12 October 2010

Air Canada, the Maple Leafs and sucking

Air Canada sucks.

The Toronto Maple Leafs also suck.

Both suck for the same, basic reason.

They have fanatics who will suffer any indignity, pay any price, endure any privation and bear any humiliation to support them.

One could find evidence of this on the morning after Thanksgiving at St. John’s International Airport. A line up of Air Canada fans  - most of whom had used the online or kiosk check-in system – stood silently in a queue for upwards of an hour in order to check their bags for one of four flights leaving Capital City at ungodly hours bound for destinations on the mainland.

This is proof - in an instant -  of both the stunnedness of the economist's “Rational Actor” model of economic behaviour and proof that the markets work. You see, Air Canada continues to suck because people continue to fly with them despite the inconvenience, cost, indignity, humiliation, privation and apparent indifference of the airline to its customers. 

The airline bosses know the cattle will still line up.

No matter what.

So where is the incentive to change?

Ditto the Maple Leafs. 

Compare the Leafs to the Canadiens.  If the Habs lose three games in a row, the stands look like a Quebec provincial Conservative Party conference.  The team then has to change or face some pretty serious financial consequences.  Bums in seats pay the bills.  Empty seats cause problems.

Politics is a bit like that as well.  In Ottawa, where the three mainstream parties each continue to suck in their own unique way, the voters have rewarded their collective  - and continuing - suckiness with a political pox on all the houses. The parties are each struggling to find the magic solution that will put more votes in their column.  Votes are the key to electoral success and when voters are stingy with their love, the parties have to come courting.

Meanwhile in St. John’s voters prove that politics within the province is pretty much down to perceived popularity.

Tim Powers proves the point in spades the day after Thanksgiving with a little homage to the fellow who created the state-owned energy company that Tim’s been know to lobby for in Ottawa.

Danny Williams is amazing, as we are supposed to believe, because he has decided, in all his magnificence, not to kick the living political shit out of a woman who – as we speak – is battling breast cancer.  “Doses of humanity can pay real political dividends…”.

That’s the sort of sentence that should make the blood run cold. Few politicians could be quite so brazen as to make political hay out of someone else’s personal tragedy.  Fewer still could make such a point so crassly by putting the political ahead of the human:  the rest of that sentence reads “never mind that it [ – humanity – ] is the right thing to do.”

Never mind, indeed.

Tim, it seems, is made of sterner stuff than the rest of us. Either that or he is waging a campaign to have politicos replace lawyers in the old joke about barristers and lab rats.

Powers does note, rightly, that Yvonne Jones wished the Premier well when the Old Man scurried off last winter to get his heart fixed up by an American surgeon.  Tim  does not mention, though, that no one wrote a column or a blog on how wonderful Yvonne was for not kicking Danny in the balls. 

And that’s really the difference in the two situations and the difference between Danny Williams and his Reform-based Conservative Party and all other parties.

Tim likes Danny Williams and his Reform-based Conservative Party just as he likes the Ottawa version of the Reform-based Conservative Party.  Both are characterised by an over-weaning emphasis on central control and secrecy.

Unlike Danny Williams, Stephen Harper lacks a gang of ruthless fans who will go anywhere and say anything to perpetuate the illusion surrounding their guy.  From Open Line shows to Policy Options to the Globe – the Newfoundland nationalist’s newspaper of record – they are there to keep the myth alive. When it comes to polishing their own guy’s knob or pettiness and viciousness in attacking enemies, Stephen Harper and any of his communications directors are toddlers compared to Williams and his fanboys. 

Air Canada, the Maple Leafs and Danny Williams are successful business ventures, each in different fields.

The reasons for their success are not necessarily what is advertised.

- srbp -