February 25th 2002
One of the more interesting aspects of living in Canada and being South African is that, sooner or later, you are going to bump into one of the super earnest, politically correct, single handed, anti apartheid saviours of the poor down trodden masses of the struggle in years gone by.
It doesn't matter what race or creed you are either. Obviously the tone of the conversation differs somewhat, but in both cases the eye-glazingly boring, egotistical retelling of the litany of personal actions taken by this person is enough to unite all ex-South Africans in their need to escape.
I can even remember the look on one of these lost souls face when a black colleague of mine preferred to have a drink with me rather than listen to her patronizing diatribe as to the role she had played in saving him!
Generally I have ignored most of these people, as it is painfully obvious that it was the centre of their tiny little world and so, with apartheid dead, they have very little left to do except relive over inflated past imaginings. Even joining the anti-smoking stormtroopers hasn't the same panache. But you begin to feel sorry for them after a while and so I have decided to help them overcome that feeling of loss and put them on the road to righteousness once again. In fact I now point out to these poor souls that in fact apartheid isn't dead and they can gird their loins to fight the good fight once more. Unto the breach and all that!
Oddly enough I can get them frothing right up until the moment when I point out where this iniquity exists. At which stage suddenly there is every excuse under the sun as to why they can't get involved.
I am of course referring to the First Nations and Canada. Probably very naughty of me to do that. After all I am merely a bloody uppity immigrant. But I am an uppity immigrant who likes to read and wants to know everything there is to know about my new chosen land. I am also a cynical stirrer as well. Which is a dangerous combination.
Despite Canadians holier-than-thou attitude when it comes to the visible minorities the treatment of the First Nations is one that is conveniently overlooked. Even more surprising is the attitude of certain sections of the community who will, on the one hand, screech loudly about racism when it applies to immigrant minorities, and yet will make the foulest comments about the First Nations members if they ask for the same treatment. The hypocrisy inherent in the treatment of the First Nations is more than surprising. It is actually annoying.
Consider the following factors for starters:
The life expectancy of First Nations members is ten years lower than that of the national average.
The infant mortality rate is twice as high as the national average.
First Nations illiteracy is double that of the national average. Only five percent of the Natives graduate from high school never mind going to University. Forty percent don't even get to Grade Nine! In fact the average Native male is three times more likely to end up in jail than graduate!
Housing on the reserves (and isn't that a dandy euphemism for homelands?) is below the normal minimum accepted standards. A quarter don't even have running water while a third have no indoor toilets. The type of standard sanitation that would have riots at Queens Park if it were any other community!
More Natives are in jail, and even worse, are jailed earlier than any other community.
Sadly the most common cause of death amongst the First Nations is violence. Either accidents, assaults or suicide. In fact First Nations youth are five times more likely to commit suicide than youths out in the general population.
The First Nations make up about three percent of the population and yet account for 25% of all family related murders in Canada.
Lastly it is also sad to note that of all the deaths and accidents involving First Nations members more than fifty percent involve alcohol.
If any of the “visible minority” communities in Canada were ever to be treated in a similar fashion there would be a monstrous outcry. Not to mention buckets of tears from the bleeding hearts. Yet here we have a Nation, in fact the original Nation occupying Canada, that has been slowly and systematically excluded from mainstream acknowledgement. The original French and English Masters tried eradication, then assimilation and since neither worked in ridding them of this potential nuisance passed on the problem to the Canadians who after retrying both eradication and assimilation are now merely ignoring the problem in the vain hope that it will go away.
As an aside here I would like to point out that the Canadian Government spends millions each year on the First Nations. From the mid sixties until 1988 it was estimated that they spent well over twenty five billion dollars on “helping” the First Nations. Now before you also get all smugly complacent this is what I classify as “guilt” money (so typically Canadian that every idiot lobby knows how to screw a Canadian for lots of it by playing on their need to be liked and not seen as racist/sexist/whateverist!) It is money that is thrown at the problem without any attempt to fix it. Consider if you will one of the Chiefs who noted that he got $2.7 million a year for welfare while only receiving $52,000 for economic development!!
