PART II: And then there was Justin – 18 months before the campaign

And then there was Justin – 18 months before the campaign

 

I remember how I felt on April 27th, 2007 like it was yesterday. For the past 8 years of my life, since I made the switch from pursuing a career in the sciences as a meteorologist to ‘something’ in the Human Sciences, I have been either following various levels of political (municipal, provincial and international) or involved in politics at a lower level like President of the Vanier College Students’ Association and Vice-President (Finance & Operations) of Students’ Society of McGill University. But having Justin Trudeau running for the candidature of the Liberal Party for the riding of Papineau, my riding, was more than enough to draw me out that day.

 

By then, I had been aware of Justin for approximately 8 years as well. Like many Canadians of my generation, Justin was introduced to us at a sad moment in Canadian history: while offering the eulogy at his father, Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s funeral at Notre-Dame Basilica in 1999 (Justin Trudeau Eulogizes His Father, Pierre: Part 1 and Justin Trudeau Eulogizes His Father, Pierre: Part 2). The next time I heard about him was throughout my time at McGill University from 2001 – 2005. Let’s just say that, like his father, Justin drew (and still draws) polarizing opinions about himself.

 

So, here you had a potential ‘rockstar’ political candidate, born and raised in 24 Sussex Drive, wanting to represent a working class / 3rd poorest riding in Canada. Back then, I was suspicious of his intentions with the riding – with Canadian politics in general.

 

I did not vote that day firstly due to the fact that I was not a member of the Liberal Party of Canada (or any party for that matter) and only pre-registered members were allowed. Secondly, I didn’t want to. I had approached the day as an observer. I observed the candidates as they made their way around Collège André-Grasset and spoke to the Federal Liberal members of the riding. I made sure to speak with none of them, not even shake their hand. I observed how the members of the riding reacted to the candidates especially, Justin (who for the only time since I began volunteering for him campaigned under the banner, “Trudeau”).  He had stiff competition with Mary Deros and Basilio Giordano and required all his resources to be aligned in order to win the way he needed to win. The members wanted to see “the name” in their riding again anyways.

 

I left that day before the ballots were counted. Sticking around in order to find out who won was not important. I left the volunteers at the door my contact information, letting them know that I am willing to help whoever won, and went home. It was only the following day, when I read the article “Trudeau wins Montreal riding nomination,”

“In the fall of 1965, he said, his father ran in the neighbouring Mount Royal riding, part of which is now included in the Papineau district.”

“Trudeau told voting members that some of them helped nominate his father who eventually gave Canada one of the most evolved tools for human rights in the world — the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“What you were part of 40 years ago changed Canada forever,” he said. “We are all children of the charter. You can understand how fiercely proud I am to be able to say that your prime minister was also my dad.”

“I’m a teacher; I’m a convenor; I’m a gatherer; I’m someone who reaches out to people and is deeply interested in what they have to say,” he said.

“And people see that I’m not faking it. I’m actually genuinely committed to this dialogue that we’re opening up, and this understanding that needs to happen in order to be an effective MP.”

I was able to relate to the sincerity of his message and decided he was at least worth an opportunity to prove himself.

PART I: Where am I from (À donde vengo yo)?

Preamble

 

My blog is to keep people updated on Justin Trudeau’s political career in Ottawa, as well as, his work in Papineau. At the same time, I will bring my experiences from my life growing up in the riding and how it has influenced this “child of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms”. Furthermore, it will be complimented with the historical moments that gave birth to this multiethnic generation, in English and French Quebec as well as English and French Canada.

 

Where am I from (À donde vengo yo) – backgrouund

The federal riding of Papineau, which includes the neighbourhoods of Villeray, Park Extension, and parts of Saint-Michel, is located in the central part of the Island of Montreal and contains part of the city of Montreal bounded by:

·         SOUTHWEST: l’Acadie Boulevard

·         NORTHEAST: 19th Avenue

·         WEST: between Trans-Canada Highway, D’Iberville Street and Jarry Street East

·         EAST: Bélanger Street, Papineau Avenue, Jean-Talon Street East.

According to the CBC and Decision Canada, Papineau is the smallest federal riding in Canada. The riding has a mix of row housing, three-storey apartments, small shops, and Chabanel Street clothing manufacturers. The economy is based mainly on manufacturing, followed by retail trade and the service sector. According to the 2006 census, this riding has,

·         the lowest average family income in Canada at $50,681

·         an unemployment rate at 1 1.6%

·         a transient riding, and renters outnumber homeowners 74% to 26%

·         a total immigrant population is 40%

·         a visible minorities make-up 35%

·         residents over age 25 who have a university certificate or degree is at 22%.

Linguistically diversified as its ethnic make-up, the federal riding of Papineau’s “mother tongue” is just as complex:

 

  • French 45%
  • English 8%
  • Neither French nor English 47%
    • With significant constituencies speaking Italian, Haitian Creole, Greek, Arabic and Hispanic dialects, as well as, various South and Southeast Asian languages as their mother tongues.
    • French remaining the first language spoken at home by 51% of the population

 

Saint-Michel(s)

 

Like a guardian angel / patron saint, Saint-Michel has and always will be a part of me. I was born one November alba in Hôpital Saint-Michel (Hospital) and grew-up in this neighbourhood all my life. I went to Saint Michael’s Elementary School – the same school that both dad and my late uncle Michael went to (my uncle was named after Saint Michael the Archangel, one of the most celebrated saints from my dad’s hometown of Pietracatella, Italy).

