Prime Minister Billy Shears - Macleans.ca
 

Prime Minister Billy Shears

Scott Feschuk on Stephen Harper as the fifth Beatle


 

This is an important moment for the country: After nearly 20 years, we finally have a Canadian answer to Bill Clinton playing saxophone on Arsenio Hall, but with the added merit of it not in any way involving Arsenio Hall. That has to qualify as progress.

I’m not sure of the extent to which the performance of this rich person at a gala will resonate with ordinary working people, but my guess is: a fair bit, actually. Of course it was a crass strategic ploy to “humanize” the Prime Minster – but the key to any successful strategic ploy is that the strength of the ploy outweigh the inherent cynicism of the attempt. And this one totally did. It was a ballsy display of big-balled ballsiness and a huge success in the room, plus he kinda sounded like Ringo and everyone laughed when he sang, “I need somebody to love.” Mark my words: even as you read this posting, Jack Layton is tuning his guitar, Elizabeth May is figuring out how to deliver her speeches via karaoke and Michael Ignatieff is… I don’t know, what would Michael Ignatieff play? The lute? The equiviconium? The underwhelm-o-spiel? I fear a four-hour one-man play may be the price we pay for Harper’s Beatles cover. Ladies and gentlemen, Michael Ignatieff is Michael Ignatieff in Michael Ignatieff.

From our vantage in Row J, the surreal nature of last night’s proceedings was only heightened by the fact that the group in front of us included Derek Burney, who was wearing a bow tie made of sealskin. Leonard Asper and his wife were there. A bit down the row, Jim Prentice and his wife were sitting alongside designer Justina McCaffrey and Gail Asper, and as Harper concluded they all started jumping up and down, hollering “Encore! Encore!” And to the right of me? A man who earlier in the evening had revealed himself to be a theatrical Slow Clapper, and who made strange bird-call-type noises as he applauded the Chopin piece, but who sat arms folded and unmoved after Harper’s version of With a Little Help From My Friends, saying loudly, “Only an idiot sings about drugs.” That man’s name? I have no idea, but let’s say it was Stockwell Day (which it wasn’t, but it makes the story better).


 
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Prime Minister Billy Shears

  1. "I get high with a little help from my friends."

    Tomorrow's Headlines:
    "Hedy Fry say's PM has drug problem"
    "David McGuinty states Tory Party rife with dealers"

  2. Iggy would play a sitar … a very cerebral instrument – very civilized.

    • For some reason I picture Ignatieff playing a huge pipe organ, a la Phantom of the Opera.

      But I for one would pay to see a Harper/Ignatieff duet on Norwegian Wood.

      • how about second fiddle?

  3. He would have come out for an encore, but I heard the only other Beatles song he knows is "Taxman"

  4. MI: The Michael Ignatieff Story………

    Good post Scott, a number of high quality zingers and disrespectful of all partisans/nicely done.

  5. Elizabeth May hasn't quite got the timing just right, but her karaoke skills were already evident last month while leaving Central Nova to run in Saanich Gulf Islands.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLBKOcUbHR0

  6. You have to give our Prime Minister credit for having a lot of nerve. (And I'm not somebody who gives the Prime Minister credit for anything very often.)

    It's ironic that a man who reportedly has difficulty collaborating with anyone would choose to sing "With A Little Help From My Friends".

    And I still find it fascinating that Mr. Harper's music preferences are those of an earlier generation. The PM was eight when Sergeant Pepper came out; he is actually younger than three of the four (original) members of R.E.M., to pick an example at random.

    • Yo Yo Ma's the same way. He was 140 years from being born when Schumann wrote that cello concerto.

      • Zing! :-)

        I think the Beatles pretty much qualify as timeless classics. Now, had he been singing Jefferson Airplane…

  7. Stephen Harper…a most excellent adventure!
    Thank you!

  8. He sings pretty well, I gotta say.

  9. Strange that nothing was reported on Iggy's performance of Ricky Nelson's "I'm a Travelin' Man"

  10. There is much commentary about the PM being cold, aloof and unfeeling well you can see what is happening now. The strategists are now beginning to work to soften up the PM's image in anticipation of an election. The opposition parties should pay attention because when the party decides to do something strategically they usual succeed. Watch for more of this kind of stuff. Iggy may get some time to prove he is a leader at the same time the PM will make it more difficult for him by softening his rough edges.

