Adventures in Vancouver (With a Cantankerous Grandmother who doesn’t like Vancouver.)

So I’ve got a sweet new office and junk, that I was planning on posting pictures of – but frankly I’m not even done unpacking from the move. So instead you get pictures of my recent trip to Vancouver. And by recent I mean June (have I mentioned how busy I am?) Actually recent was a rather spur of the moment trip to see Josh for some much needed time together – awesome! Photos of that soon, but first Vancouver because that’s chronological order for you.

Usually all my vacation days are saved up to visit Josh, but this was a quick five-day getaway (including a weekend, thus requiring only a whopping three days off) for a low-key family wedding and a chance to hang out with some of my hipper relatives. Plus I’d never been before. Toronto and Vancouver each like to think they’re way cooler than the other (*cough* Team Toronto! *cough*), but really they’re just different in a million little ways and your preference will depend on which vibe you like better. I’ve heard them referred to as the New York and San Fransisco of Canada, which isn’t really all that apt – but you get the idea. Either way, any Canadian worth their salt (or other seasonings?) should at least try to see as much of the country as possible – it’s rather pretty you know. So off I went.

I have to admit that the shitty weather combined with sharing a hotel suite with a cantankerous grandmother added up for a less than impressive first couple of days. But eventually I got to check out some very nifty places including the Vancouver Aquarium, Van Dusen Gardens, and Shannon Falls.  For a short trip, I managed to cram in a lot of activities.

Photies!

First up was the Vancouver Aquarium with my uncle and grandmother, a day before my aunt arrived. It was of course eighteen different flavours of awesome and fun. But we didn’t get to stay very long, because although Grandma joined us for the scenic drive up, she stubbornly refused to pay or have anyone pay for her the $17 seniors fare that she deemed absolutely outrageous, and anyways it was too much walking. So we spent two hours seeing as much as we could before feeling the pangs of elderly abandonment guilt while she perused the gift shop for over priced souvenirs for the younger cousins. To be fair, she probably had more fun there than she would have had inside, surrounded by strange looking things.

Sculpture outside the entrance. I get it Vancouver, you REALLY dig whales.

Coming to get you!

You thought of the turtle from Finding Nemo. You know you did, and you did the voice too.

Cayman are scary!

I don't know what this is, but it's exceedingly orange.

I don't know what this is either but I'm pretty sure it's flashing me.

Octopi!

Jellyfish!

Next up! Van Dusen Gardens, a completely gorgeous collection of rare and expertly cultivated plants, a shrubbery maze (a shrubbery!), ponds, ancient trees and enough oxygen and chlorophyll to leave me feeling very zen and peaceful, which by that point was very much needed.

We all went first for the wedding, you see (of which I have no photos as my camera had by then sucked through multiple pairs of batteries.) It was a very simple and elegant outdoor ceremony followed by a traditional Chinese eleven-course seafood dinner – which Grandma had initially looked forward to, being a lobster lover and all, but was then promptly disappointed because everything tasted “too Chinese.” The fact that her grandson had married a Chinese woman may or may not have dawned on her, although she adored the girl and got along fabulously with her family (small blessings, we count them.)

The next day we all decided to go back to the gardens to see the areas we had missed and linger in the foliage. Except Grandma. She didn’t want to walk that much, didn’t want us to walk slow for her because that “wouldn’t be fun for you young people,” and was absolutely offended at the idea of renting a wheelchair for when/if she got tired. This is the same lady who rides her bike for an hour every day, mind you. Besides, having traveled all the way to the west coast for a wedding (by five day train, because no way was she flying for five whole hours) there was now nothing more important than catching that second-last episode of this seasons Bachelorette. So yes, a trip to a very calming garden was very much in order.

My aunt and uncle and the awesome garden entrance.

These are Ginkgo trees, which have apparently been around since the Jurassic period and nearly went extinct before being cultivated back into widespread existence by Buddhist monks. The next pic is a closer shot.

Brachiosaurus food.

Ducklings! We spent twenty minutes watching them swim between the lily pads, climb up on them, get too close to the edge and plop back into the water.

Water lily.

Scrabble alert! Sequoia is the only seven-letter word containing all five vowels. They are also huge and very old, having been here since before the shift of the continents.

Trilliums! Go Ontario!

I forget what these are called, but they will eat monkeys.

