The Greatest Canadian

douglas4.jpgHow do I love Canada? Oh, let me count the ways! But certainly one of them is that the nation has declared Tommy Douglas, an unabashed socialist, as “The Greatest Canadian.”

Tommy Douglas’s legacy as a social policy innovator lives on. Social welfare, universal Medicare, old age pensions and mothers’ allowances — Douglas helped keep these ideas, and many more, watching as more established political parties eventually came to accept these once-radical ideas as their own.

Not only did the more mainstream parties accept his ideas, but also Canadians as a whole have, in less than a generation, come to view universal health care in particular as a Canadian birthright.

And the day after the declaration, one of the most right-wing American presidents in history comes avisiting. You can beat a contrast like that.

It should be noted that the Top 10 list has been met with a great deal of criticism. The fact Don Cherry made it to the top 10 is beyond laughable. Also, it didn’t go unnoticed that all of the top 10 were (a) white and (b) male, seven of which dead. However, I think the final top 3 are a good reflection of Canadian views and values: the first (Douglas) has shaped our view of life in Canada; the second (Fox) was a truly inspiring hero, and the third (Trudeau), with his flair and sophistication, was what many Canadians wished they were.

Hurray! A Quiet Non Christmas!

You know, I can’t tell you how happy I am about the fact I have absolutely no plans for Christmas this year. You’ll recall that, in years past, I would have to go to Moncton for the sake of my parents. I love ’em to pieces, but I’ve long viewed Christmas as a downtime to be resented.

But this year is different. With my father having passed away last March, my sister decided it would be better if Mom didn’t spend Christmas in Moncton this year and thus convinced her to go to Ottawa. What’s more, my sister has warned her little clan that given that she has convinced “Grand-maman” to join them, my sister will be having a réveillon and everything just like Mom used to do when we were young. That’s good because Mom still likes Christmas, the highlight of which is invariably seeing kids opening their gifts. When we were kids, the family’s finances were tight but we would never have guessed, for Mom had a way of wrapping gifts in such a way that there seemed to be tons and tons of gifts under the tree on December 24th. And something about going to mass at midnight — when midnight mass was still held at midnight — was simply magical …although that could have been because, as a kid, I knew the opening of the gifts would happen immediately afterwards, followed by a feast of tourtière, sandwiches and bûche de Noël.

No, I can’t say that my memories of Christmas as a child are bad. Quite the opposite. But now the thought of spending a quiet Christmas alone, unobliged in any way, is striking me as a most delicious prospect. The Queen of Sheba has invited me to spend Christmas with her brood, but I’ve already indicated that I’m thinking about taking a pass — nothing personal. I just want to be alone, left alone, and that’s okay. My sister told me as we were driving from Halifax to Moncton a month ago that, having had such Christmases herself, she understood precisely where I’m coming from. The trick, I guess, is that I don’t mind my own company. So this year I’m poised to have the kind of non Christmas I’ve longed for. All I’ll have to do is make sure BeeGoddessM‘s Beau the Cat doesn’t starve while her mom abandons her… 😛

Metamorphoses

The Theatre Department within which BeeGoddessM works is presenting Metamorphoses this week. The BeeGoddess maintains the department’s website (mostly with TextStyleM, of course!) and has taken and posted these amazing pictures of the rehearsal and the building of the set. Check it out: I think it’s going to be an excellent production. And if you’re in the Halifax area, you should definitely consider seeing this play.

Make a Geek Happy

The first standards-complaint TextStyleM-driven website is going to go live on or around December 1st, a full month ahead of schedule, and it seems from the comments that have come in that the client’s impressed with the new site and the fact it got put together so quickly.

Promise low, deliver high. I’m glad it has made the client happy, for I’m happy, too.

I Should Be Honoured, but I’m Not

Shortly after George W. Bush won the presidential election in the United States in early November, Canada’s Prime Minister Martin called him to offer his congratulations. The Canadian media was in a buzz, for apparently Martin had invited Bush for a visit, and Bush tentatively accepted. About two weeks later it was made official: Bush was coming for a formal visit to Ottawa on November 30 and December 1.

And then the shocker came last Wednesday: He will also be swinging by Halifax on his way out, along with Colin Powell (I can abide him somewhat) and Condoleezza Rice (she makes me want to gag). Officially he’s expected to give a speech to thank Atlantic Canadians for their hospitality when all flights were grounded on September 11, 2001. Indeed, our geographical location on the northwestern edge of the Atlantic made us the closest and most logical place to land in a hurry.

But there was quite a bit of flap shortly afterwards, for when George “Don’t Forget Poland” Bush listed countries he wished to thank for their support in the aftermath of that horrible day, he missed Canada. When this was pointed out, Canadians were made to feel that they were being silly once again. Why thank people whom we consider family, damage controllers tried to say; the gratitude is implied. Then in the winter of 2003 came the coup de grâce that put a chill on Canada/US relations: the announcement by lame-duck Prime Minister Chrétien that, in keeping with the opinion of the majority, Canada would not join military intervention in Iraq.

Now comes the official thank you for our hospitality from Mr. Bush, more than three years late. As you can imagine, few of us here are impressed.

In fact, as with most places Bush goes, protests are brewing. It’ll be interesting to see how that’ll work out, as those who surround and protect him have a way of shielding him from such protests. By no means am I saying that he should be put in harm’s way while he’s here, if only because I don’t want quiet little Halifax, Nova Scotia, to become infamous in American history. But I do find it discouraging that he’s not made to see how few are those who think very much of him and his administration’s policies, thereby showing him that the “politcal capital” he believes he has is not as great as he deludes himself into thinking. Moreover, I look forward to seeing the extent to which Canadians’ right to protest will be curtailed during the visit of an reviled American president.

But then, who am I but a commie pinko Canadian.