‘Goddamn the CPR.’

Can you imagine two more Canadian icons than journalist Allan Fotheringham and the Canadian Pacific Railway? It came as a pleasant surprise recently to see a television interview with ‘Doc Foth.’ He was as sardonic as ever. I have always admired Fotheringham for his writing skills and his humour. In fact, I have not read a copy of Maclean’s magazine since they unceremoniously retired him in 2002.

But all I was trying to do was check my memory of something I think Allan wrote 20 or 30 years ago. It was the probably apocryphal story of the Saskatchewan farmer whose wife ran off with a drummer, whose daughter did not know who got her pregnant and the locusts destroyed his wheat. The farmer looks to the heavens, shakes his fist and roars: ‘Goddamn the CPR.’

A friend reminded me of the story when he asked me about a Toronto Star editorial cartoon by Michael de Adder that he did not understand. It was a drawing of Alberta premier Jason Kenney at his desk and he had spilled his little bucket of paper clips. The comment coming from his mouth is: ‘@#Z$ Trudeau.’

What the cartoonist was showing was the well-known penchant of our dear friends out on the Prairies for blaming someone else for their spills and other problems. From the time when then prime minister Pierre Trudeau had asked some Prairie farmers a rhetorical question about selling their wheat, it has been popular across the Prairies to replace the CPR with a ‘Trudeau’ when complaining to their deity.

For all that our current prime minister Trudeau has tried to do for the Prairies, he is still vilified by Prairie politicians. My respectful advice to these politicians is that they should own the problems they create. Nobody in Ottawa is responsible for the volatility of crude oil pricing on world markets. Nor are they responsible for the environmental problems when shipping diluted bitumen. And they can tell Jason Kenney to pick up his own ‘@#Z$ paper clips.’

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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