Ryan Leef, Member of Parliament for Yukon

December 2012

Open Letter #19

Dear Ryan,

December is upon us and our thoughts are already turning to Christmas. So instead of a usual letter, I am sending you a seasonal story for your enjoyment.

The Last Scruple: A Mid-Winter’s Tale

Far, far away in an alternative, parallel universe, Ottawa was blanketed in a soft mantle of snow. Skaters lined the canal. But, the Parliament buildings were immune to these mid-winter graces. They sat under their own black cloud, sullen and stained.


Canada’s Better Angel peered through the frosty window of her tiny bed sit. She could not sleep. Now, it is a well-known fact that better angels have exceptional hearing. Somewhere, someone was crying.

There it was again. “Whahahah!” Did it come from the Parliament buildings? Better Angel took wing.

The entrance to the Peace Tower gaped ominously. Better Angel slipped into the rotunda and looked around. The hall was cold and empty, closed for the holiday.

Better Angel moved along hallways, peeked into committee board rooms. Not a sound; just the smell of defeat. She found herself in the private corridor now known as the portrait gallery of terror. The Prime Minister’s eyes, multiplied 83 times, bored into her as though to say, “No one comes here without my permission.” Better Angel grimaced. It was deathly quiet! Nothing stayed alive in this place for long.

She walked into galleries overlooking the House of Commons. The Speaker’s Chair sat empty. But there in his old seat sat the ghost of Lester Pearson. He turned his sad face towards Better Angel.

“Try the Senate,” he advised.

Quickly Better Angel was standing in front of the Red Chamber. The doors opened easily. All quiet!

“Is there anyone there?” Better Angel held her breath. Silence!

Then she heard it. Not a cry. Not a groan. It was the tiniest of sighs; coming from a broom closet. The door was locked. Using her celestial strength, Better Angel wrenched it off its hinges.

There in the corner amongst the mops and buckets, battered and emaciated, lay the last Scruple.

Better Angel scooped up the tiny creature. She flew down the cavernous halls, out of the Parliament buildings and into the night sky over Ottawa.

Later, safely ensconced in Better Angel’s tiny room, the last Scruple told Better Angel her sad, sad tale.

Sharon, for that was the creature’s name, had always lived in the Parliament Buildings. She belonged to a large clan of Scruples who frolicked amongst the Parliamentarians as they pursued their goal of democratic government. While not all Senators and Members of Parliament liked Scruples, this was the Scruples’ natural environment and they flourished there.

But dark days had come. Scruples were no longer tolerated in many parts of Canada. Like rats, they were banned from Alberta. The Municipal Government of Toronto had declared Scruples, along with Intelligent Thought, to be noxious pests.

The Parliament buildings quickly became a dangerous place. And those with private Scruples kept them safe at home.

The Immigration Minister was discovered throwing rocks at a Scruple one afternoon. He said that he had mistaken it for a refugee claimant.

The cookies that the Minister of Labour fed to Scruples were later found to be laced with rat poison. “I have no idea how that happened. It could only be a socialist public sector union plot to discredit me.”

Observers were shocked to notice that the Minister spoke with the same voice as John Baird. Indeed; all of the new senators and cabinet ministers spoke with John Baird’s voice as they marched lock-step down the hall to ram through another Ominous Budget Bill. “We know what’s best! We know what’s best! We know what’s best!”

Soon, there was an open campaign to exterminate the Scruples. Senator Manual-of-Dirty-Tricks was seen handing out baseball bats. The Minister of Trade insisted that anyone questioning this government policy was “anti-trade and anti-prosperity.” The Environment Minister stated that Scruples must be “streamlined” for the sake of efficiencies while the Public Safety Minister noted that tolerance of Scruples would soon lead to pedophilia. The Minister of Foreign Affairs called the Scruples “radicals.” The Minister of Natural Resources called them, “terrorists.” Not to be outdone, the Minister of Foreign Affairs shouted that Scruples were “KILLERS OF CANADIAN FAMILIES!” The Defense Minister, fresh from a fishing expedition, said that his department’s estimates on the F-35s were fine and that accuracy was all a “question of interpretation.” Everyone told him to “Shut up!” and “Stick to the script!” And the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons declared that the pleasure he took in bashing Scruples was “normal behaviour.”

Within weeks, the Parliament buildings were without Scruples. Only Sharon remained having fallen into the clutches of Manual-of-Dirty-Tricks, the most heartless and cruel of the Parliamentarians. He’d kept her alive merely for the pleasure of torturing her with his sneaky underhanded exploits, attack ads and lies. She was dragged hither thither bound by a chain around her neck.

In a recent exploit, he sent out a squadron of eager backbenchers to spread misinformation about the opposition and a completely fictitious carbon tax. “Stupid Canadians! Heh, heh! They’ll believe any old lie if you repeat it often enough. Heh, heh, heh!” This caused Sharon to wail loudly, much to Manual-of-Dirty-Trick’s satisfaction. “Whahaha!”

Now, it was a strange happenstance that all of the cabinet and senate appointees were very short people. Senator Manual-of-Dirty-Tricks was the smallest of them all and he had a life-long resentment of anyone who towered above him. He hated the Parliamentary Budget Officer most of all. The PBO was so very tall that he could keep his personal Scruples with him. They flew around his shoulders, well above harm’s way.

One evening, Manual-of-Dirty-Tricks plotted to trip the PBO on the staircase. Sharon was chained to a newel post as the villain strung piano wire across a landing. “Stupid giant; this will learn him. Heh, heh, heh!”

Now, it is a well-known fact that giants are far sighted. The Parliamentary Budget Officer could see the tiny Scruple with her chains. He could see Manual-of-Dirty-Tricks. He reached way, way down with his very long arms. He broke Sharon’s chains.

Then the Parliamentary Budget Officer slowly approached the trap. He stepped well over the strung wire with his very long legs, wishing Manual-of-Dirty-Tricks a cordial “Good evening” as he continued safely down the stairs.

At first Manual-of-Dirty-Tricks was stunned. How is it possible that anyone could foil his plan? Had a civil servant given him away? But when he saw that Sharon had escaped; his howls filled Centre Block to the rafters. “I hate you Parliamentary Budget Officer. I hate you most of all!”

And so it happened that Sharon crawled into the broom closet where, after weeks of starvation, loneliness and pain, she’d finally been rescued.

Sharon isn’t the only one sharing Better Angel’s tiny room. There are dozens of refugee Scruples from the House of Commons, various government ministries and industries.

Although the dark days of winter are with us, a bright light shines from a tiny bed sit in Ottawa. Better Angel has set up an Adoption Service for abandoned Scruples. You might find ads in your local newspaper. I saw one yesterday. The ad reads, “Sharon is a lovely Scruple with golden fur and a long pedigree. She loves the truth and gets along with thoughtful children, adults and other pets. She’d make a great companion to any family, school, institution, business or government.”

The End

Merry Christmas, Ryan!

Respectfully yours,

Linda Leon 

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Linda Leon

Linda Leon is an artist and writer living in Whitehorse.