The Commons: Anything is possible

A scene from one of Jack Layton’s final campaign speeches

by Aaron Wherry

So where are we? What are we doing? Where are we going? Where is this going?

Strictly speaking, we are in Courtenay, British Columbia. And Jack Layton is on a platform in the middle of a high school gymnasium. And he is claiming that “change is possible.” “We can do better,” he says. “We do have a choice.” He is surrounded on all sides by people holding signs that read “Together” and “We Can Do This.”

At present, it is 6:40pm by Pacific Standard Time on Friday evening. Polls here will open in 60 hours and 20 minutes. They will close 12 hours after that. And maybe a few hours after that we will know what is. But right now we can only know what might be.

And right now, anything is possible.

Specifically, two things are possible. It is possible that Stephen Harper will emerge from this campaign with a majority government. And it is possible that Jack Layton will emerge from this campaign with the words “prime minister” in front of his name. Different people for different reasons will find one or both of these things inconceivable, but both the former and the latter are, at this moment, entirely possible. Neither may come to pass, but either could happen. And so one must conclude that everything is possible.

***

And so here is Jack Layton, standing outside that high school, surrounded by microphones held by people who want to know about what might have happened 16 years ago and what it might mean. He looks disappointed. He pauses to make sure everyone is ready for him to say what he has to say and then he speaks. He looks forward, but he does not look at any of the people in front of him.

“It’s unfortunate to see the smear campaign starting in these last few days of the campaign,” he says. “Absolutely nothing wrong was done, there’s no wrongdoing here, but yet the smears start. You know, this is why a lot of people get turned off politics and don’t even want to get involved. And I think it’s very unfortunate.”

Outside, it’s cold and windy and grey. Inside, there is a crowd waiting for him.

“What we’ll do is we’ll keep pressing ahead with calling for real change in Ottawa. Because frankly, this is the kind of thing that a lot of people say is wrong in Ottawa politics today,” he says. “So we’re just going to keep up the campaign right through to the end and call for that change. Merci beaucoup.”

The questions start before he has finished. He turns and walks away, still hobbling on his cane, the pack following him, a cameraman tripping and falling to the ground in a heap. Inside the school, Layton turns down a hallway, doors closing behind him, separating him from the crowd. An aide hooks him up to a wireless mic and he stands and waits for his name to be called and his time to come.

Maybe five minutes pass and then the doors swing open. A supporter shouts a greeting and Layton smiles. Indeed, here is that smile. He strides forward now, still hobbling on a cane, and that smile fills his face. That smile underneath that moustache—the former as much a trademark as the latter. Staring into the camera lights he disappears into the crowd and the fiddle music.

A moment later he is on that platform. And here he gives what is, either figuratively or literally, either in the context of this moment or in the broad sweep of his constancy of message, the speech of his life.

He stands here on his own, no cane, no lectern, no tie, blue shirt sleeves rolled up to his elbows. A giant Canadian flag is spread out behind him. “It has been an amazing campaign,” he says.

“Do you think it’s time for some change in Ottawa and to fix Ottawa?”

The crowd cheers its approval.

“Do you think it’s time for some leadership you can trust?”

The crowd responds in the affirmative.

“Try this one. Can you feel the winds of change blowing here on Vancouver Island?”

The crowd roars.

He enthuses about these winds and everywhere they are blowing. (They are, by his reading of the weathervane, sweeping over the nation.) He goes on about what’s wrong, about scandals and division and neglect and corporations put before families. “And what’s worse than any of this my friends, is that for far too long, leaders have told you that this is the way it has to be. That you can’t make change. It’s the best you can do. That at the end of the day you have no choice,” he charges. “Well, in this election, Canadians are saying that’s wrong. We do have a choice. It is time for change.”

The crowd cheers and then begins to chant. “Jack! Jack! Jack!” they call. “Jack! Jack! Jack!”

“Thank you, my friends. Thank you so much,” he responds.

“Just don’t say ‘Hi Jack’ in an airport. You have to be formal there or something. Or say it in French,” he jokes.

