The Prime Minister’s New Budget
NOTE: I re-tooled the ending to reflect just who the little kid(s) is(are).
By: Aaron Braaten
The Emporer’s New Clothes
Hans Christian Andersen
MANY, many moments ago lived a Prime Minister, who thought so much of his government that he spent all his money (and more) in order to maintain it; his only ambition was to be always in power. He did not care for his backbenchers, and the House of Commons did not amuse him; the only thing, in fact, he thought anything of was to drive out and show some governmental legitimacy. He had a policy position for every hour of the day; and as one would say of a Prime Minister, “He is in his cabinet,” so one could say of him, “The Prime Minister is in an emergency cabinet meeting.”
The great city where he resided was very gay (Toronto, er, Ottawa); every day many strangers from all parts of the globe arrived. One day two swindlers, Layton and McGuinty, came to this city; they made people believe that they were “saving Canada”, and declared they could manufacture a legitimate government. Their backroom dealings and spending promises, they said, were not only exceptionally expensive, but the government made of their spending promises possessed the wonderful quality of being invisible to any man who was unfit for his office or unpardonably stupid.
“That must be a wonderful government,” thought the Prime Minister. “If I were to base my government on such a complex array of technical budget promises, I should be able to find out which men in my empire were inbred Western slack-jawed yokels, and I could distinguish the Liberals from the Conservatives. I must have this government legitimized for me without delay.” And he gave a large sum of money to the swindlers, 22 billion to be exact, that they should set to work without any loss of time. They set up two agreements, and pretended to be very hard at work, but they did nothing whatever on the agreements. They asked for the most expensive budget items and the most precious portfolios; all they got they did away with, and worked at the empty promises till late at night.
“I should very much like to know how they are getting on with the budget promises,” thought the Prime Minister. But he felt rather uneasy when he remembered that he who was not a Liberal or an NDP could not see it. Personally, he was of opinion that he had nothing to fear, yet he thought it advisable to send somebody else first to see how matters stood. Everybody in Ontario knew what a remarkable quality the budget promises possessed, and all were anxious to see how mad or stupid their neighboring provinces were.
“I shall send Ralph Goodale to examine the budget for me,” thought the Prime Minister. “He can judge best how the stuff looks, for he is intelligent, and nobody understands his office better than he.”
The good old minister went into the room where the swindlers sat before the2005 Budget. “Heaven preserve us!” he thought, and opened his eyes wide, “I cannot see anything at all,” but he did not say so. Both Layton and McGuinty requested him to come near, and asked him if he did not admire the exquisite number-crunching and the beautiful array of spending initiatives, pointing to the Budget. The poor old minister tried his very best, but he could see nothing, for there was nothing to be seen. “Oh dear,” he thought, “can I be so stupid? I should never have thought so, and nobody must know it! Is it possible that I am a Conservative? No, no, I cannot say that I was unable to see how the budget will legitimize the government.”
“Now, have you got nothing to say?” said one of the swindlers, while he pretended to be busily working for “the people of Canada”.
“Oh, it is very pretty, exceedingly beautiful,” replied the old minister looking through his glasses. “What a beautiful array of spending initiatives, what brilliant number-crunching! I shall tell the Prime Minister that I like these spending promises very much.”
“We are pleased to hear that,” said the swindlers, McGuinty and Layton, and described to him the budget promises and explained the curious discrepancies. The old minister listened attentively, that he might relate to the Prime Minister what they said; and so he did.
Now the swindlers asked for more money, budget portfolios and unconditional funds, which they required for buying votes. They kept everything for themselves and their corporate party affiliates, and not a cent came near the targeted areas, but they continued, as hitherto, to work at the budget.
Soon afterwards the Prime Minister sent another "honest" Liberal Party faithful to the drafters of the budget to see how they were getting on, and if the vote was nearly bought. Like the old minister, he looked and looked but could see nothing, as there was nothing to be seen.
“Is it not a beautiful piece of legislation?” asked the two swindlers, showing and explaining the magnificent promises, which, however, did not exist.
