The Rover: babies, birds and politics
Side note: The Rover has been nominated for a national award! 🏆🏆🏆
We sit in the bosom of our little cove, watching the geese glide toward safety.
If you listen closely you can hear their wings catch the wind like a sail, whooshing as they steady themselves for landing. I live inside a Bob Ross painting.
Canada geese have 13 distinct calls, meaning there’s a different sound for “I’m hungry” than say “Oh fuck, is that guy holding a shotgun?” I don’t know if there’s a call for “You’re killing your father, Gary” or “They’ll greet us as liberators.”
Maybe it’s a tone thing.
I needed the soothing cacophony of waterfowl Thursday because it was a bit of an … eventful 24 hours. My sister, Laurence, had to be medevaced to a hospital in Edmonton for an emergency c-section. The baby is fine. Her name is Isla. She weighs four and a half pounds and lives in an incubator.
The women in our family tend to have difficult pregnancies. My brother Vincent got tangled in his umbilical cord and nearly suffocated. Our brother Nicholas was born by an emergency c-section too. He didn’t make it.
Laurence, too, was a caesarian.
People think we call it that because Julius Caesar was a c-section baby but it’s actually derived from the Latin word “caedare” (to cut).
My only other historical reference here is that in MacBeth the character McDuff was a caesarean. After deposing the Scottish king, seizing the throne and murdering guests in his house, MacBeth thought he was untouchable. A witch had told him that he could never be killed by a man “of woman born.”
Since McDuff had to be extracted from his mother’s belly and not pass through the birthing canal, he wasn’t covered by the witch’s insurance policy. It pays to read the fine print. Especially in dealings with otherworldly beings and large financial institutions.
Humour is useful when you’re losing your mind with stress.
Premier François Legault thinks you can rent an apartment in Montreal for $500 a month. He said this in the National Assembly last week. The average rent for a one-bedroom in the city is actually about $1,200.
He would know this if he’d seen the lineups for open house viewings in “cheap” neighbourhoods like Verdun or Rosemont. With all those beards and V-necks, you’d think they were waiting to see Bon Iver. But no, just a 3 ½ on Riel St. with a balcony that overlooks the water filtration plant.
Legault’s house is worth $14 million. If there were an election tomorrow, nearly half of Quebecers would vote for his party. Half of Quebec can’t even agree on whether or not pineapples belong on pizza.
Yesterday, one of Legault’s cheerleaders in the press made up an imaginary Black friend so he could say racist things. This isn’t a joke. The columnist Joseph Facal opened his piece by telling us he got an email from a “Haitian friend” who went on about how Black fathers are irresponsible, Black people shouldn’t blame things that happen today on slavery and the need for more Black folk to speak out against anti-white “racism.”
At the end of these stirring remarks from his Black friend, Facal admitted that the friend didn’t exist and that he never received such an email. “But I wish I did,” he concludes.
This didn’t appear in a leaflet published by the John Birch Society in 1957. It appeared in Quebec’s most widely read daily newspaper, Le J***nal de Montreal. There’s something terrifying about that. A newspaper columnist and former politician is so detached from reality that he’s making up Black people to use as puppets.
The comments section was also upsetting. Some (unedited) excerpts:
“Your best textye in a long time.”
“You invented an email but what was in it was real.”
“I believed in this all the way to the end. So plausible.”
“Bill Gates is putting fluoride in your cell phone.”
I made the last comment up. I can do that because I’m a columnist and that’s apparently how this works.
These are the people in charge now. The revolution is over. The bums won. Modern Quebec was founded on the idea that you can build a nation using social democratic principles like affordable childcare and accessible education. And that you could achieve such a society while protecting the right of francophones to live and thrive in their language.
Postmodern Quebec has done away with the egalitarian stuff. Never mind democratic socialism, the CAQ’s election promise was to make us all “rich as Ontarians.”
There’s nothing that says “Quebec” quite like aspiring for the wealth of property owners in suburban Hamilton. If you read René Lévesque’s Option Québec closely enough, you’ll notice the part where he can’t shut up about “getting out to Muskoka for a rip with my buds.”
Where was I? Ah yes, our government wants to limit immigration because, as Premier Legault said last week, every new arrival who makes less than $56,000 a year is a drain on our society.“Est Québécois qui veut l'être … sauf toi, mon criss de pauvre.”
The same poll that has the CAQ at 46 per cent voter support has the Liberals trailing by 26 points. In fact, if the Liberals, Québec solidaire and the Parti Québécois add their results up, they can muster only 46 per cent of the electorate.
CAQ-led Quebec has the worst COVID-19 death toll in all of Canada.
So I try not to think of this as I sit on a rock and Marie-Pier squats by a section of stone wall that floated up to the shore some months ago. And we watch geese glide into the bay. Geese can travel up to 2,400 kilometres in one day. But these ones are sticking around to mate. Our baby moved for the first time the other night.
My sister is recovering in hospital with her husband, Bez, and baby Isla. They’ll be okay. She’s my mother’s daughter: strong, kind, unrelenting and maybe a bit dramatic. Takes one to know one, I suppose.
The fear now is what world we leave for Isla. This is a cheesy note to end on but bear in mind that I haven’t made up an imaginary Black friend.
I would simply say that after years of stalemate politics in Quebec, a new order is here. It often feels like our government’s foundational values are wealth and cruelty. I can’t think of two worse things to teach a child.
So let us believe that kindness wins out. For Isla’s sake.
—> Frontline workers say ‘overdose pandemic isn’t going anywhere’
In the shadow of COVID, another health crisis rages under the watch of the CAQ government. There were 571 overdose deaths in Quebec last year — a 30 per cent jump from 2019.
There are scientifically proven ways to get the crisis under control, but Quebec’s government has been unresponsive. No increase in funding for safe injection sites appeared in the budget tabled by the provincial government in March.
But frontline workers at safe injection sites have been working hard throughout the pandemic to save lives.
Read more at Ricochet Media.
And our final news: The Rover has been nominated for an award from the Canadian Association of Journalists.
Our investigation of the overflowing, environmentally disastrous dump in Kanesatake is a contender in the online media category. I want to recognize my co-author Virginie Ann and the Eastern Door for collaborating on this important work and getting their hands dirty with me, literally. And of course, all you fellow Rovers — we couldn’t have done this without you! This is your award nomination too. I’m so goddamn proud to be a part of this with you. And grateful. The CAJ recognizes the best work in Canadian journalism and that’s what we strive to do.
Thank you for helping make that happen.
Welcome to the Internet, Isla. Once you sift through the white nationalist literature, it’s a pretty good place. Sometimes.
Loved this write up, so glad that little Isla is doing ok!
I also learned something about the origin of the word Caesareans!
*People think we call it that because Julius Caesar was a c-section baby* Priceless!