7 Things You Canít Say in Canada


sanctus
#1
Attacking our sacred cows may turn you into a pariah--but it can also be a lot of fun

BY MARGARET WENTE
Every culture has its unacknowledged taboosóthe things you are forbidden to say or do in polite company, the accepted truths you are not allowed to doubt. You might think that a liberal, open-minded country like Canada would be free of such taboos, but youíd be wrong. In spite of our belief in our own enlightened tolerance, some things are simply not open to debate. If you try, youíre bound to shock the neighbours.
Itís risky to question the wisdom of the tribe. You might get stoned. On the other hand, some people might sneak up to you afterwards and confess that they secretly agree.
So hereís a challenge to a few of our nationís most widely held beliefs. You say these things in public at your own peril. I will be elaborating on these points over the months to come. Feel free to stone me or secretly agreeóor, even better, add to the list. At the very least, theyíre sure to start a good dinner-party fight.
Margaret Atwood writes some really awful books.
The queen of CanLit bestrides the literary world like a colossus. Nobody has won more awards than she has, and nobody is more feared. There is no such thing as a bad review of a Margaret Atwood book in Canada. Thatís too bad, because many of her books are tedious and unreadable, full of tortuous plots and unpleasant characters. Why will no one say so? Because weíre grateful that sheís put us on the global map. And because if they do, theyíll never work in this country again.
Recycling is a waste of time and money.
Once upon a time it was easy to put out the trash. Today, the Garbage Gestapo rule our lives. Every household has become a mini version of the village dump, and every one of us has become a garbage picker, carefully separating our organics from our bottles and papers, and worrying about where our dryer lint is supposed to go.
Donít try to sneak a wine bottle into the wrong bag! The trash police will punish you. The truth about recyc-ling is that itís a giant waste of dollars and doesnít help the environment. But donít tell your kids. They wonít believe you. Theyíve been brainwashed.
Only private enterprise can save public health care.
Tommy Douglas, the CBCís Greatest Canadian, brought us universal health care. But even his plan didnít originally pay for everybodyís ingrown toenails. His primary goal was to make sure nobody faced financial ruin if they got sick.
Today we have a system where controlling costs is more important than treating patients, and where ideology is crippling us. In some places, including Toronto, people go blind waiting for cataract surgery. The government could restore their sight tomorrow simply by sending them to a private clinic instead of to a hospital. The cost to the government would be exactly the same. But in Canada, private is a dirty word, and so the government would rather you go blind. Poor Tommy would be spinning in his grave.
David Suzuki is bad for the environment.
From global warming to farmed salmon and genetically modified crops, David Suzuki has just one message: The End is Nigh.
He is our homegrown prophet of doom who preaches the essential wickedness of the human race. Like a modern Savonarola, he warns that unless we cast our material possessions into the bonfire, weíre all going to hell.
The trouble with this apocalyptic vision is that people are starting to tune out. And our hugely expensive investment in the unworkable Kyoto treaty, which Mr. Suzuki tells us doesnít go nearly far enough, will crowd out more practical measures to cut smog and clean up our waste sites.
A national daycare program wonít do a thing to help poor kids.
Cheap national daycare! Who could be against it? Itís supposed to give kids a better start in life, and nobody can object to that. But in Quebec, where the program started, universal daycare has turned out to be nothing more than a giant (and extremely costly) subsidy for relatively well-heeled middle-class parents. Few poor parents use the system.
No doubt convenient daycare is a godsend for many. But so far there is no definitive evidence that kids who go to daycare go on to do better in school or in life. So if we want to invest billions in helping kids, why are we spending it on the kids who need help the least?
Group of Seven artists are overexposed genre painters.
I like A.Y. Jackson as much as you do. His paintings remind me of when I went to summer camp. I grew up with a reproduction of The West Wind hanging in our living room. (That was by Tom Thomson, who wasnít really a member of Group of Seven, but never mind.) Group of Seven were the first artists to depict the wild Canadian landscape, and they were bold young rebels in their time.
But that time was 80 years ago. Today their work is the quintessence of bourgeois picture-postcard artóthe kind of art itís safe to take your mother to see. Enough, already. Maybe itís time we moved on.
The United States is the greatest force for good the world has ever known.
Of all the shocking things you can say around the dinner table, this is the most shocking one. After all, America-bashing is part of our national identity. At best, we see our neighbour as a well-intentioned but arrogant and blundering bully that throws its weight around too much. At worst, we see our neighbour as one of the most evil nations in the world. And yet, right now, hundreds of millions of people in India and China and other desperately poor parts of the world are being liberated from millennia of suffering and serfdom. Why? Because of the United States, which has spread its idea of economic freedomóand its purchasing poweróaround the world.
 
