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Diogenes last won the day on January 28 2016

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  1. Happy Birthday!

  2. To my handful of fans who are wondering when I'm going to continue with the story of Mark & Carl that I began in About Carl:


    I'm having trouble getting motivated on the sequel, Loyal Opposition. I have the rest of it diagrammed and know what I want to do with the two characters, and I intended to continue their story while immersing them in the world of politics, which is a big interest of mine. However, I'm finding politics to be a very toxic and unpleasant subject right now (including here in Canada) and to be honest I'm just not feeling the enthusiasm to write on that theme at the moment. I will get back to this story at some point, but I have to put it on hold right now until I'm in a better frame of mind.


    That being said, I'm planning to write a series of loosely-connected short stories set in the fictional Selkirk County of the About Carl series, about gay men living in rural Ontario (a subject close to my heart). I plan to start work on that very soon. 


    Stay tuned!

  3. Your namesake (or rather elements of his life and philosophy) makes an appearance in my new project. Instead of a wine barrel, my modern version sleeps in an old tequila vat ;) 

    1. Diogenes


      I see characteristics of Diogenes in quite a few of my friends & acquaintances - although I do live in a house. I suppose though that Diogenes himself didn't have friends or acquaintances.

  4. Conservatives in Canada are generally a different breed than in the US. Canadians pay high taxes for a generous social safety net and public health care; no political party in Canada would advocate dismantling any of this, conservative or otherwise. Fiscal conservatism in Canada usually means things like rolling back subsidies for corporations, selling off state-run industries, eliminating supply management in agriculture and curbing the considerable size and compensation of the civil service.
  5. Chapter 2 of my new story "Loyal Opposition" has been published. I hope you enjoy it.

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. Timothy M.
    3. Diogenes


      Yes, I'm a slow writer - sorry for the delay. I'll try to speed up production in the future. :)

    4. Timothy M.

      Timothy M.

      Nah, it's OK, I'm not much better myself.

