#199 – Confederation was a Crock of Shit

The story of Confederation is not an easy one to tell, and because of this caker logic has filled the narrative gaps in Canada’s formation with revisionistic mortar and a solemn promise to not delve any further into the topic. The make-believe surrounding Confederation is so absurd that I couldn’t help but cite this crystal-clear instance of caker doublethink. I want to direct your attention to these two lines within the above-linked piece:

The historical moment we will commemorate next Saturday is Confederation — a bunch of old white guys signing a document that bound a loose collection of provinces controlled by the British Empire into a vague and discontented unity without the slightest consideration of or participation by the First Peoples…

Confederation was an attempt at compromise between peoples within a unified political framework.

Problem, Stephen: the “compromising” parties are making compromises on occupied land. Hitler and Stalin compromised on the partitioning of Poland. And instead of acknowledging foundational problems like segregation of blacks in the Maritimes and, y’know, the Indian Act, this guy decides to try and sneak the word “peoples” into the notion of compromise while noting directly that Indigenous peoples had no input and imputing that they were the victims of this “compromise” is a wonderful way to pay the white-guilt penance while trying to gloss over its implications.

So that’s the kind of doublethink we have to contend with – a bunch of unsubtle attempts to brush Canada’s unsavory past under a polite, mundane little rug. Let’s list off some of the actual stories of Confederation:

  • Nova Scotia elected an anti-Confederation government and appealed for the reversal of Confederation
  • Despite Canada’s interest in them Newfoundland and P.E.I would resist attempts at annexation
  • Quebec was practically held hostage with the prospect of greater local authority
  • The British were sick of supporting a bunch of useless podunk colonies whose useful purpose (the fur trade) had been expended and hoped that amalgamation would provide cost savings

First up, Nova Scotia. In September of 1867 there was an election in Nova Scotia, wherein 36 of the 38 elected to the lower house were against Confederation. Joseph Howe even went so far as to appeal to the Throne to reverse Confederation. Even better – Charles Tupper, the useless sack of shit I wrote about long ago? Yeah, that asshole was the leader of the legislative assembly and approved Nova Scotia’s annexation immediately before that election result where his ideas and shitty plan were rejected wholesale by the people of the province. Because London said “no takebacks lol”, Nova Scotia was dragged by sleight of hand into Canada. Such a lovely compromise – the obvious will of the people subverted by a guy who would gain personally from the Confederated project.

As a side-note, the phrasing of the government-written link I listed above there is kind of odd: “After failing to secure a repeal of Confederation in 1868, Howe recognized the futility of further protests”, it reads. Protest is futile. You will be assimilated.

Next, Newfoundland. It’s worth noting that Macdingus the Drunk and his motley synod of synchophants, sadsacks, jesters, fools, and profiteers sought more than just the four provinces they managed to absorb into their shitty idea. Indeed, Newfoundland has always taken to Canadian identity tenuously, and despite electing a pro-Confederation government led by Frederick Carter in 1865 the Anti-Confederation Party of Newfoundland under Charles Fox Bennett would win in 1869, and the issue died on its feet.

Another swing and a miss for Confederation came from Prince Edward Island (in fact, the only province in Atlantic Canada to willingly cotton to Confederation the first time was New Brunswick, and even they’re saying that they’ve gotten a raw deal), whose Premier James Colledge Pope basically called Canada’s bluff and demanded more money while also holding (ultimately pointless, because P.E.I would need royal assent in order to do again; the Crown straitjacketing her colonies into line is a common theme to Confederation, you see) negotiations with the United States that ultimately scared more funding out of Ottawa. It was ultimately a failed railroad project that would force P.E.I to take Ottawa’s money and sell itself into mendacious mediocrity.

On to Quebec, a province which was forced into Confederation by way of that most classic point of Canadiana, failing civic governance caused by civic failure. This piece from Claude Bélanger at Marianopolis College speaks to the hostage-taking that transpired in Quebec. With the previous mechanisms shackling Quebec to Ontario collapsing and increasingly unable to function, the terms of a new union had to be made. Indeed, there were elements overtly supporting annexation into the United States, like the Parti Rouge. And despite Quebec’s powerful landed English elites and having few alternatives, 40% of the population still voted against Confederation. At some point the rational calculus of the Quebecois voter turned to “turds all around me, and I’d rather faceplant into any other cowpie than the caker cowpie”. Fantastic compromising skills, Stephen!

