Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Un Canada Cool

Winter will not let go in Canada right now. Temperatures are frigid across the prairies. Rain plays a steady beat down on the West Coast; while along the Eastern stretch, from the the Great Lakes to the Maritimes there are no signs of Spring weather to be found.

Canada is cool in the literal way. It's also getting there in the proverbial sense.

The Canadian Music Awards, March 31 to April 1st, The Junos were awash with talent even with all the mistakes made. Nelly Futardo the most prominent one.

K-os was shut out
along with Avril Lavigne which was wrong in light of Futardo's success; Diana Krall won one so the overall trend was not all bad. Calgary's airport was buzzing with bands, and media types on their way to Saskatoon a few days before.It was a surreal scene at times.

March 26, Gatineau, Quebec saw Salman Rushdie give a wise speech on a progressive approach to
Multiculturalism. He was very clear on the mistakes of the right and left in dealing with fundamentalist intolerance within the large ethnic communities now seen in the Western world.

Cultural relativism, he pointed to as the main mistake. By allowing too much latitude to immigrant cultures it encouraged abuses such as exploitation of women and the wanton inciting of criminal behavior. Certain values need to be stressed as universal: Freedom of Speech, Gender equality, respect of law were among the ones Rushdie pointed to. He further sought to dispel the notion that there was a monolithic nature to ethnic communities which are as varied as groups anywhere when they are not misrepresented by
media stereotypes. For example, he pointed to the riots in France a few years ago arising not out of any cultural fervor but out of economic marginalisation.

He was also clear in spelling out how mistaken or perhaps intentional misguided American and British foreign policy were contributing to radicalism in the Arab world.

These were not original insights but he had a way of expressing himself that brought out the human dimension. His clear assertion that Muslims were the ones that were suffering the most from the current conflicts underlined the humane perspective and highlighted the ignorant simplicity of the Manichean cast sometimes applied, ie the forces of light pitted against the forces of darkness in an apocolyptic conflict.

Chris Anderson editor of Wired Magazine was there in Gatineau too talking about his book on niche marketing in the digital age. A very cool magazine, geek cool but cool nonetheless.

As long as we're on the theme check out some cool Media. The Hour hosted by
George Stroumboulopoulos offers 60 mintutes of news, pop culture, interviews with movers and shakers. It's excellent content at the fast pace that an Internet audience has come to expect.

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