Monday 26 Sep 2016

Iggy to Ground
David Simmonds

The Liberal Party of Canada's brain trust is turning to The County to help bolster the image of Michael Ignatieff.

Smarting from Tory attack ads describing Ignatieff as an elitist who is '"just visiting", Grit strategists are looking for settings in which to show their leader out among the everyday folk, happy as a clam in his native land.

"We can't show him at the Giller Prize reception or at a Toronto Film Festival opening" noted one official. "So the thinking is that we send him out to The County in a hot weekend in July. He can buy a day pass to the Sandbanks - you know, toss a Frisbee around and barbeque some wieners, then get a sunburn. First of all, of course, he'll realize he forgot the barbeque starter fluid, so he'll have to go to Canadian Tire in Picton, where he'll have a fender bender in the parking lot and get into a shouting match with his wife. And then they'll end up stopping at the Dari Dip, and get a speeding ticket on the way out of town. That will bring him to earth."

Three other events are under consideration, but all carry some element of risk of a public relations undertow.

First, there is talk of having Ignatieff visit a market stand to buy local produce. "But he'd better not ask for pomegranates", she noted ruefully.

Second, Ignatieff is penciled in to go to the Mustang Drive-In to catch the new Transformers movie. "He'd prefer to see the subtitled version of course", said the insider, "but I think we can persuade him to watch it in the original English."

Liberal plotters would also dearly love to capture Ignatieff participating in Wellington's Canada Day street dance. "Just imagine him twisting the night away to Eddie and the Stingrays," said our source. "However, I'm petrified that if they play 'Back in the U.S.S.R.' he'll break out into some sort of Cossack dance. It could kill him just like a football killed Robert Stanfield."

But the real attraction of the County is one of its unacknowledged strengths: parades. There are, apparently, more parades per year in the County than there are in any similar sized area in Canada. House of Commons veterans have long been taken with the booming, cheerful 'Hi - How are Ya" of local MP Darryl Kramp, and have put his expertise in bonhomie down to a grueling regimen of parades spanning the four seasons and at least three locales.

There's nothing like a parade to give a politician some people smarts," said the source. "It's all about positioning: get to the front of the parade, work both sides of the street, and keep your distance from horses, bagpipes and Shriners."

If some of this can rub off for the better on Ignatieff, they reason, maybe they can make use of The County as an incubator for skills training for all their would-be parliamentarians. "Just think about it for a minute", said the insider. "In Prince Edward County, they've got Legions, 4H Clubs, Women's Institutes, seniors' homes, a hospital (sort of), primary schools, churches, babies, fairs and scenery. What more could you need"?

An added benefit of the Ignatieff initiative - apart from the exposure the County will receive - will be to cater to the pressing non-public needs of the Liberal team. For example, County officials were said to be in constant contact with Liberal officials to ensure them that lifeline supplies of County Pinot Noir - to be camouflaged in root beer boxes - would be arranged for the duration of their stay. "We'll jump as high as they need us to," said one local official. "This opportunity is too good to be true".

Right.

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Mike Barnacle, Jimmy Breslin, the late Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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