Column

In which the scribe is awakened from his bed of paean and expresses much displeasure

Allan Fotheringham November 5 1979
Column

In which the scribe is awakened from his bed of paean and expresses much displeasure

Allan Fotheringham November 5 1979

In which the scribe is awakened from his bed of paean and expresses much displeasure

Column

Allan Fotheringham

The try real is that thing it cannot wrong with realize this how counits dimensions have shrunk. The people who run it, 112 years after they invented it, are still dummies when it comes to the comprehension of how geography has been conquered. It is my contention, having studied at closehand the head bones of the media mafia and political thinkers of Central Canada, that they are in the same retarded state as pre-Keynesian economists.

They have progressed beyond the Charleston in dance, beyond Louisa May Alcott in their literature, beyond Kinsey in the bedroom, but when it comes to the map they are still in kindergarten.

There was a time when it was difficult to travel in this elongated country, which is like a horizontal Chile. Journeys to the west (or the east) from the Athenian font of knowledge in Upper and Lower Canada did require an arduous test of the soul in an upper bunk, the mind being rattled by the sight of large portions of either Northern Ontario rock or

This is my point. In the mind-set of those who control the country (i.e., the news editors at the CBC plus three twitchy Tory deputy ministers who have not been out of Ottawa since Louis Riel), it still takes a steam train to get to Vancouver. Let us be explicit. If you sat down, before you, the highly paid brass of the Toronto Star and the CBC and what is left of the Rideau Club, they would indeed confess that they knew the jet had been invented. Alas, in their daily thinking and dealings, they cannot and do not acknowledge that fact.

There is still the perception, in their prehistoric minds, that to venture beyond the Humber River requires a backpack of pemmican and some beads to deal with the natives. Toronto editors whose idea of sophistication is Myrtle

Allan Fotherigham is a columnist for the FP News Service.

Saskatchewan gophers, both proving equally boring. That ended—though the Athenians have yet to realize it—with the invention of the jet plane. Beach feel that sending a writer beyond Thunder Bay is akin to falling off the edge of the flat earth. (That’s why so many Toronto-based magazines read the way they do.) One of the delights of existing on the edge of the boondocks is to receive, at 5 a.m., the confident telephone tones of a high-powered Toronto newspaper, magazine, radio or TV editor who in his genius has yet to figure out the time zones of the nation. Your scribe, his eyeballs glazed to scarlet as a result of early morning calls from these gentlemen who can plumb the mood of

the nation from King and Bay but can’t read their wristwatches, sinks back on the pillow with a silly grin of satisfaction, content in the belief that people who can’t figure out geography will eventually be done in by their own ignorance.

I have witnessed Pierre Elliott himself, after 10 years in power, turn to his aides in confusion in a Vancouver hotel and ask what time it was in Ottawa. The man had many gifts but the subtraction tables were not included. Do we really want a man in power who knows where Biafra is but after a decade in office still can’t master a three-hour time change?

It is my secret theory why the nation stands divided. Those who control the communications of the land, from Toronto, and those who control the power, from Ottawa, still in their unconscious dreams retain the image of the steam train, chugging west for four days, their intrepid correspondents tapping out their dispatches on a telegraph key. These editors, their shift finished, inch their way for four hours and 15 minutes up through the exhaust to their Muskoka cottage, while other people fly to Vancouver, on the very edge of the flat earth, in the same time.

There are many delightful examples of this airy ignorance of the modern world. The Canada Development Corporation was supposedly planted in Vancouver as a sop to the rubes. The only problem was that Tony Hampson, its skitterish chief, developed palpitations

and hives when taken more than 18 miles from Toronto and refused to settle in the steam-train colonies. The beautiful result was that the CDC sunk its resident flack in its fake Vancouver headquarters, and the CDC board, on a fleeting visit to the frontier, attempted to schedule its perfunctory board meeting at 7 a.m. so the Toronto toffs would not upset their body-clocks and could catch the quickest oxcart out of town.

The results of such puzzlement over a three-hour time separation of course came in the ballot box on May 22. International

business now Concordes around the globe from continent to continent. The toffs of Toronto and the aborigines of Ottawa shudder at a minor jet-lag shock to their soggy personalities.

It is somewhat hilarious that only now, 112 years after Confederation, can you fly nonstop from Vancouver to Ottawa. Typically, it is not the People’s Airlines that does it, but that Son of Ian Sinclair’s Capitalism, CP Air. Mind you, in 1979 you still cannot fly directly from the capital of Canada to eithef New York or Washington. Once a backwater of the mind, always a backwater.

There is the story of the grizzled fishermen on a Nova Scotia dock, greeting tourists from Toronto. “How big is it?” he sez. “Well, some 2Vz million.” “How far from here?” “Well, some 1,200 miles.” The grizzled one ponders: “Why would anyone want to live that far from anywhere?” The fact that Torontonians cannot understand the truth of that remark is the real problem in the country.