Thursday, August 21, 2014

Justin Calling

Justin Calling to Albertan towns

Now get prepared for the writ to come down

Justin Calling to the oilsands

Forget about Pierre and his Energy plans

Justin Calling, now look here to us

The new Trudeaumania is on the up'n'up

Mulcair isn't catching

Harper's on the way out

The Cons are corrupted

The Greens got no clout

A BQ error, leaves the left in the clear

And Justin is calling and I'll...

Go for the winner!

Justin calling, yes, I was there, too

An' you know what they said? Well, some of it was true!

Justin calling to the gun registry arm

Forget it brother, that's a horse that's long gone!

Justin calling to the zombies of Ignatieff

Quit bitchin' bout, those (true) ads all negative

Justin calling, and I don't want to flout

But while you were sulking, I glad-handed about

Justin calling, see we ain't getting high

But there's taxes to be raised from making it legalized

Mulcair just ain't catching

Harper's on the way out

The Cons are corrupted

The Greens got no clout

A BQ error, leaves the left in the clear

And Justin is calling and I'll...

Go for the winner!

Justin calling, yes, I got swept up too

And you know what they said? Sacha's onboard too!

Justin calling through the Mop & Pail bile

After all this, won't you give me a smile?

Justin calling

I never hoped so much, so much so much!

- 30 -

Sunday, May 25, 2014

On Stephen Harper's texticles

It's been a while.

Since my last post, hola! -- not one but TWO Quebec elections ago, much has changed for Scott in Montreal. The love of my life gave birth to our beautiful (and dare I say, with all modesty, brilliantly telepathic) little girl. That was ten months ago today! And wow, what an amazing thing it is to see a fresh little human being joyously joining three siblings on her mother's side together with two younger ones on mine.

In the midst of that, I have blogged not.

Suffice it to say, Peevey Stevie has been his erstwhile Galacticly Empirical self, all the while supplying the cosmos with little other vision than a long-awaited book about his take on the sport of hockey (mega-yawn), which ought to provide all the fodder needed for Mulcair and Trudeau to lay waste with him in the next election campaign; excepting how that electoral strategy only works in a world twenty or thirty years in the past, when the litmus test of our political leaders still lay in the realm of their abilities to commandeer the written form for inspiration. But let's not forget how video killed the radio star, only to find itself decisively slayed by apps like Sugar Crush. How far did our fearless leader get without resorting to paying or getting FB help, I wonder?


Oh there is so much else worthy of commentary. As you all should know, I cut my blogging teeth railing against Harper and virtually every move he has made as Prime Minister. I have been critical of all the federal parties and their lackluster leadership over the course of the past ten years (but with extra elbow-grease applied to the Conservatives and Québec separatists here and there). I once championed Elizabeth May, and even worked for Ingrid Hein, the GPC candidate running against Justin Trudeau in Papineau riding back in 2008. I think I voted for him though, because it was projected to be tight between him and the BloQuébecois candidate at the time, and I was not keen on being party to splitting the anti-separatist vote.

When I voted for Trudeau again in 2010, I told my sons it was like voting for Spiderman, with Harper being Dr. Doom. "Why would anybody vote for Dr. Doom?" my eldest asked. "Dr. Doom," I said, "has convinced them that HE is Spiderman!"

"But he's not!" my son said, all a-furrow of brow.

"No," I said. "But that is how the Dr. Dooms of the world work." They tell lies that even their own mothers would believe, as convincingly as if they were just describing the colour of the sky.

My other son, at the age of six, boldly declared that he hates Stephen Harper, and wishes for bad things to come to his "texticles."

That's my boy.

- 30 -

BTW: I am calling Habs in 6 vs. NYR

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Cross is Boss: Marois 1, Frontwoodsers 0

As a proud fifth-generation anglo Québecker de souche, properly baptised by the Plymouth Trinity United Church of Sherbrooke, I must take a moment here to salute Parti-Québecois leader Pauline Marois for her bold statement pledging to keep my belle province the rightful Backwoods capital of North America.

Because here in Quebec, backwoods is where it's at. And to underline that, Marois spent time on the campaign trail today defending her party's proposal to secularize the province's civil servants' appearance, lest it offend the non-believers of whatever faith is projected by the bearer's attire (sacred or not).

