Saturday, August 11, 2007

Home thoughts from the politically incorrect



For the past forty years, I have been (jealously) comparing myself to Peter Munk.

Who is Peter Munk?


He's one of the most successful business leaders in Canada, and one of the most influential in the world.


Peter Munk has done it all, from high-end electronics to real estate to resource development. As the founder and chairman of Barrick Gold Corporation, he leads the world's largest gold mining company.


He founded and was Chairman and CEO of Southern Pacific Hotel Corporation, the largest hotel and restaurant chain in Australasia in the 1970s


He's also a prominent philanthropist: since 1992, Peter Munk and his Foundation have given more than $80 million towards education and health care projects, $60 million of it in 2006 alone.


Mr. Munk was on CBC TV tonight, interevied by Peter Mansbridge, another prodigy of sorts, who, through no education at all, is nevertheless pretty well top dog at the CBC. Sheer, coldblooded talent, I would say.


I had actually been an admirer of both Messrs Munk and Mansbridge. They were both focused, unflappable no matter what, and very, very bright.


That's until I heard Mr. Munk's take on Canada, a country to which he, like my parents had immigrated.


He seemed to call this cold and confused Displaced Persons camp as the land of milk and honey.
...But just north of Toronto, at a Lake Couchiching Conference on Canada's prospects, serious intellectuals were wondering if there was such a thing as Canadian culture at all. ..If there was such a thing as Canadian identity even.


Seems that we (culturally?) few have given so much to so many that there seems little left.


Little factions spring up. My group is more entitled than your group-- all under the shibboleth of multiculturalism.


What in hell is Canadian identity anyway?


It used to be bankers and square dealers.
It used to be good politicians, who, just after the Second World War made Canada the best place in which to live.


It used to be seerslike Marshall McLuhan and Edmund Carpenter and Northrop Frye.


This all seemed to go by the wayside when Prime Minister Brian Mulroney said, in l984, "Don't you know this country is for sale?"


I once drove through (or rather ferried) through Baie Comeau, Mr. Mulroneys neck of the woods, across the wide Gulf of St. Lawrence from the Gaspe'.


A town full of Irishmen. They had a song there:


"Her father was a brewer
"But she was a f*cking hooer.

Well.
Here was Mr. Munk pontificating on all the good things about Canada.
Sure, he made tens of millions here by his business talent. He gives tens of millions to charity.
But in describing this sorry-ass Gulag of a country as the land of milk and honey is indeed looking at the world through rose-coloured glasses. The rich see one thing, the poor another.


I too have laboured mightily. I too have given tens of thousands of dollar to the arts...Not, of course, on Mr. Munk's scale, but I gave enough.


And today, I dumpster dive.


Where is this mythical land of milk and honey?


They are using charity money to have a conference on it.


"Is there such a thing as Canadian Identity"?


Jesus wept.

28 comments:

Josie said...

This was a wonderful country until that ghastly Pierre Elliott Trudeau ruined. Just before he died he said "Oops... I made a mistake." Yah, no kidding.

I was born in one country, and I live in another, and I haven't moved.

Mulroney was right, this country is for sale. We used to have a Canadian identity, but we don't anymore because we gave it away to people who p*ss on it and on us. And if we voice any concerns about it, we are told we are (gasp) politically incorrect. The people who worked hard to build this country are basically told to shut up. Hogwash, I say.

Now... ask me what I really think.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Josie,
That deserves a Bravo!

Ivan

Shesawriter said...

You know, I've been trying to talk my DH into moving to Canada, but he won't budge. I've always wanted to visit, and I figure if I can just get him to go he'd fall in love.

Tanya

Proxima Blue said...

Hi Ivan,
Finally got around to coming over and saying "Hello". So, Hello.

I don't know about the rest of Canada and it's identity, but I was born in WA State not far from the border to British Columbia. When I go up there I feel like I am visiting Cousins. There is a regional distiction that encompasses southern B.C., Washington, Oregon and Idaho. It's our connection to the land, not the politics of nations.

Other then that one bar brawl with a few Canadian chicks that thought me and my friend were there to steal "their men" (as in Canadian men). I've always had a great time and the majority of Canadians I have met are warm, kind, and sincere people with a bit of an odd sense of humor, almost British-like (not suprising I suppose).

And yes, sometimes such people get taken advatange of, I just hope it doesn't harden your hearts to the outsiders that consider you family.

