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Extra, Extra: Rejected Queen, Replaced Harvey’s, and What Does it Mean to be White in Toronto?

Every weekday’s end, Extra, Extra collects just about everything you ought to care about or ought not miss.

Photo by {a href=""}peter j mason{/a} from the {a href=""}Torontoist Flickr Pool{/a}.

  • If you happened across a group of upset Torontonians at Yonge and St. Clair this afternoon, you should know they are revolutionary upstarts. Or at least, they wish the Queen wasn’t included in the Canadian Oath of Citizenship.
  • Continuing to be a great addition to the Toronto writing scene, the new issue of the Ethnic Aisle takes a look at various aspects of what it means to be white in Toronto.
  • The world’s very first Harvey’s was built in Richmond Hill in 1959. Now, it is no more.
  • You know how some people are wont to say that Toronto isn’t Amsterdam, that we just don’t have the same cycling culture they do, and we shouldn’t try to pretend as though we do? Well, it turns out (and this should be no surprise) that the Dutch aren’t bike-friendly due to some sort of genetic anomaly—they developed a bike-oriented culture intentionally, over time. Here’s a nice video delving into that context.

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  • Clive

    YAY Multiculturalsim!!

  • Clive

    When will Canadians stand up for their country and stop letting outsiders change it. We don’t have to mould to them THEY have to conform to US!

    • Anonymous

      Canada was founded and developed by immigrants who, with rare exception, had absolutely no interest in integrating with the local natives and learning their ways.

      Racism disguised as cultural preservation is still racism.

      • Clive

        Racism is against a Race not culture.

        • Michael DiFrancesco

          Because being xenophobic is SO much more acceptable than being racist.

          That kind of attitude will go far in a city with a 44% foreign-born population.

          • Anonymous

            “Xenophobia is defined as, an unreasonable fear of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange”

            So it’s xenophobic now to ask new citizens to take an oath to our Head of State?

            Wow. Reactionary much?

            Wouldn’t it be xenophobic to not accept what is foreign and strange (taking the pledge)?

          • Michael DiFrancesco

            It’s xenophobic to go on an us vs. them culture rant, saying that “THEY have to conform to US” and that Canadians should “stand up for their country and stop letting outsiders change it”, yes. Clive’s initial post isn’t about the Oath; it doesn’t mention it in any respect. It’s just your typical barbarians-at-the-gates screed.

          • Anonymous

            I agree that perhaps his point was far from refined. But there is a point to be made in his barbarians-at-the-gates (lol) screed.

            These protesters (if you can call them that) aren’t in fact citizens of Canada, therefore they actually ARE outsiders. Correct?

            They are also, in fact trying to change something that is part of our culture.

            There is nothing xenophobic about that. His delivery? Uhh, yea I guess I can see why you’d conclude that, but you need to calm down a bit and watch the facts in front of you.

            “It’s xenophobic to go on an us vs. them culture rant”

            Isn’t this EXACTLY what Mr. Roach is doing?

          • Michael DiFrancesco

            Charles Roach, the main activist cited in that article, has been fighting this battle in Canada for longer than I’ve been alive in it. He’s also a landed Canadian permanent resident. So, no, I have a hard time counting a guy who’s spent more than a quarter of a century in this country as an outsider.

            I’d also dispute your claim that he’s trying to change anything to do with our culture. If he were trying to have the Queen removed as our nominal head of state? Fine, yeah, that’s trying to change our culture, though it’s an argument that born-and-raised Canadians have been making for decades. But he’s not even going that far.

            Finally, no, Roach is not going on an us vs. them culture rant. He’s saying that people shouldn’t have to swear allegiance to a nominal head of state whose ties to this country lie entirely in the realm of colonialism. Colonialism’s a sore point for people from a huge portion of the world, and with reason. He’s also not, in this article, badmouthing Canadian culture in any way. He’s just a regular old Canadian nationalist.

          • Anonymous

            Okay well I’m older than him and have been here longer, does that grant me the same affordable point you’re trying to make about his “seniority” as someone living here? At the end of the day, he’s still not a citizen (Re: outsiders trying to change something)

            Your second para starts with denying then reneging that denial – that’s a smack of disingenuous thought if I’ve ever heard one.

            If you (above) realize that the Queen is part of our culture, then YES he IS in fact badmouthing Canadian culture.