Unless, of course, the bearer's faith happens to be Christianity (the "good", or at least, "officially-sanctioned" faith, apparently).

Bravo, I say. I mean, I don't know about you, but when I go down to the S.A.A.Q. to renew my driver's license, the last thing I want to see is a fully-bilingual, smiling civil servant wearing a Scottish kilt. I don't want to think about what's behind that Sporran, thank you very much. There is nothing Catholic about the Scots, after all.

And it's not just them, but those snooty Saudi-Arabian immigrant women - you know, the ones who aren't even allowed to drive in their country of origin - but when they come here to pursue a better life pursuant to the United Nations declaration of Universal Human Rights, think they can go on following their Muslim faith and shit anyway. I mean, come on!

And I suppose there are other creeds with their ceremonial daggers and headscarves and other horrifyingly provocative faith-based attire. I just shudder to think. I mean, where did these Muslim people get the idea to have their women-folk cover up their hair with cloth anyway?

It's just so ...barbaric. I mean, really, how dare these carefully selected immigrants wear their headscarves and whatnot once they arrive here, just like they did their whole lives in their some-such places of origin? Why can't they understand they can never become a true Québecois until they completely lay themselves down and take the holy ghost up the wazoo like the rest of us all did from the time ol' Samuel de Champlain put his two fingers together in 1609 and whistled across the pond for La Vieille France to fork over a few hundred God-fearing Filles du Roi (yowza!).

Now that, my friends, was an inspired immigration policy. See, this is why it's so important to wrest that from Ottawa. Oh, wait, I suppose that's already happened. Shhh! Don't tell them that until AFTER the election.


Seriously, any Péquiste with the slightest bit of self-respect - or respect for their visionary founder, Rene Levesque, and his strong sense of democracy - should be voting for either Solidarité Québec, or Option Québec. The PQ has gone so Backwoods, the only sound their pollsters will hear is the distinctive August buzz of mosquitoes and blackflies.

Friday, June 29, 2012

You Fucking Fucktard, Stephen Harper, Ignoramous of the Millenium (and more)

Yeah, crude as this headline is, I have a right to say that. And it doesn't matter a whit if the federal government, now officially named the "Harper Government" (retch), is your employer and doesn't like it.

What a disgusting abuse of power, disregard for our basic rights, peevishly narcissistic reactionary tinpotistic Dear-Leaderist, and overall un-Canadianly knee-jerk thin-skinistically Harperesque mega-crappy piece of utter yuckitude at which this omminously points.

Not to overstate matters, but seriously! My head is spinning here. Just a few months ago, my Prime Minister (the primest, certainly) was singing sweet little songs about all of us being all cool about ourselves and all, even if we liked people of our own sex better than the opposite.

Yeah, those were the days!

The kid in me who first understood politics in 1982 when the Queen signed some constitutional thingamabobby that everyone made such a big deal about, is completely unimpressed.

I was once a boss, as a McDonald's manager. Mr. Harper? Let me tell you something: If your employees are upset to the extent they go out and get pins printed with your name on them, saying you hate them - HATE THEM - and then they go and wear them on the job, that should tell you something.

I'll say it again: (all caps now) THAT SHOULD TELL YOU SOMETHING



Basically: You suck, and you are making their lives miserable and most of all, when they TRIED to TELL YOU THIS, THEY GOT NOWHERE!!


Get it? Look, this isn't the first time. Yes folks: Stephen Harper is less emotionally developed than your average 4-year old. And he has a Putinesque iron fist on our country. Please hate me too.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Inconvenient Truth about Thomas Mulcair's "Four-Car" Garage Swiftboating

So my dad and "Tom" (Thomas Mulcair) met up at Briarwood Park in Beaconsfield the other day.

Yeah, really. Two grandfathers laughing it up with a couple of toddlers. They didn't know each other beforehand, but my dad can still spot a pol with a national profile, and the wily salesman that he is, he was none too shy about starting up a conversation.

I had no idea the leader of the Opposition was my dad's neighbour, nor that he had long-since been, for roughly 30 years, since about the time we ourselves moved there from Sherbrooke.

Will wonders never cease? I wanted to know: What street does he live on? Beaconsfield Blvd? The ritzy Hyde Park perhaps? No, no, probably the more laid-back hippie-wetdream champagne-socialist Kirkwood Avenue?

