September 10th was my 32nd birthday. On the same day, Christy Clark was holding her famous “Beans and Jeans” fundraiser here in town with me, with an expected attendance, as in 2012, of well over a thousand. She had inherited the tradition from the Bennetts (along with the Premiership, of course). Of course I RSVP’ed, I love BC Liberal events, free food and wine? Sign me up. Happy Birthday me.
Looking forward to the event, I wondered what I would do if and when I finally met Christy Clark. Ask her a question? Give her a proposal? Try and make a deal? Wishes, promises, threats? Just say hello? Finally, I settled on one. What better thing to do with our photo op Premier, than to have a photo op with her? So I gathered the team, and we made the plan, and we executed.
When we got there, at the Bylands Nursery in West Kelowna at 5pm, I realized the level of security involved in the event was going to daunt us. There were registration tables, and they knew I was coming, and they knew it was trouble, they would manufacture an excuse to exclude me, because I know how much the Young Liberals love monitoring my social media. They were punking me at Okanagan Pride, so I know. So the team regroups in the alley.
A man recognizes me. “Nick! What the hell are you doing here?” It’s one of the event staff. They’re in the alley, smoking. Of course we’re all friends already.
“Why, I’m here to see the Premier.” They laugh. Of course he is.
So we all share a smoke, and then I ask them to let us in the back. They oblige.
We take a table, grab some free wine, and consult. The room is big. It’s laid out in standard tables of 12 mass-fundraiser-banquet style. She’s not here yet, people are still getting settled, we have some time to plan. I suggest that we wait until after the speechifying, where there will be a phase of glad-handing and such. My comrades shoot down the idea.
“No, let’s just engage as soon as the target is acquired.” Well then, I’m game. Eyes on the door, and I drink, and we wait, and chat. We remain unidentified, because everyone inside, except us, is a safely registered member of the BC Liberal Party.
She arrived. My photographer prepares himself. I beeline in. She greets me.
“Hello Premier Clark, I’ve always wanted to meet you, thank you for the opportunity.”
“It’s nice to meet you too! What’s your name?”
“My name is Nicholas Ellan. And guess what? You wouldn’t believe it, but it’s my birthday!”
“Wow, congratulations. And how old are you (young man/little boy)?”
“I’m 32. How old are you?”
“You can’t ask a lady that!” We laugh.
“Fair enough. Well, since it’s my birthday, can you do me a tiny favour, and can I have a picture with you?”
The photo op commences. And drags on a little too long.
Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick recognizes what’s happening, because he knows me, I’m his constituent, and hurls his granddaughter into the situation to attempt to defuse it. Clark is temporarily distracted. I gather my wits.
“Oh, one more thing Ms. Clark. Chris Green asked me to tell you something.”
She freezes. “WHO?”
“Chris Green. I believe you know each other from your student days at SFU. He said to tell you that you owe him one pint of Okanagan Springs Pale Ale.”
The smile becomes a grimace. She turns to my photographer. “And who is this?” (Guards, seize him.)
“That’s my official photographer. I am considering a run for the federal NDP. Have a great evening.” We head back to our table.
The Young Liberals join us. They begin bitching about how much they hate the Premier, which is surprising. I offer them drinks. One refuses, the rest make orders. They’re not allowed to help themselves, but they must accept gifts. I know how this game works. So we sit together, and drink, and share our stories.
Eventually the speech segment of the evening begins. Clark gives a long and blathering thing repeating every talking point and piece of nonsense. She makes jokes about how Site C is on budget *laughs* and LNG is going to deliver prosperity *more laughs*. On the inside, the whole campaign is a joke to these people. I stand.
I stand in the middle of the room, and simply stare. Eventually it seems like I’m the only person listening to her speech anymore. Everyone else is eyes on me, wondering… what is this guy’s problem? How’d he get in here? The poor floor manager comes up to my right, bends into my ear, and says:
“You know sir, if it pleases you, we could have security remove you, if you like.”
I smile. “Oh, absolutely, that would be wonderful. I look forward to meeting them.” Private security in Kelowna, they’re all terribly paid young people. She scurries off.
I stand for the rest of her speech, watching, listening. Security never arrives. The speech ends. We leave as the food is being served. Some people grab some for the car ride to Oliver. Security never arrives. It’s my birthday after all, and I plan spending it with family.
That was fun, thanks. And good luck in 2017, team.
[See, I can do a thing. Now donate.]