Wednesday, July 09, 2008

My country 'tis of weird

Canadians of the future -- and no doubt, foreigners of the present -- will be amazed to learn that the colour of margarine has been a lightning-rod issue in Canadian politics, bundled up with such things as French-Canadian separatism and good old-fashioned protectionism for the dairy lobby.

It has literally come to police raids on Wal-Mart grocery sections in Quebec City. But glory be, the people of Quebec will soon be able to enjoy yellow margarine like the rest of the world.

If you're really interested (and there's no good reason to be) there's some decent background here.

In my homeland's defense, this is at least an issue of tangible reality, unlike the fantasies that seem to preoccupy American politics: Does Barack Obama love America or the Prophet Muhammad? Can Social Security be saved from disgrace? Etc.


Anonymous said...

This sentence:

The province had been the last front in Canada's margarine wars, which pitted a protectionist dairy industry against canola farmers and multi-national margarine manufacturers.

Is perhaps one of the greatest sentences in the English language. I want to meet the veterans of the "margarine wars" - I picture grizzled heroes sitting in Veteran's halls recounting their days on the front. Also - any sentence that uses the words "multi-national margarine manufacturers" is already earning bonus points.

On the other hand, this bit:

In November, 2005, provincial Agriculture Department inspectors raided four Wal-Mart stores in the Quebec City area and seized 72 tubs of illicit yellow margarine.

Sounds like something out of a bizarre dystopian satire. Something Neal Stephenson would scribble in the margins of a book and then throw it out for being too far-fetched.

And, in all honesty, I think the sickly yellow "trying for butter but still non-butter" color that most margarine comes in is as much of a stomach turner as the "lard colored" stuff in the picture.


Mike said...

Shocking as it may come to you John, but the Butter and Margarine laws in Quebec are actually required reading in Constitutional law courses at nearly every University in Canada due to their significance to Section 91 and 92, the separation of powers.

That and cases having to do with Nova Scotia taverns.

Man, life was boring in Constitutional law before the Charter...

john said...

I didn't have to take constitutional law, but did elect to take "politics of the Canadian charter of rights", and had to learn about the margarine laws then.

That doesn't make them any less bizarre.