#198 – La Belle at the Ball

Let me disclose this at the very beginning – if there is any Canadian province that I don’t profoundly hate, it is Quebec. I have enormous respect for the Quebecois, a people who I find to be more cultured and interesting than the caker swine who so hypocritcally malign them. Rene Levesque’s Memoirs and his principled response to the terroristic endeavors of the followers of Pierre “White Niggers of America” Vallieres (yes, this is the name of an influential book in Quebecois political thought) influenced me and my political thought profoundly. But Quebec is in Canada, and therefore it is a province with myriad issues.

I need to stress at first that French Quebec has been horrifically mistreated by English Canada. The whole Quiet Revolution thing, which cakers tend to summarize as “grumpy French people who won’t learn English”, was in no small part about the economic disparity on display along linguistic lines. Until the 1960s, English people were almost the entirety of the Quebecois bourgeoisie. Quebec’s siege mentality, I believe, is the result of a real culture having to live next to cakerdom for centuries. Instead of issuing a broad-stroke condemnation of Quebec that I really can’t give (having never really lived with the Quebecois), I’m just going to outline some of the more spectacular incidences of brutality and awfulness lurking in la belle province.

Let’s start with Montreal’s mob and road problem, which the Parti Quebecois accuses the ruling Parti Liberal of stonewalling investigation into because the politics of Quebec are far beyond fucked. It’s estimated that the Italian Mafia in Montreal controls 80% of road construction contracts, and boy do the roads look like it. Oh, and it’s worth noting that among the reasons Montreal is collapsing is the fact that the city raced mindlessly and practically planlessly to finish construction for…Expo ’67 and the ’76 Olypmics! Among the tragic results of this reckless construction, which came with a heaping side order of corruption and Mafia connections within the construction industry was the de la Concorde overpass collapse in 2006. Read the Commission of Inquiry’s findings as to how the overpass collapsed and killed six people and take note of the sheer mass of technical construction issues associated with it.

As anecdotal evidence, I submit that having driven through Montreal in a late 90s Toyota Camry that couldn’t hit 100kph without at least 30 miles of open road, fuck everything about the state of Montreal’s roads.

https://i2.wp.com/www.macleans.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Montreal-is-falling-down_wide.jpg
(S) Round One of “Canada or Kazakhstan”!

So as to not give cakers any ammo with which to hypocritically attack the French, let’s spend the rest of this post here writing about the familiar bugbear of this blog – Indigenous Affairs! For what it’s worth, Quebec does have the lowest rate of child poverty on reserves in Canada. I only add this to make sure that cakers don’t go and take my condemnations as somehow vindicating English Canada. Right, so let’s talk about the Val D’Or problem. Starting in 2015, Indigenous women reported systemic sexual and physical abuse from police officers in the town of Val D’Or. The consequences of this savagery for the police officers was…nothing. This understandably creates what Pravda refers to as “a climate of tension and mistrust” between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. This is being discussed in a Quebec-wide inquiry, which speaks to the prevalence of cruelty within the province’s policing system.

And heaven help you if you live in the North of Quebec, known properly as Ungava. Despite having a bitchin’ name that would do well in any Tolkien-esque high fantasy novel Ungava is in fact a miserable place to live. Ungava is frankly a world apart from Quebec, and cartoonization of the Inuit is a rampant problem. Child and youth suicide is a big problem here as everywhere in Canada; in Quebec the incidence of suicide among these Inuit communities was twenty-five times greater than among Quebecois and three times greater than Indigenous rates in the rest of Canada. Granted, that data is from 1995 – but by the looks of it not much has changed.

So I hoped I pissed on enough cakers by providing a rough sample of Quebec’s failures without giving English Canada ammo to use against the Quebecois. Because frankly, there is plenty of overlap in the problems Quebec has and the problems that the rest of Canada does.

#197 – Rusted Dreams

The American Rust Belt is a maligned creature, deemed at once a trap of rancid poverty and a major supplier of the kind of reactionary stupidity that got Donald Trump elected. Certainly, times for the Rust Belt have been tough; a combination of limited investment in education, an over-reliance on untenable industrial patterns, and the destruction of major urban centers by way of suburbanization and car dependence will do that to anyone. It certainly did a number on Canada’s Rust Belt, also known as “the part of Ontario with a defunct manufacturing center”. It’s a big, angry, reactionary blob of underinvestment and cyclical poverty.

