The Sky Is Falling

Well perhaps not the sky, but possibly Canada’s minority government, and it’s pulling down with it the server on which aMMusing is hosted. Therefore I’m writing this entry within my e-mail program, and I’ll post it when all the server’s services are back up.

I’m simply amazed at how this so-called scandal is still getting so much milage. Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not exactly thrilled that the federal Liberals pissed away $100 million by giving it to Liberal-friendly Quebec advertising firms, ostensibly to promote Canadian unity but, in fact, for doing nothing except grease the hands of big-time party supporters. Despite this and the gun registry boondoggle — the $2 million project that turned into a $1 billion project — Canada’s finances are still deeply in the black and our economy is still one of the strongest among western industrialized countries. Some would argue, and I wouldn’t dispute, that the Liberals’ cleaning up of the federal finances was done at the expense of our beloved health care system, among other things. However, in 2005, Canada is in a much better position to rebuild the social programs its citizens hold dear than it was when the (then) Progressive Conservatives were spectacularly turfed out of office in 1993.

I believe the motives behind the sponsorship program were good. After the 1995 Quebec referendum, the federal Liberals rightly came under heavy fire for almost losing the country. Consequently, raising Canada’s profile in Quebec by showing how it supports cultural and athletic activities was not entirely a bad idea. Of course, as taxpayers, we deserved to receive real products and services for every dollar spent through this program …and that’s not what happened. But the whole thing would be much more egregious if the country’s overall finances looked anything like the United States’, which went from a comfortable surplus to a mind-boggling record deficit since George W. Bush took office in January 2001. In the end, the Gomery Inquiry charged to study the “scandal” will have cost Canadians more than the $100 million that have been misspent.

I’m not convinced that the Conservatives, who are the driving force fanning the fire of this “scandal,” have their finger on the pulse of ordinary Canadians, whom I doubt are tremendously more pissed off than I am about this issue. Canadians don’t want another election less than a year after the last one, especially not over an issue that has been blown out of proportion. The problem, however, is that a facile analysis might lead a small number of voters — small but significant enough to tip the balance — to conclude that perhaps it’s time to end 12 years of Liberal rule and give the “other guys” a chance — and the only viable alternative to avoid another minority government that could also fall within a year is to elect the Conservatives. This kind of shallow thinking is profoundly disturbing not only because Canadian Conservatives have notoriously never delivered sustainable fiscal conservatism, but also because now they carry a social agenda that would set us back into the early twentieth century.

The things Canadians have come to treasure most have come from centrist governments butteressed by a leftist opposition. The most recent legacy of Conservatives have been the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA), which have either hurt or have had negligeable effects on ordinary Canadian citizens. Of course, if I had my druthers, we’d wake up the morning after the next election with a NDP government, but that’s about as realistic as my going to bed tonight and wishing that I’ll wake up to find I have a 10-inch penis. It just ain’t gonna happen.

Attending the Feast

“On Thursday, Mr. L died,” the priest told those of us gathered at the funeral service, “and as we speak, John Paul is dying.” Pausing a few moments to reflect, he continued, “I’m sure a wonderous feast is being prepared in Heaven to receive John Paul, and a very special friend has been invited to attend this feast for him. That special guest, of course, is Mr. L.”

I am not religious and I don’t believe in the priest’s god. But I thought that was the most gracious and comforting thing he could have said about The Quad‘s father. And oddly appropriate in reference to Mr. L: “Some things were absolute with Dad,” the Quad said in his eulogy to his father. “You had to be crazy not to eat lunch at precisely noon and have supper any later than 5 o’clock.” He continued: “Voting Liberal was always, always a very good thing. And the Montreal Canadiens are the best hockey team on Earth.”

I spent time after the funeral with my mother, and we couldn’t help but talk of my own father — about how it’s hard to believe he’s been gone more than a year now; about how she can still see him in her mind’s eye, sitting in the rocking chair in the kitchen, rubbing his chest at the esophagus with clear discomfort registering on his face but an inability to put his ailment into words; about how, when she recalls him thus, she leaves the house to run a few errands to forget this memory and the powerlessness she felt; about how it had been an ordeal for me to be allowed to deliver the eulogy to my father and how I will bring that incident to my own grave, but how, fortunately, it doesn’t seem like there was any issue for the Quad.

I left the family homestead around 3:30, stopping first for gas and then coffee from Tim Horton’s at King and St. George, across from the convent. John Paul hadn’t died yet when I left, but standing outside the Tim’s for a cigarette before getting on the road, I heard church bells ringing. Thus I knew that once I’d get into my car, the CBC would announce that his long agony was finally over.


That’s the graffiti someone wrote on the side of an overpass on the Trans-Canada Highway near Memramcook as I was driving back to Halifax, listening to the CBC. Oddly enough, despite the fact I was coming back from a funeral and that the Pope had just died, I thought that no graffiti could have been more serendipitous. Indeed, we should everyday hold a joyous feast to celebrate those we love, and to honour those we have loved and will forever love. And while I am not particularly grieved by John Paul’s departure, I do concur with Kirsten in respecting his consistency, for even though I sharply disagreed with many of his stances, I know that his deepest beliefs stemmed from his love of and for life.