Thursday, August 2, 2012

August 2: festival of watch wearers....

I'm thinking of a watch festival for next summer as a tourist highlight for the hub of the maritimes. We'll invite Milano watch wearers ($10 at your local pharmacy). The festival will assemble at Magnetic Hill, and march down Main Street, wrists held  high, until we come to someplace we can all get a beer. I'm sure we can get a government grant and a big writeup in the TandT.

Meanwhile, Moncton will have to make do with a festival of of people who all ride the same brand of motorcycle. Vroom, Vroom. Front page news in the Moncton Times and Transcript. Wow! Can you imagine people coming hundred and even thousands of miles just so they can all get together and everybody can look at them - and both sides kid themselves that this is important?

There's no end to the possibilities. A festival of Smartcar owners. A festiival of moustache growers followed by a festival of the clean-shaven. At least ancient Rome provided its mob with parades of prisoners and slaves and gladiators and loot. Anything to keep people entertained and trivial.

More interesting, and useful, news is about the lobster fishermen's protest that is heating up. This does matter. Fish plants have been abusing the fishermen of this province for decades. It's time the fishermen fought back.

Of course, by fighting back, the fisherman (like the Transpo drivers) will get blamed for starting the whole thing.

A2 has two, long stories about the Oland case, both of which tell us what we already knew- this case is dragging on for a very long time. Why? How many such cases have dragged on this long? Why is it that most other cases go so quickly? If it were you or me, would it take so long? What's happening? All we're getting is interviews with various officials who tell us the official line. That's called press releases, not reporting.

A6 has a worthwhile story on a group called Enviro that is helping the homeless and ex-convicts to find jobs and to develop skills. Very sensible and very helpful. But it is surely astonishing that the government has not already been doing that.

There's also a story of a similar group, this time volunteers in search and rescue, in Miramichi.

That's it. Most of Section A is trivia - like a big story that Wayne Gretzky will be here in person. You can actually see him. The trivia is, I think, quite deliberate to keep Monctonians in ignorance of what is going on.

Section D has the usual big story on Syria - as usual, it's from Reuters and with the usual pro-rebel slant and the absence of any real story.

For example, it does not mention that several days ago President Obama made it official that the US is supplying money and weapons to the rebels. (In fact, it has been doing so from the start.) Nor does it mention the massive funding and weapon supply and training from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, etc. (In fact, Reuters does know about these. I have seen Reuters reports in other papers that do mention them.)

As well, there is plenty of evidence that Jihadists are increasingly noticeable on the rebel side, so much so that Syrian Christians have been arming themselves to join the fight - on the government side.

A News editor is supposed to know this sort of thing. He or she is supposed to sort through the various services to determine which stories are worth buying. Instead, the news editor at the TandT seems to grab whatever first comes out of the pipe - and only what comes from Postmedia and Reuters.

Judging from its ad space, the TandT must be a very profitable paper. But it obviously runs on the cheap and sloppy, barely hiding its contempt for its readers.

P.3 has what I should have thought to be front page stories in the newspaper that promised to keep us informed on shale gas. Provincial NDP leader Dominic Cardy says there is laboratory evidence of ground water contamination south of Moncton. On the same page is a long response from the government that says nothing at all. As usual, the TandT simply writes down whatever it is told by the government without asking questions.

If we have regulations in place, do we have people enforcing them? How? And how many? Has none of these rules ever been broken? Have there ever been penalties?  What testing has been done by the government? Can we see the results?

What we have is the NDP leader presenting evidence of contamination. And the government is saying there can't be because it has rules against contamination. It should not be difficult for a reporter to note that government response doesn't make a whole lot of sense, and to ask some questions that might help make things clearer.

What you have instead, is an old, newspaper game. Print a story you don't like (but can't ignore) - but put beside it a story that clouds the issue.

The editorial is just childish. It draws a quite unexplained parallel  between Moncton's 2010 stadium and the London Olympics stadium. It may even hint that the Brits got the idea from Moncton.

Stadium 2010 is also, it says, the the fanciest venue in THE WORLD for recreational walking and running. That must have been written by a person whose travels have been limited to Buctouche and Port Elgin.

As to the editor's idea that Moncton will get a CFL team, get real. Ottawa has had trouble supporting one. And Ottawa is even bigger and richer than Moncton.  We are also in the early stages of a worsening economy. What a silly, over the top, editorial.

Nobert has something worth reading in the "All politics" part of his column. I think we still need some thought about rural New Brunswick and how its people can be best served. But almost 200 years of North American history have proven we cannot stop the rural-urban drift.

