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C.d. Howe Institute

Named after C.D. Howe, who went bankrupt building grain elevators in the 1930s, and later pioneered government/industry cooperation in 1956, building pipelines that transported oil and funneled public funds into corporate pockets. The C.D. Howe Institute surfaced in 1973, and is fond of accusing the Canada Pension Plan of being a pyramid scheme while insisting that the stock market and private sector banks aren’t…


The prime minister, his personal friends and some docile morons from the distant regions of the country. In recent years, this group has had the collective intelligence of a liquor cabinet, and the personality of a cardboard box.

Cabinet Shuffle

Cabinet: a place to hide dirty socks if you’re too lazy to go down to the laundry room today. Also: group of elected MPs chosen by the Prime Minister to take the blame for various bad things that happen in different areas of the government, e.g., Culture, Law n’ Order, Money, Senate, etc. Senate? What’s that? Don’t ask.

Canadian PM Stephen Harper and his July 2013 reshuffled cabinet.

Canadian PM Stephen Harper and his July 2013 reshuffled cabinet.

Wait a minute. You say dirty socks are hidden in “dirty sock drawers,” not in “cabinets”? Oh well, as they used to say on Saturday Nite Live, never mind. And keep your “drawers” on. The point is the dirty socks, not the furniture.

Shuffle: a normal maneuver in gambling where the dealer takes a pack of cards and rearranges them rapidly to give the impression that all of the cards have been randomly reordered. Shuffle, cabinet: a standard maneuver where the Prime Minister periodically takes a pack of cards consisting only of Jokers and rearranges them randomly to give the impression that all of the Jokers have been thoughtfully, carefully and intentionally rearranged.

Whether it’s dirty socks or Joker shuffling, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s mid-July 2013 cabinet shuffle is probably not very important. This is one of those cases where the old saw at the ballgame, “You can’t tell the players without a scorecard. Get your scorecard here! Scorecard! Scorecard!” doesn’t apply. It really doesn’t matter whether you can tell the cabinet players or not. The guy with the ball is Stephen Harper and the other players only get to play with it at his pleasure.

No, the real defining mystery is why Canadians keep electing Harper and his Conservatives, and how this long-serving PM manages to run the country with no more than a 40 per cent plurality at the ballot box. One reason is that the 60 per cent of Canadians who don’t vote for Harper are apparently not smart enough to figure out how to form a coalition and create a government. Another reason is that opposition political parties, instead of relying on ideas, rely on supposedly charismatic politicians with fabled names (e.g., Justin Trudeau).

Naturally, we would never want to besmirch the myth of the wisdom of the People, and therefore we won’t suggest that another reason is that a lot of folks are just plain ignorant. You notice that we haven’t wasted our breath or your time by discussing each of the names, picks, shuffles and speculations involved in this game of Insider Baseball. You’re most welcome; this dictionary aims to please.      


Co-axial-based nervous system of the global village, at least in urban areas of Canada. In the past ten years ownership in the Canadian cable industry has agglomerated, while Canadians have been offered a steadily growing variety of more or less identical choices in American programming. If anyone can find a redeeming property or quality anywhere in the cable television industry, we’d like to hear about it. Coaxial will be replaced by fibreoptics and digital broadcasting as soon as someone figures out how to attach a reliable meter, and the fifty channel universe of Cable will become five hundred channels without substantially enlarging anyone’s range of programming choices. See [Ted Rogers]


Winner of Canadian Dallas look alike contest, and home of Calgary Stampede, an annual event aimed at finding creative ways for drunk rednecks to kill and injure horses.

Callwood, June

Now-deceased white female journalist who was still young enough in her 80s to tell people when to fuck off. Callwood insisted on treating every issue with an excruciating combination of common sense and open-heartedness. This lifelong practice bought her, at the end of her life, a load of undeserved trouble and abuse from Canada’s cultural neotribalists and other self-impressed, bad-tempered social entrepreneurs. Her replacement as cultural den mother, Margaret Wente, tells us how far things have gone in the wrong direction, and how much we ought to be missing her.

Camp, Dalton

Red Tory journalist and bagman who was either the last person in Canada to swing from right to left, or the only one certain enough of his values to stand still in a political hurricane. Until his death he was the only political commentator in the country capable of causing surprise in readers. That made him much reviled by the New Conservatives, who think common sense is a character flaw.

Campbell, Gordon

British Columbia premier, 2001-2011. Campbell is a former federal Liberal Cabinet Minister’s gofer, real estate slick for Marathon Realty, and mayor of Vancouver, all of which identities he  inhabited in various shades of gray and other drab tones. Despite his accomplishments, his most important qualification as B.C. Premier was that he wasn’t a member of the New Democratic Party: Huckleberry Hound could have won a 70 seat majority in B.C. after a decade of NDP bungling.  The B.C. Liberal Party consists of Canadian Alliance crazies, Reform Party loyalists, near-dead or senile Social Credit retreads, and a few others with more extreme views and a hatred for the NDP, and Campbell’s signature skill as premier was his ability to manipulate this herd of cats successful while being himself dead drunk. His espousal of the combined sales and federal general sales tasks finally created a sufficient stink for him to resign, although not before selling off most of the province’s assets at a discount, and coining the term “Heartland” to describe the exploited B.C. interior.  Stephen Harper appointed him high commissioner to the UK, where he can presumably drink in relative privacy.