"Lynwood, I think," was my dad's reply.



I defy anyone to find a more pedestrian, unpretentious, straight-up homey suburban road in this entire country than Lynwood Drive in Beaconsfield, Quebec. Go ahead and Google-map it if you don't believe me.

So interestingly, I was out visiting my folks just the day after learning of this, bringing my own two kids and upping the grandkid quotient in hopes of divining a follow-up visit from the potential next Prime Minister of What We Hope Will Still Be Somewhat Recognizable as Canada After The Harpercons Have Had Their Way.

I reckon this was about the same time this despicable smear job was being prepared for print, replete with skillfully photoshopped pic of a "four-car" garage (nobody could own a house with that much garage space unless they were psychotically trying to guzzle enough tarsands-derived gasoline to ...insert maniacal slobbering laugh... bloody-well guarantee climate change hell for all the misbegotten creatures of the Earth, of course).

Yeah, Dr. Evil has nothing on our Tom.

For what it's worth, I am not a big fan of Mr. Mulcair, although he is a darn sight better than probably 90% of the people you might find yourself hemming and hawing over on Election Day.

Anyway, on my way down to visit my folks last Sunday, I decided to venture down Lynwood Drive, perhaps the only road in that southwest sector of Beaconsfield where I never once took up delivery of the Gazette in the late 1980s.

I just wanted to see which was the nicest house on that street, the kind of house a man of his stature might deem worthy of himself to have as his domicile. I have to say, I went right past 109, purportedly Mulcair's address, without even considering it, it was so ordinary.

What does this tell us? That Mulcair owns perhaps the middlest of middle-class cottages, while the homes (former and present) of such Canadian political luminaries as Pierre-Elliot Trudeau (Town of Mount Royal) and Brian Mulroney and Jean Charest (Westmount, both) are among the poshest of posh to be found on the island Jacques Cartier named Ville-Marie over 350 years ago?

Big whoop.

And with Warren Kinsella piling on pathetically, (complain about something real, Warren, okay?) all I can say is that my respect for Mulcair has just shot up ten-fold.

And as for that "four-car" garage? Take heart Tom, because if that's the best they can do, they got nothin'.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Paint It, Red

But the sound wasn't sad!
Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn't be so!
But it WAS merry! VERY!

Reports are the casserole protests continued tonight. Thousands marching up St-Laurent Blvd earlier this fine evening. Good for them. "That's the spirit," as my eight-year-old son likes to say.

You know, for months I was reluctant to get behind this particular student-led movement. It really left a bad taste in my mouth every time I heard about "striking" students thwarting others from attending classes. And like many others I spoke with, "strike" (or its french equivalent, "grève", rhymes with Bev) seemed a misnomer. If anything, these guys were boycotting their classes, or at the very least, "protesting". But calling it a strike seemed disingenuous.

I am however, a tolerant Canadian, so I did not quibble with them throwing bricks on subway tracks to get attention when the hardline Quebec Liberal government of Jean Charest refused to even meet with them and hear their grievances. It was not very becoming of Charest, but then again, he is a pompous ass, and when you knowingly elect a pompous ass, you have to expect to live with that devil you knew and know. He was, after all, merely a young pup when learning the tricks of the trade within Mulroney's cabinet.

But once he had had enough of these unwavering protesters, his pomposity grew to such outbound proportions with his Bill 78 that I knew in a heartbeat that rather than making a Swift, Decisive, Strong Leader decision, he had instead impetuously shat the provincial bed.

I look on it now as my Grinch moment. It awakened me.

There I was, hand cocked to ear, sitting atop Mount Crumpet with all the self-righteousness of the many people like me, feeling unlawfully hindered from wending our little ways through the workings of life to get to our woefully underpaid jobs. I was fully (gosh, naively) expecting to hear the mea culpas from CLASSE spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois and the others. And like all those who'd poo-pooed the movement and quietly categorized them as uber-brats, I had expected them to back down and accept that they were about to be firmly screwed again. The way I got screwed. The way we all have been getting screwed by the untenable but nonetheless well-embraced mantra of neo-liberalism that doesn't know anything other than sucking every ounce of life from the 99.9% to feed the self-important point-0-one.

But this generation of students? Nuh-uh. They wouldn't - and won't - have any of it, even though Bill 78 meant these students had just had their whole semesters scuppered.

