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An alternate Canada: The high and the low

By Daniel Ryan
web posted April 17, 2006

[From Toronto Live(s!), July 1, 2006:]

Yes, It Was A Tea Party!

And all the best people were there – including those who live in the new Liberty Estates. The celebration was so glamorous that the normally sullen students who go to the surrounding University of Toronto were actually curious about us!

Oh, there was tea...the finest American tea which could be procured. Along with a reproduction of an original 13-star flag; along with the regular 11 X 5 S & S; along with the Red & White.

Recent history was very much part of the scintillating talk there – the location demanded it.

Remember When Canada Was...A Monarchy?

Oh, how far away the 1980s seemed! Only old folks like myself still remember the 1988 election with some shock.

Who would have thought – who would have dreamed – that the man who danced with Princess Margaret would have promised to make Canada a republic. Oh God, did he oppose free trade!

He won, of course, both the election and the issue. Britain found it easy to let us go.

Remember When Canada Was...An Independent Republic? Ha ha ha ha ha!

People have long stopped wondering why Pierre E. Trudeau turned down the chance to become Canada’s first President, that smart rogue, him. The hip folks just shake their heads and smile (no lips!) when they assess how politically smart the old duffer was.

Instead of Pierre, we got President Chrétien as our – well, let’s be honest between ourselves – Batista. It wasn’t the most adroit move for him to shore up support with his Left by gettin’ stubborn during the 1990-1 Gulf war. Instead of the United States government ignoring us as usual, we got the attention we deserved thank to the CIA. They raided the secret government files, shot them into a special place we now know as the World Wide Web, and watched ‘em spread. God, were those fax machines overworked back then!

Us people, of course, were flexible enough to be both co-operative and adaptable. It was the great Common Man who got mad enough at what he saw to throw ‘em all out when he figured out how he was really seen by his old chums in Ottawa.

It tuns out that our fine liberators from Ottawa were the group which harbored the worst of them!...

[From Business Ontario, July, 2006:]

Is Ottawa Real Estate A Smart Bet?

Ever since what used to be Canada became part of the United States, the smart folks who bought land in the new State capitols of Goose Bay (Canada East), Baie Comeau (Quebec), Barrie (Ontario), Medicine Hat (Canada West) and Thompson’s Landing (Canada North) have certainly had lots of new pennies in their jar to count.

The penny metaphor, though, does indicate that the newfound riches which were had in real estate have come with an off-income-statement cost, one measured in time and headaches. A lot of these locations were difficult to foresee at the time; even those investors who were diligent enough to do their research by discovering the usual American convention for locating state capitols were mostly surprised when the specific locations were unveiled in 2003. Most of the investors who made “spectacular gains” in real estate in those five locations were either lucky or had taken a portfolio approach, buying up properties in 20 or 25 probable locations. Any gains they got courtesy of their foresight were, of course, dampened by the need to diversify, providing further evidence that it is indeed an MPT world, even in the real estate sector.

The big loser has, of course, been Ottawa: its real estate has suffered the fate of any one-industry town whose industry has been shut down. Prudent real-estate investors had shied away from recent temptingly high EBITDA in Ottawa properties because the figures were based upon previous year’s rent receipts, not the following year’s. The parallel between a high EBITDA return on real estate in a diminishing town and a cyclical with a temptingly low P/E ratio should be obvious.

Given that the aberrational cyclicality of this kind of real estate is temporary, though, as the one industry in the town can only leave once, the foresighted real estate investor would be wise to take a leaf from the book on analysis of cyclicals and explore investment, as part of a broader portfolio, in a town where the EBITDA has been wrecked as of now but whose fall in rent receipts seems to have bottomed out...

[From Cottage Retreats, July, 2006:]

Q: I am a long-standing owner of a secluded place in the Muskoka area who has heard more than enough of the description of the new state capital as “the rest stop between Hogtown and cottage country.” While I would like to be a good American, and do appreciate the need for people to get their resentment at the old order out of their system, it seems to me to have gone too far. How do I answer such slurs?

A: These times we live in are, of course, trying, and it must be trying indeed to hear such witticisms being “rolled with” by the new neighbors through repetition of them as a brag. Unfortunately, neighbors are very much part of the location, and it must be distressing to those who lack the flexibility of youth to see such people juxtaposed against the memory of their more sedate predecessors.