Campbell, Kim

B.C. Social Credit wunderkind and Canadian prime minister while Mila Mulroney was trying to find a fleet of trucks large enough to remove her furniture from 24 Sussex Drive. Campbell was slam-dunked in the 1993 general election because of the Mulroney legacy, but partly because her own people woke up to the fact that she was a Red Tory about to come out of the closet. Campbell went back to B.C., worked as a motivational speaker for various right-of-centre think tanks while she waited for an opening at one of the open-mouth radio stations. When that didn’t exactly pan out, Jean Chretien gave her a job as director general in Los Angeles to get her out of the country for the Somalia Inquiry. She’s the only Canadian politician of Cabinet rank to publicly discuss her loneliness and her sexual affairs as if she were mortal like the rest of us, but she was, alas, not especially exciting in the nude.

Canada Council

Federal agency given the “arms-length” mandate, in the late 1950s, to nurture a distinct and authentic Canadian culture. Initially successful beyond its wildest dreams, the Canada Council is marked in the 1990s by diminishing budgets, a mysterious shortening in the length and strength of its arms, and an ongoing delusion that 70 percent of Canadians are French speaking.

Canada Day

Charles Pachter. Flag.

Charles Pachter. Flag.

July 1: National holiday of one of the world’s least nationalist countries. Canada Day was invented in 1982, shortly after Canada legally secured (or “repatriated”) its own constitution, replacing Dominion Day, which many people saw as a holdover from the colonial era. By contrast, conservative politicians, thinkers and writers saw Canada Day as a Liberal plot by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to impose on the country such evil ideas as free speech, equality rights, freedom from unreasonable search, and life, liberty and security of the individual person.

Many observers have described Canada as the world’s first post-modernist country (this was back in the 1990s when “postmodernism” still existed as a form of pop philosophy). Such talk may have since faded, but the grain of truth in its characterization of Canada remains. Canada has no single national language, no predominant ethnicity, and the question, What or who is a Canadian?, becomes increasingly impossible to answer. (The answer, by the way, is: someone who supports the values of the Canadian Constitution, and more or less speaks one of the national languages.)

Charles Pachter. Queen, moose.

Charles Pachter. Queen, moose.

Although much criticized by grumpy Canadians, and the subject of lots of self-deprecating humour, Canada as a non-nationalistic, multi-ethnic society that admits a quarter of a million immigrants annually into its vast geographic space, seems to work. A half-century-old policy of multi-culturalism has, remarkably, resulted in no bloodbaths in the Canadian streets (unless one counts drug dealers shooting each other as an ethnic group). It’s produced a culture with generally low levels of violence (in contrast to many of its north, central and south American neighbours).

Politically, the country is disposed toward an old-fashioned notion of “peace, order, and good government.” The goodness of particular governments remains, as always, in dispute, but the idea of having a stable national government is more generally accepted than in, say, the U.S. or Somalia. Canadian governments, irrespective of political label, tend to be social democratic in character, resembling northern European states more than their American neighbours. Despite having the same oppressive, racist, sexist history as most nations, Canada has had a half-century of public healthcare, public broadcasting, a minimum of fuss about cultural diversity (e.g., it was one of the world’s first nations to legalise same-sex marriage), and it avoided most of the Great Recession of the last half-decade.

When the country goes through a bad patch, as is currently thought to be the case under Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative regime, it is promptly announced by left-of-centrists that the country is on the road to fascism, and the 60 per cent of the population that doesn’t vote for unregulated privatization of goods and services is temporarily forgotten, as is the possibility that they might form a coalition to oust the present administration.

Overall, Canada is a modest nation that works hard at not making headlines in other countries’ newspapers, and is very good at saying, “Sorry.” For example, the Dictionary unreservedly apologises for not thoroughly trashing Canada as a colonialist, sexist, racist state. Sorry about that.



Canada Post

Formerly a public service designed to deliver letters, now a crown corporation dedicated to privatizing any delivery function that can break even or turn a profit. Currently a contractor for junk mail, some badly-run courier services, and an international pioneer in neo-Visigoth corporate labour relations.

Canada Prime

The small zone boundaried by Kingston, Peterborough, London, Windsor and Niagara Falls inside which it is assumed that the maples are redder, the brick buildings larger, incomes higher and CBC signals stronger than elsewhere in the country.

Canadian Centre For Policy Alternatives

NDP-sympathetic think tank housed in five or six cardboard boxes somewhere in the Ottawa area. Consists mostly of trade union research directors and out-of-fashion university professors. Usually six months late on issues due to lack of funding and its worker safety-related concerns.

The Canadian Encyclopedia

A Toronto-centric view of Canada as recognized by those Canadians who own Volvo station wagons. It was first published in the late 1980s by Mel Hurtig and is now, despite its considerable merit, perpetually to be found on remainder tables in discount bookstores. Now in CD-ROM, if you’re impressed by technological advances of that sort.

The Canadian Identity

There is no single metaphor that adequately describes the character of Canada or its people. We aren’t unified, we’re not monocultural, chromal or cytal. We’re people who live north of the Great Lakes or the 49th parallel. We don’t wear sandals after September 15th unless we’re on drugs or vacationing outside the country, we’re not Survivors, Bush-Gardeners, tiles in an Ottawa mosaic or base metals in an American melting pot. Somewhere, deep in our collective and individual souls, we are a people who understand that when you mix big metaphors with politics, you get bullshit, and you get dead people.

Canadian Politics

Politics in Canada used to mean whining about the government, but since GATT, deregulation and the various corporate-inspired free trade devices have undermined Canada’s means of controlling its political and economic structures, the country has ceased to have meaningful politics, settling instead for gangs of politicians explaining why we can’t do anything except cut programs or taxes. Meanwhile, the only policies any government in Canada has been serious about since 1988 are those aimed at making it impossible for citizens to smoke cigarettes without being hounded and harassed by health professionals and other self-righteous nincompoops. It’s not clear what Canadians will have to whine about after they’ve been reduced to stateless non-smokers.


