On Good Friday, 2014, the CBC broke a story that would forever change the way Canadians view politics. It detailed a special meeting in downtown Ottawa between officials from four of Canada’s five major political parties. Most importantly, this story exposed Canadians to grisly images they had probably never seen before—and surely hope that they will never see again. What was this breaking news? A few MPs went swimming…in swimsuits! Seriously—that was the big news. It was important enough that the CBC posted it as the top story on the politics section of its website.
The reason the press attended the event (if you can call it that) was because the MPs were promoting national fitness. In the words of NDP MP Peter Stoffer, who was reportedly practicing his backflip into the pool, the event was “an example of the fun we have to show the folks back home to keep fit and keep active.”
Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party, said that the MP fitness group has helped her transform from a kid who “no one wanted […] on their team” into someone who enjoys fitness. Let me be the first to say it’s great that Ms. May has been able to discover the joy of exercise. But let me also point out a rather troublesome, evident truth. The people we elect to the House of Commons are the kind we didn’t want on our teams when we were younger. How times have changed! We used to ridicule them for being uncoordinated, slow, and unfamiliar with the rules of our games. Now, they hold power, and they can make our lives hell because they make the rules of the game we have to play every day. Except Ms. May—she doesn’t hold any power.
The CBC notes that it must be hard to get politicians from different parties in a room together. So how did this start? John Weston, the trained seal from West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky, bumped into Pierre Lafontaine, a former Olympic swimming coach. The two chatted on a plane ride from Vancouver to Ottawa and, according to Mr. Weston, probably had all the other passengers on the plane completely fed up from having to listen to John and Pierre talk about health and fitness for so long. Yes, John, go ahead and tell yourself that. When a Conservative MP annoys me it’s usually because he or she talks too much about health and fitness. That’s my main problem every time they open their mouths.
Anyway, what started as a small swim group turned into a running and swimming group, and inspired a bill calling for a National Fitness Day. Olympic ski legend and Conservative Senator Nancy Greene Raine said that the “long-term goal is for Canada to be the healthiest, fittest nation in the world.” She proceeded to commented on the increasing number of overweight Canadian Children, “Why should we target having all our kids get chubby and fat?” It’s a fair question. After all, Canada has enough fat cats in Parliament to survive several generations.
But, as I’ve said before, we should be proud of this crew for their dedication to themselves, and to our country. They are working towards a noble goal. The best part is that they have a former Olympic swimming coach helping them with their personal fitness routines. Wouldn’t we all like to be so lucky? To sum things up, Peter Stoffer offered a final comment on how exercise could help change the tone of Parliament: “Can you imagine Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau and Tom Mulcair all swimming together? This country would work a lot better, it would.” As long as they don’t kill each other, Peter is right. But, for God’s sake, make the whole lot swim in t-shirts. Except J.T.—dreamboy can go full nude for all I care.