In Ottawa over Christmas, a reporter contemplating his summer vacation expressed his concern to a cabinet minister that a federal election might interfere with his plans. The minister told him not to worry: the election will have come and gone by summer.
Few Canadians have heard of the Ontario and Quebec Railway Company, even though, for the past 90 years or so, many if not most of the people traveling by train in the country’s busiest transportation corridor—between Montreal and Windsor, Ont.—have been traveling on the O & Q.
Even now, as the team skates on for the warm-up, there are not a half-dozen spectators in the grizzled old Memorial Arena in Waterloo, Ontario. One has an arrow through his head. One a false beard. Another is wearing huge plastic Vulcan ears.
Sunday night was sheet night. An Air Canada pilot, clad only in a tiny black swimsuit, was lying on a table in the middle of the hotel dance floor, his body smothered in whipped cream. Beside him, microphone in hand, was a barefoot chef with a raccoon tail hanging out of his hip pocket.
Whatever happened to tomorrow? It should have arrived ages ago, that gleaming, gimmicky utopia of videophones, moving sidewalks and jet ports on every roof. Back in the 1950s and 1960s optimists assured us such wonders were imminent. We’re still waiting.
It will be ironic, to say the least, if the separatist cause proves to undermine rather than enhance the legitimate aspirations of French Canadians. Yet that is precisely what could happen if Quebec should decide to go its own way. Within Canada it may not just be the French-Canadian culture and language that are at stake.
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