  11. There is much commentary about the PM being cold, aloof and unfeeling. Well you can see what is happening now. The strategists are now beginning to work to soften up the PM's image in anticipation of an election. The opposition parties should pay attention because when the party decides to do something strategically they usually succeed. Watch for more of this kind of stuff. Iggy may get some time to prove he is a leader but at the same time the PM will make it more difficult for him by softening his own so called rough edges.

    • Seeing as it was Laureen Harper's idea… it bridged the gap between 'ordinary people' and black tie events.
      And this was a ticketed event, pay to get in.

    • I fully accept that Harper is a nice, normal, personable fellow in everyday life. Why can't he bring that to work a bit more? Why should voters care if he's a sensitive, relaxed fellow – deep down – when his behaviour as Prime Minister is so often characterized by confrontation, mean-spiritedness, aloofness, and essentially encouraging his caucus and staff to revel in acting like blowhard bullies?

      We're rather doomed if voters can't assess the performance of government, or politicians. on their own terms, and are instead swayed by gut emotional assessments of whether we'd want to invite them over for tea or not.

      • Perhaps he doesn't encourage his caucus and staff to revel in acting like blowhard bullies. Maybe they are innate blowhard bullies…

        • you appear to be a mindless cheap-shot artist on here. Maybe you're an innate mindless cheap-shot artist, too?

          • Pots and black kettles.

          • Are you back to inane and cowardly cheap-shots, too? I thought I told you that it would only further expose you as juvenile and unintelligent. But I guess that didn't stop you. lol. Next.

          • How exactly is it cowardly or inane? You think you're brave because you stick DF next to your comments? You run around these boards accusing others of failings that you exhibit in spades. 'Juvenile, unintelligent…I thought i told you..'.notice a pattern here DF? I suspect that your over-inflated opinion of yourself is yours and yours alone.

          • Oh, you actually had a point to make with that one-liner idiocy of yours? lolol. Next.

          • Yes i had a point. You're a self-righteous hypocrital crank. Next!!!

          • lol, and what was that? Oh, and stop using my material. It might make it seem as though you've got some kind of envy complex. Next and next.

          • Sad twisted little man!

      • You know, I get a bit sick and tired of these accusations thrown at Harper when Chretien and gang were every bit as bad, if not worse. Chretien physically assaulted people, routinely mocked the opposition in the House, while Paul Martin got up and called the Alliance racists for bringing up a fundraiser involving the Tamil Tigers, a group later to be categorized as a terrorist organization.

        Politics involves hardball. Liberals perfected it. Now they get mad when they're on the losing end.

        I can understand the criticism to a point. But please spare me the hypocritical double standards. Unless, of course, I missed all those times you howled about Liberals doing the same and/or worse.

        • Unless, of course, I missed all those times you howled about Liberals doing the same and/or worse.

          There are a few on this site who are at least trying to "howl" regardless of the political leanings of the target.

        • Dennis, a man without a moral compass.

          • says the man (or woman) who apparently believes that smearing people with one-line cheap-shots constitutes a "moral compass". I couldn't make up feeble critics like this. Seriously. I must be doing something right to invoke such stupidity and cowardice.

          • Take a look in the mirror, why don't ya! What exactly makes you so brave and virtuous Dennis? I'm curious.

          • Oooh, take a look in the mirror? What's next, I've got cooties? I just love it when unintelligent and resentful people try to dig themselves out of holes on here. It's a nice sideshow for me. Thanks!

          • Seems you can't actually answer a simple question. What makes you so brave and virtuous? But you don't do self-analysis do you? Sad little man.

      • 'Why can't he bring that to work a bit more?'

        He likely does behind the scenes, but the media prefer the rough and tumble for their front pages.
        No way a Mr Sensitivity could have united Reformers and Progressive Conservatives, led them into government, and kept their government floating during this economic crisis.
        And no way Mr Angry could have kept the respect and solidarity of caucus this long.

        • "He likely does behind the scenes,"

          She knows. She's Harper's number one fan

          /Misery

  12. There is much commentary about the PM being cold, aloof and unfeeling. Well you can see what is happening now. The strategists are now beginning to work to soften up the PM's image in anticipation of an election. The opposition parties should pay attention because when the party decides to do something strategically they usually succeed. Watch for more of this kind of stuff. Iggy may get some time to prove he is a leader but at the same time the PM will make it more difficult for him by softening his own rough edges.

  13. Big deal he sang a Beatles song. But he is once again disdainfully ignoring the urban Toronto people in that he did not rap AND / OR he totally ignored the Quebec Nation and artists by not singing 50% of the verses in French

    Seriously!

