"Did Barbra Streisand ever work under Pierre Trudeau?" asks Mrs. Pops.
"What kind of a question is that?"
"Perfectly innocent. You remember they dated back in the day. Did he ever assign
her a Cabinet position?"
"I imagine he assigned her a number of positions, but I don't think she ever was
a Cabinet Minister. She's an American citizen!"
"Well that's what I thought."
"Why you asking?"
"It has to do with this press release." (Here we go again.) "It says The Government
is helping equip young Canadians in Pedorthics."
"Just a fancy word, that spell check doesn't recognize, for making your feet and
legs happier. See the cute young Canadian in the photo op?" asks Mrs. Pops.
"Why is she pointing a weapon at Joe Preston's stomach?"
"That white thing? That's not a weapon!"
"Then what is it?"
"What does it matter? Anyway, this young lady has a Kinesiology degree."
"What universities call Phys Ed these days. Add a year of online education for a
Western diploma in Pedorthics and you have your C.Ped (C)."
"What does that stand for?"
"Does it really matter? asks Mrs. Pops. "You need letters after your name to be
credible. If that costs an extra $9,000 plus a Board exam so be it. But there you
are, at least nine grand in the hole and no job!"
"Whatever. With all the money the Government is spending to get jobs for such kids,
it's hard to understand how the youth unemployment rate could have increased since
2010 to more than 14%. Anyway, the press release says this young Canadian was able
to get twenty-two weeks of hard-working foot experience at Foot Dynamics in St Thomas."
"Some kid hanging around my business for twenty-two weeks? You'd have to pay me!"
"That's exactly what the Government of Canada did!"
"You're so negative!" she says. "By investing in youth today, we are making sure
they are ready to become Canada's future workers and contribute to our long-term
"Since when do you talk like that?"
"That's a quote from your MP, Joe Preston."
"He don't talk like that either."
"Anyway. The Minister for State for Social Development paid Foot Dynamics nineteen
thousand dollars in return for that twenty-two weeks of work experience. Then, Foot
Dynamics hired the young grad. Two years ago, according to its website."
"Two years ago? So why are we hearing about it now?"
"This press release goes out all over the country the same. Only difference is they
plug in a local example. I'm guessing the only local example they could find is
two years old," she says.
"So it's old news. Big deal. So who is this Minister who coughed up the nineteen
"The Honourable Candice Bergen."
"Candice Bergen is a Cabinet Minister?"
"That's why I was asking you about Barbra Streisand! I loved Candice Bergen in Murphy
Brown! Five Emmys!"
"Never watched it. Why would Candice Bergen fork out nineteen large for Pedorthics?"
"Well, she always had great legs. Did you know she was the daughter of Edgar Bergen?"
"The old school ventriloquist?" I ask
"Exactly. Edgar Bergen put words in the mouth of various dummies, the most famous
was called Charlie McCarthy."
"I know that! I used to watch him on the Ed Sullivan Show!"
"About that quote from Joe Preston."
"I told you. That's not him. Somebody is putting words in his mouth!"
"Maybe it's just Candice Bergen, carrying on a family tradition!"
(I know that's supposed to be some kind of zinger, but I just don't get it.)
Editor's Note: Pops McKernan is the byline of writer Patrick Harding, author of Splendiferous, which is serialized in our Regional section.