The Pedigree of the Internet Pamphleteers

The names that history remembers all have a skeleton or two in their closet without exception. The giants have many literal skeletons strewn across the nations be they buried in an open pit, stashed in caves, dropped from heights into the oceans or marched en masse into camps. Ideological purists like to hold up their personal favourite as the shining light of reason while constructing savage attacks on all challengers that are sometimes based on solid fact but oftentimes not. Social media has amped this up to eleven and the meme has killed any nuance. We like everything to be bite sized and readily digestible now in the post printed word universe. Like and share if you agree, if you haven’t nodded off.  

pamplateer

Facebook’s greatest crime beyond the mining of personal data is the siloing off everyone into their own personal echo chamber channels in their quest for purity and likes. Our attention spans are continuously being thumped into concussion so if any video is longer than a minute or a text is more than three sentences, you’re guaranteed to tune out. I bet you’ve already checked something else at this point and it’s only paragraph two. I couldn’t wait to be all grown up and have a blog of my own but these pages are starting to have a decidedly retro feel. I likely would have been a ranting lefty street pamphleteer in another life. Here is a link to the pamphleteer wiki if you are wondering what the hell that actually is:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pamphleteer

fdr jr

I had a post on my wall the other day that said the Don Draper like man pictured above was President Franklin D Roosevelt. It’s actually his much more handsome blue eyed boy FDR Junior, who was a decorated WW2 veteran but not in any way his own father. Another post on the same day misquoted suffragette Susan B. Anthony, lopping off part of a sentence to make it seem she was against the vote for “the negro”. Im fairly sure she wasn’t but the quote was inaccurate regardless. Most of the easily digestible memes in English feature Americans and considering the times, do they actually originate from the USA or from a Nigerian billionaire who needs my bank information to make a sizeable deposit? 

Canada has lots of well known notables with dirt in their files, such as suffragette Emily Murphy, who was almost singlehandedly responsible for Canada’s stringent drug laws and an all out racist. Trailblazing Liberal MLA Nellie McClung was a proponent of sterilizing “feeble minded young girls” and her advocacy gave rise to the Alberta Sexual Sterilization Act, which remained in effect until 1972! And those on the Canadian soft left wince when some Conservative wag digs up Greatest Canadian Tommy Douglas’ master’s thesis from 1933 titled “The problems of the sub-normal family”. While not a classic of the eugenics cannon, without curation it’s a pretty nasty piece in retrospect. Douglas visited Nazi Germany in 1936 and had an “oh shit” moment, which is likely why Saskatchewan did not actively sterilize those that did not fit the 1930s genetically pure ideal, unlike their neighbours to the west and in Nazi Europe. The prairies are littered with skeletons of the settlers big plans.  

None of this should be jammed into a nice tidy meme to be liked and shared. Hopefully at this point you have already said “WTF” to yourself several times over.  Thankfully, there is loads of tangible smoking gun proof that this type of warped thought was commonplace and hopefully the surviving evidence would only be used to actively refute it, not to promote it. Years ago I was given a lovely collection of old photos that was destined for the bin at the Ontario Agricultural College. They were taken in the days well before it became the University of Guelph. Somehow time had passed them by and they collected dust on a forgotten shelf for decades until somebody needed the space. Photography as a teaching tool was a new thing back then, the internet of a century ago. Deep among the farming slides and prints, I found this:

envelope

“Genetics and Eugenics Negatives”

Some of the contents of this packet cannot be visually reproduced here, as this stuff is nasty enough that a random bonehead might turn any of these images into a readily sharable meme as if it was fact. I will however share a relatively benign image though, a row of boneheads with no notes or indication attached in the file as to what they represent: 

Scan

In among this seemingly hard science based material is a chart titled “Chart IV – Proportion of Intermarriage among Men and Women of Various Nationalities in New York City (1908-1912)”  “Jewish” and “Coloured” are given their own categories at the top of the undesirable list and any country considered to have supplied too many Jews to old New York got a Star of David in the middle of their flag. This packet was sent to to the OAC by the American Museum of Natural History. The author of this sketchy study was a professor of economics and sociology named Julius Drachsler. Many students in the graduating classes of the 20s and 30s would have gone over to Europe to kick Hitler’s ass. At least one of their profs was teaching them very Hitlerian concepts just a few years prior. The theses a hundred years ago from a renowned farm school in Ontario might contain some pretty explosive material, if they haven’t already been tossed into the dumpster to erase the record. Lest we forget.   

