Volume 95, Issue 32

Tuesday, October 30, 2001
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Consumer orgy

Do nice things

Free booze, free eats and a buffet of young PCs

Free booze, free eats and a buffet of young PCs

Poppin' your Wherry
Aaron Wherry

Say what you will about Tories, if nothing else they can at least throw a decent party.

Having been banned from the official festivities of this past weekend's Progressive Conservative Policy Conference, myself and a few of my intrepid colleagues decided to gain an insider's look at Ontario's Tories through slightly unconventional means.

Eschewing the serious political discussion of the convention floor, we set our sights on Saturday night's Young PC convention pub.

Clad in our most "conservative" attire (for myself, a clean shirt), we strode past the common folk and into a giant pit of political posturing and youthful exuberance.

It is by the grace of God any of us remain to tell the story.

OK, so it wasn't that bad. In fact, the kids were actually quite nice.

Though we were immediately recognized as a bunch of meddlesome journalists, Western's gang of aspiring ass-kissers were more than willing to provide us with free booze, free eats and a bountiful buffet of conservative commentary.

For those interested, the early predictions say Deputy Premier Jim Flaherty is the early favorite to replace Duffer Harris.

As the alcohol flowed and schmoozing grew tiresome, some kids took to the dance floor. Other's sucked up to the various MPPs and PC higher-ups who decided to grace us with their presence.

All seemed rather uneventful, until a great tremor seemed to ripple through the audience.

It couldn't be. Him? Here? But it was.

The Right Honourable Joe Clark was striding down the stairs and the kiddies were clamouring like pigs to the trough.

Joe, ever the consummate politician, shook all their hands.

Finally, he arrived at The Gazette party and, realizing he was in the presence of Canada's best student journalists, he couldn't contain himself.

"I was the editor of the [University of Calgary] Gateway," he said. "We lost the Southam Trophy [once awarded to the top student newspaper in the nation] to The Gazette and I never forgave you guys."

We all laughed. Oh Joe, always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Well, except for that brief period in the 80s, but that hardly counts.

Afterwards, his director of communications, a lovely lady named Marie Chantale Lepine, gave us her card and assured us we should call her anytime we need anything.

(Note to self: next time, don't bother with those lackeys in the premier's office, go straight to the top much more helpful and much better looking)

Joe finished his visit (elapsed time: 1 minute 56 seconds) and all the kiddies giggled with delight as they told their fellow Cons about how Joe had said "hi" to them. Cute.

We lowly journalists lingered awhile longer. It was rumoured Alliance rebel ringleader Chuck Strahl might be stopping by. He never materialized, though I suspect that large bulge in Mr. Clark's back pocket may have been Chuckie.

After downing a couple more beers and scarfing down more complimentary veggies, we quietly took our leave.

Maybe we didn't get into the convention. Maybe we didn't get to hang out with all those "professional" journalists.

But, for a few hours at least, we got to hang out with some living, breathing conservatives and enjoy free alcohol on Mike Harris' tab.

You can't ask for much more out of a weekend.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001