Thursday, June 30, 2005


M. Polyscopique has a post on "Je me souviens", a phrase second in ambiguity only to "société distincte" in Quebec's Dictionary of Intentionally Obfuscatory Terminology. [Via Cosh, who forgot to code a permalink.]

I wrote about the famous license plate motto on the op/ed pages of the Post in April. Here's what I said (with the all the correct accents inexpicably gone):

It's one of Quebec's great ironies that no one remembers precisely what architect Eugene-Etienne Tache meant when he inscribed Je me souviens (I remember) above the main door of the Parliament Building in Quebec City in 1883. The motto, which officially became part of Quebec's coat of arms in 1939, has been the subject of so much debate over the years that you just wish Tache had told somebody, anybody, what it was he remembered. The Alamo? A lost lover? Mama?

Last Friday, the National Post published a letter to the editor... asserting that the motto, which has appeared on Quebec's licence plates since 1978, was a "divisive message" conceived by separatists "filled with smouldering detestation of everything English." What the Parti Quebecois wanted angry traffic-bound commuters to recall, Sangster believes, was the French defeat on the Plains of Abraham.

But while the party of Rene Levesque no doubt got rid of the cheerful license plate motto La Belle Province because they preferred un beau pays, its replacement slogan predates the modern sovereignty movement by almost a century.

While some have appropriated Je me souviens as a sovereigntist shibboleth, others have claimed it is a call to Canadian unity. There is a myth, unsupported by any historical documents, that it is just the beginning of a longer line by Tache: "Je me souviens que ne sous le lys, je crois sous la rose" -- I remember that born under the lys (France), I grew under the rose (Britain). (According to historian Gaston Deschenes, Tache did write a line similar to the second half of this poem to commemorate Quebec City's 1908 tricentennial.)

Tache's three-word sentence is a political and cultural Rorschach test in Quebec. In the 2002 National Film Board documentary A License to Remember, filmmaker Thierry Le Brun toured the province asking nationalists, federalists, Anglophones, Allophones, aboriginals and war veterans what Je me souviens meant and got vastly different responses. A cab driver gave the most compelling answer: He used to know what it meant, but he forgot.

Clues to what Tache meant the phrase to mean, however, are found by examining the rest of the building he designed. The facade of the Parliament Building is a monument to Quebec's history -- all of it -- with bronze sculptures representing First Nations, explorers, missionaries, leaders of the Ancien Regime and English administrators. Both the Marquis de Montcalm and General Wolfe peer out from the limestone.

And that's probably all Tache meant by Je me souviens: I remember.

I might add that, while we all say 'Lest We Forget' on Remembrance Day, a little laughter and forgetting is good for peace and prosperity. (Israel and Palestine, I'm looking at you!) I'm rather pleased we made it past the 25th anniversary of the first Quebec referendum without too much media hand-wringing, but I suspect it will be harder to sneak past the 10th anniversary of the second on October 30. (I, for one, fully intend to dress up as Parizeau-after-ten-years-of-continuous-drinking for Halloween this fall.)
Can CanCon save the country?

In today's National Post, Tara Ariano, editor of and, Craig Courtice, copy editor and short filmmaker, and I debate the eternal question: If the only thing stopping an alien race from annihilating our nation were three excellent Canadian films, just how much trouble would we be in? Go check it out... It's on the free side of the subscriber wall.
Pride and Prejudice

On a more positive note: Happy belated Same-Sex Marriage Passage Day to everyone! As far as I'm concerned, this is a victory for the institution of marriage and families -- all families.

And Boo to Harper's Conservatives for showing their true stripes during the past few weeks. It was only a couple of months ago that a Liberal friend, an NDP friend and I were agreeing about how a Conservative government would be a good thing for the country given the current state of the Liberals and Paul Martin's dreadful leadership. The Conservative Party's stance on SSM bothered me, but I truly thought Harper was just pandering to the party's social conservative base on the issue, knowing full well that it was a done deal. I thought I could live with that.