Pay a man not to work. Brilliant strategy for human dignity.
The most interesting part of the whole Native question is that the First Nations of Canada were never actually conquered, nor defeated. They were in fact merely “encroached upon out of contention”. From covering most of the southern parts of Canada when the settlers first arrived they have been pushed back by a series of lopsided treaties and promises to the scattered small reserves that exist all across Canada today. There are over two thousand of these pockets of land in existence today. The average size of a reserve being just over four square miles. The average population being less than a thousand. Even so for a free spirited people that seems to be some very high-density living conditions. Especially if you remember my earlier comments about sanitation.
Oddly enough the much-reviled United States has a far better record than Canada when it comes to both status and land size for their own First Nations members. I suppose you can afford to be magnanimous when you have actually defeated a nation militarily though. The Canadians, or more accurately the British, merely annexed the land in a series of treaties and drove the Natives back into areas that were less attractive to the new masters.
Many of these “treaties” were not even put down on paper. The Indians, accepting that a man's word is his bond, had only verbal agreements on the proposed sales of land and their future. In fact in most cases these “treaties” were regarded by the Indians as “friendship pacts” while of course the colonial masters saw them as legally binding documents instead. In many cases during the nineteenth century starvation and introduced European epidemics had so weakened the Native Bands that signing their rights away seemed the only sane way to continue.
In many of the areas there wasn't even any pretence at deal making. Stealth and encroachment did that instead. Interestingly there were no agreements in all the Atlantic Provinces, most of British Columbia and all of Quebec. Quebec in fact treating it's own Indian population in a manner which makes a mockery of their often repeated bleating about how they are treated. The Oka standoff being a case in point!
In 1867, which is the same year that Canada officially became a nation, the Indian Act of 1876 made the Indians “wards of the state”. The official goal being to “assimilate” the Indians out of existence. The manner in which to achieve this assimilation? Segregation!
The original reserves were designed to be areas where the Indians would be isolated until they were deemed morally worthy! The Government of the time reckoned that it would take about three generations.
To be judged worthy of this honour you had to abandon all tribal customs, be judged of good character, be fluent in French or English and have passed a three-year probation period (which, by the way, sounds so terribly similar for the requirements for immigrants to become Canadian citizens currently!). Once that happened you would be allowed the honour of giving up your identity, culture and language, while gaining the vote and the ability to own land. Such a choice! No wonder so few Indians assimilated. By the way this particular piece of legislation wasn't removed until 1985!
Oddly enough this particular way of dealing with the indigenous people has ultimately been their saving grace. Assimilation and segregation basically canceling themselves out and allowing the First Nations to hang around as an embarrassing example of the successive Governments failed policies. And past treacheries too for that matter.
The First Nations have survived everything thrown at them. Including indifference. But I, for one, would really like to see the same degree of hysteria placed on visible minority rights to include that of the original inhabitants of this land.
Sadly I don't hold out much hope of that taking place.
Which is why I will continue to be an uppity annoying immigrant pointing fingers at the all the nude emperors!
February 11th 2002
The Toronto Star had a beautiful front page Freudian slip last week. There in the prime position was an article detailing Prime Minister Chretien's talk to interested parties in New York. Chretien was there to deliver a speech in an attempt to help bolster the Canadian Dollar, or as The Star put it:
“Wall Street to hear Loonie pep talk!”
It was too much to ignore and so in true stirring fashion I sat down and sent off a letter to the editor asking why they had spelt “Loony” incorrectly! Of course The Star never ran it in the letters pages but then they wouldn't.
For those of you who are unaware as to why they ran that heading, the Canadian Dollar is affectionately known as the “loonie” by the way. Chretien is un-affectionately known as a loony as well but unfortunately The Star won't accept that.
In fact Chretien has had some interestingly bad press of late. Well OK it isn't bad press from certain quarters but lets just say that the automatic assumption that he is a level above God is slipping somewhat! Mind you the first ruckus that cropped up was so typically Canadian, and stupid, that even I felt sorry for him for a change.
