Justin Trudeau

Aspiring journalists and bloggers who secretly crave mainstream credibility are bound to soon be trolling the client lists of the Atlantic Speakers Bureau and other businesses of its ilk looking for charities they have done business with that have fallen on hard times.

I mention this in light of the bizarre campaign by the Harper Conservatives and their allies out here on the Great Plains to prove Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is Not Fit to Govern, or at least likely to be just as bad at it as they are, because he hasn’t given his speaker’s fee back to a charity that hired him and then ran into financial difficulties.

Watch out if you’re a Liberal electrician or an NDP handyman, by the way. If you’ve ever done a job for someone who failed to meet a mortgage payment, it looks like the Prime Minister’s Office and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall — who until Trudeau came along was thought to be The Most Popular Man in Canada — are now going to be after you to give back any money you were paid.

Plumbers need not worry about this, presumably, as all those engaged in that trade, at least as practiced by conservative icon and Watergate burglar G. Gordon “Sudden” Liddy, are likely to be Tories. (I didn’t make that up about Liddy’s nickname being “Sudden.” It’s in his biography, Will, which I read at an impressionable age. I still have the burn scars on my hands to prove it! Liddy is now represented by the Premiere Speakers Bureau of Franklin, Tenn., by the way.) But all that, I guess, is a topic for another day.

Trudeau, the Globe and Mail solemnly intones, and I guess we’re all supposed to be shocked and appalled or something, managed back in his pre-leadership days to command speaking fees of up to $20,000 an appearance!

Me, I’m seriously envious! The best I’ve ever been able to do for a speaking fee was either $200 and a nice dinner for a charity that’s still solvent (and thank goodness, ’cause the money’s all been spent) or no fee, a nicer dinner, a night at the Jasper Park Lodge and mileage to drive my truck out there and back.

Trudeau, the Globe also said, was hired through a speakers’ agency — and maybe that’s my problem, seeing as I’ve been trying to save money by representing myself to potentially insolvent charities and other groups that can’t afford the son of a prime minister but might be able to afford what Ezra Levant likely calls a son of a … oh, never mind.

Regardless, I’m seriously going to have to go back and reassess my fee schedule, which brings me to the matter of the Atlantic Speakers Bureau of the evocatively named Scotch Ridge, New Brunswick.

On the theory that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, I was trolling Google looking for the phrases “Speakers’ Bureau” and “Mike Duffy,” just to see what would pop up.

What popped up, as alert readers will already have guessed, was the Atlantic Speakers Bureau, which appears to still represent Duffy — although I imagine that nowadays demand for his after-dinner repartee has declined a little. Then again, this being a country that elected a majority Conservative government with Stephen Harper at its helm, maybe not.

Senator Duffy, the ASB points out, is “the reporter to whom other journalists listen for insight.” (Check! But insight into what?)

According to the ASB, “Mike credits the women’s movement with helping him ‘make it’ on the air. Early in his career, Mike was fired after brief periods of employment by CJCH Halifax, and by CKOY Ottawa. He was rejected after applying for countless other radio jobs. The reason? He was told his voice wasn’t resonant enough. In letting Mike go at Christmas 1965, Hal Anthony, then of CKOY Ottawa, advised: ‘You don’t have a deep voice. You’ll never make it in this business. Go sell ties at Eaton’s.'”

I pause here to state clearly that I’m not making any of this up, especially the slur about selling ties at Eaton’s. You can follow the link and read this for yourself. And if the link disappears, I’ve got a screen shot.

“As women won their rightful places ‘on the air,’ the sound of Canadian radio changed, and Mike moved from brief on-air appearances to regular hosting duties,” said the Senator’s bio, which, come to think of it, may be a little out of date itself, seeing as it doesn’t mention his important current role in Canadian government and Conservative Party fund raising.

Look, I can sympathize with Senator Duffy about this a bit. I’m past 60, and telemarketers still ask me if they can speak to my mommy. You’ve just got to man up and get over it, though.

Alas, regardless the timbre of his Senatorial voice, the ASB does not list Senator Duffy’s current fees, so there’s just no way for us know if he made $1.3 million over four years, as Trudeau is supposed to have done, or if he also billed the Conservative Party and the Senate for expenses on the same days, as Trudeau most certainly didn’t.

It’s said here, though, that it’s lucky Senator Duffy didn’t take that job at Eaton’s, since that grand old Canadian department store has fallen on hard times and somebody would probably suggest he should give his salary back to the Eaton Family, with interest. Mind you, that would be easier for him than most of us, seeing as he could probably get Nigel Wright to cut him another cheque!

Senator Duffy isn’t the only Tory represented by the Atlantic Speakers Bureau, either, as it turns out.

Also on their roster is Dave Rodney, “the only person in the history of this country to summit Mt. Everest twice.” Now, I hadn’t thought Mt. Everest was in this country or that summit was a verb, but what I think they mean here is that Rodney is only Canadian to climb to the top of Mt. Everest twice.

As it happens, Rodney is also not only an inspirational speaker who believes in “climbing with a conscience” and who is particularly recommended for charity events, but is the only Associate Minister of Wellness in the government of Alberta Premier Alison Redford who has climbed Everest once, let alone twice!

And if you don’t ask him about it, you can be sure he’ll tell you anyway!

Which means, Rodney really should be checking his old speaking schedules right now to make sure he hasn’t empowered any audiences that turned out to be made up of people associated with charities that have subsequently gone broke.

You’ve just got to know that if he did, and with the Alberta Liberals led by a guy named Dr. Raj Sherman, who may not have climbed Mt. Everest but who did get through medical school, and what’s more who just happened to be the Conservative Parliamentary Secretary for Health in an earlier life … well, this could really get ugly!

I’m just saying, from now on, it’s going to be open season on public speakers!

This post also appears on David Climenhaga’s blog, Alberta Diary.