Welcome back, Mr. Harper and the Sweathogs.

In the late 1970s American TV sitcom, Welcome back, Kotter, the character played by comedian Gabe Kaplan returned to his old high school to teach a remedial class of misfits. Somehow, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Senate misfits seem to be replaying the series. They are not only almost as funny but the various players in the current show are probably hoping that they can go on to greater roles like the kid who played sweathog Vinnie Barbarino, John Travolta.

Consider Nigel Wright. Is this a bit player? The R.C.M. Police have already made it clear that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Chief of Staff broke the law when he gave Senator Mike Duffy a cheque for $90,000. It is hard to suggest many other people in politics who could casually write a cheque of that amount, because his boss, the Prime Minister, told him to solve the problem. Many people think that Nigel Wright should go to jail for that slipup. They are also probably hoping his boss shares his cell.

The one character in the series that never got any respect was the character of the vice-principal and later principal of the school: Mr. Woodman. New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair is perfect for this role. While he makes life difficult for Mr. Harper and his Senate sweathogs, this is a man with greater ambitions. He has used everything short of tears to get Mr. Harper to confess to his failings.

If they remade the popular sitcom today, the writers would be forced to include a stronger presence for a female in the role of a sweathog. Can you think of a better role for Senator Pamela Wallin? The feisty Conservative Senator can hold her own in that gentlemen’s club of retired political bagmen and she does not like being told of what they think she is entitled. Mr. Harper picked her and the Senate got stuck with her and we will be hearing more from her before too long.

And then there has to be a role for Senator Patrick Brazeau. The pugilistic Senator reminds us of the conflicted Juan Epstein character in the TV series who traveled between cultures and seemed to be a loser in all of them. Many think Senator Brazeau fell out of favour with Stephen Harper when he let Justin Trudeau beat the snot out of him in a charity boxing match.

While we can wax nostalgic over the old TV series, the sweathogs of the Canadian Senate are far from finished. We can expect reruns for the next two years at least.

It is like the last few bars of the series theme song: Welcome back, welcome back.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

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