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  • Writer's pictureJohn Owens

Things You Don't Discuss

With all the serious political doings going on in Belarus, oh, and the US, I thought I might address Jake Lydon’s politics – or the somewhat odd lack thereof. Readers (bless you!) may have noticed that even though he’l l go on and on about everything else, Jake expresses no overtly political opinions in the first three published mysteries (and also in my fourth book in the series which is coming soon!).

Why is that, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. Two main reasons: the murders and evil shenanigans aren’t directly set in any political environment so even though Jake is scatter-brained, there’s no good basis for him to tee off on small- and large-lettered conservatives and liberals.

Secondly, who the hell wants to read more about the politics of the last five years? Canadians cannot deny the ol’ spillover effect that our neighbours have had. For all his absurd and downright evil behaviour, Trump – and the media - understands how to create a headline. Arguably one of His Orangeness’ few accomplishments is as a reality show star in these increasingly superficial times. Gosh, I hope everyone will now settle the fuck down as he petulantly slinks away.

I’ve been voting in Canadian elections for just about half a century and I am ridiculously opinionated about federal, provincial and sometimes local governmental issues. But I’m overjoyed that Canadian politics and politicians are mostly boring and that the general populace doesn’t get all amped up about those issues. It could be that we really are nice but more likely it’s because we settled all the big stuff years ago. Gay rights, women’s rights, gun rights, socialized medicine, separation of church and state and how to run a goddamn election. No political party would dare fuck with those foundational features because Canada is squarely on the right side of history. The hottest current hot button may be immigration but our relative success at multiculturalism means we won’t see a racist anti-immigration government any time soon.

And I am comforted that, proportionately we have less than half the number of self-identified evangelicals and more than double the number of atheists than America does.

Very generally, we’ve always applied the same heat to political arguments that we do to a Montreal-Toronto hockey game. I hope we continue to do that. There will always be single issues that enflame affected individuals who seek redress, as they should. But we shouldn’t get to the point that I’ve seen in the US during my winter retreats here where people are so divided that they’ve come to stop talking to each other because of their political views and, in a national sense, large swaths of the population who actually hate each other.

Loudmouth Jake will have a lot more to say about this schism in his next tall tale, Jackpot but, in essence, the separate media ecosystems that create parallel universes where no one can even agree on the fucking facts have to melt away. I think Canadians are lucky we have two national news networks who, with minor differences, report the same goddamned news, as opposed to US cable “news” with their evening line-ups of stars and their supportive cast of talking heads who have to be controversial to keep generating viewership and revenue.

I truly feel for the many, many Americans I’ve met in my seven winter seasons in Florida, as well as all the Yanks I encountered during my years with Systemhouse and the Ottawa Senators. They have all been overwhelmingly pleasant, friendly, kind, and a bunch o’ fun to be around (except for a couple of player agents!).

For them, I think of Neil Young’s line written back when dinosaurs ruled the earth (1969):

“This much madness is too much sorrow.”

So that’s the environment Jake finds himself in, mostly because I made him so. He/I believes that most of life happens outside of Ottawa and Washington. He will always be cynical about politics as he is cynical about everything else except beer, tequila, and cigarettes. Oh, and the Stones.

Let’s let Jake have the last word (he’s an insufferable baby if he doesn’t get it): “I don’t give a shit what you believe as long as you don’t tell me about it and you don’t hurt anyone.”

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