How are the mighty fallen! These are destined to be the iconic words that mark this last brief period in our political history. Either that or “Blessed Lard! Who’d have t’ought it!”
It isn’t generally known, even by biblical scholars, but these were the exact words shouted by the Israelite army when David came running back to them swinging Goliath’s head like a young boy with a sparkler. They couldn’t believe it! No one was supposed to defeat the mighty Goliath! But David did, and beheaded him for good measure.
Although the stone and the sling get the credit for Goliath’s rather sudden passing, it was the removal of his head that really did the job. Beheading is generally fatal.
Stephen Harper could have done worse than purchase a couple of sparklers for every living soul in Canada under the age of 109 and instructed them to run back and forth on their street or the community waving them around and shouting “Blessed Lard!” Or “Hallelujah!” Or “Allahu Akbar!” Or something equally appropriate to celebrate the political beheading of the separatist leaders in Quebec.
We could have lit up the night sky from Cape Spear to Cape Totem. We would have had at least 70 per cent of Quebecers running and shouting with us.
I don’t know how mighty they really were to begin with, but everyone thought they were sheer Goliaths, including much of the media. They were the spectre that was about to split Canada asunder.
No one could stand up to that much political and financial power.
If you read my column last week, and I’m sure you did, you know that I wasn’t very much impressed with Pauline Marois, the separatist party leader. I said she had no passion and no great love of country, and the people would never follow her the way they did René Lévesque.
I was right, although at the time I didn’t know how right. The only people who did know were the people of Quebec and not one of them has come on the national news to say so. That’s OK. The National isn’t big enough for Peter Mansbridge, Rex Murphy and me. It’s hardly big enough for Rex.
Stevie probably doesn’t know yet what happened in Virginia Waters. Probably thinks that’s a new kind of mineral water out of the southern United States, good for the relief of certain kinds of arthritis. No doubt he can remember the name Danny Williams and how the aforementioned Mr. Williams bluffed him out of $2 billion. It wouldn’t be a pleasant memory for him. It certainly is for us.
For Mr. Harper’s benefit, especially — and I know he reads this column religiously with the help of an interpreter for Newfoundland expressions (such as, “You’m a sleeveen, you is, Sir.” The interpreter is from Medicine Hat, Alta.) — Virginia Waters, Mr. Harper, is not far from Quidi Vidi, or as your interpreter would know it, Kitty Vitty (I know you rely heavily on her expertise for your understanding of this part of the world). I think you have a small rental property there.
As I was explaining, Mr. Harper, Virginia Waters is a provincial House of Assembly district not that far from Signal Hill. As you may or may not know, Signal Hill overlooks St. John’s and was made famous in a song sung by the late John White of St. John’s.
In your efforts to keep up with our culture, I’m sure you have one or two of his CDs.
Last week’s byelection in Virginia Waters was occasioned by the resignation of the PC premier whose seat it was. That would tend to give the PC candidate, an undoubtedly good fellow, a head start out the gate. if that were not enough of a Goliath complex, he had in his corner the public backing of a veritable political god — none other than your old friend, Danny Williams.
For most of us, Danny Williams being in the PC corner would be like me having Mike Tyson in mine if I were to go into physical combat with that same Rex Murphy. It was the poor little Davids up against the great Goliaths. Most people thought the outcome was a foregone conclusion.
There was just this one little thing: the conclusion was so far from being foregone that the Goliaths concerned lost their collective heads over the election, and David suddenly found herself the Queen of Virginia Waters Hill.
Now isn’t that the unkindest cut of all — with a blunt-edge sword.
The point of this whole Goliath parable is that history — particularly political history — has a nasty habit of repeating itself. It happens over and over again, which is a pretty good definition of “repeating itself,” and when one least expects it. And the Goliaths of this world never expect that they may be the ones at the receiving end of the sling.
The federal Conservatives have been on the top of Parliament Hill for a long time. Some would say too long, although I would hesitate to point fingers in that direction. Mr. Harper has been marching back and forth in front of the Opposition lines for many years, blaring his challenge that he has all the power and can do whatever he likes with it.
We, in Newfoundland and Labrador in particular, have chafed under the federal Conservative challenge for quite some time as we watched rural offices and services being taken away to the detriment of everyone concerned.
Don’t look now, Mr. Harper, but there may be a young David striding out from the ranks with seemingly very little in his hands for weapons, or at least weapons of the kind that you’re used to. But remember the rest of that Bible verse? The (old) weapons of war are perished.
And Justin time.
Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale.
His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.