He Shoots, He Scores!

Heh, just kidding about the Grinch Who Stole Democracy; soulless kid from The Omen; map of Canada tattooed to your ass so that you look like a baboon; stuff Mr. Harper, Sir. At your earliest convenience I'd love to arrange a fawning interview with you for prairie dog magazine that, should you be so inclined during your next round of Senate appointments in 2009, might cause you to look favourably upon this humble scribe as a possible candidate for elevation to that exhalted chamber where, in concert with my several dozen other Conservative appointees, I will work diligently to spread your gospel. The gospel according to Stephen. Which surely has to rank, if I might be permitted a bit of pre-interview fawning on this very special day, as one of the best gospels ever. Right up there with those written by John, Mark, Matthew and Luke.

Christmas In Winnipeg

Merry Christmas, Regina!

I’m in Winnipeg.

While I've lived in Regina for a decade and consider it my home, it's an inescapable fact: I was aged to my current, tragically well-documented state of imperfection in this town once dubbed “One Great City” by its deluded and desperate boosters. And because I’m related to people who still live in this sprawled, violent and IKEA-obsessed burg, I often head back here at Christmas time.

The highlight of my semi-annual visits, besides seeing family of course, is catching up with friends. Met some pals last night at the Round Table, a south-end restaurant/pub that seems to be the official Yule gathering spot for the old “gang”.

The service was sketchy — what kind of pub lets thirsty patrons stare at empty glasses? — but the nachos and conversation were good.

One fellow conversant was Jake “nom de plume “ Fiddler, a PhD student who just moved back after a couple years at a university in the States. Jake is the still-recovering youngest son of socialist internationalists. He spent a lot of his childhood in developing countries where his do-gooder folks associated with Marxists, leftists and other hippies—the kind of people who, when they weren’t building schools, helping refugees and digging wells, were complaining about Ronald Reagan and U.S. imperialism.

(I know this because in junior high school I often ate lunch at the Fiddler's and thus listened to their leftist propaganda, their stories about the MNR in Mozambique and death squads in El Salvador and race murders in South Africa and stuff like that. I fear I may have been corrupted. But enough about me.)

So I had to ask this friend who grew up in a household polluted by anti-American sentiment what it was like to be a guy like him in the States for two years. How is the U.S. different from Canada? What did he learn?

“You gotta fight for health care. That’s it,” he said.

Jake says that in the United States, when politicians talk about universal health care they’re talking about making it illegal not to have privately administered health insurance. And that’s the best to be hoped for. The prospects for publically-administered universal health care along the lines of what Canada (and basically THE REST OF THE DEVELOPED WORLD) has are, according to Jake, precisely squat.

There’s a lot I love about the country to the south of us but in too many important ways it’s broken beyond conceivable repair. Too much military spending. Too much corporate lobbying. Too much demagoguery around crime and taxes and patriotism and God and “family values”. Out of control racism and gun violence. The Phoenix Coyotes.

The fact that the United States can’t establish universal health care, though, is probably the best symbol for the nation’s failures.

Yet another reason I get frustrated when the majority of my adopted home province votes for the Conservatives, Canada’s most American-style political party.

So that’s what I’m thinking about while I’m up waiting for Santa at three a.m. Christmas morning.

Don’t tell me I don’t have an ass-full of holiday spirit.