Thursday, August 10, 2006

Enough is Enough

Toronto Appreciation Day was going well in Montreal. I gave my speech to Montrealers, including a few words about keeping a sense of pride about yourself and not letting the city get tatty (see the entry about the Cross below). I did some informal polling and presided over what was a fairly positive public discourse on Toronto and its place in Canada. Of course there were a few vulgarities and misguided rants but overall I felt things were going well. Then the comedy troupe The Dancing Cock Brothers. showed up.

They had heard about Toronto Appreciation Day through a blurb in Montreal weekly the Hour and asked to play a song. This is precisely the public square kind of thing I have been inviting Canadians across the country to do so of course I immediately agreed this was a smashing idea. Until they started singing.

Three of these guys are Montrealers and a fourth, Ryan Hipgrave, is an ex-Torontonian. Their song Goodbye Toronto, Bonjour Montreal is about how the three Montrealers help Ryan when he falls off the wagon so to speak and wants to move back to Toronto. How ironic when Montreal is obviously the drunker and less productive.

Here are some of their snotty lyrics:
Ryan (recovering Torontonian): "We have MuchMusic, Bravo and Citytv –
Three Montrealers: But nobody knows how to play good hockey."

I’m a civilized guy but I really think that this kind of so called satire is just destructive and has no place in a country like Canada. I wasn’t just disappointed, I was increasingly angry with their waggly faced sneers about how much cooler and hipper Montreal was.

I am sorry to say I lost my cool and physically attacked one of them. Kyle is the Montrealer smart mouth that I tackled as you can see in the photos and then I more or less took on the entire troupe with some ground wrestling. Me and Mats Sundin and Zidane are gentlemen and skilled tacticians first but you push and you push and you see what you get. You get a little of the old push back. My parents are from Belfast and have instilled not only a strong work ethic in me, but also what is called Northern Irish Diplomacy. Sorry Kyle but that’s how I roll, don’t let the suit fool you. I may look like a soft handed office pimp but I guess you know different now. Bitch.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Cross

I started this Toronto Appreciation Tour to make a difference, and it's definitely starting to show.

A few weeks ago we arrived in Montreal. Everyone knows that while the symbol for Toronto is the CN Tower, the symbol for Montreal is its cross, the post modern, post Catholic thing-a-mabob perched atop Mount Royal. I guess you could say Montreal’s Olympic stadium is the symbol of Montreal as well but its been dangerously crumbling for a while now and I don’t want to be inflammatory about such matters.

But back to the cross. I was horrified to notice that Montreal hadn't maintained even the most basic maintenance.

Yes that's right, a bunch of light bulbs were out on the cross. An Irish couple I know who recently moved to Toronto visited Montreal two weeks before I went and they told me that the bulbs were out at that time as well. As such I understood that this situation had been left unchecked for far too long.

"Not good enough," I said to myself, not as a Torontonian, but as a Canadian who has great affection for Montreal in a big brother sort of way. God, or the Greater Power as some call him, agreed as you can see from the lightning in the photos. And no that's not a photoshop job that's real lightning.

In true Toronto style I rolled up my sleeves and got to work, bypassing the wine, jazz and beautiful women as we so often do here in Toronto so that Canada can run smoothly.

That cross is a not only a symbol of Montreal but of Canada and it reflects on all of us. Now, the Toronto Appreciation Tour is always a popular topic for media wherever we go in Canada and I made a decision to leverage our coverage to make some changes.

The day after I arrived I went on This Morning Live on Global television and had four talk radio appearances. At each opportunity I pounded home the message that we as Canadians have to take care to keep up appearances for our international friends that visit. But more than that we have to maintain our cities and tourist attractions for our own sense of dignity and self worth.

Maybe that makes me "uptight" or a "busybody" from Toronto but by goodness when I see something that needs doing I just up and do it.

The immense media pressure I exerted did not go unnoticed. The light bulbs were replaced the next day. It took me 24 hours to get the city to replace those light bulbs and I can't tell you how that gave me a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Immensely so.

As a side note here is my hilarious but true joke about Montreal. It is in the spirit of Just for Laughs comedy festival that was on during our stay in Montreal.

Q: How many Montrealers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: It takes one Torontonian.

That’s what we do in Toronto, we keep Canada running.

No need to thank me Montreal, thank Toronto and our can-do attitude towards playing hard but also working hard.