Author’s note: This is a work of satirical fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Somewhere over Lake Ontario: Saturday, January 27, 2018
The Delta flight from DC to Ottawa was now on approach. David shuffled in his business class seat. He was tired of all this nonsense.
His battle to salvage the tattered U.S. Republican Party was futile while Trump was in charge. Not to mention the emotional scars remaining from his own days in the Bush White House.
So long ago. Then his thoughts raced back to 1994. London, Ontario. It will be just like then, he assured himself.
He scowled as the flight attendant patted her ears, beckoning him to remove his headphones.
Katie was going to send a driver to pick David up from the airport, but thought better of it.
Plus, if she drove, it would allow precious time to debrief David on The Plan.
And, come to think of it, the PM’s speeches were getting stale lately. All that fluff about Canada “remaining a work in progress”. She knew his UN speech was a disaster.
‘This may be just what we need right now’, Katie thought as swerved her Prius into the Arrivals lane to retrieve the Prime Minister’s new “speech writer”. At least, that would be his official title.
“But what about the Leadership vote?”, Rusty asked. “200,000 members?”
“I told you not to worry about that, John”, Mike assured, as he tapped the briefcase next to his chair.
Lists. Lists of riding presidents, party executives, caucus members, candidates, farmers, hunters, and former parliamentarians. Carefully cultivated over the past three years. Hundreds of names of those who could be trusted to act in a moment’s notice.
“And don’t forget my newspapers”, piped John, “My editorials boards will write what I tell them to”.
Noticing she was the only woman in the lobby bar of the Four Seasons, Laura instinctively worried about being conspicuous.
And he was late. But she had to speak to the Ambassador to find out what was really going on.
Five, long minutes later, he walked in. “Laura!” he shouted, ambling up to the bar. ‘Freaking sakes’, Laura cussed quietly, hiding her irritation.
“It’s nice to see you again, Ambassador McCallum”.
Jim entered the basement of Whitney Block, and nodded to Kyle, the lone security guard at the underground entrance.
He walked quickly past the main set of elevators. “5 – 9 – 9 – 1” he repeated to himself, remembering the access code.
Ducking into an alcove, Jim punched the numbers into the lock pad and opened the door.
Sliding open the screen to the old hand-cranked elevator, he pulled the lever all the way to get the cage up to the top floor.
The old 15-storey office tower was officially closed in 1968, and few even took notice of it anymore. “It’s a wonder this elevator still works”, thought Jim. The old cage rattled and squeaked as it slowly ascended.
“This seems simple enough”, announced David. “We all know that Carty and Eagles were spot on, and Ontario is the lynch pin of federal election outcomes”.
Gerald knew all this, thinking back to his McGill days studying Carty and Eagles in 2nd year political science.
“I know all that”, he said to Frum. “But this must be done decisively, without being obvious”.
“Exactly. The last thing we want is a Chicago Black Sox scandal on our hands”, Katie blurted out.
Baseball had been on her mind lately. Just this morning, her husband reminded her that Grapefruit League started in a month.
Rusty had been itching to get back to Ottawa, as the engine kickstarted the props on the Q-400.
It was vital that the operation be carried out from Ottawa, away from the pandemonium – and the nosy press gallery – at Queen’s Park.
“We haven’t seen Mr. Frum in a while”, remarked Mike.
“Well I’m glad he’s handling things with the PMO”, Rusty replied. “Which reminds me, I have to ask Brian a question about NAFTA”.
Rusty’s mind was now back onto trade and foreign policy. That’s all he really cared about. He only got involved with The Plan as a favour to Mike and Brian.
Guy was worried about Jim.
And he wondered if he was too hard on him. Of everyone involved with The Plan, Jim had the most distasteful task.
Guy pondered this though. He knew Jim was an experienced Member of Provincial Parliament. Jim already knew most of the secrets of Queen’s Park. Secrets he would probably take to his grave. Some of the things he had done in the past were incredible.
Guy thought of the old hand-cranked elevator cage in Whitney Tower. It hadn’t been used in years. What if…
‘Nah, it’ll be fine’, he confidently thought to himself.
“So, is it true?”, Laura asked pointedly. She had no time for small talk.
“Is what true?”, replied the Ambassador.
She just stared at him. Ambassador McCallum swirled the little purple plastic stir-stick around his half-full tumbler glass, and slowly nodded his head in the affirmative.
“How do you know?”, she pressed.
“The PM being flown to every corner of the world. Frum is in Ottawa. The Star just hired five new columnists. A signed lease for a fifty-desk call centre in Cyrville. Ink is being ordered by the barrel. They’ve been planning this for a year, Laura.”
She was stunned.
Sitting in the secret West Block meeting room, David laid it all out for them. His slide deck featured an intricate step-by-step political strategy that would accomplish The Plan. The end result: The PM would be safe. Completely protected.
And that’s all Katie and Gerald wanted to hear. Gerald got up abruptly, “I have a three-o’clock with Fisheries and Oceans”.
SNAP SNAP went his fingers as he hurried out the door.
David grimaced as Katie clenched her fists, her focus going back to the complicated slide deck.
Some curious members of the public and the press gallery had started to wonder what was going on in Parliament Hill’s West Block, built originally in 1859.
The renovations that started six years ago seemed never ending, with delay after delay, excuse after excuse.
But the “rehabilitation work” was the only way to keep unwanted visitors out of the building.
And outside of the operation, only the Chief Parliamentary Architect knew of the secret, hidden complex of upper floor offices and meeting rooms in the north end of the building.
It was astonishing, thought Rusty, as he passed through the hidden Mackenzie Tower entrance.
Jim thought back to his many days as Member of Provincial Parliament for the riding of
Saugeen-Frontenac. He had seen it all. But, as the old elevator cage arrived at the top floor, he didn’t know what to expect. What he saw underwhelmed him.
The entire top 15th floor of Whitney Tower was a sterile, empty, vacuous space. The bright sunlight entered through windows on all four sides of the vacant room. He’s eyes rested on the lone desk in the middle of the room, the iMac’s dark screen and keyboard illuminated by a green banker’s lamp.
The old wood plank floor creaked as he started walking towards it.
© Mike Chopowick – Toronto, January 28, 2018