Saturday, June 17, 2006

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

Picture a small, rural town somewhere in North America. A local company is going about its lawful and unremarkable business, when it is suddenly terrorized by a bunch of hired thugs brought in by a local bigwig in the underworld community. Gradually the thugs and Mr. Big begin to encroach on the company’s operations and terrorize the entire town. It turns out that Mr. Big has his eye on the land belonging to the good guys, and he has plans for it – usually nefarious and always lucrative plans.

If you’re someone of a similar vintage to me, you’d recognize this scenario as the basis for many a plot of ‘The A-Team’. It’s at this same point in the scenario that the daughter of the good guys finds Hannibal Smith, and the A-Team sweeps into town. Hannibal makes his plan, Faceman cons the bad guys into giving away their secrets. Murdock hatches some hair-brained schemes and Mr. T generally just beats the crap out of everyone. In the end, the bad guys are left tied up and gagged to be picked up by law enforcement, as the A-Team skips out just in time to avoid that same law enforcement.

Hannibal Smith lights his cigar and utters the immortal line: “I love it when a plan comes together.”

Now today, picture the town of Caledonia. A local land developer has purchased some land in good faith and is planning to build homes for ordinary working people. Some senior guys in the local tobacco company, which has a checkered history with law enforcement, decide that they’d rather see the land in question developed to further the interests of their gambling concerns. They recruit some activists and ‘warriors’ who sweep into town, occupy the land and begin terrorizing the company and the community. Thus far, life imitates art.

There not really being an A-Team, who will come in to save the day? The premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, sends in a crack squad of negotiators, who spend a month in Caledonia and achieve precisely nothing. With frustration mounting, Dalton’s getting desperate to find a solution, but not so desperate he would actually confront the thugs and warriors, or send in the law. No, Dalton comes up with an even more creative solution. He shuts down the local development, by buying out their land, with taxpayer dollars. (A reminder here that the taxpayer already paid once for the land in question well over 150 years ago). His secret plan? To give the land to the thugs for their casino.

The thugs who are wanted on attempted murder charges aren't arrested. No, they escape to the protection of their leaders and that's just fine with Dalton, who is running scared.

There is no delicious moment of justice. There is no fighting and no come-uppance for the baddies. There is no Mr. T.

And that cigar? Banned since May 31 of this year.