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A metaphysical interview with Thomas Mulcair

Last on my list of interviews was Thomas Mulcair, the leader of the New Democrats. It took a while to get hold of him, because when I called his campaign office a recording said the line had been disconnected. Eventually I tracked down his campaign manager, who turned out to be crashing on a buddy’s couch for just a week or two until he got some things straightened out.

I was supposed to meet Mulcair in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart on the south side. I stood there wondering why he would choose this place, until I was distracted by the sound of an engine sputtering. An ancient Winnebago came down the road, painted bright orange, with Air Mulcair emblazoned on the side. The motor stalled every time the camper turned left, but it managed to coast almost all the way to me.

Thomas Mulcair got out, his face plastered with a smile that looked like a cross between a game-show host and rigor mortis. He sauntered over and shook my hand energetically, rather like the Cat in the Hat might.

“Mr. Mulcair,” I said. “It seems that your proposed budget, which makes only small changes to the tax structure and social spending, has failed to impress leftists. Was this a strategic calculation to win over centrist voters in Ontario, or are you taking a principled stance against sacrificing fiscal responsibility for redistribution?”

With his teeth bared and his cheeks scrunched up in a massive grin, his reply went like this, “pollscannotbetrustedanywaybreakthroughin905upcomingtookmoralhighroadasalwayscanadasnextgovernment.

“Are you okay?” I asked. “It kind of looks like you smiled so much your face got stuck that way.”

photoopneedbaby,” said Mulcair. “zhuli!getmebaby!” He waved his fist at the Winnebago. “BAAAABY!

A staffer ran out of the camper, carrying a nonplussed-looking baby. She handed it to Mulcair, who cooed at it and kissed it as well as he could without breaking his rictus grin.

“Sorry,” the staffer whispered. “If it’s time for a photo op and he doesn’t have a baby to kiss, he sometimes loses his temper.” She surreptitiously wiped some spittle from Mulcair’s beard. “It’s been a long campaign.”

“Tell me about it,” I said.

A metaphysical interview with Justin Trudeau

After my unsatisfying interview with the Prime Minister, I met with Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party. That didn’t go much better.

To start with, he wanted to meet me on a beach in Cuba. When I got there he was lying on his side in the sand, wearing nothing but a red Speedo, long curls hanging over his face. His jaw didn’t so much look chiseled as like it had been carved out of granite to be a Pharaoh’s tomb.

“Mr. Trudeau,” I began.

“Call me” – he brushed some sand off his abs – “Justin.”

“Okay, Justin. The Liberals have proposed a loosely Keynesian budget, trying to soften the oncoming downturn with deficit-funded spending on infrastructure. Do you think this country is really that desperately in need of infrastructure? One might argue that we’re in pretty good shape already, and that increasing spending might lead to a lot of unnecessary and wasteful projects. Like that train line to Pearson Airport that no one ever uses.”

“That’s an interesting question,” he said, “and I love answering interesting questions because of my intelligence and experience.” He pointed to the book on the sand next to him, which was titled Advanced Vector Calculus. “Just some light reading, to rest my brain. Given that it’s an election, I would read something on economics or political science, but, you know, I read them all already. All the books.” He stretched languidly. “Yep, I’m that smart.”

“Sure, okay,” I said. “I wasn’t questioning that, since the perception you’re inexperienced is basically just the product of Conservative attack ads.”

“Oh, I’m” – he gave me a sort of come-hither look – “experienced.”

“But you didn’t actually answer my question.”

“Didn’t I?” He winked. “I don’t know how I forgot, because I love talking about my erection.” There was a really dumbfoundingly long pause before he finally added, “of infrastructure.”

A metaphysical interview with Stephen Harper

So it’s been a long time since I posted anything here, despite the obvious fact that there is a national election going on and everyone is in a tizzy. I’ve been busy, mostly working on a new book, which is turning out to be six billion times more complicated than I’d thought. Writing is, like, hard and stuff.

