by Michael Schultz on March 10, 2014
I opened the paper last weekend and this story jumped out. A Toronto guy named Tony Trigiani(who along with Parks Canada) wants to erect a rather large monument ( 30 metres tall or 10- storey high) on the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton.
Cape Breton is one of my favourite parts of the world – not just Canada. The statue, called “Mother Canada” and referred to as the “Never Forgotten National Memorial”, is being proposed for one of the most picturesque sites in the Highland National Park called Green Cove. They even have their own website even though the project isn’t even approved yet.
It is not being received very warmly by local residents in Cape Breton. In fact, one local has said that “the thing with this war memorial – it’s starting a war” It is proving to be very divisive. The plan touts the benefits of tourism and employment, something that might well be welcomed in Cape Breton.
While it may be hard to dispute the value of a war memorial, those opposed cite the following disadvantages and ask a few questions about such a project:
1. Is it wise to pour concrete over a pristine arm of pink granite that extends into the ocean?
2. Is this really fitting in terms of Parks Canada’s mandate?
3. Does this project smack of a staunch support of military symbols, further glorifying war but also creating another legacy for Canada’s Conservatives who are in favour of it?
If it gets the go-ahead, it would be unveiled July 1st, 2017, commemorating Canada’s 150th birthday ( let’s hope Quebec is still with us).
Local folks met at the Ingonish fire hall recently and provided plenty of jeers and cheers. There’s a feeling that they are not be listened to or consulted.
The statue features a rather large female statue. Perhaps the heckle of the hour goes to a resident named Hector Murphy who, while he sees some benefit for the local economy, is not a fan of putting it at Green Cove. Says Mr. Murphy, “If they put it down at Green Cove…all you’re going to see is her arse.” Good one.
I called up my old friend Jim Morrow, who is the editor and publisher of The Victoria Standard in Baddeck. Jim says that the issue is creating quite a stir – in fact, he confirmed that it is generating more debate than any other subject in the past 22 years.
Perhaps more Canadians and folks globally need to know the story of Cape Breton residents like Alexander Graham Bell, aviator McCurdy and others before this project gets any sort of light of day.
Those involved in promoting this thing should watch this 1958 classic trailer on The Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. I see some parallels.
by Michael Schultz on March 3, 2014
I read with interest John Doyle’s account of the image Canada projected in TV ads during the past winter Olympics. (“Who let corporations define our culture?” – THE GLOBE AND MAIL, page L3, March 3, 2014.
Doyle hits the mark. One commercial – Jump the Boards with Sydney Crosby – suggests that every kid in Canada is ready to play hockey for Canada…it looks more like a commercial for the militia…a call to arms.
Kinda corny …I mean look at the jersey….Tim Hortons couldn’t get the rights for either Hockey Canada or the Penguins- never did see this one during the Olympics. But as Doyle points out Canada’s winning gold was really a case of our NHL stars beating everyone else’s NHL stars. Perhaps there’ll come a day when there is no NHL – just national leagues everywhere that come together for good old competition once a year to see who is the best. Despite Justin Trudeau’s recent remarks about Russian hockey loss, I think any country that didn’t win in winter Olympic hockey has reason to be upset.
But perhaps the most annoying of Olympic commercials depicting Canadian values was that we (sadly) define ourselves by policing not peacekeeping these days. Wanting to debunk the idea that Canadians are ‘nice and polite’, Doyle refers to the Welcome to Canada ad which he claims is clearly defiant and promotes a tough guy image. What Doyle is really ranting about is the shame he feels as beer and fast food companies determine our national identity.
As Doyle says, Russia might convey itself as a macho, tough, and uncompromising place the same as their leader but Canada is a tolerant country. Our strength is actually in peacekeeping and being proud of a peaceable kingdom- it’s why so many people have come here from around the world – it’s what others know us for. I’m not sure who we are really try to fool by electing to portray a bully image.
Canada is much more than hockey, doughnuts, and beer. I agree with Doyle’s point that we tend to lap this stuff up ‘like simpletons”.
by Michael Schultz on March 2, 2014
I am making my way through Susan Cain’s interesting book called QUIET: THE POWER OF INTROVERTS IN A WORLD THAT CAN’T STOP TALKING. I always thought I was more of an extrovert but lately I don’t think so. While I enjoy groping in a group with the best of them and being sociable, I have come to realize how much I value serenity, privacy, peace and quiet….and creating on my own. I hate committees.
That said, it is Cain’s contention that inventors are often introverts who like to work/write/create in a quiet, solitary environment.
But this book goes much further to explain a society (ours) that is bent on producing a culture of extroverts… perhaps best illustrated by the current school system that promotes a collaborative, team environment. The author takes us to Harvard which is bent on preaching the extroverted life for students.
