The Best Laid Plans

Paperback | September 5, 2008

byTerry Fallis

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This book beat out work by Douglas Coupland and Will Ferguson because it is very, very good--a terrific Canadian political satire.

Here’s the set up: A burnt-out politcal aide quits just before an election--but is forced to run a hopeless campaign on the way out. He makes a deal with a crusty old Scot, Angus McLintock--an engineering professor who will do anything, anything, to avoid teaching English to engineers--to let his name stand in the election. No need to campaign, certain to lose, and so on.

Then a great scandal blows away his opponent, and to their horror, Angus is elected. He decides to see what good an honest M.P. who doesn’t care about being re-elected can do in Parliament. The results are hilarious--and with chess, a hovercraft, and the love of a good woman thrown in, this very funny book has something for everyone.

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From the Publisher

WINNER OF CBC CANADA READSThis book beat out work by Douglas Coupland and Will Ferguson because it is very, very good--a terrific Canadian political satire.Here’s the set up: A burnt-out politcal aide quits just before an election--but is forced to run a hopeless campaign on the way out. He makes a deal with a crusty old Scot, Angus Mc...

TERRY FALLIS grew up in Toronto and went to McMaster University. Drawn to politics at an early age, he worked for Cabinet Ministers both at Queen’s Park and in Ottawa. His first book, The Best Laid Plans, began as a podcast, then was self-published, won the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour, was re-published to great reviews by McClella...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 8.51 × 5.52 × 0.87 inPublished:September 5, 2008Publisher:McClelland & StewartLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0771047584

