Thursday, December 21, 2006

Nothing New to Report . . . .

Unfortunately there is no new news on the immigration front, nor am I particularly enraged about any stupid moves by bush or "shrub" these days so . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

How 'bout some photos of sunrises and sunsets over "our" bay here in Florida??

The period of the year between early November and early March is the best for both sunrises and sunsets in this part of the
Gulf Coast.

Hope you enjoyed sharing them with us!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Why Rummy Really Lost His Job . . . .

Just a little humour for your day . . . .


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Spring Election: Is It a Good or Bad Thing? . . . .

We are seeing quite a few articles on this topic the past couple of days.

Is a spring election a good or bad thing in your opinion?

Buoyant Grit poll numbers could banish spring election threat
Darrell Bricker
For CanWest News Service

Is the Dion bounce for real? The answer is "yes." At least out of the gate. Why? Because just as Stephane Dion was the ideal compromise candidate for delegates at the Liberal leadership convention, this first week as Liberal leader, he's the ideal compromise candidate for the pockets of voters in Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and Atlantic Canada that will decide the next election.

This week's Ipsos-Reid poll for CanWest News and Global National illustrates this point. Dion's victory has re-constituted a centre/left coalition that comprises the traditional Liberal core, plus disaffected New Democrats. This is the coalition that Jean Chretien rode to three majority victories in 1993, 1997 and 2000 -- and the demise of this coalition pushed a struggling Paul Martin into a minority government in 2004.

The immediate desire of the traditional Liberal coalition to embrace Dion puts proof to the point that Stephen Harper and the Tories weren't so much elected back in January, as the Liberals were defeated. Without a strong anti-Liberal issue like the sponsorship scandal at work, one wonders how successful the Tories will be in an election against a cleansed and re-energized Liberal party.

The major issue that Harper needs to confront in the run-up to the next election is that his party and leadership divide the electorate. Against a candidate who unites the Liberal coalition, this is a bad place to be.

How divided are Canadians on Harper? The percentage that has a positive impression of both Dion and Harper is roughly equal, but the group that has a negative impression of Harper is 17 points larger than the group that has a negative impression of Dion. Voters that have the most negative impression of Harper are urban dwellers, university grads and women. In fact, half of Canada's female voters say they have a negative impression of Harper. That's quite a head start to give to an opponent.

Importantly for Dion, Jack Layton's leadership is also divisive. While Layton does much better with voters than his party, he still has personal negatives that are 10 points higher than Dion's.

The big question about Dion has been about his ability to win seats in Quebec. This poll's results are somewhat ambiguous on this point. While Dion's leadership has pushed the Grits back to at least Chretien levels (30 per cent), this growth has come at the expense of neither the Tories nor the Bloc. It's mostly been at the expense of the NDP and the Greens. One has to wonder how real the Liberal gains in Quebec are given that these two groups are among the least likely to cast a ballot in a federal election.

So, where does this leave Canadian politics, and what does it mean for election timing? First, it means that the Liberals under Dion are definitely back in the hunt, and that Paul Martin did the right thing when he resigned after the last election. Second, it means that, unless Dion and the Liberals see a major dip in support, a spring election is off. Why? Because, given their current prospects, the NDP and Bloc are unlikely to agree to bring the government down. And, the Tories will not want to trigger an election until their numbers improve -- and that's going to take some time.

Darrell Bricker is president and COO of Ipsos Reid Public Affairs.

© CanWest News Service 2006

We can see "Pros" and "Cons" both for having a spring election, and not having a spring election. Please give your views as we are definitely "newbies" at the Canadian politics thing . . . .

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Stephane is Sounding Good So Far . . . .

If Stephane Dion keeps this up, he is sounding better and better . . . .

From today's CanWest News Service:

Mr. Dion has stressed that a large political divide exists between his party and the Conservatives, whom he portrays as pursuing a right- wing ideology similar to the Bush administration in the U. S.

“ The fact that they never saw a tax cut they don’t want to make — this is a very Republican approach … We need to believe in government and I feel that they do not believe in the government,” said Mr. Dion.

He denied that he is preaching “ anti- Americanism,” saying the U. S. is an ally of Canada, but “ not a model.

That last statement is great. It appears Stephane could be a very good result of the Liberal leadership convention free for all . . . .

Thursday, December 07, 2006

As Expected, But Sweet Nonetheless . . . .

MPs defeat motion to reopen same-sex marriage debate

Motion tabled by Tories falls 175-123

Last Updated: Thursday, December 7, 2006 | 4:53 PM ET

A motion to reopen the same-sex marriage debate was easily defeated in Parliament on Thursday, as expected.

MPs voted 175-123 against the controversial motion tabled by the ruling Conservatives.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks with the media in the House of Commons in Ottawa Thursday after the government failed to pass a motion to reopen same-sex marriage legislation.Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks with the media in the House of Commons in Ottawa Thursday after the government failed to pass a motion to reopen same-sex marriage legislation.
(Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)

The motion had asked the government to introduce legislation to restore the traditional definition of marriage without affecting civil unions and while respecting existing same-sex marriages.

The Liberal and Conservative parties allowed their members to vote freely, and there were some surprises.

Twelve Tories broke from party lines and voted against the motion. They included cabinet ministers Peter MacKay, David Emerson, John Baird, Jim Prentice, Lawrence Cannon and Josée Verner.

Most Liberals also gave the motion the thumbs down. Among them were Joe Comuzzi, who gave up his cabinet post in 2005 so he could vote against a same-sex marriage bill proposed by the Liberal government.

All Bloc Québécois and NDP members present voted against Thursday's motion, as directed to by their party leaders.

The vote should put an end to parliamentary wrangling about same-sex marriage, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper had said a free vote — promised during January's general election campaign — would settle the matter.

A 'hollow' motion, Liberals criticize

Same-sex marriage became legal in Canada last year, when the Liberal government passed Bill C-38 in response to a series of court rulings that said gays had the right to marry.

The bill passed 158-133.

Maybe the US will one day follow suit . . . .

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

"Welcome Home" by Sara Robinson . . . .

Sara Robinson's post on Orcinus today is an excellent description of crossing the Canada/US border at the Hwy. 99/I-5 Peace Arch crossing in British Columbia.

Her details of the ATS program are, quite frankly, rather chilling.

The post is entitled "Welcome Home" and is well worth a read . . . .

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Gay Friendly Vancouver . . . .

Just one more reason to look forward to our move north from today's Vancouver Sun:

Officials celebrate No. 1 gaytravel nod

Vancouver is taking pride in its selection as the No. 1 gay travel destination in Canada.

“We couldn’t be more pleased,” said Candice Gibson, marketing manager at Tourism Vancouver. “Vancouver openly welcomes gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender travellers.”