Some of the remains of the Rust Belt here attempted to go the Richard Florida route (fun fact: Florida recanted this nonsense, which bodes poorly for places that fell for it in the first place). Others have fallen victim to idiotic housing speculation. London has decided to continue sucking, a perhaps-unwise decision but fuck it. Some parts of the Rust Belt here are even recovering. But for most the area represents a Sophie’s Choice – overinvestment rendering your community a powder-keg that actively pushes natives away, or miring further in muck. It’s an unenviable position to be in.

Almost every city in the Canadian Rust Belt has similar problems. Public transit services are weak at best, and the feeling of despair and poverty crosses generations in every Rust Belt community. Which is why people don’t stick around and why trust in government and private industry is at an all-time low. The sense that “the good times” (read: working in a factory and living in a suburban box) will never come back is palpable. Canada’s Rust Belt, once the middling supplier of components par excellence has been tossed aside just like any other flash-in-the-pan Canadian economic generator that fell apart because of negligence and unaccounted-for global events.

Southern Ontario’s problems are pretty apparent when you look at the place. Canada’s piss-poor rail system is focused on Southern Ontario, and it’s entirely inadequate. The train station for the cities of Hamilton and Burlington (which shouldn’t be sharing a train station to begin with) are in neither city, instead being cordoned off next to a freeway and in the middle of nowhere. Transit is expensive and poorly organized, forcing people into the debt trap that is personal vehicle ownership. Even with strong economic tailwinds the Canadian Rust Belt can’t seem to make a go of it. And Dear Leader…well, Dear Leader can’t even fart an answer as to what Ottawa will do to help the disappointed, fretful peoples of the Rust Belt.

I can hear the counterpointing now. “But”, says the caker apologist, “what about places like Kitchener-Waterloo? Or Hamilton? Maybe tiny-town Rust Belt Ontario is doomed, but we’re making a fix of the big cities!” The problem with that argument is cost-related. Take Hamilton as an example. Hamilton has historically had a big poverty problem. It also used to be considered too distant to commute into Toronto to, at least until Toronto decided to shit its own housing bed and to allow the city to devolve into My Little Dubai. The upshot of both of these realities is that Hamilton was for a time a fairly affordable place to be mired in. But with the spectre of commuters (who don’t actually have a solid way of commuting save for rare train trips and buses that get stuck in traffic) coming to colonize the city, housing costs (and continued losses in full-time employment) quickly outpace the ability of native Hamiltonians to pay, meaning that those crushed out of their own homes by hipsters and trust fund babies continue to be shafted by governance that would rather pretend that they don’t exist. And you wonder why folks like these don’t trust government and would rather knock the whole thing down.

Hamilton’s looming conversion to hipsterdom, K-W’s insane fixation on the repudiated ideas of Richard Florida, London’s suicidal march into a suburban grave, Windsor’s confused stagnation, and the continued refusal to even acknowledge the gravity of the problems and poverty experienced in small-town Rust Belt Ontario speak to the problems of the Rust Belt. Despite Pravda’s best attempts to present these areas as “new frontiers” (and as someone who grew up in the Rust Belt, here’s a hearty fuck you to anyone who thinks that way), the reality is that these “frontiers” are poorly-governed, badly-planned, and breathe ever-new life into the reactionary hatred of the roiling masses being pressed out by foreign funds. You can invest in the newcomers all you’d like, but the people who were mired in these places when they were at their absolute worst are still mired, and they increasingly are running out of patience.

#196 – The Greyer Toronto Area

Back on track.

Fuck the GTA.

In the preliminary research for this post, I asked a friend of mine for examples of particularly atrocious development in the Greyer Toronto Area. The places he tossed my way – Sherway Gardens, Upper Canada Mall, and Erin Mills Town Center, among others – looked like my interpretation of purgatory. As we were chatting in dawned on me that the places he cited were often malls. Why malls, I thought?

