Wining and Fooding with Ottawa Bookworms

Well, I’m glad that’s over.

I swear, yesterday, I was the only person in all of downtown Ottawa without a poppy on her lapel. Or her hat. Because I’ve noticed the young women like to wear their poppies on their hats these Remembrance Days.

Trying to get across Rideau Street to the new Conference Center to buy a ticket to the annual Ottawa wine and food show was tricky, too, what with the military parade and all.

Seriously, I felt like the most sacreligious person in all of Christendom yesterday. I thought about running back home to look for an old poppy as I was waiting for the bus to go downtown, but I had barely left myself enough time as it was. And experience has taught me that the buses are sometimes on time on Sundays, on account of there’s less traffic and the drivers know no one actually has to get anywhere on time.

Yes. That’s a diss at Ottawa bus drivers. I don’t share the view of my socialist sisters and brothers that OC Transpo is all management’s fault.

Just almost all.

Too bad I didn’t know until later that Stephen Harper, who has made the glorification of war his political m.o., was away on one of his exotic holidays, or I would have felt less guilty for just wanting to get across the street so I could get to the wine and food (and beer – beer is big these days at the Ottawa wine and food show).

Although, once there, my friends and I (all people I’ve met online over the years, by the way) did discuss Remembrance Day, but in the context of archival material, a subject about which one of my friends, a retired librarian from Library and Archives Canada, was recently interviewed on CBC radio.

Who would have guessed bookworms were so into wine and food? Cripes, she was recognized by every Tom, Dick and Mary there – and from the radio, too! What’s up with that?

Alas, Stephen Harper may be a war aficionado, but it’s pretty clear from listening to the crowd at the wine and food show that he couldn’t give a rat’s ass about its historical record. Not in the old-fashioned paper trail way, anyway.

So yes, Rick Mercer’s rant about the millions of dollars spent celebrating our glorious win in the War of 1812 versus WWII vets not having the funds to get themselves a decent burial – according to the nation’s funeral home directors – was a hot topic over wine and food yesterday.

(I saved for twitter later a comment about who would know more about the cost of funerals these days than funeral home directors. They claim to have been giving vets a deal on burials, which is good, so I say – if it ain’t broke, why fix it? But, of course, I’m going to burn in hell for all eternity anyway because of the whole poppy thing so – I would say that, wouldn’t I.)

Indeed, apparently Harper’s new Conservatives are as full of shit when it comes to veterans benefits as the old Conservatives he replaced were. And the Liberals. And most any other government in the world, I’m sure.

That’s because he wants to cut taxes so that the 905 will keep voting for him, and glorify war so that the old Conservatives will keep voting for him, too.

I mean, we can call out Stephen Harper for egregious political hypocrisy (as opposed to the usual political hypocrisy that befalls most politicians once they’re in public office – as government) but how is he supposed to keep up with the cost of veterans if we 1) keep sending them off to war, and 2) vote for tax cuts.

Anyway, far be it from me to miss an opportunity to criticize Stephen Harper, but I don’t really see how this is all his fault, this matter of vets becoming too expensive to maintain after the warring is done. I mean, do we want to pay what it costs to live in a civilized modern society that still likes to mix it up overseas in other societies, or do we want to be able to afford wine and food shows and the like. Because wine and food shows, especially now that they feature beer are really fun (and if you’ve ever been to the legion you’ll know that vets really appreciate their beer, and it IS subsidized, lest we forget – although, it would be nice if we were subsidizing the local micro brews so vets were drinking a better quality of subsidized beer).

And they’re a great place to meet bookworms who care about historical records.

So now I feel a certain unease, too, that Stephen Harper, current head of the Canadian government, doesn’t seem interested in allocating adequate amounts of our tax dollars to the preservation of the historical record. Not to say that vets are a dime a dozen (although I’m not sure that all this war glorification is discouraging the kids from signing up, especially when juxtaposed to the economy and youth (un)employment) and I do think we have an obligation to support for the rest of their lives young people who’ve lost arms, legs, minds from having had the experience of soldiering for Queen and country, but I think we should also pay what it costs to keep a paper trail.

If yesterday’s military parade is any indication, there are lots of vets out there to be looking after, that’s for sure.

I mean, like Stephen Harper, I’m a bit of a philistine, too, so I take my cues on these matters from bookworms. Also oenophiles, who, interestingly are often one and the same. And they seem pretty upset about the erosion of the paper trail that will help future generations know about the real past, and not just the past a new crop of politicians wants us to remember.

And yes, I’m talking to you, 2012 War of 1812 celebrations.

Lest we forget.