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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