Let’s Talk About Bells “Let’s Talk”

If you’re not a Canadian, this topic might be a little foreign to you, so I’m going to break it down. Bell Canada is a telecommunications company operating in the Great White North. A few years ago, they started their “Let’s Talk” campaign, which is designed to bring mental health to the forefront of conversation. The campaign takes place at the beginning of the year, and if you are a Canadian citizen, you start to see commercials like these.

Micheal Landsberg is a famous Canadian sports guy.

Howie Mandel is a famous Canadian game show host.

I’m not sure who this is. But she’s probably Canadian.

Bringing up the stigma of mental health issues is a tough one, and I commend Bell for trying to bring this into the public arena. The other day, though, a friend of mine brought up a very important piece of the mental health puzzle faced here in Canada. Specifically, he brought up this guy.

Vince Li

(Photo: The Canadian Press)

This is Will Baker, formally known as Vincent Li. On July 30th, 2008, he decapitated a fellow passenger, Tim McLean, on a Greyhound bus traveling to Winnipeg. After cutting off his head, he began to cannibalize parts of the young man. As of the writing of this post, Will is living alone, under supervision, in Winnipeg. Will is asking for an absolute discharge, which would grant him total freedom. Currently, his case is being reviewed by the Crown.

Will Baker was found not criminally responsible (NCR) for his actions, as he has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. At the time of the killing, he heard the ‘Voice of God’ tell him to kill the young man or die himself.

Every January, Facebook fills with stories about people wanting to open up and share their own experiences with mental health. I hear from folks about eating disordered, anxiety attacks, depression. It’s both incredibly brave and important because it strips away the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

Understand I’m not here to disparage any form of mental disorder. Depression, anxiety, these are real conditions that affect thousands of Canadians every year. It’s important we talk about them. The problem is Bell using these conditions as the face of mental health issues. While Bell is more than happy to hire successful spokespeople to talk about their struggles and how they overcame them, like the videos posted above, they tend to go quiet about subjects like Mr. Baker.

The conversation changes in tone when we bring up people who’ve committed violent acts while suffering a mental disorder. It slides from sharing videos like these on Twitter, all the way down to locking a person up and throwing away the key. People want to have a conversation about mental health when it’s told by photogenic actors, but the conversation stops when it’s discussing cases like the killing of Tim McLean, or the Calgary Stabbings, where five people were killed at a house party by someone claiming aliens were talking to him.

I’m going to relate my own story here. I spent some time in Golden in the spring of 2015, a few months. It was enough time to meet some of the towns more interesting folks. There was one person, in particular, who stood out. We’ll call him Greg. Now, Greg went to the library a lot. I was at the library every once and a while, as my mom works there. Greg made me pretty uncomfortable because Greg talked to ghosts. I asked some of the other people in town about Greg, including my mom. “He’s harmless,” I was told “and the truth is, we can’t really do anything about him.” And it’s completely true, even though it was clear that Greg was obviously suffering from some sort of mental disorder, there wasn’t anything anyone could do about it. The police couldn’t do anything, as he hadn’t broken any laws. And there’s no facility in a small place like Golden that could have intervened.

Greg made me uncomfortable for another reason. While he seemed friendly enough to other people, the ghosts had beef with me and were letting Greg know. Once, when I was leaving the library, Greg was standing outside. I said hello, and he replied with “They’re saying you’re very dangerous. I don’t like dangerous people.” He also said this while looking right through me with the classic ‘thousand yard stare’. Not long after, he moved somewhere else, somewhere in northern BC.

I’m telling this story because even though it was clear society had a person suffering from head problems on their hands, there was no protocol in place to deal with him. That’s a glaring issue, one that Bell’s “Let’s Talk” campaign doesn’t address. What would have happened had the ghosts decided I was threat? What would have happened if Greg acted upon the ghosts suggestions?

Bell did raise 6.5 million dollars for mental health, which is a win.  But, if we want to get serious about mental health, we need to do more than just talk about it. We need to start addressing it. Not just addressing what we do with violent patients after they’ve recovered and have been treated, but how to prevent them from becoming violent in the first place. The last thing I want to hear about is a man named Greg committing an act of violence in northern BC, because ghosts were telling him space pirates were coming to get him.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. #LetsDoSomethingAboutIt

First, Pass the Pancakes

Sophie Trudeau was humming in the kitchen as she brewed some coffee and got tea ready. It was Sunday, which meant the staff was given the day off and the family would sit down and have breakfast together. Normally, Sophie was in charge of the meal, and she would make either a quiche or a tourtiere for the morning meal. Today was different, however. Today Justin promised to make pancakes.