  6. I had a moment of disorientation as I gradually surfaced from a deep sleep. What day was it? Was I late for school? Sunlight was seeping into the bedroom through the closed curtains, and I could feel Dan’s naked body stretched out beside me, radiating warmth, his arm casually draped over me. Through the fog of sleep, I realized that it was Saturday and I had two days of freedom to spend with my boyfriend. Maybe we’d start with some slow, lazy love-making. I rolled over to face him, gazing at his handsome face as he lay sleeping beside me, his dark black hair dishevelled, his whiskers shading his pale white skin. I snuggled up to him and reached my hand down between his legs. “Good morning, beautiful,” I whispered. “Mmmm, that feels nice,” he murmured. He opened his brown eyes and gazed at me. “Why don’t we just stay in bed today?” “I’d like that,” I said softly into his ear, stroking him gently. The cell phone on my nightstand rang angrily. “Don’t answer it,” Dan said. The ringing continued, insistently. The romantic mood was quickly evaporating. “No one ever calls me at this time of day,” I sighed. “Let me just check who it is.” The screen displayed the name of Bob Daley, president of my Riding Association. Ontario politics at 7:04 in the morning? This was certainly unusual; there must be some development in the Scott Matheson situation. “Sorry, babe,” I said to Dan. “I should probably answer this.” He moaned in disappointment. I picked up the phone. “Hi, Bob. What’s up?” “Sorry to call you so early on a Saturday,” he said. “I know we’re meeting today at 10:00, but I’ve been on the phone most of the night with the party’s top brass about Scott. They’ve come up with a plan for me to present to the board, but I’d like to talk to you first about it.” “Okay,” I said hesitantly. “I’d like to discuss it in person; can we meet for breakfast before the meeting? Say 8:30 at the Wagon Wheel in Kelso?” “Why does this involve me?” I asked. “I’ll tell you all about it when I see you,” he said. “Can you make it?” “Yeah, sure, I guess so,” I answered. “Great, see you then.” I turned to Dan. “Bad news. I have to meet Bob Daley for breakfast at 8:30 in Kelso. Something to do with Scott Matheson. Then we’re meeting with the board at 10:00, so I’m going to be gone for a while.” Dan groaned. “I’ll make it up to you when I get back, I promise,” I said, and leaned over and kissed him. “Mmgmmphh,” he mumbled, and buried himself deeper in the duvet. I reluctantly climbed out of bed and headed for the bathroom. At 8:35, I walked through the door of the Wagon Wheel, Kelso’s only diner. It shared one block of Front Street with the bowling alley and the government liquor store. The place was crowded with people eating breakfast: farmers in overalls and ball caps, retirees who met here every Saturday morning, a few families on their way to hockey games at the nearby arena. I spotted Bob in a booth near the kitchen and made my way through the room to join him. A few people who knew me greeted me as I passed their tables, mostly former students who smiled and said, “Hey, Mr. Nielsen! How’s it goin’?” I greeted him as I slid into the booth. “Good morning, Bob.” “Morning, Mark,” he said as he reached out to shake my hand. “Thanks for coming.” He looked like he hadn’t had much sleep; he was unshaven and had dark circles under his eyes. “Is everything OK, Bob?”, I asked. “You look like hell.” “Thanks a lot, buddy,” he said. “I was up most of the night talking to Mike Pierce about Scott Matheson and his wayward dick.” Things were obviously moving fast. Michael Pierce was the leader of the Ontario Conservative Party and officially the “Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition” in the Legislative Assembly. If, as recent polls suggested, the Conservatives could unseat the Liberal government in the upcoming election, he would be the next Premier of Ontario. For him to be directly involved in the Scott Matheson situation meant that the party considered this a serious crisis and wanted it resolved quickly. At that moment, the waitress arrived to take our orders. “How you doing, Bob?” she asked him. Being the former mayor of Kelso, everyone in town new Bob Daley. “Your usual?” “Yes, thanks, Jenny,” he said. “And what can I get you?” she said as she turned to me, her pen poised over her notepad. “Two eggs, sunny side up, sausage, rye toast, and coffee, please,” I responded. “Be right up,” she said and hustled off to the kitchen. Bob waited until she returned with two big mugs of coffee before he continued. “Pierce is directly intervening in our problem,” he said. “He’s trying to limit the damage this is causing the party, and with only two weeks to go before the election, we don’t have much time. The party is suspending the usual process for selecting candidates and allowing our board to directly appoint someone. He wants a replacement within three days, in time to get ready for the all-candidates debate next Saturday.” I whistled softly. “Jesus, Bob, how are we going to pull that off?” “Pierce says to go with someone we know, someone with a good reputation in the community, someone squeaky clean. Hopefully, someone who can drop everything and swing into campaign mode immediately.” He was looking at me intently over his coffee mug. “I take it you have someone in mind,” I said. “I do.” At that moment, our breakfast arrived, and our conversation was interrupted by a few minutes of bustle as plates were set down, condiments fetched, and mugs refilled. When Jenny finally left, I asked, “OK, who is it?” “You.” I thought I had misunderstood. “Me?” I said incredulously. “You’re kidding.” “No, I’m not kidding,” he said. “I talked it