 

Saint Michael’s Elementary School was one of three elementary schools in less than 100 metres from one another. The other two schools were St-Damas and Ogilvy. St-Damas was an almost all French Canadian elementary school and Ogilvy was a French all-coloured elementary school. Both elementary schools had many more students than Saint Michael’s which made it quite interesting for school yard brawls. The only reason we were able to have been educated in English was due to the following clause in Bill 101,

 

a child whose father and mother are not Canadian citizens, but whose father or mother received elementary instruction in English in Quebec, provided that that instruction constitutes the major part of the elementary instruction he or she received in Quebec;”

 

Actually, there were so few students in our English elementary school that it closed at the end of my 5th Grade and we were moved to one (1) of two (2) other English Catholic (and mostly ethnically Italian of origin) elementary schools: Pierre Elliot Trudeau Elementary School (which is the former Emily Carr and Francesca Cabrini Elementary Schools and both located in the Papineau riding) and Saint Dorothy’s (the elementary school that I attended in the heart of Saint-Michel).

 

I read my first words at the Bibliothèque St. Michel with a small section reserved for English literature but also, where I read my first French book, Le Petit Prince. I played hockey for 6 years with “Les Cardinaux de Saint-Michel” at l’Aréna St. Michel and as for public transportation to and from high school, college and university, I would use metro St. Michel or take the 67 St. Michel Bus. As an Infantry Officer for the Canadian Forces Army Reserves, Saint Michael the Archangel is also my patron saint (patron saint of the warrior). Let’s just say, Saint Michael and I are close!

 

 

 

 

My teenage years in Papineau

 

Growing up in Saint-Michel during the early to mid-1990’s was tough. As beautiful it may be to live amongst other cultures and traditions, in recessionary times, these differences became walls for those who did not fall within the norms and matters – reverting, at times,  to “Lord of the Flies” conditions. And, it really sucks when one found themselves as a member of a minority, within a minority, within a minority:

 

  1. English speaking;
  2. 1st Generation Italo-Canadian
  3. 1st Generation Italo-Canadian with a Hispanic mother

I was “segregated” because I was not an FBI (Full Blooded Italian) nor accepted amongst the fragmented Hispanic communities (the “latinos”) who were majority French speaking due to the implications of Bill 101 (see reference above).

Perhaps it was due to the recession of the early 1990’s forcing both parents of low-income homes (see description under Justin Trudeau page – Papineau riding) to work and, as a result, spend less time with their children for proper surveillance and guidance. At the same time, West Coast American gang-glorifying music became more-and-more mainstream and inner city teenagers across North America (and some ‘hot spots’ in Western Europe) wanted to and/or tried to relate to the lyrics of the times and the actions of their composers. Or was it the fact that Saint-Michel was one of the major battlegrounds for the drug wars that were going on in the province (and beyond) between, most notably, the Hell’s Angels and the Rock Machines and their deep-rooted territorial presence in the neighbourhood’s affairs?

 

I am sure that there are many more reasons that can be listed but was it a causal relationship or just a matter of high correlated but independent variables – I don’t know! What I do know is that in consequence, Saint-Michel has been long viewed as one of Montreal’s most dangerous inner city neighbourhoods. Although these problems persist to this day, the phenomenon is much better controlled due to the effects of a generation of adolescents sent away to juvenile homes or just plainly, placed behind bars and their younger siblings learning from their brother and sisters mistakes.

 

“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.”

September 15th, 2008

Heathrow Airport – London

07h45ish

 

Sitting in the plane (Delta Airlines) leaving Heathrow and arriving at JFK.

 

This is it! The time has come but before, I must admit that this trip wasn’t exactly what I had intended but perhaps it was exactly what I needed. Only time will be able to answer that but, for now, I will write down what I had expected from the trip and what I have realized along the way. But before I even do that there are a couple of things I need to state. Firstly, there were many things that I wanted to do while I was in London but did not get around to doing it. This was partly due to the fact that I wasn’t alone and therefore had to be compromising constantly. The other reason was that my U.K. guidebook was left in Montreal by Mel (Craig’s wife). Although I did not get a chance to see these places I would like to state them, in order to remind myself if ever I make it back here. I wanted to visit either Cambridge or Oxford University since it has always been a dream of mine to have studied at these historical schools (the same has been for the Ivy League schools in the U.S. when I visited Boston [Harvard & MIT] in 2002/03). I have been trying to get a hold of Accountants-Without-Borders, by email, but without very much luck. When I got a hold of them on Friday they told me that the person I needed to speak to was not in the office and that they would only return on Monday at 9am. Since I was leaving Monday morning and I need to resort to calling from home (which I could have done a while ago). The next thing I wanted to do was visit the College of Arms to see the genealogy chart of the Royal Family and witness for myself that they are descendants of King David. Hopefully, Nick will be able to do that for me today since the government building was closed over the weekend and opens only at 10am. I also wanted to visit the monument commemorating General Wolfe and his victory over Quebec. It was something I thought of doing when I attended St. Jean Baptist 400th anniversary celebrations this past year in Quebec City. I also wanted to be present at the Speaker’s Corner at Hyde Park on Sunday and participate in some form of political discussion … stopped to eat … perhaps with respect to Israel and Palestine. In the end, I opted for the more relaxed approach to the city and I think it did its thing. Out of all the cities that I have visited perhaps Milan and London would be the two that I would be most interested in working in one day (if my career still involved financial markets and institutions). Ramallah was interesting and so was Tel-Aviv but I couldn’t see a reason why I would need to spend more time there than vacationing.

 

The last thing I wanted to mention before I began my final discourse was the dream I had Saturday night – just before I woke-up. Although it has been some time since I’ve had it, I can still remember the emotions I physically felt while I slept I don’t remember how I got to this point but I recall that it was a cloudy / grey day and my dad, my grandfather, my uncle and I were playing Italian cards in our neighbourhood on some type of picnic table – something that would have surely occurred if they grandfather and uncle were still living at most probably at a family picnic or meal for a holiday or someone’s birthday. My dad was sitting diagonally from where I was sitting while my uncle sat to the right to me and my grandfather was sitting in front me. From our seating arrangements, it was understood that my dad and I were partners and that we were playing against my uncle and grandfather. My uncle did not say much nor did I give him that much importance in the dream. It seemed like he was still living in the dream. The focus was on my grandfather.

