Monday, October 10, 2005

How cheesy is Canada?

I was actually having a couple of second thoughts about having referred to Canada as "an insect nation" in a previous post, because I have many good friends who want to be good Canadians, with no desire to be anything else or live in some other place. They suffer tremendous frustration that a majority of their fellow-countrymen don't care to hold their government and their culture to higher standards.

No doubt their frustration continued when they saw that Canada, which hoovers up its citizens' money at such a rate that there are constant budget surpluses, made an initial offer of aid in response to the devastating earthquake in Pakistan of two planeloads of blankets and $300,000.

That's right-- this endlessly self-righteous nation, burdened with neither natural disasters nor international responsibilities, could only see its way to cough up about half the income tax bill for a single NHL hockey player. Speaking for Her Majesty's Loyal (if fumbling) Opposition, British Columbia MP Stockwell Day summed it up: "It's a very disappointing response when the federal government is in a surplus position. It shows that Canadian foreign policy is based on, if people get angry enough with us, we do something. Otherwise, we do nothing."

That was the situation as of press time on Monday October 11. Later in the day, we were pleased to hear, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister, Pierre Pettigrew, had "monitored" the developments sufficiently to up the ante to $20 million. Yee-ha! The updated version of the Globe and Mail coverage this morning (Tuesday) still reports only the initial U.S. pledge of helicopters and $100,000 quick cash, which perhaps makes the Globulites feel better but fails to note the wire service reports that by October 9 the U.S. aid pledge was established at $50 million. Oh, whatever.

Meanwhile back in the phantom world of Canada's hapless military, a spokesman for natty but intrepid Minister of Defense Bill Graham gave the comforting news that "the government is considering other measures, such as sending the military's Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), but that no decisions have been made... Canadian Forces staff are working with their counterparts at Foreign Affairs and the Canadian International Development Agency to determine if there is a need for additional Canadian Forces assets..."

Gosh, do you think? An earthquake kills 30,000 people and leaves 2.5 million homeless, and we have to determine if there's a need for the one unit of the Canadian military which is actually supposed to be fully equipped and ready to roll at any given moment? (Providing the "rolling" devices are offered by some other country, of course, since Canada possesses no discernible troop transport capacity.) A need for the unit whose sole purpose is disaster relief? Was there some point in giving this unit the "DART" acronym if we didn't intend for it to be deployed at some speed in excess of a tricycle in the mud?

Maybe "insect nation" wasn't so harsh after all.

More Cheesy Canadian News:
The cheese stands alone-- but where?

In the "you can't make this stuff up" department, the Globe and Mail's prize-winning story for Monday had to be Sunken cheddar defeats divers, the sad tale of a failed experiment in cheese-aging carried out by the proprietor of La Fromagerie Boivin in La Baie, Québèc. It seems that a fisherman had once reeled in a piece of cheese identified as a Boivin product, ate it, and pronounced it the best he'd ever had. Luc Boivin decided to see if he could produce the same results on 2000 pounds of cheddar in weighted barrels, which he dropped into the Saguenay fjord last year.

Regrettably, the experimental cheese trove seems to have disappeared. Boivin has spent most of the summer, and $50,000 in professional divers and sophisticated equipment rental, hunting for his sunken treasure without success. (Somewhere there's a giant sea-mouse smiling like a Cheshire cat?)

Undeterred, Boivin plans to sink another cheese-ball for phase two of the experiment, this time contained in stainless steel, with a tracking device. It will be dropped into the same body of water, in an area known, appropriately, as Baie des Ha! Ha!.

I'm not kidding. You can't make this stuff up.

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