It seems that in his latest Cabinet shuffle he didn't do enough to appease the Feminista's.
One of the MP's (female variety) tackled the dear PM on this during a caucus meeting and was apparently told in very certain terms that, as Chretien was the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Party, He would do as he pleased and not as some backbencher wanted.
In the spirit of true party unity this was leaked to the press. The feminista's found a cause again and leapt to the front line to woman the barricades!
They demanded that the Government be representative of the population. They demanded that more women be made Ministers. They demanded that Chretien apologise. They demanded……… but you get the point.
So I did a bit of number crunching and came up with the following. About twenty five percent of the Liberal MP's in Ottawa are female. About twenty five percent of the Cabinet are female. So fairly fair in that respect. Of the females that were shuffled out of the Cabinet almost one hundred percent were embarrassing imbeciles. Of the males that were shuffled out of the cabinet almost one hundred percent were embarrassing imbeciles. So fairly fair in that respect. In fact the one good aspect of the female members of Parliament is that they have shown they are the equal of the males in all respects. Including every single bad trait that can be imagined.
Lastly I wondered when it was that the Leader of any party was supposed to have quotas to fulfill? Surely the object is to put the best person into the best position regardless of whether they were male/female or even pink/purple for that matter. Apparently not! This is Canada and putting the best person in for the position matters less that keeping certain lobbies happy. Which, no doubt, is why so many imbeciles have been made Ministers!
Oddly enough Chretien has had, and still has, the most female members of both Parliament, and the Cabinet, than any other Government, including I might add, that of Tredeau who is revered as the feminista's tame male icon!
Given Chretien's penchant for a long and bitter memory leading to revenge, I wouldn't hold out much hope for that backbenchers chances in Cabinet though. Which is probably why she seems to have aligned herself with the “the Liberal Party needs a new leader” faction.
Shortly after that however Chretien had a bigger problem arising from the war in Afghanistan.
After having been impolitely informed that the British consignment in Afghanistan would not need Canadian troops there was some behind the scenes groveling and the Americans grudgingly allowed the Canadian military to become part of their forces. This was trumpeted as a resounding victory for the Liberal Government here, although the fact that the Canadians had to use American transport to get there was conveniently forgotten. Well it would have been if it hadn't taken so long for them to get there and questions started to be asked. At which stage it became apparent that the Liberal attempts to neuter Canada's forces had been spectacularly successful. Much to the embarrassment of most of the Canadian populace I might add.
Even more spectacular was the issue of camouflage uniforms. Having sold off the Desert uniforms the Canadians were sent Afghanistan wearing “Green” camouflage! Which sort of had the added bonus of making them just a little conspicuous. Chretien's famous “we are not there to fight and my troops will come home if they have too fight” did a lot to bolster everyone's morale. As did the laminated card that all Canadian troops were handed which had a list of situations in which they were allowed to “return” fire!!
“Please try not to hit any vital organs while I check up whether or not I am allowed to shoot back at you. Thank you. You may now eat the red Smarties!”
Talk about politically correct madness!
Which is what happened in Parliament shortly thereafter. The left-wing politically correct anti-American brigade suddenly found that, having had all their ideals rudely shattered by the swiftness with which Al Qaida was routed, they could get back on the “I hate the American Satan” bandwagon over the issue of prisoners.
The filth, froth and fury emanating from their collective braying was amazing. I don't remember hearing a single peep out of these sheep about the WTC disaster. Not even a simple bit of sympathy for the victims. Even the Canadian victims for that matter. But “My God!” that the Americans had disdained to follow the Geneva Convention when they bought their prisoners out to Cuba! All hell broke loose. Stalin's useful idiots hadn't had a good anti-American cause to sink their teeth into for a long time. And they came out spitting. These terrorists must be accorded prisoner of war status. Canadian troops weren't allowed to hand over any prisoners they captured. It is disgusting that they are shackled. And so it went on.
