Posts Tagged “Canada”

07w44:2 Richard Florida on Toronto

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Wake up, Toronto – you’re bigger than you think | Richard Florida

…and don’t forget this superficial assessment by Leah McLaren who explains to the moneyed hipsters that Richard Florida matters by stating:

“Both husband and wife are tall, slim and dressed to minimalist perfection – the ideal complement to an airy house furnished in contemporary classics by Corbusier and Starck.”

McLaren’s write-up was appended to the print version in italics my friends. In other words: what these two gorgeous people have to say matters because they’re young, rich, and fashionable. Leah McLaren approves. We can only hope that Mr. Florida will hob-knob with people who have less money than he does, i.e. this city’s other creative class.

07w43:1 Fuck the Young eh?

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Why is Vancouver eating its young? Nothing cool about that | David Beers
“Nowadays in Vancouver, if, like me, you are middle-aged and own your digs, it can seem cruel to invite younger adults over for dinner, a taunt to those whose incomes are relentlessly outstripped by real-estate inflation. Even worse, you begin to sense that you and your guests are on opposite sides of a political divide. You are, after all, a member of the generation that is asking the young to endure and solve global warming, but what have you done for them lately, besides pouring fine wines in a heritage home of the sort they can never aspire to have? Much as the real-estate windfall graced middle-aged Vancouverites like myself, rising resource commodities prices have helped B.C.’s Liberal government run surpluses in the billions of dollars for several years now. But, for the young, the same government has more than doubled university tuition fees since 2001. And it’s given its MLAs a fat raise while refusing to up the minimum wage to $10 from $8. To add insult, the Liberals let employers pay a ‘training wage’ of just $6 an hour to workers starting out, most of whom, of course, are young. Spiralling housing and education costs. Low entry wages, weak public transit, kids living on the street and greenhouse emissions spewing away. If these seem vexing “issues” to older people, the young tend to bundle them as “boomer legacies,” burdens unfairly shifted onto them, says opinion researcher Angus McAllister. Politicians ignore at their own peril this way that youth filter politics, he suggests.” [emp mine, obviously]

Raging against the tyranny of CanLit | Stephen Marche
“Now, in the middle of prize season and the authors’ festival, the differences between the two literary capitals couldn’t be starker to me. Brooklyn is so, so young and Toronto is so, so old: It felt like moving from a frenetic day care to an old folks’ home. […] Literature in Toronto is something your smartest aunt does once she’s cozied up in her favourite sweater. And the work therefore is less exciting. The popular novels here are generally ponderous, draped in sanctimony over suffering and history, melodramas in exotic settings. One thing you are not going to get out of a novel on the Giller list or indeed the best-seller list is a good laugh. […] Setting is everything in Canadian fiction. Plots don’t matter much. There are only a few plots anyway: recovering from historical or familial trauma through the healing power of whatever (most common); uncovering historical or family secrets and thereby achieving redemption (close second); coming of age (distant third place). The characters are mostly the same: The only thing that changes is the location of the massacred grandmother, what kind of booze the alcoholic father drinks himself into fits with, what particular creed is being revealed, in deft and daring ways, as both beautifully transcendent and oppressive. Innovation, whether in language or form, is a dirty word. […] If you think I’m being extreme, just look at recent comments by Ellen Seligman, the publisher of McClelland and Stewart, one of the most powerful people in Canadian publishing. Her response to the Giller list this year struck me as a devastating assessment of where we stand: “I don’t think prizes are necessarily for young writers,” she said in The Globe. It is a remarkable sentence. There are two ways to read it. 1) Young writers don’t write well enough to deserve prizes. 2) Even if they do write well enough, only old writers deserve attention. Because that is what the Giller is, a massive dollop of attention. Seligman says it openly: Only books written by old people are worth serious attention. The danger is that the Giller, like the CBC, will become just another institution for boomer self-congratulation.” [emp mine]

