The most interesting part of the trip to London was my fellow passenger on the bus from Heathrow to the Gloucester Road Air Terminal. Had he been 10 years younger he might have been one of that "Ole Miss" gang of Kingston Trio clones who Sheriff William Harpole feared were out to lynch me in Starkville, Mississippi, in 1964.
I cannot remember the young man's name, but he was taking what students in later years would call a "gap year"—in his case to laze about Europe until he felt like going back to school in his hometown. Not only was he bound for "Ole Miss," he was from just outside Starkville itself and had tales of Harpole, the decent sheriff of Oktibbeha County who protected me when I was in his jail and colluded with the Canadian Consul General in New Orleans against town and county officials to see to it that I got out safely.
Sadly, I learned that Harpole had died, and the young man beside me seemed much grieved, as I was. He recalled how the sheriff arrested him for stealing apples and made him apologise to the farmer, who then gave him a job, and managed to keep the incident from the boy's stern parents, known for "whopping" their kids for infractions. We parted and I wished him well, and again recalled my image of Harpole as a muscular Andy Griffith of the fictional TV sitcom Mayberry, as I caught the tube to Clapham Common.
Alan had managed to get an ideal flat directly on the vast Clapham Common. It was his for only two more months. As soon as I arrived, he left to work north of London for a few weeks. After a day or two, I was alone in the basement flat, usually occupied by a mutual friend Viv and her current squeeze, who we later learned were torridly breaking up while touring the Continent.
Alan also left me with a white Frisbee, a toy I had never seen before. He had acquired it from an American in Germany. Before Alan left for the north, he showed me how it worked on the fringes of Clapham Common. I was quite taken with it.
Meanwhile, major events were afoot in the area of third-level education in Quebec, and there were job opportunities in the air there. At a macro level there was the creation of an extra year of secondary schooling, which led to the creation of something known as CEGEPs (Collèges d'enseignement général et professionnel, pronounced "seejeps"). At the mini level, there was the merger of Sir George Williams University and Loyola College, a forced marriage neither wanted, especially not Loyola, fated to be the junior partner in a 60-40 merger. Loyola was long the officer corps of the English Catholic education system, now doomed to take orders from the Protestant sergeant's mess. Of course, the religious aspects of these institutions were entirely absent on the Protestant side and much diluted at Loyola.
What intrigued me was the historic nature of the merger, which I fancied was the union of the Jesuits and the YMCA, the soldier priests of Catholicism and Protestantism, both setting up operations worldwide. Although the birth of the Jesuits, founded by the Spanish ex-soldier Ignatius of Loyola, predates the YMCA by 300 years, they both got their start in Montreal in their surviving incarnations about the same time. Not that the Society of Jesus, set up to combat Martin Luther's Reformation in the 1540s, had not been in Montreal before, but after a 120-year run, the order was actively suppressed by the pope in 1773 for getting the Church into fights it did not want. The Jesuits were something of a Papal SS, or like Communist Political Commissars. They did not take orders from the local diocese or the local command structure, bypassing all authority, only reporting to their "Black Pope" in Rome, who reported to the Pope directly.
In time, with a change of a pope or two, the worldwide ban was lifted. Famous for their educational doctrine, "Cura Personalis" (care of the whole person), they were so beloved that Russia and Poland had refused to allow the papal ban to be enforced. By the time the early 19th century rolled around, much was forgiven. In Montreal, Bishop Ignace Bourget (note the first name), who stands today in bronze before the Cathedral, in 1846 invited the Jesuits to town, where they set up Collège Ste Marie. Trouble was, existing schools already served the needs of French Catholics, so there was a francophone student shortage. The big surprise of 1847 was the devastating Irish potato famine which drove an entirely new breed of cat to Montreal in great numbers, the English-speaking Catholic.
The Jesuits, already set up in Fordham School in New York, where famine Irish abounded, sent up teachers to cope with the Irish influx. In doing so, two separate schools emerged. One became Loyola School, eventually College. Collège Ste Marie continued until 1969, merging with newly minted Université du Québec à Montréal, called UQAM (pronounced "you-quam").
Montreal, being the most important centre in the British Empire, was the obvious choice for Sir George Williams to open his first overseas YMCA—the Young Men's Christian Association—as a muscular Protestant organisation to improve young men's lives in cities through sport and wholesome activity. From this, a night school flourished that eventually acquired the Y founder's name and later offered third-level education, at last gaining university status while still attached to the central YMCA building.
