Maxed out 

Film Noir on Parliament Hill

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In the book I haven’t written yet, The 100 Best Lines From a Century of Motion Pictures , one near the top was spoken by Sean Connery’s crusty Irish cop in Brian DePalma’s 1987 film, The Untouchables. In the scene leading up to his death, Jim Malone, Connery’s character, enters his apartment to find one of Al Capone’s thugs there, knife in hand, to kill him. Pulling his revolver, Malone looks dismissingly at the would-be assassin and says, “Isn't that just like a wop? Brings a knife to a gun fight.”

Little Stevie Harper pulled what looked like a knife on the opposition parties last week and found himself, and his government, staring down the barrel of a gun. Three, in fact. Isn’t that just like a Conservative?

Stevie ended up looking more like Sonny Corleone’s worst nightmare. In another of cinemadom’s best lines, Sonny and his lieutenants discuss the meeting where brother Michael’s going to pop Sollozzo and Captain McClusky to square things after the attempt on Don Corleone’s life. Sonny emphatically directs his underlings to secure the gun Michael is going to use somewhere in the men’s washroom of the restaurant where the meeting is going to take place. “I don't want my brother coming out of that toilet with just his dick in his hands, alright?” he warns.

So that wasn’t a knife Stevie was brandishing after all. I hope he washed his hands.

I guess he can be forgiven for waking the Libs, NDP and Bloc. Who knew the Official Opposition would ever actually rise up and oppose… anything? Who knew they were armed? Who knew they even had a spine? They never set off the centre block’s Backbone Detector.

But when the dust settled, Stevie was beginning to look more like — and I promise, this is the last movie metaphor for this column — Harpo, as in Marx, rather than Harper. Now if he’d just take Harpo’s advice and keep his mouth shut.

Since before the united Conservatives actually formed their first minority government, everybody’s been waiting to see how they’d self-destruct. Would it be the intemperate right wing of the party demanding open season on homos, abortionists and other godless lowlifes? Would it be their inevitable mismanagement of the economy, now that conservatives in North America have become incompetent spendthrifts? Might the sabre-rattling of the war-mongering hawks lay them low?

No one guessed it’d be Harpo’s paranoiac drive to destroy the opposition from a shaky, minority base. But that’s what happened late last week when, in the guise of fiscal restraint — itself an economic misplay of enormous proportions in recessionary times — Harpo honked his horn and out came a plan to dismantle public funding of political parties. What the hell, it’s not like the Conservatives need public funding to mount a minority-in-perpetuity government. Not when the corporate pigs are deep in the public trough and tithing to Harpo and his henchmen.

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