over with the rest of the executive board on the phone last night. We think you’re a good candidate.” I was floored. “I can’t run in the election. You must be crazy.” “OK, hear me out,” he said. “You’re relatively young for a politician, which is a big asset. You’re a popular teacher at Milfield High with a good reputation in the community; you’ve taught the kids of hundreds of families in Selkirk County, and you are highly respected. You’ve been working hard with the Riding Association for five years now, and you know every policy plank in the platform backwards and forwards. You’re a social liberal and a fiscal conservative; you fit in perfectly with Mike Pierce’s plans for the party.” “But I already have a job that I love. I can’t just leave Milfield High in the middle of the semester.” “I called your superintendent, Rick Holland, last night to ask him about that,” he said. “I hope you don’t mind. Rick says there’s a clause in your contract that allows employees elected to public office to take a leave of absence without penalty. If you win, your teaching job will be held for you at your existing level of seniority until you decide to either come back or resign permanently.” “Well … I … but …” I stammered. “I don’t have any experience. Granted, I’ve been working behind the scenes for the party for years, but I’ve never held any kind of elected position before.” “These days, that’s a bonus,” he said. “There’s a lot of anti-incumbent feeling in the province right now. An outsider with no political experience might just pull it off, especially since you’d be running against Madeleine Pereira, the ultimate Liberal insider. She’s accumulated a lot of political baggage in her eight years in office.” I sat quietly for a few moments. I slowly ate a piece of toast to give me time to think. “OK, Bob. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room.” “Which is?” “I’m gay. I know you and the rest of the board don’t have a problem with that, but is running a gay candidate going to fly in this riding? Especially up north around Jarvis Falls?” “Look, Mark,” he said. “I’m not going to lie; that’s going to be an issue for some people. But, you’ve been a teacher for almost twenty years at a rural high school in a small town, and you’re not in the closet. You don’t hide the fact that you and Dan are a couple, but you don’t go out of your way to advertise the fact. You’re private and discreet with your love life, and that’s the way people around here like it, be you gay, straight or otherwise. I think if you avoid campaigning as the ‘gay candidate’ and just be the ‘Conservative candidate’, it won’t be a problem for most of the people in the riding. Some of the evangelical churches up around Jarvis Falls won’t like it if the subject comes up in the campaign, but they represent a small segment of the electorate; we can probably win anyway without them. And besides, you’d be replacing Scott Matheson, an adulterer and exhibitionist. That’s got to count for something.” “Does Mike Pierce know I’m gay?” I said. “Yes, I told him last night. I hope you don’t mind.” “And?” “And he’s fine with it. In fact, he said having a gay MPP in the party would be an asset, not a liability. He’s been trying for years to shake the party’s image as the party of rural, straight, white men. He thinks if we’re ever going to make inroads in cities like Toronto and Ottawa, we’ve got to present a more diverse, tolerant face to the public. Remember, he’s the one who pushed for the party to drop its opposition to gay marriage at the convention two years ago. You’d fit right in to his plan. He actually asked me to encourage you to consider running.” I shook my head, trying to sort out my thoughts. “I don’t know, Bob. This is a huge decision. I’ve got to think about this. And I’ll have to talk to Dan first.” “Of course.” He tried to sound reassuring, but his next comment betrayed how anxious he was. “We don’t have a lot of time, though. You’ll have to decide tonight. If you say yes, a team from party headquarters is going to come out from Toronto and interview you tomorrow to make sure there are no skeletons in the closet that will embarrass the party like Scott Matheson did.” In the closet – an interesting turn of phrase. I wasn’t as optimistic as Bob that my being gay wouldn’t be a big issue in an election, especially for a Conservative in a rural riding. Although I didn’t lie about my sexuality if anyone asked, I didn’t discuss it much, either. Dan and I were obviously a couple, but we were careful in public; we never kissed or held hands when we were out in Selkirk County together. One never knew who would be watching, and old homophobic attitudes still persisted here. Living in a small town like Ravenbridge meant that everyone knew what everyone else was doing; in an election campaign, I would be under intense scrutiny. I wasn’t prepared to go back in the closet and hide my relationship just for political gain. Was I ready for this? Would Dan accept it? “Look, Mark,” he said, trying to put me at ease. “I know you very well, and I think you would be an excellent candidate and a great MPP. The campaign team is already in place, the fundraising has been done, and everything is ready. Our polling suggests that we have a real chance of unseating Madeleine Pereira this time; well, we did until Scott Matheson fucked up. Just come to the board meeting with me this morning, and let’s talk about it. We’ll just say you’re considering it, no firm commitment. Let’s see what happens.” “I guess I can at least do that,” I said. In the parking lot after breakfast I called Dan. He greeted me warmly; it was nice to hear his voice through my cell phone. “Hi, babe, what