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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

when a black man shoots a white cop in self-defence ...

  he pays for the rest of his life ... (even in Canada)

I'm especially interested in this injustice, as I also left the United States in 1969, worked for Toronto Public Library for 6 1/2 years, and was published in the poetry anthology CROSSING LINES: POETS WHO CAME TO CANADA IN THE VIETNAM WAR ERA with Douglas Freeman.
- Chris

Family of ex-library worker convicted in Chicago shooting appeals decision to block him from coming home for Christmas

Douglas Gary Freeman says he should be allowed into Canada on compassionate grounds despite conviction for shooting Chicago cop 45 years ago.

Douglas Gary Freeman was sentenced then to 30 days in jail, two years’ probation and ordered to pay $250,000 to a charity that supports the families of police officers killed in the line of duty.
Once his time was served and his fine paid, he found he could not re-enter Canada. His family is appealing, arguing he should be allowed to rejoin them for Christmas.

Douglas Gary Freeman was sentenced then to 30 days in jail, two years’ probation and ordered to pay $250,000 to a charity that supports the families of police officers killed in the line of duty. Once his time was served and his fine paid, he found he could not re-enter Canada. His family is appealing, arguing he should be allowed to rejoin them for Christmas.

The family of Douglas Gary Freeman was scheduled to be in a Toronto hearing room on Tuesday, arguing that the former Toronto librarian’s assistant should be allowed to come home immediately to spend Christmas with his family.

Freeman, 65, has been barred from Canada since he pleaded guilty in February 2008 to one count of aggravated battery for a shooting incident 45 years ago, when he said he was defending himself from a Chicago police officer in a racially charged attack.
“I want to come home to my family,” Freeman, a grandfather, said via email from Washington. “We want to have a family Christmas this year.”

Freeman’s lawyer Barbara Jackman has argued that he should be allowed into Canada immediately on humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) grounds to be with his family in the GTA.
Freeman said via email that the government has told his family that if he was granted a temporary residence permit (TRP) to be with his family, he would never leave.

“H&C factors are that my wife and children, i.e., my whole family is in Canada,” Freeman said via email. “But the government says I cannot be granted a TRP because my whole family is in Canada and if they granted me a TRP, I would never leave.”
“So because H&C factors exist, I can’t have a TRP. Is that nuts?”

Freeman changed his name and fled to Canada after he wounded officer Terrence Knox with three gunshots in 1969.
Knox, who suffered permanent injuries to an arm, died in 2011 at age 63.
Freeman said he shot Knox after Knox struck him from behind, pointed a loaded gun to his head, and shouted a racial slur while threatening to blow his head off.

Freeman said he has not carried a gun since leaving Chicago. He avoided any brushes with the law as he settled into life in Canada, marrying and raising four children while working at the Toronto Reference Library.
When his story leaked, he was extradited to the U.S. and pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated battery.
He was sentenced then to 30 days in jail, two years’ probation and ordered to pay $250,000 to a charity that supports the families of police officers killed in the line of duty.
Once his time was served and his fine paid, he found he could not re-enter Canada.

Federal Court Justice Anne Mactavish ruled in October 2013 that the federal government acted in bad faith in barring Freeman from Canada after labelling him a terrorist and linking him to the now-defunct Black Panther party.
Federal officials had argued that top-secret evidence not shown to him tied him to the Black Panthers.
“I have determined that Mr. Freeman was unfairly treated in this process in several respects,” Mactavish wrote. The judge dismissed claims he was a security threat. “No meaningful reasons were provided to explain the rationale for finding Mr. Freeman to be inadmissible to Canada on security grounds.”

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Marmora Historical: new poem and recordings of Chris Faiers

Anne Philpot of The Marmora Historical Foundation interviewed me last month for a comprehensive listing on their website. Thanks Anne! Anne also had the patience to record me reading several of my poems for posterity.

There's also my most Marmora oriented poem, "bushrats", about the two elderly mentors who took me under their wings when I first moved to the edge of the Canadian Shield a quarter century ago. Some pics and poems, my memoir of meeting George Harrison, and lots of other interesting info about this quirky old mining town, the first in Ontario, and its collection of artists and historical figures - worth visiting the site and spending some time - you may be browsing your next holiday destination.  

