Making fun of politics

According to Elections Canada only 61 percent of Canadians cast a ballot in the recent federal election.

According to Elections Canada only 61 percent of Canadians cast a ballot in the recent federal election.

Apathy? Holding out for electoral reform? Annoyance at the cost of an election? The system isn’t perfect, but it’s further weakened by each uncast vote. So what’s going on?

Terry Fallis, the author of the award-winning and hilarious political page-turner, The Best Laid Plans has a few ideas. In his newly-released sequel, The High Road, Fallis lays part of the blame on negative campaigning.

As the book starts, the minority government has just fallen. Angus McClintock, who first ran on a lark and accidentally won his federal riding, wouldn’t consider running again, would he? The crusty, white-bearded engineering professor is rumpled and unkempt, looking more like a mall Santa on Christmas Eve than an MP. But Angus McClintock is larger than life. He’s full of integrity, and as it turns out, surprises.

Angus accepts the nomination and squares off in his riding against Flamethrower Fox, the king of negative campaigning. Fox runs a well-oiled smear campaign, but forgets that negative campaigning doesn’t just affect the individual being mocked. It makes voters believe all politicians are crooks, and refuse to vote for any of them. Can integrity finally prevail in politics?

This nasty race is filled with triumphs, disasters, baked-cookie missiles, canvassing by hover craft, a nail-biting election night, and visits from a drunken first lady. As you may have guessed, the plot in this laugh-out-loud tale verges on the ludicrous.

Even still, some of the over-the-top antics are closer to the truth than we’d like to think. McClintock’s fanciful entry into politics (winning his seat while away on vacation) has more than a few similarities to Quebec’s NDP candidate, Ruth Ellen Brosseau, who won her riding while spending part of her campaign at the craps tables in Las Vegas.

For the most part, however, The High Road is simply a fun tale, and not a complex commentary on politics in Canada. There’s a clear line between the can-do-no-wrong good guys, and the cardboard villains, given to sneering, leering and good ol’ Nixon-era thievery. It’s pretty easy to root for the underdogs.

Fallis is a bit of an underdog himself. He was unable to find a publisher for his first book, The Best Laid Plans. Not one to give up, Fallis printed it himself. The book probably would have languished in obscurity if it hadn’t surprised everyone by winning the prestigious Stephen Leacock Award for Humour. The Best Laid Plans then went on to win the 2011 Canada Reads contest, and was picked up and published by a large Canadian publishing house, McClelland and Stewart. Thousands of Canadians are now following the unlikely political career of Angus McClintock. I wouldn’t be surprised if we heard more from him and his tenacious author in the future.

Heather Allen is a writer and reader living in Penticton.



Just Posted

Recovery centre operator said neighbours bought property ‘in haste’

Penticton addiction recovery centre plan halted by neighbours

Attempted carjacking at Penticton mall

A 24-year-old man is in custody, while a 37-year-old woman was uninjured by the incident

Fundraising effort for man assaulted at Penticton nightclub

A GoFundMe account was created to assist the Penticton man that was assaulted

Osoyoos looking at two more councillors

The increase would take council from five to seven members, on par with their neighbours in Oliver

Forgoing Christmas gifts to help the Salvation Army

Penticton group gives to Salvation Army

Sagmoen case adjourned, again

Small, yet mighty, rally again on Vernon courthouse steps

Family of Vancouver Island RCMP officer killed by drunk driver sues

Lawsuit seeks financial compensation from Kenneth Jacob Fenton

SPCA seizes 74 animals from Barriere property

Constables removed sheep, piglets, chickens and more

Victoria gets approval for supervised consumption site

It is scheduled to open in the spring/summer of 2018 and will be the first permanent facility on Vancouver Island

Bear spray used in tenant dispute

Salmon Arm RCMP responding to Tappen home invasion find occupants sprayed in repllent

Home services, rental rates top concerns: B.C. seniors’ watchdog

Premier John Horgan pledges action on rental housing in 2018

‘Game-changing’ B.C.-born technology tests brain vital signs

B.C. neuroscientist describes the tech as ‘the world’s first objective physiological yard stick for brain function’

5-year anniversary of Sandy Hook shooting

When just saying ‘I’m from Newtown’ can be a cross to bear

Disney buying part of 21st Century Fox in $52.4B deal

Disney is buying a large part of the Murdoch family’s 21st Century Fox for about $52.4 billion

Most Read