A modern-day prophet

I was minding my own business on the subway when I suddenly realized someone was shouting at me. “You in the suit reading the financial paper, do you know what’s on pages 144 and 145 of the federal budget?” By the time the sentence was complete, I had spotted a man who had stood up from his seat about halfway down the car. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I called back, wondering why I had been singled out for this diatribe.

For the next two minutes he went on about something he called a “bail-in” that had already occurred in Cyprus where 60 per cent of the bank accounts of the population had mysteriously been cleaned out by forces unknown. Canada is next. The Harper government is complicit and we should withdraw all our money from the bank before it gets taken from us. “The politicians aren’t talking about it, the journalists aren’t writing about it, but the police know about it and they’re preparing for riots,” he said. Then, just as suddenly as the bellowing began, the prophet sat down and fell silent.

I got to thinking about this outbreak and realized it was part of a larger phenomenon. In all my time following federal elections, few campaigns have raised such a ruckus with the populace as this one. The last time I can recall such up-from-the-street vociferous views was in 1972 when an anti-government sentiment arose during the campaign that led to Pierre Trudeau’s squeaking minority.

Mike Duffy, the recession, a tin ear on refugees, the number of issues weighing down Stephen Harper is numerous. At this point, with a three-way race, the result is unpredictable but the likelihood of a new government is looming. The unease in the country is palpable.

After a few more stops, the subway prophet prepared to leave. But as he did, he went out of his way to walk by me and say, “Good luck, my friend, it looks like you’ve got more to lose than me.” He was more right than he knew. When I got off, I mistakenly left behind my umbrella. Monday, I’m closing my bank account and putting my cash under the mattress. Just in case he’s right about that, too.

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