I guess I haven’t completely wasted my life

Thirty-two years ago, shortly following my first scholarly publication (“On The Seafarer, line 34b”), after spending an idyllic summer in the Lucanian countryside helping to dig up a ruined Roman villa – a summer which a quarter century later inspired the twenty-four wee paintings which seem to have made me into some sort of “artist” – I sat down in a small upstairs room in a tiny house in the London suburb of Watford and translated a Latin love poem (Catullus 3) into English verse and wrote that translation out on the rear flyleaf of the little book of Latin poetry I was just now perusing once more.

I guess I haven’t completely wasted my life.



I posted this to Facebook last night, but some people don’t do Facebook, so . . .

There’s this thing trending on teh twitter called “#IDenounceHarper.

I can’t.

Denouncing my neighbour is something I don’t want to ever be called to do. It’s the ultimate of Fascist suggestions, a call to the absolute end of freedom of thought. Whatever I think of him, of his vision for Canada, of his record as Prime Minister, as political organizer, as stock boy, or as university student, Mr. Harper, like all Canadians, is, before all else, my neighbour.  I’m not going to jump on a foul intertube bandwagon and DENOUNCE the man, the husband, the father, the guy whose life’s course has been so similar to my own while arriving at such a dissimilar place.

I’ll happily criticize his policies, his tactics, his strategies, his ads, his claims, his choice of pet.  I’ll gladly vote for a candidate from a party opposed to his. I’ll shout from the rooftops that his vision of Canada is absolutely inconsistent with my own.

But I will not denounce Mr. Harper.

If he has committed or condoned crimes, we have a functioning Parliament and functioning Courts to deal with those.  I don’t expect to ever be called as a witness in proceedings against Mr. Harper. A vanishingly small percentage of Canadians should expect such a call. Our denunciations are nothing but the venting of spleen, usually anonymously, often stupidly maliciously.

Mr. Harper has done something I never would have had the guts to do: he threw his hat into the ring and he rose to the highest elected office in the land and governed as he saw fit.  I wish he never had, but I can’t denounce him for having more guts than me. 

I don’t want another minute of Prime Minister Harper, but, as much as I dislike my impression of him as an individual, I will not denounce him. 

In the end we are all neighbours in the most civil of  civil societies, Canada.

Vote. Don’t Hate.

I’ve gotta say this again . . .

There’s a general election on again here in Canada.  There’s a lot of vitriol being hurled about.  Social media has served to raise the volume of that vitriol.  And, yet again, Alberta is the target of a lot of the nastiness.  Certainly, all parties have nothing to lose and much to gain by bashing Alberta, which doesn’t have enough seats in the House to generally make a difference.

But the generalized Alberta bashing is not what I want to discuss here.

Today, I’d like to say something about the ease with which those who dislike our current Prime Minister blame Alberta for the “way” Harper is.

A Tale of Two Boomers

Mr. Harper and I were both born roughly fifty-five years ago, he in 1959, I in 1961, in Ontario, he in Toronto, I in Ottawa.  We both went to Ontario public schools, he in Toronto, I in Sudbury and Windsor.

We both moved to Alberta while still young, he (after two failed months at the University of Toronto) to work in his father’s company, I as a teenager entering grade eight in the Alberta public school system. Mr. Harper went to Calgary, I went to a suburb of Edmonton.

We both attended university in Alberta, he in the University of Calgary (BA 1985, MA 1991), I at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton (BA 1983, MA 1984).

Mr. Harper lived longer in Ontario than I did. I have lived longer in Alberta than Mr. Harper has.

I have never voted for any conservative party in any election. I suspect Mr. Harper has, once or twice.

My point

My point is that Mr. Harper and I are superficially similar fellows with superficially similar life histories, and yet, we are very different in almost every political way. If you blame Alberta for Mr. Harper’s politics, what’s my excuse? Why not blame Ontario, or Toronto, where Mr. Harper spent so much more of his formative years than I did? Mr. Harper and I both went to Alberta universities and worked in Alberta. How did I end up a left winger, if Alberta made Mr. Harper what he is?

My real point

Stop blaming Alberta! Finding some facile single explanation for a human’s character is as intellectually weak as the idea (I’ve heard it seriously suggested) that the Holocaust happened because young Hitler caught syphilis from a Jewish prostitute.

No. Mr. Harper is cutting the arts neither because he failed the audition for a High School production of Oliver nor because he happened to live in Alberta for a while.

Stop blaming Alberta for Harper.