An anti-political mood descends across the land (or at least the part of it I live in)

Oct 20th, 2021 | By | Category: In Brief
“Critical Mass” by Michael Seward, October 2021.

SPECIAL FROM L. FRANK BUNTING, PANCAKE BAY, ONTARIO. WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2021. The deep northern autumn is setting in. Forecasts here call for a low of 0° C this coming Friday night (and early Saturday morning).

I’m in one of my recurrent anti-political moods. I agree with the UK emeritus professor Malcolm Gaskill, who writes in a recent London Review of Books : “As Hugo Rifkind has observed, ‘”Hey, look out your window, most things are fine!” is a message that almost nobody ever sends or sees.’” And I like this message — remote from the monotonous political debate reported in even the branches of the mainstream media I like.

I empathize as well with a tweet from Fiona Webster (“Physician, writer, artist, treehugger”), on Jon Stewart’s recent appearance on CNN. As Ms Webster explains : “Jon Stewart on our media: ‘The overwhelming majority of stories seek to expose the conflict lines.’ Journalists always weave narratives of people warring w/ each other over X or Y. It’s beyond exasperating! I want Truth—not divisive rhetoric.”

Good morning, Timmins! 10/16/2021 … Maija Hoggett/TimminsToday.

(Well, the highest “Truth” may be too out of reach, but something like it, closer to the ground? More political realism, less joy of conflict?)

Then, with the global pandemic in mind, there’s the recent Angus Reid opinion poll that asks : “When do you anticipate things will be ‘back to normal’ in Canada?” The answers are — Never: 37% ; Later Than The End Of 2022: 30% ; Six Months To A Year: 28% ; Three To Six Months: 4% ; A Month Or Two: 1% ; Few Weeks: 1%. (“October 3, 2021 / n=5011.”)

Like others on this site, I am similarly distressed at how unfairly PM Justin Trudeau has been treated by the media and others (including opposition parties and some Indigenous leaders), in such recent reports as : “Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc chief describes Trudeau visit as ‘bittersweet’” ; “Tk’emlups leaders’ open letter set steps for PM to prove commitment to reconciliation” ; and Aaron Wherry’s CBC News column, “The reconciliation project is vulnerable to cynicism — and Trudeau’s Tofino trip didn’t help.”

“Abstraction (Composition #2)” by Michael Seward, October 2021.

I think too much of the current debate about Indigenous policy in Canada is too focused on the joy of conflict. It could do with more political realism. To take a small but not altogether insignificant point, Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir has said : “We wanted to ensure that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited what we refer to as a sacred site … It was a long awaited moment to receive a personal hand of recognition and sympathy regarding this horrific confirmation of unmarked graves from the Canadian head of state.”

Whatever else, this just perpetrates further political illusions. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not the Canadian head of state. That is ultimately, some might still stress, the Queen in Buckingham Palace across the seas. For all practical purposes, the Canadian head of state today is the so-called Queen’s representative, the Governor General of Canada. And this is now Her Excellency Mary Simon — an Indigenous leader recently appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in his role as head of government.

Probably most Canadians do not understand the difference between head of government and head of state in our 21st century parliamentary democracy any better than Chief Casimir. And I personally agree that the office of head of state in Canada desperately needs to be democratically reformed, to remove its ongoing echoes of Canada’s colonial past. But I think it’s highly arguable that in 2021 leaders who “set steps for PM to prove commitment to reconciliation” also ought to know that the PM is not the Canadian head of state.

Aaron Wherry in his column argues that : “Fairly or not, Trudeau was already being accused of not doing enough” about Indigenous policy, even before his trip to Tofino on September 30, 2021. Mr. Wherry goes on : “It would be an even larger problem for his party if those accusations are even louder whenever this government goes looking for a fourth turn in office.”

“Abstract Composition #1” by Michael Seward, October 2021.

As someone who has followed this broad issue somewhat since the election of the Trudeau Liberals in 2015, it strikes me that one key truth about it all is just how unfair it really is, to a prime minister who, again whatever else, has done more for Indigenous policy in Canada than any other prime minister since the establishment of the present benighted confederation in 1867.

Meanwhile, my spies out west tell me that the election of Amarjeet Sohi as Mayor of Edmonton and Jyoti Gondek as Mayor of Calgary this past Monday are signs that the future of Canada is not exactly hopeless. And I take some heart from that.

I have taken some heart as well from the news that the Toronto Bop Rap ensemble known as the Shuffle Demons have a new Bop Rap piece called “Have a Good One,” which premiered on the marvelous YouTube October 15, 2021. (CLICK HERE to listen and watch. And CLICK HERE if you want to review the Shuffle Demons’ great hit of the 1980s, “Spadina Bus.”)

My spirits have been further lifted recently by my accidental YouTube discovery of a recording of the 1940s hit tune from the movie “Laura” — played by the great and still unsurpassed alto saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker, “With Strings,” in the early 1950s, in and around the Manhattan bar named “Birdland” after him.

I conclude with a few seasonal lines from one of the so-called Canadian “Confederation Poets,” Bliss Carman (1861–1929), who was born and raised in New Brunswick but spent most of his adult life in Boston : “There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood … And my lonely spirit thrills / To see the frosty asters like a smoke upon the hills.”

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