LAUTENS: Some parting thoughts from a certified Pompous Old Bore

Parting thoughts, parting shots from a certified Pompous Old Bore. A last column without tears – let’s get on with important business …

Oh, dry those tears – isn’t 29 years at this stand long enough?

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This is my last column. There, there, dry those tears. Two years ago I planned this exit before being ushered out or carried out, fingers stiffly on keyboard … but on with business:

If only the ruling Ottawa-Toronto-Montreal triangle had a tenth as much concern for job-losing B.C.  forestry workers as it has for Quebec-based, scandal-wracked SNC-Lavalin’s employees … well, it wouldn’t be the Canada we know and love, right?

• • •

What? WV councillors more favourable than municipal staff toward Park Royal’s tacking on more storeys to a development bitterly opposed barely a year earlier? PR shows contempt for council and residents, trumpeting its goal of a virtually autonomous live-work-play enclave in a town it doesn’t respect.

 • • •

Sproing, sproing! The Kangaroo Court of the BC Human Rights Commission is back in session, revived by John Horgan 16 years after Premier Gordon Campbell properly abolished it.

The case that discredits the B.C. human wrongs apparatchiks beyond all previous crank causes: Sending to its Star Chamber-style tribunal the 29 complaints of one Yaniv, putting through the wringer frightened, mostly immigrant female estheticians who don’t wax male genitals and wouldn’t make an exception for a self-defined transwoman still equipped with a penis. This freak show, first reported by the incomparable Christie Blatchford, drew international headlines and jeering of Canada.

Predictably, my rude questions to the HRC and commissioner Kasari Govender were automatically non-answered. Less rudely, columnist Chris Selley wrote: “The real story here is that the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal did anything with Yaniv’s endless complaints except crumple them up and throw them in the garbage.”

 • • •

A Justin Trudeau tearful apology to an Inuit (photo-op!) that hit close to my home: For decades health authorities sent Eskimos, as then called, with tuberculosis – spread mostly by sneezing and coughing in confined spaces – to hospitals in southern Canada.  One such sanatorium was near my 1940s boyhood home in Hamilton. That “San” is said to have once housed the largest Inuit community in the country. (They called it an (ital) igluyuak (unital) — literally, “imitation igloo.”)

Odds are that the Inuit descendant Trudeau wept for wouldn’t have descended at all, without the medical research and generous land and money donations by the usual suspects, the white people. If they’d heartlessly left sick Inuit to die in their homes, Trudeau would then have vilified them for racism, colonialism and all that fashionable stuff. Trudeau convicts past generations, exonerates himself.

 • • •

Disgraceful! Killing bears, guilty of hunger. Do this: Create food reserves (we waste plenty) high on remote mountains. Watch these grand animals from heavily armoured vehicles and safe sites. Tourist draw. Learn from Ontario’s African Lion Safari and San Diego Zoo.

 • • •

A murky unproven allegation:

Dog-walking is the magnet for chat. Two or three years ago in Horseshoe Bay a person paused for quite conventional talk, about dogs and people and all that, and then abruptly said: “There is a criminal family in …” A name was given. And a specific North Shore neighbourhood.

I stared. The person didn’t look deranged. Didn’t signal knowing my role in these pages. Said no more. A deliberate tip by an undercover police officer? What to do with that potentially libellous claim? I told no one. It lingers.

• • •

Unfinished business: An intended interview with highly inventive Sun cartoonist Graham Harrop; lunch with former Southam news executive Paddy Sherman; a shameful empty promise to help a former newspaper executive with his book. And much more. Sorry.

• • •

Gratitude starts here: Rhys Crossan, book editor of the Hamilton Spectator, decided: If you want a boy’s book reviewed, send for a boy to review it. That was the undersigned’s start in about Grade Seven. Paid work began as a Spec proofreader 65 years ago last October.

Space is scarce, and I regretfully can’t praise many Spectator and Vancouver Sun old colleagues.

After longish innings of 29 years contributing to this bashfully loved journal, my thanks to publishers and fascinating people “Peter the S.” (Speck) and “Peter the K.” (Kvarnstrom); editors Timothy Renshaw, Martin Millerchip; awe for the small, hard-toiling staff including Brent Richter, Jane Seyd, Jeremy Shepherd, and drool-inducing restaurant reviewer Chris Dagenais (soon leaving, a loss), outstandingly roadworthy car writer Brendan McAleer; and gnawing envy of fellow columnists Keith Baldrey, Paul Sullivan, Andy Prest. I’ll mourn losing readers like Mrs. C.

Our old family firm of newspaper people, more than a dozen, was “founded” 99 years ago by father Joseph (50 years with The Canadian Press) and, amazingly, is into a young fourth generation; as my nephew Richard (star photographer, Toronto Star)   mock-plaintively says, “Can’t anyone in this family get a legit job?”

Having attained the status (all too quickly) of Pompous Old Bore, I bow out advising neophyte and many seasoned columnists alike to paste these guidelines on opposite sides of their computer:

First, Oscar Wilde: “One cannot be too careful in the choice of one’s enemies.”

Then, the imperishable words of George Bernard Shaw’s Joan of Arc – superbly acted several years ago by Meg Roe at the Arts Club:

“Woe unto me when all men praise me!”

rtlautens@gmail.com

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