Friday, October 31, 2008

Lost in translation.

From the BBC: "When officials asked for the Welsh translation of a road sign, they thought the reply was what they needed.

"Unfortunately, the e-mail response to Swansea council said in Welsh: "I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated".

"So that was what went up under the English version which barred lorries from a road near a supermarket."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lysiane Gagnon tells you what you thought.

"During the election campaign, many wondered how the Liberal Party would have fared if it had been led by Michael Ignatieff. My guess — and everybody else's — is the party would have been a formidable rival to the Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois."

Gagnon's column is brought to you by Steve Murphy's new set of English-language Bescherelles.

Speaking of Dion, here's a column from Rick Salutin that sorta snapped me out of my spell:
What impressed many was Stéphane Dion's idealism and "vision." Yet, the 20th century was littered with the damage done by idealistic visionaries who implemented their visions even if the people didn't get it, on the assumption they'd fall in line. Of course, that isn't Stéphane Dion; he accepts the voters' verdict. But his exclusive reliance on his noble vision is still troubling.

Politics basically divides between those for whom it's about ideas, about their notion of what's best for everyone, and those for whom it's about working with others to formulate a vision, or program, on the premise that people have the right and ability to determine their own fate. This distinction is muddied by the cult of leadership, or "strong" leadership, which exists among us in its way, as it did in those 20th-century political disasters. Does it ever occur to anyone that you can have leadership without a vision? Or that a leader could cheerily accept rejection of his vision and continue to lead - in a different direction chosen democratically?

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Just realised Stephane Dion is the first leader of the Liberal party since Edward Blake to not spend any time as Prime Minister. (Aside from the interim leaders, of course.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Post-election thought: What is a working family, anyway?

Are we talking one of those families where everyone pitches in on the farm or at the convenience store? Do the babies have to work too for a family to qualify?

Are dysfunctional families excluded? Who will stand up for dysfunctional families? Next election, I want to vote for a party that stands up for really dysfunctional families and for a leader who will put TV-tray priorities ahead of the put-your-tray-in-the-upright-position- please-mr-oil-drinking-baby-eating-corporate-welfare-bum priorities.

And I want a leader who can focus on the real important things, like distinguishing between sweater vests and sweaters and other woolly garments, and who can make real cutting remarks about these items of clothing. Like maybe, "Is that a hidden agenda under your cardigan, or are you just happy to see your oilmen friends throw the tar sands up on that pinball machine over there?"

And I want a new kind of strong. A really new kind of strong, not just a strapping or a sinewy or a stalwart. I want, like, a weak strong. Yeah. That'd be much better than the old strong strong. The old strong was just a little too strong for me really.
Royal West Academy grads make, uh, good?

Next week, I'm going back to Montreal for my high school reunion, so it's interesting to see a couple of my fellow fomer Royal Westers in the news this week.

- Jacob Tierney, who was two years ahead of me, is making a film called The Trotsky, actually set at my high school (back when it was called Montreal West High School) and starring Jay Baruchel, Anne-Marie Cadieux, Colm Feore and Jessica Pare.

- Natalie McLennan, who was one year ahead of me, has a new book out called The Price: My Rise and Fall as Natalia, New York's #1 Escort.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Every vote is a strategic vote, no?

If not, what is it?

In very exciting news, I won my office election pool today. I am now $280 richer. Well, $80 richer, as I've decided to give $200 to charity.

Here's my question for you: What charity should I give it to? I'd like to give it something that offsets the cuts to arts... But I may just go with the Actors' Fund of Canada.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Mr. Dion, when did you stop beating the economy?

Does no one else think this is a terribly phrased question: "If you were prime minister now, what would you have done about the economy and this crisis that Mr. Harper hasn't done?"

If I were Stephane Dion, I would have also asked for clarification.

Surely, it should be "If you were prime minister now, what would you be doing about the economy and this crisis that Mr. Harper hasn't been doing?" or "If you had been elected prime minister two years ago, what would you have done about the economy and this crisis that Mr. Harper hasn't done?"

Dion's response to the question as phrased - "If I had been prime minister 2½ years ago?" - actually shows that he has a better understanding of English grammar than CTV Halifax's Steve Murphy.

I can't believe this is what is being debated four days before the vote.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

On an infinitely less serious note...


I think this blog posted the cat back when I changed the title from "On the Fence" to "Off the Fence", but if it hadn't then this would be the clincher.

[Thanks to Matthew Hayday for sending this my way.]
Repatriate Omar Khadr now.

