So there I was, minding other people's business at Luxe restaurant in the Byward Market of a Tuesday evening, when who should drag his knuckles in but our own Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty, accompanied by a not unattractive young woman.
The squat, shrunken-apple headed poltroon seemed in a festive mood, no doubt inwardly glowing with pride at having kept a straight face throughout his infamous Senate committee testimony--where he laughably insisted that nobody foresaw the depth of the current recession (nobody indeed, except the chief economists of many of our chartered banks) and then ludicrously scolded the Senate for daring to "delay" passage of his precious budget (after having helped shut Parliament down for two whole months in a desperate, squalid, semi-constitutional act of political skin-saving).
Who could blame Flaherty for wanting to unwind at one of Ottawa's trendiest bistros with a comely young lady approximately half his age? I'm sure his wife, busy with her own duties at Queen's Park, would be delighted to know that the job of reinforcing her husband's glass-jaw ego, monitoring his Depends and clipping coupons for cut-price Metamucil is apparently in the capable hands of someone so vigorous, so svelte, so eager.
I was finishing my own meal as the couple walked in--Flaherty looking like a slot machine had just paid out in torrents of silver dollars, she looking awkward and self-conscious. By the time I was ready to leave, he was pitchforking bales of lettuce from a huge Caesar salad into his gaping maw and fingering a bottle of what looked to be champagne, perhaps bought in celebration of yet more layoffs in his least favourite province, yet more billions hacked off our GDP, yet more devastated families, yet more foreclosures, yet more homeless. There's really nothing quite like callous, aggressive ineptitude to work up a thirst.
I left before they ordered their meals and thus have no idea what Flaherty decided to backhoe into his blowhole. What do you think a man of Flaherty's refinement would have lighted upon? Would he have started with the iced oysters on the half shell, with shallot mignonette, fresh lemon, chili jam, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and fresh horseradish? Or would he more likely have begun with the crispy duck leg confit (house cured, bien sûr), with a rich consomme and butternut angliotti--all for a measly $18?
His choice of entrée is a question perhaps even more vexed. He could conceivably have contented himself with the 16 oz. New York striploin (for $46) with the seared foie gras (for an extra $11) and the Bordelaise “au jus”, but he may have been more in the mood for the lobster pot pie, featuring an Atlantic lobster, brandy cream, seasonal vegetables, and puff pastry, all for a paltry 50 bucks.
Regardless of what the totally appropriately behaved and strictly professional couple decided to front-end-load down their gullets, I trust taxpayers across Canada—from those gullible enough to believe that CPC cabinet ministers eat exclusively at Tim Hortons to those who will shortly be supping from half-empty cans of Whiskas fished out of dumpsters--will understand the econometric brilliance of Flaherty's act of apparent self-indulgence: fully aware that Luxe's huge plate-glass windows afforded those outside a clear view of his table, Flaherty vicariously satisfied the cravings of all the panhandlers and homeless street urchins who watched longingly and droolingly from the sidewalk. They ate and drank through him; thus, without spending a penny more of our tax money than was strictly necessary to gratify his own precious palate, Flaherty managed to feed over a dozen of the normally unworthy "little people", the people he daily defends from the ghastly depredations of the liberal “élite”.
Who needs a stimulus package when your Minister of Finance knows how to feed the multitude just by feeding his own used-car-salesman face?