Canada Day 2022

Reportedly the Russians are having a hard time of it lately. The economic sanctions are said to be extraordinarily punishing. Naturally the infection is likely most vivid among the common people not the oligarchs and criminals in the background from the perspective of their mountainous palaces or their vulgar marine floatations. I can’t imagine any amount of vodka sufficient to assuage the penalty. Just knowing that their so-called leader has intentionally caused the mutilation and death of thousands and the dissatisfaction of almost the entire world is I suspect sufficient to contaminate any feeling of national pride one might otherwise have. War is such an archaic and unforgivably childish resolve. While I acknowledge the artistic contribution of Russian writers and musicians to global improvement I am ignorant of any superiority of everyday life in Russia. Granted we most often hear only the abuses of a peculiar leader with a nefarious background in the KGB; and his offensive preoccupation with being shirtless while wrangling a fishing rod or riding a horse bareback.

The East Slavs emerged as a recognisable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. The medieval state of Kievan Rus arose in the 9th century. In 988, it adopted Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire. Rus’ ultimately disintegrated, and among its principalities, the Grand Duchy of Moscow rose and grew to become the Tsardom of Russia. By the early 18th century, Russia had vastly expanded through conquest, annexation, and exploration to evolve into the Russian Empire, the third-largest empire in history. The monarchy was abolished following the Russian Revolution in 1917, and the Russian SFSR became the world’s first constitutionally socialist state. Following a civil war, the Russian SFSR established the Soviet Union with three other republics, as its largest and the principal constituent. The country underwent a period of rapid industrialisation at the expense of millions of lives. The Soviet Union played a decisive role in the Allied victory in World War II and emerged as a superpower and rival to the United States during the Cold War. The Soviet era saw some of the most significant technological achievements of the 20th century, including the world’s first human-made satellite and the launching of the first human into space.

Life in Canada is by comparison more readily inspiring though perhaps no more transparent (a preference I and other simple Canadians may innocently harbour to our intellectual peril). We meanwhile arrogantly assume that we enjoy the purity of conduct and fertility attributed to New Zealanders and Australians. Yet Canada remains universally distinct as a home for diversity.  It is a very different attribute of being a melting pot as once defined the American immigration experience.

Now however tolerance of differences has seemingly been replaced by many countries with an instrument called nationality. This ethnic energizing is in turn strengthened in its goal by another tool called isolationism. The combined effect of these two putative refinements is paradoxically a narrowing of flavour and an intolerance of what so-called fundamentalists and conservatives view as spoliation of their ancestral and religious privileges.

What a mockery it is of the condition humaine that we argue at such murderous length and with such retrograde inutility over what none of us knows or sees of the past or the future. And unless in this futile lottery the dice is guaranteed to roll in my favour I much prefer instead to place my bets upon the more predictable and recognizable stimulation and advance of present day necessity not an allegorical past or an unimaginable future. My enthusiasm is not diminished by the usual right-wing weapon of groundless threat from mercenaries levied against those who look, act or believe differently. The more probable and imminent peril is the mutuality of purpose and improvement.

Last night I had a dream.  It referenced a grilled ham and cheese. With lots of butter. And the bread was rich with rudimentary additives reflective of the swaying wheat fields and their burgeoning seeds. This morning my dream came true. After a plate of sliced apple and banana and a bowl of steel cut oats with goat’s milk, I was treated by His Lordship to an unsurpassed rendition of grilled ham and cheese. Slowly and expertly grilled. He has thus exceeded the allure of any erstwhile recipes including his once unrivalled osso buco.

The two types of ossobuco are a modern version that has tomatoes and the original version which does not. The older version, ossobuco in bianco, is flavoured with cinnamon, bay leaf, and gremolata. The modern and more popular recipe includes tomatoes, carrots, celery and onions; gremolata is optional. While veal is the traditional meat used for ossobuco, dishes with other meats such as pork have been called ossobuco.

You will, dear Reader, assuredly excuse this my unfettered indulgence in the daily triviality of my personal life. Yet it constitutes a legitimate though uninformed exposition of both national pride and determined conviction.  The truth is that not every countryman has a similarly expedient manifestation of his current citizenship. I am proud to be a true Canadian, a father from British blood, a mother from French blood both going back centuries and both no doubt insinuated by the native population. I was born in Montréal in the Province of Quebec. My sister – who was born in England and who has lived and studied abroad and in the United States of America and Canada – is married to a man of distinguished European heritage. Their children live in Canada and the United States of America respectively. Extended family members embrace religion and atheism, plurality of sexual persuasion and the two national languages inherited from our ancestors.

This Canadian productivity has not come without effort and expense.  Nor has it come without the unquestionable intelligence of many of its leaders. Leadership remains key to social and political prosperity. Recall for example the words of our late Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau who memorably observed, “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation”. This is a far cry from a Hitler or a Putin, madmen intent upon control at any cost, poisonous elements designed to deceive and enrage others for their personal profit only and without regard for humanitarian purpose.

Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau’s 1967 Omnibus Bill in the House of Commons called for massive changes to the Criminal Code of Canada.

It proposed to revise abortion laws, legalize lotteries, restrict gun ownership and allow police breathalyzer checks. But the section that got the most attention was its proposal to decriminalize “homosexual acts” performed in private.

“It’s bringing the laws of the land up to contemporary society,” says Trudeau, explaining the bill.

The other controversial parts of Trudeau’s bill concern revisions to abortion laws, making it legal for women to end a pregnancy if a committee of three doctors agrees it threatens her mental, emotional or physical well-being.