Friday, September 19, 2008

John Ralston Saul, dipshit

Official Ottawa -- the Hill, the bureaucracy, and especially the military, was so glad to see the last of His Excellency John Ralston Saul, the blowhard public intellectual and, in Paul Gessell's brilliant phrasing, "pop philosopher". Saul, to be blunt, was an asshole whose sense of entitlement was only surpassed by that of his wife. Saul has never produced a book that was readable or coherent. He hates yankees, which makes him popular in France. He throws the names of real philosophers around, the way Trudeau did, so stupid people would think he's smart. He's not. He's just really pretentious.
He wasn't just a consumer of the fabulous perks that come with Rideau Hall. He interfered in anything he could, pestering official Ottawa with his unwanted advice. He was hell to work with in Ottawa and torture to travel with, always demanding deference when none was due. His greatest moment came when, while Canadian veterans were celebrating their role in the liberation of the Netherlands, he demanded to be allowed into a private interview between Adrienne and the Queen of Holland and the Dutch told him to get stuffed.
There was no majestic arse that he would not creep. His wife was a token appointment, someone who spoke well but had really done nothing more than interview people on the CBC and do voice-overs of other people's documentaries.
It takes near-unmeasurable levels of gall to accuse Ottawa of a "colonial mentality" when you spent six years latched to the public teet as the spouse of Her Majesty's representative in Canada. The darling couple still collect Her Majesty's shilling, cashing those vice-regal pension cheques every month.
Yes, Ottawa public servants mistake timidity for professionalism. Ottawa is not a great capital. It could be, but people like Saul who pass through the place tend to leave nothing behind but a bad smell. Ottawa is a city where outsiders and transients make the decisions about the city's future. How, then, could it ever be great?

8 comments:

Warren K said...

But what do you really think?

Ottawa Watch said...

I try to present both ides, then let people make up their own minds.

Anonymous said...

Wow! You do hate everyone. Healthy for a journalist, I suppose. Are there any points you thought legitimate in his criticism of Ottawa? Just wanted to make sure your reactions aren't constrained by an extremely tight Sens jersey!

Ottawa Watch said...

I don't hate everyone. Read the blog. There are lots of posts that say good things about people.
And I love Ottawa. I adore the Hill. In fact. I've written two books about Parliament Hill. I have met brilliant, creative and dynamic people in Ottawa of all political stripes.
Read the post more closely and you'll see that I agree with what Saul says about the lack of creativity, courage and drive in the bureaucracy. But isn't that the nature of bureaucracy.
Saul is very unfair to accuse Ottawa of a colonial mentality. He just doesn't get Ottawa, which makes sense, considering his situation when he lived here. Ottawa's problem is that it is the capital of a very loose federation and, with provinces clawing back so much power in the last 30 years, it lacks a great driving project or dream. So it performs a balancing act between provinces, it does basic maintenance, and no one pushes forward any big ideas.
TYhe city has a great arts community, many NGOs, lots of great neighbourhoods and neighbourhood loyalty, plus it is a real cross-roads for Canadians.

Anonymous said...

I see the Toronto Star is giving Saul's new full court press today. Two parter interview with Siddiqui. Seems to think that Saul's theory about Canada as a "Metis nation' is the road ahead. Wonder which model that he wants to emulate in Latin America? Greenpeace, David Suzuki, UN peacekeeping and Maurice Strong all derived from the aboriginal sense of harmony!!!


http://www.thestar.com/article/502756

..."In spite of the enormous role played by churches over the centuries, ours is not a civilization that emerged out of the Judeo-Christian line. Nor did we rise out of the opposite, the secular or the laic. The central inspiration of our country is aboriginal ...



....It is the aboriginal ideas of harmony, balanced relationships, an inclusive circle, and an appropriate equilibrium between peoples and the land that explain Canada's invention of peacekeeping, the pioneering environmental efforts of Greenpeace, Maurice Strong and David Suzuki, and multiculturalism....

Ottawa Watch said...

That's an incredible load of BS that shows Saul either does not know or understandd Aboriginal and Metis history, or deliberately misrepresents it.
Unfortunately, for far too long people loike Saul confused "hippy" and "aboriginal".

Anonymous said...

He doesn't seem to know much about the history of Christianity in Canada either. Calvinism and its Catholic twin, Jansenism, probably explains about the nature of the Canadian character, both in English and French Canada, pre-1968 as anything.
Speaking of colonialism, google "His Excellency John Ralston Saul" and see how many hits you get. At least, Conrad Black got a proper British title.

Anonymous said...

There's nothing more Canadian than the raging mediocrity.