Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Making Policy?

If I'm gonna be a Cabinet Minister, specifically the Minister for Citizenship and Immigration, I'd better start drafting some policies, eh?

Let's start with Citizenship. Dual citizenship in particular.

There's been a lot of talk lately -- especially in light of the rescue of "refugee citizens" from Lebanon -- about doing away with dual citizenship. I wouldn't do away with it entirely, but I would put some guidelines in place. Enforced guidelines.

As far as I know, there are three ways (well, two ways; but one of them has a part A and a part B) to get Canadian citizenship: A. You are born in Canada and your parents are Canadian; B. You are born in Canada and your parents are not Canadian (students, visitors, landed immigrants but not yet citizens, and military TDs from allied countries); C. You are an immigrant, and you apply for and get your citizenship papers.

It's the last one that interests me right now. Because a lot of those "refugee citizens" that were rescued on the taxpayers' wallet had not set foot in Canada for years!

So, under the new regime, here are da rules (in plain English -- a language you will learn before you become a citizen, thankyouverymuch):

1. Once you have won your citizenship, you must live the majority of the taxation year inside the borders of Canada or on a Canadian military base in another country. For the purposes of these rules, Canadian embassies in other countries are considered to be inside the borders of Canada.

2. You calculate the term "majority of the taxation year" to be 50% plus one days in that year.

3. No, you may not save up and carry over to another year. This is not unionized sick leave.

4. Unless your former country requires you to do so, you are not required to give up your first citizenship in order to win Canadian citizenship. However, all your identification, including your passport, will designate you only as a Canadian citizen.

5. I repeat -- only one passport, and that one must be Canadian. No dual passports will be permitted. If you are caught with dual passports, it will be assumed that you wish to relinquish your Canadian passport -- and the citizenship along with it.

6. You will maintain a residence in Canada, and it will have a street address. You will not make use of Mailboxes Etcetera's cute little scheme of pretending that the box number is the apartment number. The only exception to this rule is if you are in the Canadian military, posted outside the country. You will then have a Canadian military address.

7. If you think that you need to be resident outside the country for the majority of the taxation year, and you still wish to retain your Canadian citizenship, you will submit for approval, in writing, to the Ministry. Some obvious reasons for seeking such approval may be business or scholastic. Each request will be dealt with on an individual basis, and on its own merits. There will be no rubber stamps.

8. Some people work on the premise that it is easier (and faster) to obtain forgiveness than permission. Not in my Ministy! When in doubt, apply for approval.

9. All decisions regarding approval or denial of exceptions are final. You may appeal through your MP if you don't like the "No," but don't count on it's having any effect.

10. Immediately after you have spent the majority of the taxable year outside the boundaries of Canada without specific approval from the Ministry, your Canadian citizenship will be rescinded. Your country of origin will then be notified that they must welcome you back home.

11. Once Canadian citizenship is withdrawn, it will never again be awarded.

How'm I doin' so far?


Daz points out in the comments: "Like the policy so far. I might put an emergency clause in place though. For instance on #10, what happens if your unexpectedly delayed in getting out of the country due to a lengthy illness or likewise? At this point, #7 may not be feasable, or even possible. "

I did a little reading on his blog (your turn -- go, read), and like me, daz is a Canucks fan, so he's used to thinking ahead about the next disaster to come down the road. So...

12. In the event that a natural disaster (fire, flood, earthquake, tornado, tsunami, airplane hijacking, etc) prevents you from returning to Canadian territory in time to fulfull your taxation year obligations as a naturalized citizen, you will report to the nearest Canadian embassy as soon as possible with documentation of the disaster in question and proof of your involuntary involvement. This may involve submitting sworn statements from witnesses who must provide full contact information for purposes of verification. Each case so submitted will be investigated and decided on its own merits.

Other useful suggestions may be added as they are submitted...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Time, Tide, And The Best Laid Plans

There are only so many hours in a day, so many days in a month, and so many months in a year. That's all we get. Somebody passed a law, or something.

I've been busy planning a handfasting.

A couple months ago, I was asked by a couple of friends if I would perform their handfasting. I was delighted. And, of course, I agreed immediately, and we have all been e-mailing the plans back and forth, getting everything ready. Putting a handfasting together is interesting enough if you have all the people involved (the couple and me) together in one place during the time of the planning. What makes it really interesting this time is that I live in one city and the couple lives in another city.

Matter of fact, they live in a different country. I'm located in Lower Mainland, BC, Canada, and they are in Bellingham, Washington, USA. Which, if you look at a map, is only about an hour south of where I live if you have a car. Which I don't. Have a car, I mean. It sure would simplify things if I did.

Especially since I found out we're not going to be doing the handfasting in Bellingham at all. Oh, no. That would be too convenient. We're going out into the woods to do the handfasting.