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On 2014-11-19, at 1:10 PM, Katherine Gordon wrote:

What a great logo they have Chris.
I am so happy for you, congratulations..legacy matters!
You have earned your spot and have also kept alive the tradition of the
great poets of the shield.   So proud of you.
Thanks for sharing,   hugs from Katherine.

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Thanks for the kind words  ;  )
I was very pleased that I was the third local artist 'invested', &
actually more than a little surprised to be recognized. As a draft dodging
ex hippie poet from the big city, I haven't always fit in with the locals
& their traditions!

peace & poetry power!
Chris ... & Chase Wrffffffffffzzzzzzzzzzzzz   (napping after hiking thru the snow)

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On 2014-11-19, at 5:30 PM, patrick connors wrote:

Congrats Chris!

I always thought you were more legendary than historical :D

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On 2014-11-19, at 5:34 PM, Richard M. Grove wrote:

for an old guy you have a very nice figure – even if it is historical

i finally know someone historical

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thanks, June bug ;  )
or possibly hysterical?

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Thursday, 13 November 2014


Product Details

                                        Stephen Leacock
                      Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich
                                       100th Anniversary
                A great countryman of ours: a man to thank God
Robertson Davies


Stephen Leacock was known as one of the finest writers in the first half of the 20th century---a spellbinding and unique Canadian version of Dickens, Twain and Swift.  Leacock has been called a Tory humanist and that he was—an Anglican grounded and rooted in the best of the classical Anglican way. Most know Leacock through his kindly satire, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (1912), but the companion and must read novel to Sunshine Sketches is Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich (1914). It is the 100th anniversary in 2014 of the publication of this brilliant novel that covers religion, politics, education, economics and much else. Arcadian Adventures has more bite, more demanding social satire and deeper probes than the sweeter and gentler Sunshine Sketches, but it is imperative that the two books be seen as one---the final chapter of Sunshine Sketches, “L’Envoi: The Train to Mariposa”, points the way and is the portal into Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich.

Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich is divided into 8 readable and compelling chapters: 1) A Little Dinner with Mr. Lucullus Fyshe, 2) The Wizard of Finance, 3) The Arrested Philanthropy of Mr. Tomlinson, 4) The Yahi-Bahi Oriental Society of Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown, 5) The Love Story of Mr. Peter Spillikins, 6) The Rival Churches of St. Asaph and St. Osoph, 7) The Ministrations of the Rev. Uttermust Dumfarthing and 8) The Great Fight for Clean Government. Each chapter, again and again, punctures the façade of image and public persona, clarifies the nature of crude and subtle hypocrisy and suggests an ideal worth living towards.

The chapters, “The Rival Churches of St. Asaph and St. Osoph (6)” and “The Ministrations of the Rev. Uttermust Dumfarthing (7)” illuminate, in a brilliant and poignant manner, the rot and flabbiness in a more aesthetic notion of Anglicanism that has lost its deeper theological and public way. It is impossible to miss in Arcadian Adventures Leacock’s High Tory concern for those who are poor and marginalized and how the idle and irresponsible rich ignore the needy with a multiplicity of silly diversions and distractions (including many religious ones). Leacock makes it abundantly clear in “The Yahi-Bahi Oriental Society of Mrs. Rasselyer-Brown (4)” what happens in the human quest when spirituality cuts itself loose from the moorings of religion----when religion goes bad, though (and Leacock does spoof this within Christianity), oriental spirituality is often idealized as the answer-----Leacock is just as quick to puncture this romanticized oriental spirituality as he is debased Christian religion----there is a sort of prophetic vigor in Leacock’s insights and higher Anglican vision---such is the satirical way of such satirists such as Jonathan Swift---Leacock was, in many ways, a Canadian Tory Anglican Swift.   

