Posted by Joanna Smith, Ottawa Bureau
If you’re one of those people who rolls your eyes or stifles a giggle every time New Democrat Leader Jack Layton talks about being the next prime minister, consider this bit of political insight.
There is an old theory that says the key to winning a majority government at the federal level is a visit to Schwartz’s, the legendary delicatessen on St. Laurent Blvd. in downtown Montreal that is now featured in a new musical comedy.
As Globe and Mailtheatre critic J. Kelly Nestruck wrote on his blog last month, every Canadian prime minister who has won a majority government since the 1970s has been to the world famous – and incredibly tiny – eatery for some smoked meat on rye with a pickle and fries, while those who have not have been doomed to minorities.
Consider the facts: Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Brian Mulroney and Jean Chrétien have all eaten at Schwartz's and gone on to solid wins in Parliament.
Joe Clark, John Turner and Kim Campbell, on the other hand, have never been seen at the eatery, and none of them ever led their parties to a majority in an election. Coincidence?
Okay, there is one: Paul Martin, who did not win a majority in an election despite a demonstrated predilection for Schwartz's smoked meat. (Breaking with his South Beach Diet, the then-Prime Minister carved a medium-fat brisket for media at a party at 24 Sussex Drive in 2005.)
Will the election of 2011 ultimately be determined by whoever - Harper or Ignatieff - makes it to Schwartz's first?
As Layton would likely point out, that kind of thinking represents the old-fashioned attitude that Canadians only have two choices when deciding who to vote for in this election.
And you know what? While both the Liberals and Conservatives are quick to point out they have served smoked meat on the campaign trail this year, neither Stephen Harper nor Michael Ignatieff have actually stopped by the joint yet.
So, guess which national leader is the first to visit for a photo-op on Thursday afternoon?
Your next prime minister: Jack Layton.
Time to stop being such a defeatist.
UPDATE: I briefed Layton on this theory as he was entering the place and noted he had beat both Harper and Ignatieff to it. "Well, there you go," Layton said. "It's a theory I subscribe to."