Céline Lomez cranes forward, cupping the brandy snifter with her hands. Some strands of raven hair, pasted there, lodge in an amber glow. In the soft, splayed lighting of the elegant restaurant her long black lashes fling shadows below her dark brown eyes, which are as big and as expressive as a baby’s.
It all started back in 1926. That was the year the British Imperial Conference, meeting in London, declared Canada, Newfoundland, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa to be equal in status with Great Britain itself. The next year, Ottawa summoned the provinces to a follow-up meeting to discuss ways to “patriate” the Canadian constitution, which was still an act of the British Parliament (the British North America Act) in spite of the declaration of the Imperial Conference.
The chill autumn air swirling down from the mountain carries an eerie quiet to the once frenetic core of Montreal. Two years ago, downtown streets were smothered in the dust and roar of a building boom. Now the skyline is shaved clean of the spindly construction cranes which vanished with the passing of the Olympic Games and the election of a Parti Québécois government.
Peter Newman’s editorial, What is Canada Profited If It Saves a Fist Full of Dollars and Loses Its Soul? (Oct. 16), is spot-on in its sentiment. Culture, more than politics or economics, is at the true centre of our national crisis. But what the editorial missed, and governments are slow to recognize, is that cultural investment pays, and pays handsomely.
Wendy Derrick quit a $23,000-a-year public-school teacher’s job for a position at a Montessori school paying $9,000 less because she wanted to teach at a pace “regulated by the child’s abilities, rather than his grade level.” Mark Kennedy, principal of Queensway Cathedral Christian School in Etobicoke, says parents want “a return to the basic firmer discipline and the setting of moral values.”
It was fleeting, but for spectators at the McDonald inquiry into the RCMP last week, it was there for all to see: Commissioner Guy Gilbert actually closed his eyes. As he opened them wide seconds later, it looked as if Gilbert expected the scene before him to have disappeared.
As I looked out over the odd sight of pleasure boats and high-rises instead of the tugs, barges and Quonset huts we had been used to, I could only reflect back to the night three years ago, anchored in a sheltered cove on St. Vincent Island in the West Indies, when I decided that I was too young to retire to the Caribbean and not enthusiastic about ending my vacation to go back to pounding a typewriter at Montreal’s La Presse.
If art mirrors life, there is no better illustration of it than those towers of pop culture—the comic books. Back in the bad old days, at least 10 years ago, it wasn’t hard to tell the boys from the girls even in the world of fantasy. Superman had all the fun, donning the snazzy costume, zooming through the sky, battling the villain.
It’s enough to reduce Oral Roberts to tears: the only prime-time religious broadcast on North American television, now in its 12th season, with a weekly audience of one million—and the host doesn’t even go to church. Roy Bonisteel knows there’s a great deal that Oral Roberts would find baffling about CBC’s Man Alive.
For years I have tried to get a glimpse of that barely visible monolith in the East, the People’s Republic of China. Like a child, with her face pressed against a cold pane of glass on a rainy day, I have only been able to see bent grey figures, shoulders hunched against the adversity of bad weather.
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