But just like the Whos in Whoville who had been robbed of all their worldly possessions, the "entitled" young buggers came right back out into the commons anyway. They came out in numbers much greater than what wept for Maurice Richard's passing, and they sang their protest song on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012. Over a hundred thousand people marched in bold defiance of a law that so obviously contravenes our utmost rights (bestowed by the people to those that rule us, remember, not the other way around), even the dimmest of voters could not help but see it.

We all heard them; me from the 8th floor office on de Maisonneuve Blvd where I earn subsistence wages for an American company that constantly insists none of us may take a sick day without later furnishing a Doctor's note, never mind that it's against Quebec law to ask for that for absences of less than three days.

I went down to the street on my break and watched the marchers head down Peel Street. They were joyously defiant. They had all the violence of a John Lennon or Ghandi.

They were on the right side of history, I figured.

For what I had heretofore failed to see was that the tuition increase wasn't all they were protesting. The increase, or "Hausse" was more like the straw that broke the camel's back - the camel that the mass media was always looking beyond because it figured nobody cared so much about camels as about Kardashians. And if it's sad that they are right in that assumption, it's also true that they had a big hand in making it so.

I guess I didn't relate because my own experience in university was that tuition kept going up each year, but my parents (what foresight!) had been saving for me and my sister since we were tots to make sure we had money to get a degree. And they had expected it to be a lot more expensive than it turned out to be.

My first year at Concordia University was also the last year of a long-standing tuition fee freeze (1988), and my contract for a full year's study, including extra administrative costs, was all of $750. After that, there was books and living expenses of course. And I did my bit. I toiled unrewarded as a volunteer student journalist; I paid my way and switched to studying part-time once the $350-a-year increases kicked-in in 1989, working minimum wage at McDonald's - a real Flaherty job if ever there was one.

Since graduation, I have found the market for my writing, my reporting, indeed the sum of my skills learned within the two departments of Journalism and Communications, to be drier than a James Bond martini. The jobs just haven't been there, and when they were, I jumped at them, only to find myself jammed-up with numerous others, like the hammers of an old manual typewriter all struck at once, with none eventually hitting the ribbon, but left with no recourse save full retreat.

I am 43 years old, with two dependants and an ex-wife. I had to start over last year, grateful as hell to find employment that provides good family benefits and a measure of security (not maternity-leave replacement or fixed-term contract work, but permanent, full-time with vacation), despite the fact it pays less than I made twelve years ago as a McDonald's manager.

So if the greater message is that this society is just not providing opportunity for the average Joe and Josephine, yeah, I get it.

And as someone who is squarely in the red, living in a tiny apartment with no money to go on vacations and unable to set aside anything for my kids' education, let alone my own retirement (which I imagine won't come before I am 70, if not 67 - unlike the tsk-tsk-ing well-heeled Boomer generation that is so disgusted by all this protesting), you bet I get it. Even Arcade Fire and Mick Jagger get it.

So I am with you. Sorry I wasn't listening earlier. That's what happens when you're working for the clampdown. I always loved that song. Now I've lived it.

Not the way I'd hoped.

*Photo: thanks, Aly Neumann!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Québec Students: You're Coming Along

After school is over you're playing in the park
Don't be out too late, don't let it get too dark
They tell you not to hang around and learn what life's about
And grow up just like them, won't you let it work it out

As I type this, thousands of youth are out in the streets of Montreal, in defiance of a police decree set at 22h30 EDT that their protest tonight is illegal. They are ostensibly protesting the planned hikes of tuition fees set in the last Quebec budget by the tired and corrupt Liberal government headed by former Mulroney Conservative Jean Charest.

This Spring, they aren't out there looting after a professional hockey loss.

They aren't out there sitting in tents in a park like the Occupy movement.

They're rather mobile in fact, as if they well understand the difficulty for the police in hitting a moving target.

And they clearly aren't in any mood to negotiate.

As someone who watched in horror while the 2010 Toronto G20 summit devolved into a disgraceful showcase of police belligerence against peaceful protesters, I shudder to think of where this is all heading.

My question for CLASSE: was it ever really about tuition fee hikes? Or was that just an excuse to get the ball rolling on a push for revolutionary social change? And how many of your followers will follow as far as you want to take this?

