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Monday, March 1, 2010

Wrapping the West in Winnipeg

Arriving in Winnipeg, the Mace was happy to emerge safe and sound once again from its modest yet comfortable travel case.

Where's Democracy,Winnipeg,Manitoba

...And quickly went about scoping the surroundings. For the first hop of the journey, it got to travel in automotive style, nestled up to the warmth of the car's heater. "A welcome bit of warmth," said the mace, "It gets so a parliamentary employee like me can forget that there's a big, wide, c-c-cold country out there when we're bundled up all cozy in the warm halls of the Commons."

Where's Democracy,Winnipeg,Manitoba

First off was meeting its hosts for the Winnipeg trip, Dave and Shannon. "We've got a heck of a tour in store for you" said Shannon. "I hope you don't get tired easily." "Luckily, I have no feet," said the mace "so you'll be doing the legwork on this visit. Let's do it!"

Where's Democracy,Winnipeg,Manitoba

First stop was a visit to the future site of the Canadian Human Rights Museum. A fitting monument in the home of Nellie McClung, champion of equal rights for women; and the city that saw the 1919 General Strike, in which the whole city went on strike. It became the platform for future labour reforms and a foundation for the democratic voice of Canadians. "I can relate," said the Mace "technically, I'm built to strike as well, but not in that way."

Where's Democracy,Winnipeg,Manitoba

After that, was a visit to two monuments to Louis Riel, Canadian Folk Hero, Canadian politician, a founder of the province of Manitoba, and leader of the M├ętis people. "Ah, we saw a monument to M. Riel in Regina as well," noted the Mace. "So far, I've seen 3 monuments to Riel and no monuments to the MP who asserts he was a traitor. Funny that. Hey, cool sculpture!"

Where's Democracy,Winnipeg,Manitoba

Given that they were nearby, the Mace asked if it might be possible to pop by and pay a friendly Parliamentary visit to MP Steven Fletcher. They did stop in, but MP Fletcher wasn't around at the time. "He's probably out getting things done somewhere else," said the Mace. "Can we go and see the big one now? The Legislature?" The mace almost drooled in anticipation. Except it had no saliva glands or mouth to drool from. So it didn't.

Where's Democracy,Winnipeg,Manitoba

And before you could say 'Would like some democracy with that?', they were approaching the seat of legislative authority and participatory democracy in Manitoba. "And some pretty decent architecture to boot!" added the Mace. "You haven't seen the half of it," replied the guides.

Where's Democracy,Winnipeg,Manitoba

Inside was even more impressive. Not only was the legislature open and the lights on, they even had a large monument inside to the processes that go on in such a place of learned debate. "That's the biggest bull I've ever seen!" exclaimed the Mace. Its guides chuckled. "It's not a bull dear, it's a buffalo." "Whoops!" blushed the Mace, "Sorry. You could see how I might become a bit confused on that." They grabbed a few snaps of the admittedly beautiful legislature for the Mace's photo album before heading out once again. "Not long before I have to be back in Ottawa," said the Mace "I'd better head out soon."  "Yes, we understand," replied its guides, "but we thought we'd take you for a nice meal before you go along ..."

Where's Democracy,Winnipeg,Manitoba

And so they headed to the hands down best Ukrainian restaurant in the city and tucked into a nice big plate of Perogies, Holupshi, Cole slaw, and borscht soup. "Delicious! And by the way, I would like some democracy with that. Cheque please!"

Where's Democracy Winnipeg Manitoba

And thanking its guides (and promising them that the rest of the day's photos would be posted on its Facebook page), the Mace was on to the penultimate stop on its journey - Guelph Ontario, for a whirlwind tour on the way to Ottawa for back to work day!

Regina - A basketful of good reasons to show up to work.

Next on the Mace's itinerary was Regina, Saskatchewan!

Regina,Where's Democracy,Saskatchewan

Hosted by a gracious group of gentlefolk who went by the name of CAPP Regina, the Mace first posed for a glamour shot, framed by the city's famous twin towers. From there, the Mace's hosts took it on the grand walking tour of the city.

Regina,Where's Democracy

As they walked down toward Victoria Park, they passed in front of a memorial for the trial of Louis Riel, regarded as Canada's most controversial father of Confederation. It seemed a certain MP had been making some unkind remarks of late about the man who brought Manitoba into Confederation. "Funny," thought the Mace "That particular MP waxed eloquent about the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine, yet saw fit to call Riel's civil disobedience villainy. I guess the Devil's in the details."

Regina,Where's Democracy,Saskatchewan

Next up was a group photo with its hosts in front of the city's monument to those who died in the Great War. It was a fitting gesture, as Canada's final veteran of that war had died only 3 days earlier. With fitting Canadian modesty the veteran, John Babcock, asked not to be given a state funeral, saying "I just happened to be at a certain place at certain time".

Regina,Where's Democracy,Saskatchewan

Next, they moved on to the memorial from other of Canada's conflicts. One of its guides held the Mace in honour of the WWII and Korean Wars, and Peacetime Operations soldiers from Regina killed in action. "So many laid down their lives for me," said the Mace. "Makes me think that maybe Parliament, messy an institution as it is, really is worth all the trouble. After all, showing up for work is a far easier job than these folks had."

Regina,Where's Democracy,Saskatchewan

Moving on, they happened across an old friend. "Sir John A! What are you doing here? Didn't I just see you in Charlottetown?" Sir John had no comment, choosing instead to retain his legendary composure whilst posing for a photo with the group. What a guy!" said the Mace "but he's still looking a bit stern about the current state of things. Worry not, Sir John. We'll be back to work soon!"

Regina,Where's Democracy,Saskatchewan

On their trek continued until they passed by Her Majesty, Queen Elisabeth II. The Mace was ecstatic. "Being that my existence is in her service, it's most appropriate that I get a shot of this for my photo album." While being held up next to HRH, the Mace asked her a few questions on her opinions about the current prorogation. Following her role as a constitutional monarch, she opted for silent neutrality on the subject.

Regina,Where's Democracy,Saskatchewan

As the tour wrapped up, the Mace's guides left the best for last - the Saskatchewan Legislative and Executive Building, seat of democracy for the province. "Things seem to check out here all right. Let's call it a day." And with that, the Mace's gracious hosts took it on for a bit of Saskatchewanian hospitality before the next leg of its journey.

Regina,Where's Democracy,Saskatchewan

"It's just not a going away party without a pint of the local stout and some snowshoeing," insisted the hosts, "We'll post some more pictures on the CAPP Regina Facebook page for you to remember the fun by." "Works for me," replied the Mace. And a fine time was had by all.

where's Democracy

And from there, it was a short hop skip and a jump to Winnipeg, Manitoba!

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About Me

I'm quite passionately interested in what makes a true democratic system work, and why ours here in Canada doesn't seem to be working so well these days. Where's Democracy is a commentary on some aspects of that, and will hopefully serve to at least pose some questions about how it might be better. Oh, and it's also supposed to be fun!