The left wing newspapers got in on the act and published a picture of “American” troops leading blindfolded captives from a transport plane. The gist of the caption being that this was the type of disgusting treatment being handed out to these poor little Al Qaida soldiers. Eggleton, the Minister of Defence, promised that Canadian troops wouldn't be nasty to the poor little terrorists. Or, as he put it, Canadian troops wouldn't have the opportunity to hand over prisoners because they probably wouldn't get involved.
Some bright spark noticed that the “American” soldiers with the captured prisoners were wearing “Green” camouflage! Now which army was dressed in green? You guessed it! Those nasty Americans were actually Canadian troops handing over their prisoners to the Americans.
Which has created an interesting situation to say the least.
Did the Minister know? Did he keep it quiet? What was going on? More importantly did anyone in Government actually realise that the Canadian troops were under American command and as such would be obliged to hand over any prisoners? Had they consulted the laminated card?!!! Were any of those prisoners being tortured by eating Cheerios in Cuba? The bleating continued. Including I might add the chorus of excuses as to why those idiots seem to think that the murderers should be treated as prisoners of war rather than as the criminals that they are.
And in all this I am still waiting to hear the slightest bit of sympathy for the WTC victims being made by any of the loud-mouthed proponents of “civilized” treatment for the terrorists responsible. For a change I am not alone. There is a growing annoyance at this stupidity from the normal Canadian-in-the-street. Who seem to have grasped the facts a little better than the Government sheep would have liked them to. Out on the street people are starting to ask pointed questions, which I don't think many of those bleeding hearts, would like to hear.
I actually feel very sorry for the Canadian Armed Forces. They have a proud and noble history as a fighting force and here they are being totally hamstrung by their sniveling little politicians. How on earth they have such good morale knowing that they are supposed to be protecting the very bunch that is doing everything to tear them apart astounds me. In fact thank God that this is Canada because in most other countries of the world the military would have rounded up this bunch and stuck them into cells somewhere. With justification I might add! Here the military merely carries on doing a good job with no support. Quite amazing actually.
Of course one little fact that slipped by in all this idiocy was the comment by Chretien that he wasn't thinking of “taking a walk in the snow” just yet. As he is on track to becoming the longest serving Prime Minister in Canada's history I don't think his ego will allow him to do that. No matter how many promises he breaks and who gets trampled or cast aside along the way.
Which is a pity because Canada desperately needs a new Government. This one is way past its sell by date and beginning to stink!
February 5th 2002
It suddenly occurred to me that I sometimes make comments which have a follow up clause to them. So for all those of you who read this column I had better report back on the one or two issues that I made a comment about and which you no doubt are waiting with baited breath and eager anticipation to find out about.
The reason I am doing this was the grand opening of the first Krispy Kreme outlet in Canada. Up the road in Mississauga actually. I would have forgotten completely about my comments regarding the consumption and report back of said fried doughballs, if the PR department of Krispy Kreme hadn't mounted one of the best campaigns for free publicity that I have seen in a long time.
Apparently they sent out boxes of free doughnuts to every newsroom in Ontario, which for once wasn't ignored as the PR stunt it so obviously was. In many cases it made front-page news. It also started up the debate as to which doughnut was better. The American usurper Krispy Kreme, or the Canadian stalwart Tim Hortons! The food pages got in on the act. The political pages got in on the act. You know. This is the end of Canadian independence. Cultural invasion. That sort of thing! Obviously a very hot and important topic of earth shattering importance.
Which of course ensured that there was a huge crowd of people waiting for the opening, jamming up traffic for miles and ensuring that the Police Department was called in, which of course ensured that there was more headline grabbing attention, which created a better awareness, which created more customers, which created longer queues, which…..but you probably get the picture.
Unfortunately I had to go to the Future Shop in the same complex to hand in my resume and write their psychological test. Which was not a clever time to have picked. As I drove up I thought that there had been some form of accident taken place. There were no fewer than six(!) Police Cruisers parked in the street and roughly twelve, or more, Officers standing around directing the confusion. Not a tiger in sight I might add! Actually only about half the Officers were active in directing the confusion. The rest were indulging in obviously free coffee and doughnuts from the Krispy Kreme outlet. At least I assume it was the outlet. Imagine the unhappiness if one of those Cops was snapped drinking a Tim Hortons double double and munching on a Maple Crueller?