And finally, the big ugly truth rumbling underneath the entire Confederate project. This is the point cakers hate to be reminded of, in no small part because Canada becomes a lot less romantic when it is revealed to be a child of accounting more than anything else. I’ve been pointing to several instances of the English royalty effectively enforcing Confederation, and the reason for that is simple – the British didn’t want to pay for the defense of Canada. The British too brought their finest Mafioso techniques: Ged Martin writes of the bind that the erstwhile Confederates found themselves in, writing that there would be “a question mark” over British committment to Canada should the union not succeed.

All this is to say that this week’s narratives, complete with bait-and-switch white-guilt tithes and eager to forget how fractuous, non-consenting, and unsatisfying Confederation has been for all of its members save Ontario. Fully 30% of the provinces were bribed into union; with Nova Scotia being hoodwinked and Quebec choosing out of desperation, at least half of Canada had serious doubts about the very idea of Canada. Be sure to remember that when some mouthbreathing caker claims that “Canada was built on orderly negotiation”, because it fucking wasn’t.

Fuck John Macdonald, and fuck Canada.

 

#191 – Saskatchewan, Canada’s ‘Special’ Child

Oh, fucking Saskatchewan. Even within cakerdom this miserable rectangle of reactionary fuckery is regarded as the rural asscrack of the country. What other province has a tradition of wearing fucking watermelons on their heads?

watermelons_2009_35339
(s) Captioning this with the word durr is an insult to the letters d, u, and r.

When they aren’t busy putting more intelligent melons on their own melons, what does Saskatchewan do? Among such other activities as waiting for porn to load and setting all five of their remaining neurons to pondering how they became the laughingstock of Canada, a country that for all intents and purposes is the laughingstock of civilization, Saskatchewan likes to give local Indigenous tours. Tours of the “fuck you, now freeze to death” variety. Saskatchewan’s “finest” (if you define “fine” by way of soldier-sniffing knuckle-dragging) are also fans of (theoretically) non-lethally racist policing and prison practices; if you’re Indigenous in the Rancid Rectangle you’re 33 times more likely to get thrown in the slammer. And the rest of Saskatchewan is a fan of racism too, to the point where Premier Brad Wall had to plead on national media for Saskatchewan to go back to using its limited bandwidth and brain cells to look for bad porn and watermelons, respectively.

But hey, you say. Canada’s rural bits are basically Wyoming with shit healthcare and a smug attitude. We demand Saskatchewan’s special brand of suck! But the thing is, Saskatchesuck is such a piece of shit that even its problems aren’t interesting or unique. Let’s go through Saskatchewan’s caker credentials. Shitty hospitals? Check! A fixation on mindless extraction regardless of economic merits? Ding! Hideously expensive produce in a province fabled for its agricultural output? You know it! A runaway housing market that in no way reflects the economic merits of the areas being overbuilt? Chronic gang-related violence coupled with police inaction? A lack of capacity for basic, modern waste disposal? It all checks out, folks. The Wretched Rectangle is a piece of a caker shit!

Saskatchewan’s problems are mostly related to its economic output. Saskatchewan is flat and grows a shit-ton of wheat. The problem with leaning an economy on extraction, as we’ve talked about before, is that shit like this happens and the whole thing goes belly-up. And then, when you try to hide your extractive failure in other festering economic buttcracks, like, say, mindless sprawl, your lack of planning for this new stupid idea comes to firmly bite you in the ass. Saskatchewan is also known for mining potash. It is not, however, known for having anything else to do that isn’t speculative or extractive, meaning that entire towns can get knocked flat off their asses by market forces far beyond their control or understanding. You may recognize this as being Canada’s modus operandi, but somehow even stupider than usual.

