You know what? I’m not a stupid man, but these days I have a difficult time remembering who the current Canadian Prime Minister is. I always have to think about it because the man’s name is never on the tip of my tongue. For the record, the Prime Minister is Stephen Harper, who has been Prime Minister ever since he replaced… uh… that other guy who was in office before him. So why am I having problems remembering these politicians’ names? Because the sad fact is that Canadian politics is no longer sexy. That’s right! You heard me! Sexy! Sure, I know what you’re thinking. Compared to the madness of American politics, Canadian politics has never been sexy. We’ve never had anything like Watergate, Zippergate, or even the JFK assassination. However I beg to differ. Perhaps Canadian politics hasn’t always seemed sexy, but in a sense it has always been exciting to watch, which is kinda sexy. I mean, we had Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who if he wasn’t getting pickled with Leonard Cohen or hanging out with John and Yoko, he was sticking the finger up at Richard Nixon and meeting with Castro and Mao. Then there was Jean Chrétien who was just as quick to put a strangle hold on a protester as he was to throw down with Jesse Helms. And what about Lucien Bouchard – the one legged tyrant of hell (better known as Quebec by some) who often seemed to be more like Ming the Merciless from the Flash Gordon comics than a French Canadian politician. And let us not forget William Mackenzie King who consulted psychics and occultists to help with Canada’s fight with the Nazis. Even little weirdos like Preston Manning with his “REFOOOORM” battle cry seems to be far less generic then today’s new breed of boring and totally forgettable players on the Canadian political scene. What we need is to bring sexy back to politics.
Who we need is Catherine Clark.
What? Catherine who? You don’t remember Catherine Clark? The most sexiest woman to ever walk into Canada’s political scene? Don’t worry. I find it interesting that in only eight years much of Catherine Clark’s adoring public has already seemed to have forgotten about her. Such a pity because, although she was from a political party that I wouldn’t support even if Jesus himself were running for their leadership, there was never a more brighter, beautiful, and charismatic woman ever to enter the world of Canadian politics. Let me refresh your memory about Catherine Clark, her adoring public and her adventures on her father’s campaign trail in:
CONFESSIONS OF A POP CULTURE ADDICT ASKS
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO CATHERINE CLARK:
BRINGING SEXY BACK TO CANADIAN POLITICS
So lets do a little recap of the 2000 Canadian election. I must admit, things haven’t changed much because my recollection of what was going on back then is just as fuzzy as it is now, and I’ll keep it brief in order not to bore our American friends who really don’t give a damn about Canadian politics. Well, Jean Chrétien was still in office and everybody pretty much knew that he was going to be reelected as the Canadian Prime Minister. The crazy bastard had been in office forever and he was pretty much like the Energizer Bunny – a powerhouse that kept going and going. I mean, Canadians are not famous for liking change, and everybody knows that a Liberal vote is a pretty safe vote (or so they thought at that time, although history would prove different later on… but that’s another story). However, upon the horizon of the political scene came the scary threat of ultra religious Stockwell Day and his Canadian Alliance party. Stockwell Day created quite a stir and a lot of excitement in the political scene. Here was a man who actually might have the ability to topple the mighty Liberals and their funny-looking leader. The battle between the Liberal and Canadian Alliance party was about to ignite and Canada was running for cover.
But that left a problem. What about the Conservative Party and their leader Joe Clark? Poor Joe Clark! The man was prime minister ever so briefly at the end of the 1970s and decided that, what the heck, he might as well go for it again. However, with the likes of Chrétien and Day duking it out nobody was even paying attention to the poor guy. It’s kind of like if Gerry and the Pacemakers decided to get back together for a comeback tour the same year that the Rolling Stones and a reformed Beatles were touring. Nobody really cared. You see, Joe Clark did have the reputation of being the most trustworthy politician in Canada, but let’s face it. Trustworthy just hasn’t grabbed the imagination of the voting public since the days of “Honest” Aberham Lincoln. So Joe Clark figures that he needed a new angle to get the cameramen to turn their attention away from Chrétien and Day and he had one thing that those two didn’t have. A really hot, leggy daughter who had the ability to turn the heads of the Canadian voters and turn the entire country on with her smile.
“So what if I dragged Catherine around on the election trail with me?”, Joe thinks to himself, “I bet that’d get everyone’s attention!” Joe realized that nobody cared about ol’ Joe Clark, especially with the scrappy French guy and the obnoxious bible thumper stealing all the headlines. Yeah, old Joe knew he had hit a golden idea and from there on in Joe Clark was rarely seen without Catherine in tow, and you want to know what? It worked! Well, kinda. Joe had successfully entered the political race, not with solutions and promises but with a long-legged, short-skirted, big-booted blonde bombshell of sexual appeal! People began to pay attention!