“Coffee or Business?” snapped the Officer when I finally got to the turning point. I always thought that coffee was business in Canada but I wasn't about to get smart with a cop still waiting to have hers. After ascertaining that I wasn't about to join the queue I was shown the way into the parking area. This probably earned me the hatred of all the others who had been placed into the muddy field outside in the dark but, hey, being pleasant has to pay off sometime. And besides my accent is nicer!
When I had finished my call I strolled down to the tent that was set up outside the door to accommodate all the expectant doughnut connoisseurs. When I went in there was a queue with about 200 people waiting but I must have hit a quick lull when I went down, as there were maybe only fifty or so. So I joined and about a half hour later strolled out with one of their specials. Two dozen assorted for $10.99. The plain doughnuts at least being hot off the machine. They smelled good as well. Even better was the coupon that was handed to me allowing me to “buy a dozen get a dozen free” when I came back. And back. And back! Actually it was a handful of coupons. Good slick marketing there.
As I drove away I noticed that the queue of cars and people had increased again. In addition there was my initial cop now standing at the side munching away on her doughnut and drinking coffee at last! It sort of warmed my heart to think that here at last was justification for all those Cop movies that I saw and believed in as a youngster.
So having been there and done that and eaten the evidence (I didn't get the T-shirt because they weren't free and I am not about to pay $20 to advertise someone else's business anyway!) here are some of the taste test teams thoughts on the American doughnut invasion.
General consensus was that they are OK. Yes I know that is not reassuring but I for one couldn't find anything startlingly different other than that they are a lot sweeter that the Canadian variety. And smaller!! My children liked the plain ones purely based on the fact that they didn't taste like cakes!? They tasted like doughnuts in fact. Well South African doughnuts actually. A friend of mine makes pre-mix for doughnuts back in South Africa and these were similar to his mixture. Not the same, because I actually think that his mix makes the best damn doughnuts in the world, but similar!
So I will be using the coupons obviously, but I won't go out of my way to get there. Tim Hortons can rest easy I guess. For one thing the coffee at Tim's is much better anyway and maybe I have become accustomed to the taste of the Tim Hortons doughnuts as well because I for one prefer them. Oh and, all in all, given the size of the Krispy Kreme doughnuts, the doughnuts from Tim Hortons are much cheaper. Which makes a lot of difference.
Having been silly enough to actually make a comment about the unseasonably mild December we were treated to another of the sudden dumps that make living in Canada so exciting. Especially for all the drivers out on the road when it takes place. I love the fact that for a good twenty-four hours beforehand the Radio and TV stations blare out advance warning of impending doom and gloom. Generally without any result taking place normally. This time though they got it spot on. Overnight we got fifteen centimetres or more of snow, followed by ice rain and then more snow. With winds gusting up to one hundred kilometers per hour. Now you have to understand that even if the temperature was only in the minus threes or fours, that wind speed had the wind chill factor down to well into the minus twenties before it had finished. I was outside shoveling the pavement when the first blast of wind hit. It was very interesting to have snow been driven into every nook and cranny from every angle and for once I couldn't see a thing around me! It didn't last for long but I felt like one of those explorers in the arctic trudging through the storm!
Lastly, and with the blizzard raging outside, for all of those who have been waiting for the weather report via the awakening of a furry marsupial I can report that Wiarton Willie has surfaced and, according to his spokesman/woman/person, has predicted that there will be an early spring this year. Which given the hot December and sudden stormy January didn't need a rocket scientist to predict. Not that Willie is a rocket scientist even by the wildest stretch of imagination. On the other hand I vote we strap the little rat on a rocket if his prediction proves inaccurate! Which is supposedly only ten percent of the time. According to his spokespeople at least.
Maybe we should tie them to a rocket instead.
Better yet tie them up and place them in the path of the bloody snowploughs!