The survey was conducted by Community Marketing Inc. with 7,500 gay and lesbian participants. Vancouver topped Montreal and Toronto.

Vancouver’s Gay Pride Week draws thousands of visitors each year, and sensitivity training is available for hospitality staff.

Tourism Vancouver has actively marketed the city to gay travellers for a decade.

The campaign includes advertising in gay-specific travel magazines as well as attendance at key industry trade shows.

The marketing program included a “win your wedding” sweepstakes for same-sex couples. B.C.’s same-sex marriage laws attract hundreds of couples each year to exchange vows.

“Vancouver has been doing it right when it comes to being truly gayfriendly. It’s working,” said Thomas Roth, president of Community Marketing Inc.

We're really looking forward to our gay-friendly
future home . . . . .

Welcome to New Family Members . . . .

We just had contact with another same-sex couple in the process - actually near the end of the process - of leaving the US for Canada. In fact they will be neighbours of ours, as they are moving to Victoria, BC.

Check out their Our Journey Toward Canadian Immigration blog to catch up and give them your own greetings . . . .

Welcome to the club, ladies!

It looks like our little "family" continues to grow . . . . 'Ya gotta love it, eh?

Monday, December 04, 2006

When Can the US Expect an Article Like This?

Perusing the Montreal Gazette today "drf" found an article on Stephane Dion and his actions after the Liberal Leadership convention. Here is an excerpt:

And Dion is moving fast to mend bridges. Moments after his news conference, he trotted up the hill to his campaign headquarters at the Place d’Armes Hotel, where he had invited the seven other candidates and their spouses – gay candidate Scott Brison attended with his boyfriend – for lunch.

Wouldn't it be nice if the US would print an article similar and not have the screaming right-wing zealots throwing stones at the media who reported it? Personally, I think it's going to be quite some time before that happens . . . . .

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Vancouver Pics . . . .

My three week stay in our future home comes to an
end early tomorrow morning so I thought sharing some pictures with you would be appropriate . . . .

Through a lot of rain, mudslides into the water reservoirs forcing a "boil water" situation, snow falling on a normally snow-free city and then turning frigid with ice-covered streets and sidewalks, I pretty much fully experienced a Vancouver winter. Yeah, I know it's not winter 'til December 22nd, but try and tell these folks that . . . . .

Hope you enjoyed the snowpics . . . .

Next post from warm (75 degrees F) and sunny Florida . . . .

Funny thing, it's still hard to leave Vancouver even with the current weather . . . . Think that legitimizes our decision to move here permanently.

Monday, November 27, 2006

News from Two Moms . . . .

Great news from our friends Two Moms to Canada today!!

They've been very frustrated with the lack of news from CIC and today they got some . . . .

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Saw It II . . . .

One more tidbit about the Dixie Chicks "Shut Up and Sing" and then I'll shut up.

From the local Vancouver paper, The Georgia Straight "Movie Notes" section this week:

Vancouver loves chicks flick (Craig Takeuchi)

Audiences at Fifth Avenue Cinemas have always liked their women strong. So says Festival Cinemas president Leonard Schein, whose theatre also reported the highest North American gross for Shut Up & Sing: The Dixie Chicks, a documentary about the Texan trio after their lead singer’s anti-Bush remarks. Playing four times a day on one screen to 4,000 people per week, Fifth Avenue raked in $45,000 in 10 days. In a phone interview, Schein pointed out that “we outgrossed Toronto, Montreal, or San Francisco, or places in the States that are also quite liberal and democratic, and we’re a much smaller population than any of those cities. So it is actually quite significant that a city the size of Vancouver has more people seeing that film than any theatre in New York or L.A.”

So not only am I glad to be an Aspiring Canadian, I'm especially glad to be an Aspiring Vancouverite who contributed to the numbers at this theatre . . . .

Quebec a Nation?

From the November 23rd edition of the Vancouver Sun:

: Quebec is a ‘nation’

Resolution aimed at shoring up support in the province for his Conservatives ahead of federal election that could be held as early as next year
CanWest News Service With files from Norma Greenaway
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper received a standing ovation from all three federalist parties in the House of Commons Wednesday after he introduced a landmark resolution that will see the province of Quebec recognized as a “nation within a united Canada.”
Harper outlined the motion in a passionate speech to MPs following question period, leaving the Bloc Quebecois outraged because it planned to ask the Commons Thursday to recognize the predominately French-speaking province as a “nation” with no conditions attached.
The prime minister’s intervention in the decades-old dispute has effectively let the Liberal party off the hook for its own divisive plan to address a similar resolution at its policy and leadership convention next week in Montreal.
But it also allowed Harper’s Conservatives — some of whom were inclined to vote with the Bloc motion — to cast themselves as the defenders of Canadian unity.
“The real question is straightforward: Do Quebecers form a nation within a united Canada? The answer is yes,” Harper said to applause from the Liberal and NDP MPs. “Do Quebecers form a nation independent of Canada? The answer is no, and it will always be no.”

It would be interesting to get your thoughts on this move . . . . Are we generally in favor of the motion? Is it merely a political move? Will it's passage - as looks likely - make any difference? What are the long-term ramifications?

I must admit not having a strong opinion about this matter, so any enlightenment would be appreciated . . . .

Friday, November 24, 2006

Accountability . . . .

This article from the November 22nd edition of the Vancouver Sun is an excellent analysis of the those who should be held accountable for their actions in Iraq. Wonder if they will be??