did Bob want to talk to you about?” “You’re not going to believe this,” I answered, “but they want me to step in and take Scott Matheson’s place.” “What?” “They want me to run in the election.” “Why you?” “Bob seems to think I would make a good candidate.” “I think you would, too,” he said, “but is this what you want? What about your job?” “I have the same questions,” I said. “I’m going to a meeting of the board in a few minutes. I haven’t committed to anything, and I won’t make a decision until I’ve talked to you about it.” He paused a moment. “I don’t know what to say. This is completely unexpected.” “I know. Let’s talk about it when I get home. In the meantime, I’m just going to go to the meeting and hear them out.” “OK, let me wrap my head around this,” he said. “We’ll talk later. Love you.” “Me, too.” Later that afternoon I sat down wearily on the sofa in my living room with Dan. He poured me a glass of wine. “Well, what happened?” he asked. “Long story short, we’re in a desperate situation with this Scott Matheson problem,” I said. “The election is in a little over two weeks, and we don’t have a candidate. We don’t have time to find a replacement through the usual process, so the board is appointing someone. They want me to step in.” I filled him in on the details of my breakfast meeting with Bob and the discussion around the table at the board meeting. The other directors had agreed to my appointment, but it wasn’t a unanimous decision. “Two of the directors voted against the idea,” I said. “Elaine Sanderson was particularly agitated. She’s a Deacon in the Baptist Church up in Greenlaw. She’s never been too happy to have a sodomite – her word – on the board, but she’s generally been at least polite to me in the past. She gave a big speech about hating the sin, loving the sinner, that kind of thing. She quoted Leviticus and said she didn’t think it was appropriate that someone with my ‘lifestyle’ should sit in the Legislative Assembly and that she would pray for me.” “That couldn’t have been easy,” Dan said quietly. I could tell he was angry. I sighed as I recalled having to sit quietly listening to her rant. “No, I was seething inside, but I held my tongue. Bob came to my defence. He said that everyone knew that I was an upstanding guy, and that I had taught the children of some of the people sitting at the table. He told them he figured that what I did in my private life should be nobody else’s business. He then called for a vote on whether or not to explore my candidacy further. I was supported 16 to 2.” “Did you accept?” he asked. “No, I told them I had to discuss it with my partner first. That really made Elaine wince.” There was silence while Dan thought about this for a few moments. “What do you want to do?” he said finally. “I’m not sure. You know, I’ve always wanted to get involved in politics, but I always figured it would be after I retired. Now this has been dropped in my lap. It’s so unexpected.” “What about your teaching job?” “I can take a leave of absence if I’m elected and come back to my old job if I leave office at some point in the future. There’ll be minimal impact on my teaching career if it comes to that. Plus, the election is in only two weeks; Bob thinks I should be able to juggle my job with the campaign.” “Do you want this?” he asked. I hesitated a moment. “I think I do,” I said. “Then I think you should do it.” “What about you?” I said. “What do you mean?” “Do you want this? If I win, are you prepared for the publicity of being the partner of the only openly gay MPP in the province – and a Conservative one at that? This is going to be a big change for us. Are you OK with having a politician as a boyfriend and all the attention that is going to come with that? We’re not going to be spending many quiet weekends here in Ravenbridge anymore if I’m elected.” Dan put down his wine glass and turned to me. He took my hand. “I want you to be happy and fulfilled. If this is what you want, then I’ll support your decision.” “I love you,” I said and leaned forward to give him a long, passionate kiss. “And besides,” he said, catching his breath, “if you’re an MPP, you’ll be in Toronto most of the time anyway. You’ll move in with me, and we’ll be together more than we ever have been before. Toronto’s a big city; it should be possible to live there anonymously if that’s what we want.” I took his head in my hands and stared into his dark brown eyes. “Thank you,” I said. “I can’t do this without you.” “Well, you’re going to have to do it without me on election day, unfortunately,” he answered. “What do you mean?” “Don’t you remember? I’m representing the foundation at that big NGO conference in Switzerland. I’m leaving in ten days. I’ll be in Geneva on election day.” Dan was the CFO of the Moffat Foundation, a large non-profit organization involved in international development, and his work occasionally took him out of the country. In all the confusion of the last few days, I had completely forgotten about his upcoming trip. “Dammit,” I muttered. “I’m so sorry, Mark. I want to be here to help you through this, but I just can’t get out of this commitment.” I reached out and stroked his cheek gently. “That’s OK. It’s enough for me to know that you’ll support me if I decide to do this. If it comes to it, you can talk me in off the ledge over the phone.” “Deal,” he answered. Later that night, after a quiet dinner with Dan, I called Bob Daley. “I’m in,” I told him.
  7. Another heartwarming chapter, Parker. I love stories like this - ordinary men finding love in real communities. It may seem commonplace to straight people, but to gay men like me it's really sweet, and unusual.
  8. Diogenes


