I want to take a few moments to say something about our new Prime Minister in Canada: Justin Trudeau.
This recent federal election was a big deal for Canadians. It was a chance to finally end almost 10 years of Stephen Harper’s rule, an administration that has been very divisive and controversial. Harper did some good things for the economy, but he also did a lot of bad things such as severely weakening our environmental protection laws, compromising our constitutional rights with bill C-51, and going over the heads of citizens and First Nations groups to push forward his agenda of powering the economy through oil sands development. The Trans Pacific Partnership deal, which will have a multitude of consequences for several industries in this country such as dairy farmers, and pharmacare (although, to be fair, some industries would benefit. It’s a win-some-lose-some situation) was discussed largely in secret. Harper always controlled his public image very tightly as well. He did it so much, in fact, that he appeared to be about as bland and boring as his stupid buckethead haircut. Harper was an economist, and he tried to run the country like a business. But it takes more than business acumen to be the Prime Minister that Canadians want.
On October 19 the Canadian citizens made it known who they want to be their Prime Minster when Justin Trudeau, the son of former-PM Pierre Elliott Trudeau, (one of our greatest PMs responsible for many of our social programs that make this country such a great place to live) was elected with a strong majority; 184 seats to the Conservatives 99; a pretty huge change from the previous federal election in 2011 where the liberals fell to just 34 seats and people were ringing the party’s death knell. Harper held a strong base in the prairies and rockies this year, but in this election something special happened: voter turnout was 68.5%, the highest it’s been since 1993!
The multitude of citizens who are sick and tired of Harper’s myopic crusade fought back. Young people, who have for a long time been disengaged from the political affairs of this country, took to the polls and young people don’t vote Conservative blue; they chose Liberal red or NDP orange, maybe even the Greens, but certainly NEVER Conservative. There was even a strong First Nations vote against Harper, and this is easy to comprehend: Harper was never given to negotiating with the First Nations groups, he would rather spend millions of dollars a year fighting them in court. We, the people, joined forces and kicked his ass to the curb allowing for a new, fresh-faced Prime Minister Trudeau part 2 to take office.
Justin Trudeau is the second youngest PM we’ve ever had, and he has some pretty big shoes to fill. His late father was intellectually brilliant and a fascinating personality that Canadians across the country rallied behind in “Trudeaumania”, so we’re all going to have some high expectations. One thing I can say for sure, however, is that he is the quintessential Man of the People.
I could see it in him during the debates with the other party leaders. He might not have held up as well against the more experienced Mulcair and Harper, but I immediately got the sense that he really understands what Canadians want, and what their biggest concerns are for this country. It shows because he spent three years going coast to coast to coast talking with everyday people face to face, listening to them, and showing real concern. Justin Trudeau gets us. He knows what it means to be Canadian and has a vision that, hopefully, most of us can agree on.
He isn’t afraid to go street level and meet his constituents, and that is exactly what he did yesterday morning. The PM-designate of Canada went to Metro Jarry, which is in his riding, where he shook hands and took selfies with morning commuters. Change is coming to Canada, and it sure is handsome.
The day is hot and bright and Halifax is alive with morning light as I’m walking the inclined downtown streets: Prince and Argyle, Sackville and Grafton; heading for the Citadel. It sits above the city with grassy hillsides, stonewalls and black cannons. An ancient bastion of defense built in a time when England and France were fighting for dominance over the realm of what would one day be called Canada.
As I surmount the lush hillside and enter the stone archway of the front gate I think of my grandfather. He did some of his WW2 training here. He was in the RAF 42nd Division bombers and survived an astounding 90 missions firebombing Berlin and the annihilating the Rhineland, (the average lifespan of a bomber crew was 13 missions). Am I stepping in the same place he once stepped? I wonder. Where did he sleep? Did he perform drills over there?
The Halifax Citadel was first established in 1749. Over the years it fell into disrepair and was rebuilt four times. The current incarnation of the Citadel was named Fort George after King George who was determined to build a permanent military base in Halifax to defend against the French. But not once, in all of its storied history, have any of the four versions of the Citadel been attacked. The soil here has never tasted blood, and yet it was instrumental in the defense of the city. Read the rest of this entry »
Côte-des-Neiges is a multicultural neighbourhood with some of the cheapest rents in the city and at least a dozen cafes. Its an underappreciated area, but it has a lot to offer including the very hip Caravane Café located just around the corner from Metro Côte-des-Neiges .
Caravane Café is in a restored Victorian home. The front porch serves as a nice to place to sit on a sunny day and chat over cigarettes, and the terrasse is big with lots of seating and plenty of sun. Thanks to the flatscreen TV mounted on the side, it also isn’t a bad place to watch the game.
Its proximity to the Université de Montréal means it’s a popular student hangout, so if you go there during the school year you might have trouble finding a seat . Over the summer it’s a little quieter, but there are still some crowds, and you often see lineups reaching out the door. Read the rest of this entry »
Frustrated with the difficulties and subjectivity of the literary publishing industry, I thought it better to take matters into my own hands. So a couple months ago I created and printed my own chapbook. To promote this work I’m seeking out venues in the city where I can do readings and possibly sell a few copies, but I would be short-sighted of me not to make my chapbook available on my website as well.
So here and now I’m offering my chapbook as a free PDF. Click the link below to start the download. Once you’re done reading it, shoot me an email and let me know what you think! An artist can never grow without honest feedback.
Please enjoy :)
FREE DOWNLOAD: Signals in the Fog_Chris Riddell
On my three-week Maritime adventure I discovered there were a number of pharmaceuticals that proved to be very useful during my travels. When you’re travelling you won’t be eating the same diet that you eat at home since you end up eating whatever is available a lot of the time, and this can play tricks on your physiology causing fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, and general malaise. You also won’t be sleeping the same, and this can mess you up too.
There are a lot of over the counter medications that you can use to combat these unpleasant symptoms, so its a good idea to put these in your luggage before you hit the road. Then, waking up sick one morning, you wont have to make a mad dash to the pharmacy and realize you don’t know where to find one in the small town on 2000 people where you are currently staying. Here’s a short list of drugs to take with you. Read the rest of this entry »