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Pie in the Face: the ultimate form of protest

If you happen to own a television set, chances are you caught federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea getting pied in the face back in January. And while some may be critical or even offended by the fact that the pie-er (for lack of a better word) was an American member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) who was rallying against Canada’s involvement in the commercial seal hunt, there can be no denying that when it comes to some good old fashioned protesting mixed in with a bit of classic slapstick comedy, nothing beats a pie in the face.

But don’t feel bad for Shea because she’s not the only Canadian politician to be pied. In fact, of the 80 or so most famous incidents of people to suffer the ultimate form of protest, 24 have a direct tie to Canada, be they either the victim or the perpetrator.

While other international luminaries to be pied include anti-gay activist Anita Bryant, conservative political commentators William F. Buckley Jr. and Ann Coulter; economist Milton Friedman, clothing designer Calvin Klein, attorney G. Gordon Liddy, movie star Sylvester Stallone and political activist Ralph Nader to name a few, the list certainly doesn’t end there.

Even royalty hasn’t escaped the wrath of the pie-thrower when, on Sept. 5, 2001, Carl Gustaf XVI, King of Sweden, was pied in Varberg, Holland by a 16 year-old boy. Heck, even King Ralph I of Alberta took one in the face on July 7, 2003 in Calgary during the Premier’s Stampede Breakfast.

And while all of the above may be, or think they may be big shots, they’re nothing compared to the biggest of the big shots – that being Microsoft founder and multi-billionaire Bill Gates who was on the wrong end of cream pie in Brussels, Belgium on Feb. 4, 1998.

Then, there’s Ed Stelmach who, at another Premier’s Stampede Breakfast in 2007, ducked a pie intended for himself that instead hit a security guard behind him. But for his abandonment of the environment and his ‘pie’-in-the-sky carbon capture scheme, you just know there’s another creamy surprise out there somewhere with Ed’s name on it and if you’re looking for likely suspects, you might want to start with his brother-in-law Al.

Other than Stelmach, there are a few other likely candidates in line for the next pie in the face, so don’t be surprised if you see a hit on golfer Tiger Woods for his ‘indiscretions’. Fans of the Edmonton Oilers and Ottawa Senators might get a good old belly laugh out of seeing Dany Heatley get what he rightfully deserves as does NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman who, to be sure, deserves more like a firing squad of pie-ers for insisting professional hockey can survive in the southern United States while depriving major Canadian markets of ‘our game’.

But can there be any doubt about who, above anyone else, is more than worthy of being pied – including Bettman?

For professing that women should be at home barefoot and pregnant; for abandoning Canadians like Mohammad Kohail, Abdihakim Mohamed, Omar Kadr and Amanda Lindhout; for abandoning and/or attacking the Kyoto Accord, the Canadian Wheat Board and the CBC; for hiding behind the Governor General whenever one of his schemes backfires in his face or he gets caught trying to cover up the Afghani detainee scandal; for loading up the Senate with political losers, pro-Conservative lobbyists and unemployed former television personalities - and then making them to take an oath of allegiance to him and only him; for refusing to accept the fact he’ll never have a mandate for a majority government; for his disdain of democracy and the rules of Parliament and for generally using every dirty trick in the book and a whole lot of others to get his way, nobody deserves a pie in the face more than the member from the federal riding of Calgary West.

With that, you can bet that hit-squads out there such as the Quebec-based Les Entartistes, the Bionic Baking Brigade, Bakers Without Borders, the PEI Pie Brigade and the Banana Cream Three all have a big juicy one primed and ready to go with the prime minister’s name written all over it. - JT