Wild Life

You may or may not know that Canada’s National Film Board is providing free access to an abundance of excellent stories, including the Oscar-nominated Wild Life. The ironic title hints at a tale that is well worth the 13:35 of your time, especially if you like Westerns, Prairie mythology, or British colonial revision.

Funny Bone Friday, episode #13

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Migrants & Melania

Thus far in the global migrant crisis Canada’s border has been quiet, mostly due to our geography/isolation. But now that the U.S. is closing in on itself and relegating immigration to a zone of fear and instability, we have seen a threefold spike in the number of refugees/migrants coming across.

You know people are desperate when they trudge north through waist-deep snow and brutal winds in the deepest, darkest winter for 10 hours to the border, losing fingers and toes to frostbite in the process. Now that spring is whispering in the wings and soon the weather will be warm, this trickle could very well turn into a torrent. The New Yorker reported on an underground railroad poised to launch the migrants they are currently housing and protecting. Soon we may see our nation’s claim of racial tolerance tested.

On another note, Melania Trump has been on my mind for a long while; I’m not alone in wondering what kind of man Rump is in private and what she must endure. In one of the protest rallies outside the NYC Rump Tower someone held up a sign that read: Melania, blink twice if you need to be rescued.

This week, 22 Minutes, Canada’s troupe of irreverent comics who riff on current political topics, put out their latest video: “Mrs. Trump, this is the third time this week.”

So I’m posting it here, because we’re all holding our breath and it’s Funny Bone Friday, Episode #12

 

Some new kind of crazy

We have to change our ways, and fast, and yet our politicians are still smiling for the cameras and pushing fracking and LNG plants; in faraway offices behind closed doors they’re still approving oil and bitumen pipelines that traverse vast stretches of land, up and down mountain ranges, in an active earthquake zone, pipelines that are bound for coastal tankers which will then navigate rugged BC fjords during winter storms and other extreme weather events, pipelines that are bound for tankers that will go right through the heart of Vancouver’s staggering coastal beauty.

And why are politicians dragging their feet and timidly avoiding the green revolution? Because they want to get re-elected. Because they lack vision and/or courage. Because they put politicking over people, because they don’t want to go anywhere near the touchy subject of structural economic change. Because they don’t want people to panic.

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More Evolution of the CBC Required

January 2016 Op-ed for the Bridge River Lillooet News

I’m a CBC fan since forever. I started listening to Radio One programs when Peter Gzowski hosted Morningside and you could hear him chain-smoking in the studio. When I started watching CBC TV we had rabbit ears for tuning in black and white hockey games. At that point programming hours would finish then the screen would revert to a test pattern of the head of an Aboriginal Chief.
As my life has progressed and society has changed, so has the CBC—to some degree. I’m the first person to sing the praises of all the journalists and foreign correspondents, and in general I’m proud of its high-quality programming and documentaries. Our national broadcaster is critically acclaimed worldwide.
But.
The mothership, as it’s affectionately called, is showing its age. If I hear Peter Mansbridge or Wendy Mesley use the phrase “visible minority” on the nightly National news one more time when referring to non-white people I may have a stroke. Those two words reveal much about white privilege and blind spots. There has never been a homogenous majority in this country and when I hear visible minority I want to yell at the TV: As compared to what, the invisible majority?!
CBC discussion panels showcase this problem further. When Mansbridge or Mesley gather their pundits, you can bet they’re all white. Another news program that really needs an overhaul is Power and Politics. Day after day, month after month, predictable white pundits give their predictable opinions on the important matters of the day. In the weeks after the Paris terror attacks Power and Politics ran daily segments about terrorism and the Middle East which did little more than stoke fear. Why didn’t the program include any Muslim Canadian pundits in those discussions? Why were the experts in Middle Eastern culture all white? Watching that program makes me think the CBC has forgotten about balanced reporting, not to mention irony.
And if this diversity-avoidance is allowed to continue, how soon before the CBC loses its ability to become relevant to younger generations? If the CBC wants to keep the interest and attention of Canadian viewers—and by extension the political will to fund its continued existence—then it needs to look and sound like the real Canada.
Younger generations are more informed because they’ve grown up with that thing called the Internet. They know way more about the world than my generation ever did. They’re media savvy, privilege savvy, race savvy, everything savvy, and they’re not going to accept phrases like visible minority or panels of all-white sparkle ponies trotting out their all-white expertise. If the CBC isn’t evolving as fast as it should because it’s afraid of alienating its base of long-term Boomer generation supporters like me, they can breathe easy. We’re along for the ride until the very end. And we’re eager to see the end of embarrassing old media and its sanitized, whitewashed perspectives. Time to get with it, CBC, because it’s 2016.

Online Comment Culture

This week the CBC took an unprecedented step to close its online comments section after a story about a First Nations issue generated an incredible amount of racist vitriol, the most vitriol, in fact, of any subject the nation’s broadcaster tackles. I wish I had taken a screen shot of the comments before they were taken down. They were appalling. When I weighed in with my comment that First Nations issues—the facts and their historical context—need to be included in grade school programs across the land, lest another generation of ignorant bullies gets their information from older ignorant bullies, my comment provoked a reply from an anonymous racist who spewed ALL CAPS INVECTIVE in my direction. It was pleasant.

hippies were right

When a nation hides/ignores/avoids its ugly history it leaves gaps in the collective identity, gaps too often spiked with venom or what James Baldwin called “the vindictiveness of the guilty”. Canada has built a cherished myth around the successful, tolerant, multi-cultural mosaic and while the myth is true to some degree, it’s hardly the full story. As I’ve written previously, there’s an elephant in the room and if this country is to fully mature, it will have to accept and humble itself before the truth of the near-genocide of First Nations people.

But back to the CBC shutting down its online comments section. Hatred is to commentary what coughing is to flu season—it doesn’t take long before everybody is sick with it, and sick of it.

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Trudeau’s Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was sworn in yesterday and this country has never been more jazzed. 

trudeau_taking oath

Swearing the oath.

Something amazing is happening in Canada. For the first time in my life, people are excited about politics. Yesterday for the swearing-in ceremony 3500 people crowded the grounds at Rideau Hall to participate. Four cool young dudes from Montreal got up and 4 am to drive 192 kilometers to Ottawa and be the first in line to get in to what they believe was an historic occasion—and trust me, prior to this, “cool dudes and Ottawa” was an oxymoron, though I suppose that depends on who you’re talking to.

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