Then it hit me – the names of the malls are literally the only distinguishing features of these formless hellscapes. The areas around these places are horrifying. Here’s a fun activity – go to Street View and go see the sights. Oh, and by fun I meant deadening. There’s a reason Toronto has been described as “Vienna surrounded by Phoenix”. Having actually visited Phoenix before I can confirm the sentiment, only in the GTA (which is unworthy of being written out properly) you also get to deal with the shittiness of Canada. Hoo-fucking-ray.

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(S) Above: the sum of available activity within walking distance at a given point in the GTA

I want to showcase some of the worst architecture and design in the GTA to highlight what I mean about the place sucking harder than a shop-vac. I’ve taken to calling these things CAD-fapping because they look like they were designed by someone trying to compensate for their perceived sexual inadequacies. There are also some charming (read: terrifying) piles of housing dreck, thrilling lands of neglect and inaccessibility, and large roadways. So many large roadways. So without further ado, time to look at some horror!

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(S)  Absolute World, Mississauga

First up on the mockery block is this piece of shit. 60 Absolute is called “Marilyn Monroe”, because apparently looking at random skewers of glass and metal plopped in the middle of fucking nowhere reminded someone of an iconic sex figure. Sexy this is not – just check out this website. Scroll down to the review section at the bottom of the page and have a laugh as people alternatively lament their idiotic purchase and attempt to puff the place up because they bought the condo as an “investment”.

Whoever bought into this quackery clearly doesn’t want to walk anywhere. Look at this garbage urban form – these towers literally loom over an entire shitty suburb! It’s a fitting metaphor, the image of the old shitty land use planning being cast into darkness by a new, even worse urban form. These things are a fucking blight. They inspire a sense of pity, not one of awe.

Oh, and a quick search reveals that this bizarre and wildly inappropriately-placed development was designed by the architectural firm MAD Studio. MAD indeed.

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(S) Rain & Senses, Oakville

What’s with that name? And for that matter, why does this look like a glassblowing titan just took a massive dump on a boring office building from the 70s which was itself the apparent result of a giant squatting on a couple of suburban houses?  These two glitchy-looking shits start at a mere $400,000! And look at what you get to live near! At least one side of the building literally faces a parking lot, which is not what I see in this mock-up sketch.

Now that I think of it, none of the surroundings look like this. Which makes the call to experience the “neighborhood” of Oakville (Oakville is not a neighborhood, it’s a town.  A suburban shithole town, sure. But it’s what passes for a town in Cakerstan) even funnier. Here’s the text: “The Oakville lifestyle is one without comparison, and residents can attest that there’s no neighbourhood quite like it.”

I wonder if these developers understand how stupid the phrase “Oakville lifestyle” sounds, unless they mean driving while scowling.

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(S) New York Towers, North York

Oh, do I fucking hate these things. When I’m forced to experience the extreme displease that is driving through Toronto these fucking abominations are always there to greet me. The sadsack attempt at the Empire State building and the fact that this piece of shit isn’t exactly in Manhattan reminds me of something that one of those Chinese ghost cities would do so as to attract “investment”. Let’s be perfectly clear – surrounded by sprawl and highways, these pitiful attempts at mimicry offer a living experience that has nothing in common with the image of Manhattan that this clump is trying so hard and failing to evoke. Unless your idea of Manhattan is a bunch of curvilinear road networks beside a bevy of highways. Really, the big thing I hate about these shitty fuckbeasts is that they look derivative and stupid.

Oh, and the architects behind that Potemkin squatling also wanted to build this. I would call it a victory, but that implies that any of this nonsense is even worth saving.

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(S) Malton, ON. The Whole Fucking Thing

The first result for this place on a Google image search is this picture:

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In case you don’t believe me

According to this map, Malton (postal code L4T, for anyone using the map I’m about to link to) is making less than the provincial average in terms of income. And with such productive land uses as this, who could possibly expect otherwise? This is a classic example of a community that was simply left to its own devices. Which in 2008 included murder. But seriously, this wasteland of untenable urban form is right by Pearson International Airport and is practically lassoed by highways. For those children unfortunate enough to grow up in this soulless wasteland there is a one-in-five chance that theirs is a life of poverty. Yikes.

