Saturday, June 23, 2007

Camping with Steve

According to Decima Research, more people would like to go camping and fishing in the wilderness with Steve Harper than with Stephane Dion.

Why? It's not like Harper is any kind of renown outdoorsman. In fact, he's better known for being pretty much tied to the urban comforts of life, the perks of power, his electronic gadgets and apparently, food. He is, after all, a conservative politician and, if they like anything else but power, it's the comforts offered by privilege.

The first problem to overcome is getting there. It doesn't matter what form of transport you have organized or how lightweight your camping gear may be, Steve will insist on heavy lift transport. Don't bother going shopping for a new truck at the best price. Steve will appoint a minister of camping who used to be a truck salesman. Rather than shop around, he will organize one of these. Don't bother looking for a used vehicle. Rent one? Perish the thought. Only new will work. You will pay for it. You will drive. If you get lost, it's your fault. Even though Steve has a map, you are expected to find the way.

Once in the wilderness there will be several tasks you and Steve will have to carry out. There will be a tent to erect. You will do that; Steve will tell you exactly how it is to be done. He will do this without consulting instructions. If you have instructions on how to put up your new tent, you shall not use them. Throw them away. They are excess weight. You should not have brought them. Steve will direct the job from the exact direction the tent is to face to the appropriate angle for the tent pegs.

You will need a source of heat for cooking and warmth. Your fuel efficient, lightweight and clean stove is unacceptable. You should not have brought that along. You will find a more traditional way to produce heat. A wood fire will be required. When you discover that there is no dry deadfall wood available to burn, Steve will explain to you that this is the result of thirteen years worth of previous campers using wood instead of efficient, lightweight, clean stoves. No. You may not use your stove. Instead, you will cut down some trees, cut and split wood, dry it, and use that for a real fire. You have two hours until supper.

When other nearby campers, all using efficient, lightweight, clean stoves, complain about the smoke your fire is creating, pay attention to Steve, not the other campers. He has a plan to make all that green wood stop smoking. You needn't trouble yourself as to what the plan is.

Steve, of course, has a chef back in the city. He is accustomed to fine dining. No, the stew you brought along is not acceptable. He has brought the ingredients for something a little more gourmet. Go lightly on the prawns. You're cooking.

As night falls you have noticed a large motorhome nearby. The occupants come over and announce that there are several bears known to pillage campsites. Although they have never actually come into this particular camping area, Steve offers to deal with the problem. He explains to you, in confidence, that this will bring both of you, but particularly him, great prestige with the owners of the motorhome and, in any case, they seem occupied with a bunch of pesky cougars in the opposite direction. Your objections are not acceptable. That is not supporting Steve's plan. Steve explains to you that you have an obligation to all other campers in the area. Your criticism of Steve's plan makes him angry. He points out that your lack of previous experience at bear hunting precludes you criticizing his plan.

In the morning it's time to go fishing. Steve is ready to go and is waiting for you to get a boat into the water. You explain that, quite obviously, there is no boat. Steve chastises you for not taking advantage of the savings you would have realized due to the reduction in Goods and Services Tax. You should have financed a boat. You explain that you would have bought a boat but the cost of the truck used all your available cash. Steve shrugs it off and suggest fishing from the shore. You tell him that while you'll eventually catch fish, it will probably take longer than it would from a boat. Steve offers a solution: You will tell yourself there is a boat. You will continue fishing from the shore, as you have always done, but you'll feel better about it because you think you own a boat.

As the day wears on, it is time to leave. You will break camp and stow the gear. When you remind Steve about the arrangement to share costs he makes an offer. You can stick with the previous arrangement or you can accept another arrangement which will give you more money now, but less on future fishing trips. You're not happy with the sudden change. Steve just shrugs.

After dropping Steve off at his house, you're uncertain about the future. Should you give up camping, or give up Steve?

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