Ottawa on the brain

Michael Johansen
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Deadline is noon. It's time to write a column, but about what? Not politics. Everyone's sick of politics. The weather is a safer bet:
Winter is lashing most of Canada with record cold and snow as Michael Ignatieff becomes firmly ensconced as the deputy prime minister of the Lib-Con Alliance …
Hey! Where'd that cheap shot come from?
Better start again. Maybe fashion and nostalgia. A nice, light story:
I doubt I have much in common with Premier Danny Williams, except for one thing: We both part our hair in the middle. It's a habit usually picked up in the 1960s or '70s when more men let their hair grow to their shoulders. Today, it might invite some ridicule from fashionistas, but it actually gives us cause to be smug, since it proves that even at our ages we still have hair to part. However, it might also suggest that neither of us can easily choose between left and right. That seems to be more true for Williams, with his growing anti-Conservatism and strong distaste for the way Stephen Harper governs …
Oh no, not him. I don't want to write about Harper again. What happened to the hair? I guess the topic's thinner than I realized. All right, what next? I've never done a television review:
Twenty-four-hour cable news has been around for so long it's difficult to remember when we actually had to wait until supper-time to find out what was happening in the world. Age, however, does not automatically make anything better, so it's nice to see how much CTV Newsnet has improved the overall balance of its reporting lately - but the network can't take all the credit. Say what you like about Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in this case he succeeded where so many others failed: He got Mike Duffy off the air. By making him a Senator Harper was likely rewarding the veteran journalist for his many years of faithful coverage, but Duffy's befuddled attacks against the Bloc Quebecois during Harper's coalition crisis no doubt insured his ascension …
Not him! What happened to television being an opiate?
Maybe the weather again: weather and tourism. The theme can be about going from one magical winter land to another, a visit to Newfoundland and Labrador's closest neighbour:
The friendly people of Quebec City don't hide away from winter. They embrace it! Not only that, they welcome millions of visitors from all over the world to share their icy fun in the coldest months of the year. However, even as they're putting the final touches on their ice castles, slides and sculptures, Quebeckers might be seeming a little less welcoming - by other Canadians, at least. This year, the spectre of separatism has awoken from one of its deepest slumbers ever, thanks largely to the blundering efforts of Stephen Harper, who opened the rift and inserted a wedge, and Michael Ignatieff, who is driving it ever deeper …
Oh no, not separatism!
That's going from depression to despair. I want to be happy! What happened to beautiful Quebec City? How did I get back to Ottawa?
This calls for drastic measures: a super fluff piece. Not just weather and tourism, but Labrador, too. I can write cheery things about Labrador with my eyes shut:
When the brilliant midwinter sun turns fresh powder into a sparkling carpet on a firm base of old snow, my cross-country skiis seem as eager as sled dogs to take to the wooded trails. The silence of the forest reminds me how fortunate I am to live in Labrador, where unlike others I'm hardly ever forced to dodge reporters in the halls of Parliament and play word games with the ones who catch me. Obviously the ground in Ottawa is not as firm as Labrador snow and an earthquake has knocked many Liberal MPs off their feet, making them scramble to figure out where they stand - for their constituents, or for the Lib-Con Alliance …
How did get I get here again?
Time's running out and I'm back where I started.
I give up. I'll write about Ottawa if that's what it takes.
OK now … but what's left to say?

Michael Johansen is a writer living in Labrador

Organizations: Lib-Con Alliance, CTV Newsnet, Bloc Quebecois

Geographic location: Ottawa, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Quebec City

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