In an act of vanity on par with Barbara Walters’ lighting and Americans choosing the “thin Elvis” postage stamp, Joe Clark unveiled a portrait of himself – circa 1975 – on Parliament Hill Tuesday.
If only the Sex and the City movie (opening this Friday, in case you hadn’t heard) could have been rendered entirely in CGI by Patrick Douglass Cox, who has given us Joe: Portrait of a Young Fogey, now adorning the halls of Parliament like a still from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Retouched Me: imagine the Botox and light filters that might have been saved.
On the other hand, perhaps we should be grateful that Clark resisted the urge to ask that Cox depict him dressed as Evel Knievel jumping a Harley-Davidson over Pierre Trudeau’s cabinet, while Ann-Margret waits just beyond the landing ramp with arms outstretched.
In his remarks, Clark urged greater respect in public life:
“We are a country of immense diversity. We are going to have our clashes. We have to try to understand the origins, the point of views of others. We have to show them a sense of respect that’s based on the sense of worth that they bring,” he said, drawing applause from the audience.
But that was the thing about Joe, wasn’t it? He had respect for the views of everyone except the citizens of the province that elected him to Parliament in 1972, 1974, 1979, 1980, 1984, 1988 and 2000. When it came to the “others” of Alberta, Joe’s attitude seemed to alternate between disgust and embarrassment.
But you didn’t have to go as far as Alberta to find people whose opinions Clark had little time for. As Clark would be well aware, many members of his own caucus on his first go-round as leader found themselves sidelined and ignored. Luckily Brian Mulroney was always happy to take their calls and sympathize with their frustrations. Or maybe Clark remains blissfully oblivious to this still: given his conduct in recent years, that seems quite possible.
Clark’s paean to r-e-s-p-e-c-t came less than 24 hours after he took the opportunity of an appearance on "Mike Duffy Live" to take another kick at Stephen Harper’s goolies (coincidentally, another Albertan), a kick that was better aimed than most of Joe’s tactics or strategies as leader:
“I’ve not had a prime minister before whom I didn’t think I knew where he really was, what his real concerns were. I didn’t always agree with him, but that’s the situation I’m in ...,” the former prime minister said yesterday in an interview with CTV Newsnet’s Mike Duffy.
“Even the Afghanistan mission it seems to me is, in effect, a reflection of the interest of working with the U.S., which is a good thing but not alone,” he said. “And Canada’s reputation internationally, which is an immense asset to the country, depends upon using both sides of the Canadian coin ... I don’t think he [Mr. Harper] is inclined to that and I don’t think his government has given a leadership to an excellent public service to be able to do that.”
Sadly, Duffy did not interject to remind Clark that the Afghanistan mission is NATO-led, and was initiated and extended by two Liberal prime ministers, one of whom – Paul Martin – Clark endorsed as “the devil we know” in the 2004 election. Now why would Clark urge Canadians to re-elect a corrupt Liberal government, instead of a Conservative one led by a man who had succeeded where he had failed?
And, yes, I am going to say it, because I always have to: my vote for Joe in the 1998 PC leadership is the only vote I wish I could take back.
Mike McGuire has also posted on this.