Archive for December, 2007

Canscene– Canada’s Multicultural Scene

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

Vol. 7, No 12 —- December 2007

A book to remember

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

Unlikely Utopia: The Surprising Triumph of Canadian Pluralism
by Michael Adams
Viking Canada, 180 pages. $34.00


(Canscene) — For this reviewer, so far Unlikely Utopia has been the book of the year and with January 1 nearing, it’s likely to remain so. Let me tell you why.

As an unabashed multiculturalist, I refuse to be moved by the negativists and contrarians who pin labels on Canadian multiculturalism. It’s an impediment to a sense of national identity, it leads to ghettoization, it threatens our traditions, it’s fomenting interracial unrest. And so on ad nauseam.

Forgetting that we Canadians introduced it as a policy to the rest of the world, no sooner do these pessimists hear of mayhem and interracial unrest in countries abroad that have paid lip service to multicuturalism than the sky is falling in Canada. (more…)

Christmas: a tarnished holiday

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

Canscene) —  How well I remember landing in Canada on December 15 to see lighted homes in villages and towns as the train took  me from Halifax to Toronto. And then, Toronto itself, to me after an austere eight years in Europe and England,  like a fairyland with gaily  decorated stores and signs of well-being all around me.  But that was Christmas, 1947.

Today, what I cherished  has grown into a travesty of those innocent days.   Gross commercialism has taken over the land. No sooner was Halloween over than Christmas promotions sprang up like dandelions to tempt those with the money to buy these material pleasures.

With millions of Canadians living  below the poverty line food banks nd welfare services are strained to the limit  Yet our federal government does little other than tell us tax cuts will create economic growth that will trickle down to all levels of socity.

Try telling the single mother of three how long she must wait for relief to trickle down as her kids press their faces enviously against store widows.  What if that trickle slows to a halt?

What Iris Chang couldn’t forget

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

(Canscene) — On December 13, History Television Channel will carry an alarming and moving Canadian-made documentary. It’s Iris Chan: The Rape of Nanking, a feature-length length film about a genocide that began 70 years ago, on December 13, 1937

Iris Chang, a young American writer became deeply involved when she learned of the massacre of 300,000 Chinese soldiers, women and children and male civilians by Japanese soldiers in 1937. The Japanese had invaded China and launched an onslaught against Nanking, then China’s capital city.

Ten years ago her book The Rape of Nanking was published and became a bestseller. Now, two Canadians, Anne Pick and Bill Spahic have made a riveting documentary based on the book, with graphic archival film and photos and interviews with the survivors.

Please be warned; in places this film is gruesome to the extreme. Western missionaries and others, not being part of the conflict, stayed behind to record the horrors. The testimony of women survivors who were raped and became “comfort women” or the Japaneseconquerors is harrowing to the extreme.

Iris Chang is played by Canadian actress Olivia Cheng; she’s the thread that binds the story. Why? You see, the real Iris Chang was so haunted by what she learned about Nanking was eventually driven to suicide.


One of the things she learned was that the terrible brutality of the Japanese soldiers could be attributed to their military training, itself including whippings and torture of soldiers by their officers.

One of the greatest horrors of armed conflict is the danger of turning fighting men into beasts and historically, the Japanese army is far from being the only guilty party.

To call this film a horror story is perfectly correct and the biggest horror is that soldiers, everywhere continue to be turned into animals. Think Auschwitz and the SS. Think My Lai. Think Darfur and Somalia. Think Abu Graib.

And think turning over Afghan prisoners of war to police brutality

Spotlighting the evil of child abuse

Saturday, December 1st, 2007


(Canscene) – On a quiet street in East End Toronto, I found myself dwarfed by Michael Irving’s massive bronze sculpture.

It’s the work of a practising psychotherapist and a sculptor of note. At the moment he has no place to store the piece, so it stands in his driveway. Michael sees it as a dramatic way of bringing the horror of child abuse to greater public attention. (more…)

Gun registry: a moral issue for a law and order “champion”

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

(Cansene) –How Stephen Harper and his Conservatives love harping on the gun registry laws passed by the Liberals (pun intended)!

Quite apart from criticisms about the initially underestimated cost and parroting America’s Second Amendment, the Conservatives are completely overlooking the moral issues.

Professing to be champions of law and order they’re completely ignoring the foot soldiers of law and order — our police services.

Liberal Public Safety Critic Ujjal Dosanjh said recently:

“Gun smuggling is a major problem in this country and continues to make it more difficult for police to combat gangs and violent gun crime.

“Planned regulations will require companies importing firearms into Canada to stamp the country of origin on the weapons – a rule that could help control gun smuggling.”

Dosanjh was commenting on a joint letter from the heads of the Canadian Police Association, Canadian Association of Police Boards and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police calling on Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day not to delay the marking of all imported firearms. (more…)

Gotta match, anyone?

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

The Halton Catholic School Board has banned the book Golden Compass from school library shelves  on the basis of a complaint by one single person that the author is an atheist.

In an age in which we Canadians pride ourselves on freedom of speech and with the movie of the book  on Canadian screens doesn’t this seem like an invitation to ridicule?

How many inquisitive kids’ minds will be piqued by all this publicity created by  the blinkered members of the Halton School Board?
The immortal works of writers  who were atheists, agnostics or free thinkers include Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, the poems of Robert Frost the humour of Mark Twain the dramas of George Bernard Shaw and the philosophy of Bertrand Russell.

So out on the streets with these works too and let’s have a real book burning! Just like in the days of the Third Reich.

And while we’re at it, let’s throw in he Bible, too. The Good Book  supports human sacrifice, and laws that command people be killed for working on the Sabbath,  for being gay, for cursing their parents or for not being a virgin on their wedding night.

Finally, something to sing (and dance) about

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

(Canscene) — One of the really enjoyable things about living in our pluralistic society is the constant discovery of talents that diversity has brought to Canada. When they’re pleasant, surprises are always welcome.

And that’s why I was really happy when my friend William Doyle Marshall told me about a group called The Ramblers. To my shame, I’d never heard of them but apparently hundreds of thousands of Canadians have — for the last forty-three years. And before that they were renowned in their native land, Guyana.

There, three brothers named Serrao formed their own band and became highly popular before coming to Canada in 1964 where they’ve enjoyed a steady following ever since, frequently touring. They established their Canadian reputation at the late lamented Jamaican Latin Quarter Club in downtown Toronto which disappeared to make way for Eaton Centre.


They’ve just released a CD version of their first LP — Boys’ Night Out, made thirty years ago. It’s a delightful collection of calypso, bossa nova, ballads and waltzes that’ll make you want to get off your butt and dance.

More recent CDs reveal that these five boys are still as exuberant in their — shall we say –more advanced years as they were when Boys’’ Night Out was first cut.

I’m told that The Ramblers CDs may be found in all HMV stores across Canada

The last word

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

Some say if we’re to be a nation we can’t all just drift about in our own tribes, cliques, niches and enclaves. In order to exist successfully as a collective we need defining ideals, national projects, grand designs. We need things we can all stand up for and hang our hats, hijabs and turbans on.

This might be a good idea but what would it entail? Wars are national projects but they tend not to be much fun. We built ourselves a big railway and that was a national project, but Chinese labourers didn’t find it a very rewarding mechanism of social inclusion. We could all sign a document that expresses “Canadian values” but would that document be written by General Rick Hillier or comedian Rick Mercer?

From Unlikely Utopia, by Michael Adams