A Love Story About Words…

I love words.

Singularly, or when strung together well, words can be beautiful things.

Of course, words can hurt, and be harsh… but those are not the words and phrases I’m speaking of today.

This topic was brought to mind by the State of the Union Address by President Barack Obama, last evening.

Some of you who know me, and that I am Canadian, might wonder why I would watch it ?

To me, it was an occasion not to watch, but to listen.

To let the phrases crafted by expert wordsmiths, delivered to the Podium of an exceptional speaker, wash over me in waves.

I was raised in a house where, frequently at dinner, my Father would discuss the sometimes subtle differences between words…for example “Gourmet” versus “Gourmand”.

My favourite word is soliloquy.  Beautiful to say, and a singular word, representing a monologue, that, when done well, is poignant and well remembered, as this passage from Shakespeare’s Macbeth:

Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?
I see thee yet, in form as palpable
As this which now I draw.

I do not distinguish between political parties in my enjoyment… and I think it needs to be said that there is a vast difference between the well-rehearsed talking-point recitations of too many politicians, and the soaring and inspiring words of great orators.

Listening to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words today, (other than the occasional jarring reference to Negros,) has every bit the impact that I’m sure it did in the Sixties.

There have, in my lifetime, been only a few individuals, who could inspire a people, with their words…

Pierre Elliott Trudeau… Nelson Mandela… His Holiness the Dalai Lama… Barbara Jordan… Ronald Reagan… Bill Clinton… Barack Obama…

And some whose gifts have been recorded for our review:

Winston Churchill… Franklin D. Roosevelt… John F. Kennedy… Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

There are, I’m certain, other examples that I am forgetting at this moment, but the aspect of this that saddens me, is that it seems to me that the ones who lead, should be able to communicate beyond a talking-point or sound-byte… but it seems to be increasingly more common for leaders to hammer a series of bulletin points, but be unable to expound or expand upon their views.

Prior to the last Canadian election, there were a series of Kitchen Table debates.  The leaders from the major Political Parties were there… but the most spirited discussion, took place before the event, in a series of heated arguments as to whether the Green Party would be invited.  The debate itself, was an embarrassing display of mud-slinging, talking over each other, and sound-byte party-line political-handbook readings.

I recently entered into a discussion on Twitter, (which given the 140 character constraint, is a trick,) trying to discern why there were no engaging characters, in Canadian Politics.

I don’t know that we came to any firm conclusions, but we were all saddened by the lack of prospects, and the beige homogenous quality that, regardless of creed or colour, seems to have infected and affected the people that we elect to represent us in Ottawa.  None with the quality of assurance and confidence of a natural born leader, and the eloquence and ability to extemporaneously speak, without sounding foolish.

So it was, on a Wednesday night… I sat down and basked in the joy of listening to the words written by an inspired team, that President Obama delivered.  Words crafted, and honed…  Displaying light and shadow… Humour and sincerity… Hope and optimism.

Beautiful words.

Prorogues Gallery…

I’m not sure what I thought I was going to write about on my Blog.

When I started it, I thought maybe it would be a way for me to “stretch” the writing muscle that had lain dormant for too many seasons, and give it a bit of a run !

As you can tell, the postings have been… eclectic, and far from serious, but today’s events change that, for today, Canada’s Parliament was Prorogued (suspended) until March 3rd.

This appears to have been done at a time in the news cycle when News Media are focused on Holiday Events, Team Canada annoucements, and Year End List compilation.

I was raised in a Household where politics were discussed, and my Dad and his colleagues from CBC Radio would embrace discussion of different points of view, and as my Dad worked the “Victoria beat” for many years, would often have discussions with members of different political parties, and then differences would be put aside, and a dram or two would be had.

Today, I questioned the timing and reason for the Prorogue on Twitter, and I was replied to by someone whom I neither follow, nor know… and called, amongst other things, a “Liberal Spinner” and a “Harper-Hating Dog” !

Apart from the fact that I am more of a Cat Guy… I think it is sad that questioning the actions of a politician, after that individual does something that seems to be extraordinary in nature, gets someone I don’t know, riled up enough, to the point where he calls me names ?!?

I’m not sure, in the age of Blogs and Social Media, where someone like me fits in.  I still believe in the Golden Rule: “Treat others, as you would like to be treated”

I extend someone I don’t know, the same courtesy, that I give to someone I am friendly with.  This includes Business People, and the folks on the other end of Twitter.

Just because someone doesn’t know me, they can afford to insult me ?  Sounds like Anti-Social Media, to me.

But, I digress…

And, on that note, I shall probably also transgress, because I am now going to Post the e-mail I sent to Her Excellency, the Governor-General of Canada, today… (and I’m not sure if etiquette permits that… but I wrote it, and I stand behind it !!!

And so, My Blog becomes a politically-charged target, for all things mud !

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.
Governor General of Canada
Rideau Hall
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A1


As a Canadian, I am deeply concerned by two events, which appear to have occurred today.

The first is that our Prime Minister apparently has made a request to Prorogue Parliament.

The second event, is actually the confluence of a number of events, ranging from the sad loss of five Canadians in Afghanistan, a car-jacking of some Hollywood Actors’ car in Vancouver, to the naming of the Hockey Players on our Olympic Team.

The second has impacted the first, so much, that there has been no discernable News coverage of the Prorogue.

I would suggest that in this time of uncertainty, where Countries are just beginning to see a glimmering of hope in the mists of our future… and we are already coming off an extended break for the Holiday Season… that this is an unfortunate choice of timing, and uncertain times demand strong, not absent, leadership.

As a Canadian, I am saddened by the loss of our Canadian Soldiers and a Canadian Journalist, although I believe that Canada should help, when oppression rears its head.

I am also saddened that, on this day, gamesmanship seems to have replaced ethics, and hard work and persistence have given way to time off and disinterest.

In the last 15 years, I have voted for Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Reform and Independent candidates.  I have never held any affiliation with any political party.  As each election arrives, I decide which Candidate will best represent me, and my Riding, and I don’t care what Party they represent… I want to know how they, as an individual will represent me.  Yes, I am that naive.  I am also foolish enough to believe that Leaders should lead, and when they grow tired of leading, should stand to the side, for another to take their place.  Just because they are the leader, they do not get to call the journey off…  whether they get scared, or are uncertain, or have doubts.  They will have moments of pause, certainly, but by the nature of the Title… a Leader must lead.

I feel that this Prorogue is an extreme dis-service to the Citizens of Canada… and serves, from what I can see, no purpose, other than to prevent business from being done in the House of Commons, where questions can be asked, and answers given.

There is a Driving School, called Young Drivers of Canada… which teaches young drivers to always ensure that there is a gap beside them, in case they suddenly have to veer, when cut off.  I believe that Canadian Politics should not be run by the “Young Drivers of Canada Brake & Avoid” system.

Best wishes to you, and your family, for a Happy and Healthy New Year.

Most sincerely,

Bob Gray