It would have been enough for Canada’s Senate to issue a condemnation of interprovincial barriers to trade, and to criticize Canadian and provincial government foot-dragging on the issue. Convoluted legal rules preventing Canadians from different provinces from engaging in voluntary trade with each other are just as wrongheaded and harmful as their international counterparts. But the Senate went one better last week and openly mocked this country’s internal trade barriers.
Why do people want to be led? I can see wanting to be advised by someone in possession of some hard-won wisdom and experience. I get wanting to be taught by people who’ve accumulated troves of knowledge on certain topics. I can understand the benefits of being supervised by a capable manager in the performance of work offered voluntarily in exchange for money. But led? I don’t want to be led. What am I, a four-year-old?
If a tree falls in the forest and no union is there to harass the family-run logging company that cut it down, does the injustice of it all still make a sound? That’s one of the questions animating Sometimes a Great Notion, Ken Kesey’s brilliant 1964 novel. On a more intimate level, there are also the family dynamics of two half-brothers, a dozen years apart, who haven’t seen each other in a dozen years. Can they get beyond past hurts and ongoing miscommunications?
Who could possibly object to a Buy Canadian program designed to keep good jobs right here at home instead of shipping them across the border and overseas? In my most recent Québécois Libre article, “The Need for a 'Buy Human' Program,” I argue that plenty of people could object, and for a variety of very solid reasons, from hard-nosed economic logic to big-hearted humanitarian concern for our fellows, whatever flag their government happens to fly.
You may not have realized this, but Canada is now “bleeding” some three quarters of a billion dollars in cultural spending on an annual basis, to the detriment of Canadian film, television, music, and writing. It’s a veritable “crisis,” and we need a “collective sense of urgency” or else our cultural industries will be “decimated.” In my latest Québécois Libre article, “The Loaded Language of Cultural Nationalism,” I give this very serious problem all the analysis it deserves.
I’m gonna stick with the “no spoilers” thing and just confirm that The Martian is definitely worth reading. In fact, despite some shortcomings (which I mentioned in my second mini-review), I found this an inspiring book for a number of reasons. First and most obviously, it’s a story of perseverance in the face of truly daunting odds. Despite it being a fairly safe bet that he’s doomed, Watney fights to extend his time and grow his chances. Make it or not, the battle itself gives meaning to his existence.
I’m in trouble. When I set out on this mission to write multiple mini-reviews of The Martian as I read it, I didn’t really plan out whether or not I would include spoilers. I’ve managed to avoid them pretty well so far, but now that I’m three quarters of the way through the novel, it’s getting more difficult not to give stuff away. Solving problems is what writing is all about, though, and I’ve come up with a temporary solution: I’ll write this installment of my review in the style of one of Mark Watney’s log entries.
Just when he thought it was safe to be abandoned alone on an inhospitable hunk of rusted desert, millions of kilometres from another human soul—Wham!—another calamitous setback, and Mark Watney is fucked! (His word, not mine.) I’m about halfway through the novel now, and even with some of the smartest people on Earth trying to help, it’s not at all clear Watney’s going to make it. The important thing, though, from my point of view as a reader, is that I still care whether he does or not.
Imagine being stranded on Mars. You were injured, left for dead by your crewmates in their rush to get off the planet. You survived, though, and made it back to camp. You have food, but not enough to last, and you have no way of communicating with anyone. Welcome to Andy Weir’s bestselling The Martian, now a Golden Globe-winning, Oscar-nominated movie. In the spirit of how the book was originally published—in installments on his website—I’ve decided to review it in installments as well, as I read it.
Virtual reality goggles have been around for a while, but they seem to be hitting their stride at last, if gadget reports are to be trusted, and promise to provide a thoroughly immersive experience for wearers. But as I argue in my latest Québécois Libre article, "Now If Someone Could Just Invent Actual Reality Goggles," a piece of technology that we could really use in this new year is one that would allow us to see the world as it actually is, instead of as we might wish it to be.
Who Writes This
Bradley Doucet is a Montreal writer and the English Editor of Le Québécois Libre.
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