Now that Harper has made it clear that his social conservatism is more important than his fiscal conservatism -- see: his offer to back the NDP-Liberal budget if the Libs postponed same-sex marriage legislation to the fall -- I feel like I was tremendously naive. Add in Harper's hypocritical remarks about the Bloc's votes not being legitimate, the tactical stupidity of being in Toronto during the Gay Pride parade but not attending (couldn't he have flipped burgers and caught footballs in Coquitlam, B.C. that day?), and various other Conservative P.R. ridiculousness, and I now find myself really not wanting the Conservatives to be anywhere near power.

I could break bread with a party that allowed a free vote on the subject of same-sex marriage. I could even respect -- though disagree with -- a party that was officially anti-SSM if: a) They were concerned primarily with not breaking "tradition" and made frequent, vocal commitments to introduce 'civil unions' with all the rights of marriage for gays and lesbians; or b) wanted to take the federal government out of the marriage business altogether, because it's none of the government's business how we arrange our households.

But what I've seen over the past couple of weeks is prejudiced and hateful opposition to same-sex marriage. I didn't believe the Conservatives were anti-gay when Scott Brison left. I didn't feel that way when B.Stro left. But now I feel dumb for having defended them. Seems the party isn't as open-minded as the many fine Conservatives I have met and befriended since arriving in Toronto.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Things that drive me fairly nuts, Part LXII

On her blog, Toronto Star columnist Antonia Zerbisias writes:
This afternoon, CBC Radio One's Sounds Like Canada pre-recorded an hour-long discussion of Live 8 with Edge 102 program director and music historian Alan Cross, the Barenaked Ladies' Steven Page and moi. Guest host Jian Ghomeshi really got us riffing over rock star egos, the line-up in Barrie, foreign aid works, the cynicism over the the world's biggest broadcasting event ever in the history of the universe, etc.

I got my licks in, as I was booked to do, as per my column last week -- but an hour is a long time to fill. So, I grabbed the opportunity to blather on about the corporate role in exploiting Africa and how all of us contribute to that.

I find it ironic that African-American singers are behind the whole ''bling'' thing -- and yet Africans have been used and abused in the diamond trade. How much bling acquired through deadly means will be worn by concert-goers?

Next time you enjoy a candy bar, ask yourself about the children who picked the cocoa beans and whether they were fairly treated -- or paid.

And let's not even get started on the oil business.

These are the issues the corporate media, which are mostly promoting the celebrity aspect of the concerts, won't be touching any time soon. [My bold.]
AUUUUUGGGGGHHHHH! I am going crazy! Does A. Zerbisias not realise that she works for a giant, publicly-traded media corporation? And that she is paid by said corporate media entity to touch upon exactly such issues? And that she is at this very moment negating what she is writing? AUUUUUUUGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

Similar things that drive me nuts: All the articles in United States mainstream media about how the mainstream media ignored the Downing Street Minutes. How many mainstream media outlets have to write about how they ignored the Downing Street Minutes before the universe implodes? AUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!

It also drives me bonks when Canadians on websites like Rabble complain about the one-sided coverage, pro-US of the Iraq War in Canada's corporate media... Are you kidding? I have read almost entirely negative or neutral or realistic coverage of the Iraq War in Canadian sources! The country stayed out of the war! And none of our federal political parties argued that we should join the Coalition! And we're still out of the war! AUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!

I've said it once and I'll say it again: This is not 1988! Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent is a dated book! You are on the Internet! And you are not the only one! There is more information available to you and anyone with a computer than ever before! You are not smarter than everyone else! If the kids can find the obscure fetish porn, they can find the Downing Street Memo!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Shaking it Off

Anders and Dan Shake it Off
Originally uploaded by uncascrooge.
I vived le Quebec ivre this weekend at my friend Lindsay Bernath's cottage near Morin Heights and lived to tell the tale. He sends this dispatch:
Ladies and gentlemen - I want to thank you all for sunning, funning, playing, and rocking at the ninth annual Country Party at Lac Notre Dame. Here are the numbers:

This year we had 46 party people at the event, 34 of which were Hard Core and stayed the full three-days and two-nights. These people consumed a record atomizing 473 beers (156 liters) containing just over 9 liters of pure alcohol - an amount which is approximately equal to total volume of blood in two adult human beings. Are we proud? Should we be? Who cares! I had a great time and so did you....