Speaking of stupid things beyond reasoned understanding, who the fuck thought a giant metal statue of wheat was going to do anything besides rust and be mocked by cruel people like me? In a province with reams of people claiming that there’s nothing to do, the best thought people had is to build random giant shit and hope that someone cares enough about it to get out of their fucking car for two seconds? Who does that?

wheat1
(s) Answer: Cakers.

Seriously – here’s Pravda’s list of things to do in the entire province on a holiday Monday. Please note that this exciting spread of activities is typically found in literally any community that isn’t a fucking hole in the ground. You know you suck when taking a train that’s somehow even slower than VIA Rail’s subpar service is considered an activity. Though this does help to explain the watermelon thing – maybe Saskatchewan’s bored population is so numbed by the mindless miles of absolutely nothing that wearing fruit on their empty skulls like a retarded version of the Chiquita Banana lady is the closest thing to feeling that they have left.

It’s also probably the only unique thing they have going for them, which I think says all that needs to be said about the Wretched Rectangle.

#38 – Canadian Storytime, Part One: High on Cruelty

Of all of the series that I wanted to go back and clean up, this is perhaps the most urgent. The purpose of Canadian Storytime is to tell the tales of misery and woe that didn’t make it into the national record. Events like the wilful, deliberate starvation of the Plains Cree by John Macdonald and his gang of goons. Or the sudden shutdown of the Hebron Moravian Church, an essential institution for nearby Inuit, by the federal and Newfoundland governments. Did I mention that after that closure came forced relocation? Relocation is one of Canada’s darkest secrets, and this series is here to bring some light to these hidden stories of unimaginable pain. Even when forced relocation was well-meaning, it was poorly executed and invariably led to heartbreak and squalor.

Of all of Canada’s myraid forced relocations few have as stupid an origin story as the High Arctic Relocation. I hope you’re sitting down for this one, because it’s the perfect cocktail of caker self-importance, flagrant disregard for humanity, and the kind of foresight and planning that Canada does best (that is, none at all). It’s the early 1950s; the corrupt, questionable government of Louis St. Laurent rules the Ottawa roost, and the Red Scare is in full swing. Ottawa is acting in a “frenzied” manner, the RCMP is given extraordinary power to detain homosexuals and lock them into something called the “fruit machine” (don’t worry: we’re definitely going to be talking about that one), and nobody is thinking clearly because of media sensationalism and because they’re useless Ottawa kleptocrats and scumbags.

Looking at the source I cited above, you might note the fear that Canada was believed to be a natural battleground between the Soviet Union and the United States. The supposed entry point into Canada was over the North Pole, where Canada had no power projection of any kind. Despite having at best a tenuous claim to lands that they had no clue how to control, Canada was desperate to avoid the ridiculous boogeyman that was the prospect of Ivan coming over Ellesmere Island. And to avoid that make-believe prospect, Canada decided to create a make-believe community which would serve to solidify Canada’s claim to the Arctic – a village of “human flagpoles“, as it were. The two places where deceived Inuit were dumped and left to die are today called Grise Fiord and Resolute.

(S) The construction of which ended up on the $2 bill between 1974 and 1979, because Ottawa loves cruelty.

Since cakers were hilariously racist and categorically unable to themselves survive on Ellesmere Island (which might in retrospect have been a sign as to the likelihood of a mass Soviet invasion of the High Arctic), Canada scrounged around to find a population to dupe into a lifetime of suffering. Naturally, they settled on the Inuit. Seven families were told that they could move to a land of abundance, and if that didn’t work they could leave in two years. Neither of those things turned out to be true. From the source that I cited in the previous sentence, this phrase stands out to me:

The plan was inherently unsound, and the means necessary to carry it out were equally unsound. The failures in execution served only to aggravate the hardship and suffering inherent in the plan from the outset.

So in effect, a hairbrained idea was executed in a slapdash fashion against a non-consenting population that was duped into said hairbrained idea. And just in case you thought that Canada had consulted the Inuit at all and maybe asked them what a difference of 1200 miles in latitude and a total lack of infrastructure might make on their living conditions, rest assured that Canada did not give a single shit. In fact, Canada assumed that the Inuit were simply too stupid to offer advice on their own living conditions. Even worse, the relocation was also serving as an experiment to see if the transplanted peoples would even survive. Yes, people – Canada committed a shoddy, unconscionable experiment with dubious methods in the name of strengthening its territorial claims to lands that it has no idea how to use.