    Thanks, Parker. Yes, those darn cell phones seem to be going off at the most inopportune moments. This particular cell-phone scandal is based on a real event that happened a few years ago to an Ontario politician during an election. He too was forced to step aside with just weeks to go before election day.
  9. Diogenes


    Thanks - it's good to be back to writing again now that I've finished off some other projects. I'm enjoying taking these characters off in a direction that is completely fictional - I can indulge in some fantasy with them. This new story is also a way for me to incorporate my love of politics - particularly appropriate right now, I think.
  10. Diogenes


    There seems to be something about politics that brings out the worst in some people. I wonder if the rush of being a politician encourages some men (it always seems to be men) to engage in risky behaviour, or if risk-takers are just naturally attracted to politics.
  11. Yes, ridings are redrawn every 10 years after the census. The principle for redrawing boundaries is that every riding has the same number of people in it. Consequently, cities have latge numbers of geographically small ridings while rural ridings like Selkirk-Ettrick River are very large but sparsely populated. This is similar to Congressional districts in the US.
  12. The bell rang announcing the end of the last period of the day, and my students noisily gathered their things and headed out the door. In the hallway, locker doors slammed, and 900 teenagers, glad to be finally released on the last day of the week, headed for the school buses. Over the din I heard the familiar burst of static from the school’s ancient PA system, warning that an announcement was coming. My ears perked up when I heard my name. “Mr. Nielsen to the office, please. Mr. Nielsen.” Dammit. It was Friday, and I was anxious to get out of the Milfield High School building and head home. Dan was coming up from Toronto, and I was looking forward to a relaxed evening with him. There was a bottle of wine already in the fridge, and the butter chicken would be simmering in the slow cooker by now. Being called to the office at the end of the day always meant some minor crisis that would delay my departure. I walked into the reception area of the main office and saw Bob Daley standing there fidgeting with his phone, a worried look on his face. Bob and I served together on the Board of Directors of the local Ontario Conservative Party riding association, the group of volunteers who ran things for the party in the riding of Selkirk-Ettrick River. Bob was the president of the riding association, and I was the vice-president. We were two weeks away from a provincial election, and we had been working hard trying to get our candidate, Scott Matheson, elected to the Provincial Legislative Assembly. It wasn’t unusual for Bob to drop in to see me at Milfield High to talk about party business. “Hi, Mark,” he said. He looked worried. “Is there somewhere private we can go to talk?” This sounded ominous. “Sure,” I replied. “Come on down to my classroom.” I led him down the rapidly emptying hallway to my classroom on the ground floor. A student stopped us along the way. “Hey, Mr. Nielsen,” she said. “I’m going to be away on Monday for a rugby game. Are we going to have any physics homework or anything?” As I stopped to chat with her, Bob looked at his watch and drummed his fingers against his leg nervously. I finished my conversation, and we continued to my room. I closed the door behind us and said, “What’s up, Bob? You look upset.” “I want to show you something,” he said. He swiped his phone and turned it towards me; on the screen was a photo of an erect penis. “What the hell is this?” “Scott Matheson’s dick,” he said. Bob was a no-nonsense man who didn’t mince words. When he was angry, he could swear like a longshoreman. “What? Is this a joke?” “No joke. Scott sent this picture of his dick to a woman a few months ago. The woman is not his wife.” I suddenly felt queasy. This didn’t sound good. “How do you have a copy of it?” I asked. “Just about everybody in Ontario has a copy of it by now,” he said. “His wife, Debbie, has left him. As a parting gift, she sent an email to everyone on her contact list, calling him a lying, cheating asshole and attached this picture. She also emailed it to a reporter at CTV News in Peterborough, by the way.” “Wait a second,” I said. I was confused. “Who’s the woman? How did Debbie find out?” “The woman is an employee at his construction company. Apparently, he’s been fucking her for about a year now. I guess he promised her he’d leave his wife, and when he didn’t, she sent this picture to Debbie and told her everything. Debbie went ballistic. She’s left town with the kids and gone to stay with her mother.” “Is it just the one picture?” I asked, thinking that somehow this must be a mistake or a misunderstanding. “Oh, no,” Bob replied. “The woman – Tanya O’Leary is her name, by the way – has put up a statement on Facebook claiming that she loves Scott, they’ve been banging for months now, and she can prove it because they’ve been sexting each other the whole time, and she’s kept all the texts. This particular photo was sent when Scott was at a trade show in Ottawa last winter; apparently, there are more. Tanya’s threatened to release the whole lot unless Scott leaves his wife.” “Jesus, Bob, this is bad,” I said. My mind was racing. “First of all, how do we know this is legit? Is this really a picture of Scott? Maybe she’s faking the whole thing to blackmail him.” “She says she can prove it’s his cock because of this mole on it right here.” Bob held the phone up to