Wednesday, July 12, 2006

From popsicle stand to popsicle stand…

Academic proposes, Bureaucrat disposes…

Never ones to let go the opportunity to propagate the urgency of their $292 million annual gratuities to their sympathetically progressive-trained SSHRC masters, social science and humanities academics continue to find that no relic of the pre-human-rights-tribunal era is too dry or innoccuous that it can't be dusted off and imbued with a wildly fantastic suggestion of white colonial oppression. Add a few politicians always willing to embrace sentiment for even a faint prospect of votes at no political cost, and voila! an opportunity, if not for further funded research, then at least for tendering some lucrative advertising contracts.

Pop quiz: what's Canada's official motto? Hmmm… I see. From the Globe & Mail:

If boosters get their way, Canada would amend its "From sea to sea" motto by tacking on a reference to the Arctic Ocean. In a country defined by its geography, engraving "sea to sea to sea" into the official motto would give the overlooked North its due, they say.

[…] The campaign for a triple-sea slogan has been buoyed by growing support. The idea has won approval from the three northern territorial leaders, Manitoba Premier Gary Doer and several aboriginal groups. [NDP MP Dennis] Bevington said he is writing to Prime Minister Stephen Harper urging him to take action.
Why? Glad you asked…
Some say the existing motto reflects a Eurocentric view of Canada.
On the subject of dusting off old relics…
Former governor-general Adrienne Clarkson, who supports the change, says "sea to sea" marks an outdated view of Canada.

"It's in European terms: You go marching across [from sea to sea]," Ms. Clarkson said in an interview. "But going up, which more and more people realize is the way we have to conceptualize ourselves, is something that should be in our motto.

"It's much more than symbolic; it's real," she said. "We have overlooked the North. Or we just haven't thought about it."
The Globe & Mail article unfortunately doesn't mention the source of interest in Clarkson's opinion, but it is easy to guess that proponents of the ontological affectation understand implicitly that the relevance of the subject to Canadians' actual experiences requires no genuine expertise or insight, and that to elicit any kind of response at all a celebrity endorsement would make a fine substitute. Like a poor activist-man's Bono…

Not to suffer a lack of credibility, to which activists might understandably feel sensitive, a little "pragmatic" political rationalization is tendered at the same time. Note the familiar progressive bogeyman of climate change that is tortuously appended in the hope of a little added trained-reflex assent.
Some academics say the move would add ballast to Canada's claims on the Arctic at a time when erstwhile frozen waterways such as the Northwest Passage are opening up to non-Canadian navigation.

Michael Byers, an expert on international law at the University of British Columbia, said a new motto makes sense "when you factor in the dramatic increases in northern shipping that will almost certainly result from climate change."
I'm sure the American State Department is watching developments closely in case their submarines and ships have to retreat in the face with a sudden motto change.

According to the article, simply adding another ad mare to the current A Mari usque ad Mare apparently just wouldn't do in Latin, and an advertising contract may yet have to be endowed. Public consultation meetings would hardly have the desired effect, or any effect really. In the interest of sparking interest, however, I propose the magnificently inoffensive and entirely suitable motto in the title of this post.

Last word to perhaps the only sensible social science or humanities academic left standing in the country:
Desmond Morton, one of Canada's most eminent historians, said the expense of changing the coat of arms on everything from post offices and military badges to public monuments makes the change an extravagance.

"It's not really affordable unless you're in the embroidery or the stone-masonry business," said Prof. Morton, of McGill University. "It costs money, and to what end? Does anybody know what it means anyway?"


Pietr said...

Tell the bitch that 'going up' is 'Eurocentric';it depends on 'European' ideas of 'North and South', and maps going 'top to bottom'.

Tom said...

I'm not a linguist but, for instance, does "house to house" search not include every house searched? From to sea to sea would appear to include as many seas as applicable. No?

Jimmy Levendia said...

Just goes to show the lack of historical education among the "elite". It's a phrase from the Psalms, "...and he shall have Dominion from sea unto sea". And as for how horrible Eurocentrism is...what are the two official languages again?