Three men walked into a bar.
One of them was me, settling into the local watering hole on Monday night to take in the Leafs’ playoff game with the Boston Bruins. The Leafs prevailed after a close battle crowned by a stupendous save by Frederik Andersen in the dying minutes – lucky probably, but better to be lucky than good, arguably.
We headed to the men’s room to off-load some beery residue before catching an Uber ride home. Confronted with five vacant urinals, we hastily occupied spaces one, three, and five in practiced obedience to the sacred “Urinal Spacing Rule” - some things are hard-wired for men, baked into our genetic code.
The Rule may have evolved in deference to man’s innate hankering for “personal space”, or to accommodate the masculine discomfort with being too close to another dude’s “junk”. But the likeliest explanation resides in the “splatter” theory, a concept neatly laid out in the ancient Declaration of Manhood: “We hold this truth to be self-evident, that a man with a rifle can hit a deer at 400 yards but he cannot hit an enormous porcelain bowl with a stream of urine at 18 inches.”Hence, the Spacing Rule, to reduce the chance of being sprinkled with another man’s piddle. It’s a sturdy adjunct to our system of laws, one small way for men to wrestle order from a universe stubbornly churning toward chaos.
We need rules, and we know it; we crave order. Witness, as modern evidence, the spectacular success of superstar intellectual Jordan Peterson’s latest book: Twelve Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.
And consider the staying power of the stodgy old Ten Commandments (known also as the Ten Suggestions, at least in the days of my rebellious youth). Admittedly, admonishments to “keep the Sabbath day holy” and to serve “no other gods” are wantonly ignored these days as fossilized oddities. But the ancient prescriptions against lying, killing, stealing, adultery, and envy remain unchallenged as crucial underpinnings to orderly living.
In the absence of rules, of laws, of a moral code, or of the expectation that people for the most part will try to honour these structures, anarchy reigns, as chronicled every day in depressing detail in international news.
But in Canada we are fortunate, blessed to live in a mature and peaceable democracy, to reside in a country in which respect for the rule of law is a given.
A given, that is, until now.
Now we have the spectacle of one our elected leaders, Premier John Horgan of British Columbia, the King of Coal and Sultan of Sewage, openly applauding the criminal activities of citizens protesting a pipeline project that has cleared all legal hurdles, because, you know, he’s “standing up for the coast.”
Rather than standing up for the rule of law, he said this, incredibly: “Investors at Kinder Morgan have to be moved by the passion of British Columbians that are emerging in many dozens to be arrested on a daily basis.” Among those delinquents was another of our fine elected representatives, federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May. Those selected to make our laws are choosing to break our laws when it suits them, setting a first-rate example for our youth and providing open flame to the powder keg of hard-line enviro-nuts waging war against the pipeline.
Kinder Morgan investors are moved, all right, along with millions of Albertans and other Canadians - moved to tears of frustration and spasms of righteous anger by the obstinate and hypocritical behaviour of the premier and his cronies.
Big deal, opined David Moscrop over at Maclean’s magazine, dismissing the noisy battle over pipelines as mere “histrionics”, a tempest in a teapot: “What we’re seeing is democracy, federalism, and the rule of law in action.”
Baloney. This is lawlessness in action, naked hooliganism aided and abetted by elected leaders who should know better. It’s one large step toward anarchy, and it has no place in our country. And if this, as Mr. Moscrop sees it, is co-operative federalism in operation, then the Hatfields were in love with the McCoys: history books must be re-written.
So clouded is Mr. Horgan’s vision, so desperate is he to maintain the support of the three Green Party MLA’s he needs to sustain him in the premier’s chair, that he’s willing to throw over the rule of law and to fracture the bedrock governing principles of our Confederation.
So obscured are his optics that he fails to see the triple win to be had (as measured by a leftist calculus, at least) by standing down and allowing the pipeline to proceed. Rachel Notley, widely admired in Alberta for standing up to B.C. intransigence but doomed to defeat without a pipeline, would be celebrated as a heroine, immortalized as a lioness who fought ferociously and successfully for her own. With a pipeline in place she might still lose, but she’s smart, savvy, and articulate, and she’d at least have a chance.
Prime Minister Trudeau, desperately in search of a win after many months of missteps on multiple issues and in many costumes, would be hailed as a nation-builder, a resolute leader who rose in the face of crisis to mend and strengthen the national fabric, a strategic master capable of joining environmental stewardship to economic practicality.
And Mr. Horgan would win acclaim as a pragmatic stalwart who stood bravely for his province but acquiesced judiciously to the larger battle of the climate change end-game, a wise ruler carving out the greatest good for the greatest number. And if those pesky Greenies dared to abandon him and triggered an election, even better: grateful British Columbians would carry him to majority status, and he could flick the threesome aside, finally, like so many boogers. Andrew Weaver’s bumptious time in the limelight would be mercifully ended.
It’s a trifecta of potential outcomes that has Jason Kenney, Andrew Scheer, and Andrew Wilkinson quaking in their political shoes: the political wilderness beckons, with carbon taxes as far as the eye can see.
But they need not fear. It ain't gonna happen - we'll sooner see a love child produced by Donald and Hillary. Because, instead, in the process of bellying up to the urinal of selfish political ambition, the pig-headed premier of B.C. is piddling away the electoral prospects of Notley and Trudeau while splattering all over his eastern neighbours. Best give him plenty of space while he self-destructs.
As for the Leafs, with nary a championship to brag about since 1967, they followed up their Monday win with a prat-fall on Thursday.
Which leaves us with this certainty: the only thing less likely to be witnessed in this century than a pipeline being completed to the Canadian coast is the Toronto Maple Leafs drinking from Lord Stanley’s mug.