show me again. Sure enough, there was the afore-mentioned mole. “I guess that’s why Debbie knew it was for real; she knows every square inch of his junk.” “Shit, Bob, the election is in two weeks. What do we do now?” I said. I was pacing the room nervously. Although I felt sorry for Debbie and the kids, all I could think about was the election. “I don’t know, Mark,” he said. He sat down at a student desk with a heavy sigh and rubbed his eyes. He looked exhausted. “We’re in uncharted waters here. No one on the Board of Directors has ever had to deal with something like this before. I’ve been calling party headquarters in Toronto to ask them what to do, but no one there is returning my calls. They’re just as surprised as we are, I guess. But there’s more.” I groaned. How could this get any worse? “Reporters have been streaming into town all day,” he said. “CBC, CTV, Global, all the major papers, they’re all here. I even got a call from TMZ this afternoon. There’s blood in the water. They’re camped outside his house in Kelso right now – satellite trucks and everything. Scott came out a few minutes ago and told them that the story is all lies. He said, and I quote, ‘My phone must have gone off accidentally in my pocket and taken that picture.’ He says he has no idea how the photo got sent to Tanya, that someone must have hacked his phone.” “You’ve got to be kidding,” I said. “That’s his explanation? I’ve heard better excuses from my Grade 9 students. Who’s going to believe that?” “I know, it’s ridiculous. I think he panicked when the shit hit the fan. He told the reporters to leave him alone and he would have another statement for them at five o’clock.” “Have you talked to him? Do you know what he’s going to say?” “No clue. I’ve been calling him all afternoon. He’s not answering his phone.” “So what now?” I said. “I guess we just wait to see what Scott says this afternoon,” Bob said. “I’ve scheduled an emergency meeting of the Board at my house tomorrow at 10:00 am. We’ll have to come up with some kind of contingency plan, I suppose. In the meantime, I hope someone at HQ calls to tell me what the fuck to do, because I sure as shit have no idea.” I felt sorry for Bob. He was the much-loved former mayor of Kelso, and scandals like this were unheard of in his community. People were discreet, and rumours about adultery and unconventional tastes in sex were kept hush-hush. The internet and social media were certainly putting a strain on this traditional arrangement, and this particular sex scandal was about to go public in a big way. The situation must have been difficult for him, and he was uncomfortable being in the limelight. “OK, Bob, I’ll be at the meeting tomorrow,” I said. “I guess we’ll just watch the press conference and hope for the best.” Bob ran his fingers through his thinning hair. “I’m afraid the best is going to be a fucking shit storm,” he said sadly. When I got home, Dan was waiting for me. He had driven up from Toronto for the weekend as he did when I wasn’t able to join him there. Our careers kept us apart most of the time, so we treasured the days we were able to spend together. As I hung up my coat and dropped my messenger bag in the hallway, he handed me a glass of wine. “You look like you’ve had a rough day,” he said as he leaned in to kiss me, weaving his fingers through my hair. I kissed him back. “You won’t believe what happened today,” I said. “Selkirk-Ettrick River has its very own political sex scandal. Scott Matheson did a very bad thing.” “What happened?” “Well, let me put it this way: he put his dick somewhere he wasn’t supposed to,” I said. “He’s having a press conference in half an hour.” At five o’clock we curled up together on the sofa to watch the spectacle; all the networks were carrying it live. We watched as the front door of Scott’s house opened, and he stepped forward to a scrum of reporters who held their microphones up to his face. “I have a brief announcement to make,” he said. “I will not be taking any questions.” The reporters stood silently, waiting for him to continue. He pulled out a sheet of paper and read from it. “A few months ago, in a moment of weakness, I made a terrible mistake and committed adultery. I apologize to my wife and children for the hurt I have caused them. I am committed to salvaging my marriage and am entering a treatment program for sex addiction and substance abuse.” He paused and took a deep breath. “Obviously, under the circumstances, I cannot continue as the Ontario Conservative candidate for Selkirk-Ettrick River, and I am withdrawing from the race effective immediately. I would appreciate it if the press would respect the privacy of me and my family at this difficult time.” He folded his paper, turned and walked back into the house. “Wow,” said Dan. The cameras showed reporters shouting questions at Scott as he retreated into his home. “I don’t know what to say. The election’s in two weeks; what are you going to do?” “I don’t know,” I said. “Bob Daley is trying to get some guidance from party headquarters; no one knows what to do. We’re having a board meeting tomorrow morning.” Dan took my hand. “But it looks like we’ve got to find a new candidate.” I was running through lists of potential replacement candidates in my mind: municipal councillors, Board of Education trustees, local business owners. Convincing any of them to run at this late date was going to be tough; it had taken us months to jump all the hurdles to select Scott as our candidate. I turned to Dan. “Whatever happens, I’m going to be busy for the next few weeks.”
  13. Chapter 1 of my new story "Loyal Opposition" has finally been published. I hope you enjoy it.

