“As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden.”

—   Chauncey Gardner

An Internet wit spots how Mr. Poilievre’s old wood surrounds a new gas fireplace (Photo: Twitter/@DocMCohen).

In the United States today, they’re celebrating Independence Day today with fireworks and deadly gunfire

Well, let freedom ring!

Meanwhile, here in our peaceable Dominion north of the border, it would appear the dog days of summer – as we used to call them in the newspaper business, back when there still was a newspaper business – seem to have arrived. 

The late actor Peter Sellers as Chauncey Gardner in the 1979 film version of Jerzy Kosiński’s Being There (Photo: Creator not identified, Lorimar Productions, presumably).

You know the dog days are upon you when your local CBC station includes an item on the morning news about some random guy who bought a can of deck stain, failed to follow the instructions … and it flaked! 

As we used to say: Hold Page 1! 

Meanwhile, how to properly apply wood stain is probably something Pierre Poilievre could profitably keep in mind as he ponders the restoration, care and treatment of old wood.

Mr. Poilievre, of course, is the frontrunning candidate to lead the Conservative Party of Canada.

His creepily metaphorical new campaign video, posted yesterday in all the usual social media venues, became an instant cult classic with its presumably unintended unwholesome references to wood as well as its potted profundities. 

The beam was always inside the log.” Surely this is worthy of Jerzy Kosiński’s creation, the fictional simpleton Chauncey Gardner, whose infantile prattling in the film version of Being There is taken for profundity in the imagined Washington D.C. of the late 1970s. 

It’s doubtful it’s by accident that Mr. Poilievre’s sinister profundities suggest that if we can only “scrape off all the shit and mud and debris” we can restore our Dominion to its pristine utopian purity of old. The crude profanity is surely intentional, too – a dog-whistle within a dog-whistle. 

So what – or who – do you think Mr. Poilievre has in mind when he talks about scraping stuff away? You? Me? Our neighbours? 

Surely this video is nothing more than a jumped-up gimmie-cap slogan with a nice soundtrack offering us the chance to Make Canada Great Again. 

King John of England, 1166-1216, brought to heel by his barons, not by commoners (Image: Artist Unknown, National Portrait Gallery).

Typical of this kind of latter-day right-wing drivel, Mr. Poilievre’s potted history comes with glaring deficiencies – those weren’t commoners, as he said, who brought King John to heel in 1215. They were the 13th Century English equivalent of Conservatives nowadays like to call Laurentian Elites, at least when they’re not referring to themselves. In other words, the King’s own economic consiglieres.

And never mind how Mr. Poilievre’s beloved old wood surrounds a band new gas fireplace.

There’s projection typical of the utopian ideologues of neoliberal right here too in the accusation it’s the Conservatives’ political opponents who are the utopian idealists with their calls for history that reflects what really happened and the use of language that is inclusive and not casually hateful.

Listen carefully and you can hear Mr. Poilievre laying out the roadmap to a Canadian dystopia torn right from the pages of the same “history” book Jason Kenney’s been peddling here in Alberta with his school curriculum, and which the neo-Bolsheviks of the U.S. Supreme Court are now consulting as they dismantle democracy south of the 49th Parallel. 

If we Canadians are planning to build something worthwhile out of our recycled wood, we’d be advised to check it for the rotten spots that can appear in any old timber. And to follow the instructions on the can of stain. 

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July.

Join the Conversation


  1. Hi, Dave. I keep asking Conservatives where Pierre Poilievre, the adopted son of two school teachers, got the 20 million dollars – assuming he paid taxes on it, which would have been 50% – he suddenly acquired upon being elected to parliament at age 25, with one degree from university and a few years working for the Conservative party (At age 40 he claimed – Macleans article) to be worth over 9 million dollars. He’s made noise about how others don’t work hard enough (see the Rick Mercer rant on that one) but I assume his assets went into a blind trust when he was elected. Isn’t that how things work in parliament?

    Conservative replies as to where the money came from are hilarious (“he probably shrewdly invested his earnings” type of thing)… or would be if he wasn’t just off recommending crypto-currencies. My hope is that he put everything he had into them. (the only way I know of to make big bucks like that as a college student is dealing in drugs. A friend of the family – his Dad knew mine, and we lived about 2 miles apart – used to call my older brother a sucker for working on the CPR during the summer to make enough to go to college. “You sucker, I make more in one week than you do in the whole year”. Which was true until he tried to fly from the balcony of his 22nd floor Vancouver apartment. Rumour had it he tried to stiff a supplier. The family was devastated: they thought it was suicide.)

    Anywhere else and he would be in a room being interviewed by police officers who had never made that kind of money themselves but were good enough at math to be able to prove that there was no legitimate way he could have either.

    I’d be obliged if you would do an article on this. Thanks.

  2. “Mr. Poilievre’s beloved old wood surrounds a band new gas fireplace.” Band new?

    I loved “Being There” as a movie, but hated the book. Maybe it was a poor translation.