More prehistoric ginormous plants. These have giant spikes on the underside.

My aunt loves English gardens.

Random Nuit Blanche style art installation in the middle of the gardens.

We couldn't decide if these were truly red poppies, which are apparently illegal to grow.

Norwegian poppies. Not illegal.

Lastly was a trip to Shannon Falls to see the natural glacier run off and dip our feet in freezing cold crystal clear ice water and climb over boulders and wet mossy rocks in totally-not-hiking-appropriate shoes. I still say my gold flats were perfectly fine for climbing.

That's a lot of water! Glacier runoff, actually, so it apparently slows down a bit towards the end of the summer when the melting is done.

This was insanely cold.

Climbing back up from the water.

The scenic drive back down the mountains.

Foxgloves - pretty, but deadly.

And my feet are still painfully cold.

So, guess who stayed at the hotel? Yep. That scenic drive you see there was far too nerve wracking for a little old lady who will attack home-invading wildlife with shovels, squirrels with slingshots, and will threaten tele-banking branch managers with physical violence and make waitresses cry.

Oh Grandma. We love her dearly, but wouldn’t exactly describe her as conducive to a peaceful or even remotely calm experience. Grandma’s the one to call if you want a mouthy neighbourhood brat bitched off your lawn, or a particularly profane round of Bingo, and for that and her fierce familial protection we do indeed cherish her. Just don’t try to take her anywhere else.

Except the Mandarin. She loves a Mandarin buffet like nobodies business. You see the irony, yes?

**************************************

The next day I was back on a plane and back in Toronto, and the following morning I was back in the torrential clusterfuck that is moving an office. Accomplished successfully (pics to follow, eventually), we’re still rearranging furniture and getting my work area to my liking. As stressful as the job is, it is kind of nice to have a management team that says “Your office needs more colour and artwork, we’ll get on that. And that shelf is ugly, we’ll get a better one.”

Added bonus: trying to cut back on overtime pay, they asked if I would be willing to accept time-and-a-half lieu time in exchange for coming in on moving weekend (which I had begged them to let me work through, not so much for the overtime but preferring not to deal with a ton of shit on a Monday morning.) I said I certainly would accept lieu time, and as soon as the move was done I planned a last-minute trip to visit Josh. I only had to use up four vacation days – and my quarterly bonus covered my expenses! Woot timing!

You know what that means – more pictures to post and another visit to plan very, very soon!

An Orwellian Degree

So I don’t have a lot of time to write because I’m struggling to squeeze in a few paragraphs at work in the midst of moving offices weeks earlier than anticipated. But I wanted to touch briefly on what happened in Toronto over the weekend. You know, in case you missed it, even though you only had to go so far as signing into Windows Live Messenger in order to hear the news. Normally you see your local news, but apparently my news was local for everybody, because even Josh was getting updates in North Carolina about the cop cars being set on fire just up the street from my house, and having a couple of barely concealed brain aneurysms at my proximity to it all.

We hosted the G20 summit this past weekend, a move that not a lot of people agreed with. While the opportunity to show off our fair city is always appreciated, many were concerned with how much everything would cost, as well as the consequences on our streets of an event that by its very nature sparks protests. And although I agree that if you’re going to throw one of these behemoths then security is deserving of attentive spending, I still doubted it would do much to prevent the relatively minor issues of broken windows and other surface damage – as long as nobody was able to blow anything up or kill people, I’m happy. As for spending over a million on a ‘fake lake’ to recreate the atmosphere of the Muskokas for the media/cell-phone-charging station, well that was just stupid.

But I digress.

Canada is not always the quiet humble nation we like to let the rest of the world think we are. We protest when called upon, and while I do most of my protesting with signatures or online petitions, I will on occasion make the trip to Queen’s Park to protest whatever is on my agenda on the lawn outside of the provincial legislation. I won’t be behind a loudspeaker or undermining my own cause with stereotypical garb that makes it easier for the established power to dismiss me; no, I’m the kind to craft a strongly worded email to my M.P., or to call incessantly until I make enough of a nuisance of myself to get that stop sign or whatever put up. Still, I was tempted to get out there this weekend and into the thick of it, protesting if nothing else the fact that protesting in general was kept so far removed from the site of the meetings as to have zero effect on the delegates therein.

