LAUTENS: Rough Rafe: It was never anything personal

One-man rebellion Rafe Mair lived to read his own obituary.

Unplanned as such, it ran in this space Jan. 13 – starting as a simple lunch, Rafe having begged off for mobility reasons my invitation to eat at the Hollyburn club, and simple it was: At his request, two sausage rolls from a bakery near his Lions Bay home.

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Over four hours, lunch became life, an impromptu summing up. And Rafe was never a more accurate prophet. Matter of factly, he declared he’d die in 2017. And did.

Some things left out of that column: Rafe was on oxygen. He was confined to a chair on the ground floor of his condo, almost claustrophobically walls of books. Transiting to his wheelchair was a strain. His wife Wendy, Sam to close friends, quietly said hello and retired to let the old boys’ talk roll on.

Harsh, often savage, in his website attacks – untiringly for the wild B.C. fishery and against the B.C. Liberals, a former Social Credit cabinet minister who had hotly championed the New Democrats in the previous three elections and also the fourth last May – his words all but tore the living flesh off his perceived political foes.

But Rafe claimed, lamb-innocent, that his criticisms – passionately felt and certainly with merit – were never personal.

The enemy were unlikely to detect his detachment: One of his most ruthless pilloryings was a near-panicky website attack the eve of the May 9 election on Green leader Andrew Weaver. Rafe was in high-decibel fear that the Greens would chisel NDP support and hand victory to Christy Clark. That he detested Clark would be an understatement.

Counter-intuitive it might seem, but Rafe was a Christian, whose soul perhaps had to wrestle with the Christian love-thy-enemy thing (mind you, he didn’t lack self-criticism).

He was a devout Anglican, his CKNW Remembrance Day programs astonishingly religious anomalies amid the media’s close-minded secularism, and only weeks before his death prayers for him and Wendy were said in West Vancouver’s St. Francis-in-the-Woods Anglican Church. Its rector, Rev. Dr. Stuart Angus, was my only source – paid obituaries absent at this writing – for Rafe’s funeral services: Monday, Oct. 30, 11 a.m. at Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver.

If my Jan. 13 column was an obituary (wrapped in a sausage roll), it had a precedent. North Vancouver’s Philip Till, Rafe’s urbane world-travelling colleague at CKNW, recalled:

“A few years ago Rafe had a major health scare. CKNW asked me to write and record an obit to have ‘in the can’ should Rafe expire. He recovered. I phoned him to praise his stubbornness in refusing to die.

“I told him I’d been tasked with broadcasting his obituary on NW. I played the saccharinesque, over-the-top, sincerity-filled tribute for him. Rafe chuckled a time or two. Then Rafe realized he was listening to his own obituary. He hinted at a few things he’d like me to ‘tweak’ and I assured him I would entertain his wishes.

“I ‘tweaked’ nothing. Not even The Mighty Rafe could get away with editing his own obituary!’’

• • •

I would have to rifle the Rafe Mair dictionary to describe expanding disaster Justin Trudeau and his fumbling functionaries, plunging in darkness while the bugler blows “Advance! Hold it, no, retreat!”

Trudeau, or his keepers, has stupidly angered the successful, tax-paying upper middle class – doctors who hardly get out of the debt hole before age 30, small-to-middling business people, farmers striving to keep their assets in the family and out of the grasp of agribusiness corporations – many vital Liberal voters, one would think.

After weeks of political bleeding from the Commons floor to Main Street, Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau fell back on spin and a couple of tweaks, including a point and a half reduction of the tax on business.

As for taxing the petty benefits of employees awarded with a pizza slice after work and such, the economists’ shout is universal: Costlier to collect than the small change it would generate. This is Arithmetic K-1, and political acumen to match.

And all praise to columnist Andrew Coyne, who had the genitals – it’s a comment on the spurious free speech and faux-democracy taken root in the land that it requires such journalistic organs these days – to thoughtfully, politely criticize Trudeau for unseating Rachel Harder as chair of Parliament’s status of women committee, by law an appointment of the Conservative opposition.

Harder is pro-life/anti-abortion, and thus has a fair claim to reflecting the broad beliefs of the 65 per cent of Canadians who, according to a 2013 Equinox poll (even the Globe’s pet poll, Angus Reid, found 50 per cent), support some degree of restriction on abortion – but zero per cent of the only persons who matter, the illiberal liberal and leftist elites.

Trudeau is proving further left than the New Democrats.

rtlautens@gmail.com

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