Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

Archive for May 2009


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If you’ve ever played competitive sports, team or individual – on any level – you know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about intimidation! It is there, in your face, physically and verbally as an intrinsic part of any game. Your opponent, the crowd, the other bench is constantly trying to get under your skin, using the body or anything else that’s legal or illegal to throw you off your game. And the one thing you CAN’T DO is wilt, bow to the pressure and let them beat you mentally and physically. The unwritten rules are – stand up and take it, then give as good as you get…or better.

Right now, Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party are trying to intimidate Canadian voters. Not directly, but through insidious attack ads targeting Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. By trash talking Mr. Ignatieff, they are telling us that we are not capable of making our own decisions.

The ads describe him as a cosmopolitan, absentee quasi-Canadian, a carpetbagger unfit and unworthy to assume that he could be Canada’s next Prime Minister. Seems to me that’s like saying Gandhi was not Indian because he spend his formative years in South Africa and the United Kingdom. But then, consider Mr. Harper’s love of the late Mr. Bush and U.S. Republicanism and you have the pot calling the kettle black. And didn’t the Republicans work their butts off to attribute the same elitist status to the Harvard-educated Barrack Obama. Now that didn’t work. Did it?

Marketers will tell you the investment in attack ads are necessary because they work. True, Mr. Harper’s trash talking of the last Liberal leader was effective. So now, he’s back on the negativity bandwagon. We’ll see. Mr. Ignatieff is an altogether tougher, smarter, and more resilient opponent. His intellectualism and worldliness are not weaknesses. Mr. Harper’s back-alley tactics, tendency towards ridicule and bully attitude, I think, are.

Do the Conservatives believe that Canadians are incapable of forming their own opinions? I believe those personal and scurrilous TV spots do the exact opposite. And I resent being the target of trash talk from the leader of my country. There are so many more important and critical issues at stake today. Perhaps Mr. Harper should put his party’s money to better use and debate those with his opponent.

Mr. Harper, I don’t like the way you play the game.      


I apologize for this political rant. It is not what this blog is all about. But, sometimes, something comes along and you just need to say what your thinking. I will get back to blogging about ‘nothing’ shortly.

Thanks for your patience and undertanding.                                                                                                                                  


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Certain aspects of business in Port Elgin and Southampton seem to be infected with a disturbing malady. Business people and people of influence appear possessed. They are obsessed with BIGNESS and you can see it all around us.

It all began in earnest when Wal-Mart came to town.

The massive façade of its cavernous building sits well back off the road. In front of it is room for more development. Word is that a BIGGER Canadian Tire is on the way. Inside is a grocery store and anything else you might want. The sheer size of it has prompted the local supermarket to purge slow selling merchandise and rearrange its own interior to allow for wider aisles and therefore more grocery product. And, no doubt, these actions are also a reaction to the new mall directly across the street, built specifically for a new giant, big box type drugstore. This, in turn, gave rise to the long-time local small street corner druggist pulling up his roots and moving out of the downtown core to a BIGGER building closer to Wal-Mart. The dominos continue to fall because the local storefront drugstore in Southampton has plans to leave historic High Street for a BIGGER venue on the main highway, almost kiddie-corner to the BIG new Tim Horton’s.

These are only a few small examples. But they illustrate the point…BIG is all-pervasive in our tiny community. We even have the BIGGEST Canadian Flag around as a tourist attraction.

There are those who decry this phenomenon in defense of the little guy. There are those who say onward and upward. The battle lines are being drawn between citizens who warn that BIG will destroy Quaint and entrepreneurs who live by the maxim BIGGER IS BETTER.

It all reminds me of that Tom Hanks movie – BIG. A young boy, unsatisfied with his life so far, asks a carni ‘wish machine’ ZOLTAR SPEAKS to make him older. Overnight, he grows BIGGER. But the frustrations of adulthood make him wish he was a child again. So much so that he seeks out ZOLTAR SPEAKS to reverse the process.

But, the analogy begs the question. What is the better road? Leave well enough alone? Lead, follow or get out of the way? Go BIG or GO HOME?

I’ve experienced both sides of the argument. There is a lot to be said for each. Reality teaches that progress is hard to hold back. And money talks. Trouble is  – as we have seen in both the U.S. financial sector and the North American Automotive Sector – BIG has a tendency to eat its young.

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

May 3, 2009 at 8:34 PM

Posted in Home Town, thoughts, Writing