Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Say Cheese....y

I'm really glad that the Prime Minister is back from his hard-working trip to Asia. I'm sure that it's not easy to look your best for all those staged photo-ops. It's a good thing he has generous taxpayers to pay for an entourage to bully the mere mortals in the area into obedience. The following is an excerpt from an article by Garth Pritchard in the Winnipeg Sun on Jan 19:

PM 'handles" the disaster.

It was a circus when Prime Minister Paul Martin visited the disaster area of Kalmunia in Sri Lanka this week for a photo opportunity.

His people from Ottawa, including the RCMP, were pushing people out of the way, grabbing at cameras and trampling over graves on the beach in order to photograph the PM.
An RCMP guy tried to interfere with my camera, but one of our soldiers intervened. A couple of women from the PM's office were running around yelling at people. It got out of hand. It was crazy.

The whole visit was a photo opportunity -- with cameras set up for the PM in designated spots: Martin on the beach looking out to sea, Martin amid the wreckage, Martin with a homeless kid, Martin taking a token drink of water produced by the DART (Disaster Assistance Response Team) water purifier.

He met with the Canadian commander, Lt. Col. Mike Voith, and a small medical team but didn't visit the camp of the 200 Canadian military people here for tsunami victims. Martin's handlers wanted no one but their people taking photos. The padre was even shoved out of the way.

And then he was gone -- helicoptered out. Maybe 90 minutes in the area. Embarrassing. I'm in Sri Lanka with the DART men and women and, as Canadian soldiers always do, they're working miracles -- but the PM didn't have time to visit them. I found it a slap in the face. Why couldn't the PM's handlers have taken him to the soldiers who are doing a fantastic job? There were eyebrows raised at the camp when it was learned he wouldn't be visiting.

Makes you darn proud to have him representing us abroad, doesn't it? The best part about him being back in Canada is certainly not the leadership he practices, because he doesn't. The best thing is that we won't have to suffer through all those spontaneous shots of Mr. Martin gazing thoughtfully out over the sea; or strolling purposefully through the courtyard of the Forbidden City; or contemplating the mystery of the Great Wall.

When I saw him walking on the beach, I had a vivid flashback of Bill Clinton strolling the beach at Normandy deep in reverent contemplation of the sacrifice that American servicemen made on those shores. I was surprised that the PM didn't 'stumble' across some white stones that just happened to be in the shape of a maple leaf. Maybe his staff doesn't have the same imagination as the former President's. The other thing that was missing was the strategically placed warship in the background. But then, we don't have enough of those to go around, even for something as serious as polishing the fantasy of a caring leader.

I hope that the PM enjoyed some nice wine on his return trip from the "front", to go with his vintage cheese.

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