Category Archives: AE – Blog 2015

Sunday, December 20, 2015 — Pride

15-12-20 BLOG Ministers & Syrian refugees

Canada’s Cab­i­net Min­is­ters of Immi­gra­tion (John McCal­lum), Defense (Har­jit Saj­jan), and Health (Jane Philpott) with Syr­i­an refugee chil­dren.

I’m a cur­mud­geony cyn­ic, most of the time, so it’s not often I get to pro­claim that I’m proud of my coun­try. But the behav­iour of Cana­di­ans in the last week has filled me with pride. Last month, I post­ed a let­ter I sent to my Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment, ask­ing that the com­mit­ment to admit­ting Syr­i­an refugees to Cana­da be expand­ed to greater num­bers. My sen­ti­ments seem to be shared by most Cana­di­ans, but that is not the case else­where.

In the Unit­ed States, the major­i­ty of politi­cians (all Repub­li­cans, of course, but many Democ­rats, too) have decid­ed to be pals with ISIS, col­lab­o­rat­ing in their attroc­i­ties by mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for their vic­tims to find refuge. The March­ing Morons have tri­umphed, and there have been numer­ous acts of ter­ror­ism against inno­cent peo­ple, encour­aged and abet­ted by Fox Prav­da and the usu­al Con­ser­v­a­tive scum­bags.  Read more »

Image of the month: being male is more exciting than I expected

2015 DEC

Friday, November 20, 2015 — A Letter to My Member of Parliament

I just sent this let­ter to my Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment:

To Hon. Bill Morneau, House of Com­mons, Ottawa, Ontario Cana­da K1A 0A6

The events in France make it per­fect­ly clear what kind of thing the Syr­i­an refugees are flee­ing from. Your par­ty won the recent elec­tion with a man­date to accept more Syr­i­an refugees and increase our par­tic­i­pa­tion in this cri­sis.

As my Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment, I urge you to stand up in that leg­isla­tive body and pro­pose that we TRIPLE THE RECENTLY ANNOUNCED NUMBER that we will com­mit our­selves to accept.

The recent gen­er­a­tion of Cana­di­an politi­cians — espe­cial­ly those in the Con­ser­v­a­tive Par­ty — have fall­en com­plete­ly out of touch with Canada’s his­to­ry and tra­di­tions. They have grotesque­ly trans­formed our immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy into a rack­et where we sell Cana­di­an cit­i­zen­ship to the rich of the world, giv­ing a safe place for them to park their assets. Such peo­ple will nev­er see Cana­da as any­thing except a con­ve­nient pied-à-terre, or a sort of tax-dodge-with-a-pass­port. Those aren’t the kind of peo­ple that built Cana­da. We are a nation built by offer­ing a home and a sec­ond chance to the poor and oppressed of oth­er lands. That should be our pride, our glo­ry.

We are a wealthy, under­pop­u­lat­ed coun­try. We can eas­i­ly afford to take in triple the amount pro­posed by Mr. Trudeau. Think of it as “infra­struc­ture invest­ment”. The real kind.
Phil Paine, Toron­to

Bring­ing in large num­bers of refugees from for­eign lands, often with lan­guages, cus­toms and reli­gions that we find exot­ic, many of them trau­ma­tized by ter­ror and war, and with the dis­tinct pos­si­bil­i­ty that there will be some bad apples among them (plant­ed agents, crim­i­nals, faked iden­ti­ties) is noth­ing new to Cana­di­ans. We have done this over and over and over again in this coun­try. Scots flee­ing the bru­tal high­land clear­ances, the six Iro­quois Nations flee­ing eth­nic cleans­ing, African-Amer­i­cans escap­ing slav­ery through the Under­ground Rail­road, Irish peas­ants flee­ing the pota­to famine, Arme­ni­ans flee­ing mass killings, Ukraini­ans flee­ing Stalin’s ter­ror, Jews flee­ing the Holo­caust, Hun­gar­i­ans flee­ing the Com­mu­nists, African Gujaratis flee­ing Idi Amin, Viet­namese boat peo­ple, Sri Lankan Tamils flee­ing civ­il war, Rwan­dans flee­ing eth­nic slaugh­ter.… peas­ants and slumd­wellers from around the world flee­ing pover­ty and sta­t­ic soci­eties that keep them at the bot­tom. Yes, there are costs and dif­fi­cul­ties involved in tak­ing in strangers in this way. But we know how to do it, prob­a­bly bet­ter than any­one in the world. It’s our spe­cial­ty. This time is no dif­fer­ent. Years ago, I saw my neigh­bours roll up their sleeves and vol­un­teer to wel­come, spon­sor, house, and help fright­ened boat peo­ple who arrived after weeks on flim­sy rafts, being attacked by pirates, then months in grue­some intern­ment camps. Now those for­mer refugees are fel­low Cana­di­ans we point to with pride, and they in turn vol­un­teer for the same task. Yes­ter­day, a Toron­to cou­ple were mar­ried cheap­ly at City Hall, and turned over the full cost of their planned fan­cy wed­ding to spon­sor Syr­i­an refugees. They, and oth­ers like them, are the spir­it of our coun­try. We must nev­er for­get this.

As a his­to­ri­an, I sel­dom read the news with­out hear­ing echos from the past. Here a quote from a his­to­ry of Irish immi­grants to Cana­da, flee­ing the pota­to famine:

15-11-20 BLOG Irish immigrantsShocked by the num­bers flood­ing Boston, New York and oth­er ports, the Unit­ed States Con­gress passed two Pas­sen­ger Acts. One lim­it­ed the num­ber of pas­sen­gers a ves­sel was per­mit­ted to car­ry. The oth­er increased the price of the cheap­est pas­sage to sev­en pounds, an amount that was well beyond what most poor Irish could afford. Start­ing in May of 1846, this result­ed in increased traf­fic to Cana­di­an ports. In fact, dur­ing one occa­sion, Grosse Isle [the immi­grant pro­cess­ing point in Que­bec] had a line of 40 ships, car­ry­ing 15,000 souls, wait­ing to land there. Of that num­ber, many were seri­ous­ly ill with fever and some were already dead.

This cre­at­ed thou­sands of orphans, most of whom were assigned to Cana­di­an fam­i­lies. A spe­cial decree ruled that these chil­dren, to be raised in French-speak­ing Cana­di­an fam­i­lies, would retain their Irish names out of respect for their her­itage. Con­ser­v­a­tive news­pa­pers and the Orange Lodge — influ­en­tial in Cana­di­an pol­i­tics and high soci­ety — screamed that these refugees would all be nasty, bomb-throw­ing Catholic ter­ror­ists, and that the streets of Mon­tre­al and Toron­to would be seething with ape-like, sub-human Irish crim­i­nals. Those orphaned Irish names — Riley, Kel­ly, Ryan, John­son… now resound in Cana­di­an his­to­ry and cul­ture.

Sound famil­iar? Here’s the lat­est news from the Unit­ed States:

While Democ­rats ini­tial­ly stood up to Repub­li­can fear-mon­ger­ing and big­otry, too many of them lost that con­vic­tion on the final vote for a bill that cre­ates addi­tion­al bar­ri­ers for Syr­i­an and Iraqi refugees com­ing to the U.S. Forty-sev­en Democ­rats vot­ed with Repub­li­cans in a final vote of 289–137.

The same ass­holes are always around. We have such ass­holes in Cana­da, but, hope­ful­ly, few­er of them. At least we don’t have, as Amer­i­cans do, the major­i­ty of our politi­cians falling over them­selves to sup­port ISIS. The Syr­i­an and Iraqi refugees turned away by the tri­umph of the stu­pid in the U.S.A. should be wel­comed to Cana­da with open arms. And we will end up all the wealth­i­er, hap­pi­er, and wis­er for it — for we are the future, not the past.

Image of the month:

2015 NOV

Monday, October 19, 2015 — Good Riddance

15-10-19 BLOG Good Riddancegood riddance”

Used to express relief that some­one or some­thing has been got­ten rid of. Also,good rid­dance to bad rub­bish. A wel­come loss or depar­ture. This expres­sion is often used as an excla­ma­tion. — from a dic­tio­nary of idioms.

For the infor­ma­tion of my non-Cana­di­an read­ers, Stephen Harp­er and his Con­ser­v­a­tive Par­ty have final­ly been kicked out of pow­er by a sur­pris­ing Lib­er­al Par­ty land­slide win. There has nev­er been any Cana­di­an politi­cian that I have regard­ed with such loathing. He has rep­re­sent­ed every­thing I’ve con­sid­ered vile, dis­gust­ing and immoral in Cana­di­an pol­i­tics. Divid­ed oppo­si­tion, abysmal­ly low vot­er turnout and gen­er­al apa­thy kept him in pow­er for what seemed an eter­ni­ty, but the Cana­di­an peo­ple have final­ly wok­en up. As a suc­ces­sion of cor­rup­tion scan­dals weak­ened his posi­tion, Harp­er hired an Amer­i­can cam­paign advi­sor — a hack strate­gist from the U.S. Repub­li­can Par­ty — who advised him to run a cam­paign designed to exploit big­otry, super­sti­tion and igno­rance in the man­ner of the Tea Par­ty ass­holes in the U.S.. Cana­di­ans, to their cred­it, were large­ly dis­gust­ed by this kind of cyn­i­cal creepi­ness. Vot­er turnout exceed­ed any­thing expect­ed. There is lit­tle doubt that this was large­ly an anti-Harp­er wave, not inspired by any high hopes for any oppo­si­tion par­ty. “Strate­gic vot­ing”, where vot­ers care­ful­ly vot­ed for who­ev­er had the best chance of turn­ing out the Con­ser­v­a­tives, seemed to catch on, and young peo­ple seem to have flocked to the polls, too. I’m no par­tic­u­lar fan of Lib­er­al leader Justin Trudeau, but he seemed to find his feet dur­ing the extend­ed cam­paign, and his par­ty will form a major­i­ty gov­ern­ment, with a plu­ral­i­ty in the pop­u­lar vote on top of its vic­to­ry in seats. The Lib­er­als have many pol­i­cy posi­tions that I strong­ly oppose (such as sup­port for the TPP and a par­tial accep­tance of the hideous Bill C-51). We’ll see how this turns out, but at least we’re rid of Harp­er.

Image of the month: not sure if this is a tree or an Ent

#C (537)

Sunday, September 27, 2015 — Assiniboine

What fol­lows here took place dur­ing the sec­ond week of Sep­tem­ber. It was planned a long time ahead. A quar­ter cen­tu­ry of friend­ship between myself and Fil­ip Marek would be cel­e­brat­ed with an adven­ture.

We both love moun­tains. The Cana­di­an Rock­ies has some of the finest, and most of them have not been geld­ed by roads, habi­ta­tions and ski resorts. A lot of them are as wild as they were when their first human explor­ers came upon them pur­su­ing mam­moths down the “ice-free cor­ri­dor” or per­haps fil­tered in from the Pacif­ic coast. But the choice of des­ti­na­tion had to be a com­pro­mise between the cost and time of access and the degree of wilder­ness. I had only one week free, and Fil­ip could spare not much more.

15-09-27 BLOG the peak Read more »

Image of the month: if you were alive in the 1970s and 80s.…

#C (5242).… you can prob­a­bly iden­ti­fy this per­son with ease. Just a test.

Image of the month: village mosque

2015 AUGMosques like this are found across the west­ern Sahel, espe­cial­ly in Mali.

Friday, July 24 2015 — My Neighbourhood in 1968

Here are four pho­tos tak­en in my neigh­bour­hood in Toron­to, in the 1960s. The three pho­tos of kids are all from 1968. The pic­ture of Sher­bourne sub­way sta­tion is from a few years ear­li­er — the women still have the bizarre bouf­fant hair­dos of the ear­ly six­ties, and the men are still wear­ing hats. Notice the pious, rev­er­ent, obe­di­ent man­ners of the kids (*NOT*).

15-07-24 BLOG Toronto1968-1

Read more »