Dear Mr. Harper,

Last night my lovely cousin offers me a ticket to a gala benefit for CANFAR and I’m happy to go, as I’ve never been to such an event here in Toronto.  It’s fun to hobnob with the beautiful people once in awhile.

So I get there and I think it’s a good opportunity to keep an eye out for whiny artists, since you told us Canadians that artists all hang around at fancy galas and whine about not getting any money rained on them from the government.  I must admit, I was sceptical when you said that because I know lots of artists, and none of them stands around whining at galas.  But then the artists I know don’t really attend galas.  You probably know lots more artists than I do, as you should, because you’re the Prime Minister of Canada.

Anyway, you’ll be glad to know that that I didn’t see anyone whining.   I don’t actually know how many artists were at the CANFAR gala, but there was art being auctioned, so I’m sure there were artists.  But none were whining.

And I definitely didn’t do any whining at the gala.


well should he?

25 November 2008

This morning on the bus a young mother gets on with a little boy, about two, in a stroller.  He’s clutching a little leaflet or magazine or something, and when his mother sits down, he demands that she help him find a page.  When I look at the little boy again, he’s sitting in his stroller holding the magazine open in front of his face as if he were reading it.  It’s the Jehova’s Witnesses publication, The Watchtower, with the bold cover page:  Should You Be Afraid of Hell?

I know you can’t go around taking pictures of other people’s children, but I really wanted to take a picture.

elevator fun

25 November 2008

Today in my office building, I walk by the bank of elevators on the second floor and a grown man walks by them and pushes both of the buttons, then continues walking on into the stairwell behind me.  The only reason I can think that the grown man would do this is for the pleasure of causing some minor inconvenience to some faceless stranger.  He was probably also that kid who hid behind the neighbour’s hedge and pelted your unsuspecting self in the face with a snowball.

sweet unrest

12 November 2008

I turn around and glance out my office window and there she is, hanging low in the sky, as if waiting for me to notice her.  She does it every time.  I’m never prepared for the impact of her loveliness as she rides slowly and patiently up, her incandescent glow annointing everything beneath her.  She is both gentle and grand.  She is steadfast in her tending of this planet.  John Keats wrote a sonnet about love and a star, but I think it is the moon, especially when she is full, that inspires such sensual, earthly love:

BRIGHT star! would I were steadfast as thou art –
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like Nature’s patient sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors –
No – yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever – or else swoon to death.

content of character

5 November 2008

Oh sure, lots of people voted for Barack Obama because of the colour of his skin.  And lots of people voted for John McCain because of the colour of Barack Obama’s skin.  Just as lots of people based their vote on McCain being a republican, or Palin being an evangelical Christian, or Obama being young.  That’s because voters in both Canada and the US are pretty single-minded when we think about voting.  And in doing so, we respond to the product of the REAL creators of political dialogue – PR experts who develop campaigns around the things that appeal to us at the deepest of levels, such as greed and fear.   So we feed on the bones the campaign designers (PR experts) throw to us and vote without a lot of critical thought.  

Once upon a time politicians were gifted communicators – until television came along.  Many of us have no memory of politicians who actually inspire and galvanize and move people on the basis of communicative ability.  But I wonder, would we have a public health system in Canada today if it weren’t for Tommy Douglas’s gift of moving and inspiring people?  So what of today, where with the help of a deft speech writer, even the dullest pencil in the box has only to deliver a sound bite, and the media does the rest. 

But now suddenly Barack Obama comes along, with his sublime oratory ability, delivering his message with intelligence, grace and depth.  That message included his vision of bringing Americans together, not dividing “us and them.”  And still smarting from our own ugly election, when our own Canadian leader worked very hard to divide us based on the “us and them” strategy, that’s the thing that inspires me most of all.

When Obama was declared victorious last night, the burst of positive energy worldwide was palpable.  I’ve never seen anything like it since I was a child in the throes of “Trudeau-mania.”  It’s a historical and beautiful turning point in the history of African Americans in the US – that a black man with his black first family will reside and govern from that big white house that was built in part with the labour of African American slaves. 

The celebrations are about big changes in the US – and by proxy, big changes in the world.  Changes to politicking.  An election is won by a man who takes the high road.  A man who starts with his own message and sticks to it without resorting to ugly public relations tactics against his opponent.  A man who comes from outside the political elite; who starts from nothing and gets everything.  This is a grass roots movement as we’ve not seen in a long, long time. 

Best change of all?  Despite the best PR slogans designed to paint him in everything they are afraid of (socialist, muslim, intelligent), they judged him on the content of his character, and not the colour of his skin.

eye rack

2 November 2008

Maybe it’s just a pet peeve, but when I hear high level politicians like that wacky Alaskan mispronouncing other country names, it makes my skin crawl.  It’s just plain rude.  Seriously, in 2008, it seems pretty clear to me that if you insist on calling a country “Eye Rack” instead of Iraq, you’re thumbing your nose at a whole nation of people.  Way to get those people behavin’ like you want em to.  I think politicians of that ilk will never gain credibility outside their own borders unless unless they act like mature, courteous citizens of the world. 

Here’s hoping that particular politician won’t be talking about Iraq or Eye Rack on a national stage after she is sent packing back to where she can keep an eye on Russia from her kitchen window.

let’s not forget

2 November 2008

There are hardly any WWI veterans left in our world today.  When they are gone, says RH Thomson, so will the living history of this war.  68,000 Canadian soldiers lost their lives in this war.  To understand the impact of that number on the country at that time, based on todays population, it would be as 290,000 soldiers were killed in the last four years in Afghanistan.

This vigil is Thomson’s way to let the families of these people know they are not forgotten.  It’s a passionate and beautiful project.

“Memory is part of what makes us human.”