Sunday, December 27, 2009

I Like Foreign Films

I stopped off at the video rental place on my way home from work the other day. It’d been a long, cold, physically challenging day, and I wanted nothing more than to plunk myself in front of the tube to watch a movie.

I was browsing through the Foreign Films section, I came across The Trailor Park Boys, Jesus of Montreal… and The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. Sitting alongside films from all around the world were Canadian films made in Canada with Canadian directors and Canadian actors.

The young girl who worked there was just walking past. Picking up a copy of Atanariuat, I asked her, “why is this in the Foreign Films section?” Poor thing looked at the title and then up at me with a face that seemed to say “you idiot” and chided coldly, “we put all the movies made in other countries here.” Then she shook her head and stomped away.

I realised that I could have made my point a whole lot better with the video store girl had I held up The Trailor Park Boys, but that’s fodder for another column.

It took Canada a long time to gain sovereignty over this amazing land and to be viewed as a nation in our own right, not one beholding to some parent across the sea. This country’s very magic is that we are made of races of people who have each brought something special to create a unique nation in our own right.

Yet today, Canadian icons are no longer Canadian. Air Canada, CN Rail, Molsons, Labatts, The Hudson Bay Company, Dofasco, Alcan, Stelco, Canadian Pacific Hotels and Eatons… and a list much longer than I care to continue with. Many of these have been sold to American interests and run in a very un-Canadian way, where employees and communities come somewhere after the bottom line.

Canada’s own sovereignty is now compromised by this International/Americanisation of our resources and labour force. Our governments can no longer protect citizens from the whims of corporate board members who may never have set foot in a Canadian community, and who have no love for our history or uniqueness. Some governments even aid and abet the process of selling off our Canadian-ness for the sake of profit (I won’t name any, Mr. Harper and Mr. Stelmach, because I’m Canadian and don’t want to offend anyone).

We have given up our right to set our own course in this world. We’ve again become subservient to larger forces. It didn’t have to be this way. Smaller countries like New Zealand, Denmark, Norway and Finland have stayed in control of their own policies regardless of living near much larger and powerful nations and proven they can maintain their special place in the world community.

There may still be hope that we can get return to being truly and independently Canadian some day. Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania fought out from under the yoke of one of the most repressive regimes in human history to reclaim their status as independent states and are now rebuilding their own uniqueness. There is enough spirit left in ordinary Canadians to rouse into action. Canada is worth protecting from this slide into sameness being slowly and quietly being foisted on us.

One sign I’ll be looking for is a much larger Foreign Film section at Blockbuster… one expanded to fit the thousands of movies from Hollywood that really belong there. Of course, then I’d have to admit The Trailor Park Boys are ours.

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