Most interesting is her analysis of the type of culture found in both introversion and extroversion. The former is best described as one of a culture of character. The later is seen as a culture of personality.
Heckling and talking do go hand in hand. What if introverts ruled the world. We seem to have too many busy bodies…heckling extroverts and leaders who are all “sizzle” and no “steak”.
Here is Cain presenting a Ted Talks lecture about her subject matter:
I don’t feel guilty that solitude matters.
by Michael Schultz on February 22, 2014
My wife thinks Jimmy Fallon is adorable – I kinda like him too. His impressions of rock icons is amazing. My favourite is Van Morrison swilling and singing on St. Paddy’s Day. His ‘Jim Morrison’ is pretty good too!
Fallon recently took over as host of The Tonight Show from Leno. Leno’s best gig was his news headlines….truth being stranger than fiction ( and diction).
Apparently Fallon’s modus operandi is to “entertain you and make you feel good, and go to sleep with a smile on your face.” I like that too. Some pundits think Fallon isn’t cutting enough when it comes to the news of the day. John Doyle of The Globe and Mail writes that, in late night TV, “debunking is all the rage and there is rage in the debunking. Fallon’s the odd man out. Maybe it will make him the popular guy. Or maybe he will need to get some rage going.” But it looks as though Jimmy is not out to debunk and bully. Leno is my age (63). Fallon is a youthful 39. It’s good to see young blood and the approach doesn’t have to be loaded with venom…it can be fun.
Here’s a taste of his new start taking things back to New York from the West Coast:
by Michael Schultz on February 19, 2014
Doug Saunders writes in The Globe and Mail that the world is witnessing a new trend – uprisings and protests against governments that have come to power through fair elections in existing democracies.
Saunders suggests that this protest is staged against “the rotten fruits of democracy”. This happens when the media is suppressed and/or constitutions are changed to favour the incumbents. He also suggests that people in places like Kiev believe that “protests themselves are more democratic than elections”.
Perhaps the best point made by Saunders is that most protest is “about ending injustices, not about finding new leaders”. As his article tells us….”protest is not enough, you need leadership”.
The ‘peaceable kingdom’ known as Canada has never really been rocked by revolution. Even Quebec’s posturing to leave was greeted with …”OK , we’ll have a referendum….” ( which did not go in their favour).
All organizations need good leadership. As the old management maxim goes…” a good leader is not necessarily a good manager…..but a good manager is always a good leader.” We have to remember the four functions of management – planning, organizing, leading and controlling. I think the lion share of disruption is originating from poor planning and organizing and leading – the result? Plenty of controlling – fire fighting and standing ground.
As usual – CNN is on the ground and the airwaves with their eye on the protest:
by Michael Schultz on February 17, 2014
The “bogeyman” is found in many cultures. It is used to frighten young children into good behaviour ( aka ‘the Devil’).
We have our own ‘bogeymen’. In the past, if it wasn’t Martians, it was the Russians. It seems we always ‘need’ a bogeyman – something to focus our complaints, distrust and energy towards so we can explain or rationalize our fear.
In the 1960s, Norman Jewison directed The Russians Are Coming starring Alan Arkin and Jonathan Winters. It was a comedy but with the Cold War still raging, the US was hesitant to comply with Jewison to provide his movie with a submarine- necessary since that’s how the Russians come to America….they show up in a submarine.
So the Russians are to be feared, Communism is evil. But fortunately, the movie uses humour to show us that the bogeyman is probably between our ears. Meanwhile, a few years later, the Canadians and Russians take each other on in a hockey summit that probably does more for world peace ( and the NHL) than anything else on the planet.
Fast forward to the present. The other night on Netflix we watched Here Come the Muslims. It is in the spirit of The Russians are Coming – just a different bogeyman. It is a film produced by Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah. The objective of the film, besides making you laugh, is to expose and explain the Muslim reality in America. Same problem – different bogeyman.
Makes you wonder what we’ll fear in the future – somehow I don’t think it’ll be other humans or ideologies. I think it will deal with simple things like climate change, growing crops and staying warm. Mind you, if someone tries to hoard everything or dominate…we could have a new ‘bogeyman’.
by Michael Schultz on February 16, 2014
I never thought I’d write about wrestling in relation to heckling. But, hey, it’s in front of some pretty rowdy fans. I must admit I enjoy watching wrestling occasionally even if it is silly stuff. It’s entertaining to say the least in small doses. In the early 60s I used to love watching wrestling on TV from Buffalo – guys like Sky Lo Lo and Little Beaver paraded regularly around on the mat.
Apparently there’s a WWE Hall of Famer by the name of Mick Foley who says he rarely got heckled. Foley is on record as saying:
“Fortunately, I’m experienced entertaining on Friday and Saturday nights when some people are drunker than usual. But if that (heckling) happens, I just stand back and don’t fear the heckler.”
