During this pandemic I’ve enjoyed re-reading Terry Fallis’s two comic novels, The Best Laid Plans, and The High Road. Both tell the story of the unlikely success of an unintentional candidate and crotchety member of parliament named Angus McClintock. While it seems a thousand years ago, my Bachelor’s Degree was in Political Science. I especially loved Canadian politics – remembering the drama of the elderly Trudeau struggling to keep himself and his tired, scandal-ridden party in office was riveting. Almost Shakespearean.
Flash forward to 2020. Angus’s patience with corruption is about as short as his unruly beard is long. Time after time either his honesty, or his assistant Daniel’s bumbling, land them both in trouble. It’s hard not to compare the determinedly forthright, responsible – and fictional – Angus with a very real president south of the border who seems incapable of anything but lying, blaming, and bullying. Angus is the opposite. He’s a politician who never planned to be one, who takes responsibility seriously, who never encourages hate or prejudice (the second book is called “The High Road” a phrase one certainly could not apply to American politics), and who doesn’t care if he loses his job for doing the right thing.
The Best Laid Plans, and The High Road are together a fun, quick read. My one major critique is that the character of Lindsay should have been fleshed out and given more of a role. But behind the laughs Fallis has a serious message: that a government and its opposition are only as good as the people we elect. I recommend both books.