Saturday, March 7, 2009


I've read somewhere that when you get older, you tend to reach out to family and places that you have distanced yourself from. The first time that I came across that idea I have to admit that I was quite cynical.. As a young man, I couldn't wait to leave Moncton . Toronto, even then (the early seventies) was the big city. It had theatre and skyscrapers (The TD Centre). Montreal, the usual target for people from Moncton was too alien for me. As an anglophone Acadian, I didn't feel welcome especially given the urber-heated cultural battles going on. The wounds of October, 1970 were still bleeding.

Moncton had its own language issues then as well. 1969 gave us the Université de Moncton demonstrations that rallied against the chauvinistic and very francophobe Mayor Leonard C. Jones and his refusal to recognize that francophones were a sizable segment of the population and deserved a voice - in their own language. By God, the city was home to the largest francophone University east of Quebec. For that he received that an infamous door prize: a pigs head delivered to his home.

The language struggles continue to peculate to the top of the news:

How bilingual is Moncton?

The president of the Société de l'Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick believes social progress in Moncton has been hindered this week by comments made by Councillor-at-Large Kathryn Barnes at a city council meeting Monday night.
Barnes spoke out against the idea of designating a new position for an assistant building inspector as bilingual when council was asked to vote on the issue this week.

The whole question of language rights (and wrongs) is one that has sapped so much energy from our country. The solution as I see it in my Trudeau-arian brain, is to give more than lip service to the notion that we are a bilingual country. Because, in reality, New Brunswick is the only "bilingual" province.

Quebec would sooner name an official holiday after Don Cherry than agree to offer adequate ESL education to its citizens. Parts of Ontario still only require the french be taught as an elective in its high schools, and as for the rest of the country, apart from isolated francophone areas in the Maritimes; the Prairies and the West, french is so far from the daily reality of most that even cereal boxes exhibiting "la langue de Molière" ceases to send people into singing choruses of The Maple Leaf Forever.

Like so many other issues surrounding civil and human rights, there is always a disconnect between what we would like to see and what it is that we do see. Giving voice to the fact that francophones will feel welcome from coast to coast is as easy as saying that child poverty will cease to exist by 2004.

It takes political will and visionary leadership to make things happen.

School boards across this country must incorporate secondary language training into the the basic curriculum. None of this one hour a week joke.

But that won't happen. Education is a provincial jurisdiction as is health care. That these two areas suffer the same monumental challenges is quite a coincidence, n'est-ce pas?

Friday, March 6, 2009

March 6, 2009

I now live in Montréal (Québec) Canada, actuall very near this clock tower. It's been a long journey from Moncton to Toronto, to Hamilton, to Owen Sound, back to Hamilton, back to Toronto then almost ten years ago, to Montréal.

As an anglophone of Acadian, German and English decent, it wouldn't seem obvious to many that I would make my home here in this battleground of linguistic and cultural politics. But, I am settled. Though it is at times a struggle, I try to remain positive about the unique beauty of this city. As with people, the most attractive tend to be those that have a slight quirkiness or flaw that serves to only accentuate their best traits.

Montréal has been the subject of much romanticization; that it is a bit of Europe in North America, that its fashion sense, its love of culture and festivals, its multicultural mix gives the city a vitality and sophistication that rivals anything on this side of the big pond.

Now, there are those that live here who might say that all of these attributes are nothing more than plastered pancake makeup on an old whore. Montréal's decrepit infrastructure, bloated civil service, and elevated tax rates make living here challenging and frustrating.

Well, yes...and you're point is?

As I get older, I have learned to put things in perspective. That it is possible and most likely probable that the people or things that I love will have flaws, will have irritants, and won't always look their best.

And as I look into the mirrow each day, I can only remark to myself that perfection is so overrated.

"Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it."
- Salvador Dali

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Launching A Ray in the Life

The need to express myself, be it through personal journals, through chats with friends or rants about current affairs has always been strong. Unfortunately, my self discipline to actually follow through with a consistant method of doing this - not so much.

I am hoping that through this blog, I will regularly find a voice to my express my thoughts on life as I am living it, as I have lived it and as I hope to live it.

There are some specific things which I hope to address in this excerise:
I hope to explore my history and invite friends and family to fill in some blanks where they can. As someone who was raised in Moncton N.B., surely one of the most ignored areas of Canada, I carry with me a typically Canadian identity crisis.

I wish to share with the readers my interests in music, film, books and art in general because culture exists to be shared.

I want to make people aware that there is a danger in being complacent about the fact that we, in Canada are priviledged to live in a country that recognizes in law same sex rights. While there is much to be thankful for, there are tragically too many instances of violence and discrimination against the GLBT community here and abroad.

And finally, I hope that this excerise can be helpful in providing focus to my life as I filter my diffused thoughts and impressions through the prism of words.

Share It If You Like It