We get the feeling you’re tuning out, Steve - Macleans.ca

We get the feeling you’re tuning out, Steve

FESCHUK: It’s year four as PM. Do you know where your cabinet ministers are?

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Dear Steve,

We’re just going to come right out and ask. Are you bored with being Prime Minister? Are you bored with us? After four years, it feels as though the magic is gone from our relationship. You seem about as interested in your job as John Baird is in nuance.

We don’t communicate like we used to, that’s for sure. Despite the turbulent times, you haven’t delivered a major speech to us since the first week of March—and the content of that address, to mark the return of Parliament, could be reduced to two words: “Olympians? Yay!” How are we supposed to understand what you want, or know what you believe in, or remember what you look like?

And let’s be honest: you’ve started taking us for granted. Remember how creative you used to be? How hard you’d work to win us over? We’ll never forget the way you wooed us by assailing Paul Martin as a child pornographer and ridiculing Stéphane Dion as a Taliban-hugging cupcake. You were the bad boy.

But when you spoke to caucus recently, the best you could come up with was a recycled bit about how Michael Ignatieff wants an “unnecessary election.” Come on: Ignatieff has his party at 28 per cent in the polls—we both know the only thing he wants is the last year and a half of his life back.

Frankly, Steve, it feels as though we’ve run out of new things to do together. It was so exciting back in the beginning: the GST cut, the second GST cut, the pretending to care about climate change. But lately? Your last Throne Speech was most notable for proposing a day to honour seniors and an award to honour volunteers. Steve, we’re a youthful and vibrant nation—we want to be inspired and challenged. And you’re giving us policy that’s the equivalent of turning in for the night after Wheel of Fortune.

What’s happened to you? You used to be so spontaneous! So passionate! When’s the last time you decided on the spur of the moment to get out there and deny a gay some rights? Or humiliate a well-meaning public servant. Or demean an institution by appointing Mike Duffy to it. It’s been a while, is all we’re saying.

Which leads us to our next point. Forgive us for being so blunt, but Steve—you’ve kind of checked out mentally. You vanish for long stretches. You avoid contact with us. You’re so distracted that your cabinet ministers are starting to, you know, actually do things. Did you hear that, Steve? Your cabinet ministers are out there thinking and talking. IN PUBLIC.

So we get Peter MacKay saying we need to spend $16 billion on fighter jets because our existing planes don’t make pilots feel cool enough. And we get Stockwell Day vowing to build $9 billion worth of prisons because he believes there are huge numbers of unreported crimes taking place every day—like identity theft and, presumably, feminism. And we get Tony Clement, whose efforts to defend the government’s changes to the census are already being turned into a reality program entitled Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? No, Apparently Not.

We know you’re not perfect, Steve. No one is. We’re fine with you boasting about your management of the recession we couldn’t possibly have had because we hadn’t already had it. It’s cute. And we love how you pretend you’re a libertarian even as your new House Leader proclaims that we don’t need budget cuts to eliminate the massive deficit—we just need to “contain the growth of spending within government.” We all have our fantasies. Sometimes we imagine we’re Belgium. Harmless fun.

But Steve, you can’t let it end like this. We’ve put in four years. We’ve seen you through bad times and good times and, what’s it been, five prorogations? You lose track after the first.

We’re willing to accept some of the blame for the way things are. Our brief tryst with the opposition coalition was tawdry and hurtful. But it’s up to you to rekindle the spark. Maybe we can try out a little role-playing to spice things up. You be the adored, mustachioed despot and we’ll be the compliant press gallery, okay? That one always turned you on.

Sincerely,
Canada