Here’s a clip from a recent news article about Foley:
Here’s Foley aka “Mankind” in his opening season back in 1996.
Foley is now retired from the ring.
by Michael Schultz on February 10, 2014
Canadians are busy watching the Olympics and I love the webcast feed – even if there are too many commercials and feed delays.
That said, business goes on back home with rumblings about our Conservative government shutting down debate of the “Fair Elections Act. Here’s the scoop apparently – with a protest mounted for today on the hill:
Protest on Parliament Hill TODAY (Feb 10) at 12:30
At this very moment the Harper Conservatives are shutting down democratic debate on their so-called “Fair Elections Act” and trying to ram the 242-page bill through Parliament only three days after it was tabled.
In drafting their electoral reform bill, the Conservatives refused to consult with Elections Canada, with other political parties and, most importantly, with you and me. Now they’re rushing to make it law without any public consultations despite the serious harm the reforms pose to voters’ rights and our democracy.
TEN REASONS for opposing the Act:
1- It fails to give the Commissioner of Elections the authority to compel witnesses to give evidence. Commissioner Yves Cote has said that his inability to legally compel witnesses was hampering the investigation of more than 1,400 complaints about false or misleading telephone calls to electors in the 2011 election.
2- It denies election officials the investigative power to compel political parties and their riding associations to provide financial documentation to support their financial returns.
3- It fails to hold political parties to account for the authorized use of its data base by those who have access to it.
4- It requires the Commissioner to inform a politician in writing if they are to be investigated for a breach of election laws, a statutory heads-up not provided to anyone else in broader society.
5- It muzzles the Chief Electoral Officer from making allegations of electoral fraud public.
6- It shifts the appointment of the Commissioner of Elections from the Chief Electoral Officer to a federal civil servant.
7- It raises the limits on political donations by 25 per cent, from $1200 to $1500. This benefits the Conservative party who have more big donors who give the maximum amount.
8- It increases the election-spending limits for each party by 5 per cent, which was about $21 million in the last election.
9- It stops voters from using the voter card sent out by Elections Canada as valid ID. This could mean that some Indigenous people, young people, seniors, homeless, even those without a drivers licence, may not be able to exercise their right to vote.
10- It forbids Elections Canada from launching ad campaigns to encourage people to vote.
But let’s face it – the guy who makes the most sense out of our voting dilemma is Rick Mercer – here’s one of his many rants on voting ( or not voting as the case may be):
Good advice – if you are eligible…..vote.
by Michael Schultz on February 5, 2014
“Kids in a sandbox” – a term used to describe the performance of Canadian MPs during Question Period.
One of my previous blogs explored the a report by Mackenzie Grisdale. She prepared a revealing document called “Heckling in the House of Commons”. Here it is in case you didn’t see it:
The organization Samara also weighed in with an interpretation of her report:
Among other things you can see the types of remarks politicians were making in the house. I profiled Samara yesterday and its work. I just completed reading their 3rd report called:
“It’s My Party: Parliamentary Dysfunction Reconsidered”.
Here’s an overview from Michael Macmillan and Alison Loat.
Their reports clearly zero in on a few basic facts about the reality of political life in Ottawa.
- MPs feel like outsiders
- MPs do their best work in Caucus and in Committee
- Question Period is theatre and acting. Question Period is a time for heckling and challenging by party faithful. As one MP said to a visiting school group – “the MPs are behaving ‘like kids in a sandbox’. It is the time of greatest openness and publicity but the lowest when it comes to the calibre of work accomplished.
- MPs, like most Canadians, are embarrassed by the clowning in the House of Commons by politicians.
- You hear less about being a Member of Parliament and more about being a member of a party ( think ‘trained seal’). This results in less constructive work on the hill.
- Most MPs come to politics reluctantly….until nominated.
- MPs come from a wide array of careers and occupations.
by Michael Schultz on February 4, 2014
In 2009-10, Alison Loat and Michael Macmillan conducted a series of interviews aimed at finding out more about the political views of Canadian politicians as they exited office.
This research ended up in a report called The Accidental Citizen.
Ms. Loat heads up Samara Canada, an organization that looks at political participation in Canada. Loat and Macmillan describe their approach in this brief clip:
Canadians would likely participate more at the polls if they knew they could rely on the politicians representing them. The current feeling is that politicians can do much better in gaining our trust. In a previous blog a few months I took a look at the report on heckling in the house.
Now the duo has written a book that will be published this spring by Random House:
Tragedy in the Commons will no doubt point to some of the shortcomings of political behaviour on Parliament Hill. Watch for it in April. No doubt it will make us think a bit more about who we elect to office.