Mr. Ignatieff was greeted with a food basket, then posed with a group of small children who had apparently spontaneously arranged themselves at the entrance to the fair grounds. He was then led a short ways away to where crowds had formed seven deep on four low hills overlooking a field of well-watered mud.
With Justin Trudeau in tow, Mr. Ignatieff worked the crowd. A firefighter—firefighters standing by to assure the safety of what was about to ensue—was concerned that the Liberal leader watch where he stepped. “I’m in Ottawa, I deal with horseshit all the time,” Mr. Ignatieff assured. A woman in the back row stood and queried Mr. Trudeau to account for the GST, a nuanced discussion of provincial consumption tax policy ensued.
Mr. Ignatieff then returned to a spot overlooking the mud pit and was handed a green flag. Six windowless cars—little more than spray-painted metal frames on wheels—entered and assumed their positions. At the appointed time, Mr. Ignatieff held the flag above his head and then dropped it to the ground, officially starting Heat #3 of the Comber Agricultural Fair demolition derby.
Small chunks of mud flew in the air, a couple projectiles leaving small stains on the back of Mr. Ignatieff’s white shirt. While his wife retreated to a safe distance, he seemed reluctant to leave and stayed by the pit’s edge for the full 10 minutes required to see Heat #3 concluded with three of the six cars still more or less operational.
He was taken away to tour the midway and posed with Miss Comber Fair 2010-2011. He took in a demonstration of a biomass furnace, then bestowed a ribbon on a prize-winning heifer. Finally he was led to the community centre for some equally prize-winning pie. He would later declare the derby a bonafide “highlight” of the tour to date.
The bus is now bound for a Tim Horton’s in Windsor where apparently the right-honourable Paul Martin is in need of a ride.