Now Catherine Clark’s biggest fan at the time would have been the Toronto Sun, who often featured her on the covers of their newspaper and even ran a daily section inside featuring a picture of Catherine and a synopsis of what she was wearing! Yes, Catherine was more runway model then political figurehead. However, to be fair, Catherine Clark was quite a wonderful girl. She was educated, she was intelligent, and when interviewed her comments had a bit of meat and potatoes to them. She knew the Conservative political agenda and she knew what she was talking about. She also wasn’t just reciting what her father’s people told her to say or reading from cue cards. That’s what Ben Mulroney does. Catherine had her own opinions and good common sense. She wasn’t a bimbo, although the Conservative party’s rivals tried to make her out that way. Joe said that Catherine had become his most valued political advisor and there wasn’t much doubt that it was true. Most of all, she knew how to get the media’s attention. She showed up to her father’s appearances as if she was on a Hollywood red carpet, smiled radiantly, posed for the cameras, and was delightfully charming.
So when all of this was going on I had my own brief encounter with the beautiful Catherine Clark. Now I am a Liberal supporter and there is little chance of me ever voting anything but, no matter what scandals they find themselves in. However, one morning I heard on the radio that Joe and Catherine were going to be doing a ribbon cutting ceremony at the local hospital. I quickly jumped out of bed, ironed my best shirt and polished my shoes, and with a copy of the Toronto Sun with Catherine’s face on the front cover and a Sharpie in hand I ran up to the hospital to see them. A fairly large crowd of mainly senior citizens and hospital staff was assembled. After a while Joe Clark’s big campaign bus arrived and big Joe emerged with lovely Catherine behind him. Catherine was dressed in a long leather jacket, a sweater and a black skirt and her wonderful tall leather boots. MMMMM… Catherine’s boots were always delectable! Joe did some kind of dull speech and cut the ribbon and everyone applauded. Then Joe and Catherine made their way through the crowd. Meanwhile, I was trying to worm my way up to Catherine Clark to get her to sign my copy of the Toronto Sun. Now I wasn’t about to start elbowing through seniors and getting as aggressive as I have had to get to meet other celebrities, or start screaming “CATHERINE! OVER HERE! I LOVE YOUR BOOTS CATHERINE!” because, well, I didn’t want to get arrested. Catherine stopped to talk to the elderly and then some kids with Down’s Syndrome and their parents. Some photos were snapped, Catherine smiled and waved, and before I knew it she and her father were back on the bus and heading for their next photo op. Sigh. I don’t know if she saw me, or ignored me, or what, but that was that. The closest thing I was going to get to the sexiest thing on the campaign trail.
So election day came and you know what us Canadians learnt? It doesn’t matter how sexy the daughter, how long her legs, how short her skirts, how tall the boots or how radiant the smile. Sex appeal may distract the Canadian voter, but it won’t affect their voting habits. Joe Clark lost the election. In fact he hardly made it on the map. As predicted, Chrétien defeat Stockwell Day. All Joe Clark had successfully done was make a minor celebrity out of his daughter. But, it seems, oh so minor. Now in 2008 the public at large asks “Catherine who?” Oh how fickle the public is.
So whatever happened to Catherine Clark? Well, between getting married and becoming a mother, Catherine Clark became the host of a TV talk show called Unzipped in 2001 on iChannel but it only lasted a single year. However, cancellation wasn’t going to stop Catherine and in 2004 she returned to television on a smaller scale hosting a daily talk show called In Good Company for the Rogers Cable Company in Ottawa. Then, after the birth of her daughter in 2006, Catherine just recently became the host of CPAC’s Sunday morning program Sunday Sound Off. Perhaps that’s why Catherine Clark dropped off my cultural radar because, honestly, who do you know who actually watches CPAC? Catherine is also still seen around Ottawa at charity events and other media functions. Her days in the mass spotlight may be long gone, but she’s still turning the country on with her smile.
So this is my plea: Catherine Clark, wherever you are, your time is now! With other former prime ministers’ children becoming prominent on our cultural landscape, your time has come again. Justin Trudeau is following in his father’s footsteps and turning heads and creating news everywhere he goes. Ben Mulroney is also, unfortunately, following in his father’s footsteps being an annoying nancy-boy who we all wish would just disappear. Come back to us Catherine! Unpack those boots and skirts and sweaters and bring along your smile. It’s time to bring sexy back to Canadian politics. Catherine Clark, we need you now more then ever.