Turn your gaze to Ottawa these days and it’s never been more apparent that our political system is missing something besides co-operation, talent, direction, basic manners and a mute button for John Baird. It’s missing the Rhinos.
For a time in the ’70s and ’80s, the Rhinoceros Party was an irreverent fixture of national politics—a fringe undertaking that satirized the empty vows and empty suits of Parliament Hill. The Rhino guys were fun. They made you feel you weren’t the only one to notice most politicians were full of it.
The party made outlandish promises to repeal the law of gravity, tow Antarctica to the Arctic—thereby winning us the “Cold War”—and rewrite our national anthem to make it gender-neutral. (What’s that? You say the last one was actually proposed by Stephen Harper? As if.) Changes to election laws ultimately diminished the party’s influence, though some insist they saw the Rhinos’ satiric handiwork as recently as the leadership victory of Stockwell Day.
The Rhinos still exist—but only in scaled-down form and only in Quebec, where they face the unenviable chore of trying to be funnier than Maxime Bernier’s personal life. We need that same Rhino spirit today from a new voice—that same determination to skewer the system from within. If only to give the NDP a break, we need a new national party that makes people laugh out loud.
Let us build on the Rhino legacy with the creation of a successor. I propose the name the Another Party of Canada. Slogan: We’re not just another party—we’re the another party.
How do we get this thing off the ground? I envision a grand and glorious convention that fills to capacity a back booth at The Keg. There, the five of us—six when our waiter Kevin does that thing where he sits down to take our order (annoying)—shall forge the platform of the Another Party of Canada, wherein we declare what we stand for:
A pledge to move Canada diagonally, not forward. This way, the UN will never find us. MWAHAHA!
A belief that Canada is the greatest country in the world, and Belgium is No. 73, and don’t even get us started on Portugal.
A promise to prepare Canada for the world of tomorrow by investing 100 per cent of the federal budget in the development of a workable hovercar. A hovercar in every garage and another hovercar in every pot!
A commitment to put the federal budget in balance—but only in the Chinese philosophical sense of making it understand that complementary opposites exist within a greater whole.
A vow that henceforth, the grandchildren are our future.
One of the top priorities of the Another Party of Canada—right up there with breaking it to Kevin that we’ll be needing separate bills—will be electing a leader.
We need someone who’s already got a national profile, because this job won’t build them one. We need someone who’s quick-witted, vicious but sincere, politically engaged and eloquent, followed by tens of thousands on Twitter and named Rick Mercer.
We need Rick Mercer.
Satire is especially effective at close range, where it creates moments that are awkward—and therefore harder to ignore. Mercer is funny enough when he rants about the federal leaders’ debate. Imagine if he did so while taking part.
Sound far-fetched? Ask yourself: given the low standing of today’s politicians, who is more likely to be elected an MP—Rick Mercer on a pledge of “hovercars for all” or Elizabeth May on a pledge of “you’ve already rejected me in two parts of the country so now I’m trying here.”
Earlier this year, there was an election in Iceland—a country struggling with, as the New York Times put it, “negligence, cronyism and incompetence at the highest levels of government.” A comedian named Jón Gnarr formed a party and promised free towels at public swimming pools and a “drug-free Parliament by 2020.” His candidates were a who’s who of the country’s punk rock scene. He vowed to pursue a coalition only with parties whose members had watched all five seasons of The Wire.
On June 15, Jón Gnarr was elected mayor of Reykjavik.