Maxed Out 

Spring cleaning the political detritus

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Spring has sprung and the season of renewal can only mean one thing: a federal election.

Elections aren't necessarily the best thing about spring. In truth, they don't even crack the top 100 best things about spring. Spring, even though it seems to come on all at once, is really a prolonged striptease of familiar surprises that delight all the senses.

Stepping outside and discovering predawn light instead of total darkness engages the eyes while the sound of Varied thrushes' bizarre metallic warble uniquely trumpets the new season. The smell of freshly uncovered earth - ah, mould - revealed by the rapidly receding snow we thought would never melt so fast, comes but once a year. When it finally makes an appearance, late March's sun warms cold skin immediately; you can almost feel the epidermal rush of vitamin D.

All nice... but. The second best thing about spring is, of course, spring skiing. When it finally comes, the day's morphing arc of ice, hero snow, corn, schmoo and slush, coupled with wearing shorts under ski pants, is both a rewarding finale to a long season and a desperate rush to get in as much mileage as the longer days allow.

And the best thing about spring? Après. Lazy afternoons on Dusty's or maybe Citta' patio drinking... in the sun's lengthening rays, and other refreshing delights. The fine art of après finds its full flower on a sun-drenched patio in a ski town where the fashion feature du jour is raccoon goggle tans and fishbelly white skin mining long dormant reserves of melanin.

The worst part about spring? This spring? Well, it's a toss up. There's the spectre of a federal election with its almost certain result - another minority government. Maybe the Cons will finally get tired of Pudge's inability to win a majority and turf him but I doubt it. The party of no imagination will plod along in its anti-democratic, fully autocratic, bumbling way through yet another interminable period of lacklustre leadership.

Why? Three reasons. Canadians don't care about Stevie's total disdain for parliament - probably share it - his handcrafted budget debacle, his chest-thumping war mongering, his pandering law'n'order initiatives or his sycophantic willingness to suck up to the world's big dogs. Ho-hum.

The other two reasons are Iggy Pop and Diamond Jack. Why, in a nation of 30 million souls, we can't find three more qualified party leaders is a puzzle that makes cold fusion seem like a cheap magician's trick.

The other worst thing about this spring is the sad transition of Canada from self-described peacekeeper to warmonger wannabe. Pudge, no doubt incensed but powerless when Jean Chrétien said thanks but no thanks to the US on the invasion of Iraq, hasn't missed a chance to launch the country on a military misadventure since loosely taking the reins of power.

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