Archive for January, 2007

‘Tis the season to be penitent

Monday, January 1st, 2007

(Canscene) — My good friend Ralph Foster, journalist, film maker and wit once dubbed the 7-day period following Decembet 25,  “National Cold Turkey and Hangover Week.”  I heard it from Ralph some 50 years ago and frequently at this season  use it myself,  always, I try,  with credit to Ralph.

A wish list for ’07

Monday, January 1st, 2007

For this Year of Grace 2007, I wish:

That the youth of Canada will wake   up to the vital necessity to vote for some of the things they support on their T-shirts, in particular, wildlife and the environment. They have to get used to voting  and also to reminding  those for whom they voted they need a payback.

That politicians of all stripes think beyond the box of their elected terms of office and that while the democratic  system of government demands the cut and thrust of debate, petty tit-for-tat adversity is not always in the public interest.

That high and mighty business executives voluntarily refrain from exercising stock options which only result in their maximizing profits and lining their own as well as shareholders’ pockets to the detriment of workers and consumers alike.

That world leaders stop picking on states wishing to develop nuclear resources and consider total  nuclear disarmament on a global and permanent scale.

That Canada’s prime minister would stop posing self-consciously  in those quaint outfits that suggest as a kid he never enjoyed Halloween.

Did I say “This Year of Grace?” –  Well, let’s be optimistic.  I can dream —-can ‘t I?  And many good ideas begin with a dream.

What’s yours?

Futher fantasizing

Monday, January 1st, 2007

Each New Year’s I think about what public figures might or might not be  saying or doing in 2007.

This year, here are some books you might just see  on the  bestseller lists.  That is if the moon’s made of cream cheese.

A Complete Guide to Your Contraceptive Options by Pope Benedict.

Dubya speak: a  guide to fashionable pronunciation for a nukelar age, see,  by who else?

Glamorous new hairdos by CTV anchor Sandy Rinaldo

Silence is Golden, a primer on media relations by  Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Gotcha! by Canada’s Auditor General  Sheila Fraser.

My Future Life in the Red by Conrad Black

Oops!  an anthology of things they shouln’t have said with contributions from Pope Benedict, Jack Straw, Michael Ignatieff, Michael Kramer Richards and Mel Gibson.

Going green?

Monday, January 1st, 2007

(Canscene) — The choice of a former and dedicated federal environment  minister as leader of the opposition  and the surge of concern  among young Canadians at the threat of global warming may well see a merger of interests between the Green Party and the Liberals in the next election. Short of conjoining, if the Greens, if they win a few seats, may well decide to vote with the Liberals.

Whatever our self-interests, whatever our economic interests whatever our  political interests, we  have to face   some bold decisions if  we’re to help save  humanity from the dreadful consequences of global warming.

Don’t tell me the signs aren’t there.  Don’t tell me the  tsunamis, Hurricane Katrina, mud slides in the Philippines, forest fires and floods all over the world are coincidental occurrences; there are just too many of them.

Let’s face it.   We Canadians have a clear choice: to face up to the need to sacrifice  gas-eating automobiles, unlimited air travel , the wholesale discharge of weaponry in wars and  self-indulgent consumerism or stay with the herd that like lemmings, seem hell-bent on self-destruction.

We’re a going to have to stop looking over our shoulders to see what other countries are doing.  We’re  going to have to learn to say to critics:

“This is  about our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren.

“It’s  about survival,  stupid!”

Good Canadian film presence at Sundance ’07

Monday, January 1st, 2007

(Canscene) — Two of the most talked-of films shown at last years’ Toronto International Film Festival are among the contingent of Canadian Productions to be shown at the 2007 Sundance Festival

Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, one of America’s most socially conscious actors, to focus interest on independent film makers, Sundance has become one of North America’s most influential annual film industry events.

Canadian filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal’s riveting essay on photographer Edward Burtynsky, Manufactured Landscapes will compete in the documentary category of the festival.

Baichwal, an acclaimed documentarian, won the Toronto: City Award for best Canadian feature film for Manufactured Landscapes at the ‘06 TIFF. The film will vie for Sundance’s world documentary prize against 15 films hailing from South America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

The phenomenal career of Sarah Polley, 27 from child to adult actor to director has resulted in Away from Her, a moving, compassionate drama which also premiered at TIFF ‘06. Beautifully acted by Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent, is considered a leading contender in the dramatic feature category.