Because Toronto, in case you hadn’t noticed, turned into a locked down fortress practically overnight, and it was the police response rather than what they were responding to that finally waffled my decision to the ‘staying indoors’ option. The legitimate protests themselves were mostly peaceful; loud, organized, and varied in cause, but for the most part non-confrontational and an honest exercise in our democratic right. And of course there were a few more vocal characters, but by and large things were amicable.

Then there was the Black Bloc, a movement of supposed anarchists, apparently mostly from out of province, who made violence and destruction their mandate. Against ‘the pigs of Capitalism’ and ‘the march of Globalization’ and all that jazz, this felt essentially like a bunch of kids who had seen Fight Club one too many times. I’m not saying they got their black t-shirts at the Gap necessarily, but they sure got them from somewhere. So yes, we spent money dislodging all the mailboxes and garbage cans which did nothing to stop them smashing any windows that weren’t boarded up, and yes the Starbucks was targeted. Did you really think you were going to stop a bunch of pissed off kids from lighting things on fire? Don’t be stupid. The fact that there are cops in riot gear just makes the whole thing way more ‘awesome’ than just complaining on the internet. If anything, the excessive force gave them more fodder against ‘the man’.

So much for fighting fire with fire. How about using something a bit colder, like a frosty Toronto scowl? I hear we’re good at that. Maybe with a ‘What the fuck? Did you just break that window? What is wrong with you? We have to pay for that, you asshole!’ It’s hip to be an anarchist, so you’re not going to win unless you stop making it cool. Dig?

But no, they didn’t dig, and so when there was literal fire they fought with mismanaged attention followed by a blitzkreig of over compensation.

On Saturday, we were told that they were not ignoring the flaming cruisers, but rather were sticking to their more important task of protecting the already heavily reinforced series of fences in front of the summit site. This despite the fact that we had literally thousands of officers from all over Toronto and the surrounding suburbs. And while the gas exploding inside the burning cars could be heard several unprotected, unpoliced, and very crowded blocks away, they were not short of hands a few intersections north at Queens Park. Teams of riot squads, sometimes three lines deep, moved through the trees to corral the sparse protesters and joggers in search of kids from the nearby University, long hidden in the sewers. They struck their shields with their batons, steady and in rhythm while they walked, looking like something right out of 1984. Hooligans are one thing, but when I got home from stepping out for a quick bite (and maybe a glance or two up the street) and saw the same marching scene on every channel, that was when I decided that perhaps it was a good idea to keep myself indoors or at least west of Spadina for the rest of the weekend. It wasn’t broken glass or the inarticulate shouts of yet another loud and angry anarchist that worried me. (Hello? Living on Queen West means you hear a loud and angry anarchist at least once a week – and they don’t frequently break windows.) No, it was fear of being arrested for standing on the wrong corner and daring to frown at the goings on.

Which is precisely what happened the next day with a sudden shift, a take-no-chances explanation for a stark increase in aggression. From the police, I mean. While officials point out that there were no major injuries or security breaches, others prefer to point out their use of excessive force, indiscriminate arrests and even tear gas – something so uncommon here that many reputable news sources incorrectly cited it as the first time ever in Toronto (it was in fact used at an anti-poverty protest when Mike Harris was premier several years ago.) Apparently even rubber bullets were used, and all this in crowds that a fair guess from my window would put at, let’s say, a healthy mix of legitimate protesters, a smattering of the curious and/or foolish, and maybe 5% hooligan? Maybe? Then later, to add to the afternoon fun, about 200 people were surrounded and held at Queen and Spadina by police without explanation for a nice four hour standoff in the pouring rain between them and anyone who was standing at that intersection for any reason at the time of their arrival. In the end we ended up with figures of over 900 people held, 600 arrested, and five courtrooms set up specifically to process all this shit over the next couple of days.

And so after all that, here we are, the Monday after, and we’ve already begun the process of returning to our unfazed selves, and picking up the glass as well as the tab.

I’m not saying we don’t need police, generally speaking. Or even particularly at these events, should poor judgement bring them upon us. I’m just suggesting that perhaps this wasn’t the brightest display of foresight from the governmental powers that be. And if we really did need to have this ginormous clusterfuck of a security breach right downtown because we couldn’t house all those people anywhere in cottage country, then we could at least have done so with a little more grace and civility.