ISBN - 13:9780771047589


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow! Loved this book. It talks about the inner workings of our government, interesting read. Thank you!
Date published: 2016-07-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect for Canucks If you are a Canadian politico and avid reader don't miss this book. Hilarious and a fresh perspective.
Date published: 2015-10-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The funniest book I've ever read I laughed my way through the entire story! Terry Fallis has a very droll sense of humour and a great turn of phrase. I was at a cottage with friends and I just kept bursting out laughing. A great read at any time, but especially during an election campaign. Lots of insider knowledge of the workings of the political process in Canada. I really enjoyed this book!
Date published: 2015-09-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Unapologetically Canadian!!! I was so thrilled and entertained by the genuine Canadian presence in this book, especially appreciating that there are no cheesey caricature images or Canadian stereotypes, but instead just good, funny humour that happens to be Canadian. I laughed out loud during so many moments of this book. I just may start on page one and begin again!
Date published: 2015-01-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Compelling satire but a bit flat While I enjoyed reading this satire of Canadian government (there's nothing like government to bring Canada together), this book fell a bit flat for me. To me it felt like the author had a very older-straight-white-man perspective and the book often makes jokes about "alternative" lifestyles - the way the Petes are treated is especially indicative of this - that feel very much like a "get-off-my-lawn" statement. Women weren't treated the best in this book either.
Date published: 2014-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best laid plans Love it. Very entertaining.
Date published: 2014-09-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable Easy Read I was really spellbound throughout the entire book.
Date published: 2014-09-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyable Easy Read Such a great story! Love his brilliant writing and his sense of humour. He's easily my most favorite canadian author. I've also read all of his other books. You won't be disappointed.
Date published: 2014-08-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from The best laid plans I did not care for this book. Everything just seemed to fall into place for the protagonists very easily. There was no struggle. It reminded me of a book written for early teens. Also the writer often had the main characters make fun of the poor grammar of other characters. I found that very pretentious.
Date published: 2014-08-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Reader Great political book. For someone who hasn't followed politics too deeply, I found that it did bring in some interest in a fun way.
Date published: 2014-06-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A well-written book and very funny! Wonderfully written book, and very funny! Laid against the Canadian political landscape, Terry does a great job of combining humour with what we all know and hate/love about the Canadian political parties. I read on the jacket that Terry was unable to get any publishing interest until he read the book chapter by chapter on a blog. I expect it would have been even funnier to hear him read! There are not many authors who can handle humour well. Anyone who enjoys Bill Bryson or has read the book about the Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed out the Window - author's name escapes me right now - will enjoy Terry Fallis.
Date published: 2014-06-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Found this just before CBC showed it Thank you Leisa, for recommending this book to me three years ago. It takes me a while to get around to following people's recommendations, but in this case, I'm very glad I did. Angus M. for Prime Minister of the Universe!
Date published: 2014-03-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Well done This book by Terry Fallis, is both humorous and gives a realistic view of Canadian politics at the same time. The main character Angus Mclintock, is rather grumpy, but yet likable. Unlike a lot of real politicians world wide, you can trust what he tells you. He's a bit of a rough character, but yet he's not hard to like. I wish we had more Angus Mclintock in Ottawa.
Date published: 2014-02-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Found this just before CBC showed it This book was a wonderful change of pace for me. At times I was literally laughing out loud! A lighthearted look at politics and the wheeling and dealing that no doubt goes on behind the scenes in Ottawa.
Date published: 2014-01-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Found this just before CBC showed it This book was a great read. The characters are interesting and it was fun to read a book set in Ottawa with the backdrop of the Canadian political scene.
Date published: 2014-01-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Found this just before CBC showed it I found this book super funny to the point of laughing out loud! It's a fun, good read and very Canadian. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2014-01-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Found this just before CBC showed it A truly delightful and insightful satire of Canadian politics. It kept me smiling and laughing and asking "where is Angus McClintock when we need him". I've recommended it to many others.