French nationalist provincial governments took over in the 1970s, seeking to reduce the predominant role of English in Quebec, under the slogan of "Maîtres chez nous," masters in our own house. During this period Montreal fell from the first city in Canada to the second, as Toronto took the lead. The world's largest life insurance company, Sun Life, housed in the largest building in the British Empire, decamped for Toronto. Once the world's biggest railway, the Canadian Pacific moved to Calgary. The percentage of English-speaking people, who represented 20 percent of the provincial population at its peak, fell to 12 percent as 7 percent of them departed and in doing so ironically deprived newly Frenchified Montreal of its status as largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris. That honour fell to Kinshasa in the Congo DRC.
Part of the Frenchification programme was the creation of CEGEPs and the build-up of third-level French education in an effort to decrease the overwhelming influence of English universities, regarded by the outside world as the only serious academic institutions in the province. Quebec had three French universities, l'Université de Montréal, l'Université Laval and l'Université de Sherbrooke, to which they added the above mentioned UQAM in 1969. The English, with then 15 per cent of the population, had three universities and, unless stopped, were about to spawn a fourth as Loyola College had been a degree-granting institution in all but name. (It was compelled to have its degrees granted by l'Université de Montréal, popularly known as U of M.)
The major stunting project was to prevent high-toned Loyola from becoming another degree-granting university by merging it with the larger and more working-class Sir George Williams University.
Years earlier, my brother Joel's failure in Montreal to get on with the radicals of the SGWU student newspaper as its editor had endeared him to the university's public relations department, where he had become gainfully employed as the editor of the weekly administration newspaper, Issues & Events.
Brother Joel was working for Malcolm Stone, the university information officer, as publications officer. The merger being more than a year away was nonetheless deep in planning, as there was no turning back. Sir George was working on forming itself into the governing body of what was to become Concordia University when the merger was accomplished in 1975, and it was thought I might have been part of that process. While in London, this stayed my efforts beyond one or two perfunctory moves in getting a job there. There was talk of setting up a university magazine and I was touted as a possible editor, or participant in the editorial team in some unspecified way, but I was to wait upon events, which turned out to be unwise.
Nonetheless, three things happened on my six-week sojourn in London: 1) I introduced the Frisbee to Clapham Common, and perhaps to all of UK, and in doing so frisbeed a girl into my flat; 2) I got the only working class job I ever had and received the most astonishing job rejection in my career.
And at the least worthy of dishonourable mention, I append a loathsome, petty experience to the list. Recalling my pleasant encounter with Colonel Sanders in the Toronto airport, I ventured into a KFC that I discovered in Lavender Hill around the corner at the end of the block. I was enjoying that sense of delight I had when realizing I had found myself in a famous place—not the KFC, but Lavender Hill, having fondly recalled Alec Guinness in the movie The Lavender Hill Mob. But at the very moment my teeth sank into the colonel's London offering I was uncharacteristically appalled. I am not a fussy eater, but this time I was quite disgusted. This chicken tasted of fish, quite apart from its stringy boniness. I could eat no more and dumped the lot in the bin. I found the uniformed KFC clerk's indifferent response noteworthy, as if this were not the first complaint, nor did he appear surprised. While I did not rank the experience as abysmal as the Dublin Wimpy burger of seven years earlier, it still holds second place more than 40 years later. Know-it-all Alan, with typical nonchalance, said it was the fish meal they fed poultry that gave it that taste, as if I should have known.
Then there was that job rejection, astonishing not for its content, it being polite, straightforward, routine and unsurprising. My plan was to send letters of application to all prospective employers, starting with Fleet Street players and working myself down to lesser publications and news services within the main outer London ring road. I would then follow up with personal visits. This plan was hatched on the plane well before I got wind of the Montreal university job, so I hardly got started on Plan A when I slipped into the more comfortable Plan B of waiting for news—but not before writing a letter of application to the Financial Times, citing my Vancouver Sun business experience.
As the letter was already written, I sent it that morning. So you can imagine my astonishment when I got a perfectly normal letter of rejection in the mail that very afternoon. Getting a phone installed might be a serious bother in England, but the postal service, unlike Canada's, ran at peak efficiency. I remember my mother telling me that George Bernard Shaw would have stamped blank postcards in his pocket and that he would expect replies to dinner invitations that very day. It was nearly as efficient as email.
