Off the Record: More frequently asked questions

OK, please indulge me one last story.

Every Prime Minister of Canada has their portrait hung in the gallery at Parliament Hill. When a Prime Minister’s portrait is first unveiled there is a big ceremony with lots of dignitaries, and as you might imagine, there are plenty of jokes about being “hung.” But at the unveiling of Brian Mulroney’s portrait the biggest laughs came from an inside joke. As Mulroney was about to speak, a man (who seemed to be inebriated) ran on to the stage and began waving an American flag behind Mulroney’s head.

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After the gentleman was given “the bum’s rush” Mulroney began to laugh, looked at then Prime Minister Jean Chretien and said: “Hey Jean, remember when we used to bus guys like that in!”  

The assembled dignitaries roared with laughter. What Mulroney was referring to was an  “old time” political strategy, practiced until around the 1980s. Specifically in Mulroney’s case as a Conservative (aka Tory) it was called getting the “ten dollar Tories.”

What candidates for a party nomination in an upcoming election would do is get a bus and drive around to local missions and half-way houses to find vagrants and transients, who would then be encouraged to hop on the bus to be taken to the election hall where they could enjoy a few drinks on the house.  

While on the bus, they would be “loaned” $10 to buy a party membership and they would be told which candidate they should vote for. After they got to the election hall and voted the drinks would flow.

This was a common practice and a common election strategy used by candidates of all political parties. There is a legendary story of Mulroney giving an acceptance speech on one such occasion, when he was interrupted by a drunk who slurred, “one day you’ll be the Prime Minister” to which Mulroney replied “and one day you’ll be a senator!”

Ah the quick-witted Irishman!

Practices like the aforementioned are now part of the folklore of politics, they —rightfully — are absent from the modern political landscape, but what is also in decline, unfortunately, is pride in the word “politics.”

Another quick-witted Irishman, Ronald Reagan, had this to say: “It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.” 

So, dear taxpayer, be wary of candidates or any elected person that shuns the word politics, or do not identify themselves as politicians. They are either too prideful, or ignorant of political history to do the job. Also, beware of anyone that takes politics too seriously.

That said, there is one serous issue that needs your attention: the upcoming OCP.

Here’s what you need to know. To get First Nations support for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, then-Premier Gordon Campbell struck a deal with the four host First Nations (the Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, Lil’wat and Squamish). In return for support for the Games, the First Nations were included as full partners in the games, and offered either cash or land as part of the agreement.

The Squamish and the Lil’wat took 300 acres of land inside the boundary of the RMOW. The land they took is largely in the Callaghan Valley and subject to the zoning approval of the RMOW. Where the story gets interesting is that the last iteration of the OCP dictates that any land south of Function Junction is not to be developed, rendering the First Nations property practically worthless.

Luckily for the Squamish and Lil’wat the OCP was struck down by the BC Supreme Court. I’m not normally one for speculation but I would say that there is a zero percent chance that the OCP will be approved by the province if it doesn’t provide for First Nations development rights in the Callaghan. For the record I think it’s only right and fair that they have the opportunity to develop land that is rightfully theirs. Whatever your opinion is, you should keep a close eye on those public meetings coming up asking for your feedback.

Finally, dear taxpayer I’d like to answer the most frequently asked question I get since I started writing this column: “Are you going to run again?”

I’m sorry to answer this way but I honestly don’t know. What I can say is that I miss the action of council and the opportunity to serve you. If you catch me in the produce aisle at Nesters you can let me know what you think, because in the end it’ll be up to you to decide anyway… So, au revoir, a la prochanie!

Ralph Forsyth is a local entrepreneur, ski instructor and bike guide. He served on Whistler council from 2005 to 2011. He dresses like every week is fashion week, he dances as if everyone is watching and does at least one thing every day that scares him. His use of clichés is flagrant.

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