The deeper insights of Arcadian Adventures congeal around the economic issue and core---all is tainted and poisoned when coppers and shekels become the litmus test of a new classism, a nouveau riche that have no serious depth or commitment to a more solid religious vision, no sense of public and political responsibility to the least of these, a skewed notion of education and a calculating attitude to human relationships and friendships. In short, Leacock has little patience for the Plutorians (Pluto was the blind god of wealth) who live in their sanitized and plutocratic mausoleum, amusing themselves to death while ignoring basic human needs, justice for the needy and compassion. Leacock, as classical Tory Anglican, found such attitudes and ways of life abysmal and Arcadian Adventures of the Idle Rich satirizes such a way of life in the most graphic and not to be forgotten way. This is Anglican prophetic theology fleshed out in a literary and poignant manner.

There is something quite perennial about the themes that Leacock addresses in Arcadian Adventures, hence its relevance both in 1914 and 2014.  Robertson Davies (one of the finest Canadian novelists of the 20th century and an Anglican) said of Leacock, “A great countryman of ours: a man to thank God for”. There is much more that could be said about Arcadian Adventures if space permitted--a read of the novel is best, of course-- Gerald Lynch’s Stephen Leacock: Humour and Humanity (Chapter 6: ‘Between a Vault and a Dark Place: Religion and Politics in Plutoria”) is a fine place to begin the journey into the High Tory Anglicanism of Stephen Leacock, a man, indeed, to thank God for.

Ron Dart     

(with thanks to Anna Yin for tech support) 

Stephen Leacock.jpg

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

George Grant: Amnesty International and Edward Said (Ron Dart)

                                           George Grant:
                      Amnesty International and Edward Said

George Grant (1918-1988) is considered by many to be one of the most significant Canadian public intellectuals in the latter half of the 20th century---Grant was also a High Tory of the highest calibre. Grant was a prolific writer and many have commented upon his wide ranging renaissance breadth. There has, of yet, been no essays on Grant and Amnesty International and Grant and Edward Said.

Amnesty International published The First Torturer’s Trial in 1975. Grant did a review of the book in the Globe and Mail (June 14 1977). The focus and reason for the publication of The First Torturer’s Trial was the trial in Greece in 1975 of 32 Greek police officers and military men who had tortured opponents in the junta from 1967-1974. The junta finally collapsed because of the courageous work of Archbishop Makarios (1913-1977) in Cyprus who had been elected as president in 1959, 1968 and 1973. Grant did a sustained commentary on the report, and, in many ways, Grant argued torture was the crudest form of the will to power of ideologues.

There are those on the political right that argue that it is the left that uses torture to inflict their will and way, and the left has argued that the right often uses torture to silence opposition. There can be no doubt that both totalitarian and authoritarian states of the left and right often use their wills to end meaningful civic and civil dialogue. Grant’s meditation on The First Torturer’s Trial brings this obstinate fact to the fore again and again.

Grant argues that “Torture is obviously the central crime against justice”. This means that central to Grant’s understanding of political thought and life is the quest for justice and the good—torture undermines both the good and justice. Grant makes it clear that to only focus on the 32 Greek military and police officers that did the torturing misses the deeper causes of those back of the torturers who justified and commanded the officers to engage, from 1967-1974, in torture as a state practice. The means was subverted for a dubious end and dissenters became disposable objects.

It is one thing to track and trace the chain of command from torturers to those higher up the military ladder that approved such actions. Is the state then to be blamed? But, who supported the Greek junta? The ideological will to power can go from the crude to the often invisible chain of command beyond even the Greek state. It does not take much minimal thinking to make the connection between the USA-Greek junta and the torturers in their anti-communist post-world II approach to Greece---to merely pick on the actual torturers is to miss the real culprits---Grant was keenly aware of these links and not to be missed connections that Amnesty (AI) often ignores in who is targeted for human rights blame.    

It is significant that Grant, in his reflections, also pondered how such willing detached and isolated from the good (which shapes and defines the meaning of justice) also turns on the environment and animals. “Our torture of non-human species grows and is taken for granted”. Grant was, in many ways, decades ahead of his time with such a statement----the animal rights movement have, in the last few decades, caught up with Grant as have many in the environmental movements. The point to note here is that Grant has enucleated the core of the problem of modernity: power and will often trump justice and the good---torture is just the most graphic and obvious form this takes.