In the context of a super-corrupt and tired Charest government, I have to think this is all becoming the biggest test of our social fabric since the '95 referendum.

- 30 -

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Just saw the english Mulcair ad

My reaction: Why is this man on my TV looking all psycho-eyed in a suit and trying to make nice with me?

As an anglo Quebecker, I really don't like the Sherbrooke resolution that got so many Bloq supporters to vote NDP. I consider that a classic and shameless sell-out move on the party's part.

I have a big problem with anyone kowtowing to the separatists, because their project is rooted in xenophobia, and my very existence on Québec soil is an irritant to many of them. Their vision of Québec has no place for me.

There's a reason Chretien passed the Clarity Act.

The NDP is a party replete with such short-sightedness, and I see no indication of a change of direction on their part. If anything, I imagine their next move will be to become more corporate-friendly (especially given the carefully rendered signals of this ad, wherein Mulcair is wearing a dark suit and situated in a board room).

I would hope the left-of-centre Liberals and the Greens could eventually merge with the NDP and get a real solid leftist alternative in place. Then maybe we could have a party that would feel strong enough they don't need to make such concessions. But I won't hold my breath.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

On Progressively Blooging

I return to blogging today because I understand there has been a disturbance in the Force.

It isn't right to say that we should consider whether or not a woman has control over her body. All this wondering aloud about "when life begins" is truly BS, coded talking points expunged from Great Amounts of Male-Dominance Seed Money collected from paranoid, depraved anti-social oddities of the human race that are as willing to jump aboard a ship of well-meaning fools as they are incapable of feeling the fit of their fellow fools' shoes.

It's a false argument: "where does life begin?"

I don't know and you don't know, and if there is one thing for certain, it's that outside of our cushy Canadian existence, where the sanctity of human life is held higher (if not nearly high enough for our humanitarian ideals), there are craploads of people elsewhere, whom we leave to suffer and die prematurely every time Bono snaps his fingers, while we arm their oppressors for our own profit - in order to enjoy such a high level of health and prosperity for ourselves. Within our borders. And not, so much, without.

So if you find yourself wringing your hands over the decision of a woman to excise the growth within herself before it becomes a viable human being for which she will be ultimately responsible, ask yourself what you are doing to alleviate the suffering of those who are already here and grasping for hope for any kind of life. Ask yourself if this is really the debate we need to engage in. Ask yourself why you feel you are progressive in your blogging.

There are those of us who have been here a spell, who await your answers.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Original Song #35: Skeleton Key

You're hiding out in the open
There's so much said in deeds unspoken
And I know you, and your inflections
Eyes aflutter, laughing stutter

I was walking
You were talking
And you were holding the key
I was walking
You were talking
And you were holding the key
The skeleton key to me

You told me you want to hold me
You say you've stopped it, you couldn't help it
And you know me, know how to snow me
I say I've got my pride
But I'm thinking about my "pride and joy"

I was walking...

How much can you put me through?
How much do you stand to lose?
How do you expect me to love you?
I can't even look at you
Not now, not now
Not now, not now
Not now, not now
Not now, not now

I was walking...

Friday, September 30, 2011

Original Song #34: Prime Meridian

Where're you gonna' start?
When're you gonna' get up?
How did you get home last night?
Well you can't remember names
You can't remember faces
You can't remember promises you broke

You don't know what you're doing
You don't know where to begin time
Time to find your own line
Your Greenwich

Well it's time to sit up straight
Time to calibrate yourself
To the world around you
You're groping for a line
Someplace to begin
We all have our own Prime Meridian

You washed ashore at Brighton
You got as far as Lewisham
You can't find your own line
Your Greenwich

You're dreaming if you think that'll do
You can't take responsibility

You're sinking without a trace
You've falling out of place
You're losing all your graces

You don't know what you're doing
You don't know where to begin time
Time to find your own line
Your Greenwich

You're dreaming if you think that'll do
You can't take responsibility
And I'm talking to me
You're running out of time
You've got to chart that line
You've got to compromise sometimes
And find your Greenwich Line

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Original Song #33: Keep

Things aren't always as they seem
Lives ripped apart tend to leave
Jagged edges
Better tread carefully
She's not quite the woman
You knew back when
Your naivety made you creative
Don't forget how

