The Low and Winding Road to the Upper Chambre(2)
by Liam Laviche

Then it came: the day that I never thought would arrive. I, Liam Laviche, masked by the dead skin of a fallen Minister, took my seat in the House of Commons.

In my hands laid several pieces of paper inscribed with scripted answers to anticipated House questions on Canada's hosting of the Summit of the Americas.

Before parking myself in my front bench seat, I looked across the floor and feasted my eyes on the Alliance MPs Chuck Strahl, Grant McNally and John Reynolds. To them I pointed like a steroid-jacked wrestler charging down an arena aisle on my way to a cage match. They looked confused.

Industry Minister Brian Tobin, sitting beside me, was also taken aback.

"John? What's going on with you today? You seem not yourself."

"Aw, you'll shut-up and leave me alone if you know what's good for ya, you little shrimp!"

* * * *

Then Question Period began. After inquiries from the Alliance and Bloc, it was NDP Leader Alexa McDonough's turn.

"Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The negotiations for the Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement, at the Summit of the Americas, taking place in Quebec City April 20-22, will seriously challenge citizen based democracy, and fair trade in the Americas. Will the Minister of Foreign Affairs, before the Members of this House, pledge to scrap this utter threat to the freedom, both economically and politically, of Canadians and peoples throughout the Hemisphere?"

As CPAC's cameras turned to me, I thought, "Here we go. For once and for all."

I looked down at the canned lines before me and prepared to speak. Just then, something grabbed my mind. I thought, "I've got the PM by the nuts."

Rising to retort, I was set to ensnare the Liberal Party in a world of confusion, contradiction and PR-hurt.

"Mr. Speaker, I'm more than proud to answer the Honourable Member's question. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, I deeply resent the fact that strict party loyalty, which seizes upon Government members like a Mafia-esque chill, forces me to work towards disenfranchising not only Canadians, but half of the bloody globe! If I could, I'd rip the FTAA to violent shreds. But, as a Member of a majority government, I cannot."

I swear, one could hear the collective cartilage crunch as every Member's and every journalist's jaw in the Gallery dropped. This was unprecedented. Who would have thought that John Manley, the essence of Liberal Party loyalty, would fire off such a salvo and from out of nowhere? Apparently, no one.

Certainly not Brian Tobin. "Ohhhhhhhh... you're in big trouble buddy! Big trouble!"

* * * *

As calamity ensued, I left my seat and headed out of the Commons. I was greeted by a horde of reporters in the Lobby. My, or, I should say, the late Minister's, press secretary was in shock. As the hacks barked, I walked on to my office. I didn't say the words, but I had "no comment."

Reaching my office, I slammed shut the door and told all the staff, "leave me the Hell alone! I need a drink!" As the door thudded violently against its frame, I felt spots of moistness on my face. Removing my deadskin mask, I found out what they were.

Maggots; about 10 or so, squirming all over my face. I thrashed my hands across my face to get rid of them, all the while praying that none had entered my mouth, nostrils, ears or tear ducts.

I then realized what I should have known: my deadskin mask was decaying. Then, a call came. An emergency Cabinet meeting was called immediately, and I was summoned. I wasn't afraid, with my leverage hung over the Little Guy from Shawinigan's head like the Sword of Damocles itself.

* * * *

Exiting my office, my de-maggotted deadskin mask secure on my head, I found the PM awaiting me in the hall. He whispered "Oh... I never thought to know that this is what you would do."

"Well, what the hell are you gonna do about it? I have you. Plain and simple."

As we walked to the Cabinet room, surprisingly, a smile materialized beneath his nose.

"Well, you know that I have been in politics for many years and that there have been some situations like this before, you know, and I am still here."

Moving closer to the room, little by little, I could hear screams intensifying in volume as we neared the chambre.

Arriving at the door, the PM swiftly swirled the doorknob and thrust me inside by the back of my neck. By now the screams were in my head. I looked around the table to see all the Ministers screaming in agony.

With my arrival, the PM's chief aide, Eddie Goldenberg went around the table, spraying liquid on the Ministers' faces.

Upon him coming to me, he gave me a spray. The substance stung and stunk.

"God! What is this?"

"Formaldehyde, you idiot! Oh ... you must be new here," said the Minister of State, Don Boudria, or at least the man I thought was Don Boudria.