He laughs and they laugh and then he proceeds. Canada, he says, was built on the principle that together there is nothing we can’t do. It’s time, he says, for Ottawa to live up to that ideal. ”We can do better. It doesn’t have to be this way,” he says. “In this election, we do have a choice. Change is possible.”

On the prepared text this finishes with an exclamation point, but here Mr. Layton is talking too fast to pause.

Canada, he says, want better. And now, he says, the “old parties” are on the attack. But now, he says, he is ready to attack other things: doctor shortages and unemployment and retirement security and environmental hazard. “But,” he says, “in these last few days, bringing change to Ottawa actually isn’t up to me, it’s up to you. And it starts with your vote, my friends … My friends, you can send a powerful message on May 2nd.”

Here he strays for a sentence from his text and his teleprompter.

“A message so powerful,” he muses, “nobody predicted it would be possible.”

“Jack for prime minister!” yells an elderly man standing by the TV cameras, but Mr. Layton doesn’t pause to take it in.

There is a choice, he says. And he enthuses about everything that Canadians can choose.

“You know where I stand,” he says. “You know I’m a fighter. And. I. Won’t Stop. Until. The Job. Is Done.”

The crowd says these last words with him.

“Let’s go out there,” he cries by way of conclusion, “and make it happen!”




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The Commons: Anything is possible

  1. Phrases like soiled kleenex and rub and tug are now the defining words of the 2011 campaign.

    It has come to this. Should it surprise us ? No, after all we spent most of the time since the last election talking about busty hooker.

    I am glad to see Aaron Wherry has converted though !

    Guess the NDP are the new masters eh ?

    Its universally agreed that Ignatieff is going back to Harvard. Rats are fleeing the ship. So are reporters.

    Cats away

    • I thought Orange Crush was the official drink of the 2011 campaign. I hope you are stocked up on catnip for Monday night. The way things are going you might need it.

    • Back to the gutter for Cats!

    • and the money shot, so to speak:

      The former Asian crime unit officer, who requested anonymity, details a prior police raid on the "premise currently ID as a bawdy house" looking for underage Asian hookers and a subsequent follow-up visit to the two-storey brick storefront on Jan. 9.

      At first the policemen didn't realize they were interviewing one of the best-known Toronto politicians who was married to Chow, also a Metro councillor and now the incumbent NDP MP for Trinity-Spadina.

      The officer's notebook indicates he asked the suspected john: "Did you receive any sexual services?"

      He replied: "No sir, I was just getting a shiatsu."

      The cop: "Why did you have all your clothes off?"

      The suspected john: No answer.

      The cop: "Are you aware that there were sex acts being done here?"

      The suspected john: "No sir."

      The woman, who was from mainland China, denied masturbating the suspected john but when the question was repeated became nervous and replied, "I don't know I only come to work today," the cop's notes show.

      His notes also claim he saw the "female dump wet Kleenex into garbage."

      In the interview with the Sun, the officer said: "I asked him for his wallet and I looked at his name and I looked at the last name and it looked familiar.

      He's registered as 'John' and I thought he's a 'john.'"

      Layton's Christian name is John.

    • funny that layton has been elected for years and now that just when he makes strides on the national level and becomes a threat to the other parties, this dirt is thrown…actually the word isn't funny, it is ironic and opportunistic. layton has run the best campaign of all the parties and that's why he is doing so well. i would love to see the party who is throwing this crap around tank big time.

  2. At present, it is 6:40pm by Pacific Standard Time on Friday evening.

    Didn't they change their clocks with the rest of us?

    And that makes it "9:40 PM Eastern. Jack, do you know where your Quebec candidates are?"

    • Well exams are now done, so they must be out partying… I hope they are at least wearing something orange

    • Wow! Minus-21! Cool. It's been a while, I think…

      Is there a hidden tasteless joke in there that I missed when I wrote that passage? If there is, can someone share it with me?

  3. As we can see, Cons are so upset by even the remote possibility of a PM Layton that they have decided to crawl into a cess pool to try and stop it.