Bush, Blair & Co. should be held to account for Iraq death toll

Stephen Hume ( - Vancouver Sun

As the American adventure in Iraq rolls through Week 192, the daily roll call for the slain ratchets up from 39 per day in October to 65 per day in November.
Fatalities among U.S. troops now average just over two per day, not much by comparison to the wars of attrition that characterized the last century’s mass carnage, but surely ulcerous for a cocksure superpower that was out to unilaterally refashion the world order in the 21st.
And having set the bloody juggernaut in motion, nobody knows how to stop it, regardless of the fact that nobody knows where it’s going or whom it will run over next. Which explains why so many war enthusiasts now appear to be scurrying down the hawsers at various ships of state.
Then-prime minister Jean Chretien’s decision to resist the jingoistic pressures of the day looks increasing ly prescient.
Iraq is a disaster, British Prime Minister Tony Blair appeared to say in an interview on Al Jazeera’s new British channel, although he was backpedalling furiously after the headlines erupted the next morning. Still, he admitted the place is such a mess that United Kingdom citizens should expect to be involved there for generations.
Generations — a sobering admission from the man who oozed such assurance when he stood shoulderto-shoulder with U.S. President George W. Bush during the heady “bring it on” days of whipping up public enthusiasm for an invasion.
It was supposed to be a cakewalk. Instead, military victory for the U.S. is no longer possible in Iraq, Henry Kissinger is quoted as saying in an Associated Press report from London. If anyone should know whereof he speaks it’s Kissinger, who learned his painful lessons from Vietnam.
Kissinger agrees that for the Americans and the British to simply pull their troops out overnight would result in an even greater geo-political catastrophe, destabilizing the entire region upon which the West depends for its strategic oil supplies.
The guy who invented shuttle diplomacy actually has a not-so-novel proposal — the U.S. has to start talking with Iraq’s neighbours if order is to emerge from chaos. That would include Iran, Bush’s most recent bogeyman; Syria, whose Baathists spawned Saddam Hussein in the first place, and Turkey.
Of course, that conversation might prove difficult with Bush reported in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz as telling French President Jacques Chirac that he’d “understand” if Israel launched a pre-emptive military strike against Iran’s nuclear energy program, even though Agence France Presse says in another report that investigative reporter Seymour Hersh has obtained a Central Intelligence Agency assessment which finds no conclusive evidence of any secret Iranian nuclear weapons program beyond what’s been reported to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Frankly, it’s time the people of the U.S. and Britain started seeking some accountability from Bush, Blair and the senior bureaucrats who helped concoct the fictions that have now resulted in 50,000 deaths — give or take a few thousand — of non-combatants, many of them women and children. That estimate is the conservative one, by the way. Some researchers think the dead could number two or three times that total.
It’s important to remember that each one of those victims is a person like your wife, husband, son or daughter, grandfather or grandmother.
If, as it increasingly appears, the blood of all these innocents was shed in a misguided ideologically-driven experiment by a gang of incompetent policy wonks, there should be demands for accountability — if not in courts of law, then in the court of public opinion.
They are the ones who engineered consent for and then launched a war based on false claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction which could be deployed in 45 minutes against London and that there were links between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network.
If justice prevailed, the architects who precipitated this carnage in Iraq would be required to account for their misjudgments.
Simply allowing them to say “Oops we made a mistake, let’s move on” while the corpses continue to pile up should satisfy no one and should earn the censure of anybody who cares about simple justice for his or her fellow human beings.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Study in Contrasts . . . .

Compliments of CNN:

Sen. Obama: Iraq withdrawal should begin in 2007

POSTED: 2208 GMT (0608 HKT), November 20, 2006

CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) -- Sen. Barack Obama called Monday for U.S. troops to start leaving Iraq in 2007, arguing that the threat of an American pullout is the best leverage Washington has left in the conflict.

"The time for waiting in Iraq is over. It is time to change our policy," said Obama, a freshman Democrat from Illinois touted as a possible national candidate in 2008.

"It is time to give Iraqis their country back, and it is time to refocus America's efforts on the wider struggle yet to be won."

Sen. McCain: Send more troops to Iraq
POSTED: 0142 GMT (0942 HKT), November 19, 2006
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Without additional troops to ensure victory in Iraq, the U.S. could be more vulnerable to terrorist attacks at home, Republican Sen. John McCain said Sunday.

McCain, a front-running GOP presidential hopeful for 2008, said the U.S. must send an overwhelming number of troops to stabilize Iraq or face more attacks -- in the region and possibly on American soil.

"I believe the consequences of failure are catastrophic," said McCain, R-Arizona. "It will spread to the region. You will see Iran more emboldened. Eventually, you could see Iran pose a greater threat to the state of Israel."

Looks like the repugs still just don't get it . . . . .

Timeline Update - 7/17/07

Okay, here's our Timeline to date: 7/17/07:

  • 7/25/05 Initial Meeting with immigration attorney
  • 7/25/05 - 8/25/05 Assembling Draft Application Data (Tax returns, business records, verification of common law relationship, education records, addresses, birth certificates, letters of reference, etc.)
  • 8/15/05 FBI fingerprint cards overnighted to FBI for clearance
  • 8/25/05 Working meeting with immigration attorney
  • 9/26/06 Finally finished gathering supporting documents
  • 9/28/05 Application with documents sent off to Buffalo consulate
  • 10/17/05 One partner's FBI fingerprints cleared and accepted
  • 10/25/05 Other partner's FBI fingerprints re-sent for clearance (Initial set illegible)
  • 11/7/05 AOR issued by Buffalo consulate (Yay!)
  • 2//2/06 Other partner's FBI fingerprints re-sent again (2nd set also illegible)
  • 3/13/06 Other partner's FBI fingerprints finally cleared and accepted (Yay!)
  • 11/15/06 Buffalo Consulate transferred our file to the New York City office
  • 5/22/07 New York City office issues initial assessment, medicals requested
  • 7/17/07 Medicals completed and received in Ottawa
Further updates as they are received . . . . Hopefully SOON!!

Friday, November 17, 2006

This Would Be Just Too Perfect . . . .

Thanks to the folks at Crooks and Liars blog, here is a bit of good news regarding the right-wing media pundits . . . .

It sure will be refreshing if we finally have some oversight in Congress on issues that affect all of us. "Go, Pat Leahy!!"

Thursday, November 16, 2006

"Fair and Balanced" - Yeah, right . . . .

Countdown: Fox News Caught Creating False News 11-15-06

Fox News slanting their reports is pretty obvious to most intelligent people and now there's proof . . . . Let's hope mr. murdoch and company continue their downward ratings slide.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Saw It . . .

OK, OK, I've blogged about them before but today I got to see the Dixie Chick's documentary "Shut Up and Sing" here in Vancouver.

All I can say is see it, and see it on the big screen if you can. It is excellent! One of the best parts about the film was how Canadian audiences stood by the Chicks through all of the controversy. Makes me proud to be an Aspiring Canadian . . . .

Monday, November 13, 2006

It's Only a Number, Right?

Craig Oliver, host of CTV's Question Period, had Monte Solberg the current Minister of Citizenship and Immigration as one of his guests on yesterday's program.

The main topic of discussion was dual citizenship and it's effect on Canada. This topic came to the fore during the Israel/Lebanon confrontation and resulting evacuation of numerous dual citizens earlier this year. Basically, Minister Solberg stated it was something the government was "going to look at and solicit views of" during the next year.

What I found most informative, however, was this:

In response to questions about undocumented workers in the Toronto area he stated that there are "over 800,000 legal immigration applicants" at the present time and those people deserve to be processed expeditiously.

Makes you wonder where you are in that number, doesn't it?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Elton tells pope: "Don't Shoot Me, I'm the Piano Player"

You Go, Boy . . . .