As I was told to bide my time and await word from Montreal on the university job, I simply lazed about, listening to the large record collection in the flat, which had speakers arrayed from the front room to the back kitchen, with its own unkempt but pleasant garden. I was much intrigued by the Frisbee, having seen nothing like it. Eventually, I took it out on the common, though feeling a little foolish flinging it far and wide to no one. Three 10-year-old boys in school uniforms took an interest and tried to throw it back to me. When that didn't work, they threw it to each other. Eventually they got the hang of it, but flung it too far and in directions where no one could catch it.
Eventually, I got hold of it again and sent them on their way, as I was beginning to suspect they would take it for themselves. I was deep into the Common by now, when I spotted a girl who had been watching. She asked to see it, so I threw it to her. After a false start or two, she got the hang of it and was throwing it back. It was then I had an idea. From the sight of her she looked like a girl worth knowing, and I liked her spunk in wanting to see the Frisbee. So I slyly inveigled her into my flat by throwing the Frisbee short so that she would have move forward to catch it as I moved backward in the direction of the flat. In this way we arrived across the street from the flat, and I invited her in. For more than a week, a light-hearted affair ensued. Such incidents marked the 1970s, however infrequently.
Penny, not her real name, was the daughter of a senior British Petroleum executive and had been raised in several places around the Persian Gulf. She had lots to say about Arabia and found me an eager listener fascinated in what intelligent people with first-hand experience had to say about foreign climes. She had met the high and mighty of the region, at the very least their wives and families. I remember her saying that the king of Bahrain had forbidden traffic lights in the kingdom as an affront to human dignity, and where such devices were obviously needed, he installed roundabouts instead. Penny was most informative about the region and its people and occasionally went back to her flat on the other side of the Common. One day, she returned with a large handbag, which I did not notice. She suggested I have a bath and I discovered that the bath was already filled with hot water. Even in summer, that was a treat in England and had taken some preparation. So I did as I was told. She then reappeared dressed in see-through gossamer silks and satins. She was shapely, and it had all had the desired visual effect. Penny announced that this was the way an Arab woman treated her man, and proceeded to anoint me and rub me with various lotions and oils.
I cannot say it was much more than a visual and academic success. Penny looked lovely, of course, and it was interesting to get an idea of the intimate service extras that came with male-female relations in Arabia. But I had no role in it and felt awkward, so the expected personal response of delight from me was absent. She too was disappointed at my reaction. So it ended as gracefully as awkward moments could. And we went to the pub, and things resumed, but with less fun and frolic than before. Within a few days she stayed at her flat more than mine, and then not at all. It was an interesting interlude and a painless breakup.
Alan returned short of money and decided to get a job at a Coty cosmetics warehouse in Wimbledon. Having nothing else to do, I responded to the call for hired help too and ended up doing the first truly working-class job I ever had as an adult. The Coty plant was a vast warehouse, with four security guards on catwalks and two patrolmen on our level, who were paid to see that the largely female workforce did not steal the various perfumes, potions and lotions that the warehouse distributed throughout the south of England, East Anglia and the Midlands. As Alan had a driver's licence he got the job driving a forklift. I wielded a pitchfork to distribute gobs of shredded wax paper called stuffing into bins to be taken by the women in handfuls to insulate orders of glass bottles from breakage in transit as they filled orders from pharmacies and other retail outlets across the land. Alan's job was to transport the boxes of single items, while others picked and packed for firms like Boots of Ipswich, which ordered so much of this and that and got so much stuffing from me.
Alan and I saw little of each other in the day, as he was working mostly at the other end of the cavernous warehouse, but he would occasionally be visible to me in the unloading process as I pitch-forked armloads of stuffing into bins next to the pick-and-pack frumpy ladies, who were uniformly fat and fifty. It reminded me of feeding hay to cows tethered in their stalls.
In the evening on the way home we marvelled at the ladies and how content they were with their lives. They expected no more than this, counted themselves lucky to have the jobs, and enjoyed their regular breaks during which tea was served from one massive kettle, each getting a one-size-fits-all dollop, milk and sugar included. They freely admitted to stealing what they could. Though the guards were ever vigilant, pilferage continued and no one was caught in the two weeks we were there.
