Progressive politics, ideas & culture


Donkeys for everyone!

This Magazine Staff

The influx of donkey and elephant images these days got me to thinking: how the hell did these random animals come to represent America’s two biggest political parties? And, why don’t Canadian parties have any funny animals? I’m sure I’m not alone in these musings, so I decided to not only find out where the donkey and elephant came from, but also to propose 5 animals to represent the Canuck parties. We shall not be outdone by the Yanks when it comes to ridiculous animals!
It turns out that both the donkey and the elephant were the brainchild of one man – Harper’s Weekly cartoonist Thomas Nast. It’s a rather long story, but in a nutshell in 1828 Republicans were calling Dem candidate Andrew Jackson a jackass, likely because they felt threatened by him. Nast came up with a political cartoon depicting a donkey (jackass) scaring some animals in Central Park, and one of those frightened animals was an elephant. The elephant was meant to represent the Republican vote, but it was quickly adopted by other cartoonists as a symbol of the GOP itself. (Am I the only one who didn’t realize GOP stands for “Grand Old Party”? What’s up with that?)
And now for my Canadian proposals! After much thought and research into obscure animals, I have decided to assign the following animals to each Canadian party:
HYENAS – This one goes to the Conservatives. Hyenas, like the Tories, are noisy predators. They are the most feared animals in the Sahara Desert, much like the Tories are (arguably) the most feared party in Canada.
CHAMELEON – This one goes to the Green Party. Canada’s Green Party is not what it seems – Former Mulroney Tory Jim Harris has taken the attractive Green Party name to market his own platform, which includes some rather regressive policies. The party cleverly shifts its focus from lefty enviro policies to conservative fiscal policies depending on who’s listening, continuously changing colours to lure in more voters, whether they’re disenchanted hippies or abandoned tories.
SCREAMING HAIRY ARMADILLO – The NDP is the lucky party to get this one. Armadillos are small (less than 2 pounds!!), but they have a protective shell made of bone, so they’re tough. And, screaming hairy armadillos, much like the NDP, are capable of making a lot of noise when they need some attention.
EMU – The Bloc gets this proud bird. Emus are large (150 pound) birds. They may be big, but since they’re flightless they can only go so far, much like the Bloc running exclusively in Quebec.
HIPPO – And, finally, we have the hippo. There’s just one party left, so obviously the Liberals get this one. Hippos, also known as “river horses,” are huge, much like the Liberals, and they hang out in large groups. Hippos are not predators, but they are known to cause a lot of damage inadvertently, which could be argued of the Grits, too. Hippos also have huge mouths (they can open 4 feet wide!) like many members of our nation’s governing party.

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