A Funny Thing Happened to Me on the Way to the Ukraine

 Apr 29, 2019 9:00 AM
by Marcel Strigberger

     Congratulations to Volodymyr Zelensky, the new president of the Ukraine.

     Volod Z is actually a comedian who won a landslide victory over the incumbent. He starred in a television series called “Servant of the People”, where he played a destitute school teacher who unexpectedly becomes president of the Ukraine. It seems that reality has now mirrored fiction.

     His victory was apparently a protest vote against the status quo. The people were fed up with corruption, the failing economy and the conflict with the Russians.

     However, the new president allegedly offered a nebulous platform with few concrete policies, other than pursuing anti-corruption which was what he was ranting about in his television role. In other words, it looks like his platform is virtually about nothing. This reminds me of Seinfeld, where George Constanza in pitching his series to network executives, when asked what it would be about, proudly proclaimed, “about nothing.”

     I believe the comedian president must be a devout fan of Seinfeld. The similarities in this man’s campaign to Seinfeld situations are spooky. Many of the expressions or Seinfeldisms readily fit into what is transpiring in the Ukraine.

     For example, Zelensky no showed at a debate he was going to have with his adversary. His actions are reminiscent of the Seinfeld soup Nazi, the implication being, “No debate for you”.

     He has also avoided or nixed talk shows, big interviews and press conferences. I guess if asked what his policies are, he told them, “I want to reduce corruption. I am talking about shrinkage.”

     If pressed for more information, he no doubt would have added, “I have already answered your questions. Yada, yada, yada.”

    The Seinfeld series of course has several characters. I wonder if they will be somehow replicated in the new cabinet. It may not come as a surprise if he appoints a Minister resembling Kramer. I can already visualize his Minister of External Affairs, being a fellow with a high stack of hair, bursting through the door into a chamber at the Kremlin and disrupting Putin. I suppose Putin might feel a bit uncomfortable and call him a “close talker”.

    And Mr. President might also appoint a parallel to Elaine, perhaps as Minister of Health. She can make decisions of who is “sponge-worthy.” Whatever woman he appoints, I am certain she will not have “man hands.”

    And of course, it would be natural to install a George Constanza type Minister. I don’t know what portfolio he would give him. Maybe Zelensky would create a new department; the Ministry of Nothing. I am a certain about one thing and that is that this minister would make sure nobody goes around “double-dipping the chips”.

    Furthermore perhaps now there will even be an end to the conflict with Russia. The new president will achieve “serenity now”.

    Can anything like this actually happen now in the Ukraine? Hey, look at what transpired so far. Voters convincingly elected a comedian with no political experience to lead a country of 45 million inhabitants. The better question can anything like this happen in other countries? We have yet another lesson here from history. If the voters are not satisfied with their political leaders, all standard bets are off and anybody or anything can get onto the table.

   The time may not be long before we hear lots of laughter in the House of Commons. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that”.


Boston Tea Party Revisited- Lawyers Wanted

 Apr 14, 2019 11:00 AM
by Marcel Strigberger

     The Law Society of Ontario (LSO), the province’s governing body for lawyers, has imposed a requirement for its lawyers to annually affirm adoption of a statement of principles (“SOP”), wherein lawyers agree to confirm and be in line with the doctrine and ethics of equity, diversion and inclusion (“EDI”). Although the lawyers are virtually unanimous in agreeing that in principle EDI is a good thing, they resent the LSO compelling them to say amen to the SOP, on pain of losing their right to practice. The driving force behind these regs are the group of elected “benchers”, as they are called, being lawyers primarily, who set the policies related to governance of the province’s lawyers and paralegals. All of this is not sitting well with the lawyers who are quite vocal about this apparent coercive hit.

    The question is what can the frustrated and disgruntled lawyers do about it? I thought about the matter and the American Revolution came to mind. I especially was impressed with the Boston Tea Party. In short on December 16, 1773 a group of colonists not too happy with a British tea tax, dressed up as Mohawks and boarded 3 British ships in the Boston harbour and dumped over three hundred cases of tea into the water.

   This act of defiance did not sit well with the Brits who proceeded to huff and puff and close down the Boston harbour. (or as they say in Boston, “habuh “).

   But the event must have been effective as 16 months later the revolution formally started and as they say, the rest is history.

   I suggest the lawyers come up with something similar. They can organize a commando group to seize the fine wines the benchers reputedly enjoy in their downtown Toronto iconic Osgoode Hall 18th century bastion. The team can dress up accordingly. As this mandatory SOP regulation adoption is more appropriate for another planet, given my fondness of Star Trek, I suggest they go disguised as Vulcans. And since Vulcans aim to live by logic and reason, rather than emotion, the party can readily talk their way into the wine cellar. They can say something to security like, “We come to relieve the benchers of their wine stash. Let us pass. Live long and prosper.”

  What to do with the wine? Dumping it into Lake Ontario would be wasteful and not environmentally sound. Instead they could deliver it to a place where future generations of lawyers as well as the general public can view the wine as a reminder of strange and bizarre but true legislation, a place best suited to display the nonsensical, goofy and off the wall serving for the lawyers, by their own governing body. I would be perfectly willing myself to drive the wine to Niagara Falls and drop it off at the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum.

  I say to the lawyers, more action, less talk.

  And of course, cheers!



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