  14. The lute!! Oh man I spat out my cereal I laughed so hard at that. Comedic genius.

  15. How crass and cynical of him,

    at the tender young age, to have practiced on the piano on cardboard, only to hear the notes for the first time in practice because his family couldn't afford a piano…..knowing all along that he would one day use these skills, not as a passionate young child adoring music, but a "pre-con" able to manipulate the masses with this false skill and passion.

    By George you have it! This only makes him LOOK human, but he's not, he's really, really not.

  16. As for the "rich man" comment, see playing on cardboard above.

    That he used his skill, talents and education to go from very modest means to more than modest means,

    is generally thought of as admirable to most Canadians. Now, being born into aristocracy, or say, a steamship co. owing family, that's another matter. Though ijudging from you comments, t appears that liberals seem to favour "old money". Perhaps the farther away the wealth aquisition, the less they are reminded of the positives of capitalism.

    • Uhh, biff,, i think most people would understand the "rich person" remark to be a reference to exactly one year ago and Harper's stated belief that rich-peopled galas, such as the one he expertly exploited for personal gain last night, do not resonate with ordinary Canadians.

      and for the record, i favour money in all its forms – old, new, bullion, copious…

  17. The PM plays Ringo while the others play checkers.

  18. Any attempt to 'reframe' Harper as mr. angry, will fail.

    The framing of Stephen Harper is now complete.

    • At least you hope.

      • Harper has done the work for everybody. I'm afraid he should have picked Mean Mister Mustard…

  19. "This is an important moment for the country: After nearly 20 years, we finally have a Canadian answer to Bill Clinton playing saxophone on Arsenio Hall, but with the added merit of it not in any way involving Arsenio Hall. That has to qualify as progress."
    Was Stephen Harper offered multiple music scholarships to international universities, too? I don't remember…

    That being said, mind officially blown. I've never laughed at the PM in a good way before. It was a nice change.

  20. Why does a liking for music have to be a generation thing? My neice, who's with it folks, and only in her 30's loves Louis Armstrong. And, just because a person is educated, they're the only ones who like classical music?

    My father-in-law, a country boy, played the violin really well ( never had a lesson in his life) and loved opera. He worked at GM. He could also play a saw.

  21. Bread and circuses. And the rubes lap it up.

  22. Harper should of sung Bob Rae's underground hit of early 90s.

  23. Ignatieff's musical preferences go more towards Shostakovich, Scriabin, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky and of course Prokofieff. He likes that deep and moody Russian stuff that his father always played at home on the stereo. Iggy did write that he was drawn to his father's Russian side of the family .. rather than him mother's bucolic Canadian-Scottish side … all except for Algonquin Park and Cherry Park. I'm sure he can hum a tune or two …. God Save the Queen and America the Beautiful … because "… it's your country as much as it is mine .."….

  24. Wait 'till he unleashes his Jerry Lewis impression ( en francais , of course ) . It's all over but the crying .

  25. For the record folks:

    Favorite Music & Artists: Everything from Johny Cash to Glenn Gould. Strong love of classical music. Happiest when at a good concert with Suzanna. On flights my IPOD has Ry Cooder, Bruce Springsteen, Mozart, Wagner, Brahms, Van Morrison, and the greatest saxophone player of all time, Ben Webster.

  26. Why didn't he cover a Canadian pop song?

  27. Maybe he's been listening to the new release of Beatles songs or his kids are digging the songs. As a baby boomer of course I love it, though I liked Paul the best.

  28. Looking at the title of the post I got to thinking about how relieved I was that it didnt say

    Prime Minister Britney Spears.

  29. Given the size of the deficit, shouldn't there have been a tip jar on that piano?

    • believe there was but heard his wife took it!

  30. I wonder how his christian conservative base will take his singing a song about taking drugs and doing that rock music stuff, from a band that self-referentially called themselves bigger than Jesus ;)

    That guy…maybe he really is playing Vulcan 3D chess…but against who?

    • I suspect social conservative rage directed at the Beatles is, forty years later, more or less spent.

      • Err…not meant to be taken seriously…?

        Though it does seems like someone wasn't too pleased about "With a little help…" at the NAC…I think he shoulda given a wink to the gun-owners with "Happiness is a warm gun" instead…

        It takes balls to do that, and he pulled it off. He deserves kudos for that, at least.

        Running the country? Not so much.

