Thursday, January 27, 2005

Canadian Passports and Other Failed Items of Bureaucracy

So, I just felt like listing some news clips since this week has been so busy. I've been listening to CBC the last couple days, which some may criticize as ultra-left-wing because it usually undertakes socialist issues, but since I usually identify with it, and because I like it, why, just call me a bleeding heart pinko why don't ya?

It was -25 today, but with the wind chill it felt like -35. AGAIN! Whoever reported in had just enough time to get off their cell phone before it froze to their face! The windsheild wiper fluid from my car is still frozen. That's why I stop at gas stations, to use their squeegies.

They had a very nice list of the best Canadian songs from the past including Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, and the song "Four Strong Winds" which was touching but just wasn't that original. Going forward in time they got to "These Eyes" by the Guess Who ("These eyes, are crying, these eyes have seen a lot of love but they'll never see a love like the one that I had with you") and will most surely site Stan Rogers as a musician who tells about Canada.

There was a little exposé on the Canadian dialect. Apparently we do have an accent. You can tell when we say we've been out and about. Although we've lost many of our Britishisms and many of us don't say "chesterfield" (we instead just say "couch" like everyone else), there are still some things that distinguish us from North Americans in general. The diversity of ethnicity and accents in Toronto being one.

Stephen Harper has gotten some ridicule over his statement this week that since the Liberals are still working at legislating gay marriage, the next thing they'll want to do is right a special clause to include polygamy into marriage. What the hell? Does he think all gays are ravaging nymphomaniacs with no desire to marry without cheating? Has Harper ever come across anyone who's openly gay? Well, us heteros have enough problems keeping our marriages tidy as it is so I'm assuming that if gay marriage is passed, then gay divorce will be too.

Aside: I don't get this issue though. Is gay marriage already legislated or something? I know it's legal in progressive countries like the Netherlands. Wasn't there some Canadian lesbians that were the first gay couple in this country to divorce?

Some think that conservative leader Harper is just scaremongering (although it's a warped kind of fear-inspiration that seems more like confusion) but others have raised the issue that perhaps he's just against the Charter of rights taking supremacy over the power of the parliament. In the Charter we can't discriminate between sex, race, gender, or sexual orientation, so if it is what it is, then how can you entitle people to marry based on their sex or sexual orientation? That's the issue. The way traditionalist/conservative arguments see to run is that after all, the "four pillars" (or chair legs) of marriage in our current understanding is monogamy, something else, something else maybe sharing of assets?, and something between a man and a woman. We just can't challenge that rigid thinking. Our minds won't take it. The man demonstrating the properties of this imaginary chair was saying, and I think we should all very much fear it, that if the 'between a man and a woman' part is taken away, the chair would topple over. Oh no! What will we have left to sit on?????????? (Perhaps real chairs)

Another interesting story I heard today involved a 16 year old Canadian from Isreal who is angry at the government because it won't allow him to have that on his passport. What his passport now says is "Jerusalem" but it doesn't go into any more specificity. As he was coming back to Canada from the States, customs officials were invariably confused about where he came from, considering there are about 27 different Jerusalem's around the world. Germany has a Jerusalem, New York has a Jerusalem, so if you say you're from Jerusalem, that doesn't really help. When security is such an issue, don't you think Canada would like to have its passports be as informative as possible? Or we could just put "birthplace:momma" on ALL passports.

Aside: I had a beef with customs officials after 911 when I was coming back from New York and they harassed the man in front of me presumably because he wasn't white, asking him such questions as "what were YOU doing in Jersey? Celebratin' Mecca? Sellin' hash?"

And they talked about the Iraqi election. Many aren't sure what it will lead to but most agree it won't be democracy. There are so many separate interests that any piece of the pie chart wouldn't feed a mouse and the candidates that would probably make the best leaders seem to have better things to do then getting assassinated.

Meanwhile, what's going on with Ukraine's democratic election with Yuschenko? Will the choice stick this time?

We'll see how all this pans out. Now I have to renew MY passport, making sure that all 8 pages of my "e-pass" are filled out properly, that my two references have known me for TWO years, and that I do not sign outside of the lines, and that I pay my $87 or so fee, and that I include two photos of myself not smiling, and that my guarantor is a lawyer, doctor, optometrist, pastor or someone with appointed authority. I can't tell them that I'm from another planet. That would be wrong. I'm from Canada. I'm from Canada. I'm not an alien. I'm from Canada.


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