And while we’re in the “neighborhood” (a term that ought only be used loosely in this context), let’s talk about the GTA’s single worst “urbanity” – the decrepit, car-dependent shithole that is Brampton.

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(S) Brampton, Ontario.

 

You know how I recently bought the domain name for this website? I did it because I’m pretty passionate about exposing Shit About Canada. But that’s a whole country – here’s a guy who bought a domain just to shit on Brampton. My hat goes off to you, author of Brampton Sucks. Brampton sucks on an almost-unthinkable scale. Look at the sprawl I linked to you up there, and then take a gander at Brampton’s automobile insurance rates, which are the highest in the province. Brampton is also largely non-white, though for a majority non-white city there is only one non-white city councillor (though the author of the cited piece here laughably suggests that walking places is a possibility in Brampton). The whole place is less-educated than the rest of the Peel Region and rocks a 9.5% unemployment rate.

You know what happens when a racial underclass is consigned to live in one place with failing prospects, poor transit connectivity, massive costs associated with living, a government that does not meaningfully represent them, and a pile of non-stop temp work in a city where decent jobs are quickly becoming an endangered species? The word that comes to mind first is ghetto – not a good label for a place of 500,000 people. Is Toronto simply hiding its poor in and among its prior tries at atrociously-failed suburban experimentation? I think we know the answer to that.

 

195b: Finishing What I Started

I’ve already mentioned that I hate British Columbia, and I spent the whole of post 195 chasing one argument (that British Columbia’s connection to Canada was literally carved out by a crazy person and not an expression of a common will that a country called Canada ought to exist and look as it does) and ignoring the sloppy shitpool that is British Columbia today. You want madness? Here is madness – insane machine politics, an ecologically-sanctimonious ego belied by impossibly poor standards for ecological protections, a wildly irresponsible economy, and a polity whose horrendous rural conditions fit a typical caker pattern of neglect and abandonment.

As per usual, it took a real journalistic effort from an actual news source, in this case the New York Times, to reveal the depths of British Columbia’s political depravity. The current Premier of British Columbia, Christy Clark, receives an extra $50,000 stipend a year from her party, the money for which comes from donations. For $20,000 you can meet with Clark personally – and even better, there are no limits on yearly donations to political parties in BC. This effectively means that a wealthy person donating to the BC Liberal Party is directly paying a bonus to the Premier on top of being able to purchase access to her. Does this sound corrupt as shit to you? If you have any respect for the concept of transparency the prospect of people being able to limitlessly contribute to the perpetuation of a government – and even being able to pay the Premier a bonus! – should seem rather skeevy.

Unfortunately, British Columbia doesn’t care about such trifles as corruption and the purchase of political power, because the conflict-of-interest commissioner (whose son works for the Premier) says that there’s nothing wrong with buying political power. Hell, you don’t even have to be Canadian to purchase political clou-I mean to donate to the Liberal Party of BC. And golly, does being able to buy political power seem to work out nicely for donors to the Liberal Party. I bet investment firms in Beijing are donating to the party in power in BC because they just care so very much about the citizens of British Columbia. Totally not extracting favors. Right?

sad-trump
(S) Trump looks on with sadness knowing that he will never be as corrupt as B.C.

The bounds of British Columbia’s corruption could take another post to fully express, and there’s so much more evil about that hateful province to shit on, so we’re going to move on and squat a deuce on BC’s ecological record. And boy – for a province that claims to love nature so much they sure suck eggs at actually protecting that environment. Here’s the Bella Bella diesel spill, the cleanup for which was of course utterly fucked up and ended up screwing over an Indigenous community’s clam harvest. There’s the dreadful Mount Polley disaster, which I have discussed before…and it’s open again! Yup, everything is totally okay according to the provincial government of BC. You know, the one that was bought and paid for. But it’s not like Imperial Metal, the company responsible for the failure at Mount Polley donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the government or anythin…oh. Oh, they did. Those “untouched” forests better get used to some slimy touches, and fast.

