So you want to be a member of Parliament?

It takes a dazzling set of skills to be an MP. Like having a hand, to pound things with.

ILLUSTRATION BY TAYLOR SHUTE

With a federal election likely to come as early as this fall, a number of Canadians are toying with the idea of running for office. Do you have what it takes to be a member of Parliament? Let’s find out.

Do you like birthdays? Do you like other people’s birthdays? Do you like being obligated to show up at other people’s birthdays, anniversaries, retirement parties, book launches, interventions, seances, hoedowns and circumcisions? As an MP, you’ll get invited to everything and be expected to give a speech paying tribute to the individual/group/penis.

Do you have at least one hand? Pounding your hand on things is important in politics—desks, tables, the heads of small children, whatever’s around. Your leader: “Our political rivals despise our freedom, our way of life and this cute panda I’m holding.” You: [Pounding vigorously?.?.?.?]

Is your primary skill the ability to occupy physical space? If so, you may already be a member of the Conservative caucus. Please double check before filing new nomination papers.

Do you lack the capacity to feel? It sounds harsh but it helps to have a paucity of human emotion. As an MP, you will be subjected to enough confrontation, humiliation and profanity to make that Jet Blue flight attendant go, “Here, dude, you need these beers more than me.” A normal person would respond by weeping for hours in the fetal position. An MP responds by smiling serenely and carrying on. And by developing horribly painful stress ulcers.

How do you feel about spending your entire summer eating hamburgers and hot dogs at dozens of community cookouts? True story: by the time he retired after 40 years in politics, Herb Gray was hickory smoked.

Are you committed to the idea of public service? Representing your constituents and voting your conscience is the sacred duty of all MPs. Unless you’re told not to do that, which is what usually happens.

Are you excited about moving to the nation’s capital? Life in Ottawa is great if you like extremes in weather and a downtown uncluttered by visual appeal, entertainment attractions and, after 6:30 p.m., humans.

Does your spouse hate you? It helps if your spouse hates you. It will save you both the pain of your spouse growing to hate you. Understand something: being a political wife or husband is about the worst thing imaginable—unless you have a good imagination, and can imagine Bob Rae in a tankini. The spouse is forced to listen to the same speech over and over and pretend to be riveted. The spouse must attend tedious functions and pretend to be interested. The spouse must experience tender family moments and pretend you’re not sitting there thinking to yourself, “This will make a great anecdote that will further humanize me in the eyes of the electorate!”

Are you a quick learner? There are advantages to being an MP. International junkets. Free domestic travel. Getting close enough to Peter MacKay to actually hear him flex his pectorals as a pretty lady walks by. That’s all good stuff. But you need to swiftly learn the nuances of political life, such as grasping parliamentary procedure and discovering that Ken Dryden can speak for 45 minutes on any topic, including, “How are you, Ken?”

Do you have the energy for it? Don’t get me wrong: there are more exhausting jobs out there. Mining for coal. Working construction. Being Tom Cruise’s smile. But an MP’s day begins early and ends late. Think of it this way: do you ever come home after a gruelling workday and think to yourself, “Man, I sure wish there was a meeting of the Rotary Club tonight?”

Are you prepared to embarrass yourself, your country and your system of government with your behaviour in question period? Some people can bray like a donkey. Others can make obscene gestures. But Parliament Hill is the big time—you should be able to do both simultaneously.

Results: If you answered yes to most of these questions, you just may be ready to run for federal office. If you answered yes to the last question, Stephen Harper will be dropping by shortly to sign your nomination papers.




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So you want to be a member of Parliament?

  1. One skill Scott Feschuk forgot:

    Do you pass the mirror test? When you hold a mirror under your nose or in front of your mouth and breathe out, does the mirror fog up? If the answer is yes, you definitely have what it takes to occupy a seat in the hallowed halls of the House. If the answer is no, apply immediately for a job in the Senate where the ability to breathe is optional.

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2010/08/top-

  2. Other considerations:

    Do you have an ego the size of the Taj Mahal?

    Do you have skin as thick as an elephant?

    Do you feel entitled to your entitlements?

