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Lighter side: C'est what?

Globe and Mail Update

During this year's federal election campaign, check back here to find some lighter moments. Suggestions welcome at adunfield@globeandmail.ca .

Harper in da' House!

It's official. Canadians who voted in music download website puretracks.com felt that Conservative Leader Stephen Harper had the best musical taste among selections provided by NDP Leader Jack Layton, Liberal Leader Paul Martin, and Green Party Leader Jim Harris.

Mr. Harper's top pick? AC/DC's Thunderstruck. We didn't know mullets and headbanging were still so popular in Canada. June 25

Mom, the dog ate my report card!

In response to a failing 'F' grade from the Sierra Club for its party's environmental platform, Conservative environment critic Bob Mills asked for a reconsideration. Part of the reason the Tories got a failing grade was because they didn't respond to a questionnaire from the Sierra group, while the other parties did.

The Tories asked for permission to send in a new set of answers. After reading over the answers like any good teacher, the Sierra Club wrote a big red D- on the new paper.

Summer school, anyone? June 22

Welcome Back Harper!

In a nod to the 1970s television show Welcome Back Kotter, the NDP likened Mr. Harper to Gabe Kotter, that loveable former Sweathog who returned to James Buchanan High to teach in his former remedial class. In a press release, they welcomed him back to the campaign trail after a day off.

Unfortunately, the rest of the release didn't continue the comparison so we don't know which Tory candidate would have played Vinnie Barbarino. June 22

Some "liberal" viewing on the Tory bus?

Perhaps it was because the Conservative campaign found itself in the Honeymoon Capital of Canada that satellite receivers on a media bus suddenly began showing decidedly liberal images.

Tory officials scrambled Wednesday to turn off televisions aboard a media bus when a soft-porn movie of a very affectionate couple suddenly filled the screens. "So much for family values," quipped one reporter in Niagara Falls, Ont.

An earnest young Conservative worker was at a loss to explain why the TVs, which receive satellite signals, were set to that station. "I never watch those kinds of programs," he said with a grin. June 16, Canadian Press

Harper funnies!

During a speech in Hamilton, Ont., Tory Leader Stephen Harper said as prime minister he wouldn't increase consumer pain at the gas pumps.

"Nowadays, when a young girl asks her date to take her somewhere expensive, a young guy's tempted to answer: 'How about the gas station?'" he quipped.

Uhh, we thought that was pretty painful. June 16

Harper funnies part II

"Some days I sit in the House of Commons and I look around and I'm just amazed at how united, how effective, how determined our caucus is, and I say to myself I can hardly belive that six months ago this was two separate political parties.

"Then I look on the other side at the Liberals and I say six months ago I can hardly believe that was one political party." --Tory Leader Stephen Harper on the campaign trail, June 16

Martin's 'new' way to rally the troops

"We face a new challenge...Together as Canadians, we must rally to meet a new objective--the reduction of waiting times for key medical procedures," Liberal Leader Paul Martin said during a speech in Ontario a day after the election debate. June 16

If you're looking for a laugh, try a joke book

Tuesday night's election debate was a surprisingly yucks-free event, with the four leaders looking as serious and sombre as one can look in a studio with a fake Parliament Hill backdrop and the words "Debate 2004" engraved in the wall.

But there were a couple zingers.

During the debate, NDP Leader Jack Layton urged Liberal Leader Paul Martin to "Tell us about the promises you've broken, like the child care promise, the health care investment promise, the promise for pharmacare in 1997. The list is so long, I haven't got an arm long enough." Ha! June 15 

The Best Rap Ever

As reported earlier in The Globe, a 50-second video was made for CBC's This Hour Has 22 Minutes on Ed Broadbent, titled Ed's Back, but was never broadcast. It's up on the NDP website. Do yourself a favour and click on this Windows Media file link  June 11

Layton and Martin win pairs gold!

An award in the environmental Olympics from the Sierra Club of Canada conjured up images of NDP Leader Jack Layton lifting Liberal Leader Paul Martin and then throwing Mr. Martin into a spectacular double Axel.

The environmental group honoured Mr. Layton and Mr. Martin with a "pairs gold" for their work to promote greener cities.

One wonders, after the election, what they will do for an encore. June 9

Martin: I may not have smoked it, but I might have eaten it!--Part 2

Liberal Leader Paul Martin, talking about reintroducing legislation to decriminalize marijuana, brought up an old story about his personal pot experiences.