It all came to an end when Alan accidently rammed his forklift through several boxes of pungent perfume which created a big stink at the warehouse. Alan was fired and I quit, having had quite enough of the working-class life. To be frank, I was a little nervous about having the job at all, because I had only a grade 8 education and, as such, properly belonged in these lower social registers, a prospect I dreaded especially after that first-hand experience.
There was a pub we frequented called the Tim Bobbin. We understood that it was supposed to lose its licence, and no longer having the threat of the possible loss of its licence hanging over its head, like a condemned man taking up smoking on death row, the pub discreetly stayed open well after the legal 11 o'clock closing time. The drill was the same each night. Those not in the know would leave as usual when the publican called: "Time, Gentlemen, time, See up your glasses now! When you're ready!"
Those in the know would do no such thing. It was the only pub in the UK or Ireland that I knew of allowing such a thing. I was told there were several policemen who frequented the place. Though we were never introduced, I saw clumps of men who looked the part. After a time a few would gather round the door and the floor-to-ceiling curtains which now enshrouded the dimly lit pub. People would depart in groups and leave quietly. Never any rowdiness, as all were mindful of spoiling a good thing.
Another remarkable thing about the pub was its pre-closing-time clientele, a number of whom were civilian workers with the Ministry of Defence. They were quite chatty. One was an MOD geographer, another was an Arabist. Quite a number were women with various areas of expertise. Perhaps it was because the pub was facing its end, it produced a last-chance saloon abandon and friendliness.
I remember one night they were talking about someone who was an Arabist, and I thought it would be fun to "send them up" as the British say, or "take the mickey" for their pomposity about being an Arabist and generally looking down on others, as Brits tend to do. When asked what I did, I said I was a "Britologist working for the Canadian High Commission."
"What?!" they said, eyebrows raised.
Calmly, I explained that Canada's policy was to further better relations between our two countries, and so we made a study of the British to further our understanding of their ways. "The way you people do with Arab studies presumably. My job is to study tribes south of the Thames," I said.
They were appalled and said so, but I did not let it go too far before confessing that I was just teasing. Still, I was stunned, but gratified, at the impact I was having.
While I heard nothing from Montreal, it was getting to the point where my return ticket home would lapse if I did not use it and fly home to be closer to this job opportunity when it hatched. Sadly, I flew home only to discover someone else got the job, or there was no job. I cannot remember which. I then applied for unemployment insurance, which ironically enough proved to be the core of my fortune.
I spent a week in my mother's place, a pleasant two-floor flat in a triplex on Jeanne Mance north of Prince Arthur on the border of the McGill Student Ghetto. It was a well-appointed billet, done up like the Parisian flat shared by Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas with comfortable fittings and objets d'art filling up every nook and cranny. After that, I was driven to live in a shabby room down the street on Jeanne Mance to escape Mother's entirely justified harangues about what I was doing with my life.
As my mail had been directed to her place, I had to visit frequently. Each encounter was rather like meeting Bertie Wooster's Aunt Agatha, who PG Wodehouse said "killed rats with her teeth." Yet soon mother was asking a favor. She was preparing to spend the approaching winter, its nip now firmly in the air, in a writers' retreat in Mexico, and had rented out her flat to three Irish girls who were going to McGill. She asked me to see to their needs after she departed.
Mother was gone before the first snow, and the Irish girls arrived. They were pretty enough, but were rather remote and stand-offish. They were not two weeks into their stay, when they discovered, quite by accident, that their friends from Ireland had rented a place directly across the lane. They decided to renege on their agreement with my mother and over my objections decamped to live with their friends. I never saw them again.
Given the changed circumstances, my mother felt it best that I move into her flat until she returned in the spring, which I did. This was a considerable step up in my lifestyle. The weeks of waiting for my unemployment insurance cheques were at an end. The UIC (Unemployment Insurance Commission) payments were based on my high Vancouver Sun wages and came to something like $160 a week, which was generous considering I was now living rent free in a flat with all the amenities, though still paying for my room down the street.
What made UIC the core of my fortune was what happened next at the City & District Savings Bank down the street. Armed with all identification papers needed, I asked the clerk to cash the government cheque. This she refused to do, saying they only cashed cheques for account holders. Quite annoyed, I asked her how much was required to open an account. "One dollar," she said. So with much ill humour, I opened up an account and took away the cash less one dollar. But not being a big spender, I found that I had not spent all the money from my previous encounter with the bank and decided to leave a goodly portion in the account, only taking what I needed. This became a lifelong pattern.
