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(Note: The following is very loosely based on what I recently overheard in a neighbouring classroom lecture. It is a fusion of this AND a famous satirical skit from a British comedy group popular in the 1970s.)
My colleague is a conservative, and not just the old-fashioned kind. No sirreee, my colleague is a proud member of the Conservative Party of Canada. My colleague’s name is Dr. Anne Greekonn. Well, the other day, as I was trying to write a blog post for the Northern Plains Drifter, I overheard the following exchange between Dr. Anne Greekonn and the students in her Political Science class. They were discussing Canada’s current federal election campaign.
Greekonn began the class by bellowing: “All this hysteria about what the Harper Conservatives have done to this group and to that group, I don’t buy it. I ask you, name one group that has been hard done by, even a little bit, since the Conservatives came to power in 2006?”
Although it was barely audible, one student offered, “The unions?”
Silence came over the entire group. “What’s that?” Anne Greekonn asked.
“The unions. They’ve kind of been hit hard, some can’t even negotiate a new contract anymore,” the meek voice said.
“Well, sure, the poor little yu-nee-uns have been hurt a little teensy bit. Oh well, tough!” the professor snarled sarcastically.
A second student piped up, “And the scientists.”
“Oh, well, yeah, I suppose the scientists have been muzzled pretty good, I’ll grant you that,” Anne Greekonn conceded. “Okay, besides the scientists and unions, try to name a group that’s been negatively affected by the policies of our esteemed Prime Minister, Stephen Harper?”
“Our international reputation?”
“That’s not a group, you silly bleeding heart, you. I said name a group!!” I could imagine Dr. Greekonn staring the entire class up and down, daring them to name one more group. After a short period of silence, she said, “Well?”
“Environmentalists? The environmentalists go without saying, don’t they — those long-haired hippie pot-smokers, Harper sure got them good, didn’t he? Calling them ‘eco-terrorists’ and all that.” Anne Greekon guffawed.
“What about First Nations people?” asked a student with a small degree of confidence.
“Uh, yeah. Okay, but apart from union members, the scientists, environmentalists and the First …”
“Small wheat farmers?” a male voice said. “Closing the Canadian Wheat Board really hurt my Uncle Jim’s family, they lost the family farm!” Was I imagining the student beginning to cry?
“Professor, what about seniors?” This seemed to get a lot of the students murmuring in agreement.
“Alright, seniors, fair enough,” Anne Greekonn agreed, “But to listen to Canadians complain about …”
“People in big cities! The traffic jams are nuts — cities like Toronto and Vancouver need money for public transit.”
“And the veterans!” called out a student with a baritone voice.
“That’s for sure,” said another. “My cousin went to Iraq, and when he returned he got really mad that so many veterans offices have been shut down. He couldn’t find any help!”
“And the ex-pats!” One student expressed with poise. “Canadians living in other countries can’t even vote anymore.”
“Well, that sure didn’t seem to bother Wayne Gretzky now, did it!” Anne Greekon jumped at the opportunity to regain control of the discussion. “If the greatest hockey player ever is not bothered by not being able to vote, if the Great One comes out to support Mr. Harper, then I don’t think that’s a group that’s been really hard done by, do you?”
“Well, Kiefer Sutherland and his dad said…”
“Just a couple o’ whining commies,” Greekonn interrupted.
“What about protesters? Like at the G20 in Toronto a few years ago? Isn’t protesting a good thing, Professor Greekonn? You said you went to one at that abortion clinic.”
“Uh, yeah, …” the professor searched for a suitable reply.
“What about Idle No More protesters? They were mad about that omnibus bill…” the student’s voice trailed off.
“Right! Bill C-45,” another clamoured. “That allowed corporations to put more toxins into the lakes and rivers!”
“Really? Wow, Idle No More was about protecting our freshwater? I didn’t know that,” a classmate admitted.
“And the Muslim community!!” The entire class began to chatter quite loudly all at once.
“Oh, you’re defending Muslims, now are you?” Anne Greekonn had had enough. “I suppose you’ll defend the niqab next?”
“I read that only two woman have tried to wear a niqab at Canada’s citizenship ceremony. That’s two out of over 600,000 since 2011,” said a student with some certainty. “And I doubt they were terrorists.”
“Only two? By the way the Conservatives talk about it, I thought there would be hundreds of…”
“Okay, okay,” an exasperated Anne Greekonn stepped into the discussion. “So other than union members, scientists, environmentalists, First Nations people, small wheat farmers, seniors, big city commuters, veterans, peaceful protestors, and Muslims, I dare you to come up with one other group that has been negatively affected by the policies of our Conservative government!”
After a moment of silence, a student offered, “Us?”
“YOU!! In what ways have YOU been hurt?”
“I mean us students. My student debt is already more than what my parents and all my aunts and uncles combined owed back when they went to university.”
“Same here!” piped another.
“That’s how it is with me and my family, too.”
“Right,” the professor mumbled. “You poor students. You can’t even see how privileged you are to be here.”
Several students began to speak up at once.
“Quiet down!” Dr. Anne Greekon shrieked. “All of you, just take a chill pill. Right here and now, just chill out!”
The students fell silent. The professor continued in a calm and assured voice.
“I want all of you to just sit quietly and contemplate how fortunate you are to be living in a country where you can go to a church of your choosing to worship. Where you can own a gun and you don’t have to tell anybody, least of all some government bureaucrat. A country where if you’re lucky enough to make some serious money you can hide it in an offshore tax haven, no questions asked. You people live in a country where freedom of speech is more than tolerated, it’s even encouraged! Where the very concept of freedom is cherished…”
“Uh, Dr. Greekonn?” a student I had not heard yet called out. “About that freedom thing. I know a lot of my friends feel nervous about Harper’s Bill C-51. They don’t want Harper’s friends reading every Canadian’s emails and texts all the…”
“Every Canadian’s emails and texts? Aw, shut up!” The professor roared, “Class dismissed!!”
I saw my colleague, Anne Greekonn, storm past my door toward her own office. Seconds later, I heard a door slam.
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