Date published: 2014-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Found this just before CBC showed it I laughed out loud reading this book!! Fantastic.
Date published: 2014-01-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Fun Read This was a very entertaining book, a very funny take on politics and the workings of Government, great characters and funny dialogue, I laughed out loud. A must read.
Date published: 2014-01-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Found this just before CBC showed it A great look at the simple side of a Canadian politics! Funny and frustrating! It makes you ask the question....why would anyone go into politics? Whether you're a political junkie or new to the goings-on up on Parliament Hill, you'll enjoy this, for sure!
Date published: 2014-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great read! Whether you are a political junkie, or just shake your head at anyone who could possibly consider entering politics, this is a book worth reading! Funny, enlightening, with great characters and a great setting. You'll love it!
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great read! This book is a hilarious and heartfelt ride. You fall in love with Angus right from the start and root for him all the way to the end. Terry Fallis' way of writing pulls the story together in such a way that it's very hard to put the book down. This is a must read for anyone looking to bring a little politics into their life.
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great read! This is a book with a very funny, if improbable, story line. As if the plot of an non-election campaign that backfires isn't funny enough, it's the view and insight in Canadian National politics that gives the novel a familiarity that Canadians can relate to while adding to its' hilarity. A great read and a deserving winner of Canada Reads.
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great read! If you are interested in Canadian politics this is for you. This satire had me laughing and crying. It reminded me of working in election campaign offices and going door to door trying to get support for a candidate that no one really paid attention to. If we had more people running for office it would make the election much more interesting and give people a reason to come out to vote. Thanks Terry!
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Best Laid Plans I read this a month ago. It was humorous, witty. I would recommend it.
Date published: 2014-01-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Humour for Canucks Daniel Addison is a former staffer for the Opposition Liberal Leader. He leaves Parliament Hill for a University position in the English department. But first,he needs to find and run a candidate in the safest Conservative riding in the country. Muriel Parkinson, the previous candidate five times over will help with the campaign, but not run for election again. Daniel finally strikes a deal with his landlord, engineering professor Angus McLintock. Angus agrees to run, on the presumption that he doesn't have to do anything for the campaign, and will definitely lose. In return, Daniel will teach the English for Engineers course. Of course all things do not run smoothly and Angus does win the election. Now we have a Member of Parliament with no axe to grind, no need to cozy up with anyone and will do what is 'right' for the country. This was a humorous story not LOL but still funny. I have survived the English for Engineers course as a student and the author had this course 'down pat'. What I did not understand was why Daniel had to do anything when he left Parliament Hill but I guess this is the main premise of the book. I loved Angus and did grin when I imagined him stripping and jumping off the dock.
Date published: 2013-03-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Canadian Humour A must read for all politically conscious Canadians, Social Studies teachers and anyone wanting a good laugh. A Romp through the halls of government, an old folks home, and a houseboat.
Date published: 2013-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must read Bitingly incisive, human and very funny. Who knew Canadian politics could be so humorous? I actually sent a copy to a friend, she is currently in stitches over it :)
Date published: 2012-09-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Best laid aside "After an impressive hang time, I plummeted back to the sidewalk, my fall broken by a fresh, putrid pile of excrement the size of a small ottoman... Before I quite literally found myself in deep s$%#, my day had actually been ripe with promise..." Opening lines from this poorly written book which I bought after rave reviews from friends. I am "quite literally" perplexed. The book has redeeming qualities for certain but in the end I was reading just to satisfy my curiosity and sense of incredulity. Can't recommend unfortunately.
Date published: 2012-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The best book I have read this year, well done Terry Fallis I had never heard of this author before three days ago nor had I heard of this title but I couldn't put it down. This book is truly Canadian and as it happens I will be going to Ottawa to receive an award on Parliament Hill with plans to visit many of the site mentioned. The story line is compelling and a real page turner. I'm going to buy his follow up novel as soon as I can. Yes, it was that good. Without any hesitation this is my favourite read this year ( I read every day) and will highly reccomend it to friends and family. I'm off to buy another Terry Fallis book called "The High Road" I doubt it could be as good but he certainly deserves another go at it, thank you for making my day with a great and wonderful reading experience.
