Sunday, November 28, 2004

The mouth of the south

"Listen. How come these Ontarians keep electing these French-Canadian motherfuckers? No, I mean, it always comes down to Ontario, and look....Mulroney, Chretien, Trudeau...yep, Martin...I mean, what the fuck, this guy's riding [points at friend] is Martin's riding. Are you a Martin fan? Nah me neither. I don't like any of them. Layton's a twat, Harper is Bush Junior. Look, how the fuck did George Bush get re-elected? You got these states like Tennessee, Alabama, Missouri. These guys were hanging black people thirty years ago. And these motherfuckers control the world? Look, it's fucking retarded. Canada only has two provinces. Fuck everyone else cause they do nothing. Canada only has two provinces, Ontario and Quebec. Hang on, hang on, look.....I love Quebec. These fucking frogs should be able to speak their French and whatever, this province is more important than fucking Alberta. What the fuck has Alberta ever done. Look, Alberta is 60% Ontarians who went out there for the fucking oil. You talk to your average Albertan and he says, yeah, I'm going home for the holidays to visit my family in Oakville! It's bullshit! Meanwhile you have these faggoty British Columbians, wanting to spend Ontario tax dollars to keep their fucking forests....what the fuck. These Westerners want to separate from Canada? Fuck 'em. I don't give a shit. Ontario and Quebec are the only two provinces worth anything. And who's this bitch, now, Parrish? Is that her name? Parrish? Carolyn Parrish? Fuck her. She's an airhead. I hope she fucking dies. I hope Mississauga separates. I hope Toronto tells Mississauga to go fuck itself in the asshole with a big rubber dick. Mississauga's never done anything. You know what Mississauga is? A big fucking choad. That's what Mississauga is...nothing but a fucking choad. A choad! And fuck Toronto. Toronto is the biggest piece of shit town, I don't care. Basically, fuck Toronto, fuck Alberta, fuck British Columbia, and fuck the East Coast, and fuck these Bush-voting motherfuckers. What? The North? Oh yeah, fuck the North too, these fuckers want to become a province, yeah, like I'm supposed to put my tax dollars so you can keep drinking booze out of a garbage bag. Fuck you, Inuits. Fuck this whole damn country. I love Canada because I can watch curling in a bar at three in the morning. Seriously British Columbia can go fuck itself. Hey what you drinking? Rum and coke? Vodka and coke? Here I'll get it for you. Let me take a piss first. Fucking calisse.

K.E. Moffatt, 28/11/2004, Sir Winston Churchill's, Montreal, QC

One Year (the other day).

As previous posts note, I'm a big fan of those whose indulgences become obsessions.

Meet the crowd at 'Model Warship Combat Incorporated'. This enthusiast run sanctioning body is as hardcore as any Neighbourhood Association I've ever come across.

'Q: Do the models actually sink?
A: Ya, you betcha...
'

Other recent finds include my favourite singing labour organizer and the VPTI.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

'How to survive the Systembolaget'

Ever been hopped up on God juice? Nick has. While I chomped on a Prince cig and stayed close to my roots, my comrade-in-arms passed up on a snoot of the 27 year old scotch and headed straight for the holy water. True to form, he brought the swank Ardbeg Room down at 60:- a mug... savoring every last crown no doubt.

If you've ever been anywhere in Sweden after 5 p.m., you know my plight - and you know my kind. Once that damn System Bolaget closes, silent hoards aimlessly wander the streets looking for a cheap means to drown their sorrows. Unlike Ontario where the LCBO is regularly open until 10pm, the Swedish government booze shop keeps bankers hours and charge double... all the while oozing of that famous Swedish 'efficiency'. "Want a four pack of domestic? That's 70:- shitface." That's if you can even find the place.

The name itself should make boozers tremble. It is the 'system' after all and it's ready to use all that word entails to rid the land of the drink. It's strategic socio-political plan to monopolize alcohol and yet never actually open is a smart one indeed. Still it's nice to see that - like back home - the government is profiting from my addiction and depositing the cash into the general fund. When it comes time for the liver transplant and the connection to the iron lung, I - along with many Swedes - will be satisfied in knowing that not a dime more is owed to the man.

I can't wait to get back!

