You expect me to believe that (notes from northern North America as the pandemic hopefully subsides) ????

Jun 29th, 2021 | By | Category: In Brief
“You Expect Me to Believe That?” by Michael Seward, June 2021.

SPECIAL FROM DOMINIC BERRY, MAN ABOUT MAIN STREET, GRAND BEND, ON. JUNE 29, 2021. It’s been hot enough here lately.

But not quite like : “Extreme heat warnings remain in place over much of Western Canada as a historic heat wave that has shattered 103 all-time heat records across BC, Alberta, Yukon and NWT moves eastward … Environment Canada warns that more records will be broken in BC’s Interior … after the village of Lytton registered the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada, 47.9 C, on Monday.”

Meanwhile, in the USA next door : “Portland soared to 116 degrees — hotter than Dallas, Miami and LA have ever been: Meanwhile, on the other side of the country Boston was forecast to hit nearly 100 degrees and New York City could feel like 105 degrees.”

Pinery Provincial Park on Lake Huron, near Grand Bend, Ontario.

Just now here north (and just east) of the lakes, the afternoon skies grew dark and torrential rains poured down. This at least cooled the covered front porch. We sat out and drank coffee, marveling at the ferocity of nature, indifferent to human needs or aspirations. “One thing about all this,” the lady of the lake beside me said, “is that it shows climate change is not a joke.”

(And then a little later I noticed this short report on Twitter : “UK Met Office: Is climate change to blame? UKMO scientists say temperatures of this ferocity would be almost impossible w/out the concentration of greenhouse gases warming up our atmosphere. WMO: As a result of climate change, heatwaves are becoming more intense and frequent.”)

Meanwhile, CBC News has just reported : “Heat wave in BC believed responsible for jump in sudden death calls. In the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby, the RCMP reports 25 deaths in the last 24 hours. And in nearby Surrey, there were 22 calls yesterday and 13 so far today. By contrast, there were 4 on Sunday.”

The lady of the lake and I are not making any particular plans to celebrate Canada Day on Thursday. That seems the mood across the country right now for many different reasons. But of course in 2021 respect for Indigenous grief over residential schools is a key element in the “tradition of all the dead generations” that “weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living” — and bears further reflection.

Grand Bend pier sunset, summer 2013. Photo by Victor Alderson.

(And in further still apt if nonetheless dated language from the middle of the 19th century : “Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past.”)

At the same time, there is much out there at the moment that makes me want to ask “You expect me to believe that” — beyond the endless absurd TV commercials for products that so many of us have in so much surplus already. And this includes too much political rhetoric from all sides.

I have nonetheless been quietly buoyed by two recent movies on my cable TV service or whatever it is called nowadays : “Alone Across the Arctic” with Adam Shoalts ; and “The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts The Tonight Show” (for a week in 1968).

In the midst of all my further reflection I have been modestly uplifted as well by the 82-year-old Sally Ann Martin’s “Canexit? It’s time for Canada to divorce the Queen” — published in the Globe and Mail of all places!

UK heartthrob Lottie Tomlinson, creator of Tanologist, a vegan and cruelty free tanning water, beating the heat at Marbella beach in southern Spain, June 28, 2021.

(Though I still believe that in the real world of our Canadian parliamentary democracy it is not quite as simple as all that — as our Chief Justice has now had the opportunity to see for himself. I continue to think the best practical direction lies in something like “Why a Royal Commission on Democratizing the Governor General of Canada makes sense in 2021.”)

In the very end I have always been and can myself only be a Canadian citizen and nothing else. Considering the wider history of planet earth and its frequently appalling treatment of all kinds of human beings, I do not think there is anything terminally shameful in being a Canadian citizen — a status that only dates from 1947. The Canadian “free and democratic society” alluded to in the Constitution Act, 1982 needs and is always trying to improve in many ways.

I continue to believe as well in the fundamental truth the economic historian Harold Innis pointed to in 1930 : “We have not yet realized that the Indian and his culture were fundamental to the growth of Canadian institutions.” That is what I will be quietly reflecting on this Canada Day 2021. (And on this subject at least the lady of the lake and I do more or less agree. I think.)

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