“I am not stupid,” said the man. “It is therefore my good appointment for which I am not fit. It is very strange, but I must not let any one know it;” and he praised the budget, which he did not see, and expressed his joy at the beautiful number-crunching and the fine selection of promises. “It is very excellent,” he said to the Prime Minister.
Everybody in the whole country talked about the precious budget. At last the Prime Minister wished to see it himself, while it was still on the media’s radar. With a number of Ministers, including the two who had already been there, he went to the two clever swindlers, who now worked as hard as they could, but without using any thought of a balanced future budget.
“Is it not magnificent?” said the two old statesmen who had been there before. “The Honorable Member must admire the promises and the grandiosity of vision for a unified Canada.” And then they pointed to the empty promises, for they imagined the others could see the budget.
“What is this?” thought the Prime Minister, “I do not see anything at all. That is terrible! Am I stupid? Am I unfit to be Prime Minister? That would indeed be the most dreadful thing that could happen to me.”
“Really,” he said, turning to the Premiers and McGuinty and Layton, “your deal has our most gracious approval;” and nodding contentedly he looked at the budget, for he did not like to say that he saw nothing. All his handlers and advisors, who were with him, looked and looked, and although they could not see anything more than the others, they said, like the Prime Minister, “It is very beautiful.” And all advised him to vow to follow through on the new magnificent budgetary promises at a great procession called an “Election” which was to follow the Vote of Confidence, which was soon to take place in May. “It is magnificent, beautiful, excellent,” one heard them say; everybody seemed to be delighted, and the Prime Minister appointed the two swindlers “Federal Ambassadors.”
The whole night previous to the day on which the Confidence vote was to take place, the Finance and Cabinet Ministers pretended to work, and passed around more than sixteen yellow envelopes. People should see that they were busy to finish the Prime Minister’s new budget. They pretended to take money from Ontario, and pretended not to take any from Alberta, and added in a kite, a pony and three lollipops for all the residents of Saskatchewan, B.C. and the Atlantic Provinces, and said at last: “The Prime Minister’s 2005 budget is ready now.”
The Prime Minister and all his Cabinet Ministers then came to Parliament; the other Liberal MP’s held their arms up as if they held the balance of power in their hands and said: “These are the expenditures!” “This is the expected revenue!” and “Here is the forecasted surplus!” and so on. “The budget promises are all as light as a cobweb, and one must feel as if one had made no promises at all to Ontario and the rest of Canada; but that is just the beauty of them.”
“Indeed!” said all the CBC commentators; but they could not see anything, for there was nothing to be seen.
“Does it please the Prime Minister now to graciously call an election,” said the swindlers, “that we may assist him in assuming a new mandate from the electorate of Canada?”
The Prime Minister called an election, and McGuinty and Layton campaigned for him, one riding after another; and the Prime Minister looked at his ratings in every poll he could find.
“How well they look! How well they fit!” said all. “What a beautiful budget! What fine promises! That is a magnificent spending of taxpayer dollars!”
The Speaker of the House announced that the bearers of CBC bias, which was to be deployed in the election campaign, were ready.
“I am ready,” said the Prime Minister. “Does not my budget redeem me marvelously?” Then he turned once more to the polls, that people should think he admired his budget.
The handlers, who were to ride on the campaign bus, stretched their rhetoric to the limits as if they could convince the media, and pretended to write something in their Blackberries; they did not like people to know that they could not see anything.
The Prime Minister began his campaign on the beautiful bus, and all who saw him in the street and out of the windows exclaimed: “Indeed, the Prime Minister’s new budget is incomparable! What a long list of items! How well it buys my vote!” Nobody wished to let others know he saw nothing, for then he would have been unfit for his office or too stupid. Never a Prime minister’s budget were more admired.
“But he has nothing in this budget at all,” said the bloggers at last. “Good heavens! listen to the voice of the journalistically untrained bloggers,” said the father, and one whispered to the other what the bloggers had said. “But he has nothing in that budget at all,” cried at last the whole blogosphere. That made a deep impression upon the Prime Minister, for it seemed to him that they were right; but he thought to himself, “Now I must bear up to the end.” And the handlers walked with still greater dignity, as if they carried a mandate which did not exist.