I was helpless when I fell out from under your wing
Used to tell you how you seemed to be an angel to me
Now you're thinking what you were thinking was the wrong thing and you know
It's time to think about what you should give
And what you should keep

Life's not meant to be a scream
Lucky if you get to dream
Enjoy it!
I know people who believe
Screwing others keeps the keel even
Looking out for themselves is the only thing
Don't forget how

I was helpless when I fell out from under your wing
Used to tell you how you seemed to be an angel to me
Now you're thinking what you were thinking was the wrong thing and you know
It's time to think about what you should give
And what you should keep


Thursday, September 08, 2011

Original Song #32: Papa Got Hisself a Job

Papa Got Hisself a Job

Come around kids, listen up good
(Papa’s got hisself a job)
I’ll take you to the movies, Christ we’ll go to the moon
(Papa’s got hisself a job)
So scuff them shoes, g’head and lose that toy
(Papa’s got hisself a job)
Don’t matter a whit what you done broke
‘Cause now papa’s got hisself a job

Papa’s got hisself a job, whoa
Papa’s got hisself a job
Sit up straight, and stiffen your jaw
Your papa’s got hisself a job

I know we ain’t lived near as sweet as your friends
(Papa’s been “between jobs”)
I know you’ve been dressed in them duds second-hand
(Papa was between jobs)
But I’m gonna work hard, I’ll work for the man
(Papa’s got to keep this job)
I’ll open an account for your educatin’
Sure hope I don’t get laid-off

Papa’s got hisself a job, whoa
Papa’s got hisself a job
Sit up straight, and stiffen your jaw
Your papa’s got hisself a job

Kids like you don’t fall from the sky
Kids like you fill your daddy with pride
You’ve gone without but you’ve smiled throughout
You’ll be proud of Daddy too, have no doubt

Remember that day I brought you to my office, son?
(Papa’s old job)
I showed you the view in the morning sun
(Papa had a real sweet job)
When you asked to go back, my face just dropped
(Papa’d lost his sweet, sweet job)
Well now grab your coat, ‘cause I’ll tell you what
Your Papa’s got a new job

Papa’s got hisself a job, whoa
Papa’s got a brand new job
Sit up straight, and stiffen your jaw
Your papa’s got hisself a job

- 30 -

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Original Song #31: Elizabeth


listen to the live Randboro demo

Her daddy always told her
If she was good, she'd do no wrong
Now somebody's sold her
On some cheap line from some cheap song

She ain't nobody's fool, she don't like the term "girl"
Everybody's over-protective in her world
She's well aware of what's bad for her, thank you very much
And she's not staying home tonight

She says she's got strong shoulders
But they're only so broad
She's standing on her own two feet
But the ground below them is soft

Trained to think on her own, but still told what to do
Callously stifled following other people's rules
Every double-standard is an inexcusable blight
And she's not coming home tonight

She slipped through the door next morning
A little too quickly to not let on
She's been trying to find the answers all day
Only to find they don't always come

Her name is Elizabeth, she don't like the term "girl"
Everybody's over-protective in her world
She's well aware of what's bad for her, now she's had a taste herself
And she's decided on her own,
"You guys go on, I'm staying home
"I'll catch up later"

- 30 -

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Original Song #30: One Water Fountain

One Water Fountain

Baby it's a hot day on the porch on de Gaspé
I feel your kicking but I think we'll be okay
They don't want to put your daddy "in his place"
They just shout his name when he gets on base

Got some plums at the market
Got some nectarines
Those sweet strawberries from Ile dee-Orleans
The stairs are outside so I leave the fruit out there
And when the kids come down I say, "Bon-jou-were"
I smile and say, "Bon-jou-were"

Well I can't make out what the neighbours are sayin'
But I sure like the sounds of their kids playin'
On the baseball diamonds they pretend to be Robinson
And ain't nobody here trying to have us hung

Got some plums at the market...

I love the funny ways of these frenchie Canucks
Who give me their seat at the front of the bus
White or negro, english or french
They got but one water fountain for all thirsts to quench
Yes, white or negro, english or french
Use the same water fountain for the same thirst to quench

Got some plums at the market...