-P

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Tanya,
There are certainly pockets of angels in Canada.
Newfoundland, in spite of its bad use by Ottawa is, strangely, one bit of paradise. Also the prairie provices and British Columbia.
It's because of the people.
I personally have been better treated in Quebec than some parts of Ontario, where I come from--and I barely speak French.
But it seems everybody hates Toronto. Toronto is so much like New York. A man from BC will buy drinks, be hail-fellow-well met.
But the guy from Ontario is thinking, "How am I going to screw this rube?"
Americans and Canadians do have a natural affinity for each other.
It's because we are cousins and pretty well share the same culture.

Ivan

Ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Hi, proxima blue!

Nice to get a view from oceanside America.
I have travelled all through the States and have felt strangely at home there. Most times it was impossible to buy a drink because strangers are treated so well there that newfound friends will buy the drink for you and tell you to put your money away. This is especially true in Texas. Texas?
Yep. Just tell them that you too were once in the Army or Air Force and the drinks are on the house.

I suppose that in Canada, it is very fashionable to hate Toronto.
I myself have had a love-hate relationship with Toronto, where my journalism has been praised to the skies, while my fiction was handled by snots and fops like overripe fish.
Maybe I was a little spoiled by Canada.
But it's so hard to keep on rockin' in a smoke-free world.
And you gotta watch what you say.
One American wordsmith has called Canada Soviet Canuckistan.
There is something to this.

Ivan

the walking man said...

I knew Canada was in real trouble about a year and a half ago when i heard the Canadian Minister of Trade say on the CBC radio that "China was Canada's manufacturer, except for cars." Ok asshole that was your job to protect Canadian jobs and you are so blithe in saying this.

I do believe there once was some worth to open immigration but the days just before Hong Kong reverted back to China and all of the ex-pats of HK came to TO and it's burbs and started paying ridiculously high prices for two and three houses in a row so they could tear them down to build one giant footprint house, which made the market damn near impossible for Canadian citizens to move into, should have been a last warning to tighten up immigration policy.

Now you are about a 1/4 of the way to the rampant violence of America, which puts you on par because of the population difference and also the refusal of the immigrants to adapt to Canadian culture, instead holding onto whatever they brought with them expecting 10 generation Canadians to adapt to them.

It wasn't just Trudeau though, it was the entire western world after WWII consciously planning to decimate individual cultures for one world. Goddamn fools.

GW is just stupidly finishing up the plan which FDR/Churchill had on paper when they died for a world after the war beginning with the league of nations.

I am still Canadian enough to remember when the worst of it was the enmity between the French and English Canadians...now there are so many races and cultures in CA; each bringing their thousand year old feuds with them that North America in it's entirety can hardly be recognized as what was when originally settled by the Aboriginal,French and,English of the 17th century.

And i say, even though I am one of the most liberal of liberals on most issues, think it is time to seal off the border of the whole of North America, kick out every illegal and give every non citizen five years to get their shit in order and go back wherever the hell they came from.

Let them fix their own countries problems instead of coming here and creating more for these two once tremendous nations.

oh yeah and one last thought...fuck political correctness, that thought alone can kiss my ass.

Ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

TWM,

Air-India Flight 182 was a Boeing 747 that exploded on June 23, 1985 while at an altitude of 31,000 feet (9500 m) above the Atlantic Ocean, south of Ireland; all 329 on board were killed, of whom 136 were children and 280 were Canadian citizens.
Nothing was done about this for years.
Only now have they got a "suspect".
It was assumed that this was Sikh -on -Indian and Pontius Pilate went and washed his hands.
Some groups are more entitled than other groups? Licence to kill?
O Canada.
Ivan

Josie said...

You got it, Ivan. Just look the other way. Is political correctness a type of fear? They had the people who did it, and they let them go. Even the Sikhs were disgused.

I think the Islamic world, as well, has been able to go as far as it has with terrorism because people have been afraid to be politically incorrect. England is having an awful time, and they have bent over backwards to accommodate these folks.

Cheers,
Josie

P.S. You know I love you dearly, but I feel kinda bad when people make negative comments to my other readers on my boring-little-blog. Pekka isn't "crazier than a hoot owl". He's very smart. I don't want any p*ssing contests on my blog. I love and cherish you all.

J.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Thanks, Josie,

Your latest blog, "words of wisdom" from Einstein, has made me uh, think.
He may have been adorable, but I think he was part of a wider dialectic.
My novel, Light Over Newmarket features a character who went off on his own Einstinian odyssey.
Here is what I included in an apppendix in the electronic versiion of LON:


From page l2, The Wonders of the World:
My thesis is that the foundational framwework of modern science, with the key idea of the laws of nature, was born and bred in the theistic world vision. What's more, prior to this, and within a time window of 300 years, the four finest thinkers of Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam framed a meta-scientific Theory of Everything that underpins the scientific enterprise. This intellectual superstructure which we shall call The Matrix, provided a systematic rationale for the foundations of science. Its starting point and core principle was "an equation of God." Interestingly, the great scientists who founded modern science, Copernicus, Newton, Maxwell, Einstein, Planck, Heisenberg, Dirac and numerous others, were Prophets of the Matrix in the sense that they passionately proclaimed the root-and-fruit embeddedness of science and religion. The Matrix is the common platform that supports both science and religion.
---Abraham Varghese

JR's Thumbprints said...