But these aren’t even the big dogs in terms of British Columbia’s absolute fuckery. The housing market in Vancouver is famously absolutely insane, to the point where the only people covering the problem honestly are in Hong Kong. The Hongcouver, as the South China Morning Post’s column is known as offers a fascinating look into the absolute fuckery of BC’s housing market that – shockingly – Pravda just doesn’t seem to have a grasp on. Need to ditch your poor reputation created from a life of crime and malice? Come to Vancouver, where there’s literally a firm designed to erase your sins. And then, if you take advantage of the myriad exceptions to BC’s attempt at stemming the tide of foreign wealth creating an insane housing bubble in Vancouver, you too can be living large and laughing easy while the working classes live in poverty as a result of ludicrous housing costs. Just ask this “student”, whose college dorm is a $31 million mansion. And when the bubble does burst, don’t expect any relief from housing insanity – the average housing unit still costs a princely $896,000, and that’s after the detached housing market started to slide. And this shit is BC’s largest revenue generator, by the way.

Vancouver skyline at Sunrise
(S) Hideous glass phalluses – truly the strongest of economic spines.

But what about those people who decided that a life of arrogance and working poverty wasn’t for them, the folks who tried to make a go outside of BC’s ludicrously overvalued urban spaces? Well, enjoy some fucking desperation, folks! Emergency services in rural British Columbia aren’t getting to people in time, unless your idea of “on time” is a 5-hour wait to get to a hospital. Even with an unhealthy fixation on extraction (the CBC’s idea of “good paying jobs” in rural BC are “coal, gas, and oil”, which sure are eco-friendly positions for Canada’s green-loving province to lean on) jobs are scarce. Hazelton, BC’s poorest community, suffers from a staggering 80% family poverty rate, with an estimated 85% unemployment rate. Half a million people in British Columbia were going fucking hungry in 2012 (before the huge price upticks, which were of course coupled with no meaningful pay increase), which is no surprise when you’re looking at a $1000 monthly food bill for a family of four in northern BC. Because of insane prices live in urban BC is also shit, which is why British Columbia is the only province in Canada without a poverty reduction plan.

There. Fuck British Columbia, fuck Vancouver, and fuck everyone who told me that I should move to Vancouver because “the east isn’t the real Canada”. Spoilers – Canada sucks no matter where you’re at in the country.

Canada One-Shitty: Blog Announcements

Hey all! Canada has blighted the world for 150 years, and boy if we aren’t going to celebrate here on Shit About Canada!

I’ve got some ideas for how to approach the next few posts. Looking into the disconnect between the mythologized entry of British Columbia into the union was a small part of the intended argument in post #195. It kind of disrupted the flow of the arc I was working with, if I’m being honest, but the guy was too weird to not frame the post on. And his fuckery stuck with me, which is why 196 isn’t out yet.

As a side note, I’m up to post 34 as regards the enormous editing/citation project that I’ve been working on with old posts. Go check those out too – I’m pretty happy with the changes I’ve made, especially since those changes are largely centered around providing better and more nuanced information. My earliest postings were written largely by anger, which I think was a mistake, and I’ve since overhauled several of them to reflect on specific instances of failure in Canada rather than my own frustration with the place.

I started doing some homework on the rest of the misunderstood, often forgotten Fathers of Confederation (so-called because Canada needs a daddy-polity because America has one, I guess). Lemme just say that these people are absolutely bonkers. And then it dawned on me that a congress of chimpanzees like the lunatic lot of morons conspiring Canada into existence could only really create unspeakable horror. Maybe attacking province by province isn’t as effective as telling the story of the festering foundation of Canada. It seems more fitting for 150, but interrupting an existing train of thought seems wrong.

