Dad, always left-leaning politically, was probably progressive in a way that was ahead of his time. He and my uncles would always bet a bottle of booze as to which of their favourite political parties would win each federal or provincial election. My Dad would always vote for the New Democratic Party (NDP), the left-leaning most party at the time. After each election, I would always see my Dad carrying a bottle of booze under his arm to my uncles’ homes at our very next visit.
Elma, although wise in lots of ways, was not progressive about her vote. As one election approached, I remember asking her for which party she was going to vote. Her answer was that she did not know because Dad had not decided yet. I can see the suffragists turning in their graves as I type these words.
Despite my Dad’s left-leaning and progressive views, he was a sworn enemy of our prime minister at the time, Pierre Trudeau. Pierre Trudeau was in power for eleven years from 1968 until 1979.
As I went to University as a young adult, I was surprised to learn that Trudeau was very much a favourite prime minister of Canada.
Contrary to what I learned at home from my Dad which was “that that God-Damned Trudeau ruined the God Damned Country” Trudeau is credited with putting Canada on the map regarding global politics. His personality dominated the political scene in Canada in a way that Canadians and the rest of the world had never yet seen. He is the source and inspiration of the Trudeaumania movement. The Trudeaumania movement was characterized by the excitement and hope generated by Canadians as he entered into the leadership role of Canada. It seems that the Trudeaumania movement is repeating itself three decades later, with the hope and optimism that Pierre Trudeau’s son, Justin Trudeau has generated for Canadians now.
Pierre Trudeau is credited with preserving national unity, achieving the implementation of official bilingualism in Canada, leading Canada to gain its full independence from Britain, and establishing the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
(Wikipedia is my source for this).
Critics like my Dad accuse Pierre Trudeau of being an arrogant snob, of economic mismanagement, and of centralising Canadian decision-making making Ontario and Quebec the centres of the universe to the detriment of the rest of Canada.
Dad’s dislike of the French was in sharp contrast to everything else Elma and Julius taught us. Although our community of Hammond, British Columbia was a mostly all white community, Mom and Dad demonstrated to us at an early age that racism was not cool or acceptable.
Mom took great comfort in her belief of God. Although she did not press her religious views on us, she told us that everyone was a child of God and that “God did not make no junk.”
Although Dad was less vocal about the acceptance of everyone, his attitudes and values were, as always, similar to Mom’s.
Mom and Dad simply accepted everyone. They did not seem concerned about race, economic status, ethnicity, grades, background or anything else. They were concerned about us being good people. They wanted us to be fair and polite and to work hard. Beyond that, it was up to us to create our own lives.
When I had my first real boyfriend, he was Indian. Mom and Dad took notice of the fact that I was going out with a brown person, but were not concerned about it.
Where Mom and Dad did direct us, however, was that we were to get good jobs rather than own businesses or get educated.
They felt the stress of owning a business was not worth it. They could not see the value in post-secondary education due to how much it cost.
Mom and Dad did not work themselves up about what kind of friends we hung out with either. They just wanted our friends to be nice people who did not wear hats indoors.
Mom and Dad felt this was the case with absolutely everyone.
Because of his resentment of Trudeau, my Dad resisted anything and everything to do with anything French, the province of Quebec, and the country of France (I don’t think he saw the irrelevance here).
Unlike his usually tolerant self, he would refer to the French as god-damned frogs.
So, when Dad and I got into an epic battle about me taking French, I was pretty surprised. I did not appreciate that his rants about the French were totally serious. It all started because I wanted to take French in high school.
I was entering high school. For the first time, I had a choice of taking some elective courses. Always fascinated with the idea of being able to speak another language, I was excited about the possibility of learning how to speak French.
I wanted to choose French as an elective, and I needed a parent’s signature for approval to do so.
Dad was adamant that I was not going to learn how to talk like a god-damned frog.
Dad and I raised our voices in the argument. I told him if he did not sign the required forms that I would forge his signature. Eventually, Dad tired. He relented.
In the end, I would win this particular fight and get to take French.
I was excited about this opportunity. My high school French classes taught us verb conjugations and various words but did not help us learn how to speak French or understand it.
Although, I would ultimately get my way in the argument, I never did, however, learn how to talk like a “god-damned frog.”