Then I unwittingly sheltered a French spy, who I only suspected played such a role 20 years later, when a French organisational espionage technique came to light in daily press reports in the 1990s. Only then did I realise that Andre was part of it. It was all quite benign and above board as far as Andre was concerned. The French government got him a job as a local school teacher in the unattractive north end of town instead of requiring him to do military service. I do not recall how we met, but I think I heard from a friend that he was looking for a place in the area with someone who was also willing to share accommodation with his dog Monseigneur, a thoughtful looking Alsatian whose diffident personality was quite at odds with the breed.
We were companionable enough, though not close. Andre had friends I never saw and when school was out would frequently be away with Monseigneur. He was quite open about his obligation to the French consulate, where he had to report once an month for two-hour interviews in which he would tell them his observations. He was frank that he might even report things we had discussed and various opinions expressed, though nothing that would get me into trouble. He seemed mystified by the purpose of the programme. He knew there were other participants, as he encountered them when he reported in. He left me for another part of town well before my mother came back, and we never saw each other again.
Twenty years later when it was revealed that French intelligence had salted in hundreds of these Andres in the 1970s, presumably as a follow up to de Gaulle's "Vivre Quebec Libre" speech to the Quebec multitudes in 1967, my house guest's role became plain. Life in Hong Kong since 2000 has revealed that this appears to have become a modern technique in intelligence gathering. One thinks of Commander Bond, James Bond, as being the principal type of intelligence actor. Since then, it appears that there has been greater reliance on more widely dispersed and numerous lower-rank spies.
Back at the flat, in the enjoyable six months that followed, smoking dope, writing rubbish and generally having a good time, I came to appreciate a number of things. First, girls were not interested in pursuing relationships with UIC claimants unless they themselves are on welfare. I also learned that while I thoroughly enjoyed myself writing while stoned on hashish or marijuana, what I wrote was rubbish—in a word, floccinaucinihilipilification, however wonderful it seemed at the time of composition. What's more, there was very little of it after hours of writing, as time was mostly spent wondering what one would write next.
And as the cheques came in every two weeks, and I filled out the cards, asking a half dozen questions relating to extra earnings and employment, life went on in this pleasant way. Without envy, I looked out my window to see my poor fellow Canadians trudging to work through the snow and sleet, knowing I only had to post the cards back to the UIC office at a time of my choosing. Most days were spent having UIC friends over or going to see fellow UIC claimants who were enjoying much the same life I was. By now I was putting most of the money in the bank, as I spent very little. I now understood how the aristocracy for centuries suffered the blight of unemployment and showed not the slightest inclination to return to the grindstone. I imagined myself as Pierre or one of his Russian Army officer friends in Tolstoy's War and Peace doing nothing more than leading a fun-loving roistering life.
This was another key finding of the UIC experience: One spends far more money going to work than not. There is dry-cleaning, triple clothing costs for girls, the to-ing and fro-ing costs, too often by last-minute taxi, not to mention the drinking and the eating out. On a Friday night, at the Gazette or Vancouver Sun, I could spend C$70. On UIC, if I went out to one of the Iberian places in the neighbourhood, I usually started at midnight when everyone there was jolly and easy to talk to. I could not do myself much damage because the place closed at 2 a.m., when one had hardly got started by old Friday night standards.
One night, though, there was a bit of trouble when I returned from the El Gitano, perhaps with a few more glasses of Sangria than was good for me, and realised that I had left my keys in the flat. No worries. As a kid I knew how to climb the back fence in the lane, shinny up the telephone pole on one side of our downstairs neighbour's shed roof, move on all fours along the roof over the outside stairs, and jump down on our unsheltered stairs that took me up to our back balcony: a third-story job I had done many times 15 years before.
Entering through the unlocked kitchen door, I had another drink, flopped on my mother's bed and fell asleep.
Next thing I knew, two Montreal policemen were shining flashlights in my face. Bleary-eyed, I got up and told them I lived there. They were not satisfied. They had received a call from a neighbour reporting a burglary.
"Just a moment, I'll show you," I said and immediately went to the office in the next room, pulling out the bottom drawer of the metal filing cabinet where we kept the family photo album.
