Canadian Expatriates: The Expat Blog: March 2006

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An Invitation from Foreign Affairs Canada [-]

Canadian Expatriates, its contributors, and readers have been invited by Foreign Affairs Canada to participate in a series of eDiscussions. The current topic is “Showcasing Canadian Culture and Know-How Abroad”.

We are asked to consider the following questions:

  • What role does Canadian culture and know-how play in our foreign policy?

  • How might the government best promote Canadian talent and expertise in the world?

    The eDiscussion runs from April 4 to May 6, 2005. At its conclusion, a summary of the discussion will be sent to senior policy planners.

    The Expat admin team encourages its readers to join in the eDiscussion at the Canadian International Policy website.

    Posted by Admin

  • Call for Contributors [-]

    The administration team is currently searching for Canadian expatriates who would be interested in contributing to the Expat Blog. The subject matter is wide open, but must remain family friendly.

    If you are interested in joining our blogging team, please send an email our way!

    Thank you!

    Posted by Admin

    Thursday, March 30, 2006

    Currency Conversion
    by Expat

    Yesterday, the local television news covered the story of the California hiker who found and returned a Louis Vuitton purse and its estimated $1 million booty to its Canadian owner.

    As pictures of the purse's Canadian money flashed upon the screen, the announcer declared that it was remarkable that the hiker returned the cash to its owners.

    The remark was met with stunned silence as the other anchor and weatherman both pondered the value of the colourful "Monopoly" money in the United States versus the value of the a 12-carat diamond ring, which was also found in the purse.

    Needless to say, the transition into the next segment was a little awkward.

    Wednesday, March 29, 2006

    Take It to the Rink
    by Expat

    I was delivered some bad news today, which left me at a complete loss for words. Usually fairly chatty, my silence came across as somewhat ominous.

    "Are you okay? You don't have any guns, do you?" joked the voice on the other end of the phone.

    "No. I am a peace loving Canadian," I laughed. "My brand of revenge would be more along the lines of dousing someone's car with buckets of maple syrup."

    "Oh, okay," came the response. Then, came the inquiry, "You don't have a hockey stick, do you? I wouldn't want you bashing in any skulls with one of those."

    Finally, someone understands what it means to be Canadian.

    Tuesday, March 28, 2006

    Maple Leaf Diaspora
    by Expat

    An interesting article appeared in today's web edition of The Globe and Mail, Stow the Ambivalence or Alarm: A Growing Maple Leaf Diaspora Can Benefit Canada.

    The article details the importance of the growing number of overseas Canadians and ponders the implications of this diaspora on public policy. The article notes that the Liberal government had set up a network for Canadians abroad, but it became "entirely preoccupied with the problems faced by expats, rather than the potential benefits of an overseas Canadian community".

    Through my experience, I have seen that expatriates work hard to maintain their ties to Canada and are very keen to act as ambassadors for their country. It would be nice to see the new government continue with the program that the Liberals began, particularly if it could be used to Canada's benefit and go beyond the traditional concerns of consular services, taxation, and voting. Certainly, expatriates offer a unique perspective to matters of foreign affairs and diplomacy - a perspective which could lend itself well to Canada's future on a global level. Hopefully, the Canadian government will figure out a way to make use of this, as yet un-tapped, human resource.

    Monday, March 27, 2006

    Childhood Traumas
    by Expat

    Ever wonder how many Canadian children were scarred by the odd couples of 1970s children's television programming?

    What was the deal with Casey and Finnigan, the ever-revolving couples of The Polka Dot Door, and all of the hostility between the giraffe and the "chicken in the bag"?

    Sean Twist has given it some thought and has tackled the subject in his most recent opinion piece, Canadian Tire Guy and Other Diseases.

    Friday, March 24, 2006

    Friday's Funny
    by Expat

    A Newfoundland woman "of a certain age" visited her physician to ask his help in reviving her husband's sex drive.

    "What about trying Viagra?" asks the doctor.

    "Not a chance," she said. "He won't even take an aspirin."

    "Not a problem," replied the doctor. "Drop it into his coffee. He won't even taste it. Give it a try and call me in a week to let me know how things went."