Baby it's a hot day on the porch on de Gaspé
I feel your kicking and I know we'll be okay

- 30 -

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jack Layton: A real gentleman and a citizen politician - 1950 to 2011

I am privileged to have once met and interviewed The Honourable Jack Layton. He was introducing three local candidates at Bar Bobards on boulevard St-Laurent during the 2006 election.

At least two of those candidates, it should be noted, were fervent Québec nationalists whose acceptance speeches left little doubt they were steadfastly looking for a platform to push Québecois separatism.

I should note that I had previously formed a rather withering opinion of Jack's father (the Honourable Robert Layton) when as a cub reporter during the 1988 election, I saw him in action as a Mulroney Progressive Conservative incumbent, getting booed at an all-candidates debate for suggesting Lac St-Louis water would become clean enough to drink if Mulroney was given a second mandate. As it turned out, Robert Layton was easily re-elected by West Island voters who ultimately voted for him as default support for passage of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States.

Utterly honest
So I was curious to ask son Jack, back in 2006, why he'd spoken so reverently of his father - who had himself succumbed to prostate cancer some four years earlier - on the two occasions I had come out to see him speak as NDP leader. Well, Jack looked me square in the eye and said he had great respect for his father, but that didn't mean they saw eye-to-eye on very much, politically. In fact, he related, that was the one area they were always at loggerheads, notwithstanding having a loving and respectful relationship as father and son.

Can you imagine a more honest, human, and respectful answer? Not I. And I have no idea if my question - which I only posed because I had never heard him asked it before - caused him to rethink his stump speech. But I never again heard him speak of his father's influence when introducing himself as the NDP leader, as if he had determined the astute voter might be as confused as I was, given their almost diametrically opposed politics.

It is in this spirit that I remember and revere the man whom I unfortunately must still blame (partially, at least) for putting Harper in the PM chair, by whipping his party to vote down the Martin government; something historians will doubtlessly argue was or wasn't a seminal moment in the NDP's existential journey as an independent political force.

A mixed legacy on policy
I also recall his insistence on going cap and trade instead of carbon tax when the latter made more sense, and finding his reasoning on that choice rather wanting. I recall with sadness his decision to have his party vote against a 2007 (?) Liberal motion to end the Afghanistan mission in July, 2009, based on the fact they really should be brought home immediately (he was quite right on that point of course), which unfortunately ended up with the misguided mission continuing on much longer. Also, Jack's reticence at allowing Green Party Leader Elizabeth May to be included in the 2008 election debates rankled.

Meanwhile, I championed Jack Layton grandly for forcing the 2005 Martin budget to be amended to halt planned corporate tax cuts while increasing social spending in the period where the NDP held the balance of power. I even voted for one of his throw-away candidates while living in the Outremont riding after Paul Martin had parachuted a former Bloc-Québecois founder (Jean Lapierre) in to take Martin Cauchon's place.

And yesterday morning I cried - yet not so much as on last July 25, when we all saw death tapping impatiently on Jack's shoulder - to hear of his passing.

Despite anything else, Jack Layton was a good egg. He tried. He fought. He brandished humour and a forthrightness that was touching and palpable in both official languages. He worked with dedication to his ideals with true and rare conviction. In short, he stood for something, and he made sure that it was a something he could get fully behind. Then he would make a convincing argument that you and I and every other Canadian could get behind it too.

As long as we listened to our hearts.

What next?
Now, a huge gabble of neophyte NDP Québec MPs will have to find their way in the HoC. They also must prove their worthiness to their constituents, despite being stripped of the coattails of the one guy in whom the voters put their full-throttle faith. And that was no small leap of faith either. These voters bravely abandoned their BQ candidates who had mostly done nothing less than tirelessly represent their constituents' interests in Ottawa with pride and passion for several years.

No, the Bloquistes can only blame their party's connection with separatism on their historic defeat to the mostly unknown Dippers that won their constituents' votes based almost solely on Jack Layton's endorsement. Continued NDP support in Québec will be a very tough sell, regardless of Thomas Mulcair's considerable respect in this province.

But that sort of speculation should be explored another day. For today, I am pleased that our Prime Minister has been honourable enough (against type) to bequeath a state funeral for Jack Layton.

Hard to believe as I type his name that he is no longer with us.

Jack, all in all, you did good by us Canadians. Posthumous gratitude in spades. Many, many thanks. RIP, if that is at all possible for you!

