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Opinion: Bill Walton, Appointment of Raconteur

Applications are being accepted for an official bamboozler

The backrooms at Queen’s Park (that is where all the real deals are made) are abuzz with the whispers that Doug is going to appoint his own Raconteur. Justin is getting so much press by his appointment of friend Johnston that the provincial premiers are hopping on the bandwagon. Dougie, the political leader of the second largest government in the Great White North must set the example for other provinces. He will appoint his own raconteur.

(Meanwhile, next door, in la belle province, Premier François Legault caught Doug’s confusion between a raconteur and a rapporteur but he did not want to be seen as a member of the French language police, so he smiled and hung up the phone).

Having a raconteur at your beck and call is a big thing south of 49 where they call them press secretaries (they are not as bilingual as we), in fact they even ‘hire’ complete broadcasting networks as raconteurs (FOX and CNN for example).  Some wags here will say the CBC is a Liberal version of a government raconteur but Justin says that is not so, and who are we to question himself, one of the greatest raconteurs to hold high office in Canada?

Having a raconteur is nothing new. Newspapers were a favourite raconteurs of politicians in the past but nowadays the newsprint has mostly pivoted to digital and the raconteurs have jumped ship from print to social media platforms, using video, cellphones, and even TikTok to spread the good news about themselves (professing to be ‘influencers’) for their political bosses.

Even the City of North Bay has a raconteur although the bosses call him something else and squelch any creativity he may have had in the days of yore. He must be writing all sorts of stories to fill in his timecard, but he has at least one editor that tells him to file his creative ideas in the round file beside his desk.

Raconteurs were formerly called spin doctors but that title was too easy to get the implication that all the news that came out of the spin doctor’s mouth was fake news. Before that, they were often called snake-oil salesmen, but that gave snakes a bad name. Back in the day, if a raconteur leaked a story about some shenanigans at City Hall, he or she was called a snake in the grass, which was a compliment of sorts to the snake for the exposé.

One of the first assignments for Doug’s raconteur will be to explain the ‘Fable of the Green Belt’. This will likely be done in a graphic novel format in the hopes that it will be turned into a Marvel movie. The plot will be the saving of the environment (the Green Belt) by the citizens who are thwarted by the Sheriff of the Don Valley and his henchmen, until they in turn the tables on the evil King by using the spirit of David Suzuki.

In Part II of the Fable, the story moves to the north, to the land of the ‘Ring of Fire’. Like the ‘Green Belt’, this is a fiction, but the raconteur will tie the two fables together by a deal wherein the villainous King will offer a swap of the green belt land for twice as much ‘green’ land near the Ring of Fire location. Duping us again, the raconteur will assure the citizens of the distant north that they are happy and there is your fairy tale ending.

If you are thinking of applying to be the Ontario Raconteur (the pay is on the Sunshine list, but not disclosed) you should fabricate a heritage, pad your education resumé, claim you are a close friend of the Honourable So-and-So, and be prepared to rub elbows with some shady characters called MPPs. Be ready for some stiff competition because I have heard that there are several applicants from NL – and we all know them as fine raconteurs of the first order.

Meanwhile, we await the City’s raconteur’s story about the unexpected, over-budget bids for the downtown rejuvenation, a precursor of the community centre/ice pads/walking track/washrooms/meeting rooms down in the Netherlands of the city. Aw, what the heck, raconteur – just spin it – we are used to that.

Bill Walton

About the Author: Bill Walton

Retired from City of North Bay in 2000. Writer, poet, columnist
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