07w40:5 Stupid to the last drop

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Stupid to the last drop by William Marsden; Reviewed by Andrew Nikiforuk
“Marsden really finds his mark while recording the tales of ordinary Davids facing powerful yet stupid Goliaths. Francis Gardner, one fine rancher, gets the better of Shell Oil in a brazen, Russian-like encounter on New Year’s Eve. Jessica Ernst, a courageous oil-patch consultant, tells how EnCana carelessly drilled into a local aquifer and gave her groundwater a shocking advantage: She can light it on fire. Dr. John O’Connor, a physician with a moral heart, explains how both federal and provincial bureaucrats tried to silence his disturbing documentation of cancer deaths downstream from the tar sands. In these inspiring tales, at least, Marsden proves that moral intelligence has not disappeared from Alberta; it just doesn’t appear to exist in government circles any more. The biggest stupidities that Marsden discovers could and probably should shock any Canadian. A government that gives away its oil for a 1-per-cent royalty is not only stupid but politically bankrupt. A regulator (“eight mulish, white male suits”) that rubber-stamps projects and then spies on citizens who question their rubber-stamping is a Soviet-style disgrace. A former environment minister who rants not about the destruction of rivers and forests, but about his Harvard education, is pure Mark Twain territory. Welcome to Saudi Alberta.” [emp mine]

Update 19 Oct 2007:

Paved with dubious intentions (review by Peter Gorrie) | The Toronto Star

07w39:3 Matador

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Rogue city agency trying to lay waste to Dovercourt streetscape |
Shawn Micallef
[quoting Christopher Hume:] “‘Truly, Toronto has lost its way. Truly, whatever our aspirations may be as a civic entity, they are fast being undone by a bureaucracy so out of touch with reality it’s frightening. And where are the councillors in all this? Does their silence signal agreement? Creeping suburbanization is one thing, but this is neanderthal.’

Then, the answer to Hume’s question – where are the councillor- was on Global News at six tonight when Adam Giambrone was asked about this and shrugged, saying a there is a need for parking in the area and he would support a motion to expropriate. He was repeating the position of Toronto Parking Authority president Gwyn Thomas who said as much to The Star earlier this week. […] But its legendary status and history (Leonard Cohen, Neko Case, etc.) are beside the point here and almost irrelevant because the city – our city – wants to expropriate and tear down a fine and sturdy piece of the urban fabric, located in one of the most desirable and valued neighbourhoods in North America, and turn it into twenty (20!) parking spots, spending $800,000 in the process (insulting to the owner, offensive to the rest of us who are enduring the current budget crunch and trying – so very hard – to believe and support the Giambrone side of things).

This is madness’.

From the Facebook Group Save the Matador discussion:

Sara O’Reilly wrote
at 3:23pm on September 26th, 2007
By the way – Adam Giambrone is Chair of the TTC – figure that one out. The chair of the TTC wants to making parking spots instead of encourage people to take public transit. Brilliant.

[emp mine]

Filmed at The Matador in 1992:

07w37:2 Brown Clark Nonfiction Search Engine

by timothy. 2 Comments


I first learned about Joe Clark through a Google Alert which let me know that he liked something I wrote enough to tag it with my name and ask rhetorically:

Who is this Tim Comeau and why is he not an esteemed colleague already?

I came back to Mr. Clark’s blog through a recent William Gibson interview (impending Gibson roundup on GR btw) which contained a link to Clark’s annotated Pattern Recognition site.

A recent posting goes off on Jess Brown, the new CBC Radio 1 show Search Engine and the ‘journalist’s Trampoline Hall‘ called Nonfiction, which began in June. Facebook has the event listing for the next Nonfiction meeting to be held on September 19th:

Non Fiction Sept 2007Nonfiction is a place for journalists of all kinds to tell stories that never made it to the public: stories killed by editors, blocked by producers, or self-censored by journalists themselves. These are the stories usually told privately, between journalists, and over drinks.