    • Hey, even NDP supporters are finding the idea surprising…. Can you blame the conbots if it has sent their circuitry into overdrive? Plus the fact that they now get to be tittilated by this non-story (how their eyes must light up when they type "rub and tug")

      It is all too much for a poor conservative.

    • I'm pretty sure they were already there.

      • Well, there is that….but this time they went deeper than before…and without an airtank.

    • Jack's the only one crawling into any cesspools. HA!

  4. Anything is possible.

    Even those 18 to 22 year olds who were willing to spare a split second away from their x-box 360's to answer a robopoll to say (in between relaxing tokes) that "Layton is cool, man" to the pollster,

    will be willing to leave their munchie encrusted environs and tread on over to a polling station, wait in line like good coporate citizens (while their gaming stations wait…horribly… abandoned by thier faithful keepers), to go vote for Jack Layton.

    Those 5% to 7% NDP supporters?

    Possible.

    But highly unlikely.

    • Wow.. what respect for the electorate… No wonder the Conservatives cannot get more than 37% of them to vote for their party…

      But I am confused. If it is a robopoll, why are they talking to a pollster. Are you sure YOU haven't been having a few tokes? Or still dreaming of those wet kleenexes?

      • You seem to think that all members of the "electorate" are worthy of respect. The ones that have jobs, contribute to society, make good on their obligations (including the obligation to vote) I respect.

        The ones who sit around in their parents basement, getting stoned, waiting for mom to bring home a fresh bag of Dorritos while they play "Call of Duty…man", a little less respect.

        Sadly for Layton, a material number of people in the nether regions of that party make up the latter group. Not all. Many are good folk, misguided yes, but good. But 7% representing the…ahem….less responsible cohort….oh I suspect that they won't be making that horrid journey out of the parent's basement on election day.

        We'll see. But I'm pretty comfortable prediction a Tory majority based on what the polls are telling us right now. The polls and a little bit of common sense that is.

        • Your brush is very wide, little chet.

          • 7% of the whole, is "wide"?

            My, you do have an inflated sense of the infallability of "progressives".

            Tell me about this progressive world of yours. Tell me of all the perfect people in it. In the words of Tina Feye: "I want to go to there".

          • 7% isn't wide; it's that you assume all of those 7% reside within one specific party. There are plenty of basement-dwelling LPC and CPC supporters. It's not like the CPC has a lock on a specific subset of people, nor do the LPC or NDP.

          • It's widly accepted that the "youth vote" overwhelminly favours the NDP. And we're not talking here about absolutes. Yes there may be some that fit that description with the CPC. But overall, that's a significant part of the NDP base.

            Sorry. But it's science.

          • 'Widely accepted' and 'science' are two quite different things.

            It was once 'widely accepted' that the earth was flat.

          • Well, before the ancient Greeks maybe. Not since then.

          • Or it was once widely accepted that the earth is 6000 years old.

          • In many places, people still believe that.

          • The bible was written by people who believed the earth was flat.

        • Just so we're clear. Respectable men and women toke up, by the way, little chet. They hold down respectable jobs, and contribute to society. Is that fair? Pot has been demonized enough, thanks.

          • I'm sorry. It appeared that the only aspect of my description was "toking up". You may want to re read the description to veiw the other pertinent factors before you feign outrage.

            Drinking wine is also perfectly acceptable. I like it with dinner myself. Drinking wine in your parents basement in the middle of the day while you play video games because you are unemployed is another matter.

            Is that fair? Wine has been demonized enough!!!

          • And what has Harper done to address the unacceptably high youth unemployment numbers?

            Oh silly me they are only that high because Canadian youth are lazy NDP supporters.

          • Jacking up corporate taxes (taxes on the youth's employers) will do wonders for them I suppose.

            Taxing carbon, which is a basic input to all apects of our economy, will also do wonders for youth employment prospects.

            Jack's road to socialist hell, albiet paved with good intentions, would be the worst thing in the world for youth employment….those youth who seek to be employed that is.

          • I asked you what Harper has done to address youth unemployment. Not what you believe NDP policy will do.