Ban organized religion, says Elton John

Last Updated: Sunday, November 12, 2006 | 10:31 AM ET

Organized religion fuels anti-gay discrimination and should be eliminated, pop star Elton John said in an interview published Saturday.

"I think religion has always tried to turn hatred toward gay people," the musician, who is openly gay, said in the Observer newspaper's Music Monthly magazine. "Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays."

Elton John is critical both of organized religion and politically passive musicians.Elton John is critical of organized religion.
(Evan Agostini/Getty Images)

John made the comments in an interview with Jake Shears, the openly gay frontman for the U.S. dance-rock group Scissor Sisters. Conducted in August from John's home in the south of France, the interview appears in a gay-themed issue of Music Monthly.

"There are so many people I know who are gay and love their religion," John said.

"From my point of view, I would ban religion completely. Organized religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate."

Amen, Elton . . . .

Disappointing News . . . .

Damn! The one guy that actually has convictions and is right on the issues bows out of the '08 US presidential race. Dems will have a tough time getting anyone with a better track record on standing up for our rights . . . .

Feingold Won't Seek Democratic Nomination in 2008

By Judy Sarasohn
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 12, 2006; 10:48 AM

Sen. Russell Feingold, an antiwar Democrat from Wisconsin and a longshot contender for president in 2008, announced that he will not seek the Democratic nomination for president.

"I'm sure a campaign for president would have been a great adventure and helpful in advancing a progressive agenda. At this time, however, I believe I can best advance that progressive agenda as a senator with significant seniority in the new Senate serving on the Foreign Relations, Intelligence, Judiciary and Budget committees," Feingold said in a letter posted on his Senate campaign Web site today.

He said he could not "muster the same enthusiasm for a race for president while . . . trying simultaneously to advance our agenda in the Senate. In other words, if I really wanted to run for President, regardless of the odds or other possible candidates, I would do so. However, to put my family and all of my friends and supporters through such a process without having a very strong desire to run, seems inappropriate to me."

As he campaigned in 17 states for other Democrats, Feigngold said, people "responded well" to his opposition to the Iraq war, support for a timeline to redeploy U.S. troops and focus on terrorists who attacked New York and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001; opposition to administration wiretapping, support for guaranteed health care and other issues.

"[W]hile I've certainly enjoyed the repeated comments or buttons saying, 'Run Russ Run', or 'Russ in '08', I often felt that if a piece of Wisconsin Swiss cheese had taken the same positions I've taken, it would have elicited the same standing ovations," Feingold said. "This is because the hunger for progressive change we feel is obviously not about me but about the desire for a genuinely different Democratic Party that is ready to begin to reverse the 25 years of growing extremism we have endured."

Joe Trippi, a Democratic strategist who ran the 2004 presidential campaign of Howard Dean, wrote in The Washington Post's Outlook section last week that Feingold was a Democrat to watch for the presidential nomination.

"Perhaps the most authentic candidate, the senator from Wisconsin has a deep connection to the grass roots and is a favorite of the party's progressive wing. If President Bush stays stubborn on Iraq and the rest of the field plays it safe, Feingold could get very hot," Trippi wrote.

Feingold, 53, is also noted for his support for campaign finance reform. He first ran for the Senate in 1992 and won re-election in 1998 and 2004.

He had been publicly considering a run for the Democratic nomination for president since early last year. Former Virginia governor Mark Warner, who also had been weighing a bid for the Democratic nomination, said last month that he would not run.

In an interview yesterday with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feingold noted that he would have faced long odds of winning the nomination. He told the newspaper: "It would have required the craziest combination of things in the history of American politics to make it work."

With Russ' departure from presidential contention, the US public has missed a great opportunity.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Reconsider the Move?? Naahhh . . . .

Thoughts after the US election results:

Any reconsideration about the move to Canada?? Not on your life . . . Our friend Daniel over at Would Be Canadians had an excellent post on this subject. We could not possibly have said it better. Be sure and read the article referred to by the link. It, too, is quite well done.

Good job, Daniel!

Dixie Chicks - Sweet Revenge . . . .

Compliments of yesterday's Vancouver Sun, here's a review of the Dixie Chicks' sold out concert at GM Place here in Vancouver Wednesday night. Wish I could have been there, but at least I will get to see their documentary "Shut Up & Sing" while I'm here. Needless to say, it is playing in a very limited engagement back home in BushLand - one showing at a local film festival. Actually, I'm amazed that it's getting that much exposure . . . .

Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines drew cheers for saying its was a night to celebrate in the United States.

Stiletto-stompin’ Dixie Chicks --

'Not Ready to Make Nice'

Amy O'Brian
Vancouver Sun Thursday, November 09, 2006
CREDIT: Mark van Manen, Vancouver Sun

The Dixie Chicks were feeling feisty Wednesday night.

Playing to a sold-out crowd at GM Place the same day it was declared the Democrats had won a complete victory in the U.S. midterm elections, the high-energy trio was in a fast-fiddlin’, stiletto-stompin’, good-time kind of mood.

Not that the politically outspoken trio is ever boring, but they really seemed to want to kick up some dirt Wednesday night and celebrate the day they’d been eagerly -- and publicly -- anticipating for nearly four years.

After working the packed-to-the-rafters crowd into a frenzy with Goodbye Earl (a wickedly murderous tale about a woman who poisons the man who abuses her), frontwoman Natalie Maines lathered up fans by telling them they were the best yet on the band’s North American tour.

Then she speculated why the crowd of 10,000 or so was in such good spirits.

“I get the feeling it’s one of two things,” she said. “It’s either free beer night or you’re glad [U.S. Defence Secretary] Donald Rumsfeld resigned. Finally, a reason to celebrate in the United States.”

The audience, which had immediately fallen silent when Maines began to speak, screamed and hollered in agreement. Women could be seen all over the stadium wearing various home-made versions of anti-Bush T-shirts. And the largest response of the night was to the stubborn belt-it-out hit, Not Ready to Make Nice, which clearly references the band’s ongoing disagreement with Bush and his decision to invade Iraq.

At one point towards the end of the show, Maines pointed into the floor-section of the audience and asked: “I was wondering if this girl in the FUGB shirt knew this girl in the FUGB shirt. Do you two know each other?”

Then, playing dumb in a delightful way, she said, “I like your shirt. What does it mean?”

Of course, Maines, and band mates Emily Robison and Martie Maguire, have likely heard every George W. Bush joke or put-down out there since they ignited a fiery controversy back in 2003 when Maines told a British audience that the band was ashamed that Bush is from Texas -- their home state. The subsequent backlash included radio stations pulling Dixie Chicks songs from the airwaves, certain fans withdrawing their support of the band, and even the odd death threat.

