Literary Review of Canada Jul-Aug-13

Where the country’s best writers, thinkers, and artists come to take a stand on the topics that matter most. An unrivalled source of long-form reviews and commentary.

Literary Review of Canada
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10 Issues

in this issue

15 min
the politics on our plates

In April, the LRC and Diaspora Dialogues hosted the inaugural edition of the Spur festival in Toronto and Winnipeg. At one extremely lively Winnipeg session, locavore Sarah Elton met her rhetorical arch-nemesis, Pierre Desrochers, a dedicated globavore. They waged a verbal battle over what each has called, respectively, our “destructive” large-scale farming practices and the “elitist” local food movement. The moderator, local reporter Bartley Kives, challenged Elton to imagine the drudgery of surviving Canadian winters on nothing but locally sourced rutabagas. Then he forced Desrochers to face his aversion to life on the farm, cultivated during a childhood spent surrounded by corn fields. The result was a witty, informed discussion about how to feed a growing number of mouths with the economy and the environment at stake. The following is an edited…

10 min
what goes in must come out

TIM SLY The Origin of Feces: What Excrement Tells Us About Evolution, Ecology and a Sustainable Society David Waltner-Toews ECW Press 190 pages, softcover ISBN 9781770411166 DAVID WALTNER-TOEWS’S LATEST BOOK, The Origin of Feces: What Excrement Tells Us About Evolution, Ecology and a Sustainable Society, is an extraordinary document. My thesaurus offers no term beyond “comprehensive” or “all embracing,” but that is the descriptor I need. This tome offers more than a superficial (or even “superfecial”) exposé of matters scatological. It engages its subject matter at every conceivable level of enquiry, curiosity or serendipity, and this is accomplished not with subjective and arcane musings or the author’s personal philosophical preferences, but for the most part with empirical observations and quantitative arguments, drawn from a wide range of disciplines and experiences. Caution: The book is…

17 min
a quiet exodus

IN 1973, THE TRUDEAU GOVERNMENT DECIDED that Canada’s immigration and refugee policies were outdated and in need of revision. Canada’s response to a series of refugee situations—the Czechs in 1968, Asian Ugandans in 1972 and Chileans in 1973—had each required the creation of new regulations, and it was clear that a more general framework was needed to allow for a more flexible and nimble response to humanitarian crises. A series of government-led national dialogues on immigration were held, culminating in the passage of the Immigration Act in 1976, and its implementation two years later. The act made a number of important changes to refugee policy. The most important included the principle of admission to Canada on humanitarian grounds and a provision for private sponsorship of refugees (which had previously been an…

8 min
bountiful diversity

Ontario in Transition: Achievements and Challenges Jean-Louis Roy Mosaic Press 251 pages, softcover ISBN 9780889629837 ON A RAINY SPRING DAY BACK IN 1971 my parents and I climbed into our Buick Skylark and headed west, leaving Montreal and heading for Highway 401, to a new life in Toronto. It was a journey made back then by many families, part of the so-called anglo exodus. My parents had grown weary of exploding mailboxes and the longstanding resentment displayed by Quebec’s majority toward those who did not speak French. They were relieved to be starting over in a city that seemed to welcome all comers. As for me, an 18-year-old leaving behind friends and my studies at McGill University, I wept all the way to Kingston. As things turned out, Toronto was just fine. It was a…

12 min
blood in the water

Saving the CBC: Balancing Profit and Public Service Wade Rowland Linda Leith Publishing 130 pages, softcover ISBN 9781927535110 THE TITLE OF WADE Rowland’s book, Saving the CBC: Balancing Profit and Public Service, suggests an existential struggle, never settled, always in play generation after generation. This time, Rowland warns, the threat to the CBC’s survival is not only real but near at hand. There will come a time when further cutbacks to the CBC’s funding will no longer lead to quantitative tinkering with its output, but to fundamental, qualitative transformation in the organization itself. I am among a large number of knowledgeable observers who believe that stage will be reached within the next two years. The tipping point will in all likelihood be the loss of NHL hockey and its associated revenue. Saving the CBC is…

1 min

after Strata by Marjorie Moeser acrylic on canvas, 26" x 12" You’ll notice the gold-tipped tooth of a man as he crosses into a shaft of sun this side of the vale and smiles and shines like an island, lamenting the key you left in another pocket, the wardrobe packed in a faraway crate, failure faces, actual cracks and blood predispositions. — I’m suggesting Icarus wasn’t falling as he fell but splashing back to birth through earth and ocean. The scaffold of his soul so keen it pinioned myth to wing, hubris to the beings of renewal. Elana Wolff Elana Wolff’s poems have appeared in journals in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. She has published six books with Guernica Editions, including You Speak to Me in Trees (2006), awarded the 2008 F.G. Bressani Prize for Poetry, and Startled Night (2011), long-listed for the 2012 ReLit Poetry…