        • What's been so terrible about his running of the country? He's been elected twice. Canadians don't seem to be nearly as unhappy as you are. He seems far more competent than his competition, and the polls continue to reflect that, don't they?

          • The majority of the polls over the last 6 month have not been in Stephen Harper’s favours, which is probably why the sudden jolt has been kept in prospective by much of the conservative party

          • Tell you what…hows about the CPC submit to an external audit of the government finances. Then you can get back to me on this particular file.

            I am amazed (troubled?) at how easily the public can be duped by the blatant propaganda this government puts out on the taxpayer's dime….

          • Tell you what…hows about the CPC submit to an external audit of the government finances. Then you can get back to me on this particular file.

            I am amazed (troubled?) at how easily the public can be duped by the blatant propaganda this government puts out on the taxpayer's dime….

          • Calld the auditor general……You seriously think Sheila Fraser is compromised……hoo boy.

          • Ah yes. Any government you don't like has to be submitted to an "external audit" – the ploy of angry and disgruntled partisans everywhere.

          • The Department of Finance is run by dedicated professional public servants, most of whom were there through a good chunk of the Chretien/Martin years. Anyone who thinks those guys would fudge the books on a wink and a nudge from a politician has clearly never met a Finance mandarin.

          • You guys (Vince,Dennis and Sea Otter) are not getting it…

            I'm not asking for an audit of the books _outside_ the government of Canada.

            Let's just have an audit of the books _with_ the auditor general _and_ the Parliamentary Budget officer.

            And let's have it so that the CPC submit the government's books without any delays or obstacles.

            As I said, if you think that "everything is fine", you are seriously living in la-la land…and let's not abuse taxpayer's monies by applying it to over-the-top government propaganda (although in some sense, I suppose it is making its effect apparent) to effectively lie about how much money the government spends (instead of repackaging or re-allocating previous charges on the books).

          • So your standards gives a two-thumbs up for Chretien, then. Now we're on the same page…

          • Gee, I didn't recall suggesting that everyone give Harper a "two-thumbs up." Just an application of the same standard when it comes to things like political method of operation, styles, and so on.

            I honestly wonder where some Harper critics, who often think they're the smartest people in the room, learn their reasoning skills. I hope it's not higher education, since it wouldn't reflect well on our school system, would it.

            And, for the record, I'm quick to praise Chretien on a number of fronts: Competence, political judgement, shrewdness, love of national unity, hatred of tribal separatism, etc, etc, etc…

      • Not in Alberta. If they've got time to rile up over the NEP 27 years later, I'm afraid the Wildrose Federal separatist party isn't far off (tho Harper would likely make the first donation)…

        • Ah yes, the other federal parties are nipping at their heels, aren't they. Gotta love it when Harper bashers resort to using ALBERTA as some sort of Achilles Heel. ALBERTA!

    • *I wonder how his christian conservative base will take his singing a song about taking drugs and doing that rock music stuff, from a band that self-referentially called themselves bigger than Jesus ;) *

      What's more: why do you care what his supposedly Xian conservative base thinks?

      Oh yeah: a little thing called sour grapes.

      • I don't care what you guys think to be honest…but I would be suspicious of being played for a fool if I were you…maybe he's not all that socially conservative…he could be just pretending so that he can have his votes and keep his power.

        Afterall, seems like he's not trying all that hard these days to support the agenda…spending wads our hard-earned tax dollars, singing about getting high, trying to rekindle lost memories of being a rock God worshipped by the masses, playing the Beatles from an album that defined the whole 60s free-love hippy craze…

        Vulcan 3D chess man…maybe he's been playing against you all along…

  31. And PRESTO!! Stephen Harper never cut arts funding for political reasons and never accused the people of taking part in galas of being rich snobs…Next Jim Flaherty will pull a functional budget with real numbers out of his hat (which is better than where he pulled his last budget from)

    • I thought politicians of all stripes were allowed to have their positions change or evolve. My guess is that the very people who were most offended by Harper's original threats to cut arts funding are the most pleasantly surprised at this gesture.

      • You may be terribly underestimating the intelligence of those folks. Believe it or not, those in the art community can tell when they are being had…as can everyone else who doesn't particularly enjoy a populist without a firm foot to stand on.

        • And so Harper'll throw a few million extra at the arts community, and what'll the cons remember? "Did you see how cool Steve was out there? He sure went out of his way to fix that ats screwup – didn' he"? Conservative principles at work!

        • You mean those same folks who gave Harper a standing ovation after the performance, and who are giving Harper rave reviews for the effort?