  3. Children sent to residential schools without parental consent, Japanese internment camps during World War Two and the Head Tax on Chinese railway workers followed by the Chinese Exclusion Act all come to my mind quickly and contradict the Poilievre narrative of the wood.

    Our past is full of examples of people being discriminated against.

  4. I wonder if Pierre Poilievre is smart enough to know the difference between a gas powered truck and a diesel one. His pal Jason Kenney apparently doesn’t. It certainly gave us all a good laugh.

    1. Alan K. Spiller: People are easily fooled by Pierre Poliveire. That’s especially true in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Will they be laughing if he becomes Prime Minister, and puts his bad Reformer style policies into effect, costing people jobs, their retirement, or even their lives, with his bad healthcare strategies?

  5. I’d like to reclaim the Wheat Board. The Conservatives f’d it up and sold it. I’d also like the trans-Canada train reclaimed. The Conservatives took it away. While we’re at it, I’d like the cod fishery back, sound and viable again. The Liberals wrecked that as well as the Conservatives, but it was the Conservatives that had to put on the 2 year moratorium that has lasted 30 years. My husband is a real handyman, and he laughs as Poilievre doing any wood working.

    1. Well said Anne! The conservatives always claim they’re restore glory when in reality they ruin what we had and make things worse for the average person.

    2. Anne
      I want the 1.3 million bodies of water re protected , the 23? scientific libraries that were destroyed back, the radiation detection system back with the isotope program but maybe most of all an economy that requires bringing back pennies and 40% corporate tax and add 50% tax on millionaires.
      Dream BIG.

  6. “So what – or who – do you think Mr. Poilievre has in mind when he talks about scraping stuff away? You? Me? Our neighbours?”
    This one is for dead Alex Trebek!.. BZZZZZZ! Pogo! You might you might win the final round! OK.. ok.. Alex..what is.. fagots with an agenda Alex?! .. Well done! -commercial break- The wind blows in every direction on jeopardy! https://youtu.be/43_GqFW7iYc?t=1

  7. I have one those old barns on my farm. It is a relic of an earlier energy transition from animal to fossil fuel power. In Alberta from 1900 to about 1930 around one third of the land was devoted to raising oats and forage for the work horses housed in those barns. The barns were the Tesla batteries of the day holding high quality forage for the work horses wintering there along with a granary next door filled with oats for the heavy work in the spring. By 1932 those work horses were mostly gone, replaced by tractors. The original owners of my farm did not see the change coming and built a beautiful horse barn in 1926 which soon proved to be a stranded asset. It is a sobering reminder about the limits of nostalgia.

  8. I need clarification. When he says “chip in” at the end of the video, does he mean wood chips? I did send an empty Cheezies package to a certain premier, so I would be happy to send a few shavings from the hamster cage his way.

    The man who would be prime minister, swearing and spending all his spare time in the woods, building cabins? Look at the not-quite-plaid-flannel-lumberjack-shirt. The UCP wants to take us back to the 1950s, but the CPC wants us to teleport us back in time to the Magna Carta.

    We were always hewers of wood and drawers of water. We should take that back. Elect PP and you, too, can earn a subsistence living in the woods, without wasteful modern luxuries like plumbing or a gas fireplace. All that’s missing is PP singing a rousing rendition of “Donkey Riding”: “Were you ever in Quebec, stowing timber on the deck…”

    I have one request: can he carve a rocker and reclaim it, because he’s gone off the one he had.

  9. Watching Skippy Pollivere’s amusing take on the joy of woodworking (or perhaps the joy of working the wood, as some have taken it) I paid attention to his words as he spoke loving of his home improvement project. Pollivere bought rough hewn wooden boards and timbers from an unsuspecting farmer for a mere $10 apiece. Now that this home improvement now serves as the centerpiece of a social media pitch for the PMO, I wonder if that farmer should have held out for more money?

    As Pollivere loving touches and strokes the wood, he speaks weird thoughts out loud, like “The beam was always inside the log.” He goes on to mention some more deep thoughts, like his definition of Utopia and being “a place of nowhere”. In a sense, that is true. But no one has promised a Utopia, because who wants to be responsible for something that everyone knows cannot exist, and perhaps should never exist. (Even Jagmeet Singh won’t go there.)

    The more Pollivere spoke, the more I noticed that he was speaking of a time that once was and is as good as gone. Pollivere speaks of ancient traditions, of old values, of former times, where everyone knew their place, whether they liked i or not. Pollivere’s defends an older Canada, the Canada of residential schools, racism, and forced marginalization of whole groups of people. On a recent interview with Jordan Peterson, Pollivere said he speaks simply, in an Anglo-Saxon way. If Skippy meant what he said, will he begin speaking in the language of Beowulf? (Oh, I really hope so.)

    When Umberto Eco wrote his UR-FASCISM, he described the fascist’s tendencies to mythologize the past, fetishise traditions, reject modernism, and create enemies. In an nutshell, Pollivere, whether he knew it or not, sought to do all of the preceding. As unintentionally funny as the video is, it should also be considered a warning.

