Archive for February, 2007

Beginning this issue: Profiling Canadians you should know about

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

Go to right of this page and click on profiles to meet Susanne Pacher, peripatetic multiculturalist

Susanne Pacher, peripatetic multiculturalist

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

(Canscene) — If there’s one thing Susanne Pacher loves to do as much as travel it’s to come back to her adopted country of 20 years. She enjoys the opportunities her proprietorship of the travel website Travel and Transitions give her to see other places and other people, but cherishes life in multicultural Canada where “I have the world right here in Toronto.” (see blogroll this page).

And to show another facet of her superblog Travel and Transitions, Susanne is inviting you to an introduction to her series on Toronto’s diverse neighbourhoods, March 7 (see below).

Susanne on Havana’s Malecon
Twenty years ago, the prospect of life in a small Austrian mountain town had become unattractive to the young Susanne who was studying English and Spanish translation and interpretation studies at the University of Graz. Her idea was to aim for a job at the United Nations as an interpreter so she decided to go to an English-speaking country to gain some practical work experience.

Susanne with Monserrat Spain’s Jagged Mountains in the background

Not unnaturally, she chose Canada to which many years earlier a man from her hometown had gone to work and had become a billionaire industrialist and philanthropist; his name was Frank Stronach. Obtaining a one-year work permit Susanne started with Magna International as a technical translator. What she hadn’t bargained for was the ethnic diversity that she encountered in the workplace.

Multicultural Canada: a revelation

“All of a sudden this young small-town girl was exposed to a microcosm of the world. I was simply astounded to be working with people from Russia, Jamaica. Cambodia, India and more,” Susanne says.

“I took to life in Canada very quickly. The only thing I missed was the mountains, but I found later that I could have these too, in a country rich in geography.”

Susanne worked part-time at furthering her education. What followed were a diploma in Human Resources Management from Sheridan College, a B.A. in Economics & Labour Management Relations from the University of Toronto followed by her M.B.A from the Rotman Centre of Management at U of T.

The next step was Textronics Enterprises, a multilingual translation agency with herself initially working in Spanish, German and English while she brought on board freelancers for other languages. “Today,” Susanne says, “I have three full-time and several part-time employees and a huge network of specialized translators all across the world. Our staff and interns include people from such diverse places as Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, China, Mexico, Russia, Germany, Ethiopia and Jamaica. We often have pot luck lunches during which we sample one another’s cuisines. This is a global learning experience, right here in my own office. Most of my employees and interns come from Skills for Change, a highly regarded Toronto immigrant settlement agency.”

Inside Susanne: a closet idealist

“What made me start Travel and Transitions? I realized that I’d become a small business proprietor who was pretty much tied down to her desk the whole day. But inside me was an adventurer, an explorer, a hobby photographer, an armchair philosopher and a closet idealist.”

“So less than two and a half years ago, I started Travel and Transitions as a web site, often working late into the night. Adventures chronicling my travels and practical advice provide for unconventional travel ideas; dozens of interviews with interesting individuals highlight travel industry experts, volunteers, philanthropists, artists, multiculturalism experts, hospitality business owners and enlightened entrepreneurs. There are now more than 600 pages of diverse content available at” (see blogroll link to this page)

“As to my travel preferences” she responds to my question, “I have always had a love for Mediterranean countries, but then again, I’m just as thrilled to discover Canadian locations — and there are hundreds of fascinating places here. Canada is a wonderful travel destination.”

“We recently completed our first International Story Contest and received fascinating entries from all over the world. Many of the stories had a philanthropic angle to them. Just a few months ago I kicked off the “Celebrate Toronto” project, a multi-year endeavour that will celebrate my chosen home town. A series of photo exhibitions, multi-media presentations and article compilations will provide comprehensive neighbourhood portraits of our city, starting with the Beach, and then moving on to other neighbourhoods such as Chinatown-Kensington, Little Italy, Little India and others more. Each neighbourhood portrait will become a fundraiser for local non-profit organizations, benefiting our city.”

Please find enclosed information about the inaugural “Celebrate Toronto” event and come out and celebrate Toronto’s Beach Neighbourhood, a fun event that will even include a free gelato and panini tasting:

Event information:
Event: Photo Exhibition & Fundraiser
“Celebrate Toronto: The Beach – My Second Home”
Exhibition dates: March 7 to 31, 2007
Gallery opening & story-telling event: March 7, 2007, 7:00 pm (Includes a free gelato and panini tasting)
Second story-telling event: March 14, 2007, 7:00 pm (Includes a free gelato and panini tasting)
Additional story-telling events may be slotted in based on demand
Location: Gelato Milano, 2156 Queen Street East (between Glen Manor Avenue & Maclean Avenue)
Due to space restrictions please register your attendance at

How to live with our elephantine uncle

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

Pierre Elliott Trudeau once told American journalists: “Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

Well, maybe today the elephant seems less of a menace, as the Bush gang becomes more and more mired in the consequences of the big Iraq lie which Jean Chretien had the good sense not to support. This gives us all the opportunity to rethink our across-the-border relations

Here comes Living with Uncle, an anthology of essays by well known public figures who for years have pleaded for Canadians to stand up to Uncle Sam in a dignified, reasonable manner.

