Archive for October, 2008

Ben Viccari’s Canscene — Canada’s multicultural scene

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Vol 8 No 10 —  October 2008

What hidden agenda?

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

There’s still talk of Prime Minister Harper’s “hidden agenda” which is an exercise in futility since the Reform/Alliance/Conservative agenda has been plain from the outset.

At a media conference I hosted more than a decade ago, Preston Manning openly declared he’d rescind the Multiculturalism Act of Parliament and would even consider changes to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Stockwell Day was a little less vocal but nonetheless in agreement with Manning on the subject but Harper has even appointed Jason Kenney as secretary of state (Multiculturalism and Canadian identity). One questions his eventual goal when in some quarters “Canadian identity” is held in  direct opposition to “multiculturalism.”

The fact remains that to a majority of Conservative  supporters in Western Canada, the old redneck values still hold, even though economic conditions are attracting more and more immigrants.

Surprisingly enough, Chris Reid, a gay Ontario M.P. was forced to resign his seat because of questionable remarks on his blog that were worthy of any rednecked Westerner.

And Harper’s surly attitude towards funding  the arts speaks for itself.

If Harper wins power again, whether as a minority or majority leader, we’ll soon see whether we’re right about an oppressive, anti-liberal  agenda as indicated by bills C-10 and C50 and those drastic cuts to arts funding.

A regrettable display of bad taste

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

(Canscene)     In my extended family, two male children were born with Down Syndrome: one is now in his thirties, the other a pre-teen.

I know how the loving care of their parents has helped them to develop and live in confidence  in a world in which they are different from others around them. Indeed they are special.

All the more reason I was shocked to see the potential vice president of the United States using her own special baby in an especially obnoxious Tv appearance.  Grasping the poor child like a sack of potatoes in one arm, she used the other arm to wave at the cheering crowds who in their abysmal ignorance thought that this was something indeed noble.

Down syndrome children, above all, need respect, and this disgraceful parading of an infant  as a campaign prop is to me a mark of the woman who could become president of the United States, if John McCain’s health should take a turn for the worse. One only has to look at his presence on television to consider his abrupt demise as a distinct possibility.

Puttin’ on the Ritz, Tory style

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Canscene) — “Inappropriate” is what Harper’s Conservatives call them but an increasing number of insulting remarks cannot be excused as faux pas.

The recent outrageous comments by Gerry Ritz, minister responsible for food safety need not be repeated here; they’ve already been given too much publicity, but the fact that Ritz was merely directed to issue an apology is a lame excuse for what is now on record as tasteless behaviour.

MP Wayne Easter, butt of one of Ritz’ remarks, said recently  “Sadly, this isn’t an isolated incident. It’s just the latest example of juvenile, amateurish behaviour on the part of a government caucus that lacks the experience or gravitas to run our country. It is yet another example of the weak team that Mr. Harper leads, and it stands in stark contrast to the strong team and principled leadership of Stéphane Dion.

I’ve repeatedly called for Gerry Ritz to resign. We will see in the coming days if Mr. Harper finally does the right thing. But in any case, replacing one minister is not enough. Canada needs a whole new government: a new government with a real plan, a strong team and the principled leadership of Stéphane Dion.”


More than skin deep

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

(Canscene) — Docudramas and biopics are nothing new to television: the best of them can be excellent but many tend to gloss over certain facts for convenience.

That is why my original review of  Australian director Anthony Fabian’s film Skin was so full of praise.  Fabian  chose to present his film as straight drama played out during South Africa’s infamous apartheid regime, without preachment, neither sugar-coating its message nor heavy-handedly villainizing its apartheid-supporting characters.

Skin was one of the films selected for the ‘08 Toronto International Film Festival.

What has surprised me has been the lukewarm reception Skin has been given by English-language journalists.  Screened for Oprah Winfrey it was powerfully endorsed by the influential TV host who has sponsored screenings of the film for special groups. Perhaps it was that fact that affected the wide number of media that just don’t like Oprah’s great popularity.

The Laings, (Sam Neill and Alice Krige) an Afrikaner couple beget a girl child whose skin is considerably darker than their own and in the knowledge that genetic throwbacks are a scientific possibility, fight to have their child Sandra accepted officially as “white.”

They succeed but their world is torn apart when as a young woman Sandra (Sophie Okonedo) chooses a black boyfriend.  Victims of the narrow thought patterns of most Afrikaners, they reject their daughter. That the tragedy really happened has been made evident in news reports and articles; in fact it was for years a human rights cause celebre.

Performances especially by Neill, Krige and Okonedo are standouts. The film ends with a real-life glimpse of Sandra Laing , now a grandmother and a successful store owner.

As a result of its screening at TIFF, Skin has already been picked up for distribution in Greece, France, Scandinavia, the Middle East and the Benelux nations.


Texas, a state or a……..?

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

(Canscene) — As Hurricane Ike approached, the number of Texans who said they’d ignore the danger and stay put was literally amazing and alarming.

Maybe Texans are still moved by the Alamo tradition at which the Texan spirit of rebellion was forged in a self-declared republic before statehood arrived in 1845. And we all know what happened in 1836 in San Antonio, as if Texans would let us forget it.

And then there was the obstreperous Texan rancher whose name has graced many a dissident: Thomas Maverick.

Looking back on the recent disastrous records of the Bush family and what has happened in the United States since Bush the father preceded Bush the son one cannot but wonder whether the Lone Star State isn’t more of an attitude than a state of the union.

A matter of manners

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

(Canscene) — I haven’t had much opportunity to visit other cities than Toronto in the last few years, but sincerely hope street manners are better in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Halifax and Montreal than they are here.

That the behavior of both motorists and cyclists leaves much to be desired is obvious, but there are many other annoying sights and sounds.

People with cellphones glued to their ears ignore other pedestrians, especially the disabled with canes, walkers or wheelchairs. I’ve nothing against the discreet use of cellphones by pedestrians– not however in vehicles– but at least walk with your attention to your surroundings, not as though in a hypnotic trance.

Young bucks charge revolving doors mindless of whether children or the aged are in the compartment in front of them. And in supermarkets, mothers with broods of children tend to let their shrieking kids roam at random mindless of not only the impediments to other shoppers but the temptations they present to predators.

And of course, panhandlers who block the pavement at intersections so that those whose mobility is impaired have to move around them

And at all times, the owners of pit bulls who allow their psychotic killer dogs to slump in the middle of sidewalks forcing the wary to give them a wide berth.

The last word

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

We’ll wait until mid month. For obvious reasons.  See you then!