Sadly, hard science is still getting spun into alternative facts by social scientists, presidents or anyone with an internet connection. Should the professors of the last century known better or did they readily accept the conclusions of an economist/sociologist? And why is it that today it’s mostly economists who are the “scientists” that don’t accept climate change? Factually incorrect pseudoscientific garbage has to be challenged at every turn because if it’s passed on enough times, the uninformed and inattentive will start to believe it and share when they agree. It’s how we end up with modern students wanting to attend a lecture down the road called “Ethnocide: Multiculturalism and European Canadian Identity” by a woman with a ton of higher education backed by a gang of electronic pamphleteers armed with warped facts and dubiously sourced misinformation from history’s scrapheap. There is no monopoly on the truth but patent falsehoods can’t be morphed into fact under the auspices of free speech or any other spin techniques. Bullshit needs to be continuously called. Caveat emptor.

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/eugenics-keeping-canada-sane-feature/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_Sterilization_Act_of_Alberta

https://ipolitics.ca/2018/03/24/canada-have-faith-we-can-spot-an-twit/

http://nationalpost.com/news/canada/tommy-douglas

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/22/opinion/the-eight-second-attention-span.html

http://www.eugenicsarchive.org/html/eugenics/static/dtypes/poster.html

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/02/the-unwelcome-revival-of-race-science

https://archive.org/stream/intermarriageinn00dracuoft/intermarriageinn00dracuoft_djvu.txt

https://www.desmogblog.com/ross-mckitrick

https://www.amnh.org

(Links are for information purposes and are in no way an endorsement of the content therein) 

This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

 

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Please Rise (If You Are Able) For The Slaying of Our National Anthem

Other than some fitful blasting away on assorted woodwinds in high school, my musical training has generally been informal. I’m unable to accurately assign the proper technical terms to a tune beyond the basics. I suspect most mainstream music critics also lack extensive formal instruction except for the hard core classical types. Analysis of anything involving an orchestra is well beyond the scope of my lessons from the campfire songbook. Deeply memorable classic songs almost always come from people who are willing to throw the sonic or lyric rulebooks out. O Canada is not one of these songs, except in this rendition:

In any high school band, one is invariably called upon to bash through the anthem at some point. I used to dread the task and still feel a bit of anxiety when called upon to “please rise”. I’m willing to risk the wrath of the true patriot love gang to say that our nation’s official song is lacking a bit of oomph. O Canada is just too darn nice and is likely a very accurate reflection of who we are and how we are perceived around the world. The more powerful historic nationalist pieces will generally tick off the boxes of battle, blood and/or the boys. Consider:  

America “And the rockets red glare! The bombs bursting in air!”

France “They’re coming right into your arms to cut the throats of your sons and women”  

Germany “When, for protection and defence, it always stands brotherly together”

(for the 1933-1945 Nazi version, google “The Horst Wessel Song” which I will not link to or quote here or ever. It alone wins the argument as to why it can be necessary to make wholesale changes to an anthem) 

East Germany “In fraternity united, we shall crush the people’s foe”

UK “May he sedition hush, and like a torrent rush, rebellious Scots to crush”

Admittedly, the sixth verse of the UK’s “God Save the King/Queen” has fallen out of favour but it is still technically on the books. A decade ago the Blair/Brown government was toying with the idea of erasing it but didn’t follow through with it’s elimination and it fell off the radar. I don’t actually mind being preserved on the official record as “rebellious”.  Any nation should absolutely reserve the right to change it up as the times dictate, even if some old boy in a cellar in Leipzig will insist that they should have kept “Risen From The Ruins” and the Berlin Wall.

berlin_wall_homehr

Those who are up in arms about the recent subtle alteration of O Canada may be unaware that “in all thy son’s command” was spliced in at the onset of the First World War. The grammatically archaic original “thou dost in us command” is, in fact, gender neutral. Those who like to portray any tinkering with the tired and dusty as political correctness gone amok are incorrect in this instance. The recent makeover is in essence a realignment with the first version. No such measure has been taken to alter the French lyrics however, which manage to maintain all of the patriotic talking points of God, imperialism and gore: 

“Sacred love of the throne and the altar, Fill our hearts with your immortal breath!

Among the foreign races, Our guide is the law”

and 

“Let us know how to be a people of brothers, Under the yoke of faith.

And repeat, like our fathers, The battle cry: “For Christ and King!”

