American writer Mark Twain once said that truth is stranger than fiction because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities while truth is not. For whatever the reason, the old maxim gained many converts this year.
If challenged at the beginning of the year to dream up some of the actual news events that took place, most people’s wildest imaginations would not likely have matched some of the weird things that occurred here and elsewhere.
For instance, who would have thought the mayor of Canada’s largest city would not only be accused of abusing drugs and alcohol, but admit to both? After months of denial he fessed up, pointing out his problems occurred when he was in one of his “drunken stupors.”
Ford’s antics so dominated the news media late in the year that he actually knocked the Senate scandal aside. For the longest time this year, the parade of foolishness coming from Canada’s chamber of sober second thought was hard to fathom — and stomach — as senators were caught claiming expenses they weren’t entitled to.
The poster boy for the Senate scandal was P.E.I. Sen. Mike Duffy, much to the embarrassment of Prince Edward Islanders. After all, we like claiming the good guys, not the bad apples.
Duffy once stated he considered himself Gail Shea’s little helper, much like the elves are to Santa Claus. In his Tory glory days, Duffy explained it was his job to help Shea, P.E.I.’s representative in the federal cabinet, by passing out the federal goodies and making announcements.
Or at least that’s how Duffy started out the year. He ended it in the Prime Minister’s doghouse. In fact, he has been kicked out of the Conservative caucus due to questionable spending and a swirl of ongoing investigations. His fall from grace would have been difficult to predict at this time last year.
Another politician wearing a new party suit is Hal Perry. He’s still the MLA for District 27 (Tignish-Palmer Road) but he now sports a red Liberal tie, having tossed out his blue PC ones this fall when he reached out to his former political enemies, the Liberals, and was warmly accepted.
Again, what a difference a few months can make. At this time last year he was complaining about the Liberal “health care on wheels” policy and warning of the dire consequences that would hit the Island when the Liberals instituted the Harmonized Sales Tax.
Another truth is stranger than fiction story took place in Charlottetown recently when a man was jailed for stealing meat from a local supermarket. He was caught stuffing chicken breasts, bacon and steaks down his pants.
That was weird, but perhaps stranger was the fact the food was viewed as being recovered in resalable conditions. I don’t have any word on whether it was discounted or not.
‘Tis the season of much merrymaking and good food so rather than end the year on a sour note, I will attempt to end it on a tasty one; one that perhaps offers a clue to some of Duffy’s troubles.
Back in June of 1997, Duffy, then a national broadcast journalist, contributed to a recipe supplement published in The Guardian. His recipe for brownies was called “Duffy’s Downfall” and here are the ingredients and instructions:
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, well beaten
Melt chocolate with butter in double boiler or microwave. Combine dry ingredients. Beat in eggs. Add chocolate mixture last. Pour into 8x8-inch pan. Bake at 375 F oven until toothpick inserted comes out dry.
In the spirit of renewal and good cheer, let’s hope P.E.I.’s wayward senator has a better year in 2014. Mark Twain also said: “Honesty is the best policy — when there is money in it.”
Gary MacDougall is managing editor of The Guardian. He can be reached by telephone at (902) 629-6039; by email at email@example.com; or on Twitter @GaryGuardian.