Regulations imposed on Canada’s radio and television industries years ago to ensure a minimum of locally-produced content on the country’s airwaves and other communications systems. After a slow start and a decade of forcing innocent people to listen to Anne Murray on the radio and watch her biweekly television specials, the technology base and industrial economies-of-scale emerged to permit Canadian music to be as slick and well-produced as any in the world. The CRTC seems likely to be defanged or deregulated out of existence before the same thing can happen in television and other communications subsystems–and before the general population figures out that some forms of cultural regulation can be wildly-and profitably-successful.


Canadian filmmakers make interesting films that actually are distinctly, or rather, uniquely, Canadian without being precious or coy. They’re also often surprisingly kinky, e.g., Atom Egoyan’s Exotica, John Grayson’s Lilies, Robert LePage’s Le Confessional, and Denny Arcand’s Jesus of Montreal, along with the now large and definitely strange opus of David Cronenberg. The problem is that with the exception of Cronenberg and Agoyan, the films aren’t distributed, in Canada or anywhere else. See Jack Valenti


A phenomenon that suffers from a set of attributes and conditions largely the opposite to those of CanFilm: timid convolutions along a narrow conduit of preciousness studded with too self-conscious symbols and themes the products of which are then, alas, over-distributed. CanLit began as part of an enlightened program begun in the late 1950s by federalists who realized that Canada’s best method of defending its boundaries would be to secure its cultural identity. One of the logical ways of doing this was to begin to nurture its artistic community within the nation’s borders rather than exporting talent to the U.S. and Britain or exterminating it. As federal programs go, this one was wildly successful and cost-effective even if it has probably less often nurtured artists than it has encouraged a lot of idiots to be idiotic on acid-free paper. Somewhere in the 1970s, a critical mass emerged within the Canadian writing community, and Canada began to produce a small number of brilliant writers, a moderate number of good writers, and a huge horde of college professors who wrote poems and short stories about one another which they then began to teach to incoming generations of students who grow up to believe that literature is silly and irrelevant. This timid enterprise, not to be confused with “writing going on in Canada” alas, is what CanLit has devolved to. Oh well. Still cheaper than the F-18, which enlightens no one and defends nothing except the apparent right of macho war-dorks to burn up a lot of aviation fuel.

Cape Breton

Former Nova Scotia fishing and coal-mining disaster zone, more recently a folk-group, step-dancing and fiddling resource, and a sinkhole for government pork barrel debris and half-assed UIC schemes that piss off more people than they employ. The region will likely devolve further into a resort for the few remaining lobsters, fur seals, permanently unemployed Newfoundlanders and other victims of the east coast fishery’s collapse.

Carrier, Roch

Once upon a time, this man wrote a wonderful story about a hockey sweater. Then he studied management, got into managing military colleges, became the executive director of the Canada Council, then went off to run our national library. This is a sad story getting sadder and more Ottawa.


B.C. separatist name for post-Canada British Columbia, Washington State, Oregon and Northern California. If Cascadia ever comes into existence, it will designate most of B.C. for water storage. Happily, no one in the U.S. Northwest realizes B.C. would be stupid enough to join Cascadia.


Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: A small group of beleaguered, bearded males and expensively dressed females from the upper middle classes who operate a vestigial communications network from a series of glamourous half-empty buildings in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and a diminishing number of other Canadian centres. The corporation is now under permanent siege from the federal government and the private sector media giants, who are aided by CBC senior management, whose chief role is to pretend that the network remains viable no matter what limb is being amputated without anaesthetic, fire any staff who don’t spend at least two days a week in the Toronto building and send around memos counseling broadcast staff to lick the boots of hostile federal politicians and officials.

Cbc Divas

A nearly extinct subspecies of usually blonde, voluptuous middle-aged women able to sing in tune 85 percent of the time: Juliet, Lorraine Thompson, Marg Osborne, and countless others. Their disappearance is an indirect result of CRTC Can Con regulations and the subsequent maturation of an authentic Canadian music industry.

Cbc Management

Until monetarism captured Canada in the 1980s, the CBC was run without any visible management and did reasonably well even if it was difficult to get through the hallways for all the under-employed producers in various states of altered consciousness. Since then, this one-time public service corporation has been run by a series of political bumboys and ill-trained fiscal surgeons. First went the extremities that once put the CBC in touch with the communities it should serve, then they overbuilt the physical plants in Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto. The CBC is the best argument going that it is management and not social democracy that is the true cancer impoverishing Canadian society.

Cbc Radio

A national institution and nation-builder, once. Now it is apparently settled on keeping a few thousand middle class over-55s in their pre-globalization cultural coma while making a half-hearted Stuart McLean effort at appealing to over-35 trivia buffs and other sorts of people who tend to be obsessed with their bowels. If CBC Radio’s drama department can’t learn to distinguish between drama and multicultural propaganda, they should be shipped off to one of those Seniors’ Camp for the Too-Correct somewhere in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood so they’ll be protected from those who actually have a clue.

Charest, Jean

Former eager beaver junior cabinet minister in the Brian Mulroney governments, and sole brand-name survivor of the 1993 electoral wipe-out of the Progressive Conservative party. He moved from there to the leadership of the Federal Conservatives, where his 1997 pre-election makeover left him slimmer, nastier and supposedly believing that rescinding gun control legislation would make him as popular as Preston Manning. The 1997 election results left him to run the Eastern Canada wing of the Reform Party, which, given that he loathes Preston Manning, is about what he deserved. Now working Quebec over as Premier and leader of the Union Nationale/Liberal/Conservative party, and resisting, as all Quebec Premiers do, official enquiries into various corruption scandals.

