Monthly Archives: March 2010

Politics & the Pen, 03/10. Canadian War Museum, 03/11

The Pictures. I wasn’t very good at these – too crowded — and ended up taking pictures of the chandelier in the Chateau Laurier, and also the dessert. The three hairy guys are Andrew “The Tar Sands” Nikiforuk, ferocious environmental writer; Saint Wayne Grady (The Great Lakes, among others); and Graeme “Bedside Book of Beasts” Gibson. The two tablemates with me are Clare Carey, wife of the British High Commissioner, Margaret Atwood, and Jacqueline LaRocque, manager of public policy at GlaxoSmithKline.

Trying to catch up on this blog…

Politics and the Pen

On March 10, Graeme Gibson and I put on our fancy outfit and went to the Writers’ Trust “Politics and the Pen” annual dinner in Ottawa. (

The Writers’ Trust:  “The Writers’ Trust of Canada was founded by five notable Canadian authors — Margaret Atwood, the late Pierre Berton, Graeme Gibson, the late Margaret Laurence, and David Young — to encourage a flourishing writing community in this country.

Since 1976, the Writers’ Trust of Canada, led by volunteers from the arts and business communities, has directed support from the private sector to Canadian writers and writing.

This country’s writers receive more financial support from the Writers’ Trust of Canada than any other non-governmental organization or foundation in the country. In the 2008-2009 the organization gave $449,304 directly to 99 writers.” (From the website.) Some of the early days of the Trust were quite hair-raising, but it is now doing very well.

The Politics and the Pen dinner in Ottawa – which gathers writers, sponsors, politicians, and – shhh – lobbyists — is now THE Ottawa social event, I’m told – partly because people who wouldn’t ordinarily be in the same room together can mingle and plot while talking about literature.  Think of those “Court of Henry VIII” scenes in The Tudors. “Like my villanelle? And – a word in your ear – His Majesty wants you to chop off some heads.” “What, again?”

His Majesty was actually not there that night, but lots of other folks were. I met Jim Prentice’s bow tie, which was an unusual striped pattern. (Didn’t meet the rest of him, being too short.) The highlight was the Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political Writing.

( Shaughn was an old pal of many years who collapsed from a burst aneurism in the House of Commons and died way too young. She would have loved this award, and the whole event – she loved politics, and gossip, and head-chopping (figurative): the whole nine yards.  Well done, Ottawa!

The Canadian War Museum

The next morning we visited the new, expanded Canadian War Museum, which is truly spectacular. There has been some grumbling about it – does it glorify war? Does it not glorify war enough?

Saying that this museum glorifies war is kind of like saying that a TV series on hospitals glorifies disease. You can praise bravery without extolling the conditions in which the bravery occurred, and I think this is what the Museum does. It also makes it very clear how various wars have shaped our country – from the earliest wars we know about, 5,000 years ago, through the early wars in New France and between France and England, then the War of 1812 and the Rebellion of 1839 and the Riel Rebellion (if you lose it’s a rebellion, if you win it’s a revolution). Then came the big wars of the twentieth century. I didn’t get past World War One, myself – too riveting, and having seen the real Vimy site I was interested in the recreation – but I plan to go back.


Filed under 1, YOTF Tour Blog

Pigeon Bay Lake Erie WindFarm Problems

Or as Jpg:

This is  a radar image of birds massing on the south shore of Erie and flying over the lake where the islands are and where Point Pelee is. You will not see many flying across the wider part of the lake. The part where the birds are flying is exactly where they want to put 700 windmills. So the birds are one problem.

The others are: What’s on the lake bottom (ie. heavy metals from decades of industrial and domestic pollution) and how much of it would be stirred up by drilling 700 windmills and putting the huge concrete platform for the wind towers into the lake bottom? The sediment would go into the water intake for a dozen communities along the shore. Put another way: Would you want your baby or child eating the bottom of Lake Erie? Leamington is where the big Heinz plant is — and a huge number of greenhouses that use a lot of water.How endangered would they all be?

And: The process itself is deeply suspect. Residents and municipalities have been excluded. This project was cancelled four years ago but the Minister responsible has been dumped. The Ontario Government seems dedicated to ramming this project through at any cost. Why?  Especially since windmills in water have a lower efficiency, and windmills in general are much less efficient than supposed — no way to store the energy.

Every community and township council along the shore are opposed to this. As are the federal and provincial members of parliament from all parties in this area. People fought for centuries to obtain “democracy” — a say in one’s own affairs. The process of jamming through this windfarm has been highly anti-democratic. Who benefits?

If any of this disturbs you, protest by Voting No at www/ or phoning 519-258-2599, or writing your Member of Parliament.

NOTE MARCH 16: Results of Poll:  63.46% NO     36.54% YES


Filed under 1, YOTF Tour Blog

RMW Music Studio, March 9, with Ron Mann

Here are a few pictures from the RMW Music sound studio. The sound guys are also musicians – Mike Rosnick, producer, and Art Mullin, engineer.

The one with the hair that matches mine is veteran documaker Ron Mann, of Sphinx Productions (

I was in the studio doing lines for Ron’s documentary of The Year of the Flood tour – it’s called In the Wake of the Flood. The film is due to launch on August 5 in Toronto to coincide with the paperback publication of the book. Then it will go around the world to film festivals, literary festivals, environmental festivals, and fundraising events. We did the Year of the Flood tour as an awareness-raiser and fundraiser, primarily for birds, and In the Wake of the Flood both documents the experience and continues the effort. Thank you Ron!


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Score: A Hockey Musical. March 8 2010

I’ll catch up with my recent travel activities soon – the Havana Book Fair, several stops in the USA – but meanwhile here are some pictures from the set of Score: A Hockey Musical (yes, I sang, shameless me), due to launch October 22. Now that’s a concept… I didn’t see the part where they dance on skates. We were all in an arena freezing our feet off… including Eddie Shack, Walter Gretzkey, Theo Fleury, Alex Tagliani, Dan Hill, and the star, Noah Reid, and the director, Mike McGowan, and Jody Colero, who got me into it, and a jolly supporting cast of thousands! Hey, I signed a hockey stick!


Filed under 1, YOTF Tour Blog

The Youtube Hymn Challenge

Dear Readers,

Unfortunately, we experienced some technical difficulties with the Youtube Hymn Challenge linked through Sincere apologies go out to all of those people who had problems uploading their hymns. Below, please find the links to some wonderfully creative hymn compositions written for this contest. Thank you to all who participated!


Filed under 1, YOTF Tour Blog