 

He did not say a word to me. He didn’t even look at me in the eyes. It seemed like he was there playing alone but amongst us. As if I was watching a movie real. I remember telling myself, “So that’s how my grandfather used to play cards.” Playing cards was something I used to do mostly with my dad and my grandmother. I believe I only played with him once but used to watch him, my dad and uncle play for hours. I was too young and inexperienced to play at their level.

 

After noticing how my grandfather was playing, my dad turned to me and stated, with a matter-of-fact tone in his voice, “Now you know how your grandfather used to play cards.” Which brings me to the final stage of this entry: what did I expect from this trip before I left and what have I taken from it now that I find myself at the end of it.

 

While remaining on the theme of my dream, one of the major reasons I scheduled Italy into it all was to see where my Italian side was from and to extend my family tree. More precisely, get to know the family I always had but never knew about. I expected to fall in love with the country and concoct plans on how I would be able to move there and work. What I found instead was a country that was rude and filled with tourists – everywhere I turned. I decided that I needed to come back, sooner rather than later, in order to experience it MY WAY (and not have to preoccupy with what others want or are comfortable with). Italy brought me to Rome and the Vatican where perhaps arguably two of the most influential empires in history are located: the Roman and Christian Empires. Before I left on the trip, I was eager to visit these historical sites that I have read so much about throughout my life. From my history classes to my time with the Church, Rome has been like a Mecca for me: a pilgrimage of religions, cultural and historical importance. I found all of this in Rome and the Vatican but the context, ‘landscape’ and foundation of the pilgrimage shifted, from what it used to be, once I actually arrived there.

 

In order to better explain this, I will need to refer to the first leg of my journey: the Middle East. This trip was quite important for me for a number of reasons. On a more superficial level, I was always intrigued by this area of the world especially with Arabia. In addition, I wanted to better acquaint myself with the area, its history, its culture and its politics. This definitely included the witnessing of a country that is not ruled by Judeo-Christian beliefs but something else – in this case, Islamic traditions. Futhermore, the ability (or inability) to coexist in various cultural situations was important as well. This is one of the main reasons for those two legs has been the study of historical and contemporary investigations of struggles, revolutions and occupations. This ‘investigation’ actually began June 24th, 2008 when Sacha and I went to Quebec City to witness the 400th anniversary of the founding of Tadoussac settlement on the Plains of Abraham (the location where General Wolfe [English Army] defeated Montcalm [French Army] … watching Helen Hunt movie that I read about in the paper in England (“Then She Found Me”) … The event marks the historical struggle between these two cultures with each other and with respect to the Aboriginal people across Canada up to the period that affected my life: the culmination to the Quiet Revolution and its aftermath. Born in 1980, I was introduced to a city, a province, a nation, a people and a country with Pierre Elliot Trudeau and René Lévesque as my strict biological father and my loving step-father, respectively.

 

I am a child of the Canadian Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms but I am also Québécois. But who are my parents? Who were they? Who are they now? What’s my family’s coat of arms? Is it time to change it? These questions have brought me to investigate other struggles. It sent me to Israel to more about the interlaced history of the region. To learn about its ‘Apartheid Walls’, PLO corruption, suicide bombings, co-existence, etc. I then went to the Republic of Ireland and visited places that illustrated the pains of the Irish people throughout history and made parallels with what is currently occurring in Israel (especially after visiting Northern Ireland and the Catholic and Protestant neighbourhoods separated by ‘Walls of Peace’), as well as, what has happened in Quebec, since the Quiet Revolution and in Scotland since 1998. All of these struggles involve some form or other of violent resistance against their oppressors. Was it necessary? My belief is that of oppressors do not listen to words or arguments or even any form of logic besides the logic of interests. When interests, whatever they may be, are no longer sustainable then they will relinquish their hold.

 

From Israel, I went to Rome where I was able to close a significant part of that discussion. In Israel, I learned about the Roman reign in the Holy Land. Herod’s Palaces, Beth Lehem, Jerusalem, Masada, the burning of the Second Temple, etc. I saw what methods the Romans used for their conquests in Judea and their abuse of the Jewish people and, upon arriving into Rome, everything the Jewish slaves created that we now see as Roman (or Italian): the Colosseo, the Roman Forum, etc. As previously mentioned with respect to the pyramids in Egypt, what are we admiring? Has anything changed today? I think it is important that I re-write the quote that I took from the Colosseo Museum (August 31st, 2008 11h00ish),

 

            “(The Romans) great robbers of the world, after all the lands have been diminished by their devastation (they) are exploiting the sea, greedy if the enemy is rich, arrogant if he is poor. They cannot get enough of either the East or the West; they alone desire to possess with equal madness the richness and the misery of nations. Under the false name of empire they pass off robbery, murder and pillage: and when they have achieved desolation, they call it peace.”

                                                                                    Tacitus, Agricola, 30, 4

 

But, are there benefits to occupation? Of course there are ‘exchanges’ of ideas (most of the time they are coerced) but this can happen peacefully and in a self-determining manner. The reason I ask this question is because while in Rome, I heard many tour guides and tourists make reference to the benefits of the Roman Empire. The belief that the, “Romans brought culture, architecture, ‘republicanism’, ‘democracy’, order, laws, etc” to an otherwise ‘ignorant’ Europe and known world at the time, along with, “If it wasn’t for them these things would not have existed” (or it would have taken longer than it already did). I do not believe that benefits cannot be measured in isolation and must incorporate the costs of being occupied which differ from case-to-case. I’m almost ready to say that I don’t believe that there is a case where the ‘benefits’ of occupation outweigh the imposed act itself but would need to look into history to be certain. One thing for certain is that there’s a thread of cases where I can no longer negate the facts illustrating that their reign’s costs of occupation outweigh their benefits throughout history. And that’s the reign of Christianity and the Catholic Church.