Featured speakers:
Ian Brown (and friends) on going long
” Ouimet” on clandestine corporate blogging
Paul Terefenko on why he recorded the last Nonfiction
Michael Adler on the one thousand indignities of writing for a community newspaper
Jason Anderson on film junket junkies
Kathryn Borel on why her therapist refuses to prescribe her antipsychotics despite her looming book deadline

hosted by Jesse Brown

Produced by Nonfiction: Kathryn Borel, Jesse Brown, Ian Daffern, Jeremy Gans, Sheila Heti, Geoff Siskind, Dave Wells

Mr. Clark’s first report from June 21st made three good bullet-points, of which I’m quoting the third:

The show came to a halt halfway through. On arrival, one had been presented with a “program” (actually just a postcard) declaring ALL STORIES TOLD AT NON-FICTION – suddenly it’s hyphenated – ARE CONSIDERED OFF THE RECORD AND MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED IN PRINT, BROADCAST OR CONVERSATION. Yes, these junior fascists want you not to even talk about what happened. (Then why was there a cash bar? What are we supposed to talk about, the weather?)

Exactly. Why sell tickets to something you can’t talk about? Clark goes on to report:

It all came to a head when our host, tall, handsome, affable Jesse Brown, acted like an RIAA lawyer or a security goon with binoculars at a Rush concert and accused somebody of recording the event. Would that person like to come onstage? Well, of fucking course they wouldn’t. But, a moment later, up trotted Paul from Now, who plausibly and apparently honestly explained he’d just gotten there, hadn’t been warned, and had asked people if it was all right to record. (The answer he got was, in essence, ‘meh.’)

But as we can see in the event listing, this outrageous act has only earned Mr. Terefenko’s a place on the stage at the next show.

What’s really alarming about this kind of thing is the explicitness of there being two streams of public dialogue. What exists in print (and thus the historical record) and what can exist spoken between people. I know what Antonia Zerbisias spoke about because it was told to me over a meal and drinks, where I also shared unprintable facts about things. Am I corrupted by the knowledge? Am I a danger to myself and society for knowing these things?

Do we need more evidence that our ideas that we live in a democracy are false?

I mean, sure, we have enough freedom of speech to sell tickets to the airing of secrets, but freedom of the press has apparently vanished beneath the concerns of advertisers and the censorious pen of editors.

What I’d like to critique about Nonfiction is the use of the image from Suicide Food, a blog which assembles the understandably morally outrageous and disgusting depiction of animals attempting to enjoy their fate as human meals.

Links below are to Clark’s somewhat amusing grumpiness about Nonfiction, Jesse Brown, and Search Engine. (Search Engine‘s site, btw, is linking to its eponymous Google Alert roundup, and saying this about Clark’s words:

Joe Clark of Toronto has some scathing words for us on his personal weblog (WARNING: some profanity).

06w38:1 The Address to the Electors of Terrebonne

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The last Goodreads was of John Ralston Saul’s keynote address to the annual Couchiching Conference, and as you may have heard by now, at the 1:22:48 mark (chapter 47 of the m4a file), he brings up Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine’s ‘Address to the Electors of Terrebonne’ of which he says, it is ‘the single most important document in the creation of Canada, and the most beautiful and the most intellectually moving’. Those of you who’ve read his work extensively will have noticed his fondness for this text, and in the Couchiching audio, he goes on to ask the audience, ‘how many of you’ve read it?’ He expresses dismay at its obscurity, noting that ‘I keep hoping that if quote it people will quote it back to me.’ Had I been in the audience, I would have asked, ‘where do you find it?’

Indeed. You’d think it’d be on the internet if it was such a big deal and all. Of course, this lack of net-accesilbility as of last week just prompted me to find it and post it, since that’s part of what Goodreads is about. So, for your Canadian political self-education, here is the newly posted and freshly translated (by yours truly) ‘Address to the Electors of Terrebonne’. – Timothy


The Address to the Electors of Terrebonne | Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine
“Education is the first benefit that a government can give to a people. In the past there were schools that the Legislative Council closed. Public money would be better spent on their reopening than on bribing a police force which everyone repels and abhors. The establishment of our colleges everyday makes lies of these false and injurious assertions, preferred by the prejudiced and the impassioned, that the ignorance of Canadians comes from their pretentious indifference to education.”