So say Lawyers Without Borders, the Canadian Bar Association, the Quebec Bar and many other legal organisations: "This is a clear case of disrespect for the rule of law." It is, it is, and I'm angered and ashamed by my country's leaders' timid inaction on this issue.

The Coalition to Repatriate Omar Khadr is currently holding a week of protests to draw attention to Khadr's continuing detention in Guantánamo Bay. Here's their statement of unity:
Canadian citizen Omar Khadr is the only Western national left in Guantánamo Bay. Khadr and fellow detainee Mohammed Jawad are believed to be the first child combatants ever to face prosecution of alleged "war crimes". Khadr was only 15 years old when he was captured by US forces in Afghanistan and later transported to the infamous US detention centre where he has now spent more than a quarter of his life. Khadr faces trial by US military commission. The military commissions fall so far short of international human rights standards that it is impossible for Khadr to receive a fair trial at Guantánamo.

Recently disclosed documents provide further details about the mistreatment that Khadr has experienced in Guantánamo Bay, where the US has been accused of systematically torturing and ill-treating detainees. Reports show that Khadr was subjected to extreme forms of sleep deprivation, a form of torture, including a practice known as the "frequent flyer program" in which he was woken every three hours and moved to a different cell for 24 hours a day over a three-week period. Khadr was also placed in solitary confinement for extended lengths of time.

Court documents also reveal that the Canadian government was aware of the abuse suffered by Khadr at the hands of US authorities, yet continued to assure the Canadian public that US assurances that he was being humanely treated were reliable.

We, the undersigned, ask that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Government of Canada:
• Protect the rights of all Canadian citizens detained abroad, including Omar Khadr.
• Respect Canadian and international law that guarantees the presumption of innocence, due process and protection against torture and other cruel treatment.
• Request the repatriation of Omar Khadr from Guantánamo Bay, and work with US authorities to return him to Canada without further delay.
• Guarantee that Omar Khadr be fairly tried in an open civilian court, should admissible evidence warrant prosecution.
• Provide the necessary resources for Omar Khadr's rehabilitation and reintegration into Canadian society.
Nothing really to add, except I was glad to see my local MP, Olivia Chow, out at the protest at the US Consulate today.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Election art 4

Stephane Dion
Originally uploaded by uncascrooge
Pop Montreal and The Dears piggyback on the election. Artist Jack Dylan explains his decision to Obamafy Stephane Dion on his blog:

"Are we about to enter into four years of a Conservative Canada because A: Stephen Dion looks like a “dork”. And B: Because We’re all too busy dreaming about Barack to care? The cause to make Dion dynamic, sexy, Obama-esque may be hopeless. But isn’t he our only hope? The “Canadian Political Thriller” is an oxymoron perhaps, but maybe its time for us to look beyond image, and start thinking about what’s best for our country, regardless of how boring the answer may seem."

Election art 3

Jack and Stephen
Originally uploaded by uncascrooge
Pop Montreal piggybacks on the election.

Election art 2

Googly Thomas Mulcair
Originally uploaded by uncascrooge
Thomas Mulcair gets the Googly treatment.

Election art 1

Googly Marcela Valdivia
Originally uploaded by uncascrooge
Marcela Valdivia gets Googly eyes.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Whoa... I have the option of voting for Chester Brown?


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Things I don't care about.

Puffin poop.

Gerry Ritz's stupid jokes.

Ripped-off speeches.

Julie Couilliard. Especially Julie Couillard.

I suspect many other Canadians feel like I do, so you'd better not focus on these inconsequential trivialities tonight, Party Leaders Who Are Not Harper Especially the Liberal One. I can't believe, PLWANHETLO, that you have me managed to make me feel sympathy for the Conservatives!

Please, what a waste of time when there are important issues to debate like:

1. The economy. On the whole, I'm interested in a party that is fiscally responsible. There are many ways to be fiscally irresponsible - one of the most popular ways so-called conservative parties do it is to cut taxes while increasing spending as the possibility of a global recession looms.

2. Respect for all Canadians. We can disagree about which government programs are wasteful and which are important. But cynically pitting some Canadians against other Canadians for electoral gain - that's not leadership I can get behind.

3. Omar Khadr. How can we stand up for Canada if we don't stand up for Canadians, especially those who are not yet adults? (Or, rather, who weren't yet adults.) Yes, even those who belong to families we may not be particularly fond of.

These are what I want to hear the leaders talk about tonight. These are the issues that have led me to decide not to vote Conservative in this election. My vote is otherwise up for grabs. I don't vote strategically and neither do the majority of Canadians.
Tell your boyfriend hold your jar...

... and dance wiv me.

Diggin' it.