You can bet that not one Anglo upset by the newest switch is remotely aware of these lyrics or would give a mon dieu if the French version was rewritten to better suit our secular and far less bloody modern times. History is nowhere near as tidy as the memes making the rounds – that O Canada was fine as it was and did not need to be changed and that I should share if I agree. Try this little troll test: see what reaction you get from a Defender of the Anthem when you mention that Chief Wahoo of the Cleveland Indians has announced his retirement or that the Cornwallis statue in Halifax has been pulled down. Their answer will reveal all.

big chief crazy cone

It has been painfully obvious for years that the original Hockey Night in Canada theme is the anthem best suited for this nation. It is bold, brassy, universally loved and happens to have been written by a woman. I might have survived a few more years in high school band if it was a bit more like this: 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_politics/7126929.stm

https://globalnews.ca/news/4002268/oh-canada-originally-gender-neutral/

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/anthem-bill-passes-senate-1.4513317

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4V1p1dM3snQ

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/cornwallis-statue-rally-goes-on-after-statue-removed-1.4519085

The Constant Image Gardeners

As the somewhat freshly minted, seatless leader of the federal NDP, Jagmeet Singh is on a continuing mission to “visit communities to build momentum for the party’s brand and ideas” whilst compiling an extensive photo op folder. Singh is as photogenic as Trudeau Jr., perhaps more so, with social media forever bringing an end to the previous political style era of tragic comb overs, rumpled Eaton’s blazers and public smoking. Singh’s recent foray into the fruit and vegetable mines of southwestern Ontario was a beautifully framed masterpiece of visual symmetry; the eager well manicured rookie stands tall among the irrigation hoses, nary a leaf out of place. This image suggests at any minute he will be shedding the jacket to fill the flats behind him to the brim, ready for shipment by the skid load to warehouse shopping members nationwide. Undoubtedly on this day the ventilation system was cranked full bore before his arrival and the insecticide spraying put on hold for a while. The temporary foreign workers have been cleared off and given a brief respite from their work while their potential saviour gets the perfect shot for the growing Instagram portfolio. Was their pay docked during the stoppage? 

jagmeet_singh.jpg.size-custom-crop.1086x0

A group that represents the workers who slog it in this environment (so you don’t have to) are not particularly happy with Singh’s sunshine and lollypop spin on his fact finding mission. “This industry has basically been built on the blood sweat and sacrifices of low wage, racialized, precarious workers,” Justicia for Migrant Workers advocate Chris Ramsaroop said in the Toronto Star. Beyond the well worn Farmer/Labour mojo that Singh is trying to harness here, the history of agriculture in Canada has a dimension that remains hidden for the most part, until an event such as the carbon monoxide poisoning of 42 greenhouse workers in Delta BC grabs a headline for the weekend. An aerial view makes it very clear that this isn’t some Little House On The Prairie Ma and Pa outfit, it’s a factory that just happens to have plenty of natural light and colourful edibles within it instead of widgets and punch presses. 

delta greenhouse

Our agri-food system doesn’t like it when temporary foreign workers have down time. Injured and sick labourers are regularly taken off the job and sent back home if they can no longer cope with the grunt work that they were hired to do. Complaints about conditions, pay and ill treatment can lead to varying degrees of punishment. Harassment is rife both on the job and in the community. Gangsters regularly take a cut of some of the hardest earned wages in the nation. TFWs pay into Canadian benefits that they can never claim or access. There will be a fee for every ambulance ride required during this recent emergency which will put a divot in meagre savings, if there are any savings at all. It’s a tough, segregated, shitty life, with the potential of becoming a full fledged Canadian well out of reach of the majority. This award winning primer, Migrant Dreams, will make you pause for a moment the next time you are among the bags of peppers and poly pacs of on-the-vine tomatoes: 

https://tvo.org/video/documentaries/migrant-dreams-feature-version

Migrant-Dreams-poster

Moments like this add fuel to the great, never ending internal debate of the NDP; do they align with the workers and risk being branded unelectable pinkos or do they schmooze with the bosses and alienate the traditional base? With the temporary foreign workers out of the frame and unable to vote, it’s clear who the target was on this brand building mission. Here is a shot of some berry pickers in Milton from the Toronto Star a decade ago, the only mainstream media outlet in the nation to give the TFWs any regular ink. If the goal is to be firmly on the side of the working class in Canada, Singh will need to get the sleeves up and physically step into the gritty frame with the sweat, tears and toil. Until then his party should be prepared for the grumbling to continue. 