 

The path from Israel to Rome was important for many reasons (as can be read) but one that stood out from the others was religious in nature (at least before I left Montreal. This can be seen in the email that I sent Father Frank Leo before I left and discussion we had together one day before I left). It has been a little over 10 years that I left the Catholic Church. Mostly spurred by the death of my grandfather and then the passing of my uncle (as well as, at least according to me, some inexplicable historical events) and causing my religious and spiritual life to separate and become almost non-existent for some time. My morality suffered as well since it was almost exclusively attached to Christianity – and I was questioning everything. I began to search for my spirituality in other religions and religious traditions but it was during my South American trip where I made my greatest advancements and it was throughout this trip where I realized it. It was reading, “The Art of Happiness” and taking notes on the various topics that the Dalai Lama touched home and applied to my life that it dawned on me when I came across this quote, in reference to secular ethics,

 

            “… although I personally believe that our human nature is fundamentally gentle and compassionate, I feel it is not enough that this is our underlying nature; we must also develop an appreciation and awareness of that fact. And changing how we perceive ourselves, through learning and understanding, can have a very real impact on how we interact with others and how we conduct our daily lives.”

                                                                                                Dalai Lama

 

My ethics, even before I began to be committed to the Church, was always based on a concept of compassion, love and understanding for your neighbour and humanity in general (I wrote about this in more detail in an earlier entry). After visiting Jerusalem with every sense that I possess, I concluded that religion is where I should take my influences from but personalize its traditions to my perspective. This realization became the basis of my moral code (with jottings all over my journal) and, what one day will be my construction of the New Jerusalem Man (as I initially labeled it) or some other name I will up with. Although it will still take some time before I am comfortable with the vision, I know that the journey should be truly breath-taking.

 

 

 

September 15th, 2008

New York

12h15

 

Sitting in the Gate 23 section of JFK airport waiting for my 13h45 flight to Montreal to board

 

I am getting closer to home and my stomach was experiencing the butterflies for some reason. This return seems different from the others. It seems like a never left. That’s probably because I spent the last three weeks with friends so I guess that made it seem like I never left. Come to think of it, throughout this whole trip (the whole six weeks) I was constantly surrounded by people I knew. In Israel I met up with Danny Brown, Jesse Rosenfeld, Cristina Zoghbi, Inbal Permont and the Zoghbi brothers (Nader Zoghbi being the one who got married). In Italy, I met with my family but before then, I began my trip by meeting Nick and then Carlo and Marco in Rome (and Abruzzo). This was followed by Nick and I meeting Vince in Dublin where we then headed off together to meet Joseph, Craig, Mel and Nicole in Doolin, Ireland (Craig and Mel being the couple that got married). Once in London, I met up with an old friend (from Vanier College) named Sarah and met up with Andrew. I was supposed to have met two other friends but I mixed up the locations and therefore, was unable to. What does this all mean? Well, I believe that I have begun to understand the importance of relationships (intimate and not) and believe that they can fulfill individuals in ways that individuals cannot do alone and that are vital in one’s growth as a person and as a member of society. Before I left, I was enthusiastic for encountering some old friends but now in different environments, friends that I met in my last trip to South America but now in their home countries and my current friends (that are also old). Getting to see them all in completely different landscapes was captivating but, I forgot to incorporate one thing. That thing was the reality that my trip was only six weeks this time around and my desire to see and do the most amounts of things possible has diminished. Knowing what I know now, I am not sure I would have done everything exactly the same again. I would have taken a couple of days alone in Italy to wander and I would have met up with Adriana in Nice. But overall, it was a pleasant challenge. And I say this because although I have known most of the people I’ve mentioned for quite some time, you never really know someone 100% (but when you find those things out). This is evident in a quote by the author of, “The Art of Happiness”,

 

            “If what we seek in life is happiness and intimacy is an important ingredient of a happier life, then it clearly makes sense to conduct our lives on the basis of a model of intimacy that includes as many forms of connection with others as possible. The Dalai Lama’s model of intimacy is based on a willingness to open ourselves to many others, to family, friends, and even strangers, forming genuine and deep bonds based on our common humanity.”

 

During one of the phone conversations with my dad while I was away, he told me that he heard someone say that, “there are no strangers in Ireland – only friends you haven’t met yet”. I find that this can be true for the world as long as we open ourselves to others as the Dalai Lama states. In reference to more ‘intimate’ relationship (i.e marriages) his approach to building a strong relationship is by basing the relationship on, “the qualities of affection, compassion, and mutual respect as human beings. Basing a relationship on these qualities enables us to achieve a deep and meaningful bond not only with our lover or spouse but also with friends, acquaintances or strangers – virtually any human beings. It opens up unlimited possibilities and opportunities for connection.”

 

The quote reminds me of a journal entry from South America where I defined love as the emotional response to understanding one’s significant other. Although it was much more elaborate than that, it sounded quite similar to the aforementioned quote. The quote as well as the two weddings has helped me come to terms with my intimate life. It has assured me that I am on the right track when it comes to understanding and love. What I need to do is improve on my ability to understand ‘understanding’ even when I am tired and stressed! The weddings, along with, all those romantic touristy places like Venezia, Firenze and Cinque Terre have cleansed my heart and it seems to be ready to be used again. Only time will tell but I do feel my blood warming up.