Charlottetown Accord

Brian Mulroney’s follow-up foulup after the Meech Lake Accord died. The Accord has been called the only recorded instance of an elected government trying to overthrow the country that elected it. Luckily, enough people caught on during the referendum with which Mulroney tried to gain national acceptance for this demolition permit that the referendum was went down to defeat and the Accord expired like its predecessor. Among those who didn’t catch on were the Ottawa-based mass media and most of the other junior governments across the country, the former deluded by too many cocktail parties and the latter by their eagerness to obtain additional powers. Mulroney must have had one hell of a drug supplier working his side of the table to get the premiers to agree to go in front of the public and get shot up over that nation-breaking deal. There was, to be fair, not all that much to distrust in the terms of the Charlottetown Accord, but a great deal to distrust in the clowns who created and hawked it.

Charter Of Rights And Freedoms

From one point of view, an attempt to replace British common law with an approximation of American statutory guarantees. There’s a danger that the Charter will merely guarantee every Canadian a plague of lawyers, along with the right to compulsory litigation. But a less cynical view is to acknowledge that it is useful for a group of people planning to live together to formalize the ground rules, and to declare (and make actionable) that they’re permitted to say and write whatever they want even if some people are offended. Yet even an actionable Charter is limited by the culture in which it operates–in Canada’s case, an aggressive business culture that is part of a global economic revolution that characteristically tries to undermine nation-states wherever and whenever the nation-states impinge on the unfettered activities of the market. Even though it’s largely a moveable abstraction often colliding with an irresistible market economy, the Charter nonetheless helps to sustain a way of talking about life that we abandon at our peril, and it provides individuals and groups in civil society some protection against arbitrary, addled, and/or whimsical legislators.

Chartered Banks

Until deregulation, banking in Canada was done through five major Chartered Banks and a smaller tier of credit unions and trust companies that tried, officially at least, to be sensitive to local conditions. Most of the small credit unions have been swallowed by larger ones, the trust companies are either bankrupt or owned by larger financial corporations, the Chartered Banks are on every street corner with their jaws open for business, and now there’s a tier of tower-owning offshore banks in the major cities that never seem to have any physical customers and are presumably here to oversee and extend our foreign debt. All are now outrageously profitable and uniformly inhospitable to the small businesses they spend millions convincing us they’re really there to help, with the original Chartered Banks leading the way. See BANK MERGERS


At the heart of the 1982 constitutional repatriation was Pierre Trudeau’s Federalist wish to formalize democratic processes and institutions in the face of an uncertain future, and to place them in the hands of a strong central government. The two major elements of that were a.) an agreement that would bind Quebec to Confederation, and b.) the creation of a Charter of Rights and Freedoms with specifics similar to those in the U.S. Constitution as the core of Canada’s legal and constitutional structure. The repatriation process floundered when Quebec recognized that the Charter would impinge on elements of its civil code. Moreover, Quebec could not agree to those provisions of the constitution that governed future constitutional alterations, and the series of subsequent conciliatory maneuvers meant to bring the province in and to pacify its separatists has been used by the ascendant monetarists in Ottawa to weaken the federal government by devolving its powers to the provinces. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms itself has been employed mainly by the professional classes to ensure that existing and incoming lawyers will remain fully employed until the 22nd Century. It also guarantees the right of everyone to be offended by any and everything, and to litigate their grievances. Quebec, meanwhile, which has operated under The Napoleonic code in matters of civil law since 1763 has continued to be uncooperative about the Charter, possibly because it would infringe on the long-cherished wish of certain Quebecois males to return Cardinal Richelieu and Louis XIV to power. Eventually every group in Canada with a membership larger than three persons will demand its own charter, at which point we will wake up and remember that charters, after all, are just pieces of paper with unreasonably idealistic demands written on them.

Cherry, Don

Canadian hockey’s one-man Beavis and Butthead. A man who can perch at the edge of self-destruction on national television as long as Cherry has can’t despite appearances, be stupid. Whatever else he is-and he’s many things, most of them direct and decent–he’s life’s revenge on mealy-mouthed shitheads, puffed egos and stuffed shirts all around the country.

Chretien, Jean

Trudeau-era federal cabinet minister once routinely trotted out to prove Trudeau didn’t really have anything against the common people. Chretien evolved from being yesterday’s man during the Mulroney era to become closet-Conservative Party Prime Minister in 1993. Apparently a nice man who phones Queen Elizabeth for comfort when he’s upset, he was initially difficult to distinguish from Brian Mulroney save for a joual bark that convinced some Canadians he’s sincere and working class, and that either is worth the powder to blow it to hell. He was good at working small crowds, better at working over small people in crowds, even though he sent out his wife to foil would-be assassins. In his first years as prime minister he demonstrated few tangible qualities of leadership not evident in members of the weasel and swine families, and then suddenly morphed into the best prime minister the country has had in 50 years outside of Trudeau during the last years of his government.. There is a persistent rumour that when Chretien spoke in private to members of Cabinet or to the Queen, he had no perceptible accent.


Formerly the birth date of Jesus Christ, now reduced to the retail sector’s respite from bankruptcy. So many Christmas carols have now been banned because they offend Canada’s minorities that our children are growing up believing that this holiday is about a fat dwarf who lives at the north pole during the summer and works the Malls through November and December. Christmas is followed by Boxing Day, which way too many people believe is the one day in the year when beating up on family members won’t result in criminal charges.


The only role Canadian bureaucrats and health professionals want their governments to have in the 21st Century is that of making cigarette smoking a criminal activity. The relative price of cigarettes from Canadian province to province is determined by the Calvinism of presiding governments, and by the number of border-straddling Native Indian reserves.