So today I’m in support of the demonstration outside of police headquarters against their excessive use of force on civilians, because frankly that should not be left unchecked. However, while criticizing the mismanagement I will admit that this was obviously not an easy situation to, well, de-clusterfuck. So I’ll refrain from calling it ‘police brutality’ and stick with ‘an ugly lesson to be learned,’ if only to avoid being a hypocrite the next time I want someone to save my ass from someone bigger than me. And to be fair, and in the interest of demonstrating that my support lies not necessarily with either the state or the anarchists but rather the rest of us in between, it would behoove me to leave out a full expression of my disdain for the other end of the disruptive stick that gave us this weekend bashing.

That’s right Black Bloc. Your strongly worded letter is on its way.

(Except later, because right now I’m tired, and I have a job to go to tomorrow, so here are some pictures instead.)

heavy police presence in Toronto. G20

Happy (Belated) Canada Day

Okay, I know I’m eons late by now. But did you really want me to half ass a post about Canada? I didn’t think so.

And yes, pictures of the vacation are on the way. Josh is moving around right now, so he hasn’t had time to send them to me. Don’t forget, we’ve got celebrities, strippers, and inappropriate licking. So stay tuned!

Now, onto Canada Day.

In case you didn’t notice somewhere along the way, or are joining us here for the first time, I’m the Canadian half of this couple. Josh, on the other hand, is from the Deep South of America. It makes for some fun times, but it also leads to very involved, sometimes heated conversations about our different ways of life, politics, and principals. I have to admit it can sometimes be difficult for me to not bash my head into the wall at a lot of what I see coming out of America…

SERIOUSLY??? WTF???

But on the plus side, there are advantages to being in a relationship with someone who’s way of life has been totally different than mine, and who will debate me on things that matter. He can play up the southern redneck side when he wants, but at the end of the day Josh is sharp, and politically motivated. You can’t bullshit him. So when he doesn’t understand or agree with why we do what we do, I have to be on my toes.

I realize that as far as some are concerned (it’s okay Talea, I still lub you) being from Toronto may somewhat negate my Canadian status. After all, it’s a pretty massive piece of land and civilization – I’ve only seen the French and Maritime parts of it, and my day to day life is mired in urban culture as opposed to prairies, mountains, and small town issues. But a year of dating an American, I have discovered, makes you want to be the best damn Canadian you can be.

This isn’t to imply that Josh is arrogant or anything – quite the opposite in fact. I’m continually impressed at his wanting to know and understand everything about the country he’s moving to, to pick at issues until he’s sure he has the facts. But to give him those facts, I have to make sure I know what I’m talking about.

For example, we do have an army

I’m not going to go into a long involved schpiel about our differing policies, beliefs and political structures. Frankly, politics are only so exciting, even during that coalition brouhaha we had. I’m even going to try and avoid grandstanding (as much as I’d love to run around with a flag yelling CA-NA-DAAAA! FUCK YEAH!!!) Because when you get right down to the nitty gritty of comparing rights, freedoms, taxes, benefits, social institutions and etc., well… it can be disappointing. Josh is still very true to his southern heritage, but I think he’s more than a little frustrated at the state of his nation lately. Sometimes I feel a little bad about it.

However, I will say that despite some decline, Canada’s economy has fared relatively well. There’s no doubt we’ve been affected, but I believe that our economic and political foundations are strong enough to weather bad times – relatively speaking, we’ve got it together.  I will say that we have health care. There are problems, I know. It may take months to get an ultrasound, there may not be enough general practitioners, but when your kid is sick at 3 in the morning and you can’t figure out what’s wrong, you don’t have to think about whether or not you can afford to go to the hospital. I will also say that when I told Josh that I’d want to consider placing our eventual kids in the seperate  school system rather than the public system, I was dumbfounded when he asked me how much that would cost – it never occured to me that others don’t have free access to more than one school system. And I will say that I’ve grown to appreciate the multicultural mecca of  Toronto more and more every day – do you have any idea how many kinds of food I get to feed Josh? 