We're going to do it at an SCA event!

I didn't find that out until after my promise was locked in.

At least we all live in the same Kingdom. And the same Principality. Problem is, I live in the Barony of Lion's Gate,and the couple live in the Shire of Shittimwoode. And what is acceptable in one place is not necessarily okay someplace else.

And I've never been to an SCA event in my life.

I'm not even sure my back is gonna survive sleeping on the ground. I'm getting to be too old for first-time body-bending exercises.

So now, on top of everything else, I have to find acceptable garb to wear, and I have to create a persona (and a name) that will be acceptable to the Herald.

And I have less than two weeks to get it all pulled together, load it into a piece of luggage-on-wheels that at the best of times behaves like a large, unruly puppy, and get me and it all south of the forty-ninth by train.

And there are some interesting side issues involved here, too. I'm not licensed to perform marriages in Washington state. But that's okay, because this is a Pagan handfasting rather than a "real" marriage. And Washington state doesn't recognize handfastings. But that's okay, because this is a same-sex marriage, and Washington doesn't recognize them at all. But I'm going to do it anyway.

I'm trying to avoid anticipating the conversation I will probably have with Customs and Immigration on the southbound trip.

I don't care about the conversation coming north. I was born in Canada -- they have to let me come back.

Don't they?


In the Department of Chicken Counting, plans got a little ahead of circumstances. The handfasting might go ahead, but I will not be performing it. When my expertise is asked for, I do not expect to be second-guessed by whims, and I certain don't expect things to be decided behind my back, without my input. I then do not expect a temper tantrum once I explain why something cannot be done "that way."

And I refuse to be used -- trotted out like a tamed oddity at the end of someone's leash -- in order to impress people that someone has not yet met (but whom they desperately want to please).

There's more, but I'm betting y'all get the gist of it.

The really good news? I no longer need to be concerned about whether or not my back will survive sleeping on the ground for two nights. Shittimwoode will get along just fine without me, I'm sure.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Took Advantage

Of the weather, that is. And the long weekend. And the 'way too many things to do around here on a beautiful summer day.

I managed to miss Vancouver Pride altogether. They keep moving this festival around, trying to find a home for it on the calendar, and this year they scheduled it at the same time as the White Rock Spirit of the Sea Festival.

On comparing the two from past experience with both, I decided to opt for White Rock. Closer and easier to get to from my place. Cooler temperature. Not so crowded -- I thought, anyway, until I actually found myself battling crowds. And some of my favorite local entertainers were going to be there.

The Langley Ukelele Ensemble (click on the link and watch a couple of musical numbers being performed) is an unlikely creature, by all accounts. First of all, it's based in Langley, BC. And the only people in the world who know where Langley is (and most especially, how to drive around its streets, once you actually stumble on the place), are those who live there. I mean, this is a town built on the principle that a spider's web makes perfect navigational sense.

Second, this musical group is based on the ukelele...easy to spell, you just gotta know when to stop... And does anyone in the world take the ukelele seriously as a musical instrument? Isn't this the kind of thing you give your pre-schoolers to bang on to keep them otherwise quiet?

And third, the ensemble is full of teenagers. Teenagers! The bane of society, and the probable cause of all urban problems!

And the musical director -- the comedian with his back to the camera most of the time -- is a guy named Peter Luongo. I'm wondering if he's related to the Canucks' new goaltender...

Each ingredient by itself won't cause much of a ripple in the worldwide scheme of things, but put them all together, give them a stage to play on, and you have an amazing entertainment experience!

Dal Richards was there. But then, Dal is always there. He's everywhere. Always was and always will be. Two hundred years from now, he'll be performing in one or another of the local festivals.

And The Wheaties took to the stage for a shortened set right after Dal. Something got unplugged in the transition, and while their monitors were live, the front speakers were dead. It took almost half an hour to find and fix the problem. Once that was done, however, the show got lively, as it always does with Steve and Mark and the gang.

Then there were the vendors. And the buskers. And the shops on the city side of the railroad tracks (the festival is mostly on the beach side of the tracks). The food. The beach. The water. The incredible weather (ordered specially for the event, I'm sure). The fireworks (I watched the pyrotechnician setting up -- it looked like a mortar barrage, and it was being aimed directly south. The US border is a mere one mile away, and it almost got me wondering... Naw. We wouldn't. Would we?).

And then on Sunday, the local Greek Days added to the festival with their own culinary, musical, and terpsichorical specialities. I found that on my way home, trying to locate a bus (never drive to one of these things!). Whole lamb roasted on a spit set up in the middle of the street. Mmmmmmmmmm...just one more bite and I gotta go. Belly dancer? OPA! Now, really, I gotta go. 'Nother belly dancer? *sigh*

Monday...BC Day...just a day to wander around to places I never go. Playing tourist in my own town. Lonsdale Quay in North Van. Watched the UBC students Dance Club put on an exhibition of dancing that spans decades in time and I-lost-count of how many countries of origin. Wandered into some of the money magnets that pass for shops, and found out that there were definitely bargains to be had at the White Rock festival (one particular piece of costuming that I had contemplated picking up for a friend was more than twice the price in North Van as it had been in White Rock). The reverse was also true. Always shop around!