    Can you look someone straight in the eye and lie through your teeth?

    Can you talk for hours without actually saying anything?

    Are you fluently bi-lingual enough to give one answer in English and the totally opposite answer in French?

    Can you play the piano?

    Do you have a predilection for "busty hookers?"

    Do the brown paper bags you receive at restaurants contain inedible items?

    Can you act "shocked and appalled" at virtually anything done or said by a member of another party?

    Do you possess the lung capacity to yell "HERE!…HERE!" and bellow incessantly when cameras are rolling in the HOC?

    Are you attracted to TV cameras and media microphones like a moth to the flame?

    Do you look ridiculous in a cowboy hat and plaid shirt?

    Have you never held a "real" job in your entire life?

    If you answered "yes" to most of the above questions. You don't have to run for Parliament because you're probably already there!

    • Can you "dance" with absolutely no rhythm or grace whatsoever, and are you willing to do so in public, in front of TV-News cameras?

      • Hold the phone. That's not just an MP, you're talking only leadership material there.

  3. I take umbrage with this statement: "As an MP, you'll get invited to everything and be expected to give a speech paying tribute to the individual/group/penis."

    Let's be honest — the truth is "As an MP, you will invite yourself to everything, even the birthdays of people you have never met. Further, you will call these strangers' families and demand the opportunity to "bring greetings" — ie speak about yourself and your amazing journey into politics even though it's a personal occasion and your remarks are horribly misplaced. You will believe that even fundraising events want to let you in for free, just so they can hear your two-minute "greetings" on behalf of your government. The more I write on this, the more pathetic I realize you have to be to want to be an MP or politician of any kind.

  4. Scott: the law of unintended consequences applies here. If someone answered yes to the last question, John Baird will have you rubbed out because you're poaching on his territory.

    • Sorry about that 2nd sentence. I forgot the first rule of grammar: "Make sure each pronoun agrees with their antecedent".

      • The first thing they teach you in writing school is to learn the rules so you can break them though. The second thing they teach you is to never apologize. You know the rule about pronouns and antecedents, so there's no need to say your (hah, started as an error, but given the post…) sorry.

        • The Rules of Grammar should be kept secret lest they fall into dangerous hands.

  5. Funny…yet sad.

  6. Do you like birthdays? Do you like other people's birthdays? Do you like being obligated to show up at other people's birthdays, anniversaries, retirement parties, book launches, interventions, seances, hoedowns and circumcisions? As an MP, you'll get invited to everything and be expected to give a speech paying tribute to the individual/group/penis.

    Penis?

    • That's where the circumcision goes, right? Or was a terrible mistake made on me in my infancy?

      • Oh.. and here I thought you meant "the penis" as an ephemeral concept. Kind of an Ur-penis if you will. And I was thinking, "You know.. I could probably do that.."

        • (applauds the Ur-penis concept)

        • Can you have an Ur-penis and still be a dink?

          • Ask Madonna.

      • It wasn't a mistake; they just didn't like you that much (unlike Dave…).

  7. Serious question, Scott (yeah, yeah).

    Is being elected as an independent the only way to be able to actually, truly represent one'sconstituents, and vote one's conscience, as an MP (or MPP/MLA)? Have the perogatives of the current parties destroyed the ability (and will?) of elected reps to really be able to represent the people who elect them on each and every issue that is presented to the parlimentary bodies in this country? Or has the party become the proxy to which fidicuary duty is now discharged to the detriment of representative democracy in this country?

    • "Is being elected as an independent the only way to be able to actually, truly represent one'sconstituents" tough to say; e.g., independents don't get to sit on committees or ask questions in the House without being granted the privilege by one of the parties.

  8. Is it just me or did I notice an implicit dis here (okay, and now I'm going to wreck it by pointing it out–) the end of the answer to the first question ends with "penis" and the second question is about having one hand to pound with. Feschuk, are you saying that politicians are self-obsessed masturbators? Say it ain't so…

  9. Nope not for me sir: My town needs all of the clowns they can muster to keep a happy face on the citizenry. One more in Ottawa is much too competitive a place for the likes of me!

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