 

As I approach the end of the journey, and the journal entry for that matter, I would like to go back to the beginning of this entry where I spoke about my grandfather and the dream I had. I believe my grandfather symbolizes the trip especially my time with my family in Italy. It represents my aggressive research in where I came from. The fact that my grandmother and dad’s stories of the old country will now have a background. The fact that I can understand and somewhat relate. I saw where my grandfather was born and met someone else who used to play with him when they were kids. I saw the house where my great grandmother and her sisters were born. I saw the port where my grandfather, as well as, my father and grandmother (the first time around) left for ‘America’: Santa Lucia port in Napoli (by boat passing by Genova, Italy and then Lisboa, Portugal and arriving finally in Halifax, Canada – 53 days later). I believe it will bring me closer to my dad and grandmother because I am the only one in the family, who can understand because I have seen it, breathed it and for one lunch, ate it!

 

And here’s the part that I wanted to write and bury in the cemetery in Pietracatella (where I am from in Italy) in front of my great grandfather but the words weren’t coming to me. I want to take the time now to greet my kin and our ancestors (the reason I have been keeping a detailed account all along). I have taken the time to document my thoughts so that you can get a chance, if you so desire, to get to know who I was (as I was) and from my very own pen (by then, no one will be using pens. Search it and you’ll find out what they were on your own).

 

So, welcome to the family (if I haven’t done so already in person). I have spent quite some time mapping out the family tree but please feel free to research for yourself and add to my findings. You’ll discover that it is quite exciting and I just began scratching the surface. If you’re wondering what I had in mind at this moment when it came to my life plans and goals … well … I have some idea. I discovered on this journey that Canada is a wonderful country at the turn of the 21st century. Great opportunities and very well respected around the world. As I traveled, my passport and I have been greeted with nothing less than the utmost respect for our country and its citizens. Unfortunately, I have noticed that the underlying fabric that makes us stand out in the world is being dyed a different tone. I feel that I need to assist in whichever way possible at the moment.

 

As for future travels, it has become clearer and clearer as the weeks went by that my next stop is Canada. It is time that I pause learning about the world’s history, culture and geography when traveling and begin focusing on my own country. And yes, I think for the first time in my life I can actually say that, “I am Canadian” without feeling that I am relinquishing the fact that I am Italian, Venezuelan, Spanish, Trinidadian, African and especially Québécois, as well. I believe a Canadian identity is being formed in me and once I can define it, I will make sure to share it with others.

 

This is not a good-bye but a, “A té luogo” (Brazilian for, “Until later”). I’m certain we will speak again very soon. Take care and remember that your family, past and present, have only the best in their hearts for you.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Anthony Luciano Di Carlo Aché

 

PS: Ithaca here I am!

 

 

The Origins of “Je me souviens”

JE ME SOUVIENS

 

The motto Je me souviens (I remember) replaced the slogan La belle province on Québec licence plates in 1978. The change was made without public debate as if it went without saying, but several Québecers asked themselves what they should actually remember. A vox pop by the Montreal Star revealed that Montrealers had very different interpretations about the Conquest, the response to the Durham Report, and even about the 1976 (Parti Québécois) victory.

By failing to furnish official documentation about the motto, the government surely contributed to the confusion. Who can recall the origin of this motto and the context of its appearance, around 1885, on the ornamental façade of the Hôtel du Parlement (Parliament Buildings) in Québec City? Yet, it is there that the meaning is found.

Origins of the motto

Eugène-Étienne Taché, the architect of the parliament building created the Québec motto. He was the son of United Canada’s former prime minister Étienne-Paschal, who was both a regional Patriot leader (1837), and a Father of Confederation. Taché, a land surveyor by training and a deputy minister of Crown Land, was a widely cultured man with a passion for architecture. He had made an impression on his fellow citizens and government authorities by designing a series of triumphal arches for the bicentenary of the Québec Diocese, and as astonishing as it might seem for someone who was self-taught, he received the mandate to draw up the plans for a new parliament building.

Taché was inspired by the Louvre’s architecture, especially the building’s expansion (1852-1857) that would become the model par excellence of Second Empire style. The Louvre was also a model civil palace whose statuary developped secular themes. When Taché suggested dedicating the Hôtel du Parlement’s façade to the memory of great national historic figures, he found that the government authorities, wishing to strengthen Québec’s identity, were in agreement. They wanted to support the Québécois society’s longstanding existence and its status as a founding nation. Therefore, when the façade’s first stone was laid in 1884, Lieutenant-Governor Théodore Robitaille gave this response to those who questioned whether the Québécois people were attached to their institutions and their autonomy: “Go and visit the public buildings in the capital, and you will see that the people of Québec wish to preserve this self-government won after a century of struggle and conflict.”

To embellish the main entrance, Taché selected the coat of arms granted to the province by Queen Victoria in 1868, to which he added a motto of his own invention: Je me souviens. It is that simple. The government accepted his plans, appended them to the construction contract signed in1883, and carried them out.

Not a single passage was found in which Taché explained the origins and significance of Je me souviens. He probably did not feel it necessary since his message was so simple and the motto’s meaning so obvious when placed in context. In a report to the deputy-minister of Public Works in April 1883, Taché gave an overview of “all the memories” that he wanted to evoke in the decor of the Hôtel du Parlement’s façade. The passage leaves no doubt as to the meaning of Je me souviens. Taché wanted to build a Pantheon to commemorate heroes in Québec’s history, and his motto asks Québecers to remember them.

Meaning of the motto

Appearing discretely on the façade, the motto became an integral part of Québec’s coat of arms as of the late 19th century (although the government did not trouble to seek Royal assent), and it officially took on the heraldic description of coat of arms in 1939 by simple government decree.

That Quebecers had adopted Taché’s motto since the late 19th century is shown in a speech by historian, politician and member of the legislative council Thomas Chapais, in 1895:

The province of Québec has a motto which it is proud of, and likes to engrave on the pediments of its monuments and palaces. This motto has only three words: Je me souviens, but these three words in their simple laconicism equal the most eloquent of speeches. Yes, we remember. We remember the past and its lessons, the past and its misfortunes, the past and its glory.