Justin strode into the room and walked over to his wife. Taking her by the waist, he firmly planted a kiss on her cheek. “Morning, sweetie” he said as he stared into her eyes.

“Morning, mon cheri. I am looking forward to breakfast. This is going to be quite a treat.”

“I know,” he replied as he released himself from the embrace and sat down at the table with the children. “I absolutely love your quiche and/or tourtiere.”

She stood there, mouth agape for a moment, trying to figure out what her husband was up to. “Perhaps you have forgotten, mon cheri, but you said earlier in the week that you’d be making pancakes. I was looking forward to, how do you say, taking my feet off this morning.”

Trudeau leaned forward, placing his hand on his chin. He nodded. “I understand that I said I would be making pancakes this morning. It was one of the issues brought to my attention when we decided to have breakfast. I truly believe my pancakes are in the best interests of everyone in our family. Unfortunately, after some polling, we haven’t been able to draw consensus on what we should be having for breakfast this morning. Currently, half of the family wants pancakes for breakfast, and that isn’t broad enough support to justify a change from the usual delicious quiche and/or tourtiere that you usually make.”

Sophie’s eyes widened. “Mon cheri, what are you talking about? Poll? Alright, let us take a vote right now. Xavier, do you want pancakes for breakfast?” The eldest Trudeau child nodded. “And you, Ella-Grace, do you want the normal quiche or do you want pancakes with syrup and whipped cream?” Ella-Grace nodded in agreement. “Yes, Mama, I want pancakes for breakfast.” Sophie began to smile. “Hadrian, do you want cakes for breakfast?” The youngest child, almost three, banged his plastic cutlery on the table. “Cakes, cakes, cakes. I want cakes!” Sophie smirked at her husband. “You see, Mr. Prime Minister, that is four against one. Looks like you are in charge of pancakes this morning, as you promised.”

Justin didn’t move. His hand was still on his chin, and he continued to nod. “I understand you are passionate about pancakes, and I want you to know that I am too. I’m committed to making this a great breakfast. Not only for us but for everyone. Although four out the five members of the family here agree pancakes should be for breakfast, not every member of the family are here. I sent out a poll yesterday to some of the other family members and they all agree that your quiche and/or tourtiere is far better than my pancakes.”

Sophie crossed her arms and put her weight on her right hip. Her words became far more pronounced and enunciated. “Who, exactly, did you send this poll out to?” she asked.

“I sent it to Alexandre, Zoe, and Margaret.” he replied.

Sophie’s shoulders thrust forward, her arms still crossed. “You sent this to your mother?” she shook her head. “Incredible. I can’t believe you would work this hard to get out of making pancakes.”

Justin looked over at the children. “Kids, can you cover your ears for a minute? Mommy and Daddy have to have a parent talk, okay?” The two eldest children nodded and covered their ears, the youngest was oblivious to the conversation. Justin looked back at his wife.

“I’ll level with you, sweetie. My pancakes aren’t very good. I’m a lot of things. I’m a great politician, a fantastic boxer, and an amazing lover.” Sophie started to cough loudly. “…but I’m not a good cook. At first, I thought making the pancakes would make me look better in the kids eyes, put me in the ‘cool dad’ books. The truth is, if they have my pancakes, I’ll drop a peg. It simply doesn’t benefit me to make pancakes at this stage anymore.”

Sophie’s face turned crimson, and she stamped her foot. “You promised me, though, you’d be making pancakes. You are breaking your promise.”

Trudeau gave her a shit-eating grin. “I know. But there needs to be consensus, sweetie. Now, if you could start making a quiche/tourtiere, that would be wonderful. I’m really hungry.”

Sophie spun around and started taking out the necessary hardware to make breakfast, slamming each one down on the counter. “I’m glad I only have to put up with your bullshit for another two years, mon cheri. Then you can go back to being a teacher and not a prick.”

“You mean another decade, sweetie.” he said.

He couldn’t see it, but she was rolling her eyes. “Of course, sure, whatever you say Mr. Prime Minister.”

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Pancakes are my least favorite cakes.

p.s.s. People might be saying, “But Mr. Charlton, what about Yellowcake?” My statement stands.

p.s.s.s. This is a Canadian thing if it doesn’t make sense.

