Friday, July 8, 2011

With all the attention on Will and Kate it seems reasonable to note some aspects of the monarchy that need to be remembered. Of course, much of the adulation Will and Kate received appears well founded; they are perhaps the most delightful and personable couple the royal family have produced since George VI and his wife.

Elizabeth II has stated how much her Christian faith means to her during one memorable Christmas Day speech. Just as well, as the monarch is head of the Church of England. Which leads to a couple of anomalies. First, Canada tries to pride itself, in concert with the US, in separating church and state, yet has a queen who heads the church!

Second, what happens if the monarch is not a Christian? After all, faith is a choice, not something handed down like nationality. That, it seems, is a distinct possibility if the curmudgeonly Charles ever makes it to the throne.

Ever wondered what the D G after the Queen’s name on Canadian coins means? They are abbreviated Latin for “by the Grace of God”; oops, another anomaly! At least Canadian coins have omitted the letters on British coins that say REG F D; abbreviated Latin for “Queen, Defender of the Faith.”

Perhaps the anti-monarchists (in Britain as well as Canada) should turn their attention to having the queen’s faith imposed on them, rather than considering the monarchy an anachronism. For me: how about the monarchy actually defending the faith it represents?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Destination or Journey?

Well, I missed the blog last Thursday, but I was literally sick and tired. Driving 3600 km across Canada when you’re not well is not what the doctor ordered. I’m glad to say that both Ann and I are beginning to feel nearly human again, but not until we’d had three days of sleep—all night and often most of the day!

During that drive, I could not help thinking what a relief it was to hit the prairies. While Montreal itself is mostly bilingual, a few miles into the countryside and there is no English to be found. Unless you know the French for cookies or cabbage, the supermarket aisles are all guess and eyework.

Then there is that dreaded PST, making everything more expensive than we’re used to. Ontario shares that with the now HST at 13, or is it 14%? I sympathize with BC residents, fighting that iniquitous tax. As seniors, we are far better off in Alberta; no PST and good senior benefits to boot.

As much as I like Ottawa, heading west along the Ottawa valley is not meant for getting anywhere. The mostly two lane highway passes through every town and hamlet, and corkscrews its way around Lake Superior. Beautiful scenery you say; but that is a hazard and distraction not needed when destination is the priority.

What a sense of relief to hit Manitoba. Within a few minutes, the four lane highway—now stretching almost into Golden, BC—commences. Wide lanes, faster speed limits, and travel takes on new meaning. Yes, it may be boring. But boring beats beautiful when you’re trying to get somewhere.

An if you’re ever in Brandon, check out the Midway Motel, right off the Transcanada highway. Good Korean Christian hospitality, comfortable, clean rooms and breakfast—all for $57 a night. An oasis in the motel desert!

That all adds up to the progressive centre of Canada marching west from sputtering Ontario. Never thought I would champion Alberta as the best place to live in Canada. We started our Canadian life in Alberta, and whatever brought us to finish life in Alberta, it is the right place for us now.

In fact, I can’t help the feeling that life is better than we deserve!