The Ciurluini Sisters

Jennifer and Cynthia Dale, locally over-exposed Canadian television actresses who can’t seem to get steady work in the U.S. Hard to find a heterosexual Canadian male over 30 and under 75 who doesn’t think they’re babes.

Civic Politics

Oedipal zone of Canadian politics in which the only rule is that a civic government’s political ideology must be 180 degrees from that of the Provincial government in power. Civic government has few real powers and rewards, huge responsibilities, and anybody with the political talent of a chimpanzee is instantly scooped up by senior governments.

Clark, Christy

According to pollsters and pundits, Christy Clark is about to become ex-premier of British Columbia in the May 2013 provincial election. The Burnaby-born politician, 47, succeeded former B.C. Liberal Party premier Gordon Campbell in 2011, when she successfully sharp-elbowed her way into the provincial Liberal Party leadership race following Campbell’s resignation after a decade in office.

Somewhere over the rainbow... there's a poll that I dream of...

Somewhere over the rainbow… there’s a poll that I dream of…

Clark served in the legislature from 1996-2005, and co-chaired the 2001 campaign that gave the Liberals a landslide victory and 77 of 79 legislative seats. Her tenure as a cabinet minister was rocky, to say the least. An attempt, as education minister, to ban teacher collective bargaining was eventually found to be unconstitutional, and her name was persistently linked to a long-running scandal that followed the Liberal government’s privatization of B.C. Rail. Clark temporarily retired from provincial politics in 2005. She made an unsuccessful bid to secure a nomination in the Vancover mayoral election, and then retreated to talk-show radio, the refuge of many an ex-B.C. politico. Unlike exile, hosting a talk-radio show is a close-to-the-scrum (not scum!) vantage point for politicians plotting a comeback.

Her two-year run as premier has been, um, “troubled,” to put it mildly. The latest bungled plan was a murky scheme to manipulate ethnic voters to support her. As the 2013 provincial campaign neared, Clark was running 20 points behind NDP opposition leader and premier-in-waiting, Adrian Dix. An April Angus-Reid poll reported she was tied for the dubious distinction of least popular provincial leader in the country. At an April 8 fund-raising dinner co-hosted by the CEOs of Lululemon, Cactus Club restaurants, and condo marketer Bob Rennie, Clark remained undaunted, assuring supporters, “When free enterprisers have something worth fighting for, we win.” Standby for updates, leotards, and post-mortems.

P.S. Pollsters and pundits were wrong. Clark’s Liberal government was handily re-elected in the May 2013 B.C. election, with a majority of 50-33 seats. Pollsters in pink leotards scrambled to explain how they got their predictions so wrong. Fans of the opposition NDP cried in their beer and lattes during the post-mortem. Clark became Canada’s “comeback kid.”

Clark, Glen

B.C. Premier after Michael Harcourt fell on the party sword to cover up the NDP’s corrupt fundraising practices, Clark managed to get a Canadian social democratic party re-elected for the first time since Tommy Douglas was Premier of Saskatchewan 400 years ago. Unfortunately he did it by lying about the state of the province’s finances, and that, along with some subsequent cheesy behavior, led to him being forced from office under a cloud much darker than the one that forced Harcourt from office. That B.C.’s media were attempting to exterminate him from the moment he took office, and that his party was reduced to two seats in the 2001 provincial election because he screwed up so badly shouldn’t distract anyone from the fact that he was the operator of the only political constituency in the country that didn’t officially belly up the globalist bar and declare the triumph of kick-the-poor capitalism without alternatives. His new role as B.C.’s Mr. Lonely, sitting in austere coffee bars and driving old cars, is as disingenuous as his earlier pose as a sincere social democrat. He’s a man who started off with a burning desire to hold public office and wield influence, he sold out his party and British Columbia for it, and he was gone before he was 45 year old.

Clark, Joe

Short-term Conservative Prime Minister, aged boy wonder and Federal Minister of Suicidal Initiatives for Brian Mulroney during the “Dismantle Canada” program. Reputedly the wittiest and nicest man in Mulroney’s government, but given the competition, that wasn’t much of an accomplishment. Married Maureen McTeer, which didn’t turn out to be the sort of accomplishment it once promised to be, either.

Clark, Verolyn

34 year old Canadian sprinter banned from competition after a drug test at the 2001 World Track and Field Championships in Edmonton detected the presence of steroids in her system. Ms. Clarke didn’t seem to realize that the way track and field officials determine which athletes ought to be tested and which won’t is by carrying photographs of Ben Johnson and fingering anyone who exhibits Johnson’s body musculature and perspiration profiles.

Clarkson, Adrienne

CBC doyenne, public sector impresario, and the most articulate, entertaining and pro-active Governor General in Canadian history. If you could forget how long she represented the ruling classes in Canadian arts, you’ll notice how consistently she’s tried to embrace what’s radical and wild in our culture rather than tiptoeing away from it like everyone else of her age and background.

Cn Tower

Was this monstrosity built because Ontario rests on a gradual southerly slope and building a tower was the only way to transmit radio, television and other data signals? Or was there an egomaniac with a big-penis complex who had too much access to competent engineers and public funds. There is no other public structure in the world so public as the CN Tower, nor so badly explained and understood.


Canadian-produced television in which Canadian urban landscapes are Americanized, then populated with American stars, Canadian bit actors, vampires, alien invaders, homicidal mutants, and various American peace officers.

Cockburn, Bruce

Anglican bishop of Canadian music despite a vocal range of three notes.

Cod Fishery

Defunct east-coast ecosystem destroyed by lack of stock conservation, weakness in controlling European fishing fleets in Canadian waters, badly off base fisheries department cod and halibut counts, and all those fisherman lying about what they’ve got in the bottom of their boats.

