The hall of honour was truly at the height of it’s resplendency today. It would be of course. There being a state visit and all.
But not just any state visit. Australia’s PM was due in town. Tony Abbott is considered a close ideological ally. A conservative brethren. A budget-deficit slaying maestro if you will. Part of the big happy conservative family. Well not big. Heavens no. Small. Yes, more of a laissez-faire family if anything. Not to dismiss the importance of family. You understand.
In any event, the hall of honour was dressed impeccably. Glittering Canadian and Australian flags gloriously lined the hallway, a path was set with lush red carpeting and the lighting was adjusted just right. Though last minute preparations were still underway as Prime Minister’s Stephen Harper and Tony Abbott readied to take centre stage.
Weary parliamentary scribes were hustled hastily into a pen. A bedraggled and heavily hungover Hill staffer quickly assembled a makeshift sign. Scrawling “media zone” onto the faded cover of a nearby copy of “Economic Action Plan 2014 : Road to Balance”.
As the logistical stars aligned, the PM’s emerged. With the stage set, the pair started off down the hall at a relaxed gait, beaming wildly for the cameras.
What occurred throughout the day was truly spectacular. Diplomacy in action. Bridge building. Hand shaking. Frantic gesticulating. Bi-tri-multi-lateral agreement signing. Real top drawer, backslapping stuff.
As proceedings began, Tony Abbott seemed so taken with excitement that upon taking to the podium he accidentally thanked “Canadia” for the warm welcome. Oops. The scribes scribbled and tweeted furiously. Abbott quickly corrected himself, grinned awkwardly and glanced at Harper. Perhaps in apology. Or for moral support. Maybe both. Harper, unfamiliar with the role providing moral support and surprised by Abbott’s flub, silently peered on and obliged with his own sort-of crooked awkward smile.
And so back and forth they went in their effortless diplomatic dance.
Harper’s own turn came and he hailed Abbott as a “beacon for conservatism around the world”. Each smiling coyly, they briefly turned to each other, gently tilted their heads sideways and once again exchanged glances. Momentarily locking into each other’s gaze, getting lost in that twinkle of fiscal prudence and vision of small government they each seemed to have. Terry Milewski surveyed the scene.
The day rolled along as the leader’s combined forces for a joint press conference. Abbott, by now so overwhelmed by the magnitude of statesmanship, could hardly contain himself. Rivers of sweat flowed on his face as he glistened in the light. Perhaps doing his best to evoke the venerable “This Hour has 22 Minutes” icon, Raj Binder.
Regardless, the dynamic duo pressed forward. Now onto a first name basis (the rough equivalent to political second base) the two bravely swatted back half-hearted queries from the utterly dispirited media troupe. On climate change, Abbott’s intellectual prowess was unleashed. “I believe…..States can do what they want” Abbott said. Harper, brows furrowed, nodded assuredly. On Russia, the leader’s took a no-nonsense stance and proclaimed that they “hoped Russia would behave”.
This evening the two are slated to dine with guests at the Chateau Laurier. As the two giggle over a plate of pasta long into the night, Canadians can rest assured that Canada-Australia relations are well and truly, in the right hands.