Woe for Trudeau

Justin Trudeau sat at the edge of his bed, cup of coffee in hand, as his Filipino maid left the breakfast tray next to him on the mattress. He looked down at the mug, which was a cup with a gold trim lining the rim. It was a gift he had received as a child, when his father had taken them all to a quaint mansion owned by an old family friend in France. The coffee was rich and warm, and it too was a gift, from the son of the former president of Columbia. He let the smell of the coffee flow into his nostrils, then he sighed heavily.

Trudeau had just returned from his cross country bus trip. Ontario was a bit of a struggle, but the Maritimes were lovely as always, and then the trip across the prairies had been wonderful, until of course, he had hit Alberta. There was a large group of protesters in Medicine Hat, and the crowd had become so ruckus and unruly that there was no choice but to hop on a chartered plane and cross over Alberta in the air. When they landed in Cranbrook BC, they got back on a bus and finished the tour. Most of the media had been responsive to the tour, but the newspapers in Alberta were less than kind. The Calgary Sun had called his actions “cowardly”. The Lethbridge Herald called him “Spineless”. And the Rebel’s own Ezra Levant had posted a video, stating that Justin was “A Liberal Faggot”.

He put his coffee down and looked over at Maria, the maid. “Maria, I’ve got a question for you. Why do people in Alberta hate me so much?”

It was Maria’s turn to sigh. “Mr. Trudeau. I very busy today. Can you not ask your wife?”

Trudeau shook his head. “I’ve asked her, and she doesn’t know either.”

“Okay.” Maria said as she pulled out a chair that was close by. She sat down. “The first province I started in, when I move to Canada? It was Alberta. I moved to Edmonton so that I might support my family back home, yes? The people in Alberta are very different than the rest of country. How many hours a week I work?”

Trudeau looked puzzled “Well, I think you work about 40 hours a week.”

Maria nodded. “It is 44 hours, but you are so close. Now, how many hours in Alberta did I work?” Before Justin could answer, Maria interrupted. “I work 50 to 70 hours a week in Alberta.” Justin gasped. “But…. but what about family and free time and hobbies?” Maria waved her hand “People from Alberta, they have no hobbies or free time. Everyone work. You live in Alberta, you work. You bored? Find second job. Everyone work like crazy in Alberta.”

Trudeau looked aghast. “What about the arts, and music, and….” Maria silenced him again. “You talk of culture. No culture in Alberta except for work culture. You have many famous Canadians. You have Jim Carrey, you have Pam Anderson, you have many stars from Canada. Anyone from Alberta famous? Nickleback. Everyone hate Nickleback. No. Alberta famous for work.”

Justin scratched his head. “But if they’re working so hard, why are they so worried about increases in taxes?” Maria started laughing hysterically. “That crazy part about Alberta, see? They blow money all the time. Even government. No saving. You have money, you buy car, or watch, or boat. You know how many boats in Alberta? More boats in Alberta than in Philippines. And Philippines island in ocean. Albertans hard working, but crazy. But they spend money, it good for Alberta economy, good for car salesman, good for watchmaker, good for everyone. Tax for Albertan mean less money for Albertans, more money for people in who do not work like crazy. Albertans think free time waste of time.”

Justin Trudeau scratched his head. “So why are they mad at me then?”

Maria’s eyes almost popped out of her head. “Dummy! You not listening to Maria? You threaten Albertans work? You threaten their culture. They see you, they see pretty cultured boy. You cultured? Means you not working. Only culture in Alberta is work. Remember that.” She squinted, tapping the side of her head. “Remember that.”

With that said, Maria stood up, pushed the chair back in, and started out the door. As her hand twisted the knob, Justin spoke again.

“What could I do to make them like me, then?”

Maria shrugged. “Probably nothing. You could sign crazy deal with Devil and make oil rain in Alberta, they still hate you. No, you pretty cultured boy, they always hate you.” she paused. “Maybe work more. No more vacations. No more beaches with rich friends. Albertans have lots of money, but no rich. To be rich, you must have culture. No rich snobs in Alberta, only money. You take vacation in three years, when you no longer politician. You go to beaches with friends then.”

Justin flashed a smile. “You mean 11 more years Maria.” She just rolled her eyes. “Sure, whatever Mr. Prime Minister. I sure you Prime Minister forever.”

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Sure, Nathan Fillion is from Alberta, but Firefly only lasted a season, and he brought shame to his people by being out of work.