I was intrigued by Jody Dallaire's column on discrimination against women at the Olympics. As she says, it is very much a man's environment - and it has been from the start. The purpose of the modern Olympics was to train the upper classes for leadership. They were amateur garmes specifically to keep the poor out. The poor couldn't possibly take the time and money to train and travel unless they were paid.  And, of course, we all know that only men can be leaders. (I really must write a blog on that some time.)

Alec Bruce is light, but still with some snap to it. For Rod Allen, I have a test. There were three Richards (brothers) who played for the Montreal Canadiens. There was Rocket Maurice Richard, Pocket Rocket Henri, and --------- (He played defence, but didn't last.)

A letter to the editor is a sign the hysteria we are prone to in a language debate. ("No taxes for bilingualism".) And, believe me, I've seen hysteria in a language debate.

I was many years on the provincial board of Quebec's English rights group, Alliance Quebec, two years as provincial chairman. Quebec nationalists were riddled with bigotry. They did trample on our rights. They did want to dominate us.

But New Brunswick is not Quebec. Acadiens are not Quebec nationalists. New Brunswick anglos are not an abused minority. I could wish some people would understand that Quebec was not a case of English against French. The same conflict could have occured if Jacques Parizeau had spoken Italian and I had been the chairman of the Norwegiean minority.

The quarrel in New Brunswick is not between English and French, but between a majority and a minority. Common sense should lead anybody to understand that majorities are in no danger of losing such quarrels. (Admittedly, it took me twenty years to figure that out in Quebec. But majority bigotry will win every time.)

It's important for both sides to realize the the issue is not one of English and French, but one of minority and majority. That changes the way we think about it. It would, I think, have led Dieppe to deal differently with language of signs - which created exaggerated fears without doing much good for anybody. Among the not much could, I would  include the sort of reaction I see in this letter.

The fact that the French majority of Quebec abused the English is no reason to criticize rights for the French in New Brunswick.

And, please, on both sides, stop referring to culture. You don't know what the word means. There is no such thing as an Acadian culture or an anglo culture. Most "cultures" around the world have thousands of similairites as well as a great mnay differences. And no two individuals have exactly the same "culture".

But that's another subject for another blog.

Oh - a reminder. I know I cancelled the August 7 (Tuesday) meeting of the current events group at the library. It is now uncancelled. I will be there. In fact, culture could be a topic.

Library. Tuesday, August 27.  7 p.m.


  1. Maybe Wayne Gretzky's daughter is going to come? Sneak peek here:

    The french-English thing is interesting, but I gotta ask: why I (being of English descent) am expected to pay to artificially maintain another culture? And if I pay to maintain one, why not all?

  2. I will not sneak a peek at Gretzky's daughter; not, at least, until I stop sweating and shaking.
    You are not paying anything to maintain a culture. There is no such thing as maintaining a culture.

    However, every tax dollar you have is spent in favour of some element of somebody else's culture. French is an aspect of Acadian culture - but it's relatively a very, very inexpensive one. You pay far more to favour somepeoplel whose culture requires wealth and a feeling of superiority.
    And, in exactly the same sense, Acadians pay taxes to support the language of your culture.
    Just those two because we have two official languages.
    We should also stop arguing about it because the argument is used by others as a chance to rip off both language groups. That's what happened in Quebec.
    The reality is that French and English in New Brunswick desperately need each other. Let's hope they learn that before it's too late.
    The French in NB are no threat or cost to the English - just as the English in Quebec were no threat or cost to the French. (The threat was American movies and TV.) And the consequence of the language wars in Quebec is that both language groups lost heavily.
    Ireally should use a current events meeting at the library to talk about this whole business of what culture means.

  3. Some of the letters I've seen about the whole bilingualism issue are borderline hate speech. There's one individual from around here who wrote a letter to one of the NB papers calling bilingualism a "malignancy" and comparing it to the Bubonic Plague and called the British the "stellar stock that built Canada".

  4. Well, more accurately, the basic stock was Scots, Irish and English. And the English were neither loved nor admired by the Scots and Irish. (0h, and the Welsh).
    For that matter the English "stock" are heavily of French, Saxon and Viking descent.

  5. I should add that the early commercial development of Canada came from the fur trade which was a partnership between Scots and French, with Scots knowing the market, and the French knowing the sources.
    The English were nowhere special. We didn't even have an English prime minister until the 1890s. And he didn't last. he had to be replaced by a French one.
    The English did, though, introduced our first example of institutional bigotry and bullying - The Orange Order.