Date published: 2012-08-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very witty I was not looking forward to reading about Canadian politics for our September book club pick - fiction or non-fiction. So I was very pleasantly surprised to find out how much I enjoyed Mr. Fallis' writing style and the story line. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can see why he won the award. Great read!
Date published: 2012-08-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very pleasantly surprised 3.75 stars Daniel has left his job working for the Liberal Leader in the House of Commons, but has promised to find someone to run in the next election for the Liberal Party in the Cumberland-Prescott riding, where the PC candidate has served for years and is loved by all. The PCs have this riding locked up. So, after a lot of searching, Daniel convinces Angus McLintock, an engineering professor, who has absolutely no desire to be a politician, to simply put his name on the ballot for the Liberals. However, things don't quite go as planned... I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I'm not a big fan of politics, or especially reading about it, but this is funny and entertaining. I couldn't quite give it a full 4 stars because in the first half of the book, there was an occasional slow patch, but the second half really picked up. Angus is a great character and I loved the "antipolitician" that he was. Not caring what people thought of him, he said and did what he thought was right. There were some great secondary characters in this book, as well.
Date published: 2012-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Can't wait for the movie... This book was a fabulous read. I loved the characters and I loved the story. It was funny, well written with a great usage of the English language, very visual, and an all around great read. This was surprising to me because the premise of the book didn't capture my interest - but it was the November's selection for my bookclub and I was reading ahead. Wow - for once I loved the book someone chose for the club. I think this book would make a fabulous movie and wish someone would be astute enough to pick up the rights to the book. I would be first in line to see it.
Date published: 2011-10-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A really good read The characters are people I wouldn't mind knowing myself and the story is funny and engaging. A good read even if you're not that into politics. (But if you are, it's informative and thought provoking in an amusing way. I think you'd enjoy this book even if you're not Canadian, but especially so if you are. And doubly so if you're from the Ottawa area.)
Date published: 2011-08-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great for any "reference" junkie to bet back into fiction! I very rarely read fiction, I tend to hide in the political science/history/reference sections of Chapters. I received this book from a family member who believed this would be THE book to get me into fiction - and they were right! Now when I visit Chapters I take a copy of this book from the Fiction section and place it on the shelves of "Canadian Political Science" in hopes that someone, like me, may read it (sorry Chapters staff!) This book is witty, humors and a "must have" for anyone of the Liberal persuasion. I would HIGHLY recommend this book to any political junkie or "ideological policy wonk" that is looking to get into fiction.
Date published: 2011-08-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful book This is the best book I have read in ages. It is a 'must read' for anyone old enough to vote. It certainly proves the point that the more humourous the subject, the closer it is to the truth. I cannot wait to read the High Road.
Date published: 2011-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Read it Every Canadian should have read this before May 2, but anyone can enjoy it anytime. It was one of those books that made me slow down at 25 pages before the end, not wanting to leave the people behind. If only we had an Angus McClintock in Ottawa! I laughed, I cried, I sank into deep thought and then I laughed some more. Great book. Looking forward to the Further Adventures of....
Date published: 2011-05-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Smart and Funny I would not consider myself an avid reader, but when I do read the book has to grab me and usually this comes from the pace of writing and the vocabulary. Terry Fallis captured me in the first few pages, and I rarely laugh out loud when reading, but I did so on many occasions. I love Canadian literature as it is home to me and I can easily lose myself in the places and situations - this book did that too. If you love reading a book which challenges your vocabulary, have an interest in politics and Canadiana this is a great read. Some were so funny I read out loud to family and friends and we all laughed so hard we cried. Not many books do that accept another great Canadian humourist, Stuart McLean.
Date published: 2011-04-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read! I finished reading this the day Harper's Tory government fell. As we go into an election campaign I only wish I had a candidate like Angus McLintock! This book is a delicious commentary on Parliament Hill as it is, and as it could be.