 

Mr. Charlton – Fake Canadian

Free pancakes. When you’re an adult, free pancakes is something you can probably skip. If they are giving away anything, it usually isn’t very good, and pancakes are no exception. People typically get a couple of hot cakes, and the choice of either two strips of bacon or some sausage links. Free pancakes is usually some sort of ploy to try and sell you something, with a business card stapled to the bottom of your plate. Someone high up in the company figures that with some pancake batter and a table set up in front of their shop they can convince you to buy a new furnace. It’s not a terrible marketing ploy, but it’s hard to choke down lousy pancakes while someone rants to you about how much heat this particular model spits out. Not when you’re a kid though.

When you’re a kid, damn, free pancakes! They’re free! You’re telling me someone is giving away free pancakes, and sausages? Are they some sort of millionaire? You bet I want free pancakes! Oh man, I can put as much syrup as I want on these pancakes? Yeah, I’ll take ALL the syrup! All of it. Put all the syrup on the pancakes. I get bacon too? Get out of town. I’m calling baloney. For real though? AND sausages? Today is the greatest day in my life.

Abby's_favourite_food_2013-11-09_02-50.jpg

It was not hard to please 9-year Mr. Charlton.¹

And that’s the first Canada day that I can remember. There was free pancakes at Kinsmen park, which was often referred to Stoners Park, because that’s were a lot of teenagers hung out. It was Canada’s 125th birthday, and I think that’s part of the reason it stuck out in my brain. They were serving pancakes, and I remember Larry was there. He was a friend of my father’s, and he would eventually become a friend of mine when I got older. That was the first Canada I remember. I can barely remember who the first prime minister was, I struggle to piece together memories of social studies in regards to the creation of this great nation, but for some reason, that pancake breakfast is burned into my brain.

See, even though I love this country and honestly would never want to live anywhere else, I still have some trouble identifying as a Canadian. Whereas  my friends and family seem to latch on to being Canadian and celebrate Canada day, I tend to struggle and try to spend most of Canada inside. The reason is there isn’t anything I particularly enjoy that is part of  Canadian culture.

Right off the bat, I don’t watch hockey, or any sport really for that matter. I couldn’t tell you who won the Stanley cup this year (I think it was Pittsburg?) and I have more fingers than the amount of hockey games I’ve sat down and watched. With so much of Canadian identity being wrapped up in a game I have no interest in, it’s hard to relate with other people about it. Let me be a little more clear…. Ahem…

Hockey sucks. I’d rather slam my hands repeatedly in a car door than watch grown ass men skate around a rink like they were doing something important.

Did I mention I’m kind of an jerk? Yeah, that’s the other part of Canadiana I don’t particularly subscribe to. In fact, I have been given the title of honorary French person by someone who is actually from France. If you happen to think I’m a nice person, then I’ve been shielding you from the bulk of my personality. To clarify, I’m not a bad person. I don’t kick puppies or steal children’s candy, but damnit if it doesn’t drive me a little nuts to have everyone be so nice all the time. If a meal sucks, then you have every right to talk about how shitty your meal is.

Speaking of meals, what exactly about Canadian food do we have to get excited over? I’m not saying there isn’t some tasty restaurants whipping up some tasty things, but there isn’t anything specifically Canadian about them. You know what our national dishes are? Poutine and Kraft dinner. One of them is French fries covered in cheese curds and gravy, and the other is macaroni from a box. That’s our culinary contributions to the world. A side dish from Quebec and the misappropriation of Canadian identity to a box of disappointment.

Speaking about a misappropriation of Canadian identity, how about Tim Hortons? A big ol’ cup of Timmy’s coffee to get you going in the morning? The only way I’m going to consume Tim Hortons coffee is if it’s a forced coffee enema. I honestly can’t fathom why people enjoy that swill. But Tim Horton’s loyalty in Canada is unreal and it’s absolutely weird to see people shower love to a corporation that isn’t even Canadian anymore.

Canada-Day.jpg

This awesome image? Done by an American.²

Look, I love this country and am never going to call anywhere else home. But damnit, we’re better than having our cultural identity wrapped up in a sport, a bunch of lousy food, and being overly nice to people. Because I swear, if I’m overseas on Canada day and someone offers me a Molson Canadian, I’m going to pour that garbage into the toilet. And then I’m going to demand pancakes, because that’s just as Canadian as a beer company that was bought out by Coors.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Yeah, that post took a turn, didn’t it? I’d be less dickish if being Canadian didn’t mean being a corporate lapdog.

p.s.s. If you have some better ideas of Canadian culture, send ’em my way.

¹ Image taken from Wiki Images.

² Image taken from http://jessicaborutski.blogspot.ca/