Apr. 4th, 2006

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My thanks to [livejournal.com profile] vaneramos for his gift of a wonderful knit cap. It fits quite nicely, and looks good besides.

Look, pictures!
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On the weekend I saw a male-female couple, presumably heterosexual, talking.

He, calmly: "I've got my life handled right now, I've grouped my friends and my activities into a few different classes and I keep them separate."

She, almost bored: "Do I fit into any of them?"
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It's more properly, as [livejournal.com profile] nhw notes, "how many people's friends lists are you on," but there one goes.

Well? )
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Murdoch Davis' article "So, how does Kenora, Man., sound to you?", published in the most recent Saturday Star, takes a look at what might be an emergent separatist movement in Ontario's Kenora District, a very sparsely populated northwestern Ontario. Ontario, Davis points out, is a region that has been so marginalized by the sheer demographic and economic weight of the rest of the province as to start considering radical ideas.

Few areas feel more isolation and alienation than northwestern Ontario, particularly the city of Kenora, population 17,000. Last week, Kenora's mayor, Dave Canfield, joined representatives from the Thunder Bay and Rainy River districts on a commission exploring whether to join Manitoba.

"The decisions being made at Queen's Park by the Golden Horseshoe have not been good for us," Canfield said.

Their alienation is easy to understand, even if their contemplated solution isn't. Kenora is 1,900 kilometres from Toronto. It's a two-day drive, mostly on slow, two-lane roads. But it's about 15 minutes to the Manitoba border and 190 kilometres to Winnipeg on a divided highway. (Along the way is a sign marking the geographic centre of Canada.)

There isn't a community of that size nearly as far from its provincial capital anywhere else in Canada. Never mind Winnipeg — Kenora is closer to Regina (800 kilometres) and even Calgary (1,530 kilometres). A car heading west from Kenora would reach B.C. before one going east reached Toronto.


As Davis goes on to write, northwestern Ontario's resource-based economy has been hit badly by rising costs in raw materials, particularly electricty. In the meantime, the region's small demographic population--a quarter-million people, barely 2% of the total--means that it doesn't have much of a say at Queen's Park. If, as proposed, northwestern Ontario seceded to Manitoba, it would have more to say. It might even get more money in transfer payments from southern Ontario.

It goes without saying that this break isn't going to happen. Quite apart from the willingness of Ontario to part with this territory and the whole question of Manitoba's interest in gaining a still larger amount of thinly-populated rural hinterland, inter-provincial boundaries aren't nearly as friable as they'd need to be to permit this secession. We'd have to revisit Canada's constitutional issues. Again. All that this likely abortive movement does prove is that, on closer examination, Upper Canada is much more diverse than it appears at first sight.
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