    It wasn't a week later that she rang up the doctor, who directly inquired as to progress.

    The poor dear exclaimed, "Oh, faith, bejaysus and begorrah! 'Twas horrid. Just terrible, Doctor."

    "Really? What happened?" asked the doctor.

    "Well, I did as you advised and slipped it in his coffee, didn't I? The effect was almost immediate. He jumped hisself straight up, with a twinkle in his eye, and with his pants a-bulging fiercely! With one swoop of his arm, he sent the cups and tablecloth flying, ripped me clothes to tatters and took me then and there, making wild, mad, passionate love to me on the tabletop! It was a nightmare, I tell you!"

    "Why so terrible?" asked the doctor. "Do you mean the sex was not good?"

    "No, no, no, Doctor. The sex was fine. Indeed, 'twas the best sex I've had in 25 years. But I'll never be able to show me face at Tim Hortons again!"

    Tip o' the toque to Knoodle..

    Thursday, March 23, 2006

    Liberal Media Bias
    by Expat

    Recently Prime Minister Harper has garnered plenty of heat from the Canadian press regarding his ever increasing belt size.

    As Geoff Matthews of The Ottawa Sun puts it:
    The guy is packing on pounds faster than a university freshman.

    One of my colleagues in the sports department mused that the military must have had to stitch together two bulletproof vests for the PM when he visited Afghanistan last week.

    Don't forget, they flew Harper into Kandahar on a Hercules. Maybe it wasn't so much because of security concerns as it was the fact it's the only aircraft the military has with sufficient lift capability.
    Not only is it appalling that the media has resorted to making fat jokes, but it is even more alarming that the media is neglecting their journalistic responsibilities of accurately relaying the news.

    The Liberal media has not once produced a single article that relays the truth about Mr. Harper's recent weight gain. Does it completely escape them that the Prime Minister is doing his part to ensure national unity by single-handedly tackling the maple syrup surplus in Quebec?

    In fact, it was just last year that Canadians learned that the Prime Minister had a penchant for both pancake breakfasts and diabolical uses for the sugary stuff, and now that he is putting those interests to use in an effort to help out the economy in Quebec, he is facing mounting criticism from the press.

    Fight the bias. Do your part to support the Prime Minister and maple syrup producers by eating more pancakes.

    Wednesday, March 22, 2006

    by Expat

    Australia's newest tourism campaign has met with hostility in both Great Britain and Canada. While Britain took issue with the usage of the term "bloody hell", Canada took issue with half a glass of beer - and no, the problem was not that the glass was only half full.

    The commercial depicts a number of Aussies speaking directly into the camera and saying such things as, "We've poured you a beer and we've had the camels shampooed, we've saved you a spot on the beach ... and we've got the sharks out of the pool." It ends with a woman in a bikini asking, "So where the bloody hell are you?".

    While Canadian regulators will not show the ad during family programming because of the word "hell", it was the depiction of unbranded alcohol that got the commercial sliced and diced in the editing room. The irony, of course, is that while "buying a mate a beer" is as Australian as you can get, drinking beer is as Canadian as one can get.

    As we all know, there is nothing more Canadian than beer and the love of it. In fact, we, as a country, have gone so far as to define our entire national identity on a beer campaign and our politicians have even been elected on the "beer and popcorn" ticket. As such, it is nothing short of un-Canadian that the CRTC has banned the tourism commercial over half a glass of beer - and free beer at that! As penance, the CRTC should foot the bill at the country's next national kegger.

    The commercial in question can be found here.

    Tuesday, March 21, 2006

    The Budding Explorer
    by Expat

    The ghost of Samuel de Champlain has lost his memory and needs your help!

    Poor Sam needs to match the drawings from his travel diary to Canada's historic sites. To be succesful, you must first click on the points of the map to read a bit of history and then drag the corresponding drawing to that site to make a match.

    Beware! A wrong move will summon the sea creatures of the deep (Ahoy Ogopogo!) and too many wrong moves will destroy your map and force you to start over.