But the controversy also earned them new fans who were not only drawn to the music, but the band’s politics.

It was hard to determine Wednesday night who was from the newer crop of supporters and who had been there since the beginning -- since the band was made popular by songs such as Wide Open Spaces, Sin Wagon and Ready to Run (all of which were played to the loud delight of the audience). Ready to Run was the final song of the band’s three-song encore and its fast-paced, rock ‘n’ roll sound had Maines proving that she doesn’t tire easily. In what appeared to be five-inch black heels, the small-framed singer beat her tambourine, turned her back to the audience and stomped and shook her way to the end of the song -- and the end of the two-hour show -- with a fervour she seemed delighted to finally release.

Banjo plucker Robison and her fiddle-playing sister Martie Maguire were equally energetic and engaging throughout the concert, while the nine-piece band was perfectly tight in its support of the star performers.

The band played their remarkably beautiful and melancholy version of Stevie Nicks’ Landslide, which had the mostly female audience putting arms around each other and swaying gently to the melody.

But the love-in took a dramatic turn when the band launched into Not Ready to Make Nice. Women turned to each other and belted the lyrics into one another’s faces. The middle-aged woman next to me started aggressively punching an invisible someone or something in front of her. And it seemed as though nearly every single person in that audience had hollered that song out to themselves in the car or shower at some point because everyone seemed to know every word.

There were a few quieter moments with Lullaby and Easy Silence -- two beautiful tracks from the band’s most recent album, Taking the Long Way.

There were no dramatic special effects or visuals. There was no political backlash or violence during the show. The Dixie Chicks simply put on a really good not-too-country show that seemed to leave everyone happy (and even prompted one fan to hand Maines a single yellow rose of friendship as she was walking off stage).

Ahhhh, revenge is sweet, eh, Chicks??

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Liar, Liar Pants on Fire . . . .

My first thought upon hearing of mr. bush firing "rummy" was: "He lied to us!"

Glenn Greenwald (compliments of "Crooks and Liars") does an excellent job of detailing this event.

When will the general public demand more of their elected "leaders"?

The President’s casual admission of lying

By: Glenn Greenwald on Wednesday, November 8th, 2006 at 3:04 PM - PST

At his Press Conference today, President Bush expressly admitted that he lied last week when he said that Donald Rumsfeld would remain Defense Secretary for the next two years (only to announce today that Rumsfeld is being replaced). When the President was asked about this discrepency, he simply admitted that "the reason why is I didn't want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign. And so the only way to answer that question and to get you on to another question was to give you that answer."

That the President would so brazenly lie is not, of course, surprising (although the lie was so glaring that even conservatives James Joyner and Byron York objected to it). But what is surprising, and encouraging (although it should be commonplace), is that the Washington Post is more or less calling this what it is:

Asked about that comment, Bush said he made it because "I didn't want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign," Bush said. He appeared to acknowledge having misled reporters, saying, "And so the only way to answer that question and to get you onto another question was to give you that answer."

He added later, "Win or lose, Bob Gates was going to become the nominee."

The phrase "misled reporters" in this passage should have been replaced with "misled the nation," since that is what the President actually did. What possible justification is there for the President to definitively assure the country that Rumsfeld is staying when he was actively in the process of replacing him? That a major election is about to be held is a reason which compels disclosure of such an important matter, not which justifies its dishonest concealment.

We've become so accustomed to being lied to in this manner by our political leaders that the President can just casually admit to this (just like he can casually admit to breaking the law), and it causes only the most minor of controversies, if that.

We deserve better than this . . . .

Heading in the Right Direction . . . .

Now here's some good news . . . .

Fewer Canadians 'strongly approve' of military presence in Afghanistan

Maybe the Tories should pay attention, eh?

Time to Get Up . . . .

So, after spending most of yesterday in transit from Florida to our future home in the West End I was tired last night. Three flights through Houston, Portland and then on to Vancouver had taken their toll. Can't complain much, though, as it was a Continental frequent flyer "freebie" . . . .

So went to bed early - 9:00 pm local time, 11:00 pm our time in Florida . . . . Rolled over this morning and checked the bedside clock which read 5:36 am. Not bad, I thought, that's an hour longer than I would have slept if I were in Florida so I get up to greet the day. Flip on the TV and there's not much on this early . . . . Crank up the laptop and surf for about an hour . . . . It's still extremely dark out . . . . . Finally figure out that the bedside clock was still registering Daylight Time rather than the new and improved Standard Time. You got it: I got up at my regular rising time in Florida which just happened to be 4:36 am local time . . . . . .Arggggh!!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Dual Citizenship Review . . . .

Looks like the Tories are going to review Canadian dual citizenship and it's rights/obligations.

Why does this not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling???

Ottawa reviewing rules of dual citizenship: Solberg

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 | 1:56 PM ET - CBC News

Ottawa is reviewing the rules governing dual citizenship and whether Canadians living abroad should qualify for social programs when they return, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Monte Solberg confirmed Tuesday.

The review comes in the aftermath of the mass evacuation of 15,000 Canadians from Lebanon last summer during the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict. Many of those Canadians hold dual citizenship and some have since returned to Lebanon.

The move cost the government tens of millions of dollars. Speaking to a House committee on immigration, Solberg said it raised questions about the rights of citizens who hold dual citizenship and don't live in the country.

"If we're in a situation where somebody's absent, isn't paying taxes but is going to be using our social programs down the road, I think Canadians would feel that that is unfair," Solberg said.
Benefits and obligations

He said the response from Canadians after the Lebanon evacuation is that citizenship conveys both benefits and obligations.

"Canadians want to know that citizenship means something, that we are not just a port in the storm," he said.

An estimated 90 countries now permit dual citizenship, including the United States and most of Europe.

Canada changed its laws 30 years ago to allow Canadians to hold passports from another country.

Since then two parliamentary committees have recommended the practice be reviewed.

"Canadians are concerned about the issue of dual citizenship which is why the government has a responsibility to review the current system," Solberg said.

According to the latest figures from Statistics Canada, more than half a million Canadians are dual citizens.


One Year Anniversary . . . .

We've all been there - checking periodically on our application status on e-CAS. As today is the one-year anniversary of CIC receiving our completed application, I thought it was appropriate to check in. Alas, the information revealed is unchanged. Damn!!

Permanent Residence Application(s)

Applicant : West End Bound

Permanent Residence Application Status:
In Process

On a more positive note, now that it has been one full year perhaps we will hear something - anything - soon. The endless waiting for any type of correspondence from CIC is frustrating. One wonders how many applications are in the queue ahead of ours . . . . Ten, one hundred, thousands?

