Tall, Dark, and Mysterious

5/10/2006

How Canadians are made

File under: Home And Native Land, Talking To Strangers, Welcome To The Occupation. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 7:13 pm.

Today I met with a client, who arrived late and frazzled. I didn’t ask him for an explanation, but he offered one anyway, the same explanation he offered me the last time he arrived late and frazzled: “I have a newborn…kid isn’t sleeping through the night.”

This is the same newborn he had when I met him last Christmas.

“Lots of people in the office have new babies,” I remarked idly. “Annie’s little girl must be five months old by now, and Roger just got back from parental leave in March, and Frank’s son was born on Valentine’s Day. And it’s not a large office, either.”

“Well,” said my client, who’d obviously given the matter a fair bit of thought already, “there was no hockey last year.”

4/30/2006

Guess who didn’t send me my tax receipts this year?

File under: Righteous Indignation, Home And Native Land. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 5:08 pm.

The Employment Insurance office! I know - you’re shocked!

Fortunately, I caught the competent, frizzy blond-haired woman’s name, and I remember that she usually worked at the call centre; with any luck (mine, not hers), she’s still employed by EI, and can send the forms out.

Advice for Canadians eligible for EI: just give up, and get a damned job. It’s a lot less time-consuming.

4/13/2006

A Canadian moment

File under: Home And Native Land, Talking To Strangers. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 5:19 pm.

The rain was coming down hard when I waited for a break in traffic to cross the street.

I paused at the intersection, waiting for the Volvo, and the Honda that trailed perilously close behind, to pass. I saw the Volvo decelerate, and I tried to catch the driver’s eye. Speed up, I willed her, don’t stop. I can wait five seconds to cross.

But the Volvo stopped, and within an instant the Honda collided with it. It was a gentle hit, and I stood transfixed at the corner, wondering if the two drivers needed a witness. The Honda was technically in the wrong, but the Volvo shouldn’t have stopped.

The two drivers’ doors clicked open simultaneously, and the women approached the touching bumpers.

“No damage,” said the Volvo. “Sorry about that; I shouldn’t have stopped.”

“No, I’m sorry,” said the Honda. “I was following you too closely. And in this weather especially -”

“No, I shouldn’t have stopped,” repeated the Volvo. “It’s my fault. But no harm done.”

“Is everything okay?” I called out.

“Everything’s fine,” they assured me, and I forget which one apologized for making me stand out there in the rain watching a minor car accident.

1/24/2006

I Can’t Believe It’s Government!

File under: Character Writ Large, Home And Native Land. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 2:55 pm.

Oh, Canada, did you just vote in an even more unstable government than we had last time? You did, didn’t you? Whatever are we going to do with you?

I have an idea: haul in some cameras and a reality TV crew, because The Real World: House of Commons damn near writes itself. Think about it: we’ve got the most right-wing prime minister this country has had in, well, ever, and the man’s got no history of consensus-building to speak of; but never before has it been so vital to a Canadian prime minister’s political survival that he compromise with the other parties in the House. In this minority government - which is weaker than most polls predicted - Harper is going to have to compromise with some party on every issue. And, oh, the possibilities:

Behind door number one, we have the Liberals, whom Harper slammed as corrupt at every turn! Will compromising with the Liberals mean compromising his integrity?

Alternatively, Harper could open door number two, behind which we find…the separatist Bloc. How cozy can Harper get with them before alienating his western base, who have long complained about the government being determined by Ontario and who would therefore probably not take terribly well to being at the mercy of Quebec?

Fortunately, there’s a third option: Harper can go with door number three and deal with the Satanic NDP! Oh - wait - that won’t quite give him a majority of seats. He’d have to get the radio shock jock in on that one!

I predict high ratings. Wonder how long it’ll be till the third season…

1/6/2006

Up is down. Black is white. Increased taxes are tax relief.

File under: Character Writ Large, Home And Native Land, I Read The News Today, Oh Boy. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 10:27 pm.

Could someone please help me make sense of the (partial) Conservative tax plan? Pretty please? Because -

A Tory plan to raise personal income taxes on low income earners is part of an overall tax strategy that will result in more tax relief for Canadians, Tory MP Jason Kenney said Friday.

- and I cannot for the life of me fathom a universe in which raising taxes on low income earners could possibly be part of an overall tax strategy that will result in more tax relief for Canadians. The rest of this article, as I read it, seems to consist of “seriously, it IS, we swear”, followed by some chit-chat about the party’s much-maligned proposal to cut the GST, and then this:

Kenney said they voted against the Liberal tax cuts [income tax cuts - MS] because they disagreed with their fiscal priorities, adding they would have “spent smarter and cut taxes deeper.”

What? No, I - what? The Conservatives would have cut taxes deeper, and that’s why they’re…increasing income taxes? Does this remind anyone of preschoolers fighting? “I don’t like you, even though I kind of like your toys, so let’s play a game that I hate.”

Maybe this will all make more sense when the party announces its tax package, which it hasn’t done yet, but really, why bother? Seems to me that “tax hikes=tax relief” is more or less on par with “0=1″ in terms of starting points; in other words, is there anything this tax package won’t promise?

In the meantime, have at it, readers. Bonus points for using Tarot cards and Ouija boards.

12/17/2005

But will they be the sensitive motherly types, or the nagging shrews?

File under: Character Writ Large, Righteous Indignation, XX Marks the Spot, Home And Native Land. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 6:30 pm.

Last night, the three Men Who Would Be Prime Minister (and the One Who Would Abolish The Position Entirely) were asked during the first English debate: what to do about all the heckling in Parliament? How to restore civility to the House of Commons?

To which Jack Layton, feminist, replied:

Well I’ve told my caucus that we won’t shout out and disrupt Parliament. And I think there’s one other thing we should do and that’s have a lot more women in Parliament. I’m very happy that our party has the highest percentage of women candidates ever that any political party has ever presented in an election, 37%. And mark my words - the tone of that house would change if we had a lot more women there, and voting NDP will help make that happen.

Women, see, are more polite than men. Really! Says so right there on TV! And politeness is good, and we want the House of Commons to be more polite, but we can’t very well expect the menfolk to behave by themselves, so let’s bring in more women to set the tone of Parliament. It’s a great deal: Layton gets to send the wimminfolk to do the dirty work, while collecting affirmative action points, all at no cost to himself!

Where have I seen this before? That’s right, grad school. I am leery of most manifestations of affirmative action to begin with, but at least I find a good many of them to be undertaken in good faith; this particular strain, however, is just odious.

Carolyn Ryan, one of four CBC journalists who live-blogged the debate, speaks for me:

Did Layton really just say his party would increase civility in the House of Commons by electing more women? That’s placing a big burden on the gender that produced Sheila Copps, Hedy Fry, and Deborah Grey. Are the female MPs supposed to shush their male counterparts when they get raucous? Should they hold tea parties in the foyer? Will they bring in a “bad-word jar,” with MPs having to pay a twonie every time they heckle? Puh-lease. Why not just promise to elect more polite people as MPs, or discipline the ones you’ve got now?

Why not? I know why not: because Layton knows better than to make promises he can’t keep. Better to set standards that his green women MPs won’t be able to live up to, and let them take the fall when they inevitably fail.

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