Edited by Bruce Campbell and Ed Finn the book has seventeen essays by such well-known Canadian patriots as former foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy, former NDP leader Ed Broadbent, perennial pro-Canadian Maude Barlow and activist-broadcaster Avi Lewis.

I was particularly impressed with the final essay by American economist Thea Lee, praising us for our many activists whose successes encourage socially conscious people south of the border.

The choice: more comfort or a better planet
I warn you, the following is going to be offensive to millions who’ll be reluctant to give up some of their creature comforts.

But 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, the new Orleans disaster, 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 amd self-indulgent consumerism or stay with the herd that like lemmings, seem hell-bent on self-destruction.

We Canadians are 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:

This is about our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren.

It’s about survival stupid!

Perhaps they’ll listen now
Just over a year ago, I attended a press conference in Toronto which, to say he least, was poorly attended. There, for the first time, I met a softly but firmly spoken gentleman who was planning boldly to host the December environmental summit in Montreal. Even though he knew his political party would probably lose the next federal election, he spoke with sincere conviction about the need for decisive action on the environment

Until that time, I had thought of him as a man of sincerity who seemed above the rough and tumble of rancorous debate that in recent years has characterized the House of Commons Bu at that press conference I saw him as a man of great determination based, not on emotionalism but on scientific evidence.

In December, that man, Stephane Dion became the leader of a party that aims to take on Stephen Harper and hs fuzzy environmental philosophy. Even if he loses, he won’t give up the fight because like a growing number of Canadians he knows where we’ll all be in the lifetimes of our grandchildren — maybe even of our children.

A shadowy group
Project for the New American Century is a so called neo con think tank in the United States. I and millions of internet users know it’s more than that, but conventional news media both sides of the border have failed to engage in any serious investigation

It was founded in the United States in 1997 by the likes of Dick Cheney who became vice president when the republicans won the 2000 election and Lewis Libby who was appointed his chief of staff.

Among the founders were Donald Rumsfeld, who became defence secretary, John Bolton, named ambassador to the United Nations, Jeb Bush Governor of Florida and brother of the man who was to become president. All die-hard Republicans of the extreme right.

Libby was the first casualty, indicted for perjury in 2005
Then, since the Democrats won power in congress and the senate last November, Rumsfeld and Bolton resigned. One wonders who’ll be next to go? Or should I say one hopes there’ll be more in monhs to come.

To find out more about this group which some claim to be the real government of the U.S go to Google and search the hundreds of references to Project for the New American Century.

Canadian identity: the never ending quest

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

(Canscene) — The Multiculturalism portfolio plus something called Canadian Identity goes from Canadian Heritage to newly appointed secretary of state Jason Kenney: not quite a minister and not included in cabinet meetings. (more…)

How little we know of our history

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

(Canscene) – February is Black History Month and gives us all the opportunity to reflect on the role African Canadians have played in our history. Unfortunately even the most sympathetic of us tend to overlook the whole picture. (more…)

The Clever Canuck: Investing Made Easy

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

Clever Canuck

The Clever Canuck: Investing Made Easy
By Sandra L. Sextron
(available through website and Amazon books)
$14.95, 109 pages

(Canscene) — Tired of being pestered with 101 reasons you should think about RRSP’s this month? You can find relief in this book, which in a few pages sets you straight on the options you have before you study the various offers being advertised during tis month of February. (more…)

CMHC again a victory for non-violence

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

Canscene) One again the Canadian Multicultural Hockey Championships have come and gone. Once again they’ve proven how 26 teams representing 26 different ethnicities can get together and celebrate both Canada’s national game and their own heritage in friendly rivalry. (more…)

A new aid to performing bodily functions?

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

Canscene) — Innovation, we are told is the lifeblood of progress and we should salute those who bring us new ideas to brighten our drab little lives. (more…)

For whom the clock ticks

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

Canscene) I read the chilling news that the Doomsday Clock had advanced by two minutes closer to midnight with a great sense of foreboding.

The Clock is a symbolic clock face maintained since 1947 by the Board of Directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago. It appears on the cover of every issue. (more…)

The “in” thing: switching

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

(Canscene) — The late actor Peter Sellers refused to appear before the camera if there was anything green around him. My mother was highly superstitious about wearing green or having green around the house. (more…)