            Is the Queen part of our culture or not? You can’t have it both ways…

            “He’s saying that people shouldn’t have to swear allegiance to a nominal head of state whose ties to this country lie entirely in the realm of colonialism.”

            As an aboriginal I can understand this, but it still doesn’t change my stance that the Queen (whether you like it or not) is our head of state (and should be, unless you’re advocating that Stephen Harper should be?) and is also part of our heritage and culture.

          • Michael DiFrancesco

            What’s the point you’re trying to make in your first paragraph? He’s been here for a long time been a part of this community, and contributed to it in the same way as a natural citizen in that time. You don’t have to be a citizen to be one of us, to be part of Canadian culture. Just show up, be here and contribute. If you’re in the same boat, then yes – same applies to you.

            At this point, I’ll leave your second paragraph alone. You’re saying that acknowledgement of the Crown as part of our history implies that every facet of its relationship to our nation is sacrosanct as a cultural institution, and saying otherwise is “badmouthing”. That’s obviously not the case.

          • Anonymous

            Our disconnect is that you feel changing the oath is somehow a contribution to Canadian culture and I’m saying that it’s derailing part of our heritage, therefore bad for our culture.

        • Anonymous

          Clearly this guy, a lawyer, living here for probably longer than I’ve been alive, has integrated and “become Canadian” in every meaningful way save actual citizenship. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been asked to swear allegiance to the Queen (nor were my parents), yet I’m a Canadian citizen, so it really isn’t integral to our culture. So what’s the real issue? Last I checked, some things that are integral to Canadian culture is freedom of speech and the rule of law.

          For the record I’m no Monarchist or Republican; the Queen and her brood have zero impact on my life, but I don’t see any significant gains to be had by dropping them from our money or replacing their figurehead representative with a different figurehead representative. (I’d rather have her on the quarter than Stephen Harper, that’s for sure.)

          • Anonymous

            You’ve never been asked to swear it because as a citizen you are expected to abide by it. By living here, you accept it. That’s your TOU that you’ve clicked “agree” on.

            “Allegiance is not, however, given to that royal figure as an individual so much as to the Crown and other institutions and concepts the sovereign represents within both the federal and provincial spheres, including the state, its constitution and traditions, unity, authority, and democracy, as well as, in the military context, the highest authority in the Canadian Forces.”

      • Anonymous

        Canada is a federal state that is governed as a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state.

        To refuse to take an oath to the Queen is a refusal to accept citizenship into Canada, as the Queen is the head of state.

        Don’t cry racism. Clive makes a perfectly valid point.

      • Anonymous

        “Canada was founded and developed by immigrants”

        So why were the majority of the “Father’s of Confederation” born in Canada?

        Stop learning things from pancake house place mats.

        • Apriori

          Canada is often referred to as a land of immigrants because millions of newcomers have settled here and helped to build and defend our way of life, starting with settlers from France and England.

          In 1937, John Buchan, the 1st Baron Tweedsmuir and Governor General of Canada (1935-40) said immigrant groups “should retain their individuality and each make its contribution to the national character,” a philosophy that is carried forward in Canada’s Multiculturalism policy.

          Did you know…

          - In 1604, the first European settlement north of what is now Florida was established by French explorers Pierre de Monts and Samuel de Champlain, first on St. Croix Island (in present-day Maine), then at Port-Royal, in Acadia (present-day Nova Scotia).
          - The Acadians are the descendants of French colonists who began settling in what are now the Maritime provinces in 1604.
          - Most French speaking Quebecers are descendants of 8,500 French settlers who arrived in the 1600s and 1700s.
          - The Loyalists came to Canada from the United States in 1776, to escape the American Revolution. They were of Dutch, German, British, Scandinavian, Aboriginal and other origins and from Presbyterian, Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Jewish, Quaker, and Catholic religious backgrounds.
          - When Canada became a country in 1867 our first Prime Minister was, of course, an immigrant. Sir John Alexander Macdonald, was born in Scotland on January 11, 1815, and he came to Upper Canada as a child.
          Dominion Lands Act was the 1872 piece of legislation that granted a quarter section of free land (160 acres or 64.7 hectares) to any settler 21 years of age or older who paid a ten–dollar registration fee, lived on his quarter section for three years, cultivated 30 acres (12.1 hectares), and built a permanent dwelling.
          - Between 1901 and 1914, over 750,000 immigrants entered Canada from the United States. While many were returning Canadians, about one–third were newcomers of European extraction—Germans, Hungarians, Norwegians, Swedes, and Icelanders—who had originally settled in the American West.
          - Before 1914, some 170,000 Ukrainians, 115,000 Poles, and tens of thousands from Germany, France, Norway, and Sweden settled in the West and developed a thriving agricultural sector.
          - Between 1928 and 1971, one million immigrants came to Canada through Pier 21 alone.
          - By the 1960s, one-third of Canadians had origins that were neither British nor French, and took pride in preserving their distinct culture in the Canadian fabric.
          - Today, most immigrants come from China, Philippines and India.
          The proportion of foreign-born Canadians was 19.8% in 2006.
          24% of Canada’s population speaks languages other than English and French.
          - Since the fertility rate in Canada is only 1.68 children per female, the majority of Canada’s population growth is due to immigration.