          Wasn't it Gordon Pinsent who very quickly praised the prime minister when he backtracked on the arts funding cuts?

          No matter how you get there, if the policy is on your side, and it's done with some humour and humility, some support will be there, too. It's politics and humanity all rolled up into one. And that the usual Harper bashers keep bashing is all the more proof, if you ask me.

          • It was a good PR move for Harper, no doubt. But I doubt everyone in the arts community will be mollified or fail to remember his attempt to play wedge politics on the backs of the their community during the last election. Unless of course, you're of the opinion that artist are stupid as well as out of touch elitists.

          • Unless of course, you're of the opinion that artist are stupid as well as out of touch elitists.

            Where did I state that, idiot? Seriously, I have very little time for hateful little people on here. Please respond to actual points I make instead of pissing on people who might disagree with you. Geez.

          • Temper, temper. No-one's pissing on your opinion. This is a forum for opinion isn't it? It was meant to be a general one – although i see how you can take it personally. Try not to see everyone who disagrees with you as an idiot – it does make you seem a little churlish.

          • I don't see everyone who disagrees with me as an idiot. I see you as an idiot precisely based on what you post here. Next.

          • Sad twisted little man.Next. No seriously! Don't bother!

    • Actually Harper didn't cut arts funding in the first place. He has increased arts spending – by a lot.

    • The truth us that the Conservative government did not/not cut arts funding; it actually increased arts funding. What was cut were several programs that had outlived their usefulness. And, yet, years later the urban myth persists — Harper cut arts funding.

      Secondly, the PM did not accuse people who attend galas of being rich snobs. He said that ordinary people would not be sympathtic when people attending gvernment subsidized gals complained that grants were not increased as much as they wanted.

      Sigh.

    • The truth us that the Conservative government did not/not cut arts funding; it actually increased arts funding. What was cut were several programs that had outlived their usefulness. And, yet, years later the urban myth persists — Harper cut arts funding.

      Secondly, the PM did not accuse people who attend galas of being rich snobs. He said that ordinary people would not be sympathtic when people attending gvernment subsidized galas complained that grants were not increased as much as they wanted.

      Sigh.

    • The truth us that the Conservative government did not/not cut arts funding; it actually increased arts funding. What was cut were several programs that had outlived their usefulness. And, yet, years later the urban myth persists — Harper cut arts funding.

      Secondly, the PM did not accuse people who attend galas of beign rich snobs. He said that ordinary people would not be sympathtic when people attending gvernment subsidized gals complained that grants were not increased as much as they wanted.

      Sigh.

  32. So what doesPMSH get high on? Has the RCMP been alerted?

  33. If Ignatieff wants to get momentum back, he'll do the Joe Cocker version.

    • I was thinking the same thing…well, sort of. Harpers rendition was ok and personally ballsy, but cool? Nada. Joe owns that song.

    • Including the herky jerky movements? LOL…..

  34. Shout out to Scott. comngrats, your column was referenced in Ibbitson's front page article…..the Michael Ignatieff IS Michal Ignatieff……

    I guess small victories are all some of us are destined to……

    • Scott, this was one of your funniest rants. Well done.

  35. The Metro paper this AM had a great cartoon with Ignatieff playing a banjo with broken strings singing ":HELP" Gave me a good chuckle anyway.

  36. Lots of bitter Liberals on the boards angry over everything from why Harper sang to the song he chose.

    I guess it must be hard having Ignatieff as a leader. How is that going anyway?

  37. But WHY? WHY? Why is he so grey and colourless? I mean, if this was all orchestrated before hand, don't you think they could have found him more flattering lighting? OR, maybe, as it has been suggested before he is either A) wax, or B) and alien.

  38. I enjoyed this and was recounting the MI is MI in MI line to someone when they perceptively noted that it sounded like Toad in Wind of the Willows, when he puts on a play. Question: conscious or unconscious tribute? Those children's books and songs do have a lot of staying power in our subconscious.

  39. is billy shears code for bs? just wonderin cause you know us canucks…. we'll fall for anybody

  40. “His singing is not all that much better than mine,” the Liberal Leader told Toronto radio station …

    Jeeeesh, next thing you know the Liberals in the sandbox will be yelling:

    "My daddy's pianist is better than your daddy's pianist."
    .

    • good golly miss molly….

  41. the PM has an ecomics degree like Mick Jagger ! should have covered Under My Thumb ..or Paint It Black (regarding getting out of debt)