Other Canadian productions in the running in the dramatic category include How She Move, about a high school girl who becomes involved in step-dancing, and Rêves de Poussière (Dreams of Dust), a Burkina Faso-Canada-France co-production about a Nigerian peasant looking for new work in a dusty gold mine and hoping to forget his past. S. Wyeth Clarkson’s Sk8 Life and the Toronto film fest zombie hit Fido, directed by Andrew Currie will also be screened.

The current edition runs Jan. 18-28 in Park City, Sundance, Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah.

Denial of Stalin’s genocide now criminal act in Ukraine

Monday, January 1st, 2007

(Canscene)  —  The Ukrainian Canadian Congress has applauded   the Ukrainian Parliament’s decision  to legally recognize he Famine of 1932-33 as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian nation, declaring denial of the genocide a criminal act.

Known in Ukraine as the Holodomor or murder by starvation, the famine was the  result of a direct Soviet policy to crush the nationally conscious Ukrainian people. By introducing unrealistically large quotas on grain, the Soviet Government stripped the peasants of their food supply thus launching a famine that in 1932-33 claimed the lives of between 7 to 10 million innocent victims.

The Ukrainian-Canadian web site e-Poshta states:

“In his book The Harvest of Sorrow, historian Robert Conquest provided a vivid picture of the devastating effects of the Famine-Genocide in Ukraine: “A quarter of the rural population, men, women, and children, lay dead or dying, the rest in various stages of debilitation with no strength to bury their families or neighbors.”

“In June of 2004, at the initiative of Senator Raynell Andreychuk the Senate of Canada unanimously adopted a motion calling on the Government of Canada to recognize the Famine in Ukraine as nothing less than genocide.

“The Ukrainian Canadian Congress now calls on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Canadian Government to recognize in the House of Commons that the Holodomor in Ukraine was an act of genocide committed against the Ukrainian nation, ” E-Poshta stated.

New environmental guide puts accent on youth

Monday, January 1st, 2007

(Canscene) — The following is excerpted with permission from the Gallen  Environment Letter:

A new guide called Consume this: Buying that Matters from the Canadian Pollution Prevention Centre is intended to help youth make smart choices for sustainable consumption which is defined as:
•     Satisfaction of human needs
•     Favouring a good quality of life through  acceptable living standards
•     Sharing resources between rich and poor
•     Acting with concern for future generations
•     Looking at the ‘cradle-to-grave’ impact  of consumption
•     Minimizing resource use, waste and pollution  and ensuring everyone has enough for a decent  life.

Youth are encouraged to vote with their dollar including:
•     shopping green by buying from companies  committed to sustainable principles.
•     buying locally to reduce transportation  emissions.
•     Sharing and swapping with friends or renting  instead of buying.
•     Choosing not to buy – for example, sending  an e-card instead of a paper birthday card.
•     Using the least toxic product available.
•     Buying durable, reusable and rechargeable  rather than disposable.
•     Avoiding excess packaging, for example,  litterless lunch
•     Buying used, recycled.
Young people are asked to keep in touch by providing ideas on sustainable consumption and have fun, make smart choices and use “sustainable consumption practices everyday, even on your birthday!”

The Gallen letter commends the authors for producing an informative, even inspiring and unpatronizing guide for the young (and those of us still young at heart) although it is still not so very easy to make informed decisions about green products and green companies.

Cowan, Kady with assistance of Tania Del Matto. Consume this: Buying that Matters. Canadian Centre for Pollution Prevention, 2006.

Canada among nations ratifying UNESCO convention

Monday, January 1st, 2007

(Canscene) — Canada was an early signatory to a UNESCO convention  which sets out to protect and promote diversity of cultural expression.

On Monday, December 18, the UNESCO convention surpassed the minimum threshold of 30 ratifications required to enter into effect, after 13 European states filed their ratifications with UNESCO. Under the terms of the convention, it will now enter into effect March 18, 2007.

The signatories are  greatly encouraged by the news that several other countries, including Brazil, China, Norway, South Africa and Uruguay, are expected to join this group early in 2007.

The last word

Monday, January 1st, 2007

If a man were to ask nature for what purpose he produces, and if she chose to attend and reply to him, she would say “you should never have asked; you ought to have understood in silence, even as I keep silence and am wont to say nothing.

Plotinus, Roman philosopher, 205 – 270