In the playground of a daycare on June 4, Mr. Martin replied with a joke when asked another inevitable campaign question about marijuana, and alluded to former U.S. president Bill Clinton's claim that he never inhaled.

"Did I smoke it? No. Therefore I didn't inhale. But there is a rumour going around that I've eaten brownies."

The prime minister has previously told the story of how in the 1960s his wife, Sheila, once baked them both a batch of strange tasting brownies. June 4, Canadian Press

A toast [no, lots of toasts] to Martin...

A campaign by The Council of Canadians and Friends of the Earth Quebec has developed a quirky way to send a message to Liberal Leader Paul Martin on genetically engineered wheat.

To encourage Canadians to show their opposition to genetically modified crops until the issue has been studied more closely, the two groups have asked that people mail slices of bread directly to Mr. Martin's office doors.

So, how much bread so far? Laura Sewell, a media officer for the Council, told globeandmail.com that in 15 cities across the country, 300 envelopes filled with bread have been sent to the Liberal Leader's office since the beginning of May.

No response so far from the Liberals on what they're doing with that pile of toast, but word has it that there's been a run on strawberrry jam in the Ottawa area. June 1

Calling Dr. Pizza!

CBC Newsworld interviewed the man known as Dr. Pizza, a Brazilian-born skilled surgeon who said he had to open a pizzeria in order to earn a living when he arrived in Canada. The Martin government's plan to reduce the doctor shortage includes supporting a program to train 1,000 new Canadians in order to provide more first-class primary care physicians across the country.

 "When they call me and say that the Prime Minister give a big budget to train foreign doctors and the nurses I'm happy because I am arguing or fighting since I came here in 2000 in Canada to have an opportunity to work as a doctor, not as a pizza doctor," he told viewers. May 28

I see...election results in your future!

CTV is reportedly ahead of the pack on election night—having been presented a shoebox with the results of the June 28 vote by the Amazing Kreskin! Kreskin gave the box to CTV's Mike Duffy and told him not to open it until election night. No information on whether Mr. Duffy or anyone else at CTV took a sneak peak. May 27

And this little piggy went...

Although health has become the early front-runner in the battle for issues in the upcoming federal election, the right-leaning National Citizens Coalition is doing its best not to let Canadians forget about the sponsorship scandal by using pigs to get their message across.

In their latest "Tales from the Trough" newsletter, peppered with photos and drawings of the four-legged farm beasts, the NCC makes no bacon about its outrage over where the sponsorship money went.

The pamphlet doesn't offer much in the way of new insight on the scandal but does contain a number of entertaining illustrations, including a pig wearing a Paul Martin costume. May 25

Freedom Party in 2008?

The 2004 campaign has barely begun, but one party has boldly laid out its vision for a predicted federal election in 2008.

The Freedom Party of Canada's election platform for 2008 landed in the globeandmail.com's mailbox last week, just in time to get buried under an avalanche of campaign press releases and pamphlets from the current race.

Billing itself as Canada's only capitalist party, the Freedom Party will not run a single candidate in 2004, but has its sights sets on making an impact in 2008.

In a letter addressed to his fellow Canadians. Party leader Paul McKeever explains the Freedom vision of a separation of economics and state thusly:

"Put in a way the economists would understand it: we believe that Keynes was wrong and von Mises was right. Put in a way the philosophers would understand it: we believe that Hegel was wrong and Rand was right. Put in a way that marketing board, CRTC, and other bureaucrats will understand it: it may be time to blow the dust off of that resume.

On the day the writ was dropped for the 2004 election, the Freedom Party website (www.freedomparty.ca) was not available. May 23

Is this thing on? White shirt, blue collar

A few notes on the campaign launch. Reporters in television land were forced on improv mode as Liberal Leader Paul Martin left everyone waiting. Mr. Martin first took his sweet old time strolling from 24 Sussex to Rideau Hall. He then disappeared into the Governor-General's residence.... and the nation waited... and waited... and waited... CBC's Peter Mansbridge noted, well past the 20-minute mark, that it took Jean 8 minutes to walk in and out in 2000.

So, what to talk about? Mr. Mansbridge decides to ask the roving reporters how the leaders deal with the media. Much enlightening conversation ensues.

Mr. Martin pulled a wardrobe switch. By the time he's campaigning with David Pratt mere hours after calling the election, he's shed the tie, the suit, the white shirt for a poster-campaign blue shirt, as per the 'down-to-earth' campaign wear. May 23

With reports from Canadian Press

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