So I turn it to you, audience. Here’s the current path to 200:

  • 196 – the GTA is an abomination that should be launched into the sun
  • 197 – Southwestern Ontario has suffered from decades of neglect
  • 198 – Quebec has no business being a part of Canada
  • 199 – Failure – the ties that bind the provinces
  • 200 – Canada 150 is an inherently dishonest concept that cannot exist, because the real Canada is only understandable as a collective of mismanaged parts infected with an ersatz identity and stripped of their own (if they ever had one)

And the possible redirection:

  • 196 – Nova Scotia and New Brunswick also had second thoughts about Canada (talking about representatives from those two hellholes)
  • 197  – There was no popular movement for Canada to exist as a country, and that’s fucked up (talking about Ontario’s weirder representatives)
  • 198 – The Quebecois (and other Francophones) and the Indigenous are the only people with a legitimate national identity, and both had their national expression quashed (discussing how Quebecois and Indigenous with alternative voices have been crushed)
  • 199 – Could we really expect a bunch of worthless old-timey cakers to treat either of Canada’s major cultured groups with decency? (spoilers – no)
  • 200 – Canada 150 is an inherently dishonest concept that cannot exist, because the real Canada is only understandable as a collective of mismanaged parts infected with an ersatz identity and stripped of their own (if they ever had one)

I’m working on drafts of both versions of 196 – if I do drop the provincial thread I fully intend to pick it back up – but I’m on the fence about which route I should take here. Thoughts?

#195: The Strange Tale of Amor De Cosmos

Oh, have I been relishing this moment for a long time. One of the benefits of living in a country as massive and disunited as Canada is that I rarely have to give a shit about any provinces. Here in Ontario it’s kind of assumed that you came from Ontario or from another country because Ontario has a very weak provincial identity by virtue of fact that it sees itself as “Canada writ small”. British Columbia is nothing but provincial swagger, which is perhaps the single most annoying kind of swagger in existence. If Canadian pride is bush-league know-nothing bullshit coupled with smug self-assuredness, imagine how much worse that pride gets when affixed to a province. Cakers are a smug people, but even among the cakers British Columbia is known for  how fucking smug it is. Which makes tearing down this province a particular joy. And what better way to start that task than by ripping apart the precious mythology that British Columbia was destined to join Canada?

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(S) Spoilers: a bear in a Victorian costume is involved.

Fortunately for us, it’s not hard to tear down that myth. The province was cursed to join Canada by the hilariously-named Amor De Cosmos. De Cosmos was an advocate for unifying all of Britain’s North American colonies because he felt humiliated by the idea that he was to “die a tadpole British colonist“, without the same rights and sense of nationhood that those in the United Kingdom had. He was a key proponent of unifying Vancouver Island and British Columbia and pushed for British Columbia’s entry into Confederation. I always love showcasing how little interest there was for a united Canada in the early years. In fact, a petition was sent to Washington, DC in 1869 seeking annexation by the United States. And though British Columbia’s government was not especially democratic, the Confederation-focused forces were crushed in 1868’s elections:

In the November votes, pro-confederation candidates were successful on the mainland but not on Vancouver Island. There they were defeated by an alliance of the governmental and HBC élites, who upheld the status quo, with the European-born businessmen who favoured annexation to the United States rather than to Canada. De Cosmos was himself defeated in Victoria City…The next meeting of the Legislative Council reflected these results. The colonial officials and magistrates who made up the majority joined with Vancouver Island anti-confederates in passing a motion calling confederation “undesirable, even if practicable.” Only the five popular members from the mainland dissented.

But what could save the Confederation project and ensure that British Columbia wouldn’t experience the horrors of being a part of a successful and relevant country? Two things: the realization that the British didn’t give a shit about BC, and Canada basically buying the place with promises of a railway and debt relief. As British interest in defending a distant port in the middle of nowhere faded, BC knew that if it wanted the protection of the Royal Navy (and if it wanted to ever be able to repay its debts) it would have to sign up with the nearest polity of stinking Englishmen. Canada seemed to fit the bill, so BC shacked up with the fat, balding ass that we call Canada.

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(S) If everything in this picture is purchased on credit this is the Cliff Notes version of BC’s entry into Confederation

In typical Canada fashion, the terms of the agreement were pretty loosely followed. The railroad project upon which the deal hinged went so poorly that De Cosmos threatened to seek annexation by the United States if Ottawa wasn’t going to get its shit together. De Cosmos would ultimately be deposed and removed from politics because he dared to suggest that Canadians should act less like Brits and try to instead formulate its own coherent collection of identities. Oh, and he also went insane.

