A photo of Federal Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre as he strokes his wood in a screenshot of his latest campaign video.
Federal Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre strokes his wood in a screenshot of his latest campaign video. Credit: Twitter

“As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden.”

—   Chauncey Gardner

In the United States yesterday, they celebrated Independence Day today with fireworks and deadly gunfire

Well, let freedom ring!

Meanwhile, here in our peaceable Dominion north of the border, it would appear the dog days of summer – as we used to call them in the newspaper business, back when there still was a newspaper business – seem to have arrived. 

You know the dog days are upon you when your local CBC station includes an item on the morning news about some random guy who bought a can of deck stain, failed to follow the instructions … and it flaked! 

As we used to say: Hold Page 1! 

Meanwhile, how to properly apply wood stain is probably something Pierre Poilievre could profitably keep in mind as he ponders the restoration, care and treatment of old wood.

Poilievre, of course, is the frontrunning candidate to lead the Conservative Party of Canada.

His creepily metaphorical new campaign video, posted Sunday, July 3 in all the usual social media venues, became an instant cult classic with its presumably unintended unwholesome references to wood as well as its potted profundities. 

The beam was always inside the log.” Surely this is worthy of Jerzy Kosiński’s creation, the fictional simpleton Chauncey Gardner, whose infantile prattling in the film version of Being There is taken for profundity in the imagined Washington D.C. of the late 1970s. 

It’s doubtful it’s by accident that Poilievre’s sinister profundities suggest that if we can only “scrape off all the shit and mud and debris” we can restore our Dominion to its pristine utopian purity of old. The crude profanity is surely intentional, too – a dog-whistle within a dog-whistle. 

So what – or who – do you think Poilievre has in mind when he talks about scraping stuff away? You? Me? Our neighbours? 

Surely this video is nothing more than a jumped-up gimmie-cap slogan with a nice soundtrack offering us the chance to Make Canada Great Again. 

Typical of this kind of latter-day right-wing drivel, Poilievre’s potted history comes with glaring deficiencies – those weren’t commoners, as he said, who brought King John to heel in 1215. They were the 13th Century English equivalent of Conservatives nowadays like to call Laurentian Elites, at least when they’re not referring to themselves. In other words, the King’s own economic consiglieres.

And never mind how Poilievre’s beloved old wood surrounds a band new gas fireplace.

There’s projection typical of the utopian ideologues of neoliberal right here too in the accusation it’s the Conservatives’ political opponents who are the utopian idealists with their calls for history that reflects what really happened and the use of language that is inclusive and not casually hateful.

Listen carefully and you can hear Poilievre laying out the roadmap to a Canadian dystopia torn right from the pages of the same “history” book Jason Kenney’s been peddling here in Alberta with his school curriculum, and which the neo-Bolsheviks of the U.S. Supreme Court are now consulting as they dismantle democracy south of the 49th Parallel. 

If we Canadians are planning to build something worthwhile out of our recycled wood, we’d be advised to check it for the rotten spots that can appear in any old timber. And to follow the instructions on the can of stain. 

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July.

David J. Climenhaga

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga is a journalist and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. He left journalism after the strike...