Date published: 2011-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Entertaining AND Informative! As an 'ideological policy wonk' (Fallis' term, but it just fits so nicely!) I loved loved loved this book. If readers have never taken part in an election campaign or ever watched televised House of Commons proceedings, they're going to learn a bit, while giggling themselves silly. The scene where the MP is trying to call the PM a liar without saying the word "liar" is by far the most hilarious bit I've read in ages. And as an amateur grammar freak, I liked the bits about that too. Its like Fallis was inside my mind, knowing what things make me laugh.
Date published: 2011-02-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Best Book about Politics I've ever Read Daniel Addison has one thing left to do before is done with politics; he needs to find a candidate to run in the Tory stronghold of Cumberland-Prescott. Even though there is essentially no chance of a liberal candidate winning he is finding no one willing to take up the challenge. After speaking with every possible contender he turns to his landlord, Engineering Professor Angus McLintock. With essentially no fund, no campaign workers and no committed party representative, Daniel somehow has to run a very convincing campaign against the extremely popular Conservative incumbent. I want to tell you more, but even one more word will start to give away plot developments and I don't want to deprive you of the fun of reading about them. I wasn't too sure about reading a book about politics, but I was assured that it was funny. Well, politics is funny all on its own, if you don't believe me, get a bowl of popcorn and turn on the house of commons channel one day and start watching. I was hooked in the first pages. From back room dealings, sexual escapades, campaigning to lose, this book has it all and more, lots more. There were times I was laughing so hard the tears were streaming down my cheeks. My family thought I had lost it for sure. One section kept me laughing page after page. I could image the press reporting on "that story" and not letting it go. Oh yes, Canadian politics rocks. I highly recommend this book for anyone who likes politics, for anyone who doesn't like politics, even those who are indifferent will be amused. The Best Laid Plans is not limited to Canadian readers only, readers in any country will enjoy the antics portrayed within its covers.
Date published: 2010-07-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is the best book I bought in 2008. I also bought several other copies to send to my friends. I haven't done this with any other book. So read the blurb and give yourself a treat, and buy this book.
Date published: 2009-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Canada Needs Angus McLintock for Prime Minister This is a funny, fast-paced romp that begins and ends on Parliament Hill. It accomplishes the improbable, marrying humour and the rules and procedures that determine how things get done in Ottawa. The main characters are intelligent, honourable and loveable, and in current context, we can only wish they would spring off the page in defence of Canada's democracy.
Date published: 2008-12-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Perfect Novel The Best Laid Plans, by Terry Fallis, is, in my opinion, a perfect novel, deserving of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, and of every accolade it receives. If you haven't yet read it you must, right now, rush out and purchase your very own copy; no, don't borrow one, buy your own because it will be a mainstay on your bookshelf for years to come. Now, it's best to understand it's not easy to make me laugh, and I'm also a very critical reader; despite that Terry had me laughing myself silly with the opening scene, to the point I couldn't speak and still break into spontaneous giggles when I think about it. And while that side-splitting humour toned down through the novel into a voice of wit and delightful absurdities, it remained an engaging read that produced explosions of giggles throughout. Terry's characters are endearing, real, deftly crafted, his plot tight and seamless, the ending the perfect bow on the perfect package. I'll never again think of Parliament Hill in quite the same manner. Well done, Terry! Bravo!
Date published: 2008-10-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Wonderful Story! This is a wonderful story. I enjoyed the characters and how they evolved over time. I enjoyed the various different side stories... and I very definitely enjoyed the "Diaries of Angus McLintock" that ended each chapter once the book got beyond the initial chapters. At the end of the day, no matter what our political system or country I think we all would love to have a few more politicians out there with the character and principles of Angus McLintock! Now we just have to wait to see what might come next for Angus, Daniel and friends.
Date published: 2008-10-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A funny Canadian novel! This is a very funny book that gives us a satirical peek inside the Canadian political system. After reading the book, it is no wonder to me why it won the 2008 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. The author's excellent characterizations and insider details of the internal machinations of parliament bring the narrative to life. The diary entries at the end of each chapter were effectively employed to reflect on the plot points that had ocurred before moving on the to next chapter, and I thought this device was well employed here. I thought about trying to explain the plot here, but I am afraid to give too much of the story away. I will point out something else: I think the story behind this novel (being self-published after many rejections, then winning the 2008 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour and now finally being published by M&S) is an inspiration to those authors who have struggled to write and publish about Canadian themes: that there is an interest in good writing even in our smaller market, and there is hope after getting rejection after rejection. I read this book in a few short days and I found it hard to put the book down. My only regret is that the book actually has an end. I sincerely hope that the author will write again about these characters, as I found them to be quite compelling. I heartily recommend this book to anyone looking for a truly laugh-out-loud Canadian novel.