sikhs at andrews

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/12/05/migrant-workers-group-slams-ndps-singh-for-online-posts-on-farm-visit.html

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/foreign-workers/median-wage/low/requirements.html

http://windsor.ctvnews.ca/ndp-leader-singh-goes-back-to-his-roots-1.3704622

http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/42-hospitalized-after-carbon-monoxide-poisoning-at-delta-farm

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/delta-carbon-monoxide-1.4441803

http://www.metronews.ca/news/canada/2017/10/02/can-the-ndp-new-leader-jagmeet-singh-become-our-next-pm.html

https://nowtoronto.com/news/why-jagmeet-singh-is-no-jack-layton/

This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

The Invisible Fist of the Market

My mother was an ace at finding diamonds in the rough from the Sears Outlet at Dixie Mall to jazz up our little house a bit when money was tight. For a time, every significant purchase from the stove to the sideboard came out of there. One day a guitar appeared with a busted tuning peg that I had to turn with a Vice Grip to get some semblance of an accurate note. Intimidated by music stores, my only stretch of petty larceny was the liberation of usable strings from the Outlet’s selection of beat up garbage guitars returned from the catalogue division. Most of them were already missing 2 or 3 so no one noticed. Not long ago I stopped in with a friend to check out the outlet that replaced the outlet, which other than a name change seems to be nearly identical. It will be filling up again soon enough with tons of Sears castoffs in the next big wave of trash asset acquisition. Hopefully some punk kid will find a guitar in the rubbish and write a new song about how the mall sucks while still managing to get their Grade 8 graduation suit at a great price.

catalogue guitars

“Market forces” and the trickle down hyper capitalism of Sears American parent company via an interdepartmental civil war has murdered one of Canada’s last old faithful anchor stores. When the Guelph branch has it’s makeover and ended up morphing into an outlet mall version of itself, it was obvious that it was all over. The place looked like it took a renovation brick to the head and lost it’s identity. What The Sears? was a very apt nonsense name for the end of life crisis that location became. A Sears lawnmower used to be a solid investment but the last one I bought there was garbage from the start. God knows how long the replacement fridge will last and the warranty is likely void. One last sad gasp of a products parade will roll on for a month as bargain hunters cannibalize the remains to please the creditors. That’s how the machine works and has always worked. Market forces had me on the outlet mall end of the scheme for most of my life, along with the old neighbours who worked there. And when the Zellers, Woolco, Woolworth, K-Mart, Future Shop, Radio Shack, Target, Eatons, Honest Eds, BiWay, Simpsons or Sears closes of course people are going to sweep in for the deals. So many large retailers have folded, it’s surprising there is any shock value left when another one falls.  

closedsearsstore_600x400

In a press release Sears Canada has said “The company deeply regrets this pending outcome and the resulting loss of jobs and store closures.” This must strictly be the sympathies of the admin who wrote the copy because the upper echelon of the company do not care and have no regrets. The invisible hand of the market primarily acts as a balled up fist that continuously clobbers working people in a live action Bonk The Gopher game. Meanwhile the “job creators” have blessed themselves with massive bonuses – Sears USA mastermind Eddie Lampert will sail off on his 130 million US dollar yacht “The Fountainhead” without a wink of lost sleep because that’s just how it is. And forget about that pension you were counting on fellow worker, it has evaporated in the bankruptcy. Inevitably, some troll clown will chime in with “Pension? I don’t get a pension? Why should these crybabies a pension?” and completely miss the point. Atlas Shrugged then Eddie Shrugged in unison. 

yacht

So what’s left for the 12,000 workers and 16,000 retirees, other than outlet mall castoffs and the food bank? The company is bankrupt both morally and financially. All levels of government have nothing to offer other than the usual well worn sympathetic phrases. We’ve seen it all before with the collapse of Nortel and Stelco. There is an ever expanding slice of Canadian working people being trampled by weak standards and the absence of protections when a corporation pulls the plug and disappears through a loophole, laughing all the way. Should we work to change this or do we just shrug endlessly? 

food bank

http://evonomics.com/the-ceo-of-sears-jon-haidt/

https://www.inc.com/erik-sherman/sears-ceo-eddie-lampert-should-stop-reading-ayn-rand.html

