December 15, 2001


Timing really is everything.

For instance, in August 2000, a man in Prince Edward Island stuffed a pie in the face of the Canadian Prime Minister.

Pie stuffing is a traditional (if not officially sanctioned) form of social comment in Canada.

The evil-doer was escorted away, tried, convicted (I'm not sure of what, probably something having to do with assault) and sentenced to thirty days in jail.
This was harsh by Canadian standards; usually pie-throwers get away with a reprimand.
Upon appeal, the sentence was reduced to time already spent, which was eight days; that decision made the news yesterday.

I have trouble taking pie'ing too seriously, perhaps because it never happened to me but even so I can't imagine arguing with the concept of free food, unless it contains something to which I am allergic.
Still if this were to occur in the present (post-911) era, it would have to be handled differently.

Another small but significant part of our innocence, lost.

Still in the realm of Canadian news (aka the news that will reach no American ears), timing was also a factor in the latest governmental uproar.

In Canada as in the U.S., we have free speech.
World-renowned award-winning authors are at liberty to express their opinions in their own published works.
Even when the opinions are controversial, such as John Ralston Saul's.

According to the news report,

In his new book, On Equilibrium, Saul argues that the West is at least partly to blame for the deadly hijackings on North American soil.

Saul... says the West bears some responsibility because of its "aggressivity" towards Arabs, and willingness to make a profit from arms sales.

In his book, he states that "Christian militancy has wreaked far greater destruction than anything managed by Islam." Saul also calls U.S. President George W. Bush a "fragile, awkward" man.

Normally this would cause no more than a raised eyebrow or two; however, the author happens to be married to the Governor General of Canada.

The Governor General is the Queen's representative, and is considered the "Head of State" (as opposed to the Head of Government which would be the Prime Minister).
While the Governor General does not actively participate in the day to day running of the country, the position has much prestige and historical symbolism; hence the potential for embarrassment.

Canadians are no strangers to embarrassing political spouses; just do a web search for "Margaret Trudeau and the Rolling Stones". However the head of the Canadian Alliance, a right-wing political party, did call for the government to reprimand Mr. Saul; in a rare display of common sense, Mr. Chretien (Or Mr. Cretchin, as Larry King pronounces it) refused.

Of course I profoundly disagree with the opinions in question; while the "West" no doubt has inspired emotions such as resentment and hatred in various communities, responsibility ends when actions are taken. Nobody is responsible for the attacks other than the attackers themselves.

The point, however, is that unpalatable though the opinions may be (to me and probably many others) they should not be suppressed no matter who their holder is married to. I think it says something for Canada that this issue was summarily dismissed by the Prime Minister who even joked about it:

"Marriage doesn't force people to be a prisoner of the other," Chretien said, speaking in French after a cabinet meeting.

"That's the way it is in our society. My wife has the right to criticize me if she wants. But she's very satisfied with me, so what can I say?"

and that the issue already seems to have died down in the media.

This feels like a good time to open up the forum (not that it was ever closed) for comments, greetings, feedback, or anything else.

I'd be interested in other examples of good (or bad) timing;
I've also received a compelling reply to my Remembrance Day entry from an old friend who spent most of his professional life serving Canada.

Linque Du Jour:   Miss Abigail's Time Warp Advice

Miss Abigail has a collection of advice books dating as far back as 1822, and isn't afraid to use them!

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