Cohen, Leonard

Neurotic Montreal ChristianBuddhist poet, novelist, folksinger, and rock star who has been able, through sheer originality, to be any and all of those things sucessfully on a lasting basis. There are at least seven heterosexual women in Canada between 22 and 50 who wouldn’t sleep with him.


Canada, not so surprisingly, produces a disproportionate per-capita number of good comedians (at a rate about equivalent to the ratio of Stasi agents to citizens of the former East Germany). Kids in the Hall, SCTV, Saturday Night Live, Codco, Royal Canadian Air Farce and This Hour Has 22 Minutes have too good an uncanned laugh track record over the years to be merely an accident. As in any situation of a beaver and an elephant cohabiting a continent, the beaver has to be pretty funny to survive. Naturally, the Canadian comic genius rests with social satire, and likewise naturally, comedy’s geographic centre is Newfoundland. Eventually, all the Canadian comics go to America to seek their fortune, and eventually become much less funny. Conventional standup comics of Canadian origin, meanwhile, are no funnier or less neurotic than any other kind. Just more numerous.


Before 1989, Communism was the threat that kept Canada in NATO, and our technologically superfluous armed forces in business. Since 1989, it has been redemonized by the new conservatives to mean that tiny part of the human spirit that wants to treat the poor decently, take care of the elderly and infirm, and other behaviors that conflict with the dictatorship of the entrepreneurs.

Community Reinvestment

In the U.S., banks are obliged by American law to reinvest some of their profits within the communities from which they were harvested. Sounds reasonable enough, but the Canadian Banker’s Association seems to think that applying this same logic to Canada’s chartered banks is 2/3s of a communist takeover all in itself. Hmmm . Can banx change? That’s the wrong question. The right questions are What would possibly make chartered banks change while they’re being guaranteed astonomical profits? And Why would they agree to changes when they own the government?

Conference Board Of Canada

No one should be fooled by the opaque name. These guys don’t organize conferences. It’s a think-tank run by and for Canada’s chartered banks, and it represents bank interests as if bank profits were a theological tenet identical to public well being.

Connors, Stompin Tom

He wrote The Hockey Song, and he writes and, er, sings, exclusively about Canada. But he looks like William Burroughs, has a singing voice that isn’t as good, and no one from west of Winnipeg knows who he is. Still, the country would be poorer without him.

Conservative Intellectuals

Conservative intellectuals would like to return Canadian society to the late 19th Century, particularly poorhouses, picturesquely starving children and regular whippings for the recalcitrant and uncooperative amongst the servant classes. Not necessarily members of the conservative party or employees of The Globe & Mail or The National Post , but most of them are as chubby-faced as Black. Makes you wonder what they’re eating for breakfast, don’t it? See Aggrieved White Guys.


Theoretically, conservatives are people who believe that things should stay where they are and how they are. It therefore requires a subtle mind to distinguish conservatives from Canada’s social democrats, who believe things shouldn’t ever change, budgets shouldn’t be cut and programs not massacred and/or cancelled. The difference, aside from cosmetic matters of car preference (social democrats prefer Swedish cars, while Conservatives prefer German or Japanese cars, or Oldsmobiles) is that conservatives are those who believe that wealth should stay in the hands of those who have it and should increase with unnatural swiftness. Social democrats don’t even have an opinion about wealth. See [New Conservatives], [NeoCons], [Red Tories], and [Conservative Intellectuals]

Constitutional Asymmetry

Jean Chretien’s code term for “Distinct Society”. Not that anyone can completely penetrate this kind of constitutional mumbo-jumbo, but it seems to mean, with due apologies to George Orwell, that all pigs are equal, but some pigs are more equal than others. Is it wise to build cultural inequality into a democratic constitution? Well, the answer is that you can, for a while. But any constitution that has it won’t work for much longer than the 1973 Yugoslav constitution did. Constitutional Asymmetry is not to be confused with the issue of democratic asymmetry, which can be a civilized response to physical conditions, e.g. giving people with children more tax breaks than workers without children, giving mothers maternity leave, etc.

Constitutional Initiatives

A process of national dissolution begun in the late 1970s by Pierre Trudeau, who imagined that repatriating the British North America Act from the utterly indifferent British would somehow make Canada stronger and more virile. Trudeau’s other intention-which was to make an accommodation with French-speaking Canada that would narrow the civil separation between English-speaking Canada created in 1763 when Britain permitted Quebec to continue civil administration through the Napoleonic Code–may have been honourable in Trudeau’s logical, Jesuit fashion. Today it merely provides an object lesson in what paves the road to hell. In the late 1980s, the Mulroney government mounted a series of right wing constitutional initiatives-the Meech Lake deal and the Charlottetown Accord–designed to disperse powers to the provinces and make the taxation of the corporate sector impossible. Destructive as these were in themselves, the public debate over them served as a smokescreen to the signing of “trade” agreements with the United States and other countries that have made reaching a constitutional agreement with Quebec superfluous. By putting all our important national institutions under the control of multinational corporations and their policy apparati, we’ve created a central government unable to tax anyone but its individual citizens, and one that is frankly reluctant to govern the country. On the other hand, individual Canadians did get a Charter of Rights and Freedoms out of the deal. And the way things are going, it may be a good idea to have a set of civil guarantees on the books that are actionable rather than merely petitionable-by-the-hapless, the feckless or the hopeless. See bananas, Meech Lake, Charlottetown Accord


A cultural faux-phenomenon that is designed to applaud communications technologies that colonize one another’s functions, so that, for instance, your coffee-maker can wake you up in the morning with elevator music, and not incidentally, convince you that life is better and more exciting. The introduction of microchips into mechanical technologies has had some minor benefits, but if you listen to the corporate futurists, it’s going to solve every problem from fridge stink to international hunger. In fact, it’s going to make the basic devices we need in order to live more complex, more expensive, and less reliable. It will also lead to complicated litigation with the CRTC and the FCC and result in more corporate raiding and goldfish-eating riots within the telecommunications industry. Is it really worth all this trouble just so we can have simulated sex with our toasters?

