My Favorite new Phrase

Since I had a double dose of nation-birfday celebrations this week (see here and here), I was looking into the background of the Canadian National Anthem. There was a debate recently in the Globe and Mail whether the word God should be kept in the anthem. The wiki on the song is here. It’s originally French (and therefore much more explicitly Catholic Christian with a reference to lifting swords and the cross!!!) and then an English version was penned in 1908. Not a translation of the French text. The original English version didn’t have God in it, then God was later added (by the “secular” PM Pierre Trudeau). If you read the lone dissenting voice (for exclusion of God from the song), he’s a pretty raging secularist pomo, so doesn’t help his case too much. The others make points that the majority of the population believes in God in a non-specific/non-confessional manner, so it’s not a really big deal (the French version probably deserves a tweaking).

Anyway, so I’m reading through the history and there are a few extra stanzas that are never really sung. And then this from the second stanza:

O Canada! Where pines and maples grow,
Great prairies spread and Lordly rivers flow!
How dear to us thy broad domain,
From East to Western sea!
The land of hope for all who toil,
The true North strong and free!
God keep our land, glorious and free.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!

Now the “where pines and maples” is quaint and cutely Canadian. But “Lordly Rivers Flow.” How fantastic is that–it just rolls right off the tongue. So Lordly Rivers Flow has officially become my new favorite thing to say.

Here is a photo of one of said lordly rivers (the Columbia in BC):

Update I: Is the “true” in true North a shot at Vikings/Scandinavians?  Waddup wit dat?

Published in: on July 5, 2008 at 8:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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Studying Canada

I think correlated with the events described in the previous post, I am beginning a deeper study of Canada–history, politics, and culture. Part of a process of entering into the culture. It’s been 3 years now (more or less) of living here, and I’m just now beginning to feel like I want to understand the land, hear its deeper whispers and so on.

The books I’m reading, for anyone interested:

The Illustrated History of Canada (ed., Craig Brown)
First Nations of Canada (Olive Patricia Dickason)
The Polite Revolution: Perfecting the Canadian Dream (John Ibbitson)

The first would be a so-called dead white man’s history.  The second a history of the thousands of years prior to European contact (which actually began in 1000 with the Vikings but nobody is ever taught about then in North American schools).  And the last a current political outlook with some pretty biting criticism.

And probably after the honeymoon, a book by the baddest-ass named person on the planet:

Lloyd Axworthy.  (Foreign Policy).

Here’s a website with some basics on Canadian history.  .

[Photo: Canadian Coat of Arms]

Published in: on April 30, 2008 at 7:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Life and Death in Kandahar

A very good (and tragic) documentary on a Canadian military hospital in Afghanistan.  From the CBC’s Fifth Estate (the CBC’s “Frontline” if you will).

Warning:  Serious graphic imagery–especially of wounded children.

Published in: on April 21, 2008 at 10:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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protest from the origin

From the Globe and Mail:

Native leaders are warning the 2010 Winter Olympics will be marked by bridge blockades, airport disruptions and Internet campaigns if they don’t see significant progress on aboriginal poverty and land claims by the time the world turns its attention to the Vancouver-area Games.

B.C. native leaders are drafting plans with an escalating scenario of options, beginning with peaceful pamphleteering and increasing to more disruptive tactics.

They are looking to the protests of China on-going as precedent.

Then this from Phil Fontaine National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations:

“The situation here is compelling enough to convince Canadians that while it is okay and right for them to express outrage with the Chinese government’s position against Tibet and the Tibetans, they should be just as outraged, if not more so, about our situation here,” Mr. Fontaine said.

Having completed now a second paper on this topic, been to a number of discussions (though by no means anything approaching real understanding analytically or emotionally) the thing that strikes me as true about what Phil is saying is how out of touch and in denial Canadians are about the very high levels of racism in this country.  In Vancouver it is directed against Asians and Aboriginal peoples.

Now this is slightly different though related I would say to Brother Bergen’s post on whether the government is “coddling” minorities.

Namely what is not allowed to be discussed in public in PC culture is racist stuff (which can get you in trouble with the law here) and how racist people actually are.  It rubs both ways.

The discussion needs to make a separation between discrimination which the government has to do 0something about (and which is wrong) and racism–which has to be dealt with by public debate and showing people’s racism to be the ugly vile thing it is.

