Monday, April 4, 2011 |
For the past few weeks we've been presenting a chapter-by-chapter podcast of the winner of Canada Reads 2011, The Best Laid Plans, read by author Terry Fallis. If you missed an episode or two, don't worry, you can find links to all of them below.
We meet Daniel Addison, the protagonist and narrator. He reveals why he abandoned a political life to seek solace in the ivory towers of academia and how he, an aspiring young speechwriter, ended up owing the Liberal Party one last favour. Daniel needs to find an apartment and hunt for a candidate to run in the long-time Tory stronghold of the (fictional) Cumberland-Prescott riding.
Daniel's housing problem is solved thanks to some savvy political maneuvering. As for his second challenge — well, it turns out the solution might be closer at hand than it might seem.
Daniel has secured his living arrangements and persuades his brand-new landlord to run for office as a Liberal candidate in exchange for teaching English for Engineers. Their deal, which involves next-to-no campaigning, should ensure that Angus is a shoe-in...to lose.
Daniel and Angus McLintock meet with the dean of engineering, Roland Rumplun. Angus wants to get the paperwork underway for Daniel to teach English for Engineers in his stead. At first the dean refuses, but Angus has leverage (a serious misdeed from the dean's past) and gets his way. That part of their bargain completed, Daniel visits Muriel and puts Angus forward as the Liberal candidate in the Cumberland-Prescott riding. Mission completed. Daniel has reason to be even more pleased when Lindsay, Muriel's granddaughter, turns up.
Daniel faces a few new challenges: his first English for Engineers class and his no-hope campaign with its shoestring budget. However, with a new campaign headquarters, two new volunteers and a savvy (but still unwilling) candidate, things are looking up. Just slightly.
The race is on! The prime minister has set an election date, and now Daniel has to set a campaign in motion for his no-hope (and no-effort) candidate. After rounding up Pete1 and Pete2, Daniel takes the lead on canvassing for Liberal votes in their staunchly Conservative riding. Results are not encouraging. Still, Angus is worried that there's too much on-campus support for his candidacy. Daniel hits on a (somewhat unethical) way to assuage his candidate's concerns.
Week two of the election race, and the campaign is rolling along as anticipated — that is, crushing defeat seems certain. Daniel and his team invade enemy territory by attending a speech to the local chamber of commerce by Tory opponent Eric Cameron, who's at the top of his game. The consolation prize for Daniel: getting to know Lindsay better, thanks to a post-meeting coffee.
With the election just two weeks off, Daniel hunkers down at Liberal Party headquarters with other campaign managers and staffers for a progress report. His riding numbers are, as expected, dismal. He checks in with Muriel — who gives him a pep talk about the campaign and, encouragingly, Lindsay — and with Angus, who's about to take off for Papau New Guinea.
Daniel begins to get the hang of teaching English for Engineers. The election is just a few days away, and he's looking forward to freedom. But then a big, juicy scandal involving Eric Cameron and his chief aide, Petra, breaks...
As the sex scandal continues to dominate (so to speak) headlines, Daniel attempts damage control — which raises some eyebrows, and the ire, of Liberal staffers. In Cumberland-Prescott, pollsters find that support for Cameron has bottomed out, but votes are shifting to "undecided" rather than the Liberal camp.
It's election day. Daniel keeps his mind off impending disaster by driving NDP voters to their polling stations, and then meets up with Miriam. Later he settles in glumly at home to watch the returns. And much later, he has to deliver the results to Angus, fresh off the plane from his trip to Papua New Guinea.
It's day one on Parliament Hill for Angus McLintock. He's making introductions and has been sworn in. Angus can't deny the majesty of House of Commons, however he's not quite comfortable in his new digs on Centre Block. While doing his best to act appropriately, he is still the odd man out at the Party.
Angus sits in on his first Throne Speech, and later makes his own inaugural speech, addressed to the prime minister. Though his comments win Angus some unlikely friends among the Tories, he is making enemies in his own party. Daniel awaits the imminent backlash from Bradley Stanton.
Daniel is spending much of his time fielding angry and abusive calls in which he must defend his MP. Angus stays on track by taking the path of most resistance. Less time is spent on the Hill, and more time in Cumberland-Prescott. But as Angus's immersion in political life accelerates, Daniel's love life continues to move at a glacial pace.
The days are getting busier. There's much to be done. A meeting with the Alliance for Canadian Women has Daniel worried about Angus; the deal with Sanderson's factory needs to be put into action; and Angus has some more strong words for the party leader in caucus.
Angus delivers his speech to the Engineering Society, drawing some interesting comparisons between the laws of science and the nature of politics. The hovercraft becomes fully operational, thanks to Daniel's help. And while Angus is delighted by his achievements so far, a darkness still remains in him.
Daniel enjoys the sweet taste of revenge in one of Ottawa's finest restaurants. Angus makes headlines yet again — at a public meeting, an irate constituent lobs a melon at the stage and he throws it right back. Both of our protagonists sit down with their new business partner in the Sanderson deal. They call him "Slick," and it's not because he has a way with words.
Chapter 17After smooth sailing during his early days as MP, Angus hits rough waters. The Tory finance minister lays out the plans for their proposed mini-budget, leaving Angus outraged; and the plot thickens when Daniel and Angus are approached with video evidence of some shady business down at the Ottawa River Aggregate plant. It seems there's a lot going on these days for our busy MP, but Angus always has a plan.
Angus goes from being hailed as a hero (by workers at the aggregate plant, when it's shut down for environmental violations) to feeling the wrath of his constituents during a town hall meeting. Though Daniel tries to help Angus weather the storm of anger and doughnuts, this experience makes Angus reflect on his approach to politics. Daniel and Lindsay decide to go on a road trip to Ottawa, just in time for a snowstorm.
The snowstorm makes for unfavourable travel conditions in Ottawa. With hardly anyone in the House, the Tories take this opportunity to make a power play. But Angus has a few tricks up his own sleeve.