That pieing of the prime minister in PEI last week was shocking in more ways than one. For one thing, we don't expect that kind of militant action in the sleepy province of the potato.
But when the PM's RCMP security detail parted almost biblically (kinda like the cops guarding Lee Harvey Oswald) and Evan Brown swooped in to deliver a 9-inch plateful of creamy goodness, the politics of pieing may have changed forever. Pieing, you see, is supposed to be above politics.
Fateful tossing While the media clucked about the laxness of Chretien's security, Brown turned into an overnight sensation. As he was being led away, the pieman told reporters he'd creamed the PM in order to "protest for social reform, Jesus Christ!"
Since that fateful tossing, Brown is under instructions from lawyer Jim Hornby to keep his pie hole shut.
Repeated calls to a number provided by the PEI Pie Brigade go unreturned. "They've received your message," a voice on the other end of the line tells me. "What their plan is, I don't know." The voice declines to give itself a name.
What is known about this particular pieing is gleaned from a press release placed on the Web by the Brigade. The PM got creamed because he and his government have been "pushing unlabelled, untested frankencrops on this country and the world." In fact, the pie's rather nondescript appearance (face it, it looked like an instant Reddi-Whip special) concealed its true pedigree, a "Roundup-Ready Frankencream Pie."
Body blow Not surprisingly, professional politicians take a dim view of this new Canadian art form. "I don't like it as a form of protest," says Howard Pawley, former Manitoba premier. "I think it detracts from their cause, and I have sympathy for their cause."
Wittingly or not, Brown and the PEI Pie Brigade may well have delivered a body blow to pieing. In the venerable European tradition of "entartisme," one doesn't find oneself on the receiving end for something one believes or for a policy one has implemented. Rather, one gets dinged for being a pompous twit.
On that count, Chretien would have been fair game in the eyes of many.
That folksy Uncle Jean routine masks a guy who has built up a huge personal fortune. Maybe someone should ask Bill Clennett, the protestor who found himself in the clutches of a Chretien death grip, what he thinks of the PM's man-of-the-people shtick.
Quebec, ground zero for pieing in North America, has seen a whole crop of pols and business leaders for whom the term "arrogant" seems mild taking cream upside the head. MPs Stephane Dion and Pierre Pettigrew (who lists himself in the Canadian Who's Who as "statesman"), former Quebec preem Jacques Parizeau, cabinet minister Bernard Landry and fanatic English-rights activist William (Pit Bill) Johnson have all been victimized by entartistes.
Patrick (Pope Tarte) Robert, spokesperson for Quebec's merry band of anarchist entartistes, says it's OK to cream for a cause. "Each faction has its own way of acting," he says. Targeting people simply because they're pompous is "the Belgian way."
In North America, cells like the PEI Pie Brigade, the Yankee Biotic Baking Brigade and Robert's Entartistes have "taken the pie to the political level."
"If Stephane Dion were just pompous, we'd leave him alone, but he's pompous and he has power, and that makes him dangerous," says Robert, who was recently convicted of assault for feeding Dion some cream last year but still maintains that everyone has a right to pie.
Cross purposes Notwithstanding Pope Tarte's public support for the PEI Brigade, Brown and company's actions seem at cross purposes with the entartiste (Quebec cell) code of ethics. Pulled off their site at www.entartiste.ca, the code exhorts prospective pie guys to "practise the politics of universal entartment -- please don't pie separatists, federalists, communists, racists, etc. We are against all power, be it economic, political or media, but we are definitely in favour of humans, free" (my translation).
The inherent risk is that while the different pie cells might be patting themselves on the back for a pie well thrown, everyone with an axe to grind may start nailing people indiscriminately.
If that happens, the simple pleasure of humbling the arrogant could get lost in the storm of whipped cream.