As Parliament resumes, we present the 2012 Summer Outlandishness awards

Some vacation highlights as politicians get down to business

We know what they did this summer

Getty; Reuters; CP; iStock; Photo Illustration by Taylor Shute

Parliament is about to resume, and I for one could not be more excited. The pomp! The legislation! The third thing I’ll eventually think of!

But before our MPs get back to the serious business of braying like jackasses at one another’s sub-moronic rhetoric amid an appalling display of puerile partisan obstinacy that would make democracy—were it a living being—shoot itself in the face with a cannon, let’s look back on the summer that was.

People in and around politics grasp that even reporters can space out during the months of sun and heat. I’m pretty sure there’s an annual bet to see who can say the most outlandish thing and have it taken seriously by the media. So let’s congratulate the summer 2012 winner—retired Maj.-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie! He got loads of ink this week for proposing that Canada revive the Avro Arrow fighter, because nothing says 21st-century jet warfare quite like “airplane designed before Sputnik was launched.”

But wait! MacKenzie says the Arrow would be totally upgraded—in fact, it would become a magical super-jet that would fly twice as fast as the rival F-35 fighter and up to 20,000 feet higher. Also, it would be invisible and actually a unicorn. Supersonic space unicorn, guys!

This was a tough break for our Prime Minister, who had been the favourite for Summer Outlandishness honours since the moment he named five more Conservatives to the Senate and declared that his appointees would “benefit the entire country.” Can you feel yourself benefiting yet, Canada? No? Maybe it takes a while for the healing waves of cronyism to ripple across the land.

The best part of the Senate announcement was listening to it being defended by Tim Uppal, the democratic reform minister. Uppal hailed the new senators as having “a wide range of experience . . . with backgrounds in economics, law and banking.” Hold on, their expertise runs all the way from economics to banking? And now we’ve got us a lawyer in the Senate? That’ll really balance out all the carpenters and baristas.

The summer wasn’t all work for the PM. In August, he went fishing with the mayor of Toronto. “I stand up in the boat all the time,” Rob Ford said after their outing. “He says, ‘Sit down.’ I say, ‘No, no.’ ” This is a troubling revelation. Stephen Harper has been talking tough on Iran, but you have to wonder: how is he going to coax a country to abandon its nuclear program if he can’t persuade a grown man to sit down in a boat?

Harper also embarked on his seventh trip to Canada’s North. It’s a neat tradition. Every summer, the PM heads to the territories to do a variety of things he looks awkward doing, such as a) riding around on an all-terrain vehicle and b) interacting with human persons. In Yukon, he declared: “That great national dream—the development of northern resources—no longer sleeps.” Two things: first, I had no idea a dream could itself go to sleep. That’s some mind-blowing Inception stuff right there. And second, is that really our great national dream? Digging up stuff and selling it? Resource wealth is awesome and everything, but you’d think that at minimum our national dream would be to eliminate child poverty or take a cooking class.

Meanwhile, people across the country have caught Liberal leadership fever—or at least a mild case of Liberal leadership sinusitis. That’s because Justin Trudeau is definitely probably running!

When the nation’s top pundits focus their Mighty Powers of Analysis upon a potential Trudeau candidacy, they achieve consensus on one critical point: he sure is purdy. Reporters write about Trudeau the way they used to write about Belinda Stronach. A female reporter in Windsor, Ont., noted high up in her recent story that Trudeau showed up at a barbecue “in jeans, sandals and a loose white shirt unbuttoned at the top.” Readers were left to infer her dreamy sigh. Earlier this summer, a Globe and Mail writer labelled Trudeau “impossibly handsome [and] charming,” before going on to describe him as a “hot-buttered scion.” The writer has since been obliged by court order to enroll in hormone management counselling.

Meanwhile, New Democrat leader Thomas Mulcair made progress of his own this summer: only several major media outlets spelled his surname “Mulclair.” One day, many Canadians will even be able to pronounce it correctly, and then there’ll be no stopping him.

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