            I suppose if I read the negative in your answer you are saying that lower corporate taxes is what Harper has done to address this issue. Doesn't seem to be a very successful strategy seeing as youth unemployment is still really high. And that the jobs that have been created are more part time than good paying full time ones.

            I love "…those youth who seek to be employed that is". The reason Layton is doing as well as he is, is because most people think better of their fellow citizens than you do.

          • He's maintained the most stable and successful economy in the world hobbled by the worst economic meltdown of a generation.

          • lol. Next.

        • So says the man who spends countless hours whining on a message board.

        • "Many are good folk, misguided yes, but good. " Thank you Chet. Your validation means the world to me.

        • Try this reality
          Stephen Harper has some very expensive plans.

          From planes ($29 billion) to prisons ($13 billion) to oil company subsidies ($7 billion), a lot of your money is on the line for his priorities.
          See how much will come out of your own pocket. http://contactyourmp.ca/harpercost

    • chet, you seems kind of preoccupied with what young people are doing in their parent's basements. But I'm not calling you a pedophile, of course. I don't have any explicit evidence that you're a pedophile, so it would be unfair and inappropriate for me to say "chet is a pedophile", or even "chet is probably a pedophile". I would never claim such a thing.

      (Unrelated: I'm sending my CV to Sun News.)

      • I don't think you'd make it with Sun News, their management would judge that too much of your material would require their readership to read beyond the SUNshine girl and last night's hockey scores.

        • I can dumb it down! I swear!

          (Look, that whole line of text was single-syllable words!)

      • I suppose if Harper was caught NAKED in a bawdy house, in the midst of a sting against child prostition, because said bawdy house employed child prostitutes……

        yeah, you'd be cool with that.

        Funny how even the concern for child prostitution goes out the window when leftist partisans are circling the wagons.

        Tell me Halo, does it concern you even in the slightest, that Jack was putting his paycheck dollars towards a known bawdy house that the cops had reasonable grounds to believe (the test for such a search) employed child prostitutes?

        Or does your concern solely reside with such important matters as whether Harper did or didn't eat a communion wafer?

        • Find the link to my comment in which I express negativity toward Stephen Harper regarding Wafergate, and I'll consider taking your question semi-seriously — you can do that, because I don't insist on keeping my comment history unsearchable by not signing up for a proper account.

          Meanwhile, I will continue not to write anything that might be construed as suggesting that you are a pedophile. Because I don't have any concrete evidence that you are a pedophile.

          [cc: PK Peladeau]

          • You start Monday. Bring a thong.

    • Funny the young people I have spoken to about this election are quite engaged and are putting much thought into their vote. A few have writen emails to their candidates (something most older voters don't do). My daughter has voted in every election at every level of government in each and every election. And votes for whom ever she wishes…not who I vote for. She has always put more thought into her vote than many others I know. I find it offensive for you to speak of them with such distain!

      • I think Chet is on the money here …. I have 3 sons aged 21-25 …. the older 2 have jobs and one of them still goes to school …. they are old enough to understand politics and the world's economies …. the older 2 will be voting Conservative on Monday … my youngest son only goes to school and relies on the government, my bank account and my ex-wife (also my bank account) to survive …. he's a pot head who lives in his uncle's basement while attending college … he thinks Jack Layton is great !!

    • Here's the thing…some of the recent polls have Layton at 30% among 35-50-yr-old voters, and even among 55+ voters, in addition to his high numbers among young people. His focus on health care and pensions in the campaign has gotten attention from the older set. So even if the young folks don't turn out, the NDP could still do unprecendently well (although I don't see any prospects of them beating the Conservatives in seats – no poll has them above the Conservatives, and the Cons also have a massive advantage in get-out-the-vote mobilization).

      And not all of us young folks are as you present us…I don't approve of marajuana (it's a carcinogen and it reeks; whether that's sufficient cause for making something illegal, though, is debatable).

  5. Which means if the "possible" doesn't occur, but the "likely" does,

    there will be a Harper majority, borne out of the reality that a signficant portion of far leftists demand oh so much from their fellow citizens, but very little from themselves.

    Voting for thee, but not for me.

    Dude.

    Looking forward to Monday!