Another more positive note is that tomorrow I leave for three weeks in Vancouver. Yeah, I know it's not the best time of the year to go north, but just being in our future home enjoying the city and our friends there will be great. Unfortunately, "drf" is remaining in Florida with the Baby JoJo - I'm sure she will enjoy being with her Daddy rather than her buds at the Doggy Day Spa. So, the next few posts will be originating from The West End of Vancouver . . . . I like the sound of that!

Oh yeah, today is also the election in the US - Let's hope a lot of the rascals are thrown out!

Friday, November 03, 2006

repuglican challenge on Nov. 7th . . . .

First there was this, and then this . . . .

Perhaps rather than a "Get Out the Vote" project on Tuesday the Republican National Committee should "Get Out the Lube and Condoms" instead.

Bet that would really energize the party "faithful", eh?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Another Canadian Perk: Privacy

Another good reason to move north of the 49th Parallel . . . .

Canadians’ privacy protection near top of list

Study puts Canada second only to Germany in ranking of 37 countries surveyed on privacy and surveillance

BY KATIE FRETLAND Associated Press and Canadian Press

LONDON — Germany and Canada are the best defenders of privacy, and Malaysia and China the worst, an international rights group said in a report released Wednesday.
Britain was rated as an endemic surveillance society, at No. 33, just above Russia and Singapore on a ranking of 37 countries’ privacy protections by London-based Privacy International.
The United States did only slightly better, at No. 30, ranked between Israel and Thailand, with few safeguards and widespread surveillance, the group said.
The study ranks countries on various privacy-related issues. These include whether they have a written constitution with specific mention of privacy, the use of identity cards and biometrics, electronic surveillance including closed-circuit TV cameras, interception of communication, access of lawenforcement agencies to private data, surveillance of travel and financial transactions, and global leadership in promoting privacy.

On a scale of one to five, Canada scored three or higher in all categories.
Canada received the highest ranking of five for its legal limits on the keeping of private data. It scored four in constitutional and statutory protection, privacy enforcement, ID cards and biometrics, leadership in promoting privacy and democratic safeguards.
The watchdog organization tracks surveillance and privacy violations by governments and corporations, said director Simon Davies.
It studied the reach of governments in their use of video surveillance in private locations, workplace monitoring and identity protection, among other areas.
“The aim is not to humiliate the worst-ranking nations, but to demonstrate that it is possible to maintain a healthy respect for privacy within a secure and fully functional democracy,” said Davies.

Efforts to quash terrorism have eroded individual privacy protections since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, human rights activists say. Governments around the world have imposed security and immigration legislation that invades people’s private lives, they say.
In the U.S., President George W. Bush’s administration has come under fire for its warrantless domestic wiretapping program, which monitors international phone calls and e-mails to or from the United States involving people suspected by the government of having terrorist links.
The New York Civil Liberties Union says there has been a staggering increase in surveillance of lawful activities with little concern for the civil liberties implications, said executive director Donna Lieberman.
In 1998, the union conducted a survey of video surveillance in Manhattan and found more than 2,300 cameras in use. Last year, a similar study found more than four times that number in just 20 per cent of Manhattan, Lieberman said.
S. Arutchelvan, a Malaysian activist
based in Kuala Lumpur, said privacy has not been sufficiently protected since the government stepped up efforts over the past five years to track down suspected Islamic militants, dozens of whom have been detained without trial.
“We believe there has been encroachment on privacy, such as the tapping of phones and other methods through telecommunications, in the name of fighting terrorism,” Arutchelvan said.
Chinese legal activist Xu Zhiyong said strict Internet controls have resulted in fewer protections for Internet users in China.
The Communist government has set up an extensive surveillance and filter
ing system to prevent Chinese people from accessing material considered obscene or politically subversive.
Lawyers and academics raised awareness of privacy violations in China after a 2003 incident in which a couple was detained in the northwestern Shaanxi province for possession of pornographic videos.
“In the past few years, authorities have been making some positive changes to respect the privacy of individuals,” Xu said.
“But when it comes to the Internet, the government feels it must supervise users and that results in less privacy protection.”

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Canada Post in Vancouver . . . .

Koodoos to the 60 postal workers that took a stand for us!

Another example of the religious wrong's compassion for those of us who don't subscribe to their dogma . . . .

Anti-homosexuality brochure held up at Canada Post
Last Updated: Thursday, October 26, 2006 | 4:18 PM PT CBC News

Canada Post says a controversial religious brochure that condemns homosexuality will be delivered to hundreds of homes in East Vancouver, despite the objections of letter carriers.

The 28-page pamphlet is published by a fundamentalist Baptist group based in Ontario, and condemns homosexuality as ungodly, unhealthy and unnatural.

Vancouver mail sorter Andy Henderson was the first person at his postal station to notice the pamphlet and was shocked by what he read.

"The first words I saw when I picked it up were: 'The plague of this 21st Century: the consequences of the sin of homosexuality (AIDS).' "

He and the other postal employees say they consider it hate mail and have refused to handle it.

"You wouldn't be able to find one television station that would accept this ad mail as a 30-second advertising spot," said Henderson. "And yet Canada Post will take it. And their point is, 'If it's legal, we'll deliver it.' "

The man who sent the brochures, Rev. Sterling Clark of Waterdown, Ont., told CBC News he was "disappointed" with the postal workers and asserted he hadn't broken any laws.

Clark said he had a contract with Canada Post and regularly sends brochures to several Canadian cities.

Workers stage protest

Canada Post management told the workers on Wednesday that it's not in the business of censorship, and said the letters would be delivered.

That stance prompted about 60 postal workers at the Canada Post plant in downtown Vancouver to hold a short protest Thursday morning.

"So the employees walked out of this facility because most people are deeply offended by the nature of the literature," said union local president Ken Mooney.

He told CBC News that the workers have since returned to their jobs, waiting to see what management is going to do next.

"I'm now told they're not going to force us to handle this mail. So they've backed off a little bit. So we're just waiting to see how this plays out."

Brochures 'deemed appropriate'

Canada Post spokeswoman Colleen Frick says the company has a contract to deliver the brochure and it will do just that.

She notes that it was "deemed acceptable and appropriate for mailing under the Canada postal guide.

"The criteria is very specific. And if something is not deemed obscene in nature, then the item will be acceptable for mailing. And this particular item was deemed appropriate. So it will be delivered."

The union says management has now indicated that the brochures will be put in envelopes and delivered by management personnel.

Our thanks and appreciation go out to those postal workers that took a stand for equality in our future home. One more reason to look forward to making it our permanent home . . . . Sure hope it's soon!

Live Entertainment . . . .

If you haven't tuned in to CPAC's live coverage of Parliament's Question Period when it's in session you might want to soon. It is broadcast live online normally from 2:00 - 3:00 pm, Eastern Time.