    The game can be found here, The Budding Explorer.

    Monday, March 20, 2006

    Sledge Hockey
    by Expat

    The Canadian men's hockey team may have met their match in Torino, but Canada's sledge hockey team righted the wrong and brought home the gold!

    Rick Mercer had an opportunity to hit the ice with the team prior to their departure to Italy and found that there was nothing easy about the sport. Watch as Mercer gets his booty kicked by Canada's sledge hockey heroes! It is definitely not a sport for the faint of heart.

    The video can be found here, Rick Mercer Report.

    Friday, March 17, 2006

    Happy St. Patrick's Day!
    by Expat

    Did you remember to wear green?

    Thursday, March 16, 2006

    In the Genes
    by Expat

    An American, a Scot and a Canuck were in a terrible car accident. They were all brought to the same emergency room, but all three of them died before they arrived. Just as they were about to put the toe tag on the American, he stirred and opened his eyes. Astonished, the doctors and nurses present asked him what happened.

    "Well," said the American, "I remember the crash, and then there was a beautiful light, and then the Canadian and the Scot and I were standing at the gates of heaven. St. Peter approached us and said that we were all too young to die, and that for a donation of $100, we could return to the earth."

    He continued, "So of course, I pulled out my wallet and gave him the $100 and the next thing I knew I was back here."

    "That's amazing!" said one of the doctors. "But what happened to the other two?"

    "Last I saw them," replied the American, "the Scot was haggling over the price and the Canadian was waiting for the government to pay for his."

    Author Unknown

    Wednesday, March 15, 2006

    Playing the Odds
    by Expat

    Canadians have known it forever, but now there is proof!

    The odds of winning the big prize in Tim Hortons' time honoured "Rrroll up the Rrrim" contest varies depending on exactly where in Canada you find yourself rrrolling up the rrrim.

    CBC Online reports:
    Albertans and Atlantic Canadians have nearly twice the opportunity of driving off in one of the 30 SUVs as people in Toronto or southwestern Ontario.

    If you live in Quebec, where Tim Hortons is battling for market share with rival Dunkin' Donuts, your chances are even better – a one in four million shot at the SUV, versus one in eight million for B.C. and one in 11 million for southern Ontario.

    The same is true to a lesser extent for the three other big rewards: 100 plasma televisions, 500 cash prizes of $1,000 and 10,000 barbecues.
    Research has proven that those chances become even fewer when you are living abroad and trying to desperately coerrce friends and relatives to participate in the contest on your behalf. In fact, gambling experts have estimated the chances of winning under those circumstances to be "null" and perhaps even "void".

    On a related note, in case anyone was doubting the global appeal of Tim Hortons, check out Eric Chan's video assignment in which he made a commercial for the doughnut shop entitled, Tim Hortons - Japan.

    If you are using IE and are having trouble seeing the video, it can also be seen at this link.

    Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    Sushi Samurai
    by Expat

    Another great game has been released by CBC!

    This time you can honour your appetite by making sushi while avoiding the dasdardly tofu, the sinister shitake, the morally reprehensible radish, and the perilous blowfish!

    To defeat your enemies, use the space bar to throw wasabi and then crush them beneath your sushi fixings.

    Try your hand at the game here, Sushi Samurai.

    Monday, March 13, 2006

    Not in Kansas Anymore
    by Expat

    Kismet was at work when the good folks at the Weather Channel dubbed this week to be "Tornado Week". All weekend and into the week, the network planned to air episodes of "Storm Story" and highlight the destructive and deadly nature of tornadoes. On both Saturday and Sunday evenings, their scheduled "Tornado Week" programming took on greater meaning when it became peppered with interruptions of actual tornado warnings.

    Saturday night, we responded to the tornado warnings with what has become standard practice - move the birds, the radio, the laptop, and the dogs down into the basement to wait out the storm. We were lucky that night, as the cell that had been headed directly for us dissipated right before it hit. "Just wait," said the weatherman on the radio. "Just wait, until Sunday. We are expecting some very severe weather tomorrow."