    • Majority +11, like your pre-writ prediction?

      • I believe I revised that to plus 8 shortly thereafter, but whatever.

        On the ground in Que, the CPC maybe will lose one, though not likely.

        In Ontario? It's a CPC seat bonanza. Most polls have them with a 7 to ten point spread. Absent the NDP splits that would amount to a potpouri of seats, but with the NDP rise (not enough to take on conservative bastions, but enough to split the left from the Liberals) it's a wipe out.

        Oh yes, Monday will be fun.

        The CPC taking a majority? Great.

        Watching the previously giddy media heads explode? Priceless.

        • OMG Chet you are dreaming in color………………………. what are you drinking or smoking?

      • I understand it's easy to sit back and criticize, but what's YOUR prediction?

        • From the beginning until about three hours ago I was pretty sure it was going to be a Harper minority, and I anticipated much the same as we had seen. But the NDP's movement has shown that all 'predictions' aren't really worth the time it takes to type them out. I will admit that for a brief period yesterday and the day before I was quite curious if Layton's push was going to put him over Harper, especially after that leadership score.

          I'll wait until tomorrow night before I can judge what this latest bombshell might do to the campaign. I think it'll hurt Layton in Ontario, but I doubt it'll quell the move in Quebec. No one's got a crystal ball, and that's the only reason I'm razzing you for it.

  6. This may be a silly question,

    but with all of those fancy, nice, new physiotherapy centers in all of those nice clean stip malls (with the nice smiling folks with the white lab coats willing to help work out what ails you),

    why do you think Jack would skulk into the "low track" and into what was well known as a common bawdy house, which apparently featured underaged Asian prostitutes (such that the Police raided the place…don't recall my local physio center ever getting raided),

    strip down naked, face up for a "siatzu massage" (the urban dictionary defines it as a "hand job") by a young asian woman,

    when he just wanted to work out that thigh ailment, or some such other story?

    A real mystery really.

    • but were those nice "new" massage parlours there in his neighbourhood, um, 15 years ago, Chet? Within biking distance (which is included in the report, as how he left)? Oh, that's right : you're just making an ass- out of u- and me- ing.

      • Funny, my physio center doesn't have a "red light green light" system to alert the…ahem…massage therapists as to wether there are cops nearby, the green light being "sex acts OK".

        My neighborhood physio center, isn't a hole in the wall with a tacky neon sign, that specializes in "Asian women".

        My neithborhood physio center is not on the cops radar as a known prostitution house, nor do the police have reason to believe (likely backed up by evidence under oath and accepted by a judge – for the search warrant) that it employed child prostitutes.

        Jack's world is kind of different from mine.

        I wonder how different his world is in other respects.

    • Shiatsu is not a "handjob"; it's a real massage. "Rub and tugs" and "happy endings" are handjobs; shiatsu is not.

        • EVERY single thing in Urban Dictionary has a sexual meaning. Someone told me that hoodies are called Bunny Hugs in Saskatchewan – on Urban Dictionary, sure a bunny hug is a hoodie but it is also something else, which is very much not a hoodie…. Using Urban Dictionary to support your argument is like using the SUn Newspaper for anything other than wrapping fish.

    • Chet you are such a conservative. And I mean that in the nicest way. You know – misguided.

    • Jack Layton got around by bike and did not own a car – he isn't going to bike out to the suburbs just to find a pristine massage parlour (personally, I like the grittier parts of downtown Toronto, and hate how gentrification is ruining them). He went to a place (787 Dundas west) that was 7 minutes away from his house (153 Huron street). That it employed young Asian women should hardly be surprising since it was in Chinatown.

  7. BTW,

    I don't think this "massage" story will affect voters one iota. It's salacious yes, and I like to point it out to highlight the media hypocracy in covering Harper's rediculous non issues,

    but it won't move voters.

    Voters are smart enough to figure out that whether Jack got a….ahem…job, a decade ago, doesn't mean squat to today's voters facing real issues.

    • I agree. This is about as relevant as pulling quotes on Harper from the mid 90's, and almost as useless. It'll be hard for any party to really make much from this without looking like they're responsible.

