Do you want to make enemies real fast? Are you so arrogant as to think you’re important enough to have enemies? If so, do what many others before you have done: join the hordes of professional good spellers who call themselves journalists. Or take an even quicker route – run for political office.
Yes, if successful, you’ll enjoy a brief and passionate honeymoon with your constituents, kissing babies, cutting ribbons, championing noble causes, fighting for the common man and basking in the stimulating company and scintillating conversation of nubile political groupies. These are the fun, easy tasks that are a part of a victorious campaign. Enjoy them while you can though, because within months into your term, the very people who voted you in can and will turn into hideous, demanding, and endlessly nagging shrews.
Take the case of Waswanipi’s Chief Boy Wonder, Master Robert Cuisine. The first signs of a waning honeymoon appeared recently when several residents circulated a petition calling for -nay, demanding – his removal from the chiefly throne.
The reasons these petitioners demanded a new election included the usual accusations of financial mismanagement, resulting in band employees being laid off. Then there was the still popular but now clichéd charge that yet another leader was not answering to the people. Finally, and somewhat bizarrely methinks, there is alleged gross negligence in the area of garbage and snow removal.
Wisely, the Chief and his council promptly scheduled a special community assembly right around the time a hockey tournament was to take place out of town. Even better, the timing coincidentally coincided with the delivery of welfare and pay cheques, which usually trigger a frenzied exodus to surrounding bars and shopping malls. Shockingly, only 150 concerned citizens showed up at the meeting, thus failing to meet the required quorum of about 600 voting subjects. So ended Chief Kitchen’s first quarrel with his once loving and supportive community, his once blushing bride, if you will. No doubt, this will not be the last night in the political dog house Kitchen will have to endure. Meeeeow…Whiiitiiiisshhh!
Political honeymoons can stretch over longer periods with vows of renewed election after election. Usually it takes a major indiscretion on the part of one member of the unit to send their blessed union into a tailspin.
Which brings us to the sad-but-entertaining tale of one former chief, the once gallant and, one hopes, chivalrous George Wapachee of Nemaska.
For years, times were happy and gay for George, ensconced in his Castle Nemaska, lord of all he surveyed. Birds sang their sweet songs, caribou pranced through his forests, plump young virgins danced gaily around his tepee poles, his peasants feasted merrily on fat spring geese, the very stars themselves twinkled above his night sky, the northern lights danced for him alone and his kingdom was celebrated and enjoyed great renown across the land. Once in a while other suitors, clad in rusty armour and all unworthy, dared challenge his reign. With a proud and majestic thrust of his royal lance he unhorsed all as his lady fair Dame Nemaska swooned.
That is, until that one dark day when he pledged allegiance and surrendered all his kingly lands and rivers to a greater, mightier emperor to the north, one King Moses. His fair Dame Nemaska at once began to see not a proud dragon-slaying knight in shining armour but a mere vassal to a greater ruler than he. King George’s beloved conspired against him and his bejewelled throne trembled.
A brave young knight, Sir Jimiken, Josie the Good, saw this weakness and issued a challenge, a joust to decide once and for all the destiny of George’s realm. The two brave knights met on the battle field, exchanged gentlemanly pleasantries, retreated and charged. Hoof beats and a mighty violent clang rang throughout the kingdom.
The king’s court aaahhed and probably ooohed before the dust finally settled, revealing the young knight Jimiken still sitting astride his white horse while his once mighty king lay underfoot, unhorsed and defeated. A great cheer echoed out throughout the land. The King is dead, long live the King! The new hero married the maiden and will, barring sloppy accountants or tardy snowplows, live happily ever after.
Hey, I’m not a fairy but I’ve always liked those tales. And that brings us, finally, to the point of our silly literary saga…
It was not so very long ago that our people emerged from the dark ages, a time when they were afraid to question their leaders and make them accountable for their actions. Since then, many a “benevolent dictator” has fallen thanks to the courage of people like the 10 whom, rightly or wrongly, signed that Waswanipi petition.
Hmmm… I wonder how that change in the Cree Nation came about. I wonder… could it have been those hordes of merry scribblers giving voice to an emerging democracy? A feast for thought, that is…