Friday, November 19, 2004

Ayes the bhays!

The Liberals are nearly done their consultations on the proposed GTA greenbelt and it looks like full steam ahead. In terms of protection, I've got to admit that they pretty much got it right. Two policies which form the backbone of the plan are:

1) that 'settlement areas outside the Greenbelt are not permitted to expand into the Greenbelt area'; and

2.) 'that no new Great Lake-based water and sewer systems, or extensions or expansions to existing Great Lake-based systems, are permitted for the purpose of serving settlement areas within the Protected Countryside'.

The implication of these two, coupled with the restrictive rural severance policies mean that a line in the proverbial sand has been drawn. While it may be true that around 15 years of buildable land is still available in the designated urban area and that the plan is up for a full review in 10 years, it's still nice to see some progress.

One point though... what happened to designating southern Simcoe County and western Niagara Region? I also wonder what role politics played in omitting these areas was? Where exactly does Sobara's development company own land. If the province is truly interested in curbing sprawl, then why was the area designated as a future international transportation corridor left out? The plan also left out the area between Barrie and Bradford which is the fastest growing place in Canada - and a bedroom community of Toronto.

It sounds a bit fishy to me that the two areas which are the most susceptible to future urban sprawl were not even placed in the initial study area. It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't so obvious - but the areas look like they've been carved out of a pie. For our sake, I just hope it wasn't by design. There's nothing more damaging than leapfrogging. Running services across the greenbelt lands is not a cheap proposition. As Ottawa has found out, inadequate protection destroys urban form as the edge cities outside the greenbelt take over:

Population__________2001_______2021
Inside Greenbelt_____517,000____588,000
Outside Greenbelt____283,000____604,000
Total_____________800,000___1,192,000
City of Ottawa Transportation Master Plan, March 2003.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

L'Autre Solitude

Greetings. I write these words on an Ikea-oak desk in my new apartment, overlooking what's left of the Montreal Forum. The Velvet Lounge, the very blog you are reading, has gone multi-provincial. Dick holds it down in the staid, old-money mecca called Toronto, and I've chosen a path down the 401 in the hedonistic climes in the other of the Two Solitudes. That's right, I've moved to La Belle Province, and I'm not looking back.

Going from the biggest city to the country to the second biggest may not seem like a change, but I am agog with culture shock. My formative years in Ottawa contained surprisingly few trips to Quebec, except for the Ottawa adolescent rite that is the Hull strip, and trips to the appallingly beautiful Gatineau/Meech Lake region (though I hear they are the same thing, nowaways). But could you imagine depanneurs and Bring Your Own restaurants in Toronto? What would Ontarians get self-righteous about? I hear Calgary's keen on the concept of the BYOV party, but the $15+ corking fees sort of defeat the purpose, do they not?

Montreal lacks a notable cityscape, and seems cloaked in a pall of grey. I do not much mind, but at times it's hard to tell where you are. When I moved here I thought it was the newest resident of Canada's largest toilet, but the city exposes itself in layers, its charm unfolding discreetly over time. Once you've accepted the city a certain way, it shows you something else, and you are forced to reconcile your views. This gradual, almost sensuous unfurling differs from what I was used to in Toronto, a city that tries its hardest to jiggle its goodies in your face from the get-go, like a skin-district dancer.

Anyway, I am here now, and we'll just have to start talking about separtism and asymetrical federalism and the fate of Mirabel and the Expos and all of this sort of shit. I hope you like salade de chou on your hotdog all-dresse. Paix dehors.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Cabin Fever is Fast Upon us.

Follow the lives of two individuals - one a dedicated arctic expeditionist, the other a cabin dwelling experimentalist - as they embark on an Arctic winter and deal with the kind of life, dreams and defeat only offered north of 60°.

'The North' has always been a source of intrigue and fascination for us southerners and has framed our national psyche despite the fact that the vast majority have never been there. From our obsession with an outdoorsman P.M. to countless tales of Berton's Yukon, we as a country root ourselves in the perceived windswept, frozen nature of the place.

"Ah, for just one time I would take the Northwest Passage
To find the hand of Franklin reaching for the Beaufort Sea;
Tracing one warm line through a land so wild and savage
And make a Northwest Passage to the sea."
Stan Rogers, "Northwest Passage."