Date published: 2008-09-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Here's a book that deserves a sequel I read Terry Fallis' Best Laid Plans in the original self-published edition. And it left me with a smile at every sitting, from beginning to end. Terry's protagonist is the noble idealist that we all wish actually would populate the halls of power. Come to think of it, as a long time friend of Terry, there was a lot of Terry in his hero. Terry for PM? Terry has written about something he knows well. As a one time political aide, he writes about the political machinations with an insiders eye. And he brings out the humour and fun for us all to share. The only problem with the book? It ended. So, time for Terry to write a sequel. Maybe our hero should find himself in the Canadian Embassy in Washington as a representtive of the newly elected government? The Best Laid Plans. A great, entertaining read.
Date published: 2008-09-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Anti-politician This is a satirical look at political life in Ottawa. It was very funny. It's refreshing to see how two people who weren't even interested in being a part of the political machine, rose to the challenge. Here's a funny quote: "You are the lab rat in what could be a classic experiment in Canadian democracy...Perhaps for the first time in Canadian history the voters have elected a Member of Parliament whose singular commitment is to the public interest, not his own, and the political consequences be damned. You cannot be bought, you have no desire for re-election, you have no interest in higher office, and you don't care what people think of you. You actually do what you say. You are the mirror opposite of what Canadians have come to expect of politicians. You are the anti-politician. In fact, my rudimentary understanding of physics suggests that if you were to collide head-on with a traditional politician, you might cancel one another out and both disappear in a puff of smoke." Who said Canadian politics wasn't interesting?
Date published: 2008-08-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Terrific Novel! When I first picked up Terry Fallis' novel which is described on the cover as a "satirical novel of Canadian politics" I wasn't expecting it to be very compelling -- I'm not much into politics, after all. But this novel was compelling from the first word. I was immediately hooked by narrator Daniel Addison and his departure from the Canadian political scene to teach English to Engineers at Ottawa University. I particularly enjoyed the hilarious and uniquely creative description of walking in on his girlfriend and a cabinet minister and describing their tryst in "parliamentary language." Rick Mercer couldn't have done a better job of setting up the laughs from this scene. But once Fallis introduced stodgy old engineering professor Angus McLintock I was double-hooked. Following this unlikely Liberal candidate's rise to power marks one of the best books I've read this year. The main plot and sub-stories wind perfectly together providing a wonderfully balanced and thoroughly enjoyable tale. While I actually did laugh out loud several times reading this satirical novel, I was also moved and touched by the characters who live long after I have turned the final page of the book.
Date published: 2008-08-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hilarious Political Insider Novel I simply loved this book. It won the Stephen Leacock Award for humor and that worried me - for some reason I often don't find "funny" books very funny. I can't recommend this one highly enough. Daniel works as a speechwriter for the Leader of the Opposition on Parliament Hill. He is slowly changing from an idealist to a cynic. Then he finds his girlfriend in a compromising position with a certain politiican. That is enough for him to pack up and head to the University of Ottawa to teach. But they have one last request - find someone to run for the Liberals in the strongest Tory riding in the country. He says yes. And then every single person in the riding says no to him. Until he meets his landlord - Angus McLintock an engineering professor with a love of hovercrafts and a hatred of teaching English to first year engineers. Daniel offers a switch - he'll teach the class if Angus agrees to run. Angus agrees as long as Daniel promises he'll lose. They have a deal. No budget, no headquarters and only 2 volunteers - Pete1 and Pete2 (heavily pierced, mohawked and tattooed engineering students). A loss seems guaranteed. Or does it? If you ever watched the West Wing you'll love seeing the behind the scenes political maneouvering on the Canadian side of the border. It was totally laugh out loud for me.
Date published: 2008-08-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from "My Kind of Book!" I picked it up to read on a trip and loved it. Jolly good fun!
Date published: 2008-07-22