Also, anti-thanks to all you sleeping people who kept loudly distracting those of us who were trying to play a quiet game of 4 am speed-tag.
Here's another number for you. Total hours of sleep caught this weekend: 9 and a half. So goodnight...
R.I.P. Piglet and Tigger, too!

In one of those bizarre celebrity death juxtapositions -- remember and Johnny Cash and John Ritter? -- the voices of Tigger and Piglet, Paul Winchell and John Fiedler, died one after another over the weekend.

Voice actor Winchell -- whose repertoire included Gargamel and Dick Dastardly -- has to rank as one of the most interesting polymaths of the past 100 years. In addition to being the last of the great variety show ventriloquists -- his dummies Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff are in the Smithonian -- Winchell invented the first artificial heart and held patents for a number of other artificial organs. His interest in animation was not limited to two-dimensional A.D.D.-afflicted tigers.

Text-messagers will be interested to know that the shorthand TTFN -- Ta-Ta For Now -- originated with Winchell via Tigger. He also tried to feed Africa before Bob Gedolf. With Ed Asner, Richard Dreyfus, John Ritter and Dr. Henry Heimlich (yes, that one), he developed a scheme whereby Africans would farm tilapia for food and profit. It was a very literal interpretation of the old aphorism "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him how to raise fish and you feed him forever" and it never got the funding he had hoped for. (Although I am unsure why he didn't use some of the $17.8-million he got in a settlement over the deletion of the tapes of “Winchell-Mahoney Time" to try out the tilapia theory of development himself...)

Winchell was also a Grammy winner -- for "The Most Wonderful Thing about Tiggers," of course, a song that I remember singing gleefully as a young bouncy thing myself.

Though long estranged from him, Winchell's daughter April seems to be keeping some of her father's spirit of eclecticism alive: she is a Disney cartoon voice actor (Clarabelle Cow, Cruella de Vil), a Los Angeles shock jock, keeps a website where she blogs, sells dog-shit pens and collects strange covers of Smells Like Teen Spirit, and allegedly had sex with Kevin Spacey in the back of a Honda Civic. Of Paul Winchell, she blogs: "My father was a very troubled and unhappy man. If there is another place after this one, it is my hope that he now has the peace that eluded him on earth."

Friday, June 24, 2005

Bonne St-Jean!

Vive le Québec ivre!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Acquaman sighted in Alberta!

On the Fence's favourite Vaughan MP courts CalgaryGrit.
Political Spectrum Making Less Sense Every Day

First, the U.S. Supreme Court rules against States Rights in Gonzales v. Raich, and now it rules against individual property rights? Yeah, that's a real conservative court there...

From Reuters:
A divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that a city can take a person's home for a development project aimed at revitalizing a depressed local economy, a decision that could have nationwide impact.

By a 5-4 vote, the high court upheld a ruling that New London, Connecticut, can seize the homes and businesses owned by seven families for a development project that will complement a nearby research facility by the Pfizer Inc. drug company.

Under the U.S. Constitution, governments can take private property through their so-called eminent domain powers in exchange for just compensation, but only when it is for public use.
Commenting on Gonzales v. Raich earlier this month, Mader of MaderBlog wrote: "Justice Scalia's vote - which greatly restricts U.S. v. Lopez - demonstrates that the operative word in the term 'social conservative' is not 'conservative' but social - as in -ist. The only difference between a leftist and a social conservative is that each wants to use coercive state power for different ends." The same could be said about neoconservatives and, now, for economic conservatives... May I suggest that some of the only real "conservatives" left in the U.S. are on the Left?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

New Pitch for an Independent Quebec: "Fitter, Happier, More Productive..."

Well, there's certainly not a lack of interested candidates to lead the Parti Québécois. They're launching campaigns left, right and centre... My favourite so far is Richard Legendre, the former Minister of Sport who has only been an elected representative since 2001. Today, the former tennis prodigy announced that not only would he make Quebec a country -- "Rien ne ressemble plus à un pays que le Québec!" -- but he would make it the fittest country in the world: "la nation la plus en forme du monde." Anyone who has ever hung around with a bunch of separatists as they smoke and drink and pontificate will understand why I find the idea of Legendre running the PQ very amusing...

But he does have the backing/ideas of François Legault, who I always thought was going to follow Bernard Landry as leader. And the backing of former sprinter Bruny Surin, who I would certainly want to have on my side if I was involved in a race of any sort...

La Presse has set up a site tracking the six running here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Look Who's Blogging, Too

Why, it's Rick Mercer of Rick Mercer's Monday Report. Or rather, Rick Mercer formerly of Rick Mercer's Monday Report, now of The Rick Mercer Report. (See: "Holy Crap! They moved me to Tuesdays.") Writes Mercer:
I have found that I spend a fair bit of time reading blogs lately and thought I’d give one a whirl.

I ask you: Is there anything more pathetic than sitting indoors while the sun is shining reading a blog written by Monte Solberg? That Monte, he can be kind of funny for a nut.

In an effort to be fair I would mention a Liberal blog that I read, but I’ve never stumbled on one that is interesting.

Like the Prime Minster and all new bloggers, I promise to write everyday but I probably won’t. But please check back.
I certainly hope the merry prankster keeps his promise, because already he's making a big smash on the WWW. For instance, this afternoon Mercer bought (as in Conservative MP Jason Gays-are-allowed-to-get-married-as-long-as-they-get-married-to-members-of-the-opposite-sex Kenney) and routed it to the Communist Party of Canada's website. It all has something to do with Kenney calling Don Boudria "ignorant" about the Internet... Read it yourself.
Vile and Evil are anagrams of Live. Just sayin'...

A) I don't understand how these free Live 8 concerts, including the one in Barrie, Ont., which just announced its line-up, are supposed to benefit developing countries. Yes, "raising awareness," but of what exactly? Do Bryan Adams, Gordon Lightfoot, the Barenaked Ladies, Jann Arden, Bruce Cockburn, the Tragically Hip and Our Lady Peace really have a singular, clearly-defined strategy for helping poorer nations? Amidst all this debate over where the concerts are going to be held, who's going to take part, who remembers a single song by Status Quo, it feels like there is no real awareness being raised beyond that which your mother raises everytime you don't clean your plate and are reminded of those starving elsewhere...

b) What a boring, boring line-up in Canada: The aforementioned plus Blue Rodeo, Great Big Sea, Deep Purple, Motley Crue, Simple Plan, African Guitar Summit, Tom Cochrane, Sam Roberts, the Tragically Hip, Bachman-Cummings band, Les Trois Accords and -- by satellite -- Celine Dion.

c) Doug Saunders had what I consider the best recent article about alleviating world poverty in Saturday's Globe and Mail. (If that link doesn't work, you can Google News "Doug Saunders".) Saunders raises his readers' awareness of Indian economist Amartya Sen, who he describes as "the man I believe has the most advanced and sophisticated understanding of the poorest people in the world." Saunders' main point is "You shouldn't do anything to the people of a very poor country that you wouldn't want done in your own country. This principle, over the past few decades, has been constantly and repeatedly ignored."

Monday, June 20, 2005

Why, oh why, Surya, did you make me take that shot of Jägermeister...

Still recovering from last night's MuchMusic Video Awards, so a little light blogging... The popular music is not usually my beat, but this was my second year covering the giant street party that is the MMVAs for the Post and the CanWest chain (for an interesting peek at the reporting process, you can read my 8 p.m. file here and my 9:30 p.m. file here) and then shaking it at the Revolver party afterwards. Other bloggers spotted on site were Aaron "Pop" Wherry and Antonia Zerbisias, who was there with her niece and seems very kind.

In other news, life-size pictures of my hands appear on the front section of the Arts & Life section illustrating this article in the print edition of the Post today. Finally, I can add hand model to my C.V.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Terrorism causes Cancer, expert says

Colby Cosh has a most excellent column (subscription, alas) today debunking "the most revolting piece of junk science [he has] ever seen in a Canadian newspaper", a.k.a Mitchell Anderson's "What's causing cancer?" in the T-Star. Specifically, Cosh goes after Anderson's claim that "Recent statistics show that the net incidence rat of cancer has increased 25% for males and 20% for females from 1974 to 2005 -- after correcting for the effects of aging."

Cosh essentially demolishes the claim: "Anderson somehow neglected to mention that these observed cancer rates grew rapidly during the 1970s, and have been flat since about 1981. And the change observed in the 1970s was almost entirely an artifact of better cancer reporting."

Reading Anderson's article the first time, I never thought to check his statistics because, well, I wouldn't have known where to look. (Cosh gets his info from a Canadian Cancer Society/National Cancer Institute of Canada/Statscan brochure.) I should have known something was being overblown, however, when his first example of environmental toxins (which he blames for the 'epidemic') in "your local supermarket" was mothballs... Mothballs? When was the last time you knew anyone who used mothballs?

Statistics -- particularly medical statistics -- always seem to be twisted, exaggerated or misread by journalists and I resent the fact that I have now started to ignore all newspaper articles that include them as a crucial element. There was, for instance, the once popular depression 'epidemic' that was sweeping the West because of our mind-numbing consumer culture or the loss of "family values" or whatever your side of the political spectrum didn't like.

Cosh is out there questioning statistics, experts and urban legends regularly and I do wish we had more skeptical journalists doing that kind of "legwork"...

(In the interests of balancing out all this Cosh-love, I should note that his column on Napoleon Dynamite of August 30, 2004 remains his worst ever.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Diet of the South Beach

Don't worry, Calgary Grit... It's alright for Paul Martin to make jokes about Stephen Harper being a fatty in Question Period, because Paul Martin is a fatty. It'd be like me making fun of prog rock fans...

Sigh. Excuse me, I'm going to hit some senators and children...
Two Silly 'Tudes

Why did I get the feeling in reading all those columns about Gilles Duceppe's perfectly logical decision to stay on as leader of the BQ that most of our nation's English-language pundits haven't the foggiest idea what the whole sovereignty movement is about? As usual, some of the best commentary is to be found in letters to the editor. (Though the quality of letters to the editor has declined since the advent of blogs...)

Also, lâche? Peureux? What is this, a playground? What, are they going to start playing Say Uncle with each other on Parliament Hill next? Or, perhaps, hitting children?

Also, so what if I blog about news days after everyone else has?

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Great Gig!

Holy Moley! Pink Floyd is reuniting* for Live 8! Awesome...

*Not including Syd Barrett, obviously.
A Year Off from my Annual Montreal Fringe Binge

No Michael, I will not be blogging the Montreal Fringe this year, unfortunately. With my July 1 move swiftly approaching, I'm keeping my time away to a minimum since I'd already committed to going to my buddy Lindsay's cottage party over St. Jean weekend...

I'm at the Beer Tent in Internet Spirit, though, thanks to:

-- Michael Black's chatty Fringe Diary...
-- Winnipeg actress Rachelle Fordyce's LJ account of performing her show Smile while you Die. Fordyce is clearly keeping this journal for friends, because I had to scroll way down to even find out what the title of her play was. (SWYD's stage manager Jason is LJing too.
-- The Mo-town Improv troupe Without Annette reviewing shows on its improvoblog...
-- The Fringe's net buzz page...
-- And former On the Fence Fringe Correspondent Amy H. reviewing on her blog.

Check out Gaetan, The Hour and the Mirror for run-downs of what's the wheat. But don't forget the Fringe Rule of Fun: For every show you see that you expect to rawk, go see a random show that hasn't got any hype. It's part of a balanced diet.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Chaoulli Cha-whammy.

Optimus Crime observes the irony: Now which side of the political spectrum is complaining about activist courts?

And now, said in an official-sounding politician's voice, I have no further comment until I've read the decision.

UPDATE: Hey, Doc Jacques Chaoulli has une blogue.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

On the Shelf at On the Fence

The formidable Adam Daifallah has tagged me in the latest Internet sensation to rock the blogosphere. (UPDATE: So has everyone's favourite Moose Pampler Matt Hayday, whose blog I do indeed read through my Bloglines.) So here goes:

Number of Books That You Own:

I have about 275 with me here in Toronto and probably another 300 back in Montreal, not counting my boxes of children’s books and comic books.

Last Book Bought:

Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-Three of the World’s Best Poems. To be honest, I’m not terribly impressed by Paglia’s readings of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

Last Book I Read:

Barbershops by Tally Abecassis and Claudine Sauvé. It’s a coffee table book full of pictures of and interviews with Montreal barbers. I read it for work and you can read all about it in on the Avenue page of today’s National Post.

Five Books that mean a lot to me:

I like the phrasing of this. No pressure to come up with the five books that mean the most to me, but just five books that mean a lot to me.

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. Whenever I hear someone say that a book changed her life, I roll my eyes. But The Corrections did change my life in an awfully personal way and I’ll leave it at that. The scene where Chip kicks his Christmas presents up a flight of stairs is the funniest-saddest thing I’ve ever read.

Copenhagen by Michael Frayn. Ha, ha! Not a book at all, really, but a play. (About 170 of the books I have here in Toronto are really plays.) Anyway, I read this play before I saw it, so I’ll include it here. I think about this fictionalized meeting between Werner Heisenberg and Niels Bohr at least once a week, or its central lesson at least: That we can never really know why we do what we do. Also, I like it because Frayn wrote it (his best play) at age 65. What am I so worried about? I got plenty of time.

Arguments for a Theatre by Howard Barker. I wish everyone involved in this would read this book. "The dramatist’s obligation becomes an obligation not to a political position… but to his own imagination. His function becomes not to educate by his superior political knowledge, for who can trust that? but to lead into moral conflict by his superior imagination. He does not tailor his thought to an ideology, but allows it to range freely over a landscape in which he himself should experience insecurity, exposing his own morality, his own politics, to damage on the way. In an age of unitary thought and propaganda, this is his first responsibility."

Down to This: Squalor and splendour in a big-city shantytown by Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall. Bishop-Stall's account of a year spent in Tent City is a brilliant piece of gonzo Canadian journalism. I think anybody who thinks they understand the problem of homelessness should read this book. (Also, I have to tout Shaughnessy's book at every available opportunity, or he'll tell more people about the musical version of Plato's Symposium he saw me act in once...)

I Love Me, Vol. I: S. Wordrow’s Palindrome Encyclopedia by Michael Donner. Ridiculously exhaustive.

As I understand it, it is now up to me to tag five bloggers: Go Aaron Wherry! Go Uncle Cam! Go Optimus Crime! Go Matthew F.! Go Andrew Coyne!

Or don’t go. No pressure.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Senators-Children Deathmatch!

One night only in the Red Chamber... Senators and the Usher of the Black Rod take on the nation's children in a battle to the death. (Or 75 years of age, whichever comes first.) Come on down and watch the Standing committees bring children to their knees. Live match will be broadcast on CPAC Pay-per-View.

Just when you thought Parliament Hill couldn't have more of an image problem: "I have stood around here and watched Senators hit children."


Oh, Ujjal... Aren't you feeling a little "personal pressure" of late? Maybe you should step down and go on leave, too. Just because of stress, of course, not because you did anything wrong or are a really bad liar or anything. Hint, hint...

Monday, June 06, 2005

No alarms and no surprises...

I was in Montreal over the weekend for the Tour de L'Ile , an annual bicycle ride through the city with 30,000 participants. This was probably the best weather and most interesting route the Tour has had in the 11 years I've done it. The highlight was bicycling through Lafarge Canada Inc.'s crushed stone quarry in Montréal Est, the last active quarry on the Island of Montreal. An N.D.G. boy who has rarely ventured east of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, I was unaware that Montreal ever had quarries, though in fact there were once six. (We also passed by the old, inactive Miron quarry, which is now run by the city of Montreal as le Complexe environnemental Saint-Michel.)

Anyway, the news everyone was talking about while pedalling was Bernard Landry's resignation as leader of the Parti Québécois... All the coverage has presented Landry's decision as "unexpected" or a "surprise." Perhaps I didn't the I didn't find his decision at all surprising because I had read Josée Legault's column in the Montreal Gazette the day before. It's here, but you'll have to scroll about halfway down the page to find it. The important observations were in her last few parargraphs:
[The extremely-unpopular Quebec] Liberals will not go gently into the night after only one mandate. Charest is now in his third year and support keeps going down. So I'll repeat the prediction I made here on April 15: Charest will leave, perhaps this fall, followed by a quick leadership race in which some quality contenders would get prime-time coverage for a few months.

Be it Philippe Couillard, Nathalie Normandeau or Marc-Andre Blanchard, the bright, young, ambitious Liberal president, the next leader could then go into an early election, say next spring, to ask for a new mandate for a new post-Charest vision.

If that happens, the PQ will have no time to have its own race and renew its vision and leadership.

With Charest out and Landry still in, PQ members could find the political dynamics to be a lot more challenging than they are now.
In other words, the best thing for the PQ and the sovereignty movement was for Landry to step down now, whether he had the absolute confidence of his party or not.

Was Legault the only pundit to figure that out? Or is it just that, given the recent behaviour of Canadian pols, everyone was shocked that a politician would put his loyalty to party and cause above his personal ambition?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

I don't really give a buzz about bees...

But this Salon review of three new books about the honey-gathering insects is worthwhile clicking through the ads for the reviewer's funny ranting about 'dilletante literature'.
Holley Bishop's "Robbing the Bees" is another ball of wax altogether. It represents a venerable New York dilettante tradition, in which a privileged or well-connected New Yorker will become a casual expert on a subject, reading through the literature and taking a few field trips, then reporting his or her findings in book form...
I mentioned my own period of dread-haunted blockage earlier because the signal difference between, on one hand, myself and (I think) most writers, and the dilettante tradition... is that most writers type under an eternal, hanging neon sign that blinks, "So what? Who cares!" -- and that sign has to be argued with and answered every day, sometimes line by line or word by word. "Robbing the Bees," like most dilettante books, reads like it was composed under a neon sign that gamely blinks, "How nice! Do tell!"
[Thanks to Noah C. for passing this on.]
Oh yeah...

I listened to Ujjal Dosanjh dodging and fudging this morning on CBC Radio's The Current. I don't think I've ever been so disgusted by a Canadian politician's evasions before. Really.

It was a definite moment for me, maybe because I actually kind of liked Dosanjh before. My innocence is now gone. Grewal and Dosanjh and Murphy have taken it away from me. They should all be charged for raping the English language. Listen to those audio files -- don't just read the transcripts, listen to the audio. These are the people running this country. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

Can we not just ban political parties or something?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Today in Fabrics

Felt: The confirmation by the Washington Post that the FBI's second-in-command Daniel Felt was Deep Throat makes me want to jump in a time machine and read the history books of our times 100 years from now.

Fur (Comfy): What fun to read the transcripts of the Gurmant Grewal tapes and listen to the audio files! (How cool is it that they're all up there on the Grewal website?)

My favourite line so far is from Ujjal Dosanjh: "You have to be able to say 'I did not make a deal.' That’s very important. That’s why these kinds of deals are not made in that fashion."

[Note, this is what I hear -- quite clearly -- on the recording. The sloppier-than-my-hasty-personal-interview-transcripts transcript reads: "You have to be able to say that I did not make a deal. That’s very important. That’s why this kinds of deals are not made in that fashion."]

Oh, Ujjal! You totally messed up the plausible deniability thing right there. Right? Am I wrong in thinking that, at the very least, he's going to go down for this?