The audio and video coverage in both English and French versions is usually quite entertaining. Today there was quite a bit of back and forth regarding different member's expense reports. Another discussion centered around the Tory Health Minister having no independent verification of the health safety of silicone breast implants - only from those scientists affiliated with the implant manufacturers. (Does this sound ominously like the US pharmaceutical companies drafting the Medicare Prescription Drug Program for the bush administration??) Also, the Opposition continues to press the Tories to set a date for revisiting Same Sex Marriage - no specific date as yet - just a commitment to address the issue "this fall".

It is such a refreshing change from the US Congress' sessions in which members babble on and on to a normally empty chamber. The Canadian version has all member's seats filled and the questions and answers back and forth often times get quite heated. It was in this period last week when Belinda Stronach was allegedly called a "dog" by former boyfriend Peter MacKay.

Today a Liberal MP compared the Tory Treasury Minister to a blowfish which lives off the coast. "He puffs up, changes colour and tries to appear much larger than he really is."

Like I said, quite entertaining . . . .

The Real Republican Image of Canada . . . .

Compliments of CanWest News Service

Wonder how "shrub" harper feels about his big brother bush now??

Canada's reputation suffers collateral damage in heated U.S. mid-terms

Sheldon Alberts - CanWest News Service
Tuesday, October 24, 2006

WASHINGTON - A Republican attack ad stirring controversy in the U.S. mid-term elections does a drive-by smear on Canada, suggesting America's northern neighbour is a do-nothing country on world affairs.

The television ad has sparked denunciations from both the Democratic candidate it targets and the Republican candidate it is designed to help.

Produced by the Republican National Committee, the ''man on the street'' ad features a hefty man wearing suspenders and a ball cap, commenting sarcastically on his view of Democratic foreign policy.

''Let Canada take care of North Korea. They're not busy,'' the man says.

The ad has been airing since Friday in Tennessee, where Republican Senate candidate Bob Corker is challenging Democrat Harold Ford for the seat being vacated by Senator Bill Frist.

The hotly contested race has featured some of the nastiest advertising in the country, largely because it is among a handful of Senate contests likely to determine which party controls Congress after the Nov. 7 election.

Just how Canada got caught up in the mid-term mudslinging remains a mystery. The Republican National Committee did not respond to calls from CanWest News Service.

But the ad fosters stereotypes about Canada's engagement in international affairs that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has tried hard to dispel.

Earlier this year, the Canadian Embassy in Washington mounted an advertising campaign highlighting Canada's role as America's ally in Afghanistan, where 43 Canadians have died since 2002.

David Wilkins, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, voiced outrage in the last federal election campaign when the Liberal party criticized President George W. Bush.

Although the Republican ad's reference to Canada seems almost incidental, it appears already to have backfired because of its overall tone.

Apart from the dig at Canada, it features clips from a bare-shouldered blond who says: ''I met Harold at the Playboy party,'' a reference to the Democrat's attendance at a Super Bowl party hosted by Playboy magazine. ''Harold, call me,'' she whispers into the camera.

In another clip, a man in dressed in a hunter's camouflage says: ''Harold's right. I do have too many guns.''

A spokeswoman for Corker's campaign told CanWest News Service that the Republican candidate has ''condemned the ad, and doesn't think it's an appropriate ad.''

Under U.S. election laws, Corker is not allowed to communicate directly to the Republican national campaign on advertising.

But Tom Ingram, Corker's campaign manager, on Monday sent Tennessee TV stations a direct request asking them to stop airing the ad.

''We are disappointed that the advertisement continues to run and request that station managers across the state strongly consider pulling this advertisement immediately.''

A Republican spokeswoman, Camille Anderson, told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal the party had no plan to remove the ad.

''The RNC stands by this advertisement, and I have no reason to believe that it will not continue to air on television stations across the state,'' Anderson said.

Just another example of how the repuglicans can be trusted . . . . Let's see, there's the softwood lumber deal, the "You need a passport/ You don't need a passport to cross the border" situation, the Canadian citizen sent to Syria
by US authorities for imprisonment and torture, etc., etc., etc. Surely Canadians will rethink the Prime Minister's cozying up to these jerks . . . . . Won't they??

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Net Neutrality . . . . Does is affect you?

If you think the debate over Net Neutrality doesn't affect you, think again. A good review of the situation was broadcast on PBS last week moderated by Bill Moyers. Check out the program here and then contact your Congressperson and Senators to express your views.

We in the blogging community should be particularly concerned if the large telecoms and cable companies begin deciding who gets preferential treatment on the 'Net. When you see how they were promised tax breaks in order to build an infrastructure unsurpassed worldwide and did nothing, it will give you pause. Now the US ranks behind many Asian and European nations in the broadband race due to broken promises by these corporate entities. Guess who is contributing big $$$ to politicians to preserve their monopoly?? You got it: The same corporate entities.

Don't let them get another break at the expense of equal communication opportunities for all . . . . Click on the "Save the Internet" button in our "Links" section to find out how you can help. It's worth your time and effort . . . .

Monday, October 23, 2006

More Tory Pandering to the Religious Wrong . . . .

People say not to worry about mr. harper and his Conservative government appointing members of the religious "wrong" to positions in Canadian government. "Canada is not like the US" is the mantra. Well, maybe so, but stuff like this is still disturbing. We have seen the influence of this group here in the States and don't see it declining in the near future.

Beware, Canada . . . . .

From today's Vancouver Sun:

Reid appointment creates stir in Ottawa
Heated reaction to installation of former religious group president as political aide
BY MIKE SADAVA - CanWest News Service, with files from the Vancouver Sun