          • Anonymous

            “Should retain their individuality and each make its contribution to the national character”

            I totally agree. “Contributions” to our national character are exactly what Canada was founded on. A contribution is an addition, not a subtraction (generally speaking). What is the contribution in changing the oath, exactly?

            I’m probably the only one on this site that can claim to be both an immigrant and an aboriginal. So I like to think this gives me a unique perspective on this issue.

        • Anonymous

          A majority is not totality, which proves my point. I know you skipped the “developed by” part because there’s no getting around the fact that Canada is a nation of immigrants.

          Disqus tells me there will be an ignore button added in the next few months; I can’t wait to see the last of your indignant nonsense.

          • Anonymous

            And who were the immigrants “developing” Canada for?

            Anyways. The issue isn’t when Canada became a country (your really reaching with that point – bc technically you’re dead wrong). The issue is newcomers not wanting to pledge an oath to our head of state – to which you’ve taken no stance – just trolling (zomg you’re racist!!!) as usual.

            Make a point already, instead of crying how someone on the internet is mean to you. Very boring.

        • Anonymous

          Atta boy!

  • Anonymous

    The Queen is, legally, the Queen of Canada *in addition to* being the Queen of the United Kingdom. The crowns of the two states are legally separate. So if the UK abolished the monarchy tomorrow, the Queen would still be our Queen unless we changed our own laws. We could also, e.g., recognize someone other than Charles as her successor, in which case the crowns would split.

    It’s legit to argue Canada should cut ties to the monarchy and become a republic. But it’s silly (and incorrect) to say you shouldn’t have to pledge allegiance to the Queen because she isn’t Canadian. It’s no different from asking to see Obama’s birth certificate.

  • Anonymous

    RE: White Rap is Just Wrong – The author is an idiot.

    Beastie Boys, El-P, Despot, Aesop Rock, Brother Ali, Cage, Sage Francis, Eminem and Buck 65

    • downtowngirlbornandraised

      Adapted from my comment on White Rap is Just Wrong:

      “I’m not saying white artists should be relegated to strictly guitar-based music (despite this rant, I do admit that there are some good, even great, white rappers around, but if you even think of saying, “Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake aren’t bad,” we can no longer be friends). What I want is for white artists to show a little respect for the genre, and it isn’t a lot to ask.” This quote clearly shows that the writer isn’t saying white rap is wrong (obviously the title is just to grab your attention). As commenter hg says “It’s all about being authentic.” and that’s what the writer is calling out. The appropriation of hip hop culture’s ever evolving art form by the white middle class without respecting or understanding it’s roots and without properly adapting the art form to their own experiences. I believe some people would call that being fake or posing and it can be extremely devaluing. (Please note that I think a lot of the recent commercial hip hop is also extremely devaluing.)

      • Anonymous

        Partially agree with you, but if the same can be said about black rappers (think: Lil Wayne, Drake etc) then colour of one’s skin has nothing to do with it.

        I think (if anything) white rappers are a bit more authentic because they have to fight uphill against these types of racial stereotypes.

        Rap as a genre has (mostly) lost it’s roots. The respect for the origins is almost non-existent now.

        “The appropriation of hip hop culture’s ever evolving art form by the white middle class”

        Take out “white” from that statement and I could stand behind it. That’s my biggest problem with this article. It gives posers like Drake a free pass – given he grew up in Rosedale and was once on a prominent Canadian TV show – he’s about as upper/middle class as it gets.

