MY FINAL, REJECTED COLUMN FOR THE VANCOUVER COURIER

by Geoff Olson

“Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are dead.” – Aldous Huxley

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Disappointment!

A while back someone asked if I ever thought of running for office. I responded with laughter. For one, I’m chronically allergic to office politics and paperwork. I’d probably go into anaphylactic shock during Question Period.

If I did run at the federal level, it would be as an independent for a new party. Of course, given Trudeau’s broken promise on electoral reform, the “The Canadian Disappointment Party” may not get much traction. However, I’m not using this space this week to face facts, but to dispense alternative ones.

My pitch would go something like this:

“My fellow citizens, as leader of The Canadian Disappointment Party, running for a seat in Yet To Be Determined, I am asking for your support.

Politics has been described as the art of compromise. Stuff happens, circumstances change, people change. I will change too. So will other members of my party. Embrace the uncertainty.

I am right for the job. I have disappointed a wide range of people over time, from employers to friends to family. Again, not consistently and not completely –  just enough to raise niggling doubts about my intentions, my memory, and my character.

I will never promise to repeal the Law of Gravity or legislate against the Law of Large numbers. I will not attempt to flout universal truths that extend outside the political sphere  – and that’s a promise. My back-pedalled oaths will be more mundane.

So why should you vote for Geoff Olson? Because I am sparing you later disappointment. I will not raise your hopes only to dash them into the ground. I will not raise them at all. This is the age of diminished expectations, and I am its bendable action figure.

I already have The Canadian Disappointment Party’s campaign motto figured out: “Halfway Making It, Halfway Faking It.”

Expect surprises! If the only consistent people are the dead, I will prove to be wonderfully vibrant as party leader. Until I’m pushing up daisies or wheeled into the Senate, I promise bipolar levels of unpredictability.
 
When lobbyists descend like flying monkeys onto Ottawa, you can be sure they will find me as rubbery on my commitments as you do. When the monkeys attempt to lean on me because I have questioned trade deals that favour transnationals over the nation, they may find me either compliant or uncooperative. It’s impossible to say. I will drift in the wind in a manner impossible to predict.

As the poet G.K. Chesterton once observed, “angels fly because they take themselves lightly.”

As a spawn of Pierre Trudeau’s federalism, my leanings are soft socialist. I believe government should limit the worst excesses of the so-called free market, which is dominated by a handful of monopolies. Yet what passes now for Liberalism is an effete, gutless masquerade for principled opposition to the corporate dismantling of the state.

In other words, you simply cannot get into office without genuflecting before the Almighty Buck. So I will just say this: jobs, jobs, jobs. Make no mistake: at the end of the day, moving forward at this point in time, I promise a lot of them – great jobs for great people of this great country. Just don’t hold me to that.

I will flip pancakes, kiss babies, listen sagely to seniors, and display a giant, shite-eating grin before rented crowds. I will pledge to be all things to all people all the time, with a platform wider than USS Nimitz.”

Speaking of disappointment, this is my last column for the paper. Seriously. Found out after I wrote the above. It’s been a good run but I’ve been told the Courier is making room for new voices.

Following this news, someone asked something I’ve heard before: “why don’t you get into politics?” So I’ve given the above political pitch a rethink: perhaps there is a place for me in Ottawa, as a fly in the ointment, spanner in the works, and general annoyance. I’d be fronting for party that represents the disappointed, the disaffected, the laid-off and the pissed-off.

It may sound hilarious, but I’m not kidding. So if you think The Canadian Disappointment Party has real-world possibilities, or just want to drop a line about past articles, you can reach me below. Adios, amigos!

mwiseguise@yahoo.com


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UPDATE 

As noted above, I’ve been terminated as a columnist to The Vancouver Courier. The May 18 piece above, noting the news, was also rejected.

It appears my May 5 article, “Clark Government’s Record Dismal”, didn’t go down well with the owners, Glacier Media. In fact, the article was scrubbed from the Courier’s online edition days before the election.

The official story communicated to me – which I believe is trivially true  – is that the paper is making way for new voices.

Budgetary considerations were also likely in play. A month earlier, Alan Garr, a longtime contributor to the paper, had his column reduced from weekly to biweekly. My column was already running on a biweekly basis (reduced from weekly over a year ago) and I suppose the next print stop after biweekly is never.

It’s customary for long-time newspaper columnists to offer a farewell column to readers. Not in my case. The column  was nixed.

I will be continuing to contribute editorial cartoons to the paper until such time I’m replaced with Garfield or Nancy.

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3 thoughts on “MY FINAL, REJECTED COLUMN FOR THE VANCOUVER COURIER

  1. I am so sad to hear of this, Geoff! Though I thought it was one of the nice surprises in life that a mainstream, albeit weekly/local, paper was giving you this podium. Maybe it is a cost issue. And I guess owners concentrate more on their own goals rather than aesthetics and meeting the needs of informing the public of a variety of ideas. Which is too bad.

    I always found your stuff REALLY enlightening to read, Geoff. You feel like a kindred spirit. You are a less ranty, more philosophically informative version of my semi-hippie/back to the land/wood stove/pot-smoking/building their own house/ older brothers.

    Wah.

    Well, on the plus side, I’m really glad I found your wordpress library of your columns. I enjoy being able to speak to you. And I appreciate that you’ve taken time to respond to my comments in this hectic world where most of us don’t have time.

    And just knowing that you’re out there in my town, Geoff, gives me a warm feeling, and creates a feeling that there are many things right with the world, with people like you in it.

    I guess this is the nature of Time, eh? Phenomena: things happen at certain points in time, and then they stop. And something else happens.

    If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound? If a creator/artist like yourself, doesn’t put pen to paper, is that different than putting pen to paper? I don’t think it is.

    I often wonder what makes an artist. If Vincent van Gogh didn’t make any paintings or other art, does that mean he isn’t an artist? I think someone is an artist, whether they produce output or not. You are who you are. Its unchangable.

    But then, I’m a pre-determinist. I believe everything that happens is what is exactly meant to happen. I don’t believe in multiple universes. (OMG? United Verses! A union of “from Latin versus=‘a turn of the plow, a furrow, a line of writing,’ or phenomena!)

    Wow.

    Anyway, hang in there, Geoff. Keep us posted and on the lookout for Geoff sightings!

  2. I like this bit:
    “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more: it is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.”

    Course, one still has to answer the question, “OK, but what do I do now?”

    It is a loss, and probably quite a large one, to lose one’s publishing platform. I know when I went on disability for CFS in 2003 after 20 years as a programmer for Safeway, it took me quite a few years to reorient myself. Totally existential.

    Yes, I guess we are talking about one’s existence, which is more than just existing, but it is our identify – who we are….

    Who am I?

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