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/sears-canada-chairmans-pay-dropping-along-with-share-price/article29347636/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&

http://business.financialpost.com/news/retail-marketing/brief-sears-canada-to-seek-court-approval-for-liquidation

https://www.guelphtoday.com/local-news/sears-canada-granted-permission-to-liquidate-remaining-130-stores-739255

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/sears-pensioners-nortel-lessons-1.4352422

Chainsaws at the Gates

The looming clear cut at the LaFarge gravel pit property has been presented as the end of a “complex” case. It’s not really complicated at all; developers pretty much get to do exactly what they want. Such are the rules and laws that govern private property rights in the capitalist system. This land is your land, if you own the title. With the required piece of paper in hand, you get to shred 2000 trees. If your goal is to preserve it, you need to own it. Ask any haggard veteran of the local Wal Mart wars.

The city blessed this years ago, it’s disingenuous to pretend otherwise. Here’s a bit of a refresher, as preserved by Guelph Politico: “January 30, 2009 – An Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) mediation process has resulted in a potential settlement on a proposed development on the former Lafarge lands at 35 and 40 Silvercreek Parkway South. The City of Guelph, together with the Howitt Park Neighbourhood Residents’ Association and Silvercreek Guelph Developments Limited, has agreed to request that the OMB approve a mixed use employment/commercial and residential development on the site at an upcoming OMB hearing.”

Four years later in 2013: “Council unanimously approved a new plan to develop an area known as the “Lafarge lands,” located at 35 and 40 Silvercreek Parkway at a meeting Monday night. Matthew West, a vice-president with Fieldgate Commercial, wrote a letter to council promising the development would “review options for retaining” a bur oak tree on the site. Coun. June Hofland, a longtime resident of the area near the proposed development, declared a conflict of interest on the matter and abstained from voting.”

Once the white sign gets hammered in the ground, everything that the public can see behind it is eventually toast or will be altered in some way. I’ve seen this before on an epic scale. I’m just old enough to remember the farms of Peel County and the drive through the country on Highway 10 from Square One to Brampton. I can still see the name on the signs on the fence line as it was going up  – “The McLaughlin Group”. Here is an aerial shot from 1974, just to show I didn’t dream it:

square one 1974

Below is a more modern view of the same area. For the record, I had a crash pad in one of these condos for a time and would cycle to work in this madness. There is a trail by the Credit River that will take you quite a ways up or down through town but when you leave the safety of the path and head into the industrial zone, you’re taking a big chance when on two wheels. It was not a place built for the cyclist or pedestrian. There are no feel good bike boxes here, the GTA commute is total war. 

condo condo

Certain things can be saved or salvaged from the demolition if the will is there and they are movable objects. Around the time of Square One photo above (1974), the McLaughlin group made the effort to save the historic Cherry Hill House by moving it out of the way and turning it into a restaurant. It’s hard to believe but there are still a few surviving places like this left in Mississauga. 

_cherry_hill_3

Often the mall would get built around a house and it would remain in situ. The Mad Hatter Pub (now known as the Maharaja) is another example. The strip mall developer made an effort and a piece of history was saved. You can find it on a google map at 4646 Heritage Hills Boulevard. It is the only “heritage” left there. They tried, at least. 

mad hatter

It would take quite a bit of digging to determine whether these places were saved because the developer wanted to keep them, or had to. Regardless, the optics are pretty good and the developer still gets what they want. A win-win as they say in the corporate world.

It’s a bit more difficult to work around natural landscapes. Nature is more powerful than any bricks and mortar structure and when she finds an opening, she lets loose. She’s the dandelion in the sidewalk crack, the bats in your soffits, the mice under the cupboards, the oak tree square in the middle of the old foundation of a settler’s place long rubbed out. 

She’s the significant species of birds like American Redstarts and Northern Flickers listed on the 2005 environmental assessment of the “brownfield” known as the LaFarge Lands. Do they compile these reports because they want to or because they have to? We’ve known for years that the chainsaws are primed and waiting by the gates. Why pretend otherwise? A clearcut creates a climatization period. It gives everyone some time to get used to the blank canvas before the new buildings and parking lots arrive. Tonight’s scheduled drum circle memorial should convey a blessing at the mighty bur oak and make sure a shit ton of evidence photos are taken, as there seems to be a lot of communication problems on local development sites these days. 