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Symbolistic White Wall.

The life and times of a once self-described saviour of rock turned political pundit.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Back in Black.

The hypocricy of the 'moral majority' to the south got me to thinking, what about Alberta? The province that tries its best to emulate our big brother's cowboy mythology surely should be polarizing as well, right? Seems it is. Let me introduce you to the 'Alberta Alliance'. This no nonsense provincial offshoot of the now defunct federal party sits firmly to the right of the Alberta Conservatives and is climbing up the polls. It now sits at 9% and could potentially grab some seats in the hinterlands. Spending its energies attacking that liberal conciliatory swine Ralph Klein, the Alliance seeks to bring Alberta back to its roots... and ensure that civil servants act 'civil' at all times.

On social issues and social responsibility:
'The Alberta Alliance Party supports the concept of social responsibility within the concept of a free enterprise economic system.'

On Multicuturalism:
'The Alberta Alliance Party supports the concept of all citizens being first and foremost Albertans... The concept of individual ethnic group maintenance rests solely on those who wish to support their heritage.'

On Immigration:
'An Alberta Alliance government will seek to adminster immigration in Alberta as is done in Quebec.'

Everyone knows that the free enterprise economic system has a big heart. The 'concept' of 'collective capitalism' - and cultural selectionism - as the prime directive of social policy is especially brilliant.

First Aberhart and now Randy Thorsteinson... social credit has never looked better.

Monday, November 01, 2004

WASPism Defeated.

I've never been a big fan of longtime Diplomatic Immunity pundit and Star columnist Richard Gwyn, yet I was mildly surprised at the end of his 1995 offering Nationalism Without Walls.

Digging through a box of my old books, I came across it lodged somewhere between Berton's Klondyke and Wealth of Nations... which may explain why I forgot I even had it. The book was published immediately after the October 1995 election but went to print prior. The catch? It predicted and was somewhat premised on a resounding victory for the 'Non' forces - which instantly relegated it to the Cole's bargain bin.

Faced with a three and a half hour train trip, I hauled it out and forced myself through it. Nationalism without Walls is concerned predominantly with the threats to Canadian nationalism and their underlying forces and actors. Now these books are a dime a dozen and this one didn't fail to disappoint. Yet, I was intrigued by the chapter devoted to English Canadians. By this he doesn't mean english speaking but rather english decent. He seems distraught that this group has lost its ethnic nerve and is content to disappear into the shadows. Gwyn points out that English Canadians established the societal, cultural and political framework that earned Canada tops marks from the UN. He wonders why they are handing over their dominant role in order to be relegated as just another culture in the mosaic.

He attributes this to a slow process of cultural carelessness - or frivolousness - on the part of English Canadians themselves. Their symbols - the dominion, monarchy, military and RCMP - have been marginalized, their economic and social power and dominance eroded (ie. Montreal), and they are becoming ethnic strangers in their own cities. Their political and cultural history based on militarism, survival and collectivism has been deleted from popular culture - even their own. 100 years ago the country and english canadian culture was building massive monuments to Issac Brock, settling the West and sending the young to fight wars around the globe. Today, not a peep. Collective pride has been replaced with apologies and self-doubt.

Gwyn sums up English Canada's current apologetic nature as preparation for impending cultural oblivion. "The hallmark of of an exhausted civilization is that it no longer possesses the self-confidence to reproduce itself: It cannot be a coincidence that the birthrate of English Canadians is well below the replacement rate now."

While I'm not sure whether I agree with Gwyn or not, he certainly raises some interesting questions. This hypothesis could explain why multiculturalism in Canada has so been successful as the natives in the post-war context have been too passive to resist. As english Canada no longer has a centre or cultural capital, it also may signal the end of an ethnic group and an ethnic homeland. Localities on the periphery will continue to exist for sure, but the collective culture will not. Will english Canada become a landless people as Gwyn implies?

English Canada is quickly becoming the ultimate cultural experiment as its dominant culture has been reduced through guilt and ambivalence. It is now simply one of many in the emerging cultural mosaic. I can't help but wonder what will replace it as the dominant culture... and what will become of the old.