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Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

I had an experience on Saturday that ranks among the Most Canadian Moments of My Life.

I recently joined a curling league, thanks to an invite from some good friends. I’m still very much a novice at curling, but it’s a fun night out with friends, and certainly a very Canadian pastime.

This past Saturday, however, was the Canada-Russia game in the world junior hockey championships. The game started at 7:30 p.m. and curling started at 8. I was surprised so many people turned out to curl. One of our players was sick, so she watched the game at  home and texted scores periodically to her husband who was curling with us. As we played our ends, people kept asking what the latest hockey score was.

At one point, I found myself standing on the edge of the ice, waiting to sweep the next rock, and taking a peak at the game on the big-screen t.v. which was visible through the large windows in the bar overlooking the sheets. That’s right: standing on a curling sheet, holding a broom, watching the Canadian junior hockey team on t.v. 

We finished a bit early to go upstairs and catch the last few minutes of the game. There were only five minutes left, and Russia was ahead by one. As the clock ticked down, the room became more and more silent. At around the 45 second mark, someone said “there’s still lots of time.” I thought these people were crazy. The game was over, I thought; Canada was out of gold medal contention. Big deal. Then, as we all know now, Eberle pulled a miracle and scored with just five-point-something seconds left. The bar erupted — curlers were on their feet, cheering, hollering and pumping fists. I admit I kind of got swept up in the excitement and may have shouted a bit too.

Of course we had the joy of watching the deciding shoot out, and there was more rejoicing. Curling, hockey, beer. All in all, a most Canadian evening.

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I read something today that absolutely shocked me as a Canadian. Many well-informed people (or at least better-informed than me) probably already knew this, but to me it was like a punch in the gut.

I was sitting at a bar and grill in the Glebe, enjoying my well-earned Friday afternoon off, and catching up on some reading. Prior to stopping at the bar and grill, I had treated myself to (count ’em) three magazines:

1. BUST – it has always been one of my favourite women’s magazines; produced by feminists with a sense of humour;

2. National Geographic Adventure – because my Significant Other and I have been thinking about taking a trip somewhere exciting, and this issue features a list of the top 50 ecolodges on the planet; and

3. THIS Magazine – simply because I had never read it, and had been curious about it for some time.

I’m happy about all three purchases, but I was so impressed with THIS, I may have to subscribe. Check it out:

In the This & That section, I started reading a short piece about arms-deal secrecy in Canada. The first paragraph explains that Canada recently ranked 16th out of 40 countries for the transparency of its arms trade. I had a chuckle. So much for your vows of transparency and accountability, Mr. Harper. A report that examined where Canadian-made weapons were distributed from 2003 to 2005 was only released this year, Jenn Hardy reports. (I would link directly to the story, but the new issues isn’t up on the website yet.)

Not only that, a DFAIT rep said there is no legislative requirement to create such reports or to release them to the public, and that they’re produced as “a voluntary transparency measure.” Except that they release them when the information is no longer timely or, likely, accurate.

But here was the kicker (I’ve made you wait long enough for it): CBC researchers discovered that between 2000 and 2007, Canada exported $3.6 BILLION (US dollars) in military goods, making us the SIXTH LARGEST WEAPONS EXPORTER IN THE WORLD.  

May I say, WTF? I know that Canada is not the perfect land of friendly, polite people, happy rainbows and free flowing health care that some would make it out to be (Michael Moore, I’m looking at you), but I certainly didn’t think we were one of the world’s top manufacturers of military goods. 

I’m a member of Amnesty International, which campaigns against the proliferation of arms in war-torn countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo. Particularly in regions where children are forced into the conflicts to carry arms themselves. But I had no idea Canada itself was a major contributor to the problem.

OK, I haven’t read Canada’s report on where arms were sent between 2003 and 2005. Maybe not a single “military good” (that’s a painful oxymoron) crossed into the African continent. Maybe they’re all just sitting in boxes in some huge warehouse somewhere, like the Ark of the Covenant at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, never to be used. But I doubt it. I don’t have the excuse of naiveté anymore. Thank you, THIS.

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I’m sitting at my computer, bundled in my pyjamas, a hoodie, slippers and scarf (yes, I’m wearing a scarf in the house) sipping tea with lemon and honey and listening to jazz. Miles Davis just blew the last notes of Enigma, and now Judy Garland is crooning to me about the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe. There’s a bit of sunshine breaking through the clouds and hitting the yellow, red and orange leaves on the trees outside, and it would be a perfect Sunday morning, if I didn’t have a cold. It’s pretty good anyway, though.

I watched the English debates the other night. It’s an interesting exercise, mostly because I have my doubts as to how much of an effect they actually have on how people vote. I find people’s impression of how a candidate did in the debate is entirely coloured by their opinion of that candidate before the debate took place. It’s probably more helpful for people who don’t follow the parties, the leaders or their policies.

Elizabeth May was the surprise of the night for me. She proved she belonged at that table, and that she was knowledgeable on topics outside of the environment. I found myself agreeing with nearly everything she said. Jack Layton did a great job, attacking Conservative policy and chiding the Liberals for aiding and abetting the Conservatives throughout the last session of Parliament by simply being absent. This was the first time I heard Stéphane Dion speak at length (I don’t have cable) and I see now what people are talking about when they bemoan his incomprehensible English. He was laying on the “I feel your pain” act a little thick. The pundits have been reporting that Stephen Harper’s performance was directed at women, but I think Dion’s performance was even more so. He expressed his party’s policies fairly well, but Dion just didn’t do anything for me.

I did enjoy the moment when I thought he was going to lose it — Harper said his Green Shift would increase taxes. Dion looked like he was going to blow a gasket. Then he got a grip on himself, looked squarely in the camera and said “Do not believe this man.” It was a nice save. I’m not sure how many people will believe it, though. As for Harper himself, he did a good job of staying calm and cool in the face of attacks from all four leaders, but I can’t say much else for him. His party hasn’t released a platform, and is the only party who hasn’t yet. (Incidentally, Jack got in the zinger of the night with his “Where’s your platform? In your sweater?” remark. Burn!) So all he did really was attack the other parties’ platforms, and the others focused on attacking the Conservative performance in the last 2.5 years.

I hope Canadians see the lack of a Conservative platform is a telling sign. This is a party with a history of poor communication practices. Look at their first year in power, and the head-butting that went on between the government and the media. There is a truce now, but it’s still impossible to obtain information from the current government without it passing through the Privy Council Office. My questions is, WHY don’t they have a platform for Canadians? What are they trying to hide? I am currently about two-thirds of the way through an article by Marci McDonald from The Walrus magazine (October 2006) which looks at the links between Harper’s Conservatives and various evangelical organizations and activists (theo-cons). It is frightening, quite frankly, and shows just how accurate some of the comparisons between Harper and George W. Bush really are. Harper’s just better at hiding his evangelical connections. Bush doesn’t have to.

Speaking of which, I’m going to make another cup of tea and get back to the McDonald article with Billie Holiday singing in the background.

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