Next up, we’ll watch the relationship between floozie province and sugar daddy country devolve into the slithering form it takes today. Stay tuned!

#194: The Boreal Failure – Northern Ontario

The time has come to start chipping away at Canada’s largest province, Ontario. A land of scholastic mystery, the engine room of this sadsack state hides too many malevolent folds to be covered in one go. Because of its sheer size and shittiness our tour of Onterrible begins up north, to a post-extractive hellscape that makes the Soviet Union’s old industrial yards look pleasant. How bad is Northern Ontario? How about we begin with a piece from the Toronto Star with the by-line “Survival in Ontario’s north requires ingenuity, endurance and a trace of subversion”, which includes stories of pitiable want and active avoidance of the stew of ineptitude that is Queen’s Park.

From the same piece:

Northern towns have one small food outlet if they’re lucky. If not, residents go to the next town. No matter where they shop, they won’t see cantaloupes, fresh pears, bunches of raw broccoli, inside round steak or 200 gram blocks of partially skim mozzarella cheese. At least half of the items on the province’s [nutritous food basket] checklist aren’t available in the north.

That’s fucked up. Northern Ontario is one of Canada’s most neglected regions. Governed from Toronto by people who consider Northern Ontario to be nifty map-filler, the area’s chronic neglect and desperation takes so many forms that this entire piece will consist of ringing them off and asking you, the reader, if this is the kind of stuff you expect in a “rich country”.

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(S) Soviet mining camp or Canadian town? You decide!

The first shit-shaped tee-ball to get smashed by yours truly is the staggering cost of transportation. Those people of Manitoulin Island who don’t own vehicles get to spend a staggering $35-60 on cab fare to get to the nearest grocery store. Imagine if every grocery trip you made involved you purchasing several t-bone steaks only to throw them into the street. Speaking of transportation, Northern Ontario is a classic case of “free”** Canadian healthcare. Take the town of Timiskaming, where nearly 1 in 5 men have diabetes. If a denizen of Northern Ontario dares to need specialized medical help that they can’t find locally they can expect a $100 grant from the government…but only for one-way travel. Better get ready to hitchhike home, sucker! People in Northern Ontario are, to be frank about it, unable to take care of themselves because of the sheer costs associated with transportation. And even assuming that you’re picked up by someone who isn’t going to rape you and chuck your corpse in the snow good luck traversing Northern Ontario’s roads in the winter. Come to town to get one health problem examined, go home with two. Now that’s some Canadian mathematics for you!

How about telehealth services, asks the hypothetical caker apologist? Treating Northern Ontarians as though they have a right to get around is expensive and icky, after all. Why see a doctor physically when you can go online?…Except the Internet access in Northern Ontario is fucking terrible. Are you surprised? And before you ask about Northern Ontario “getting a job”, why don’t you read some labor stats? Like these, which put Northern Ontario’s employment rates at 54.5% and 58%, respectively?

We certainly can’t forget the crown jewel of Northern Ontarian shittiness – atrocious housing. We’re talking fucking shacks here, folks.

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(S) Totally legit house! For a lawnmower, perhaps.

Living in such dire poverty, surounded by joblessness and want with nowhere to go and no way to get out, lead lives of stunning want. Appendix B of this report speaks to some of the difficulties associated with combatting homelessness and so-called “invisible homelessness” (which basically means couch-surfing and bumming at friends’ places). Words like “skeletal infrastructure”, “no infrastructure”, “using informal networks”, and “lack of data”. Lacking basic information and having no real means to handle the basic needs incumbent to capitalist civilization suggests to me that these areas are effectively without governance. And that’s not just me saying this, either.

That’s a good way to end our brief trip through Northern Ontario. The area lives with infrastructure deliberately designed to bypass inadequate and poorly thought-out governance from Toronto. People can basically afford to slowly become more ill, trapped by insane transit costs and a live of grinding dependence on piss-poor social security. And if there’s anything worse than being governed by cakers, it’s being forgotten by cakers.