So moreso than anything else this past year, I have learned not to take these things for granted. While we’re not the biggest or loudest player, Canada is a well respected member of the international community. And we didn’t get here by having the biggest army, by being the most outspoken, by having a standardized Canadian flag hanging above every porch or so help you the neighbours will talk. We got here by quietly building up a solid foundation of domestic and international diplomacy, by beginning our country with less war and more politics, and by encouraging flags from around the world to be flown next to our own. We’re more than maple syrup, mounties, and whatever party is in charge this quarter. It’s how those parties interact, how the entire system is set up. I like to think of it as a hockey team that doesn’t always get along, but scores when it counts, parties calling each other out for the greater goal of winning at the internationals. It’s how we work with each other, and with the rest of the world.

Yes indeed, it is a damn fine year to be Canadian.

I can’t wait until Josh is here to see everything that Canada, and especially Toronto, is all about. The Gerrard Indian Bazaar, Greektown, Corsa Italia, Chinatown, Litte Portugal and others. The Pride Parade, the music festivals, the film festivals, the Agricultural Winter Fair, Winterlicious and Summerlicious, the theatre, the symphony, the media, and the constant barrage of invitations to info sessions on everything from meditation to Darfur.

More than anything I’m really looking forward to just having him here living with me. But I’m also hoping that while keeping his own brand of southern flavour, he also gets to understand that certain je nais se quoi of what it is to be Canadian.

Did you see what I did there? With the French? Pretty clever, huh?

Winter Wonderland

Okay, it’s not *quite* Wonderland out there, especially because to us Southern Ontarians, Wonderland is a place with a lot of fun rides and over priced chili fries.

This would suck covered in ice

This would suck covered in ice

But somehow, I’m not super pissed about the snow this year. I’m actually sort of….well I’m afraid that if I say I’m enjoying it I’ll get skewered by a foot long icicle – ’tis the way of the winter justice. I am surprised, however, by how minimally pissed I am at this most recent dumping of chilly, frozen flaked water all over my city.

It could be for a number of reasons:

– I have purchased, for the first time in many years, a ‘sensible’ pair of boots. Wedge heel. Fuzzy. Muklukish without being ugly. On sale. None of this ‘winter heel’ business for me anymore.

Fashionable, yet not retarded

– I have a nice coat. Not just a warm coat, but a nice, long, extremely pretty and in-style coat that makes me feel like I’m in Casablanca. Except, you know, with ice.

coat

Not this nice, but pretty close

– Up until this morning when I had to take a $5 taxi ride two blocks to the subway station, I had the transit schedule all figured out. This one might take some readjusting, but generally speaking I am able to leave my apartment right before the bus pulls up to the stop just across the street. Less than five minutes outside in the mornings? I can dig it.

Boourns!

– Indoor shopping. Toronto is used to the cold, and so there are a myriad of ways to get your shopping done, even grocery shopping, without ever having to step foot outside. Malls connect to the subway system, and once you get right into the core of the city, the PATH winds through most of the major buildings and transit, all without even looking towards the doors outside. Now if I can just find an indoor laundromat…

This is indoors, suckers! Mahahaha!

Toronto's PATH system: because the outdoors is for losers

– In the event that I do not find an indoor laundromat, I have discovered one that is even closer to my apartment than the one I’ve been using hitherto. I don’t even have to cross any intersections, which can be kind of dicey on my street. It’s a little more expensive and frankly not as nice, but it’s smaller, not as busy, plays classical music, and has no attendant. You’d think that would be a downside, but I prefer to not have people around when I’m out running errands or washing my undergarments.

– Toronto does have some rad winter stuff going on. And by the time I’m back here I’ll have someone who’ll actually be excited to attend such events even though we do, as Josh puts it, “turn everything into some weird abstract art thing.”

Cavalcade of Lights

Weird abstract art - still pretty!

 – I have a new weapon against the frozen, treacherous tundra that will be my sidewalks within a few weeks. It’s a phone number. You call it and tattle on all the lazy fucktards that didn’t shovel their snow, letting it instead be compounded into frozen footprints that are out to break my ankles every year. Seriously, I have developed this ridiculous fear of breaking my ankles. I will call that number fifteen times a day if I have to. I’ll call it on my own damn landlords. My ankles are grateful for my city’s well-spent tax dollars.

OW MY ANKLES!!! AND POSSIBLY KNEES!!!

– It’s a white Christmas! Surprisingly enough, we almost never get snow in time for Christmas. It shows up right at the beginning of January and clobbers our asses until Easter. And given that with a little luck this should be my last Canadian Christmas for a couple of years, I’m very pleased that the weather is going all storybook for me this time around.

