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As it turned out, Reagan's "Morning in America" more or less coincided with the long twilight of Demers' mother's lingering terminal illness. Even as Thatcher intoned that "there's no such thing as society," it was only social insurance -- Canadian National Health, unemployment compensation and a union pension -- that spared the Demers family from medical bankruptcy on top of the drawn out agony of leukemia.

Much of the material in Leftovers is elaborated from Demers' recently published essay collection The Horrors. He is blessed with a fluent prose style and a comedian's impeccable timing. But Leftovers, at least on opening night, was far less polished than either his writing or his stand-up. He repeatedly lost his grip, overcome by sorrow or anger.

Whether by design or inadvertance, though, these lapses only enhanced his dramatic power. He'd choke up, sometimes in mid-sentence, when the screen flashed a slide of progressive legacies betrayed.

One such image was from last November's election night: Margaret Trudeau kissing her son, the new prime minister. Touching, indeed, Demers concedes. At least Justin has a mother, unlike that "irradiated crocodile egg" Harper. But isn't the whole tableau just a tad dynastic for a self-professed social democracy? All the more galling when it's enacted over the dead body of the national NDP, the vanquished champion of organized labour.

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