The only Munk I can relate with is from that television show "Monk." He's the new Columbo of our day. Talk about discovery.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

JR,

We could use a new Columbo.
CSI has held the scene for too long.

Ivan

Donnetta Lee said...

Well, I hate to hear of these problems in beautiful Canada. I was there off and on as a child when we lived in upstate New York. All I can recall is beauty. And our U.S. with all its difficulties-oh, my. BUT, as corny as it sounds, I am so happy to be American. And I love Oklahoma even with our "cowboy" mentality and not a lota money and so on. And, after visiting Mexico many times, traveling by jeep with Brian, seeing the poor villages-well, I'll take Canada or the good old USA. Wish I were more savvy politically. Maybe I would know how to help better than I do. I just plug along with my kids...
Donnetta

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Donnetta,

Aw, it's just a thing that's been going on with us since the middle-Sixties.
Ladies have tried to write books about it, said we had a "garrison
mentality", said we were fixated on the "inside" and "outside" of buildings--cold weather?
Much of it was hogwash.
Yes, I love America too. I have lived there many times. You are a nice people...It's just the ah, politics. There and here.

I used to be part of "the establishment", so in those days I had to be careful what I'd say.
Nowadays, I'm just an angry old man, I suppose.
Sure, I love Canada, especially the Ottawa Valley, where I grew up--God's country-- but Toronto, lately is like white water rafting.
Scares the crap out of me.


Ivan

Josie said...

I want my country back. There is a Canadian identity, and I want it back. I miss it.

Sienna said...

I am quotong Proxima Blue (thanx!)...summed up well for the little I have had to do with Canadians..

*Canadians I have met are warm, kind, and sincere people with a bit of an odd sense of humor, almost British-like (not suprising I suppose).*

That is my take...such a beautiful country to boot; sounds like you guys are dealing with the same issues as Australia (for sale)...I wonder if that is selling your soul for the price of doing business?

Pam

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Josie,

Here is what the Toronto Star is reporting today.


Multiculturalism is a success story, so stop whining

Aug 12, 2007 09:30 AM
Haroon Siddiqui

ORILLIA

The Couchiching Conference, named after the lake on the bucolic shores of which it is held, has evolved into a venerable Canadian institution, dealing with one contemporary public policy issue every summer.

The 76th edition, which ends today, was called, in the prevailing spirit of fear of terrorism, The Stranger Next Door: Making Diversity Work. But there were no strangers here, only Canadians trying to make Canada work better.

Does diversity undermine core Canadian values and social harmony? No, I said.

Canada was always legally diverse. The 1867 BNA Act recognized three racial, religious and linguistic collectivities: the aboriginal peoples, the French and the English.

Multiculturalism is an evolution of that revolutionary model, and carries with it similar challenges, only on a larger scale.

Does pluralism/multiculturalism threaten security? No.

Muslim acts of terrorism in the West – 9/11, 7/7 and Madrid – occurred in nations that are not officially multicultural.

Irish Canadian funding for the IRA preceded the 1988 Multiculturalism Act, while Tamil Canadian financing of the Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers followed it. And we cannot credibly argue that the 1985 Air India bombing, believed to have been carried out by Canadian Sikhs, wouldn't have happened had there been no Section 27 of the Charter, guaranteeing multiculturalism.

Conversely, multiculturalism did not deter Ottawa from implementing tough post-9/11 measures: tightening the Immigration Act, gutting the Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act, and enacting the draconian Anti-Terrorism Act and the Public Safety Act.

Similarly, multicultural imperatives did not prevent the Maher Arar tragedy, the reported torture of three other Canadian Arabs in Syria with alleged Canadian complicity, the detention of six Canadian residents under "security certificates" on secret evidence, the botched arrest in 2003 of 23 young Pakistani and Indian men as suspected terrorists, and last year's arrest of more than a dozen Toronto Muslims, whose trials we await.

None of this is to say that some Canadians of this or that ethnic or religious minority may not pose a security risk, only that it is facile to link it to multiculturalism and diversity.