Grant concluded his insights by stating that “Amnesty International does a notable service in opposing torture in whatever regime it arises. One aspect of that opposition is bringing out books such as this which keep the reality before us”.  

Edward Said (1935-2003) was, until his untimely death, probably, the most prominent spokesman for the Palestinian cause in North                       America. There is a tendency to assume that conservatives are pro-Israel, Grant was a Tory conservative, therefore, he would be contra Said. Said’s probing book, The World, The Text and the Critic was published in 1982. Grant reviewed the tome in the Globe and Mail in 1983 (May 7 1983). Grant began the review by stating, “Since the decay of philosophy and theology, literature has become the means whereby the educated masses are being introduced to many forms of knowledge which may not be given through the study of the modern sciences”. Grant further argued that the insights of literary critics such as Edward Said are needful guides into the process of reading a text—what is the relationship between the world we live in, the text read and the role of the critic? Such is the heart and core of Said’s book and Grant saw the pure and burnished gold in it. Said’s chapters on “Swift’s Tory Anarchy”, “Swift as Intellectual” would have pleased Grant given the fact Grant had a deep and abiding affinity for the Anglican Divine and satirist, Jonathan Swift.  Grant suggested that Said’s chapters, “Islam, Philology, and French Culture: Renan and Massignon” and a chapter on Derrida and Foucault were the real keepers and charmers. We can certainly see Grant engaging the postmodernists, Islam and Oriental thought decades before it became popular and trendy—Said was a fine portal into such an ethos given his Middle Eastern and Palestinian background and family upbringing.

It is a delight to hear Grant affirm Said because of “his presence in the wonderful world of Islamic learning”---hardly the position many conservatives take these days. Said, like Chomsky, has seen through the crude and subtle nature of western imperialism (its obvious military and economic forms, but more insidious, its cultural forms).

Grant’s review of The World, The Text and the Critic does more than cheerlead, though. He does call Said to task for his limited read and understanding of Plato---neither Derrida nor Heidegger truly entered the “enrapturing” vision of Plato and Grant suggested that Said was much more indebted to Derrida than a significant read of Plato. Grant does, though, give the nod to Said at a variety of levels that most conservatives never will nor do—this is Grant, once again, pondering the perennial issues with deeper probes and a fully catholic mind.
Most in 1983 knew little about Islam, the Middle East or Comparative Literature---Said did, and Grant did what he could to point the way to Said’s insights while offering mild criticisms.

It is most understandable why Grant is viewed as one of the most significant Canadian public intellectuals in the latter half of the 20th century----his insights on torture via the Amnesty International report and his reflections on Edward Said do point the way to spacious mind and nimble imagination that engage substantive public ideas and issues.

Ron Dart 

(with thanks to Anna Yin for tech assistance)    

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Conrad DiDiodato has left a new comment on your post "George Grant: Amnesty International and Edward Sai...":

It's wonderful that we're still talking about George Grant today. I remember the great man at McMaster in the 70s. Had the privilege even of sitting in on his Plato graduate seminars.

Posted by Conrad DiDiodato to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 12 November 2014 16:08         

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Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Full Moon Fever (haibun)


Glad I took your advice and walked to the mine last night. The full moon was spectacular, and I also saw a display of northern lights.

                    around this bend
                I knew northern lights
                     would appear

I had always thought moonbeams were a twee construction for children's fiction, but last night the moon was shining so brightly beams were coming from it.


               cliche full moon
          northern lights compete
               with moonbeams

I sat on the gate by the mine parking lot for a few minutes, and then started the return trek. All this moonlight was causing some interesting, and even scary, shapes and shadows.

              ahead on the trail
            shadow shape figure
              fades on approach

My "bravery" at facing down the shadow had me spinning my cedar walking stick in pseudo-kendo moves. When I reached the open field where the northern lights had first appeared, only moon-lit contrails now floated.

                  full moon

Chris Faiers/cricket

from ZenRiver: poems & haibun, Hidden Brook Press, 2008