tamarin
#2
I like Margaret! She does deal with touchy subjects. And Canada is a wasteland of political correctness, most of it fostered by the country's leading joke, the Liberal Party.
But she's wrong on at least a couple here:
1) I've read many scathing reviews of Margaret Atwood's books. She is a witless novelist. But being a darling of the starched shirt set and the cool, she gets far more play than she deserves. i think Atwood's a great poet but she is a mediocre prose writer. She's been hung out to dry many times.
2) After visiting the National Gallery of Art in Ottawa I must say I came back immensely impressed by some of the Group of Seven. 'Non member' , Tom Thomson, was astonishing. I had Wente's opinion to the T before the visit but now I'm a changed dude.
 
TenPenny
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by sanctusView Post

Attacking our sacred cows may turn you into a pariah--but it can also be a lot of fun

Margaret Atwood writes some really awful books.

I wouldn't know; I tried to read one of her books once, but gave up.

I do know one thing: Margaret Wente is an annoying mindless twit, who has helped lower the level of the Globe and Mail. Perhaps she is only outdone by Christie Blechwit. The TV columnist is terrible; Leah McLaren is godawful. Heather Mallick was just pointless. Rex Murphy is...Rex Murphy-ish.

When does the G&M get these people? Is the selection so poor that these are the only columnists they can get?
 
tamarin
#4
Hey, it's tough to be a columnist. I like the above writers. And I read newspapers omnivorously. Wente has taken more than her share of tough stands. And she's been pilloried. Yet, that's also the role of a good columnist: to reinvigorate, if not start the debate. Consequences be damned.
 
TenPenny
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by tamarinView Post

Hey, it's tough to be a columnist. I like the above writers. And I read newspapers omnivorously. Wente has taken more than her share of tough stands. And she's been pilloried. Yet, that's also the role of a good columnist: to reinvigorate, if not start the debate. Consequences be damned.

What I find about her is that her columns are, to me, pointless. I read them and afterwards think, "so what?". If the job of a columnist is to fill space with words that have zero impact, she's doing a good job. I can't recall a single one of her columns that caused me to think about her subject at all. Not positive or negative, just not at all.
 
tamarin
#6
Wow! You're kidding right? She's had some great columns on multiculturalism, feminism, the blight of the Mid-East, health care charlatans, the state of Canada's schools and much much more. She writes well. I don't agree with everything Wente says but I think she does a helluva job for the Globe. I like many columnists. I wish more, like Garth Turner, would run for office.
 
Nikki
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by sanctusView Post

Attacking our sacred cows may turn you into a pariah--but it can also be a lot of fun


Margaret Atwood writes some really awful books.



I wouldn't know about this one. However I don't think anyone would freak out if I were to say this.
Quote:


Recycling is a waste of time and money.



Anyone ever seen the episode of Bull**** w/ Penne and Teller where they cover recycling? It really makes you think. you should check it out.
Quote:


Only private enterprise can save public health care.



This (like most of these 7 subjects depends where you are in the country. If you came to alberta and said this you would be applauded.
Quote:

David Suzuki is bad for the environment.



This guys annoys the crap out of me... I dont really know why lol.
Quote:


A national daycare program wonít do a thing to help poor kids.



Again this depends where in the country you are. If you said this in AB people would probably agree with you.
Quote:


Group of Seven artists are overexposed genre painters.



again depends on where you are.
.
Quote:

The United States is the greatest force for good the world has ever known.



Again depends on where you are. In AB people would agree.

I don't think these are all taboo topics it all depends where in the country you reside. I think people don't realize just out different things are from province to province.
 

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