For decades, people who were separated from their families lived lives of deprivation and want. When Ottawa was informed that they had a responsibility to apologize for their unimaginable, boneheaded stupidity, Ottawa immediately leapt into action. By commissioning a report. Which ultimately attempted to exonerate Ottawa by claiming that there was nothing wrong with separating families and moving them thousands of kilometers into an unknown, unsafe environment for the sake of claiming territory. This claim, mercifully, was too flimsy even by Ottawa’s weak standards and the House apologized. In 2010. And then money that Ottawa gave to the victims by way of a trust fund ended up performing so poorly that it stopped paying out to the victims and couldn’t cover its own expenses.

 

 

#33 – (In)Complete Coverage

English Canadians love their healthcare system. It’s one of those fortresses of revisionism that Canadians will flee to when their precious façade of a country is threatened by facts. What’s that, rest of the world? Doesn’t matter, got healthcare! The public healthcare system was in 2012 the single thing cakers took the most pride in about their country, and holy shit is that pride misplaced. The problem with Canada’s healthcare system isn’t just that it has disastrous shortcomings which produce some truly horrific consequences, such as the inexcusable fact that 57% of diabetic Canadians can’t follow their diabetes management plan because they can’t afford those costs. It’s that Canada’s healthcare system is a shambolic patchwork of coverages that are littered with exclusions.

One of the most damaging exclusions is Canada’s unique lack of national pharmaceutical coverage. Canada is indeed the only country in the world that has a functional public healthcare system without a corresponding drug coverage plan. Indeed, outside of the United States Canada has the highest drug costs in the world. Here’s a case where a Canadian physician was forced to procure a common medication for treating parasitic worms from fucking Zimbabwe. When a failed state is providing you with medications because your government’s own infrastructure can’t do the job in time you know you’ve fucked up something fierce.

map_of_zimbabwe
(S) Not pictured: a global pharmaceutical powerhouse

There are so many problems with access to pharmaceuticals in Canada that it boggles the mind. Problems with procurement for basic medications to deal with conditions like epilepsy are getting to the point where even hospitals are struggling to keep stock. Between 20,000 and 40,000 people are reliant on an anti-seizure drug called clobazam; missing doses of the drug could kill thousands. Has that motivated Canada to find a stable supply? Nope! And heaven help you if you’re reliant on Canada’s Soviet mental health infrastructure. Not only is Canada’s mental healthcare system absolute shit – it also can’t keep a steady supply of antipsychotics. Here’s a list of over 800 drug shortages currently afflicting this country. We can’t even deal with syphilis, for Christ’s sake! But don’t worry – Pravda, our beloved national broadcaster, leapt to the rescue by courageously blaming social media for outbreaks of STDs in Alberta.

And this isn’t even getting into the absolute horror show that is drug provision on Indigenous reserves. One of the stories that has stuck with me more than most is the tragic tale of the man who dragged an oxygen tank over 600 miles after his wife died for want of oxygen. Oxygen!! Nurses lacking in basic training working in collapsing, unsafe buildings are par for the course on Canada’s reservations. And the problem isn’t just at the frontlines – government bureaucracy, often clunky and unnecessary, are literally killing people. Children on reserves are dying from diseases that are easily treated, like strep throat, because Canada’s healthcare system can’t handle basic problems. You know where else problems like that exist? Fucking Zimbabwe.

We’re just beginning to scratch the surface of healthcare failure in Canada. Because this is such an important point of Canadian revisionism I think it’s imperative for me to hammer each and every aspect of its failure in, complete with as much research as I can muster. The truth of Canada’s flawed, failing system and its myriad exclusions must be known. From excluding pharmaceuticals to denying mental health treatment to claiming that dental, visual, and audiological health aren’t worthy of public funding Canada’s infrastructure is truly shambolic. Anyone claiming a sense of nationalism from this disgraceful, ill-funded abomination is, to be blunt, deep in the throes of insipid caker revisionism.