Life in that Sandbox on the Hill

PREMIERS, PRIME MINISTERS, COLOSTOMIES & ME OR ... Life in that Sandbox on the Hill

In my long and brilliant career on Canadian TV (circa early), I have talked to Bishops and Bums, Prelates and Prostitutes, Politicians and the scum of the earth - but I repeat myself.

Among the bright and the beautiful, I have traded B.O. and M.O., face to face with the likes of Trudeau, Diefenbaker, Lester B. Pearson, James Gardner, Tommy Douglas, Ernest Manning, Paul Martin Sr., Bryce Mackasey, and sundry other prominent playboys from the Sandbox on the Hill. (Why, I even met Stephen Harper once!)

Bryce Mackasey was a pathetic case: he was dismissed from Cabinet, and his chief beef was the loss of his pol perks, such as his Company Car and his Chauffeur. How he mourned!

Ernest Manning, Social Credit Premier of Alberta, I remember as the coldest fish I ever did tangle with. Ice water in his veins, I swear. Probably due to the notoriously deep-rooted streak of anti-Semitism among the Mormonic Socreds (pace Aberhart and his goys).

Now Dief the Chief and Jimmy Gardner both stemmed from Saskatchewan. So did my dad, a lowly grocer from nano-sized Neudorf, Sask. (pop.700). We left Sask. in 1925. Not till 35 years later did I meet Dief and J. G..

Yet both said they remembered my father! This struck me then, as it strikes me now, as rather odd. How could two prominent pols from a dreary prairie province remember an insignificant little humpbacked Jew from a generation before? Strikes me as peculiar, don't it? But they insisted they did. Queer.

J. G. Gardner, three times Premier of Saskatchewan, and thereafter 22 years Minister of Agriculture in Mackenzie King's Liberal regime in Ottawa, I had not met before that fatal day when I interviewed him in his prairie home in the sweltering heat of a Saskatchewan summer's day. Hell's kitchen, it was!

He had a colostomy, and as I sat across from him, and very close to him, in that searing heat, every time I leaned forward to pose a question, the TV cameras grinding behind my left ear, his belly-bag opened up and farted in my face.

That hour of sheer purgatory remains in my mind as the most interminable and foulest interview I have ever done in my whole life, and I've done a thousand of them, in all sorts of circumstances, and all over the map (L.A. to London U.K., and back again).

I've done some good ones, and some great ones and lots of lousy ones, but J.G.'s takes the cake as the shittiest I ever did doo. Poor old Jimmy. Not his fault. Not mine. Just one of the hidden blessings of the boob toob, circa early.

Talk about perks of the rich and famous. And I didn't even get danger pay.