Copps, Shiela

Bilingual M.P. from a powerful Hamilton, Ontario family, Federal Heritage minister of considerable courage and poor judgment, she was drop-kicked as deputy P.M. when Paul Martin Jr. pushed Jean Chretien into retirement. Copps was the recipient of more tasteless parliamentary and Ottawa press club insults and innuendoes than any woman this side of Margaret Trudeau. She was also a self-confessed and apprehended liar, which made her more or less unique in Ottawa political circles until Stephen Harper came to power. Whereabouts currently unknown, but she did try to save the country from itself, and for that we are, retrospectively, grateful.

Coren, Michael

A charter member of the Aggrieved White Guys club, Coren started off public life as a British fop, wrote a biography of British conservative Catholic jingoist G.K. Chesterton, and became a Toronto media presence–all by dressing up and shooting off his mouth as if it were the 1890s. He’s currently attracting litigation as an open mouth radio host, used-car salesman, newspaper columnist and all-round intellectual soccer thug. If just one person in the Toronto cultural community had bothered to read (or reread) Chesterton a few years ago, Coren would have been laughed out of the country. He’s quick to resort to hysterical ideology-the typical result of sincerity mixed with a lack of talent-and has become a kind of miniature Rotweiler for the much more powerful people, mainly Christian car dealers, who find it convenient to have him in the public eye.

Corporate Comedians

No, not the federal cabinet. Canadian corporations are pioneering the practice of hiring comedians as motivational speakers to tell inspirational corporate jokes at meetings and seminars. Normal people would think they’ve stumbled into another business prayer meeting, but there you are. The fad actually started with former Monty Python comic John Cleese deciding to make business instructional videos during a spasm of suicidal depression.


Residents of Ontario and Quebec can’t be certified as fully middle class unless they spend their summer weekends clogging the highways to get to recreational properties that must be situated no less than two hours from their primary residences. Martimers are generally too poor and sensible to own recreational property, the prairie provinces don’t have recreational areas worth owning property in, while B.C. residents either haven’t been settled long enough to find anywhere to build on, or believe that recreational property means buying highway-clogging Windbags, harbour-polluting sailboats or neck-breaking trail bikes or Skidoos. Where cottages exist in B.C., they’re called cabins, and they don’t have running water. The exception is the Whistler ski area, where they’re called chalets and necessitate membership in an extremist right wing political party.

Council Of Canadians

It might be Canada’s largest non-party political organisation, founded in the 1980s by nationalist Mel Hurtig to fight for values white Volvo-driving Anglophones considered ‘Canadian’. In the great tradition of officially non-partisan Canadian institutions, it supports the NDP in every possible way short of formal endorsement.

The Council has evolved into a mailing list, bombarding its reputed 100,000 membership with constant appeals help the Council to save water resources, public mail delivery, public health care, public education, and other things that keep this country civilized. The appeals always exhort members to send money to the Council as the last line of defense against corporate globalization and the Canadian Alliance. The Council’s real world strategy generally revolves around raising money to send their sugar-sweet Volunteer Chairperson Maude Barlow on yet another 30-city speaking tour. Barlow is articulate and knowledgeable on a wide variety of issues, but these tours don’t do much except rally troops that are too old to be rallied and don’t have any weapons except niceness and a willingness to be outraged. Anyone under 65 attending Barlow’s sessions is swiftly driven into clinical depression by her apocalyptic prognostications. Local Council chapter meetings typically consist of a dozen seniors listening to young, burnt-out volunteer activists list all the things that the chapter has been trying to stop. No one at the Council of Canadians, Barlow included, seems to understand that it will take progressive social movements larger and more dynamic than well-intentioned but too-comfortable groups of a dozen donating $50 a year to stop corporate Canada from devouring everything.

Coupland, Doug

Vancouver writer who coined the phrase that identified the demographic group now in the mid-40s that has yet, in Dante’s phrase, to throw away their crutches and stop being so passive. The first twenty pages of Coupland’s book Generation X is among the most accurate and efficient pages of cultural history ever written, and Coupland has the best eye for cultural details of his or any other generation of Canadian writers, despite massive overproduction and accusations of autism.

Cranston, Toller

Three little old ladies in Northern Manitoba haven’t figured out that Cranston is gay, and that’s only because the bookmobile doesn’t stock his autobiography. He was, in his day, the world’s best and most innovative male skater, but his obvious if not exactly open orientation along with his refusal to compromise with the gangsters who judge figure skating competitions led to a forced retirement. Too bad it’s only now the world is ready for Toller-as a skater, not as an interior decorator.

Creating Jobs

What governments pretend they’re doing while slashing threads in the social net and sucking up to the banking community. If asked where the jobs are, politicians and their flacks solemnly point to the small business sector they’re helping the banks deprive of oxygen and claim that creating jobs is their responsibility.

Crewson, Wendy

The Toronto section of an international media networking club for women named Women in Film & Television & Film (WIFT), recently gave Crewson a lifetime achievement award at its gala annual dinner in Toronto. Hamilton, Ontario-born Crewson appears to have been given the award because she played the role of Harrison Ford’s wife in a completely forgettable movie several years ago, and because she’s among the dozen middle-aged Hollywood actors who look enough like Christine Lahti and Mimi Rogers to appear credible in the role of a Washington, D.C. suburbanite wife married to a deputy director of a semi-secret U.S. government department. We guess that’s a life-time achievement worth having, as is becoming a more or less permanent presenter at the annual Gemini awards because of it.


