Monthly Archive: June 2017

Charisma and catharsis

In 1871 when France lost the Franco-Prussian war, the country needed a patriotic boost to get citizens feeling good again. The state reached back into the fifteenth century for a heroine and erected statues to Joan of Arc who drove the English off the throne of France. I’ve seen some of those statues in small French towns as well as in New Orleans where her birthday is celebrated at the start of Mardi Gras. Back in the day, the church and the establishment were both against her. Just as the country came around, so did the church, by canonizing her in 1920. George...

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Touch me not

Why is it that directors and choreographers feel they need to take perfectly good material and add their own ham-handed touches? James Kudelka, then of the National Ballet, to my mind ruined several productions, including Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. Except for taking my grandchildren to The Nutcracker a few times, I have refused to attend anything by the National Ballet since. Lezlie Wade, who directs H.M.S. Pinafore at Stratford this summer, has been equally busy with equally predictable results. For reasons unknown, Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pinafore opens in an estate where the war wounded are being cared for, then switches to the more...

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Aucun progrès

The Official Languages Act, passed in 1969, gave equal status to French and English when dealing with the federal government. The legislation has, over the years, propelled many parents to send their children to be educated in French immersion. Such classes were seen as good for social standing and useful for the student’s future. Others, like me, worked hard on their own to learn French. There was a point in time when I could understand political speeches in French, and my vocabulary remains extensive, but I would never have called myself bilingual. One-on-one was OK, but conversation with a group was always difficult....

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Party on!

The process was as foolish as it was flawed from the get-go. I’m talking about the multiple choice ballots used by the Conservative Party of Canada for its leadership contest. Apparently the methodology was insisted upon by the Reform Party during one of the many amalgams that created today’s Conservatives. It was like a crazy uncle leaving you a fetid swamp along with a demand that you plant crops and make it productive. Even such a brain as Kevin O’Leary couldn’t understand how the ranked balloting worked when other analysts on the CBC panel scoffed at his advice to supporters – just vote...

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