  8. It annoys me to hear Layton lament about smears because I don't recall him being against them when they were targeted at other politicians.

  9. If it was a "suspected' bawdy house – i.e. not an "actual" bawdy house, then what's the story? The cops were wrong, but we have a 15-year-old story based on their incorrect suspicions?

    • roor·back noun ˈru̇r-ˌbak Definition of ROORBACK
      : a defamatory falsehood published for political effect Origin of ROORBACK
      from an attack on James K. Polk in 1844 purporting to quote from an invented book by a Baron von Roorback First Known Use: 1855

    • It wasn't a " suspected " bawdy house … it was a real raid on a "rub & tug" that resulted in under age asian prostitutes being arrested and charges laid against the owners … the only reason Layton didn't get arrested was because he was a Toronto city councillor and a liason with the Toronto police services board at the time …. if he really needed a massage, there were and still are plenty of reputable sports massage therapy clinics around …. of course they just help heal the body and frown upon you if you get "Happy Pants and expect a "hand".

  10. And an anonymous, alleged, police officer comes forward (way to stand behind your story Mr. Anonymous). We only have the Sun's word for it that this was a former cop and these are real police notes.

    I wonder how much the alleged police officer got paid to breach his professional ethics?

    • I'm sure this is every bit as true as that story about how the CBC's vote compass designer worked for Iggy….even though he actually worked for Steve.

  11. roor·back noun ˈru̇r-ˌbak Definition of ROORBACK
    : a defamatory falsehood published for political effect Origin of ROORBACK
    from an attack on James K. Polk in 1844 purporting to quote from an invented book by a Baron von Roorback First Known Use: 1855

  12. jack layton is a degenerate and the liberal media is again providing cover for this discussing excuse for a man.I highly dought it was his first time attending one of these places, i pray the triads have some video,maybe old jack's been paying for a while now , could that be where he and his wonderfull wife spent the million dollars of taxpayer money last year, that or it was spent on hookers.

  13. One more thing, hookers is now a dirty word at the TO star and the Mop&pail, the liberal media is the enemy of Canada.

  14. Most commenters have covered what I wanted to say, so I'll leave you with this.
    1) SUCK IT
    2) are you a "coporate" citizen? LOLZ

  15. Wait, don't the Sun newspapers provide page after page of advertising for call girls and the like? Strange source of criticism.

    • That alone should prove the accuracy of their story … they know who their advertisers are …. Jack probably found his "therapist" from an ad in the sun.

  16. Four stories on the webpage with Laytons picture. Tell me again how a biased left wing fishwrap like this should be considered legitimate news. I would have more respect for them if they admitted they were on the socialists side. Trouble wiyh parasites is they breed far faster than hosts so I guess this will be another split. The country really should separate into two or even three so the maggots in Toronto do not control our lives any longer.

  17. I was at that rally. When Jack Layton was getting ready to leave. He looked at the crowd then he looked down at me and reached out and shook my hand. The hand of our new prime minister. Mr Layton shows he cares about the average Canadian not like Mr Harper who last election had his cronies thrown out a autisic young adult out of his rally my son. Mr Layton is riding his wave to Ottawa

    • Thought you were going with that towards questioning where his hand was…

      • Or the fact that he was looking down … and probably wasn't focusing on her eyes ;)

  18. "Anything is possible"

    Was that the massage parlour's slogan?

  19. Mr. Layton's campaign of consistency has been in sharp contrast to the political career of Mr. Harper who has shown Canadians an amazing lack of discipline when it comes to his "beliefs".



    Here is a link to an article showing Canadians how Mr. Harper is able to take a stand on both sides of the same issue:



    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2011/04/more

  20. .
    In a ctv online Nanos poll article, out of 69 comments, the term 'Nanos' does not appear once. You are not permitted to question the premise, the methodology, the interpretation, the meaning.

    The delusion–of which the Conservatives and Liberals are the main beneficiaries.

    Only May 2 counts, and the  NDP.
    .

  21. maybe the real deal was that the cops wanted layton out of there because they didn't want a city councillor witness their moment of graft.

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