        • downtowngirlbornandraised

          Again adapted from my comment on the article:

          Yes, Common, Kanye, and Talib all were middle class and Tupac went to the Baltimore School for the Arts. But they all have something that Karmin doesn’t have, the experience of being black and that’s why no one can really say they’re inauthentic. I’m sure any one of the black artists that you mentioned can relate to the fact that it often doesn’t matter if you’re middle-upper class, there are experiences that you have as a black person that reminds you regularly that you’re not white. Racial stereotyping effects the spectrum of black experience as much as social class does. And you can see those experiences reflected in the different themes that those artists use in their music.

          To taylor that specifically to you:

          I wasn’t really thinking about Wayne and Drake when I said a lot of recent hip hop is devaluing. I was more thinking about Soulja Boy, Ace Hood, and the like.

          Drake gets called out when he raps about things he has no personal experience with. He got a lot of criticism for Clap Back. 50 cent has recently been criticized because he hasn’t moved past rapping about the rough upbringing and they lifestyle that he can no longer related to because he’s now a rich business man.

          People love Eminem, the Beastie Boys, and the like because they use hip hop as an art form to express their experiences.

          I don’t think you can take the “white” out of the statement with out ignoring a fundamental part of why the black middle class can get away with appropriating hip hop easier then the white middle class.

          • Anonymous

            Okay, here me out.

            Hip hop isn’t about colour. Hip hop is about culture and class. Class has nothing to do with colour as evident by Eminem or Immortal Technique, to name 2.

            “Flat top, braids, bald heads or natty dread
            There once was a story about a man named Jed
            But now Jed is dead, all his kids instead
            Want to kick rhymes off the top of they head
            Word, what go around come around I figure
            Now we got white kids callin’ themselves niggas
            The tables turned as the crosses burned
            Remember You Must Learn”

            I would say that the media has created the black/white rapper mentality, as in the beginning this didn’t exist. Early hip hoppers weren’t concerned about race – But Brand Nubian sold a lot of f’n albums in the 90s – This is around the time the attitude changed.

            I love Canadian hip hop, because it expresses the individuals approach to their own experiences within our different sects of class and politics. Toronto’s hip hop scene especially has a wide variety of acts – all living within the same experience, regardless of the colour of their skin. American hip hop is predominantly black because the experience in the states is statistically a “black thing” via racism and bigotry.

            “ignoring a fundamental part of why the black middle class can get away with appropriating hip hop easier then the white middle class”

            Yea I’m def not ignoring this, you’re compelling in your case for sure. I’m just not comfortable with the idea and in the case of the original authors article – he’s simply helping this b/s move backwards, not forwards.

          • downtowngirlbornandraised

            You make a pretty complelling argument as well! And I think this type of dialogue is extremely important because it brings the issues to light.

            I know that you said that you’re uncomfortable with the idea that there’s a difference in the black and white middle class and that colour plays a big part in hip hop. But you can’t ignore those things because in North American society colour is a big thing. The issue of race is built in to our institutions and has really helped to mold the current shape of our country. And not just black and white, but Asian, First Nations, South Asian, etc.

            On of the other writers in the The White Issue said this in her article Not Guilty, Not Innocent:

            “Because I had had almost no opportunities to prove that I was not racist, I became sort of worried that I was. My parents, reassuring me, said that the best way to avoid racism was simply to not see race. To be colourblind. They said this cause they were white. If, in order to respect everybody, you have to not see or try to understand the ways they might be different, and how those differences are cool and the gang, you’re a sort of bigot.”

            That’s pretty much exactly what I’ve been saying about Canada and the general way we Canadians deal with issues of race. For example, Canada is not a less racist country then the US we just refuse to acknowledge our issues the way they do. They’re messed up and they know it. Fine, they don’t necessarily work on it, but isn’t the first step admitting there’s a problem? I think that’s one of the reasons they have more minorities in government then we do.

            I know biologically there’s no real difference between races, but race is a social construct and we’ve made it real over the past few centuries. The issue of race has helped make our society what it is. You can’t be colour blind and ignore our differences and hope the issues will go away. By ignoring the issues because they make you feel uncomfortable you’re helping the b/s stagnate. (And not just you specifically, people in general.) That’s why The Enthnic Aisle and The White Issue are important, they help create a much needed dialog.