Stephen Harper’s Magical Mystery Tour
Last Saturday Stephen Harper sat down in front of a piano at a National Arts Centre gala and played and sang With A Little Help From My Friends, by the Beatles. The crowd was impressed; the media fawned. The bedrock of Canadian politics seemed to shift in an instant. I had a vision.
In my vision, a man named Stephen Harper made a wonderful discovery. The music of the Beatles, channeled through his larynx and fingertips, could change everything. With the help of With A Little Help, he had shattered his image as a ruthless, reptilian schemer and made the people love him. All he had to do was play the right Beatles song in the right time and place, and reality would reshape itself according to his wishes. His star would rise, his enemies would stumble, and the gospel of True Conservatism would resound across the firmament. He gathered his piano and his backing musicians, and went forth to conquer.
He began modestly enough, with a bit of housekeeping on the home front. His stirring rendition of Get Back, with Jason Kenney on backing vocals, instantly sent thousands of refugee claimants, illegal immigrants, French postmodern philosophers, and other assorted undesirables scurrying off to their countries of origin. Flushed with this initial success, he moved his ensemble to Washington, D.C., for a special performance of We Can Work It Out before the US Congress. Both houses broke into rapturous applause, while President Barack Obama sat sullenly on the sidelines. Buy American provisions melted away, as far as Canadian firms were concerned, like so much stimulus money in a banker’s pocket.
With a major conference on climate change looming in Copenhagen, the Harper Magical Mystery Tour charted a course for Europe. Requests by the British National Party, the Swiss People’s Party, and many others for a reprisal of Get Back had to be declined in favour of more pressing business. The chords of Happiness is A Warm Gun wafted through the Brussels air, and the entire continent discovered or rediscovered a blazing ferocity that would have done credit to the Vikings. Vast contingents of elite soldiers soon embarked for Afghanistan, armed to the teeth and spoiling for a fight. In Copenhagen itself Harper was equally successful. By the simple expedient of playing Let It Be he convinced the assembled governmental representatives that absolutely no action on climate change would be needed until at least the year 2550. When the representatives of certain Pacific Island nations, plus Bangladesh, complained about the possibility of rising sea levels, Harper’s impromptu rendition of Yellow Submarine instantly persuaded them that life would actually be rather jolly if their countries became completely inundated.
In Russia, alas, he struck a false note. No one could decide whether his performance of Back in the USSR was a veiled warning not to return to a Cold War mentality, or simply an envious salute to Vladimir Putin’s Soviet-like control of the media and ability to stifle all dissent without even resorting to the power of classic rock. Nevertheless, Harper left the bickering Muscovites behind him and proceeded to Tehran, where he embarrassed President Ahmedinejad into accepting full international inspections of his nuclear facilities with Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me And My Monkey. Suggestions that the same song might work wonders in Tel Aviv were summarily rebuffed as Harper boarded a plane to Beijing.
When he broke into I Want to Hold Your Hand, the Chinese leadership appeared to forget the long years of petty slights and pointless moralistic hectoring. Their signatures appeared on a tremendous stack of trade agreements and investment deals, although some local media reported that the Politburo had simply been afraid that Harper might move on to Why Don’t We Do It In The Road if they didn’t accede to his demands. Be that as it may, Harper seemed content with his triumph, fast asleep with a beatific smile on the way home to Canada.
He wrapped up the tour back at the National Arts Centre, but in front of a rather different audience this time. Assembled in the exclusive venue was an unlikely crowd including evangelical clergy, oil patch executives, the entire editorial board of the National Post, and some like-minded folks from south of the border, among others. Slowly at first, and then with increasing verve and power, Harper moved into the prime ministerial version of With A Little Help From My Friends that started it all…