Anyway, I did manage to find some time for metaphysical interviews with the major candidates. I’ve been trying to interview the incumbent, Stephen Harper, for weeks. But his staffers refused. I explained to them that a metaphysical interview is not a real interview, because instead of talking to the person you speculate about what they might say. They still wouldn’t do it. “The Prime Minister doesn’t do imaginary interviews,” they said. “You’re not even allowed to pretend you talked to him.”
Then I got a call out of blue. “The Prime Minister is willing to speak to you, to help get his message out to Canadians.” And I was asked to meet Harper at his home in Calgary.
Harper’s home was a black tower looming over what was otherwise a pleasant suburban neighbourhood. Thunder rumbled in the clouds overhead and a chill wind shook the dead branches of the trees. The yard was decorated with severed heads on spikes – Nigel Wright, Michael Sona, a bunch more I didn’t recognize.

Pierre Poilevre was waiting at the door, casually leaning an AK-47 against the shoulder of his blue suit. “The boss is expecting you,” he said by way of greeting.

In the living room, the television was playing the opening sequence of a Fox News show called When Niqabs Attack. “If their faces are covered,” said the voiceover, “how do you know they’re not hiding explosives in their cheeks?” The screen showed a picture of a chipmunk with Osama bin Laden’s beard photoshopped onto it.

The Prime Minister sat in a huge armchair stroking a cat, barking orders at a group of technicians as they worked on what I assumed was not a death ray, though it did kind of look like a death ray, and it did kind of say “DEATH RAY” on the side. Jenni Byrne was there on a laptop. I assume she was not looking up the GPS coordinates for Papineau. I also assume I misheard her say “Die, Liberals, die!” while cackling madly.

Behind Harper’s chair, half a dozen terrified people huddled against the wall, bound and gagged with duct tape. They were either hostages or Environment Canada scientists, it wasn’t clear.

When Harper saw me, he pulled off the eyepatch he was wearing and hid it behind his back. “You may speak,” he grunted.

“Mr. Prime Minister,” I said, “your campaign so far has been pretty short on accounts of what you’ll do if elected. You seem to be running primarily on your record and not promising anything besides more of the status quo.”

“Justin Trudeau will raise your taxes,” he said.

“Okay,” I said. “But I was wondering about your plans. What do you see yourself doing in the next four years, if re-elected?”

“Justin Trudeau will raise your taxes,” he said.

“I, um, actually, I was asking about your plans, not the Liberals.”

“Justin Trudeau will raise your taxes.”

“That doesn’t answer my question.”

“Justin Trudeau will raise your taxes.”

I sighed. “Let’s change the subject. You recently instituted a tip line where people can report ‘barbaric cultural practices’. Don’t you worry this might be a Charter violation?”

“Justin Trudeau will raise your taxes.”

“That’s really not relevant here at all.”

“Justin Trudeau will raise your taxes.”

“Uh, is this some kind of trick? Instead of the Prime Minister I get to interview a broken android lookalike?”

“Justin Trudeau will raise your taxes.”

“Or maybe you have some previously-undiscovered form of Tourette’s?”

“Justin Trudeau will raise your taxes.”

“This is like trying to have a conversation with the worst techno song ever.”

“Justin Trudeau will raise your taxes.”

“Oh, I get it. You weren’t really willing to give me an interview. You just wanted me to write out your latest slogan on my blog eight hundred times.”

“Justin Trudeau will raise your taxes.”

“So I heard,” I sighed. “By the way, were you going to explain that claim, or give some evidence for it? I seem to remember the Liberal platform was to raise taxes only on the very rich, and that the bulk of voters would get a cut, if anything.”

“Justin Trudeau will raise your taxes!” Harper leapt from his chair and started dancing in a circle, pulling money out of his pockets and throwing it on the floor. “This is your brain on Justin Trudeau! This is your brain on Justin Trudeau!”

When he started pouring lighter fluid on the money I decided it was time to leave.