No public discussion about this motto has surfaced, and Taché’s contemporaries did not question its significance. Until the 1970s, documents consulted on the subject remained consistent despite the government’s never offering an official interpretation, and like Chapais, several writers recalled only general historical memories. In English Canada things were similarly vague: “[the] ancient lineage, traditions and memories of all the past” [sic] (Association of Ontario Land Surveyors, 1934) or “the glory of the Ancien Régime” (Colombo’s Canadian Quotations, first edition, 1974).

The other motto

However, after Je me souviens was inserted on licence plates, an explanation spread that had already circulated in some circles by word-of-mouth. It was probably elaborated upon by an open letter from Taché’s granddaughter published in the Montréal Star in 1978. The writer of this letter claimed that Je me souviens was the beginning of a longer motto: “Je me souviens/Que né sous le lys/Je croîs sous la rose. I remember/That born under the lily/I grow under the rose.”

This explanation worked its way into at least one dictionary of quotations (Colombo’s Canadian Quotations), government information banks, and particularly the English language media. Journalists from the Globe and theGazette did not miss out on exploiting the ironic and political meaning on licence plates, reminding Québecers that “they had flourished under the rose of England!”

However, it is now clearly established that the “poem” from which this “complete motto” derived did not exist, and that it was in fact a matter of two distinct mottos by the same person. Taché conceived the second (which reads precisely Née dans les lis, je grandis dans les roses/Born in the lilies, I grow in the roses) for a monument that in the end was not built, and he later used it on the medal for Québec’s tercentenery in 1908.

The most interesting witness on this matter is David Ross McCord (1844-1930), who commented on the two mottos in his Historical Notebook c. 1900.

However mistaken may be the looking towards France as a disintegrating factor operating against the unification of the nation – it may be perhaps pardonable – no one can gainsay the beauty and simplicity of Eugene Taché’s words Je me souviens. He and Siméon Lesage have done more than any two other Canadians towards elevating the architectural taste in the Province. Is Taché not also the author of the other motto – the sentiment to which we will all drink a toast: “Née dans les lis, je croîs dans les roses.” There is no disintegration there.

The evidence from the McCord Museum’s founder proves without a doubt that it really is a question of two distinct mottos. Furthermore, they do not have at all the same meaning. How then can we explain that they could be combined sometime between 1900 and 1978 and spread widely in an interpretation that did not correspond with Taché’s intentions? It remains a mystery.

The history of Québec’s motto was, all the same, remarkably simple. It originated from the individual initiative by the architect of the Hôtel du Parlement, and just asked Quebecers of all backgrounds to remember their history. Those who wanted to give it a vindictive meaning or use it in constitutional debates must be unaware that it had been engraved on the façade of the Hôtel du Parlement at the base of the statues of Wolf and Montcalm.

Justin on growing up Trudeau; Shares memories with Catherine Clark on lives as kids of PMs

Canada’s most famous political couple was madly in love, but Margaret Trudeau was never an “equal partner” in the life of husband and prime minister Pierre Trudeau, son Justin says.

With a tinge of bittersweet regret, Justin Trudeau suggests his parents’ marriage was done in by an insurmountable age difference.

“They loved each other incredibly, passionately, completely. But there was 30 years between them and my mom never was an equal partner in what encompassed my father’s life, his duty, his country,” Trudeau said.

“She was a partner in the child-rearing stuff and the family stuff but not in his full life,” Trudeau told CPAC’s Beyond Politics in a show that aired last night.

The program was noteworthy for another reason: The interviewer, Catherine Clark, is the daughter of former prime minister Joe Clark. During the interview, Trudeau and Clark shared fond memories about childhood experiences at 24 Sussex Dr., the prime minister’s official residence, and the country retreat at Harrington Lake.

Trudeau, elected an MP in October, seems determined to learn the lessons of his own parents’ marriage breakup, pledging that his wife, Sophie Gregoire, is a valued partner in his political life.

“That lesson for me is the one thing I try with Sophie. She’s extraordinarily insightful. “I wouldn’t be a very good politician if Sophie wasn’t in my life. Knowing that she knows that is what hopefully makes everything a lot easier in terms of the difficult times we’ll always go through, ” said Trudeau, MP for the Montreal riding of Papineau.

Conscious of the toll that political life exacts on family, Trudeau, 37, said he asks himself every week whether being an MP is worth it.

He is learning that the life of a politician in Ottawa – far from home and family – can be lonely. “It’s amazing how lonely a life Ottawa is. … You go home, you grab a slice of pizza, you make a bowl of cereal, try and watch a little TV and you go to sleep alone and wake up the next morning and go to work. ”

Trudeau said it’s “heartbreaking” to have to leave children Xavier, 20 months, and Ella-Grace, 5 months, behind at his Montreal home during the weeks he is in Ottawa.

“That’s the question I ask myself every week when I come home and see Xavier and I see my daughter and my wife, I ask myself was it worth it that you were away from them for four days. “So far, the work I’m doing, the things that I’m learning, the building that is going on is worth it,” he said. “The day that I think I’m not making that much of a difference … I’ll leave politics.”

Trudeau spoke about losing younger brother Michel, killed in a 1998 avalanche, and his father, who died in 2000, saying he feels their deaths every day. “I wish my kids would know my father,” Trudeau said. “I know he’s watching. I just can’t ask him for his opinion anymore.”

The new Trudeaumania

Pembroke got swept up in Trudeaumania, The Next Generation when Justin Trudeau, the son of the late former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, spoke at the Germania Club Hall Tuesday night.

About 270 Liberal party faithful filled the hall as the Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke Riding Association hosted an evening with Mr. Trudeau, the Member of Parliament for the Montreal riding of Papineau.

Arriving shortly after 6 p. m., he swept into the hall, taking time to greet Liberal party members before speaking to the media in advance of the dinner.

