Horse Feathers 

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Stephen Harper doesn't ski, of that I'm sure. If he did, there'd doubtless be abundant and wince-worthy Conservative Party of Canada visual propaganda of him doing so (very likely poorly) littering the Internet. As it is, all that exists is a photo-op of the Great Panda Panderer — circa 2010, I imagine, since he is frocked in a fawning Olympic Team Canada jacket — running a crappy rental ski over a waxing or sharpening machine somewhere, looking as awkward as an ex-NHLer holding his female partner aloft on Battle of the Blades while wife Laureen, looking even more clueless (is this even possible?), palms a chunk of ski wax in the background as if it were a moon rock. While these photos are well-distributed (but seem most at home where I found them on thingsharperdoestoseemhuman.tumblr.com), they bring King Con no closer to the mountains than an errant left turn while heading from Calgary to Edmonton might. In fact, although tuning skis on a machine could be easily handled by any dexterous Kindergartener, Herr Harper's stiff body language gives the impression of someone used to doing little more complex than shoveling manure (not figuratively, as is the real-life case, but literally, as in, perhaps, a dairy farmer) who has suddenly been offered the chance to replace the rods inside of a nuclear reactor. "Here you go, Prime Minister, hold onto the uranium-235 this way! Yes, you should probably put the gloves on..."

So I don't expect to see Harperbole on skis anytime soon. Certainly never on a snowboard, which, though it would perhaps offer an acme of schadenfreude for those of us who'd like to see the Earth give him a good kick in the ass, seems to be entirely beyond his composure, personality, ability and what would very likely be a desire (misplaced, erroneous and fact-flaunting as it might be) to control the forces of gravity through a tax subsidy to the oil and gas-sector. But there's little chance of any of this. And probably Dear Leader, unlike his North Korean namesake, doesn't even like snowsports. If he did, he'd probably write an authoritative book about it, as he has recently done about the good ol' game of hockey, a tome certain to start life buried in conservative Christmas stockings before going on to garage sales and used bookstores everywhere.

Harper not being a skier is a good thing. And not just because I feel much better about the sport knowing Chief Stevie of the Ludditicon isn't a fellow participant in an activity with which I closely identify, but more that he is conforming to a long tradition of Top Tory non-skiers (and yes, I realize using "Tory" in the traditional sense when referencing Harpo Polo is being overly charitable). Far from having the élan to be comfortable in the air or flying down a mountain or, really, accomplishing anything remotely lofty and poetic, Über Cons clearly prefer the unenlightened muck of the pen they share with their trained-seal ministers, lap-dog criminal senators, and radical resource-extraction types. Certainly this is a place of commune for a group that rationalizes and covers up the committing of electoral fraud, that communicates to its constituency through a mosaic of prevarication, obfuscation, obviation, disinformation, intentional deceit and outright silence, that surreptitiously supports corporate malfeasance and the maximization of often ill-gained profits at the expense of everything else, and that appears dedicated to reversing decades of social, scientific and environmental advancement through a concerted program of deregulation, muzzling and closure of important centres of research and information storage (yes, that means dismantling libraries).

The lack of con-affinity to cold, snowy, alpine places — at least in Canada— appears to be politically heritable. As I recall the editor of a Canadian ski magazine pointing out before the HarperCon scourge had even taken hold in Ottawa: notable conservative honchos Joe Clark, Brian Mulroney, Kim Clark, Preston Manning, Stockwell Day — not skiers; notable liberals Pierre Trudeau, John Turner, Jean Chretien, Paul Martin — rabid skiers. Fascinating anthropology.

Here is where I might cue an argument about whether someone who actually participates in the land and "gets" a country (recall Pierre Trudeau's love of canoe-tripping), who entertains true notions of stewardship toward it, who exudes a joie de vivre tied to that understanding, who cares enough about Canada's nation-defining winter to take climate change seriously, etcetera, is better suited to lead than a manipulative pretender whose understanding of geography resides at the bottom of a kilometre-deep drill hole into a 300-million-year-old oil formation he apparently believes to be of (appropriately delusional) 4,000-year-old biblical age. But I don't have time for that. Instead I'll let readers make of this enchanting fact what they will and Peace Out on the part that really matters: while rank-and-file Cons of lesser status may, between sips of Kool-Aid, take to the slopes like the rest of us, Stephen Harper doesn't ski, so there's no chance I'll have to hockey-sweater him in a liftline.

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