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emailed by Timothy on Thursday 21 September 2006 @ 9:28 PM

06w37:1 John Ralston Saul at Couchiching

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Last month John Ralston Saul gave the keynote address at the Couchiching Conference held in Orillia Ontario. The theme of the conference was progress, the talks and presentations organized under its title of ‘Wedded to Progress: For Better, For Worse’. It ran from August 10-13, and Saul delivered this talk on Sunday August 13th the title of which is ”Rediscovering the Sense of Action and Leadership’.

It is available through the following two files: the first, m4a, is encoded in Apple’s AAC format and has the advantage of being indexed into chapters. The second mp3 is chapterless, yet available incase your system won’t play the AAC file. -Timothy


Rediscovering the Sense of Action and Leadership | John Ralston Saul
m4a file is 55.2 MB; mp3 file is 53.5 MB; talk runs 1hr56min. Introduced by Pamela Wallin; JRS begin at 7:38min ; question period moderated by Wallin and begins at 1:15:54

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emailed by Timothy on Saturday 16 September 2006 @ 2:56 PM

06w23:1 Andrew Mitrovica on the media

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Sometimes things happen which seem to show that the MSM is a world unto itself, engaged in exhibitionism rather broadcasting, or god forbid, informing. Take last summer’s CBC strike/lockout, when CBC employees thought the rest of the country cared about their squabbling. (Uh, no it was August, there was better things to do, and other channels to watch). Now, they think Canada’s had it’s own 9/11 (uh, no not yet and let’s hope it stays that way).

Anrdew Mitrovica made excellent points about this on this morning’s Metro Morning (link below). Admittedly, I live in my own little bubble and don’t get out as much as I used to. But it seems clear that the media are blowing this thing way out of proportion, even if I don’t really have first hand accounts about no one caring. So what that some kids were planning to blow up the Peace Tower? I mean really? Isn’t this old and boring and so franco-canadian circa 1970? And big deal that there was mention of beheading the PM? Why is no one is laughing at these ridiculous plans, plans made ridiculous by the very fact that they were caught. If they’d been really serious about being a menace to society, they would not have been.

Which remains an understandable concern about who might be out there. But can it not be said that the grandiose foolishness of these plans reveals their fundamental incompetence to carry them out?

The beheading of the Prime Minister for example – how exactly was that supposed to happen? At what point were the RCMP going to be looking the other way long enough for some spotty boy to do the deed? Please. And yet it’s being turned into something serious as opposed to the stupid fantasies of teenagers. And we should remember this – take away the USA’s war on terror propaganda and rhetoric, the flaccid ideas about a war on freedom and hating our way of life, the fact that these are Muslims, and you just have disillusioned young men who are as dangerous as those that became the IRA, the FLQ, the ETA and on and on …. which is why it’s a good thing they were stopped in their tracks before they did any real damage, but let’s not forget that throughout history teenage boys have always been prone to do stupid things because they found a hero: instead of 43 year old Qayyum Abdul Jamal in 2006, you could read 35 year old Guy Fawkes in 1605. Are we going to behead Jamal and have Jamal dummies burned in effigy for the next four hundred years? Will this become the much sought after June holiday?

Further, when news of this broke on Friday night I remembered something I wrote last July, when London had happened and everyone was supposed to be scared to ride the subway. At the time, our Minister of Public Safety (or whatever the exact title is) Anne McLellan essentially threw her hands into the air and said it was a matter of time before it happened here. Nothing much we could do about it. Let’s have a national discussion to prepare for the day. A defeatist attitude that pissed me off. Why, I questioned, should this be so? Was CSIS incompetent? I’m glad to see that they in fact are not, and that as I wrote those words then they were in fact doing their job quite well.