Mr. Trudeau said he was glad to be in Pembroke, an area he has driven through many times with a canoe on his car’s roof, headed to wilder places. He said he loved the area and was glad to visit in an official capacity this time.

While he did stray into a few partisan comments, Mr. Trudeau’s speech was generally full of vision and ideals.

He admitted, though, it was not about putting forward concrete proposals.

He said Liberal MPs are travelling throughout the country in order to get a sense of Canadians’ fears, dreams, hopes and concerns and to make sure that the Liberal party is listening to what they are saying.

Mr. Trudeau is passionate about engaging Canadian youth in politics.

“If we’re going to start looking at new solutions, looking at a different way of thinking that is going to balance our economy with our eco-systems, look at reducing conflict around the world, looking at dealing with poverty and marginalization here in Canada and around the world, we’re going to have to be bold in our thinking and young people bring in a capacity to think differently, to challenge their elders, to challenge their world and ask tough questions that all of us need to start answering,” he said.

“The more we get young people involved and connected and heard in politics, the more politics starts to change.”

He stated that the current trend of attack-based politics doesn’t help anyone.

“We’re getting away from the heart of the issues of people suffering because of (quick) decisions, or because of pinching pennies. The idea is we should be talking in politics about what is important, not just what is urgent or politically expedient. (We need to get) people involved, and feeling that politics can be about something important, and bigger than just the little gamesmanship that ends up on the front page of newspapers because we have to start talking about the real issues that we are facing,” he said.

He warned that currently the political realm is very divisive. Instead, he suggested it should be about bringing people together.

“That’s the only way we are going to get through some of the big challenges we are facing,” he said.

Throughout his comments and speech, Mr. Trudeau hammered home the message of connecting Canadians and connecting to Canadians.

“What really matters is what individual citizens bring in terms of change. That’s why community is so important,” he said.

He said the point of life is not about accumulating “stuff” but is simply knowing that each individual matters.

“To know that an individual is relative to their peer group, their family, to their community. To know the world is a slightly better place because you passed through it than it would have been had you never existed — is the basic requirement to truly feel accomplished and happy,” he said.

He added we are living in a world and a society that has forgotten that. He believes this has led to people living disconnected lives and looking out only for themselves.

He said Canadians, particularly those in politics, need to be forward thinking and put forward a plan for the future rather than hiding heads in the sand and relying on the same old solutions to current issues.

“Our values of openness, of respect for each other, of a willingness to work hard and readiness to be there if a neighbour is in difficulty — these are the things that define us, and make us a tremendously-successful country but that’s something that I suspect we’ve been forgetting recently,” he said.

He stated that being Canadian makes us luckier than 99.5 per cent of the rest of the world that isn’t Canadian, but with that luck comes responsibility.

“If we were given these advantages, if we worked hard to gain these advantages, then we need to say, ‘OK, what am I going to do with these advantages? How am I going to make sure that what we have is leveraged into something better for everyone.’ How are we making sure that Canada takes its role as a generator of solutions for the world,” he said.

The speech made by the charismatic MP resulted in a standing ovation from area Liberals.

Mr. Trudeau has an extensive background in youth work as well he is very involved with the Canadian Avalanche Foundation promoting intelligent risk taking and safety awareness, and wilderness groups such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

Local riding association president Gail Richardson said that while the event was a fundraiser, “this evening is also a celebration for us here in Renfrew-Nipissing- Pembroke because we’re on the move and we’re growing. We’re very excited. We’ve got our new leader and we’re delighted to have Justin Trudeau here with us to represent the party and to help us as we move forward.”

A modest proposal Justin Trudeau

There are two issues that were foremost to me when I entered politics: the need to create a better balance between human civilization and the natural world that sustains it; and the need to get young people to value politics by getting politics to value young people. And to my mind, since the latter would be a powerful stepping stone to achieving the former, I chose to focus my first piece of legislation on youth.

The temptation was to go for broke. Demanding that this government implement this or create that would lead to being shot down, which would then result in rants that the Conservatives don’t care about young people. Easy politics, fun speeches to make, but fundamentally not why I chose to spend four or five days a week in Ottawa away from my family.

So I decided on a much more modest proposal. A motion to ask the Human Resources and Skills Development committee to study youth and volunteerism by looking at national service models around the world, by hearing from organizations and from young people themselves about their needs and desires, and then to hopefully write a report recommending a policy on national youth service for Canada.

The objective was to bring forward to Parliament a formal conversation on youth and service. This seemed a safe, constructive proposal, because no one could possibly object to merely talking about how we connect young people with their communities across this country.

“By refusing to open a conversation about our young people, the Bloc and Conservatives betray their fundamental lack of faith in our country’s ability to achieve greatness. ”— Liberal MP Justin Trudeau

How wrong I was. First, the Bloc weighed in, saying that even having a conversation about a national strategy on youth and volunteerism was an affront to Quebec’s jurisdiction over education. But really, they will object to anything that may lead to more young Quebeckers discovering the rest of Canada, and how well they fit in as builders of this entire country’s future. So as much as their small-mindedness is frustrating, at least they’re being ideologically consistent.

The real disappointment was when the Conservative Party rose to oppose this modest proposal. Why vote against talking about empowering our young people? Why vote against a process that might generate a creative way for organizations across the country to better serve Canadians during this time of economic challenge?

The short answer is that the Conservatives don’t think that this issue is a big deal. Young people aren’t a particularly valuable political constituency to them, and they’re gambling that Canadians are more focused right now on narrow, short-term economic interests than on creating opportunities for youth to serve their country.

The longer answer revolves around the Conservative Party’s vision – or lack thereof – for Canada. By their very nature, young people are idealistic, long-term thinkers ready to challenge the status quo and embrace change. Theirs are exactly the perspectives we need as we look to build a Canada that will retake its place of respect in the world, a Canada that acts for both the immediate and long-term well-being of its citizens, its economy and its ecosystems, and a Canada in which the politics of division, fear and indifference have no place.