In terms of discrimination relative to the aboriginal issue (which is different than the new immigrant issue Bergen is discussing)–the history is easily readable and still on-going.  Part of the reason Fontaine points out that Canadians so easily protest for Tibet is because it’s free.  It doesn’t really cost them anything.  To deal with aboriginal issues would bring it back to home and to the fact that all of us are here profiting off the illegal seizure of traditional lands, built on lies, baked in children forced to convert from their “primitiveness” to “civilization” and now having de-colonized (supposedly) since the 60s (but not really) the perpetuation of a colonial mindset.  And that everyone participates in the effects and structures of that reality–myself included now as an American.  And therefore will not guilty, implicated and responsible.

Sorrow that such took place was expressed by the government (though not much in the actual way of dealing with it), but not responsibility or a full-throated apology–nor again actually working to undo the injustice of the situation.

That would be a discussion of discrimination.  Structural discrimination.

The fact that people are racists (everybody is racist–racism is the natural human developmental cycle) and hold racist views has to be brought out and discussed in public.  But it can’t be forced by a government institution and is prevented by a PC-multicultural mindset that does not allow any public airing of supposedly controversial issues.  One strike and you’re out policy.

So no one speaks.  Only those from within said communities which then looks like “bitching” and leaves the mainstream communities asking when will they stop their whining.  If they hate this country so much why don’t they leave is heard–although with the aboriginal populations that doesn’t quite work.

But let’s just get to the nitty gritty here.  What rules is money and image/power.  And the issue of aboriginal claims strikes at both.   Massive effort can easily be called upon to garner the Olympics because money will be made–by a few that is.  The city overall will likely lose money as most cities do from Olympics.  [If we’re lucky we’ll get some really ugly architecture out of it for perpetuity :)] But something like this will not be invested because there’s no coin to be garnered from it.

If people don’t see what is going on, don’t repent, don’t in the heart want it differently, it doesn’t and won’t happen.  On this scale, the discrimination scale.  No government can make you moral.  It is an agent of those who have created the social contract to which the government responds.  And in this country (not dissimilar from the US) the social contract is writ with this history of death.  Its shadow does not cover the whole of the contract, but is not insignificant either.

Published in: on April 18, 2008 at 8:21 pm  Comments (1)  
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Canada’s Soft Power

Stronger than the US’ weak-kneed response to Saudi dictatorship?:

The North American media have widely publicized the case of the Saudi Arabian woman sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in prison. Her “crime” was being gang-raped by seven Saudi men, and then having the gall to go to the press. This is clearly one of the most blatant violations of human rights imaginable by a government against one of its own citizens.

The Canadian government says it will lodge a formal protest with the Saudis, and Josee Verner, the Canadian minister responsible for the status of women, has rightly denounced the Saudi court ruling as “barbaric.”

The United States, on the other hand, has thus far offered a shamefully tepid response, not wanting to offend our authoritarian ally in the “war on terror” and hoping to entice the Saudis to attend the Annapolis Arab-Israeli peace summit. Sounding more like an apologist for the Saudis than a spokesman for the United States, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack observed, “This is a part of a judicial procedure overseas in the court of a sovereign country.” He then gave the mildest possible rebuke to the Saudis: “That said, most would find this relatively astonishing that something like this happens.”

The author’s (Pierre Atlas) analysis:

Canada has long been held in high esteem internationally. While many people around the world have a love-hate relationship with the United States, Canada tends to inspire only positive feelings. This is in part because Canada never had the burden of superpower responsibilities during the Cold War and, thanks to the American nuclear umbrella, it was able to “free ride” on security and devote much of its resources and attention to “non-strategic” global issues like international humanitarian law, peacekeeping, and development in the Third World. Rather than focusing inward, Canada long ago made the deliberate choice to pursue its values internationally, under both Tory and Liberal governments.

The widening gap, under President Bush’s tenure, between America’s own laudable values and its actions has undermined our international standing. This in turn handicaps any efforts to win hearts and minds in the “war on terror.” Perhaps it is time that the United States takes a few pages from Canada’s playbook. America, and the world, would be the better for it.

Published in: on November 24, 2007 at 11:02 am  Comments (1)  
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