The key to being a good American in such trying circumstances is to remember that “their dollars are as good as anyone’s,” but the means by which they acquire such dollars often place real constraints upon their vacation time. Americans do tend to associate flush wallets with long hours, and spacious homes with hard work. I hope that these facts will enable you to gain a sense of perspective on the way times have changed.

Another gain in perspective can be achieved by letting your new neighbors be themselves in this way. The typical wife of such a new-entrant couple is a lot more literate than she likes to let on; the typical division of activities in such households is for the husband to be consumed in the practice of money accumulation and for the wife to stick to more theoretical pursuits.

While it may detract from the ambience of your place somewhat to envision your neighbors bringing books with them on their retreat from city ways, a virtue of such a custom can be seen in the need for quiet when reading. Quiet people are not bothersome people; if you should refrain from noisy activities yourself, you may find your new neighbors unexpectedly easy to get along with.

Here’s a suggested way to welcome them in. Is your stretch of the lake serviced by a “Books on Wheels” from a local library? If not, a neighborly gesture would be to have one set up. If so, then asking what books they like to relax with would garner a list of books for the present library to open up, or indeed as a core collection for a new one....

[From Canada West College Alumnus News, Summer, 2006:]

Like it or not, us old fellows have to welcome the new fellows in. After due consideration of both our new political present and the future of achievement, we have decided to turn Canada West College into a charter school.

Henceforth, no-one with an I.Q. below 150 shall be a matriculant. This I.Q. level, when translated into an SAT score, will assure that any matriculant boy will be able to get into the Ivy League, if he so chooses, upon graduation. Provided that he pays attention in class and is otherwise diligent, of course. Part of Canada West’s pride is the recognition that a good education does not automatically translate into desired success.

This is why us boys who grew into men at the old “Rotten Burg” do band together, of course...

[From Hate Monitor, July 1-7, 2006:]

There has been a disturbing upsurge in hate activity in the five newest states of the U.S., with a new “headquarters of hate” coalescing in the city of Ottawa. Furthermore, these new groups show a disturbing parallel to those groups which surfaced during the Weimar Republic.

No more is the typical neo-Nazi group in what used to be the Republic of Canada identifying with the leading figures of the Nazi dictatorship. They are now borrowing the names of now-obsolete heroic figures from the days when Canada was still under the thumb of the British monarchy.

Example: “The Wolfe Men,” a known Ottawa hate group. In addition to being anti-Semitic, they are also anti-French, and are fond of launching “expeditions” designed to intimidate good citizens in the neighboring state of Quebec. They are known to have links to the KKK.

The acts of hate of this group have spawned an equally venomous group on the other side of the Ottawa River: “Bruyel’s Brigade.” Although this group repudiates the KKK, they have opened up channels to neo-Nazi groups whose hate is more circumspect. The current leader of this group is known as “Frère Montcalm,” a reference both to the last governor of Quebec, when it was still a French colony, and to the ideologue who the group claims inspiration from, Abbé Bruyel, who wrote the book Our Master, The Past....

[From Toronto’s Downtrodden, July 1-7, 2006:]

Social Feeling Among The Poor, Working And Non-Working

I had a chance to talk with one of Toronto’s poor recently, a hard-working fellow who toils in the mail-receipt department of our city “new assembly of plutocracy,” the Liberty Estates. It was a real experience to talk about life with a young man who could not be farther removed from the far Right’s stereotype of “Joe Six Pack.”

This man was both well-educated and articulate. Like so many of our working poor, which of course includes many of us, he shows up for work regularly and is diligent while there. Does this help him succeed in a world of plutocracy? Of course not: he’s too busy working to accumulate capital.

Like too many of today’s poor, he is resigned to his fate under capital. But his social awareness is sufficiently raised to the point where he recognizes a commonality between his circumstances and those of his fellow poor, even those who suffer quietly in the ranks of the unemployed. He finds it easy to be, as he put it, “chummy” with a bud of his who has been thrown out by plutocracy as “unemployable.” They often talk over the political situation which we have to suffer with, with neither sectarian welfarism nor petty-bourgeois closed-mindedness impeding their friendship....

Daniel Ryan can be reached at danielmacryan@yahoo.com. (c) 2006 Daniel Ryan

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