Nor is it to say that the public has no right to be scared. As Tariq Ramadan, the foremost Muslim European thinker and a professor at Oxford University, told the delegates: "Being scared is not a matter of opinion. It is a state of mind."

But in addressing it and tackling the challenges that we do face in integrating 250,000 immigrants every year, we need to be rational and avoid turning on minorities or multiculturalism.

The multicultural model has, in fact, been a great success, and Canadians know it, even if critics don't, said pollster Michael Adams, author of an upcoming book, Unlikely Utopia: The Surprising Triumph of Canadian Pluralism.

A few facts bear repeating.

The proportion of immigrants who become citizens is higher in Canada than anywhere else.

The proportion of MPs who are foreign-born (13 per cent) is higher than in any other country.

Canadians are more supportive of immigration and immigrants than people in any other G-8 country.

Canadians also increasingly see multiculturalism as an important element of their own Canadian identity.

Adams dismissed the oft-expressed dismay over ethnic enclaves, noting that we've always had them and that – get this – they can bring social and economic benefits.

"Groups that live in ethnic enclaves are more economically successful than groups who do not live in ethnic enclaves. This was true for the Jews and the Italians and it is true for the Chinese and the South Asians today. This is a good sign, not a sign of disastrous balkanization."

"I apologize for all this good news," added Adams, with a Canadian flourish.




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Haroon Siddiqui, the Star's editorial page editor emeritus, appears Thursday in World and Sunday in the A-section. Email: hsiddiq@thestar.ca

And still I am not convinced.

Ivan

Donnetta Lee said...

I think I know how you feel, Ivan. I was so miserable living in Florida full time. I begged hubby to get me a home in Oklahoma where I could be around friendly people (not that everyone in Florida is UNfriendly) but just to be back where I felt life was somewhat sane. I remember how unhappy Mama was when we lived in New York. Nothing quite like home sicknesses. But every area of the US is so unique and what is home, comfortable, and meaningful to one person--may not be to the next. Then, add into the mix all the political craziness that messes with every aspect of life. Whew! (rambling now...)
Donnetta

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Pam,
Interesting how we are seen from the outside. The picture is largely a true one.
But yes, they do want our soul, something very hard to define in the first place, certainly for us.

Looks like a bunch of well-fed trenchermen are doing just that, over at the Lake.

What we need now, I think are writers in a literature that carries itself, like American literature, not government-sponsored, like Canadian literature.
Some good people have done that in the past, like Peter C. Newman in his "The Canadian Establishment".

The fear is, I think that revolutionary thought leads to bloodshed and too many Canadians
know how bad things can get when they turn really bad.

Octavio Paz, Nobel prize winner, thinks that it was the people who killed JFK because he was the first portent of a revolution in America.
Myself, I think it was Hoover who killed JFK.

Ah well, another study. Another White Paper. Another Royal Commission.

Ivan

Josie said...

Oh, crap...

Hey, Ivan, if you want a real chuckle, click on Geewits blog. Her post today is too funny. You'll love it.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Donnetta,
I think we are both seasoned travellers, but the nice thing I found out about Texas and Oklahoma
is that there was no culture shock!
I spoke both "plain American" and Spanish and somehow felt right at home.
Something like "southern hospitality" from my hosts?

I think it was my Service background, and we had been on the same side. Knowing how to order food in Spanish helped too. :)

Ivan

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Josie,
The geewits stickman comic strip is hilarious.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

That.s me!

Old Air Force song:

"You drink so much you piss me off
(Ein, zwei, sofa!)

Ivan

http;//www.creativewriting.ca said...

Josie,

I think that one of Canada's best columnists (Whoops--National Post?) has a better take on the multicultural thing:

Thirty-eight years later, I'm back on Lake Couchiching
George Jonas, National Post
Published: Saturday, August 11, 2007

As you read this, I will be at (or on my way to) a panel discussion called "Is There A Mainstream Canadian Culture?" Well, is there? I don't know. There was one when I came here.

Did we misplace it somewhere during the last 50 years? Did we look away for a moment, distracted by a brief hoopla, like the 1960s, and when we looked again, it was gone?

If so, too bad. It was a decent culture while it lasted.

Is there a mainstream Canadian culture? The question is being raised by the programmers of the 76th Annual Couchiching Conference.
Considering that Couchiching is about as mainstream as such gatherings get, I guess the answer is yes. An entirely different question is whether the chief agenda of said cultural mainstream is self-abolishment.

At Ontario's picturesque Lake Couchiching, socio-economic as well as cultural questions have always been framed in terms of the moderate (and sometimes not so moderate) left. In 1969, when I was first asked to participate, the theme was "Why Are We Revolting?"

