A bottle of Laphroaig and a Hoyo de Monterrey double corona.
If you happen to be a sucker for fine Scotch and big, complex cigars, the aforementioned will evoke images of comfy, quilted cordovan leather easy chairs, and time well spent in conversation with the closest of friends. And the good fortune to know that, for the duration of the exercise, everything will be in its right place, order will have been restored.
Now this: Who among the three leaders vying for your vote in less than three weeks’ time would you care to share a bottle of Scotch and a cigar with?
Committing oneself to a double corona with the leader of your choosing isn’t exactly a quick in-and-out scenario. It’s not a four minute death-dealing hit from a ciggie on a cold patch of concrete 30 meters away from your nearest doorway with your prime ministerial pal huddled in a peacoat and a bundled muffler.
Imbibing wee drams of Scotch with a large cigar will take, minimally, an hour and fifteen minutes, if your pace is sane and measured. And it’s not time well spent if you cannot stand the interlocutor seated across from you.
So who, given a choice between Stephen Harper, Tom Mulcair, and Justin Trudeau, would you care to share this rare time with?
It’s a question that came to me after watching the recent Munk Leaders’ Debate on foreign affairs.
Watching the hopeful candidates rising to the occasion of the debate with their files in order, their attack lines well-rehearsed, and comporting themselves with relative dignity and surprising gravitas, I was left with the sense that each of them handled the affair decently. No one struck a knockout blow. Viewers were able to see clearly articulated policy differences between the three men; and I think it’s highly unlikely that any one of them swayed voters away from well-established ideological preferences.
Let’s face it, folks. As much as other commentators in these and other pages will want to alarm you with world-ending scenarios should a candidate other than the one they personally favour emerge as the victor, the world will not grind to a stop. There is precious little that any one of them can accomplish to change the current state of national affairs in a paradigm-shifting manner.
But the personality of the leader who emerges victorious on October 19 can indeed do a lot to shape the mood of the country. So let’s take a look at the top three lads who would be your leader, the one with whom you could hang out at home over two of the world’s finest stimulants.
The “man in a blue suit,” Stephen Harper, has always struck me as a guy who does not play well with others. His ivory-tinkling and singing skills notwithstanding, there is little to recommend the man as a warm and engaging presence. The scores of stories that have been written about his style of governance would suggest that Mr. Harper has spent a life in consultation with himself and himself alone, and that listening is not one of the senses he has needed to cultivate. My guess is that he’d not possess any of the poetic sensibilities required to truly enjoy the luxurious blue billows of smoke emanating from the fiery ember of a fine, fat cigar (or the heady conversation that sumptuous smoke inspires).
Mellifluous Tom Mulcair has a voice that sounds as if it has been cured in fine alcohol and tobacco. There’s a manly baritone for you! It would be well-placed praising our national broadcaster and restoring its finances after the drubbing it’s taken from Mr. Harper. And I suspect that a guy who has emerged from an Irish family with a zillion kids knows a thing or two about compromise and “playing nice.” My guess is that even if he were not a lover of Scotch, he’d be game for a sit-down and a chat over a few drams, and even look as if he were enjoying it. The unfair “Angry Tom” epithet would vanish in the indigo haze and I suspect his eyes would sparkle with gratitude at being able to share even a brief respite with your Wednesday morning monologist.
Personally, I want to like Justin Trudeau. I admire a man who has fought hard to keep his head above water, a man whose natural endowments and personal history have been among his toughest hurdles. Surely it is no easy thing to come across as such a personable man emerging from the shadow of an iconic father and a mother lamentably mad enough to abandon her family. But Justin Trudeau continues to inspire many folks and he surprises many others at the way he seems to have grown into his current stature as would-be prime minister. And there is no doubt in my mind that young Trudeau would be amiable company around a fire, his patrician nose dipping over the crystal edge of a glass of fine Scotch and his hand cradling a Cuban. Hell, if he were feeling generous, he’d probably even proffer a cigar gifted his father by old Fidel so many years ago!
It’s your turn now, folks, to imagine your own private sit-down with one of the three who would be your prime minister. My hope is that you can look beyond the prefabricated images that party apparatchiks project our way. Sometimes a little imagination can go a long way to help you formulate the decision to come on election day.
— Jeffrey Loewen is a Kelowna-based writer who plays music by day and politics by night