My place does not look like this...but up the street it does!

– Money has been okay this year. I didn’t have to carefully plan each and every gift according to how many groceries I’d have to knock off the list. I was able to go out and buy exactly what I wanted without a second thought. Which does wonders for those last minute items, especially when Christmas is distressingly close to the rent cheque.

Damn expensive holiday!

And now the big reason:

– I told the Family to fuck off this year. Well not really, but I’ve never enjoyed the whole family holiday thing. And this year I said so.

Last year was a big deal. It was the last year my grandparents would be around before moving to Quebec, and my long lost cousin flew in with his fiancee from Vancouver. So for the first time in….possibly ever, that entire side of the family was together for Christmas. I went, even though I was ridiculously medicated and probably an embarassment. It was a big deal to me, and I went out of my way to get a little something for everybody, even the fiancee I’d never met. This year, I’m doing my own thing.

This year, I am going to a friends house for a Christmas Eve visit with her and the wee ones. I’ll wake up by myself – seriously, how is this some kind of tragedy? I don’t get it. I’m going to make sure I have a super clean kitchen the night before, and will make myself a really nice breakfast with mimosas and eggs florentine. I’ll say Merry Christmas to Josh if he’s around, and then make my way to the same friends house for a big gathering with her and her awesomely Greek family for what she is dubbing “Orphan Christmas.” There will be food, drink, and a related assortment of merriment. And since they’re Greek there will be more festivities for Orthodox Christmas later on. I’ll see my actual family in small, quiet doses on Boxing Day.

It’s not that I don’t like my family. I just don’t understand why every year we all rush through our Christmas mornings to haul our asses out to the suburbs in ridiculous holiday traffic to get to The Big Family Event by 2pm. Everyone bitches every year because the same aunt/uncle always show up late. I adore this aunt/uncle because they do their holidays their way. They open their gifts slowly and take the time to appreciate them, and show up to The Big Family Event when it suits them. The rest of us are usually in mid-crisis by this point. There is screaming and frantic organizing, paper thrown to and fro, gifts exchanged between cousins who don’t even know each other in ‘real life’. Food shovelled onto plates. I usually fill up on carrots and potatos. Every year I leave exhausted, cranky, shaky, carrying buckets of stuff that someone less fortunate could use far more than I, and I usually don’t remember who got me what. Then we all drive further into the frozen suburbs to visit even more extended family and stand around awkwardly. Everyone else seems to know how to do this, but I’m still lacking the ability to care about people I only see once a year. So I leave even more cranky, sleep deprived, with the general feeling of having been poked and prodded unpleasantly, and the lingering fear of “am I the only one who doesn’t know how to do this shit?” I do not enjoy these excursions.

Like this but with more panic and no Cousin Eddie

Also, I know you don’t really have to be religious these days, but what is this need to cram ourselves together in a room to celebrate what amounts to not much more than a giant shopping spree?

a christmas exegesis

As far as I’m concerned, if you’re not into the religious aspect of it, then the spirit of Christmas is more about little kids. Seeing them get all excited, hear stories about reindeer and gingerbread things. I’ve got one age-appropriate cousin that I never see, and all other cousins/siblings/etc. are well past the age of Santa. So I don’t see the point, especially when the little one has no idea who I am. My friends kids, on the other hand, run to the door when I visit! “Auntie Em, yaaaaay!!!” I am so all about that this year.

So!

I’m thinking that Christmas and winter in general is stressing me out far less this year because I finally feel like a grown up. I’ve got my shit together, I know what I’m doing, and I’m not overly concerned with how I’m expected to celebrate. I’ve got awesome friends this year and an awesome boyfriend next year (and this year, but especially next year.) The coming months are already filled with plans of adventure and I’m really looking forward to it. 2008 started off a bit rough but is ending fantastically. 2009 should kick even further ass.

I’ll see y’all there! And until then, I’m going to keep doing it my way.

Shove THIS Up Your Democracy!

I’m sorry, but I have this weird tendency to just space out and completely forget events sometimes. It’s not until I find myself in the kitchen staring at a bottle of ketchup that I remember wanting grilled cheese. And when I complimented Talea on a cute pair of pyjamas, she reminded me that they had been a Christmas gift – from me. I can be forgetful. However, I’m pretty damn sure that we just had an election.

