Howie can do it for us!

This time around, I’m saying “Hurray for Howie!”
Our youthful, good-looking present MPP has my vote and not merely because we all enjoy his pancake breakfasts!
Not since the legendary Tory Bill Norden became Speaker of the House, and brought us the highway to the east and construction of the causeway over Rainy Lake which bears his name, has this obscure corner of Ontario been served at Queen’s Park by such a prominent rep as Howard Hampton, the provincial NDP leader.
And whether you ever voted NDP before or not, you have to stop and consider what one outstanding politician like Howie, with his winning ways, can do for his home constituency. The back-benchers all wish they enjoyed such prestige.
Howie has his local election plans in high gear with his meetings and bright orange campaign advertising bowling us over and making his adversaries reel.
I suspect the NDP is not short of party promotion money this time around, especially for Howie. The party leader can get what he wants, including help for his people back home, remember!
So there are any number of district problems Howie will continue to tackle from his elevated vantage point while the old parties gnash their teeth for the first time and stand back. This election under our vibrant young member could see the PCs and Liberals forced to eat Howie’s dust in future.
All this may be too much to hope for, considering the hold the old parties have enjoyed at both provincial and federal levels for so many years. It appears there has been a longstanding bargain between them, such as the old saying about “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours,” but at all costs, “Keep the NDP at bay.”
Howie is a breath of fresh air blowing across Ontario in this election and the old parties probably must recognize they are in trouble. After the formerly outcast NDP takeovers, all the little deals the older parties have fumbled with are gone out the window.
I like Howard’s photo on his campaign folder. It shows him in fighting form and without that great smile as a hockey player where again he was locally great, possibly good enough to turn professional if that had ever enticed him.
He seems to have kept himself in enviable physical condition, and how many members at Toronto can say the same?
Now he’s into the fight of his life while the eastern gangs attempt to tear him apart and prove Howie is merely a flash in the pan. I don’t believe they’ll make it because they couldn’t slow him down before this election! Howie’s a doer!
All this comes from a guy who never took the NDP seriously before, accepting the same deadly philosophy that let the old parties go ahead and do their own thing, because they will anyway.
And now here comes Howie! And most Ontarians would say, it’s just about time!
If this piece offends the other candidates, they should be told that politically I have always stayed neutral, although my parents were staunch Liberals.
Yet, if any of them brings our riding a party leadership like Howie managed somehow, I’ll be just as happy again. Because we’ve toiled in obscurity here since Bill Noden left us and this doesn’t make us happy.
A high-profile member at either Toronto or Ottawa certainly can make a world of difference.
• • •
Hurricane Isabel is scheduled to strike the eastern seaboard tomorrow (Thursday) with winds of possibly 150 m.p.h.—and there’s a definite possibility the storm might even hit souther Ontario, too!
The Carolinas have laid in emergency supplies, including clean water.
• • •
It’s not a bad idea to remember there may be Americans in your summertime lineup at McDonald’s or Dairy Queen when you decide to air any opinions about Iraq or some other not mutually acceptable subject.
I’ve discovered it could be easy to test the gathering first, and this is a very simple stunt. Just try chanting a few lines from “Betsy,” which most Canadians in that lineup have never heard.
Americans, on the other hand, have this song well imbedded in their own cultural background. They learned this very rhythm in childhood, probably during their school days. It starts this way:
“Oh, don’t you remember Sweet Betsy from Pike,
Who crossed the high mountains with her husband Ike?”
And right away, you’ve started a chorus because the American women, at least the middle-aged or older ladies, will chime right in:
“With one yoke of oxen, and a big yellow dog!
And old Shanghai rooster and one spotted hog!”
Most of our Canadian women couldn’t take it that far along, but the visitors will go on and finish it for you:
“They came to the desert and Sweet Betsy gave out.
And down on the ground she lay crawling about.
While Ike all excited and full of surprise
Yelled “Betsy get up, you’ll get sand in your eyes.”
This old-timer carries such a strong beat that you can’t resist it yourself once you’ve begun—and the whole lineup might be roaring the words unself-consciously once you get them started.
I mean, having been introduced to the song by Americans we meet here, I appreciate it both for the tune and as a handy way to get acquainted.
And it’s an even better test of the U.S. content around you than offering the visitors a cup of tea instead of coffee. They may never even have tested tea before and it’s not what they want from us.
Just remember to start them off on “Betsy” instead of Iraq, and you are among friends immediately.
Incidentally, you might not find such singers in Tim Hortons because our newest coffee chain never entered the U.S. yet.
• • •
Have I mentioned how grateful I am to the Department of Veterans Affairs for making a great position-changing chair available to me, and it’s also electrical.
Nobody warned me I might get the electric chair as a way out of my difficulties, but all older people should investigate this one at the Shopper’s Home Health Care Centre here.
• • •
And if you want to see the old western movies again, the big stars are all back on Lonestar—John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Randolph Scott, along with their popular supporters such as Andy Devine.
That’s daily on satellite TV, a big help through all that hot weather. But now it’s already mid-September!

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