    Sunday started off overcast and a little rainy. The weather seemed stable, but the radar told a different story - a large cell of red was headed directly towards us. We watched as it looked like it would pass us by, then we watched as it looked as though it was coming directly for us. For hours, it seemed, all that we could do was watch and try to predict the cell's path. Finally, came word that a tornado was on the ground.

    Up until that point, we had been unsure as to whether the tornado would make it close to our neck of the woods, which resulted into some hesitation in moving the birds into the basement. Over the course of three days, we had to take one of our birds to the vet twice and did not want to increase the stress on her. As such, we were playing the situation conservatively and had only moved the birds as far as the living room, waiting to finally move them downstairs when things got dicey. With the tornado changing direction again and word of a belt of tornadic activity heading towards us, we decided that it was time to make the move.

    The basement was substantially colder than the main level of the house, and we were concerned that the birds would catch a chill, especially since we were going to be camping down there for the night. To aid in keeping the birds warm, we set up our dome tent in the basement, aimed the electric heater into the tent, and covered the cages with layers of blankets. From beneath the blanket came a clear whistle, "Peek-eeee-boo". "Peekaboo," I retorted.

    With the birds comfortable, we concentrated on moving down other necessities - the dogs' kennels, the radio, the laptop, candles, a few snacks, and a few mementos. I quickly scanned the house for things that we could not replace or would have trouble replacing - our wedding album, my immigration documents, and my passport. Closing the basement door behind me, I wondered if it would be the last time that I would see my house intact.

    There was little else that we could do, so we decided to try to get some sleep before the next wave of tornadoes hit. Lying on the concrete floor, I could feel the cold soak into my sleeping bag and into my body. As uncomfortable and as tired as I was, I was thankful for the pain. The pain kept me awake and alert. Checking the National Weather Service's radar, we could see that there was a line of red extending from Texas up to Michigan and it was quickly moving towards the north east. It was coming and all that we could do was sit and wait. Around three in the morning the announcement came that yet another tornado was on the ground in the already tornado ravaged state capital. Later, we would learn that it was not a second tornado, but destructive winds.

    A few more hours of rain, wind, and hail and both the storm and the morning finally broke. Although things were a little wet, there was not much damage to our property. While buildings collapsed and roofs were ripped off a mere twenty minutes away, we emerged unscathed. We moved the birds and the pups back upstairs and cranked up the heat. Happy to finally be safe and warm, we began to count our blessings.

    Thursday, March 09, 2006

    God Has High Speed
    by Expat

    Thank you so much for all of the supportive emails in response to my very frustrated post regarding my immigration debacle. I certainly appreciate every one of them.

    Well apparently there is a God - and he must have high speed!

    After blogging about my woes, things with immigration got *somewhat* sorted out and I now have my work authorization card in hand, my social security card is in the mail, and I will be applying for a learner's license the moment that it arrives! Yes, I do feel as though I just turned fifteen again.

    While reading the book from the DMV, I was astonished to see that there are some differences between what I learned in Saskatchewan and what they expect you to know here. For example, I previously learned about the "three second rule" when it comes to following another car; however, here that is shortened to a "two second rule". I will have to study up to ace this exam. It is odd having to reprogram myself on something that has become so second nature.

    After I get my license again, I will be back to working. Anyone need a history nerd of the Canadian prairie variety in the state of Illinois?


    I didn't think so, but seeing as God has high speed, I might as well put the word out there!

    Wednesday, March 08, 2006

    A Tim's on Each Corner
    by Expat

    Stateside expats who are growing tired of the wait for succession to presidency now have a new avenue to pursue for power.
    Comedian Rick Mercer has found a solution to the Liberal Party's leadership woes. Since no one appears to want the job, he's auctioning it off on Ebay.

    The host of CBC's Rick Mercer Report is offering up a Liberal leadership kit on the online auction site. It includes a 15-minute consultation and conference call with the show's writing staff to craft a campaign message.

    The winning bidder also gets free use of the show's colour printer. To discourage vanity candidates, Mercer says he started the bidding at $15.
    So pass the hat around folks and let's place a bid!