https://www.insauga.com/the-cherry-hill-house-and-how-it-was-saved

https://www.guelphtoday.com/local-news/new-guidelines-could-expedite-brownfield-redevelopment-345626

http://guelph.ca/wp-content/uploads/Lefarge_EISReport.pdf

https://www.guelphtoday.com/local-news/community-gather-and-vigil-to-be-held-sunday-evening-along-lafarge-lands-677729

http://guelphpolitico.blogspot.ca/2009/01/citys-down-with-lafarge-deal.html

https://www.guelphmercury.com/news-story/4252755-council-approves-development-on-lafarge-lands/

_____________

This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

 

 

 

 

And To Think I Once Saw A Mulberry On Neeve Street

On the day that Guelph was founded in 1827, a large maple tree was cut down to mark the occasion. John Galt and company knew that foundation stories need some panache, so chopping down an obstruction to make structural lumber carried great symbolism. Chainsaws or luxury condos were not a thing back then, nor was the patented early morning sneak attack so tree huggers don’t have time to quickly mobilize and shut them down. They didn’t put up a distillery where the mighty maple stood so that several generations later it would become part of an investment condo scheme. Whiskey was a mandatory 1800s lubrication requirement, much the same as craft beer is today. A commemorative plaque to remember the town’s first official tree assassination still stands in the shadow of the Metalworks development, whose sewage upgrade was the prime mover for the unceremonious removal of Neeve Street’s famed mulberry last week. The intention to preserve it was mentioned at every single community meeting and it’s removal proves that there are truly no fucks given when housing-as-commodity is on the horizon. I mentioned this at the meetings, were you there? Do you remember a city councillor screaming at me until his face turned red? There were lots of people around. Perhaps I dreamt it like Marco did in the Dr. Seuss book about Mulberry Street. I swear I saw a stacked townhouse tree lined future but in reality we got a multiplex of high-rises and forlorn stumps. Marco later got a gig writing promotional materials for real estate developments. 

what marco saw

We long term Ward settlers have been putting up with a lot of crap while the new investments are being built. This isn’t the usual temporary frosh week disruption of jocks  hollering and defecating in the middle of the road, pumped on Red Bull and vodka at 5am. Streets are closed for months, giant craters randomly open up, reversing machinery beeps incessantly, dump trucks gun it to and fro, equipment pounds at the bedrock all day while the workers toss hundreds of Nestle bottles into the pits in full view of the blue water preservation ribbons tied snuggly to trees still standing. No one should be surprised at the visceral reaction to our communal mulberry getting smoked, we’re all a bit testy as anyone would be when the neighbours are making a racket and disrupting the relative peace. You can leave our 100+ year old sewer pipes as they are down this way, thanks. The moment a potential upgrade is mentioned, you’ll know that the hood is destined for gentrification greatness and your blue ribbon’d tree, whose roots likely burrow deep into the old brick lined shit tunnels, is doomed. The 7am chainsaw is always primed and waiting along with the excuses – “it was a sub contractor!” “there was a communication problem” “we’ll plant a new one!” “your call is important to us”. What on earth made you think they actually care? Was it the organic coffee and plentiful biscuit trays at community input night? 

60 unit cluster

The very minute that the Woods factory was sold off to an equity fund was also the moment the death notice was signed for the Neeve Street mulberry. I filed away all of the handouts from those long ago meetings, when the stated goal was to incorporate as much adaptive reuse as possible and that no new buildings would ever be more than four stories high to preserve the character of St Patrick’s Ward. What a waste of paper and time. Back then, those that gathered at the Italian Canadian Club were ok with the official line. The consensus was yes to redevelopment, except maybe from the workers who lost their jobs when their factory was asset stripped and run into the ground, no different from the recent implosions of Sears and Stelco. Your stocks and shares in those companies are worthless now but don’t worry, there are new ways of creating and storing wealth in many tiny cubes stacked high for all to see. And never mind those anarchists mooching tree fruits at the gates dear investors, they will be dealt with. The Downtown West Bank Biltmore Metalworks Distillery District is one or two MPAC assessments away from being tear down central. It’s far too late to fight anything once the book value of the two bedroom clapboard shack has hit $500,000 deep within the Owens Corning hexavalent chromium inclusion zone. It will be over. (hello future reader in 2027! ps – I told you so)

If you are aspiring to preserve your neighbourhood and shape it’s future, a rock solid reliable, diverse and active community group presence is required, coupled with a cadre of headstrong city council contenders primed and ready to make a run to represent you. Griping about it after the fact on Friendface and on the blogs (!) will result in a zero percent slowing of the investment property / commodity housing takeover. If a cohesive resistive force doesn’t exist when the first snow job proposals are presented, it will not magically materialize once the white sign is hammered into the ground. The time to get at it was yesterday.

https://www.guelphtoday.com/local-news/when-six-houses-become-60-the-neighbours-get-a-little-upset-464251

https://www.guelphmercury.com/news-story/7412637-guelph-neighbourhood-laments-loss-of-neeve-street-mulberry-tree/

http://guelph.ca/2017/06/york-road-closure-2017/

 

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Canadian Values

There are two stock phrases that I consider to be completely Canadian. I was once asked at a very boozy party in the north of Scotland to “give us your best Canadian” so I went full hoser Mackenzie brother with a “How’s it goin’, eh?” followed by a rapid fire referencing of every single Canuck cliche under the sun. A Tim Hortons opened in Glasgow last week. I feel partially responsible. 

The second phrase, which I have heard far too many times in this lifetime yet it is part of the fabric of this nation would be “they’re letting too many ________ in!”, with the blank being filled by those who are perceived to be “getting in” at that given moment . Refugees and Muslims are popular blank fillers these days but you can bet since 1867 on, every conceivable race, colour or creed on this Earth has been in the blank. If you haven’t heard this phrase at least once, you haven’t experienced the complete range of Canadian Values. Plenty of people here have built their entire identity on the hatred of ________ . In general conversation, it will be the second or third thing out of their mouth, with the mere presence of another white person acting as a trigger for them to rant about The Other. 

I grew up in the GTA, which is possibly the most diverse place on the planet. Not once did anyone who was on the ever changing hit list of the “too many” give me a direct problem. I’ve done a bit of a personal inventory; a reflection of a 40+ year run living here in several different towns and cities. The only people who have ever given me immediate cause for concern has been other whites. Here is a partial rundown:

st patricks day riotAll physical fights I have been in and threats of violence/harm delivered to me, up to and including “Im going to kill you”  “The next time I see you, I’m going to cut your face” and “Ill give you the first punch then you are f—king toast”  – white guys

 

Cigarette stubbed out on my leg when I was five years old just in from the UK and sounding “funny” – white guy 

Beaten with a cane in Cub Scouts for a reason lost to time but probably very minor – old white guy (this also firmly established my distrust of anyone in “authority”)

Run over by a car, once on a bicycle and years later on a motorcycle, to be met with screaming/mockery/insults while lying in the road injured – white guys

Guy arrested in the backyard last week after stealing from cars who met one too many fences then the police dog – white

Threw eggs and yelled “faggot” at me from a passing car at midnight – young white guys (a unique, extra dangerous breed)

Hospitalized me from an intentional boot to the chest after the whistle had blown – white guy

Abandoned me in the middle of nowhere (twice!) because they “had to go” – devout Christian white guy

Road rage, general nuisance, causing a scene, bar fights, flaming couch in the middle of the road, screamed head off at 5am for no apparent reason, wrecked the mailbox or car windshield wipers, shat or urinated in our driveway while dressed as a leprechaun – white guys

Any boss, manager or supervisor who was a prick to me and my fellow workers (a 30+ year run) – white guy

Anyone who had pilfered something major or minor then boasted about it later whilst looking for approval with zero guilt  – white guy

Made open, blanket, disparaging remarks (with a nudge nudge and a laugh) about women, people of colour, LGBTQ, indigenous, anyone “different” or anyone that fills the blank- all white guys

Harassed strangers or their own family, girlfriend or someone else’s friend/girlfriend in public, on the bus, train and streetcar, in the mall, in a parking lot, at the sports complex, the supermarket, the music festival, the club, on their own front lawn – white guys

People I went to school with or co-workers who ended up convicted criminals, including a voyeur, a rapist and another who abused children and animals and filmed it – all white

Dropped a fellow student on his head and gave him brain damage on Wyndham Street, ran over and killed a student on Woolwich Street in a stolen car then ran away from the wreckage, assaulted and killed a little girl in Mount Forest – using supplies bought at the Guelph Home Depot, ran over soldiers with a car in the name of ISIL, shot and killed three in the Quebec parliament, shot and killed four co-workers because he didn’t like them, murdered eight seniors doing “god’s work”, killed 14 women in Montreal because they were women – all white

I haven’t once lost a minute’s sleep over _________ . 

hockey riot