But I was greatly embarrassed as I pleadingly showed them pictures of me, hoping they would see some resemblance with my 30-year-old self in photos taken when I was 2, then 7 or, the best I could manage, 10 or 11. The cops were laughing as I insisted that these picture were of me. I was greatly distressed by their reaction, but soon relieved when they stopped laughing long enough to say they believed me—not because of the pictures, but because I knew exactly where to find the photo album.
One UIC cheque came with a questionnaire. This was to inquire whom I had contacted for work, as I was supposed to be looking for a job during this period. But this inquisitive thrust was easily parried by a trip to the Montreal Men's Press Club, where I found guys who could conceivably offer me a job, and asked them for work, as in, "You don't have any jobs going do you?" The man would say no, and I would move on to the next until I got two or three names for the form. I would return two weeks later and repeat the exercise. I knew UIC payments could go on for 12 months in extraordinary circumstances—such as in the case of Newfoundland fishermen—but the usual limit was eight.
Nearing the end of my term as low-born aristocrat, I was getting a bit cheeky with my job applications. I wrote one to Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau for a position in the Senate, the appointed upper house of the Canadian parliament. I argued fancifully that the Senate had become a body that increasingly represented those who would not normally participate in "participatory democracy," the current Liberal buzz-phrase, citing the recent elevation of an Indian chief and a female student radical to the Red Chamber. With this, I then proposed myself for nomination, saying that the constituency of the unemployed showed promising signs of growth under the Prime Minister's administration, and it was now time for it to be represented in the upper house. As to my qualifications, I said that I was receiving unemployment insurance but would shortly go on to welfare. I posted it and forgot about it.
In the midst of this, there was one of those periodic national postal strikes. Deprived of their cheques, UIC claimants were invited to queue in the late spring snow for their money, which I chose not to do because I was in no immediate need. Spring had fully sprung by the time the strike ended. Mother had returned from Mexico, and I returned to my shabby little room down the street.
With mail service back, I resumed visits to Mother. With awe in her voice, she said: "You have a letter from the Prime Minister's Office!"
"Oh that," I said in an irritated way. "Anything else?"
What I was really waiting for were those two or three outstanding UIC cheques.
"Yes," she said. "This."
It was a letter from UIC, but no cheque. Only a demand for an interview later that week. I arrived on time and was asked to wait with a forlorn-looking group, all looking aware of good times coming to an end.
I remember the woman, blond, stout and 40-ish, a stand-in for Elsa of the SS, being most severe in appearance and questioning my claims of looking for work. I said I had spoken to all the prospective employers I'd said I had spoken to and that she could check.
Then she asked for written evidence. I paused, but I could not help myself. I knew the end was near, so I pulled out the letter from the Prime Minister's Office, in which some French guy with the title "Third Correspondence Secretary" acknowledged my letter of April something, in which "you nominate yourself for a position in the Senate."
Attila Horvath from Hungary, as I came to remember her, took a moment or two before she appreciated the full extent of my gall, my unmitigated lese majesty. Almost speechless, the highly wrought woman managed to emit the formal words of dismissal: that I could pick up my outstanding cheques downstairs, but those were last cheques I would be getting.
While cheeky, my effrontery at least did not break into public print. Other young men sporting "UIC Ski Team" T shirts on the slopes of the Rocky Mountains in western Canada were photographed in newspapers coast to coast with the pictures accompanied by saucy shameless interviews.
It has since been credibly alleged that all this may well have been Prime Minister Trudeau‘s plan—that tampering with UIC was his first significant socialist salute in 1971 when he amended the Unemployment Insurance Act. The period of qualifying work was reduced by 73 per cent, the benefits increased by 65 per cent, and the benefit period extended by 40 per cent, turning seasonal employment into year-round income. Neither Attila Horvath nor I knew that my egregious behaviour was more in line with government policy than was her disapproval of it, ironic as that may be.
A year later in a 1975 year-end interview, Trudeau justified the introduction of wage and price controls on the grounds that “we haven’t been able to make it work, the free market system.” He said the era of big government was upon us. Indeed, over the Trudeau era federal spending increased 15 per cent per year and grew from 17.1 per cent of GDP to 24.3 per cent. The federal government increased its bite of the nation’s economic activity by 42 per cent.
At any rate, it was time to seriously think about leaving town or getting a job locally.