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Original Song #29: No Healing

Messing around
Digging up tarpits
And we'll burn it all away

Mining that gold
Exporting asbestos
Trade the future for today

We don't know why
But I've got a feeling
It could be a long time
Before we start the healing

Frack that shale
Strip that mountain
Extract it all away

Drain all brains
With the freshwater
Rape the future for today's gain

And I've got a feeling
It'll be a lifetime
Before we staunch the bleeding

Hiding your crimes
Building more prisons
Disregard the scientists

Mute all truths
Reason is treason
Ruled by ideology

And I know I've
Got a sickening feeling
Could be a long time
And there won't be no healing

Listen to the rough solo demo

- 30 -

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Original Song #28: Phineas Gage

My name is Phineas Gage
New Hampshire boy, born and raised
I drive a stagecoach here in Chile
You might say I've come a long way

Drive the coach steady, drive the coach slow
From Valparaiso to Santiago
Santiago to Valparaiso
Drive the coach steady, take it slow

The year was 1848
I was blasting Vermont granite
For the Burlington-Rutland railway
When the charge went off in my hand

It blew this iron bar straight through my head
Doctors all said I would soon be dead
But I wanted to get up from my sick bed
...And that's what I did

Drive the coach steady, drive the coach slow
Valparaiso to Santiago
Santiago to Valparaiso
Drive the coach steady, take it slow

In time I relearned everything
And I got all my memories
A two-inch hole on the top of my head
Now I keep that iron bar firm in my hand

People say I'm a changed man
Cursing, cheating and fighting
But what the docs couldn't understand
Was I was just still recovering

Hacks with axes grind away
Swinging their pet theories
But I was still recovering my empathy

You quacks all misrepresent me
But you don't know me
I'm still recovering my empathy
My name is Phineas Gage

Drive the coach steady, drive the coach slow
Valparaiso to Santiago
Santiago to Valparaiso
Drive the coach steady, take it slow

Listen to a rough solo recording

- 30 -

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

R.I.P. Canada

R.I.P. Canadian Long-gun registry.
R.I.P. Women's reproductive rights in Canada.
R.I.P. The Canadian Senate.
R.I.P. Same-sex marriage (we barely knew you).
R.I.P. National funding for the arts.
R.I.P. Canada Health Act.
R.I.P. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
R.I.P. The Governor-General of Canada.
R.I.P. Any Canadian action on climate change.
R.I.P. Canadian democracy.
R.I.P. National funding for universities and research.
R.I.P. Any hope of a national daycare program in the next five years.
R.I.P. The Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms.
R.I.P. Any effective political opposition to The Party.
R.I.P. Dissent (what do you think the new jails are for?)
R.I.P. A future for Québec within Canada.

...please feel free to add more in the comments.

We now are ruled by the All-knowing Great Leader, who will not be swayed by any finger-waving from the opposition benches. Stephen Harper is a Christian Fundamentalist, whose views are shaped by his beliefs. He now has carte-blanche.

How far will he go?
Just watch him.

- 30 -

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

French Debate Kicked Ass (mostly Harper's)

I hope people were watching, because tonight's French-language leaders' debate was lively, passionate and substantive. After fighting sleep at about the half-way point in yesterday's English-language debate, tonight I found myself riveted.

This is in no small part due to Gilles Duceppe's fiery energy tonight, after being content to sit quietly on the side-lines for much of the previous night. But also, because Ignatieff really came across, and contrasted strongly against Harper, who himself seemed unsure of his French, and off his game generally. I found Harper did not seen strong tonight, which is the worst thing for the guy who is the current PM to convey.

Layton was taken off his game again by Duceppe's jabbing on the Bill 101 question. Harper's only really good moment was when he pointed at the two of them and asked the audience to imagine them working together in a coalition. That's not saying all that much.

Duceppe went whole-hog on his separatist cred tonight, and that is perhaps a sign he may be setting down some touchstones for a potential jump to provincial politics. He may be positioning himself to take the Parti-Québecois mantle from Pauline Marois, who appears weak going into a confidence vote among the party faithful in coming weeks.

Back to Ignatieff. He looked tough, secure and in charge. His French was generally good, and when it wasn't, his obvious passion made up for it. That is key for the Québec population, so good on him. He can ride this into a lead in coming days.

Again, that's if he plays his cards right.

- 30 -