. President . . . ”

By the way, Harper recently revealed that he’s planning to prorogue Parliament again later this summer. He didn’t really give a reason—he probably just figures that having put in so much practice over the years, it’d be a shame to let that skill erode.

Follow Scott Feschuk on Twitter @scottfeschuk

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