One shouldn't decline invitations with smart-aleck replies, but the temptation was too great.

"I don't know," I answered. "Maybe it's just the way God made you."

Can't blame the lefties for not inviting me back for the next 38 years.

For anyone interested in checking the drift and temper of Canada's public policy establishment, Couchiching is a reliable barometer. In 1987, with the Soviet Union about to collapse, the conference's participants chose to debate "The Future of the American Empire."

"Interesting question," commented a correspondent from Eastern Europe. "Whatever it is, it's brighter than the Russian empire's."

This summer, Couchichingers (or is it Couchichingians?) propose to tackle the theme of "The Stranger Next Door: Making Diversity Work." To put this in context, the theme of the first conference in 1932 was "Depression and the Limits of Capitalism." I guess it would have been unthinkable to call this year's conference "The Stranger Next Door: The Limits of Diversity." Not to mention how unthinkable it would have been to
combine 1969 with 1932, and come up with "The Limits of Diversity: Why Are The Strangers Next Door Revolting?"

I guess it's because these politically incorrect titles keep popping into my head that when the organizers invited me a second time--because they did, in 1986 -- they quickly realized their mistake and disinvited me. The title of my panel would have been "Canada's Society: Pluralist Or??"

I was amused by the dangling question mark-- Pluralist Or ??-- as if there were a choice in a country where everyone comes from somewhere else, including the descendants of the two founding groups. Clearly Canada's society is pluralist. Raising the question even rhetorically is about 200 years too late. The choice has been pluralist or chaotic since the late 18th century, and pluralist is better.

As an "ethnic" immigrant myself, I think Canada is better off for having encouraged immigrants of various ethnicity. But I've always looked at the bandwagon of multiculturalism with suspicion. Ethnics aren't supposed to do that; the government regards it as somehow un-ethnic. One could be hauled before an Un-Ethnic Activities Commission and have one's ethnic licence revoked.

Damn. I lost the bottom half of this, but you can get Mr. Jonas' drift. He can be googled.

Ivan

Josie said...

"An entirely different question is whether the chief agenda of said cultural mainstream is self-abolishment." Why are all the do-gooders in Canada so hell-bent on abolishing our wonderful country, just to make a few immigrants feel "at home"? Bah, humbug. This is my fr*gging country, and if people want to come here they need to at least try to respect my culture. And, yes, I do have one, thank you very much.

Oh, don't get me started....

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

I have been putting notes together on a long essay on Canada, but some of my own note and even the title are giving me some concern.
the title? GENERATION OF WEASELS.

Weasels aplenty to support my thesis.
It would take the intellectual finesse of a George Jonas to put together something like that. Or Peter C. Newman?
Oh well. Somebody has to take up the cudgels.

Ivan

the walking man said...

Fuck 'em if they don't think enough of their own culture to stay there and enhance it why try to bring it here and make it run roughshod over the prevailing culture that is North American?

Political Correctness = Political Fear.

Let these immigrants go to the countries that colonialized them, but they are not accepted there, so they come here and in our DNA because somewhere way back along the line some ancestors came from somewhere else to these shores and built two nations, we feel WE OWE IT TO OTHERS TO IMMIGRATE HERE? What bullshit!

Kick them out by force if necessary and if they can't take their wealth with them (ie; the land, so sorry) if we can't begin to manufacture enough for ourselves to live off of then shame on our own ingenuity.

Let the Indians police the world or the Chinese; they by far have larger populations and we by far have enough defense capability to stop them from policing their will on us, if we only had the lack of PC to use it.

Try to buy any goods made in the US or CA all you will find is a paucity left over from the natural resources we haven't shipped overseas.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

I think I have a certain cachet because I have served in the Royal Canadian Air Force. I have also taught the country's children, so I think I have paid my dues.
But look at my pension and the "pension" of the parvenu.

Ah well, what's this corporal to do?
Old barrack songs come to mind:

Bless em all
Bless em all
The long and the short and the tall
Bless all the corporals and WO-Ones
Bless all the sergeants and their
bastard sons.
So we're saying goodbye to them all
As back to the barracks we crawl
There's be no promotion this side of the ocean
So cheer up me lads
F*ck 'em all.

Ivan

Ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

TWM,

It will be interesting to see how the media handle our Couchiching Conference on Canada's prospects.

I see that the National Post (OK, OK, it has a right-wing bias)--has grown some cojones. With the CBC, I'm sure it will be same-old, same-old.
But I think my old employer, the Star will totally ignore what's going on on the ground and keep painting that rosy picture.
This is especially irksome because the Star has always had a tradition for looking after the little guy, presumably a little Canadian guy.

Ivan