Then off to Granville Island. This was a mistake. Granville Island needs an entire weekend of its own if you're gonna do it justice. I kept getting lost and going in circles in the Public Market. No big tragedy, really; there was lots to eat and the buskers are supremely talented and endlessly enthralling.

I got talking to one of them briefly -- Koca had attached some odd-looking and intriguing-sounding things (Sese) to his djembe, and I was asking about them. He also had -- and played -- some of the oddest looking and wonderful sounding instruments from West Africa. His website will give you sound samples if you've got the right player (Macromedia Flash 8). Just click on the Marketplace tab and then click on the individual instruments.

And last, but not least, I promised Jack I'd give him a mention...

Jack "The Bear" Latek sits at the entrance to Granville Island every day from 3:00 till 5:00 pm, give-or-take. It doesn't matter what the weather is doing. He'll be there. He will spot you coming and start engaging you before you quite know what's happening. He has invented a new type of bead, he will tell you, as he finds some way to fasten half a dozen to your person or your accessories. I happened to have not only a hat with a leather cord attacked, but also a walking stick with a leather cord. Both are now utterly festooned with Jack's spring beads in neon colors. He fastened them on my hat and staff while he was telling me all about his project (see the link) and refusing any attempts at money donations. He doesn't want your money. He wants your heart.

If you have any old metal lapel pins for which you no longer have any use, or broken watches that you just haven't got around to throwing away, Jack will gladly take them off your hands. He's building "something" with them. Then he's going to auction "it" off, buy bicycle racks, and put the bike racks in front of the offices of local non-profit organizations.

If you're local, you can take your donation directly to Jack at the entrance to Granville Island. You can also mail pins and watches to:

Jack "The Bear" Latek
4383 Main Street
Vancouver, BC V5V 3R1


Jack "The Bear" Latek
Carnegie Community Center
401 Main Street
Vancouver, BC V6A 2T7

Weekends like this. Summer was made for them. Wish there were more...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Reality Follows Hollywood

'Way back in the late sixties, Jerry Lewis starred in a movie called Hook, Line, and Sinker. Not exactly an Oscar contender, it also wasn't the usual awful Jerry Lewis schlock filled with bad slapstick and worse verbal coleslaw. All the way through this movie, he played it straight...just like a real actor.

Opening shot is head-and-shoulders only, and he and another man (Mexican doctor) are having a rather serious discussion. The doctor says something along the lines that the chances for the operation to be successful are rather slim, because nobody has ever performed this particular operation before, and the doctor is curious about how this particular operation came to be necessary. If the good senor would please be so kind as to fill in the details... And the movie begins.

It's about a modern man (for l969, that is), with a wife, the obligaotry two kids, and a best friend who is also his family doctor. Best friend/doctor has just diagnosed him with a particularly horrible, terminal illness. And best/friend/doctor is also diagnosing some fin de siecle therapy: you've been a wage slave all your life; now is the time to cut loose and spend your last few weeks indulging your every fantasy! Never mind the expense -- run your credit cards up past the max! How are they gonna collect after you're gone? Meanwhile, have a blast!

*(For this plot line to work, you really have to know that back in those days, the credit card companies could not go after the surviving spouse if she first posted a notice in the newspaper saying they she refused to be responsible for debts other than her own -- which she did, in this case)*

And the movie takes off and runs through an orgy of expensive fantasies. Then, at one point, he discovers that his almost-late wife and his best friend/doctor are having an affair; and together, they cooked up his so-called terminal illness to get him out of the way of their happiness.

What can he do? He's now on the legal hook for fraud on a massive scale. He's not dying at all. But he can't go home again, either. At best, if he reveals himself to be alive and healthy, he goes to prison. The only thing left to him is revenge. And boy! does he get revenge!

Then he goes deep-sea fishing...one of the few things left that he always wanted to do. The penultimate scene in the movie is that of a marlin, having been hooked, leaping out of the water and flying in the direction of the boat...

...and back to the opening shot, where the camera pans back to reveal the two men in an operating theater, surrounded by medical students, somewhere in Mexico; and the doctor, being about to perform a marlinectomy, just wanted his curiosity satisfied before he goes ahead with the operation.

It's a really good movie. It's not available either on DVD or VHS, unfortunately. I have a feeling that it's one of those movies lost to decomposition in the studio vaults over the years. Damn shame it has to be that one lost rather than all the other crap he ever did...