Revanchist Review

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Canada for Dummies

A short primer to explain Canada to anyone who might be interested.

Ø Canada is a nation undivided, true north strong and free from coast to coast to coast, and;
Ø within the Nation of Canada is another nation of the Quebecois which has only one coast but lots of votes, but;
Ø that coast is claimed by First Nations who have expensive lawyers paid by the citizens of the nation of Canada to help the First Nations take back as much land and resources from Canada as they can, and;
Ø meanwhile, that nation of the Quebecois has its nationals spread throughout the rest of Canada while anyone else living in Quebec who isn’t a Quebecois is a Quebecer and a Canadian and maybe also a Lebanese or a Tamil, or a Palestinian but definitely not an American unless he is a draft dodger, but;
Ø a Quebecer can vote for the Bloc Quebecois or the Parti Quebecois if that Quebecer wants to be Quebecois and not a Canadian, and meanwhile they can enjoy all the benefits of being Canadian especially if they are caught in the crossfire in some other country where they also happen to be citizens in which case they call the Canadian consulate and Canadians send a plane to pick them up, and furthermore;
Ø the newly appointed Leader of the Opposition is a Canadian and a Quebecois and also a citizen of France (though he doesn’t like to talk about it and gets grumpy when the subject is brought up) and Canada’s Governor General (who in a tight situation would be called upon to decide who is the next Prime Minister) is a citizen of Canada and a citizen of France but not a Quebecois because she was born in Haiti but her husband is a Quebecois and they both once strongly supported the FLQ which was a small Quebecois terrorist group that blew up post boxes and killed cabinet ministers and created other nuisances, but;
Ø the Prime Minister of Canada is only a Canadian and he didn’t travel outside Canada much before he became Prime Minister and his French (the language of the Quebecois is only so-so, kind of like the Leader of the Opposition’s English) and he would look silly in a beret and he has never lived in Quebec and most university graduates who live in Canadian cities along with almost all university professors and readers of the Globe & Mail find him scary, so he likely won’t be Prime Minister for long.
Ø Welcome to Canada, a Nation of Nations united and undivided. God (if he existed) Bless Canada, Eh!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Smells, Sights, and Sounds of Liberal Leadership Convention

As I watched Stephane Dion’s speech at the Liberal leadership convention I recalled one of my life’s most embarrassing moments. Watching Liberals often has that effect on me.

Dion’s bile green accent colour seemed appropriate for the occasion. Beneath the shy, slightly nerdy professorial appearance beats the heart of a Chretien acolyte. Dion didn’t disappoint with his quip that there was more culture in a bowl of yogurt than that possessed by Conservatives. Liberals just can’t help themselves when it comes to smugness and sanctimony. This is the party of Rousseau and Mill liberalism.

Dion’s decision to make the environment the core issue of his campaign along with his determination to ignore the issue of renewal in the Liberal Party – something one of Jean Chretien’s (actually it was Aline’s) handpicked subalterns must do diligently – is what transported me back to a cold and wintry doorstep in Saskatoon almost 40 years ago.

After too many beer, Ukrainian sausages and pickled eggs in the Cavalier Hotel pub I was kissing my date goodnight when the pleasant calm of the moment caused me to relax and allow some pent up flatulence to escape, shattering the silence and the mood to say nothing of its impact on greenhouse gas measurements. I reflexively broke off the kiss and began to talk incessantly about a litany of inane subjects, hoping to obliterate the aroma of the elephant on the porch.

With the exception of Gerard Kennedy’s, all the candidates’ speeches could have been delivered on the same cold and unpleasantly odorous prairie porch. The one major distinction was that unlike my date that night (yes it was my last date with Terry K) the rapturous crowd in Montreal seemed oblivious to the smell in the room.

- I was never a Montreal Canadien fan but I always admired Ken Dryden as a hockey player. He is much less endearing as a physically bloated, angry and arrogant politician, insisting that any vision of Canada that is not Liberal is not Canadian. It was almost pathetic to see him hop from losing camp to losing camp until he finally backed the winning horse for the last round of voting.

- Best line from an analyst had to be Rex Murphy’s depiction of Michael Ignatieff’s speaking style as “lethargic fluency”.

- Best television image – Dion in his acceptance speech framed in the background by the godfather Chretien over his right shoulder, arms folded in front of him, a self-satisfied grin on his face; the shadowed jutting jaw of interim leader Bill Graham in profile just behind Dion’s left ear, and the Howdy Doody joviality of the hapless Paul Martin behind his left shoulder. It reminded me of a scene from some old Woody Allen movie but with strong hints of the Grand Guignol. I kept seeing them dressed in polka dot puffy sleeved costumes with jester hats. My imagination is sometimes too vivid!

- Best political self-preservation move - Gerard Kennedy backing yet another Liberal leader from Quebec. He is counting on the pendulum swinging at some point in his political lifetime and he may get another chance at the leadership.