I was a young second lieutenant when called to the Colonel’s office where he appointed me Mess Secretary. He told me army regulations decreed officers’ messes must hold at least one general meeting per year and it would be my responsibility to record the meetings and file the minutes in the archives.
Yes, sir. He then growled he hated mess meetings, had no intention of holding any and therefore my job would be to create the minutes of fictitious meetings. For nine years I created issues, arguments, counter-arguments, motions and votes, all duly signed by the Colonel and myself and placed in the regimental archives.
The reason I’m giving you all this background is that I have come to realize that I have the qualifications for a really great patronage appointment. That’s the kind of job handed out by governments to supporters, relatives, otherwise unemployable ex-Members of Parliament.
I even have a name for my new appointment: Auditor General of Parliamentary Morality. Ain’t that a beauty?
Here’s how it would work: MPs with guilty consciences could come to my office and unburden themselves with all the guaranteed confidentiality of the confessional. I would listen to them quietly, ask a few soft questions, suggest a change of direction, give them a glass of expensive sherry and a pat on the back. They would leave refreshed and eager to resume their careers unblemished by any taint of guilt. Here is where my experience comes into play. Since I doubt any MP would be foolish enough to come to my office (I may be wrong) I could simply make up all the interviews.
I would report to someone in the Prime Minister’s Office, the report would be tabled in Parliament eventually and my cheques would be deposited in my account. For secrecy reasons, no names or specific circumstances would be chronicled.
In effect, I could make up whole interviews and outcomes and no one would be any the wiser. I would throw in complimentary passages about the Prime Minister and several prominent cabinet misters being role models for leadership and ethical behaviour, etc. This would ensure the longevity of my office.
An Order of Canada one day, perhaps?
I wouldn’t be too greedy of course, no $16 orange juice for me, just a modest mid-range six-figure income would suffice. Of course, I would like to be considered for junkets to warm places in our colder months, meeting other patronage appointees from other countries, exchanging anecdotes about the antics of some high profile politicians in our governments, all confidential, of course, just for laughs between us.
Just to test my fantasy against reality, I looked up the credentials needed for getting a patronage job on a parole board. I once heard a lady from the Prairies say she was qualified to hold her fairly high position because she was a wife and mother of three kids and had lots of experience in ferreting out lies and judging the sincerity of remorse. If you think I’m exaggerating, look up the broad educational and social background needed to be considered for a post on a parole board. I think anyone could wriggle their way through the qualification maze.
That’s where one needs a patron, someone to grease the wheels. Unfortunately, I don’t know any influential politicians. Damn!