Extra Content

Read from the Book

Part OneChapter OneAfter an impressive hang time, I plummeted back to the sidewalk, my fall broken by a fresh, putrid pile of excrement the size of a small ottoman. I quickly scanned the area for a hippo on the lam.Before I quite literally found myself in deep shit, my day had actually been ripe with promise. I’m a big believer in signs. After six straight days of rain, I believed the sun burning a hole in the cloudless, cobalt sky was a sign — a good one. It somehow lightened the load I’d been lugging around in my mind for the previous six weeks. I lifted my face to the warmth and squinted as I walked along the edge of Riverfront Park. Even though it was a Monday morning, I hummed a happy little tune. Maybe, just maybe, things were looking up. Unfortunately, so was I.My foot made a soft landing on the sidewalk and shot forward all on its own, leaving a brown, viscous streak in its wake. Congenitally clumsy, I was well into the splits before I managed to drag my trailing leg forward and slip the surly bonds of earth. Airborne, I surveyed the terrain below and, with all the athletic prowess of a quadriplegic walrus, returned safely to earth, touching down on the aforementioned crap cushion.Just after I landed, I counted roughly twenty witnesses, who stared slack-jawed before many of them split their sides. Fortunately, only a handful of them had video cameras. I expect you can still find me on Everyone seemed quite amused by the prominent sign planted three feet to my left: keep cumberland clean. please stoop and scoop. The owners of whatever behemoth produced this Guinness-book offering would have needed a Hefty bag and a snow shovel.And what an unholy aroma. I’ve always believed that English is better equipped than any other language to capture the richness and diversity of our daily lives. I promise you, the Oxford Concise does not yet have words to describe the stench that rose like a mushroom cloud from that colossal mound. Stepping in it was one thing; full immersion was quite another.Bright sun in a clear blue sky — good sign. Russian split jump into a gigantic dog turd — not a good sign. Good form, good air, but not a good sign.An hour and a shower later, I retraced my steps, eyes fixed on the pavement, ignoring the two township workers in hazmat suits at the scene of my fall. I quickened my pace, pumping myself up for the important encounter ahead. After nearly six weeks of intensive searching, I was down to my last seven days. I’d tried flattery, threats, cajolery, blackmail, and bribery, but had come up empty and bone-dry — nothing.In the first two weeks after my arrival in Cumberland, I’d spoken to the mayor and every town councilor, including the lone Liberal, as well as the head of the chamber of commerce. No dice. In week three, I had pleaded with prominent business leaders, local doctors and lawyers, the head of the four-bus transit authority, and the high-school principal. They’re all still laughing. In fact, one of them needed two sick days to rest a pulled stomach muscle. Last week, I had bought drinks for the local crossing guard, baked cookies for the chief instructor at the Prescott Driving School, and shared inane banter with the golf pro at the Cumberland Mini-Putt. No luck, although the crossing guard at least listened to half my spiel before holding up her stop sign.I like to think that one of my few strengths is a keen sense of when I’m doomed. None of this “the glass is half full” stuff for me. I know when I’m in deep. So I gave up and returned to the no-hope option I’d rejected at the outset as cruel and unusual punishment. But what else could I do? I had splinters from scraping the bottom of the barrel.The Riverfront Seniors’ Residence loomed on my left just beyond the park. Built in 1952, it had that utterly forgettable but, I suppose, practical architecture of that era — early Canadian ugly. Two wings of rooms extended along the riverbank on either side of a central lobby. Everything looked painfully rectangular. The only architectural grace note, just adjacent to the dining room, was a curved wall of windows, overlooking the Ottawa River. For the residents, the panorama provided a welcome distraction from the steam-table cuisine.The lounge next to the dining room was populated with 30-year-old couches and chairs, sporting strangely hued upholstery from the “shades of internal organs” collection, accessorized by protective plastic slip covers. I saw a couple of dozen or so residents camped out in the lounge. Some were reading. Others were locked in debate over what vegetables would accompany the pot roast that night. A few simply gazed at nothing at all with a forlorn and vacant look. The scent of air freshener hung heavy, only just subduing that other odor sadly common to many seniors’ residences. I loitered in the lobby, surveying the scene and deciding on my approach. Evidently, I was too slow.A grizzled, old man in a peach safari suit and a lavender, egg-encrusted tie looked me up and down a few times, wrestling with his memory. Finally, recognition dawned on his withered face. “Hey, it’s the doggy doo-doo diving champ!” he shouted. I glanced at the aging alliteration aficionado before taking in the rest of the room. All eyes turned to me. I saw heads nodding and smiles breaking. A wheelchair-ridden centenarian gave me a thumbs-up. I heard a smattering of applause that slowly gathered strength and culminated some time later in an osteoporotic, stooping ovation. I felt compelled to take a bow. When the commotion abated, the guy in the peach safari suit approached.“I gotta tell you that was some performance this morning. After that horse of a dog dropped his load in the middle of the sidewalk, we were all gathered by the window there, waiting for some poor sap to step in it. We even had a pool going.”

Editorial Reviews

WINNER OF THE STEPHEN LEACOCK MEDAL FOR HUMOURWINNER OF CBC CANADA READS“Amusing, enlightening--and Canadian, and it deftly explores the Machiavellian machinations of Ottawa’s political culture.” The Globe and Mail “This is a funny book that could only have been written by someone with firsthand knowledge of politics in Canada, including its occasionally absurd side. This is a great read for anyone thinking of running for office, and especially reassuring for those who have decided not to.”  The Hon. Allan Rock, former Justice Minister and Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations