Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Brawling it Out at the Red Dog Saloon--oops!, the Canadian Parliament

With catcalls and shouting providing a deafening backdrop, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Conservative) battled it out against opposition Liberal Party leader Stéphane Dion for the second day running, in a House of Commons brouhaha that could end Harper's second Conservative minorty government.

The occasion: a putsch by leaders of the three opposition parties aiming at voting down Harper's Conservatives and and see the accession of a Liberal, Socialist and Secessionist coalition.

Here's how the story unfolded:

Last week, Harper introduced into his budget plans to cut off state funding to Canada's political parties. The subsidy is the lifeblood for the Liberal, New Democratic and Bloc Québecois parties, and its cut would starve them. All three parties would gang up to outnumber the Conservative votes and vote out the government in a "no-confidence" motion.

The three opposition parties then concocted an agreement between them to form a coalition and ask the nation's Head of State, the Governor General for permission to form the next government.

Alarmed, Harper withdrew the party subsidy cut, but this only encouraged the revolt.
Harper's team is producing advertising to the effect that Canada would be hostage to an unelected government, and one including a party of those wishing to break up Canada and exit Québec.

There are three possible outcomes from the crisis:

One, Harper could allow the no-confidence vote and the opposition coalition, headed by Dion and containing six Socialist cabinet members, could form the next government.

Two, Harper could prorogue (suspend) Parliament and govern without a vote, allowing all heads to cool down.

Third, the Governor General could simply refuse Harper's resignation, keep the Conservatives in power and force the opposition parties to work with the government to create a moderate way out of the crisis.

We'll wait and see. Governor General Michaelle Jean, a pretty ex-broadcaster with a well-spoken voice and manner, is currently in Europe on a tour. She's rushing back to Canada to sort this thing out. Whether she'll be in over her head on this issue remains to be seen .

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Not a Garden in a City, but a City in a Garden

In the centre of the island of Montreal there's a most congenial residential area, a "garden city" of fine homes, leafy streets and well-maintained parks, an oasis surrounded by an ocean of the typical three-storey apartment blocks that uniquely identify the City of Montreal. The Town of Mount Royal (TMR), or "The Town", occupies no more than two-and-a-half square miles and holds just over eighteen thousand residents,yet it has its place in the Quebec political landscape, particularly during the early years of the province's separatist government.

Created in 1912, TMR began as the gleam in a railroad land developer's eye.
Two years previously, The Canadian Northern Railway discreetly purchased some 4,800 acres of farmland north of Montreal's Mount Royal with the intention of building a "model city". Its streets were to be patterned after those of Washington D.C.-- essentially two main boulevards crossing through a central park--the brain-child, if not of the Capital's L'Enfant, then that of the Canadian Northern's chief engineer Henry K. Wicksteed.

Although no more than a hamlet surrounded by vegetable gardens, the community grew once the Canadian Northern finished its three-mile-long tunnel linking it with downtown Montreal. In its infancy, The Town was noted more for its melons--the celebrated "Montreal Melon" exported to New York, Chicago, and New England--than for its executive and professional residents.

It was in the 1950s that The Town reached its heyday, filling up with cottages, split-levels and semi-detached houses, its streets bustling with children, playing baseball in the summer and street-hockey and snowball fights in the winter. The men from this largely Anglophone and Protestant place took the train under the mountain to jobs in manufacturing, banking or insurance firm downtown, the women stayed at home and the newly-erected schools housed the children. The place had the air of a small town, with life revolving around school, church and recreational centre. French-speaking Montreal seemed a universe away.

"Is the fence there to keep the English in or the French

By the mid-Seventies, The Town's demographic had evolved into 40% Anglophone, 40% Francophone and 12% Jewish. However, it was perceived by the more unreflective elements in the media to be an Anglo bastion. At the time of the accession of the separatist Parti Quebecois provincial government, attention was paid to the fence and shrubbery on the Town's eastern border with working-class park extension, whose presence, it was averred, was to isolate (English) TMR from (French) Park Extension.

I remember being cross-examined on the matter by a young sepratist three weeks into my first job as a reporter for Bell Canada.

Tennis Court in Center of Town

Lawn Bowling Club, Center of Town

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama - The Day After

It was great sex.

At the bar, he talked up a fine deal, promising me he'd banish bad memories of my ex of eight years (what a drip he was, involving me with a fight with an Arab, then draining my wallet in a stock scam. The moment I saw him, I knew there would be great fireworks.

He's gone now. I have a headache that throbs like a jackhammer - God, I can't believe I drank half a bottle of Jack Daniels. And I think I'm pregnant.

Well, Obama's done it. Evading campaign minefields, beating Hilary Clinton, and getting a clear majority for his successful run at the presidency.

Now, the party's over and we'll see what he really brings.

Monday, October 6, 2008

This House is Looking at You

A house with a human face. You can see it eyes looking at you, a mustache and an upper lip. It's even wearing a hat.

Found on Spadina Avenue south of Bloor facing west.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Tart Unsheathed

For a woman, wearing a swimsuit is not about swimming, it is about how she presents herself sexually.

This item was found at the rear of a garage in west-end Toronto.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Catch the Vibe, Mates

TMR-Brat salutes Catholic World Youth Day 2008, now taking place in Sydney, Australia. Nearly a million young people from around the globe are in the Australian capital--celebrating the Catholic faith, hearing speakers, developing the kind of community that only the exuberence of youth provides, and generally having an all-round good time.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Canada's "Abortion King" Criminal gets Order of Canada

Dr. Henry Morgenthaler, The man responsible for the mass slaughter of unborn children and the distress of women, today was awarded an Order of Canada, for his pioneering of abortion clinics in Canada and in making this outrage legal. It was Morgenthaler who, in 1969, opened the first illegal abortion clinic in Canada, in Montreal, and who was the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that, in 1989, abolished all restrictions to abortion. Canada is the only industrialized nation with no restrictions on abortion.
Toronto's Catholic archbishop, Rev. Thomas Collins called the award a debasing of the medal, and anti-abortion groups noted that there were other people who have made genuine contributions to society
"Doctor" Morgenthaler recently was awarded an honorary doctorate at the University of Western Ontario.
Here's hoping that at least some of the Order's 75 members will turn in their medals!

Friday, June 20, 2008

... Still More Photos

Here are a couple of "urban snaps" taken this last spring, one with a "blad" and one with my Nikon glass.

Church Parade

Nestled among the row-houses of inner-city Toronto (Parkdale, to be exact, whose denizens include drug addicts and prostitutes uneasily coexisting with a gentryfying bourgeoisie) is one of the landmarks of Toronto Catholicism, a gem of orthdoxy with an ascetic, musically rich liturgy.

Holy Family Church is a place that takes Roman Catholicism seriously, with erudite sermons that don't talk down, an emphasis on traditional beliefs and morality, and a rich musical tradition centred around Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony. The priests and brothers living there are members of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, an order of secular priests with religious houses in Europe, North America and Australia. They have been there since 1983.

The Oratorians there run two busy parishes (Holy Family Church, with a predominantly Filipino congregation and St. Vincent de Paul, in a predominantly Polish part of town) and a seminary. The latter prepares future priests from dioceses across Canada and in the United States, particularly those who strictly adhere to Church practices.

The church also offers a two-week course on the Catechism and related topics every year.

Holy Family Church occasionally makes its presence visible in the neighborhood.

Last May, the parish staged a Mother's Day parade in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, complete with priests, seminarians, children receiving First Communion, and the local branch of the Knights of Columbus.

See for yourself.

Monday, June 2, 2008

A Journey of a thousand leagues ...

begins with single step. This is my first personal blog ... ever! And welcome.

The name "TMR-BRAT" comes from the fact, that I grew up in the Town of Mount Royal, an inner suburb of Montreal, Canada. I now live in Toronto (I still root for the Canadiens NHL hockey team):

My objective is to present myself on-line, specifcally:

News and items of interest regarding my surroundings in Toronto.

Showcase my photographs (also mainly of Toronto)

To offer news and comments about Catholicism from a Toronto point of view.

Go into some of the details of my personal life.

More to follow later.