    When we become the next Prime Minister(s) of Canada, there will be a government mandated Tim Hortons on every US street corner!

    Tip o' the toque to Leigh-Ann.

    Tuesday, March 07, 2006

    by Expat

    The announcer on the radio was explaining the details of Governor Blagojevich's "All Kids" heath care program. The next story was of a similar vein, discussing the possibility of Illinois adopting a program that would provide health care coverage for all.

    "Geez, we need to leave here. As soon as something like that passes, you know that there is more coming down the pipe."

    "Yeah. Between the corruption and the social programs, taxes are going to be insane," I agreed.

    That is when the Yank provided the following insight, "Living in Illinois is getting to be like living in Canada."


    Monday, March 06, 2006

    Marathon Man
    by Expat

    Have the post-Olympic blues got you down?

    The Beaver has the cure!

    This month's feature article, Marathon Man, tells the tale of William Sherring, a Hamilton man who overcame all of the odds and went on to win a gold medal at the 1906 Intercalated Games.

    Having made his mark on the marathon circuit in North America, Mr. Sherring went on to represent Canada at the games in Greece. Not having the money for the fare to the games, Sherring acted upon a tip at the horse track and defied the odds to win the finances that would allow him to travel to compete. Once in Athens, Sherring took on work to feed himself, slept on the floor of a barn, trained himself, and lost an incredible 20 lbs in the process. In the end, his perseverance over hardship paid off, winning him the gold medal, as well as a goat, a statue of Athena, citizenship of Greece and of the city of Marathon, bouquets of flowers, and several offers of marriage.

    The entire inspirational story can be found here, Marathon Man.

    Unfortunately the article is not Firefox friendly and is best viewed in IE.

    Thursday, March 02, 2006

    Ringmaster McCartney
    by Expat

    Think what you may of the seal hunts, but former Beatle turned celebrity activist Paul McCartney's plan of protest is just short of ridiculous.

    It has been extensively reported that the ice in Gulf of St. Lawrence is unusually thin this year and that poor ice conditions may even stop this year's seal hunt altogether. Yet, despite a weather forecast for today that includes a freezing spray warning, winds of up to 55 kilometres per hour, and frigid temperatures, McCartney intends to land four helicopters - carrying McCartney, his wife, and a contingent of media and animal activists - to an area northwest of the Iles de la Madeleine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Once there, McCartney plans to venture onto the ice floes to "interact" with a new born harp seal. Recently, Andrew Plumbley of the Humane Society of the United States and one of the organizers of the trip, said in an interview, "I imagine Paul will want to stroke one and if the seal's comfortable with that, well then he will do that."

    If the megastar contingent does not plunge into the freezing waters of the Gulf, McCartney and his wife then plan to hold a press conference to explain why they are against the centuries old hunt and call upon Prime Minister Harper to "take swift and decisive action to end the slaughter of these defenseless seal pups for good."

    The irony in all of this is that federal regulations prohibit people from disturbing marine mammals "unless authorized to do so under a valid license." As Frank Ring, spokesman for the federal Fisheries Department, explains it: "That means people shouldn't be touching them." Unless they have a license to kill, of course.

    Wednesday, March 01, 2006

    The Legend Continues
    by Expat

    The Canadian hockey teams may not have had the advantage of a lucky loonie at centre ice for the Turino Olympics, but word is out that the country's curlers and speed skaters certainly had Lady Luck's assistance with their performances.
    Canadian icemaker Mark Messer, who was hired to help with the ice in Turin, buried several Canadian mementoes in the ice at the Oval Lingotto, including Molson Canadian caps and a 14-karat gold maple leaf that was dug up and presented to Clara Hughes after she won gold in the women's 5,000 metres on Saturday.

    "There was a little bit of subterfuge here, I had to do it at night with nobody else around," Messer told CBC. "There are a couple of mementoes buried in the ice, the maple leaf is what the team knew about. Hopefully it inspired them."

    The Canadian athletes who competed at the enchanted venues went on to win eight medals in long track speed skating and two medals in curling, thus continuing the legend of the lucky loonie.

    Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. - Seneca

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