B.C. I Few government appointments have created as much of a stir in Ottawa as the naming of B.C.’s Darrel Reid as chief of staff to Environment Minister Rona Ambrose.
Acting Liberal Leader Bill Graham called it an “affront to democracy,” editorialists both attacked and defended Reid and even comedian Rick Mercer has ranted about the appointment.
Reid served five years as president of the Canadian arm of Focus on the Family, an American-based evangelical group influential with United States President George W. Bush.
Until 2004, Reid was the point man for the Langley-based Focus in attacking the federal government and the courts on issues such as abortion, samesex marriage and divorce. He lobbied for more Christian involvement in Canadian politics.
There are indications the decision to hire him as Ambrose’s top political aide came more from the office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper than from Ambrose, who is not known as religious.
“I heard there was not a whole lot of negotiating on this,” said a well-connected party member from Ambrose’s Spruce Grove riding in Edmonton.
Shannon Haggerty, spokeswoman for Ambrose, would not say who made the decision. “The Prime Minister’s Office and the minister have discussed this. These are details I don’t think are necessary to get into.”
Elan MacDonald, who ran Ambrose’s election campaign, said Ambrose is a fiscal conservative but not a social conservative.
Reid, 48, who is a native of Grande Prairie, Alta., has a PhD in history from Queen’s University and has published academically on Canadian federalism. In the 1990s, he served as then-Reform leader Preston Manning’s head researcher and chief of staff.
He failed at two election bids — for Reform in Ontario in 1997, and last winter for the Tories in Richmond, when he lost to Liberal Raymond Chan.
Just weeks before Reid won the Conservative nomination in Richmond, a group called DefendMarriage (B.C.) held a rally at Richmond city hall against gay marriage.
An e-mail — which began with the salutation “Praise the Lord” — went out to many of those who attended the rally, urging them to become Conservative party members and vote for Reid at the nomination meeting.
After Reid won the nomination, the president of the Conservative Party association in the riding, Charlie Horton, quit in protest, charging that the party was “getting dangerously close” to being overtaken by the religious right.
Ambrose’s office would not make Reid available for an interview, but he made his views public while with Focus.
During a conversation with Focus’s American founder, James Dobson, on a CD that was sold by the organization, Reid said he could run the risk of being incarcerated for opposing same-sex marriage because homosexuals are protected, under the Criminal Code, from hatred as an identifiable group.
“Sometimes I have to shake my head that what my parents understood, what the Bible teaches me, has become so obnoxious to some elites and to unelected judges in our country — I just can’t believe where we’re headed, unless God intervenes.”

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Jon Stewart Rules . . . .

With the mid-term elections in the US over the horizon and rumblings of a possible spring federal election in our future home, a review of this video is in order. It is vitally important for all voters in any democracy to educate themselves about the issues and candidates. Preferably, they should accomplish this through news sources not influenced by corporate media "spin". (Good luck with that here in the US!!)

Jon Stewart's appearance on CNN's "Crossfire" in October of 2004 was a classic display of his intelligence and his disgust with today's media giants version of "news". Jon does an incredible job of putting the two hosts - Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala - in their place. He describes them and the majority of the US media political "talking heads" as pompous, partisan hacks - which, when you get right down to it, is a very accurate description. We have viewed some evidence of this in viewing Canadian political programs, but not nearly to the extent as in the US. Let's hope this unappealing US trait doesn't follow us north of the 49th Parallel.

Presidential Quotes Compliments of Jeff Black . . .

Once again, Jeff Black of Blog chimes in with a great comparison of presidential quotes over the years . . . . The boy is a witty lad - if you'll read just a few posts it will become quite clear that "he attends the same church" we do . . . . Check it out, and make sure you click on the "waiters" link for an excellent show by the Asylum Street Spankers. This is the first time I have been exposed to them, but will definitely check them out further. Very creative and entertaining political satire.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Michaelle Jean's Other Story . . . .

A touching story of an admirable Canadian . . . .

A long journey into night

Alzheimer’s condemns a once-vibrant woman to a twilight existence


OTTAWA — It begins as little more than a whisper, a feeling that something isn’t quite right. That “something” may take the shape of an odd behaviour, disturbing and shocking. I watched as my mother moved slowly into the silence of a long tunnel. I watched as she became lost in confusion and stubbornness.
This once-cheerful woman, quick-witted, alert, active, always on the go, became increasingly distracted, losing her train of thought, fixating on the most absurd details. My mother, my bright and vibrant mother, rarely left the house any more, preferring instead to sit alone in the dark, the curtains drawn against the sunlight, caught in a kind of melancholy and weariness.
The cause was unclear. There were family issues and other circumstances, including the end of her job resulting from an accident at work, that might have explained her depression.
Certainly, there were signs that she was in distress: Seeing one doctor after another, and sometimes several at once.
She complained of insomnia, digestive problems, anxiety. She received prescriptions for sleeping pills, anti-depressants and other medications. To that dangerous cocktail she added a mishmash of vitamins and socalled natural products.
She lived on the ground floor of a duplex we shared, and I felt completely and utterly helpless as I watched her become mired in a thickening fog, increasingly absent-minded, forgetful, almost obsessively asking me the same question over and over.
The light f inally went on when I was interviewing a leading researcher of Alzheimer’s disease for a television program. As he described a typical patient, I saw unfold before me a portrait of my mother. Inside, I was reeling, my mind spinning, which I confided to him once the cameras were shut off. Two weeks later, my mother did a series of tests at the McGill University Centre for Studies in Aging.
The diagnosis cut me like a knife.
My mother read, her voice choked with emotion, her heart heavy, the label on the bottle of Aricept: “For the treatment of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.”
Even today, my anguish remains lodged there, in my throat, behind stifled cries and powerless sobs.
My mother, a retired psychiatric and geriatric nurse, knew exactly what awaited her.
When she stood before a notary to sign her certificate of incapacity, her world, as she knew it, was shattered.
From that point on, things progressed relentlessly. From one stage to the next. From denial to aggression, as though it were one last fight, one last attempt to resist — as her very existence, her body, her history and her memory slipped away for good.
No more independence, no more privacy, no more choice, not even the freedom to get lost in her pyjamas and slippers on the sidewalk in 25-below weather.
She had to suffer the stress and intrusions of her daughter. Me.
My mother became my sick child, my dependent child facing an irreversible countdown. She would never stop suffering until reason abandoned her completely.
I had to reinvent our relationship over and over. Reconnect through touch, recognize that her body responded to music like a wave on the open sea coming to wash upon the shore. Stay calmly by her side, rock her, lay my body next to hers in her hospital bed, cry on her shoulder and allow her to comfort me with the simple beating of her heart and occasional murmur.
My story is but one among thousands shared by adult children who care for a parent living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
It carries a heavy weight of emotion and sadness, but also hope that each of us will continue to love our parent in our own special way.
It is something that I wish with all my heart for my daughter to remember of her grandmother: That love, even transformed by this terrible illness, never wanes and, in many ways, makes us stronger.
Gov.-Gen. Michaelle Jean is honorary patron of the Alzheimer Society of Canada. Her 76-yearold mother, Luce Depestre, is a former psychiatric and geriatric nurse who once cared for patients with Alzheimer’s disease; she received her diagnosis 11 years ago. Jean visits her mother regularly at an Ottawa-area nursing home, often with her daughter, Marie-Eden.

For CanWest News Service


Gov.-Gen. Michaelle Jean cradles her mother and hums along with her favourite music, Puccini, playing on a small CD player in her mother’s nursing home room. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 11 years ago, Jean’s mother is in the latter stages of the disease.

Canada's Governor General has impressed us in the past - even more so now with this heartfelt story about her mother.