(Canadian Radio-TeleCommunications Commission) Supposedly it exists to protect Canadians from the total commercialization of telecommunications. In reality the CRTC has been in so passionate an embrace with the cable companies for the last decade that a KY pipeline to the hearing rooms is being planned.


see bunglers. (also, Bozos, paranoids, idiots, etc.)

The Cuban Missile Crisis

The point in history (October 1962) when the U.S. reintroduced the Monroe Doctrine, and Canadians lost their independent foreign policy and began to crouch under tables and desks like good Americans during civil defense exercises.

Cuff, John Haslett

Once upon a time he was the Globe & Mail’s reformed-hippie television columnist, freelance method actor and James Dean fan club president. He so desperately wanted to start an on-air career that he quit the Globe & Mail and is now a ghost at occasional downtown Toronto media events for obscure and barely-talented Indie film-makers.

Cultural Exemptions

Under intense pressure from the solid majority of Canadians who wanted local alternatives to the culture of Donald Duck and Roseanne Barr, the Mulroney government negotiated a clause that exempted cultural institutions and industries from the terms of both the Canada/U.S. FTA and NAFTA. Or so it seemed. The exemption effectively froze funding at 1988 levels, and prevented Canada from mounting new protection mechanisms. As the other machinery of government was dismantled, leaving the federal government unable to generate revenue, culture budgets have been cut, while many of the protective mechanisms in place before the “exemption” was created have rapidly rusted into irrelevance.

Cultural Policy: (post 1988)

Profitable tourist-pleasing activities that convince wealthy residents they live in a world class city, or permit them not to think about either the present or future consequences of their lifestyle. Best exemplified by people with violins, or out-of-town movie stars who can sing in tune, attend cocktail parties and have large breasts. Bistro 999/Massey Hall and Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto, plus the Ford Centres in Vancouver and suburban Toronto are the imaginative epicentres of pre-millennium arts culture.

Cultural Policy: (pre-1988)

Until the late 1950s, Canada had no self-conscious culture except at the CBC and within a few wealthy enclaves in Montreal and Toronto. From that point through 1984, culture was gradually recognized as a cheap and effective form of national defense. The result was that the Canada Council and other funding agencies were given 1/5th the funding required to be effective; Pierre Trudeau created the Foreign Investment Review Agency (FIRA) to screen foreign ownership of Canada’s cultural and industrial essentials, and a series of piecemeal measures were created to prevent takeovers of cultural industries. FIRA became the ostensible focus of the FTA’s successful dismantling of national sovereignty during the late 1980s, while cultural subsidies were ceilinged and then forced into fiscal free-fall by 1990’s budget cuts. Most of the other instruments have either been sidestepped or declared illegal by GATT and other trade bodies.

Culture (american)

Educated Canadians adore American culture unless and until they are caught with it in their homes and/or brains. The rest of Canada just sucks in American entertainment with the air supply and enjoys the usually superior technical values.

Culture (beer)

Most likely replacement for Canada’s indigenous culture, if the multinationals get their way: go to the beach, park the Camaro, crank up the GhettoBlaster, open the icebox, crack open a beer and party on. That this makes Kool & the Gang a major culture hero, or that you spend the other 350 days a year working two McJobs to make your car payments doesn’t seem to be an issue. This is something subtly different than business culture, which involves 24 hour-a-day obsessing over one’s investments with a cellphone jammed in one’s ear.

Culture (global)

If the economic globalization that seems to be replacing the nation state we call Canada were also introducing cosmopolitan notions about culture and community, there would be little resistance to it. But that is not what is happening. There is no global culture, but rather the supplanting of civil community, culture and cosmopolitanism with economic competition as a moral system, tribalisms in a variety of dependent pathologies as our means of socialization, and the treatment of all life’s other complexities with the tools of chartered accountancy. It won’t work.

Culture (murkan)

Murkans have a longstanding desire to exterminate Canada’s indigenous behaviors, as we saw most recently during the FTA and NAFTA negotiations. Murkan cultural proponents recognize that the chief and most lethal export of the United States is its culture, a fact that seems to have eluded Canadian political leaders after Pierre Trudeau. Leading cultural Murkans: Michael Eisner, Jack Valenti, Carla Hills. Canadian arranger/musical producer David Foster is an honorary Murkan. (see Murkan)

Cummings, Burton

The Guess Who’s recent after-senility/before death revival treated the country to the hilarious sight of a bunch of puffy-faced, gray-haired bandy-legged 250 pounders trying to strut stuff they lost 15 years ago, and it established Burton and his 3-song repertoire as the groaner most likely to replace Anne Murray when she goes to that big girls’ Phys Ed class in the sky. See [BAD CANADIAN MUSIC GROUPS]

Current Account Balance (cab)

Whether it’s a whole country or just you and me, CAB is the amount of money going out subtracted from the amount of money coming in. When it comes to national economies, the CAB is the truest indicator of economic well-being if viewed over a reasonable length of time. It’s also the least-reported statistic in Canada. While StatsCan is willing to tell us that we have a trade surplus, and the corporations use it to convince us that the economy is performing well even though we have a huge public deficit and too much unemployment, we never hear a word about the woeful condition of our national CAB. If we did, we’d figure out that the outflow of profits to offshore corporations have been impoverishing the country for the last 15 years, and have made Canadian governments incapable of paying off debts. Try to extract the numbers on this out of StatsCan.