“The trouble with Lucius,”he said, putting his feet up on the deck after his cousin had gone,”is that he thinks politics is a fight for justice. Politics is a profession.”
Marcus Tellius Cicero – Roman lawyer, orator and politician -27 B.C.E.
O.K. O.K. I know. All the world needs is another political blog. Some pinhead tweeting or texting or blogging or Instagramming (I can’t keep them all straight) from his mother’s basement, with some political drivel.
This won’t be that.
I used to be a person of passion. I can remember a night in the Golden Lion Pub in Lennoxville, Quebec.It was the summer of 1985. I was taking my Master’s in Education at Bishop’s University and presumably should have been working on a term paper about ‘Educational Philosophy in the Golden Age of Ancient Greece’ or some such. Instead I got into an argument with the guy across the table from me. He swore that the Chicago Blackhawks were put in the West Division the year after the NHL expanded from the Original Six to twelve teams in 1967-68. I steadfastly swore that they remained in the East Division with the five other ‘original’ NHL members. There was no Google at that time. Each of us was so sure that we were right that we knocked over the other’s quart bottle of beer and landed blows across the table until we were both escorted out of the establishment.
We never spoke again.
For the record, I was right. Chicago was in the East Division.
So I’ve got that going for me.
I used to take politics seriously as well. I started watching political conventions on t.v. when I was in Grade 4 in the early 1960s. Tommy Douglas was the leader of the NDP. The conventions that later elected Robert Stanfield and Pierre Trudeau to lead their respective parties also had me glued to our family’s black and white t.v. while eating peanut butter and jam sandwiches.The book ‘Black Like Me’ was the chronicle of a man who made his skin black and lived as a black man in the American South for a year. It made a huge impression on me in Grade 5. Maybe Justin Trudeau should have read it.
Yes… I am as old as Methuseleh.
It was in the 1960s, after all. The Vietnam War was in full swing, the Kennedys and then Martin Luther King were assassinated. Here in Canada we had just unfurled our new Canadian flag, Medicare was starting up, Quebec was getting riled up and Pierre Trudeau was introducing Official Bilingualism to skeptical Saskatchewan wheat farmers. My father was a French-Canadian orphan from the working class neighbourhood of St. Henri in Montreal. He helped Claude Ryan (you can look him up, kids) form the Quebec branch of the New Democratic Party.
My mother’s family lived on a 100 acre farm in rural Quebec. My grandfather had neighbours who still marched in Orangemen Parades. He was no Orangeman, but like most farmers, he was a lifelong Conservative.
Hence my addled brain and overall confusion.
Needless to say, politics was a passion. My mother’s brother was a farmer in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, a dyed-in-the-wool Conservative whose hatred of Pierre Trudeau was only surpassed by his loathing of the Montreal Canadiens. I idolized both of the objects of his enmity. We threw bales of hay at each other in the hay mow and shouted at each other from different floors of the chicken barn as we did our morning and evening chores. Took our minds off of the back-breaking labour we were always doing. When we had the time we’d take a break on a nearby nine- hole golf course while he gave me tips on my game. (He was an avid reader of a booklet of golf instructions written by Sam Snead.) All the while he would be cursing out “that bald-headed bastard.” That would be Trudeau, not me. I wasn’t bald back in the ’60s and ’70s.
Good times, good times.
Now I’m twenty years older than the candidates running for the leadership of the country. They’re younger than the kids I started out teaching back in 1981.
The country has changed a lot since I first saw the light of day in 1956. My opinions have changed countless times since then. Some of you have may have overheard them loudly stated too often. Much as I hate to admit, they have not had one iota of influence over anyone. Good thing.
Besides my opinions, which you’ll be happy to hear I’ll keep to myself, most everything from those times-gone-by have undergone a sea change. I can accept that although we might disagree, our political leaders, although we may differ, are also impassioned about the economy and jobs. Mostly their jobs.
My uncle died in 1998. The passing of the years has provided me with a better understanding of his point-of-view now that he’s in his grave, than I had when we were throwing bales, feeding chickens, golfing and fishing.
But I still love the Montreal Canadiens !