But, as Andrew Mitrovica reminds us, buying their side of the story without question isn’t a good idea. We know all too well how the US media got most of the American public convinced that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 with their negligence of skepticism. We further know that Gitmo probably houses innocent people, which (hopefully) will one day lead to criminal charges toward those responsible. The media’s exhibitionism and frenzy for an exciting story has convicted these boys before trial, and fed latent bigotry and xenophobia which makes me question whether Canada’s famed tolerance isn’t simply the result of laziness and docility on the part of the bastards to be vocal about it until something like this comes along to make them feel secure in expressing their ignorant points of view.

Anyway, this Goodreads is merely a response to current events. More stuff from the backlog is on the way. – Timothy

Media need to ask tough questions | Andrew Mitrovica
“The headlines were disturbing. ‘Terror Suspects Plotted in Toronto.’ ‘CN Tower Threatened.’ I didn’t pluck these ominous headlines from weekend newspapers blaring word of the police case against 17 alleged ‘terrorists.’ They were written three years ago by scoop-thirsty papers announcing another suspected cabal of terrorists plotting mayhem and murder in Toronto. The news stories accompanying the headlines quoted seemingly unimpeachable documents and conveniently anonymous intelligence sources that provided chilling ‘details’ of the nest of terrorists conspiring in our midst. ”

Credibility Of Charges? | CBC Metro Morning (Toronto)
“Andy Barrie spoke with Andrew Mitrovica, former national security reporter with the Globe and Mail.”

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emailed by Timothy on Wednesday 07 June 2006 @ 1:59 PM

06w21:2 Good___ing?

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Canada’s shame | Dan Bjarnason, CBC
“When you think of literacy in Canada now, at the beginning of the 21st century, you probably expect to see a rate of close to 100 per cent. That would be wrong. The actual numbers are nowhere near that and should embarrass us all.”

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emailed by Timothy on Thursday 25 May 2006 @ 6:35 PM

06w21:1 Forgeting the Soil

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Last night I caught the CBC1 Ideas re-broadcast of the 2004 symposium held to discuss Jane Jacobs’ last book, Dark Age Ahead. Toward the end of the program Nobel-winning economist Robert Lucas presented a picture of things being great just as they are. According to Lucas, the movement away from ‘the idiocy of rural life’ (a phrase he credited to Marx) was a good thing and nothing to be concerned about. I was dumbfounded to hear this, questioning the limits of his imagination. If everyone moved to cities, where would our food come from?

What then followed was a presentation by Norman Wirzba, who brought up my concerns with an eloquent speech on this basic problem, which is one of ignorance about the cycles of life. This ignorance is encouraged by city-living and tempts us to believe that we live in a post-agrarian age. His point is that we do not, nor could we realistically.

His talk was so good that I contacted him after the broadcast to request a copy of his paper to post on Goodreads. He got back to me this morning and it can now be found at the link below. – Timothy

The Forgetting of Soil: A Response to Dark Age Ahead | Norman Wirzba
“The steady migration of people from farms or rural areas to cities or suburbs, a migration pattern now being replicated across the globe, means that very few of us have any realistic or honest idea of where food comes from, and under what conditions it can be expected to be safely and reliably produced. Food is conveniently and cheaply purchased at the store. […] Given the important insight that culture is not primarily transmitted through the written page or computer screen but rather that ‘cultures live through word of mouth and example,’ (5) a fundamental question emerges: does the victory of urbanization over agrarian life nonetheless signal a long-term defeat if it means the loss of living, concrete examples of sustainable engagement with the land? Who in our society, what face-to-face apprenticeships, will pass on the wisdom we need to live well in bodies that are themselves dependent on the health and vitality of other biological bodies and systems?”

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emailed by Timothy on Wednesday 24 May 2006 @ 2:45 PM