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Maxed out

It's the people, stupid

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By G.D. Maxwell

I’ve been giving a great deal of thought to culture lately. I’ve been thinking about culture for, oh, maybe the last ten minutes now and already I’m beginning to get the same sensation I get when I suck down a Slurpee too fast. Well, at least the sensation I’d get if Slurpees were made of shredded cotton balls instead of sweetened ice. My brain’s going numb and my vision is glazing and I’m hoping some more interesting thought will come along before I have to commit myself to writing a whole column about culture.

But it’s not. So I am. Fair warning.

It’s Bernard Landry’s fault. Just when you might have thought it was safe to ignore culture, the new pipsqueak leader of the Parti Quebecois and his overstuffed henchwoman of culture, Diane Lemieux, start lobbing idiocy grenades, the opening salvos in a new round of Referendum Blues.

First Bernie disses the Canadian rag, er, flag and then Diane claims Ontario has no culture. NO CULTURE? This from a province whose unique contributions to culture consist largely of poutine – french fries and cheese curd drowned in gravy for those of you who aren’t sure – steamed hotdogs dressed with shredded cabbage and the saccharine music of Celine Dion?

Naturally, Ontario reacted with outrage. This is because Ontarians are, as a lot, uncultured and didn’t recognize Madame Lemieux’s insult failed to rise even to the level of "So’s your old man." in the hierarchy of insults. If Ontario was more secure in their cultural development, they’d have just sloughed off the comment as the delusional rantings of a third-rate politician with banana republic aspirations, which, when you think of it, pretty much sums up nearly everything you hear coming from the Parti Quebecois.

Ontario is riddled with culture. Just look at the man who has been running the place for the last decade or so. Mike the Knife combines the intellect of George W. Bush with the judgment of Bill Clinton and the social conscience of Ebenezer Scrooge. You don’t call that culture? If that’s not enough, there’s... well, there’s.... Cottage culture. Ontario invented cottage culture. I think.

Okay, let’s face it, culture is a pretty slippery concept. Especially in Canada, home of the identity crisis as big as all outdoors. Canadians have been collectively scratching their heads about Canadian Culture for as long as I’ve been living here. There have been Royal Commissions on culture, rock concert benefits for Cultureaid, long boring essays from Pierre Berton, Mordecai Richler and Margaret Atwood about our alleged culture, and whatnot, a nonsense word which may actually be unique to Canadian culture.

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