  10. My first thought on seeing the picture was “oh cute Skippy is pretending he knows how to do something useful.”

    Super weird to me that some conservatives support a guy who has never worked a day in his life.

    1. Neil Lore: Someone who hasn’t had a real job in their life, isn’t going to know how to deal with the economy, including with jobs. Pierre Poliveire, and the head honcho of the UCP, definitely come to mind on that matter. The head honcho of the UCP messed things up in Alberta, and took that prior experience he had in the CPC here. The UCP is bragging about a surplus that is nearly $4 billion, coincidentally after the Auditor General, Doug Wylie noted that $4 billion in federal Covid-19 relief money that was given to Alberta couldn’t be properly accounted for. Pierre Poliveire has been praising the virtues of cryptocurrency, and look at how things went on that front. In Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, people think Pierre Poliveire would make a great Prime Minister. Others in Canada do too. There is a saying about a sucker being born every minute.

  11. Ridiculous content by CBC staff at all levels to broadcast this crap: ‘You know the dog days are upon you when your local CBC station includes an item on the morning news about some random guy who bought a can of deck stain, failed to follow the instructions … and it flaked!

    As we used to say: Hold Page 1! ‘

  12. Perhaps there is point to Mr. Poilievre’s metaphorical tale about scraping away the crud to reveal the good wood underneath. However, the metaphor can be interpreted in different ways and not just in the way to Mr. Polievre’s liking.

    For instance life long prominent Conservative Marjory LeBron, who resigned in disgust as protestors over ran Ottawa and some in her own party abandoned their supposed law and order principles, might have different view of what the crud is. She might not be the only long time, card carrying Conservative who feels the populist, mob inciting politicians currently trying to take control of that party are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    Polievre, is cut from much the same cloth as Kenney. Both are moderately talented career politicians who figured out they could advance their political careers by engaging in the politics of resentment and stoking anger. Well, it worked for Kenney, until people realized all his clever political games, like the referendum on equalization, accomplished nothing. They are already wondering about Polievre’s attendance at the World Economic Forum and I suspect the riled up mob will eventually turn on him too when it becomes clear he is a phony too.

    The Conservative Party is the party of the economic establishment and it is best when they are upfront about that.
    To engage in populist theatrics to try convince voters otherwise is fundementally dishonest and will eventually end badly and in disappointment.

  13. What the—!

    That was disturbing. “So-called Liberals” are out to “create a utopia out of trash,” eh? And “sweep away history,” too, eh? Like the “commoners” who forced King John to buckle in 1215–you know, common like run-of-the-mill barons during that noble time when 99% of Europeans were arguably the most abjectly impoverished illiterates in all of history. Yes, yes, sweep way, sweep away, hurry hard, hurry hard!

    Pierre ‘gag-me-with-another-gimmick’ Poilievre regresses to the meanness he would like to insinuate, done in by his own Justin—Justin Kruger, that is. Coulda just gone to the thingy store and bought some plain old boards that were trees the sun and rain and sleet grew, that loggers cut down and trashy utopians cut the round parts off of—but, no! He uses reclaimed wood, segue to analogy, scrape off the shit to originalist jaggedness, to each axe blow, back to the beam that always was but needs the soft touch of beneficent government—his own “no-place,” if, by Chauncey, the whistle was always in the turd, just needed some a that reclaimin’, too.

    While Denning upon all that, let us recall that, if you know anything about trees and sawmilling, there’s such a thing as boxed heart, such a beam that doesn’t require hundreds of years—certainly not the eight-hundred of “our tradition”—to twist its tenons right out of its mortises. Thank you for the opportunity to mix more metaphor into the meta-cognitive morass, Mr Pete of politics—Justin time to reclaim that boxed-heart beams are, like the political party you self-assess yours to lose, is essentially held together by nuts (that’s commoner-medieval for “knots”—a which they’s plenty about the beam in the log). It might be dumb, but, hey, it’s free.

    Let’s hope it stays that way—minus M Dégueler’s wage and perks. Huh? Kinda math is that? Well, cognitive biases aside, we must now consider whether the alleged spike in the log of eligible CPC voting members is an objective indication of Poilievre’s inevitability or a wave of lapsed members gettin’ all woody about keeping the pecker-head from ever becoming leader for the sake of a party now teetering on the edge of fringe, reclaiming its utopian King John.

    It might look like stunned silence, but I bet Charest, Brown and the rest are being discrete about hardly believing their luck.

  14. “The beam was always inside the log.” Knowing nothing about old boards I have no idea what this means but if this is Pierre’s best shot at a Canada Day weekend message, his wooden head deserves my thoughts and prayers.

  15. He will certainly have lots of dead wood to work with in the current CPC caucus. Should keep him happy for a long, long time.

  16. Not sure about pp, but if he has the likes of AP shilling hard against him he must be ok. Definitely worth looking into.

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