Oh wait, I’m totally right. We DID just have an election. Like, YESTERDAY.

So in case you live in America or under a Canadian rock, here’s the shakedown. We’ve got the Conservatives in power right now – right wing. And for their entire duration in office, the Liberals – our scandal-ridden nigh bankrupt left – have been nagging and bitching and criticizing. You suck! quoth the Liberals. We’ll call another election! We’ll team up with those super-left NDP guys over there, we outnumber you! But they pissed and moaned until the Conservatives finally called the damn election themselves – and won again! The Liberals lost more seats than before!

If I’m not mistaken, that’s a pretty clear sign that we’re not interested in the Liberals right this second.

But now, Stephan Dion, leader of the Liberals, who was supposed to be stepping down, has decided that Canadians are stupid. Apparently we can’t make choices for ourselves, and so the Liberals have decided to team up with the NDP to form a Coalition government.

This isn’t throwing in a vote of nonconfidence and starting another election – letting Canadians decide who they really want. This is waltzing in and taking over office, telling Canadians what we ought to be doing. This is like Canada saying “Hey mom and dad, I’m going to major in Interpretive Dance!” and mom and dad saying “Hells, no! You’re throwing your life away! Here’s your pre-filled law school application!”

There are two things wrong with that. Firstly, Interpretive Dance is probably more reflective of the Liberal party right now, since they can’t seem to make asses or elbows of themselves – not to mention a nil career. So it’s more like “Hey mom and dad, I’m going to law school!” being answered with “Hells no, you’re joining the damn circus!”

The second thing wrong here is that life-choice-muddled 17 year olds aren’t allowed to vote. This right to an elected government is being taken from clear thinking legal persons – from Canadian citizens.

Ummmm, quoi?

The last time a coalition government took over was about 90 years ago. Kinda tells you something, doesn’t it? I can almost see it happening back when we were a fairly new nation, still quite divided and maybe not the clearest of thinkers – underage, you could say. I like to think we know what we’re doing by now.

Apparently we don’t.

These are the guys arguing:

I won the election

I won the election

Sore Loser

Sore Loser

French is special, dammit!

French is special, dammit!

Piggy-Backing Hippie

Piggy-Backing Hippie

Uhhh, bit of a side note on that last one, Mr. Jack Layton there. If you don’t recall, I’m actually quite the left winger. Go hippies. This is the guy I normally vote for. But this time, I really couldn’t risk having this crybaby Liberal in charge of my country. The NDP never win anyways – sure maybe they could have if all us doubters had been convinced, but this time I needed a sure thing. I voted for security.

I must say, however, that this was quite a beneficial move on Mr. Layton’s part. Because even though it’s been agreed that it would be Dion in charge, Dion doesn’t exactly seem like the type of character to tie his shoes with much success. Layton would have quite a sweet behind-the-scenes position of power. Not cool, but well played.  

Carrying on.

Basically, it rests on our Governor General. Who? I know, I know. The position is mostly ceremonial, a lingering nod to our imperial roots. It only becomes significant a few times a century. Say, every 90 years or so? I like to think Canadians are well versed in our own political structure. There’s no “The Newfoundland or such as” for example. But even a good majority of us don’t know much about our Governor General, because it frankly just never comes up. Unbeknownst to many, the Governor General is in fact our Head of State.

So when the shit hits the fan, and oh has it ever, it rests on these shoulders.

gg-michaelle-jean

Surprise! We're progressive too!

This is Michaelle Jean, and she’s technically in charge. I may not like it, but that’s how it is. From what little information is around, she seems calm and level headed. I hope she’s calm and level headed enough to realize that while we have maintained a parliamentary connection to the Queen, we are Canadian. When we vote it’s our voice. To take that decision away from us, for a country to silence its own citizens, is nothing less than a failure of democracy.

I’m demonstrating against this. Despite my hippiness, you may be surprised to know that it will be my first such rally. I’m more of the quietly demonstrative type – I don’t wave signs, I quietly recycle, sign petitions. But this is too important. So I’m speaking up.

And then, I’m getting the hell out. I’m getting the hell out anyways because it’s best for Josh and I if I move down south for a little bit. But the timing couldn’t be better, because I certainly don’t want to be around for this.

I’ll come back when this country has it’s head screwed on straight again.