  14. Most of the characters in Loyal Opposition are involved in Canadian politics, either directly or peripherally. For non-Canadian readers, here’s a brief civics lesson on the Canadian political system which might help explain some unfamiliar terms used in the story. Canada is a federation comprised of ten provinces with full powers and three territories that have partial powers, each with its own elected government responsible for constitutional areas of regional interest. There is a federal government responsible for constitutional areas of national interest. As a legacy from Canada’s origin as a British colony, it is also a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as the Head of State. The Queen’s duties in Canada are performed at the federal level by the Governor General, a Canadian citizen, and at the provincial level by the Lieutenant Governor. The federal capital and seat of the federal government is Ottawa, in the Province of Ontario. The legislative branch of the federal government is called Parliament and it meets in the Parliament Buildings on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Parliament consists of two bodies, the elected House of Commons and the appointed Senate. Elected members of the House of Commons are called Members of Parliament (or MPs). The executive branch of the federal government consists of the Prime Minister (or PM), who is the leader of the political party which elects the most members to the House of Commons and is supported by a majority of MPs, and the Cabinet. The Prime Minister and the members of the Cabinet are also MPs. The capital of the Province of Ontario and seat of the Ontario provincial government is Toronto, which is Canada’s largest city. The legislative branch of the provincial government of Ontario is called the Legislative Assembly, and it meets in an ornate 19th Century building in a large park in the centre of Toronto called Queen’s Park. The term “Queen’s Park” is colloquially used to refer to the entire legislative branch of the Government of Ontario, much like “the White House” generally refers to the whole executive branch of the U.S. government. The Legislative Assembly consists of a single elected body whose members are called Members of Provincial Parliament (or MPPs). The executive branch of the provincial government consists of the Premier, who is the leader of the political party which elects the most members to the Legislative Assembly and is supported by a majority of MPPs, and the Cabinet. The Premier and members of the Cabinet are also MPPs. Canada is divided into 338 electoral districts called ridings, each of which votes for an MP in federal elections usually held every four years. Ontario is divided into 122 ridings, each of which votes for an MPP in separate provincial elections, also usually held every four years. The ridings are named after political boundaries such as counties or municipalities, or after geographical features; hence the name of the riding Selkirk-Ettrick River in this story. The political landscape in Canada is dominated by three main federal political parties: the centre/centre-left Liberal Party (roughly comparable to the Democratic Party in the U.S.), sometimes colloquially referred to as the "Grit" Party; the centre-right Conservative Party (roughly comparable to the “moderate” wing of the Republican Party in the U.S.), colloquially called the "Tory" Party; and the socialist/social democratic New Democratic Party or NDP (roughly comparable to the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party in the U.S.), whose members are sometimes referred to as "Dippers". Ontario politics features the same three parties, although they are separate entities from their federal counterparts. The three parties are often identified by the colours used in their logos and promotional materials: red for the Liberals, blue for the Conservatives, and orange for the NDP. Political parties at the riding level are run by volunteers who form a Riding Association and are controlled by a local Board of Directors. Riding Associations are responsible for organizing at the local level and are also charged with selecting candidates to run in the riding in federal or provincial elections. Candidates are chosen at election time at local meetings run by each party where only party members vote. When an election is held, in each riding the candidate with a plurality of votes wins the riding and becomes the MP or MPP. They do not have to achieve an absolute majority of votes in the riding; in fact MPs and MPPs are often elected with 40% of the vote or less because of the usual three-party race. Canadians do not vote directly for the Prime Minister or provincial Premier; when all the ridings are tallied, the party with the most MPs or MPPs is asked by the Governor General or Lieutenant Governor to form the government. The leader of that party then becomes the Prime Minister or Premier. If at any time in its mandate the government fails to command the support of a majority of MPs or MPPs in a “confidence vote” in the House of Commons or the Legislative Assembly, then the Governor General or Lieutenant Governor dissolves the elected legislature and orders a new election to be held. That’s probably more information than most readers need to know unless they’re hard-core political junkies, but this should explain most of the unfamiliar terms used in the story. I hope you enjoy it.
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