Growing up in Montreal, our family ate turkey twice a year: Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. I have no idea why. Fifty one weeks and then twice and then another fifty-one weeks. I didn’t make the rules and, when I left home, a great many mysteries abided.

The two turkeys were almost invariably “utility birds” as they are called. Meaning that there might be some damage to the skin or a missing bit. They were less expensive than anything else and good value. Sometimes, Mom did some plastic surgery here or there using some extra skin to patch the thing up. She took after her mother who did the same thing. Unlike Grandmama, however, Mom almost always used black cotton thread so that she could see what she was doing. It gave the birds a sort of Frankenstein quality.

So, early this morning I prepared a turkey for the oven. (We always had ham on Thanksgiving at home.) I was pleased that I had acquired a utility bird just like Mom had done 50 and 60 years ago. It was nicely defrosted over several days in the fridge. We’ve taken to preparing our turkeys at Thanksgiving or Christmas the day before. Turkey, removed from the carcass, and more than any other meat, reheats well in a large pan next to the stuffing. This means that much of the feast’s heavy lifting has been accomplished before the guests assemble and nerves fray.

Anyway, I had the parcel in the kitchen sink and used my sheers to cut the plastic bag away from the bird the better to allow excess fluids to run down the drain. I would wash the bird and dry it before setting it in the roasting pan. I was a little taken aback, however, when I surveyed the turkey. One missing wing, absent. Par for the course. But that was just the beginning. The poor bird gave every evidence of having been in a knife fight. And it lost. Badly.

Well, I wasn’t up to sewing. So “que sera, sera”, I sang, channelling Doris Day. The bird went into the oven as is. The stuffing, prepared by Barbara, will be cooked separately.

I just went down to the kitchen to check on things. The roast is coming along nicely and the neck and giblets have come to a gentle boil in a pot of water atop the stove. We have lift-off.

The federal election is a little over a week away. The French language debate was, to my mind, a substantial non-event. But things have changed over the last couple of weeks. There are undercurrents and undertows in the electoral sea.

In an earlier post, the Norwegian Poling Gnomes suggested that the election was the Liberals’ to lose. Well, they have more or less succeeded. They have certainly given up their majority, on vote efficiency and number of seats, if not much in popular vote. And, as Ms. May prognosticated somewhat bluntly to Mr. Sheer in the earlier English language debate, “You’re not going to be prime minister.” The Gnomes agree. No majority there either. So how might things shake out?

If things stay more or less as they are, I would expect a Liberal minority government. Here, however, is where it could get fun.

I wonder whether Mr. Trudeau might have the gumption to invite Mr. Singh and Ms. May into a three-way partnership. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see the parties of the more-or-less-left working together? (We musn’t call it a coalition or everyone will run screaming into the outer darkness.) What would it be like for Mr. Trudeau to invite Ms. May and Mr. Singh to do lunch—without any other guests— to see if the three might synthesise a way forward? For all the cranky rhetoric, their ideas share the same planet and our same life on said planet.

They could put all of their platform planks on little post-it notes and stick then up on a wall the way process people do in churchland. Then they could take a look at what items hang together and then at how small patches of commonality and middle ground might be exposed. There might even have to be some horse trading. Imagine! Maybe they’d need a facilitator. I’m willing. Just sayin’.

The idea would be to keep it simple, carve out the landscape and then get the party policy wonks to pull it all together. Would that be out of the question? Could our leaders live up to the politeness attached to the Canadian stereotype?

Right now, Mr. Trudeau reminds me of the turkey in the knife fight. He’s lost. Badly. His “brand” is substantially discredited. And much of it, I would add, from self-inflicted wounds. What might redemption look like? The worm began to turn from majority to minority in the undercurrent of blackface equivocation. For Mr. Sheer, it was more of an undertow of just plain meanness. In diplomacy, you point out the lies but, in polite discourse, you don’t call people liars. It’s no way to win friends. We all lie just a little bit. Anyway, the majority stirling trophy was morphing into minority participant’s ribbons for all. Consolation prizes with no consolation. So, I have two thoughts.

First. Having party leaders serve as the avatars for party policy and platform yields horrible elections. We are invited to chose, following a formal period of leaderly fratricide, the least worst candidate. Why?

We should get rid of the first-past-the-post system which distorts the electoral process and which serves us so badly. It emphasizes people over platforms, and pettiness over policy. And it doesn’t work. Let’s get rid of it while no one has much to loose and everyone has something to gain.

Second. Mr. Trudeau: When the chickens have come home and are nicely bedded down, go, reach out to Mr. Singh and Ms. May and see whether you three could cobble together a compelling vision for Canada. I want to believe that you’re all capable of improving on your lesser selves and might be willing to compromise in favour of a better day for all of us. Redemption.

Happy thanksgiving.

Back to the turkey.

André +

André Lavergne writing from a settler-descendant’s home on the traditional lands of the Neutral, Anishnaabe, and Haudenosaunee peoples on the Haldimand Tract (1784). 

4 thoughts on “Redemption”

  1. Yes!! We can only hope! (I erased my rant about utility turkeys and factory farms. But — can I just say it? utility turkeys and factory farms! When your mother did it, those turkeys were well cared for. The condition of the turkey is typical thereof. Okay, I”m done.) But to the point, I really hope for this outcome too — though my spidey sense (equivalent to Norwegian poling gnome) is telling me we are looking at Mr. Scheer with that minority. God help us all. But what you say makes much sense. Also, really love the word ‘gumption’.


  2. Poor little turkey, I did not know that utility birds were victims of other….I have only purchased one and it was for soup…..I enjoy carving Turkey at the table for our family +1 . Also did not allow politics into our kitchen yesterday….the day was spent thanking God for all that we have received, including others who have little or none.


    1. No politics here, either. Small number of family, some by birth and some by adoption. Lots of cleanup and worth every moment. The turkey was lovely as we’re the various sides. Church, earlier, was also wonderful. Thanks for writing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s