By refusing to open a conversation about our young people, the Bloc and Conservatives betray their fundamental lack of faith in our country’s ability to achieve greatness.

Canada, and Canadians, deserve better.

Justin Trudeau is the Liberal MP for Papineau and eldest son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau

Montréal ma cité, Québec ma province, Canada my country

En français:

“Je me souviens,

que né dans un jardin de lys, de trèfle, de chardons et de roses

nourris par les esprits d’Amériques,

leurs pétales qui bruissaient dans les vents du vieux monde;

je grandis sous l’érable

aux feuilles rubis qui reflétaient les couleurs du jardin sous lui,

ses racines enfoncées dans la croyance que,

dans la diversité,

nous sommes un.”

 

In English:

“Je me souviens,

that born in a garden of lillies, shamrocks, thistles and roses,

watered by the spirits of the Americas,

its petals rustled by the winds of the old world;

I grow under a maple tree

with ruby leaves reflecting the colours of the garden below,

where its roots are under the belief

that in diversity,

we are one.”

 

In italiano:

“Je me souviens,

che nato in un giardino di gigli, trifogli, cardi e rose,

innafiatto dagli spiriti delle Americhe,

i suoi petali sussurrati dai venti del vecchio mondo;

cresco sotto un acero

con foglie di rubino che riflettono i colori del giardino sottostante,

dove le sue radici sono interrate nella convinzione che

nella diversità,

siamo una cosa sola.”

 

Ann kreyòl ayisyen:

“Je me souviens,

ke sa pran nesans nan yon jaden flè li, trèf, chadon ak roz,

ke lespri yo nan Amerik la te nouri,

petal yo ki te konn fè bri nan van ansyen mond lan,

mwen grandi anba yon pye erab

ak fèy ruby kite reflete koulè yo ki nan jaden anba a,

kote rasin yo ki  anba kwayans lan ke,

nan divèsite a,

nou fè yon sèl.”

 

En Español:

“Je me souviens,

que haber nacido en un jardín de lirios, tréboles, cardos y rosas,

regadas por los espíritus de las Américas,

pétalos susurrados por los vientos del viejo mundo;

crezco bajo el erable

con hojas de color rubí que reflejan los colores del jardín abajo,

sustentados por raices enterrados en la creencia

sobre la diversidad,

somos uno.”

 

Em português:

“Je me souviens,

que nascido num jardim de lírios, trevos, cardos e rosas,

regados pelos espíritos das Américas,

pétalas rufladas pelos ventos do velho mundo;

cresço sob um bordo

com folhas de rubi que refletem as cores do jardim abaixo,

sustentados por raízes enterrados na crença

da diversidade,

somos um.”

 

Հայերեն :

Je me souviens,

որ ծնվել է այգում եւ Շուշաններ, երեքնուկ, տատասկէն եւ վարդեր

ցօղարկուած կողմից հոգիների Ամերիկաներում,

նրա ծաղկաթերթ խշշալիրար անցնել է քամիների հին աշխարհի.

Ես աճում տակ թխկու ծառի

հետ մուգ կարմիր գույն տերեւների արտացոլող գույները այգին ստորեւ,

որտեղ նրա արմատները գտնվում են այն համոզմունքով,

որ բազմազանության,

մենք մէկ ենք

 

Στα Ελληνικα :

Je me souviens,

γεννήθηκε σε ένα κήπο απο κρίνα, τριφύλλια, αγκάθια και τριαντάφυλλα,

ποτίζεται από τα πνεύματα της Αμερικής,

ακούστηκε το θρόισμα των πετάλων του από τους ανέμους του παλιού κόσμου.

Μεγαλώνω κάτω από ένα πλάτανο

με ρουμπινένια φύλλα αντανακλώντας τα χρώματα του παρακάτω κήπου,

όπου οι ρίζες του είναι υπό την πεποίθηση

ότι στην πολυμορφία,

είμαστε ένα.

 

 

Türkçe :

Je me souviens,

Zambak, yonca, diken ve güllerle dolu

Yapraklarının eski kıtanın rüzgarlarıyla hışırdadığı

Amerika’nın ruhuyla yıkanmıs bir bahçede doğdum

Yeryüzünde ki bu bahçenin bütün renklerini yansıtan yakut rengi yapraklı

Bu çeşitliliğin içinde hepimizin bir olduğu

Bir akçaağacın altında büyüdüm.

 

باللغة العربية :

Je me souviens,

wolidto fi 7adikat zohoor al zanbak, al nafl al bari, wa al shawk

wa al worood alati sukiyat bi roo7 honood america al asliyoon

awrak tijan zohooriha natija min riya7 al 3alam al kadim

namawt wa kabirto ta7ta ashjar al kaykab bi 3asaliha al rabani

wa awrakiha al yakootiya ta3kiso alwan al 7adika asfaliha

wa 7aytho jothoriha tatanawa3o min al iman

nakool anna wa7id

أَتَذَكَرُ وُلِد َفِي حَدِيِقَةِ الزَمْبَقِ ، الَنَفْلَةِ،الشُوكِ وَ الوُرُودِ. مُطْعَمُونَ مِن رُوح الهُنُودِ . بَتِلاَةٌ كَانَتْ تَظُجُّ فِي رِيَاحِ الْعَالَمِ الْقَدِيمِ. كَبِرْتُ تَحْتَ اْلقَيقَبِ. وَرَقٌ يَاُقُوتِيٌ تَعْكِسُ أَلْوَانَ الْحَدِيقَةِ تَحْتَهُ. جُذُورُهُ غُرِسَتْ فِي الإِيمًانِ وَ فِي الْتَّنَّوعِ. نَحْنُ وَاحِدٌ.