Saturday, December 24, 2016

At the Cash-for-Access Party

A courier arrived at my door and handed me an envelope embossed with the Canadian coat of Arms. You know, the one with the scowling lion and a silly unicorn, each holding a flag.

I tore it open and found an elaborate card, embossed with gold JPJT lettering, inviting Mr. Po Ling to a Cash-for-Access party.

I had no idea who JPJT was, and there seemed to be some confusion about my name. But a party is a party so I rummaged the basement for my tweed suit, knitted tie and the pork pie hat I wore when I was a young reporter.

I arrived at the party site, a castle-like mansion in a leafy Toronto neighbourhood. The place looked like it cost $20 million so I assumed it was owned by an offshore drug lord, or a baseball player.

Inside, I presented the invitation and entered a huge reception room tightly packed with knots of chatting people. A cloud of sweet smelling smoke hung over the room and I saw a guy circulating with a silver tray stacked with what appeared to be hand-rolled cigarettes.

“That’s Billy Blair, the former Toronto police chief,” I muttered to myself. Billy now is the prime minister’s dope czar. He looked a bit foggy, but then he looked that way even when he was chief.

He approached me with an offering but I declined and walked to the bar, trying to decide whether to order a Perrier and water, or a beer.  

“I’ll have a Molson Canadian,” I told the bartender.

The bartender scanned my tweeds and pork pie hat with a good deal of disdain, then sniffed:

“The prime minister has asked that tonight’s guests be offered Chantereines Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru.”

“Whatever,” I said. “I can knock back those craft brews just as quickly as a Molson.”

I wandered about sipping my Grand Cru and watching the people. I heard some giggling from a knot of folks gathered in a corner.
I sauntered over and saw Jane Philpott, the federal health minister, talking animatedly, her head wreathed in smoke.

“The opioid overdose epidemic will disappear as soon as we get the weed legalization bill through Parliament,” she giggled, taking a pull from her rollie.

“Yes,” one listener nodded enthusiastically. “And, you will be getting taxes from all that dope, which will mean you won’t have to raise our taxes as the prime minister has suggested.”

I spotted the prime minister in a group gathered in another corner. He was wearing one of those satin smoking jackets guys wear in Turner Classic Movies re-runs. The front of the jacket was embroidered with the large letters JPJT, which I now realized stood for Justin Pierre James Trudeau.

“We need to increase your taxes just a tad,” JPJT was telling the group, “to help the middle class pay their electricity bills. When they are back on their feet, we increase their taxes again, allowing us to reduce yours. It’s a fantastic plan. We’re gonna make Canada rich again.”

“Fantastic!” said one of the billionaires in the group as he raised his glass of Grand Cru. “Here’s to sunny ways and tax-free days!”

“Oh I almost forgot,” said another, pulling out a cheque book. “I have that $50,000 donation to help build the statue of your dear old dad.”

“And here’s my 200 grand for the Trudeau Foundation,” said another.

Suddenly I found myself dragged toward the front door by two large goons wearing Mountie hats. The front doors of the mansion flew open and I was propelled down the stairs, arms and legs flailing in every direction.

“Jim. Jim,” I heard a distance voice calling. “Jim, you are having a nightmare.”

I opened my eyes to see my wife shaking me by the shoulders.

I realized I had fallen asleep reading. I took the book from my lap and opened it at where I left off.

The book was Orwell’s Animal Farm and I was at the scene where Benjamin the donkey is observing the changes to the new society’s commandments painted on the barn wall. Only one commandment remained and it had been edited to read:



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