As Goldenberg continued applying the formaldehyde to everyone but the PM and Brian Tobin, I unraveled the mystery of strict party loyalty.

Every Minister was of my stockójust a starry-eyed layperson, discontented with their ordinary jobs and lives, who jumped at the chance to wear the skinned face of a Minister who said too much. Every Minister wore a deadskin mask.

And Brian Tobin, being the one who didn't, was indeed the PM's handpicked successor.

The PM deadbolted the door. Turning towards me, the PM's mouth slanted. "Well, it seems that you don't yet know how the Cabinet goes, eh?"

Then, Goldenberg attached electrodes to everyone. The PM and Brian held the levers.

A great burst of pain and electricity jolted through me.

"That's for telling me to shut-up!," snortled the Industry Minister.

Another surge of power, more pain, more intense this time.

"And that's for calling me a shrimp!" Reeling from the shock, I looked at the PM and said, "I still know what I know. Shock me again, and I'll rip this mask to shreds! Everyone'll know Manley's been offed, and you'll have to account. You'll be screwed."

Looking down upon me, the PM said, in a menacingly psychotic tone, "Well then, you are going to spend some time in the closet and then I will come talk to you."

Off came the electrodes and the PM tore me out from my seat. Shoving me into the Cabinet cloakroom, he grabbed my neck and choked me like Bill Clennett, the protestor he choked in 1996. He wasn't trying to kill me. He was just putting me to sleep. And how terrific this sleep was. I dreamed that I'd never written the letter. I was back in my cubicle, working the 9-to-5. All was well.

* * * *

The PM awakened me with a kick to the groin. He then kneed me in the throat after my vomit, resulting from the initial kick, landed on his loafers.

"While you had sleep, the Cabinet, we talk to decide what will happen to you. For you, I have a proposal."

Then, he laid it out:

 -In three hours, it will be announced that the Minister of Foreign Affairs has died due to a brain aneurysm (which will serve to explain his outrageous behaviour in the House earlier today).

 -One day later, to shift attention away from the Minister's death, a trial balloon will be floated in the media; that being the idea of amending the Senate's eligibility criteria, swinging the doors wide open to participation from all Canadians, no matter how young or old, rich or poor.

Three days later, the Minister, after a closed casket funeral, brought about by his facelessness, was laid to rest.

In the days that followed, editorials applauded the proposed new Senate rules.

After months and months passed, the Prime Minister, along with the Governor-General, climbed atop a podium at Rideau Hall and delivered a speech. Here is an excerpt:

"The Senate's present eligibility criteria say, to Canadians and the world, that the rich and old are the only ones fit to dictate the Senate's agenda.

Yet Liberal values call for serving children and youth so they may not be poor forever, and that individual greed brings ill to Canada's collective, sharing spirit.

"Today, when the Governor General gives this Bill, initiated by me, Royal Assent, this Government will serve to widen our nation's democracy and broaden Canadians' public participation, honour and enthusiasm by striking down an offensive, unjust and dated law.

"The Senate's current eligibility criteria are nothing but antiquated vestiges of British elitism. They are no more relevant today than the United States of America's Second Amendment, and just as archaic.

"Handguns and assault rifles are justly kept out of Canadians' hands, but the Senate's current eligibility criteria unjustly tie Canadians' hands; at least those of whom wish to serve in the Upper Chambre and have yet to live for 45 years and/or be fortunate enough to lay claim to an acre of land.

"This is why my Government has initiated the Modernization of the Senate Act, allowing all Canadians, no matter what their age or wealth, the possibility of serving Canada from the Upper Chambre."

And with that, the Governor General stamped my mission home.

Within days, I became the first Senator named under the modernized eligibility criteria.

At long last, my quest was conquered. What started as a frivolous letter ended as an unwitting political victory. In the end, the PM and I were both winners. The PM's assembly of deadskin mask-wearing Cabinet drones, conditioned through terror, was left unscathed. And I gained my sought-after Senate appointment.

God bless the Chambre of Sober Second Thoughtóeven if it's simply: a ludicrous patronage pit; a fatted rubber stamp; uniformly impotent; nothing more than a slight legislative pain in the ass at few times; a bastion of waste; one horrible adoption from the British; useless, illogical, and redundant.

I truly hope I serve it well.

Liam Laviche is happy to serve you.


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