By Haddon Libby

Coachella Valley loves our friends to the north who visit us from Canada.  When these snowbirds migrate to our warmer surroundings for the winter, the desert seems to become a happier and more crowded place.  Despite laws between our countries that make it tough for Canadians to borrow money when buying a house or using local investment advisors to manage their loonies, Canadians still find a way to buy homes, invest in things and prop up our local economy.

To help you engage in friendly chatter with our most welcomed of visitors, let’s take a look at a few current Canadian news stories.

Since Canucks are all a’twitter about the Hog Town’s mayor (Rob Ford), here is a brief update:  Last Saturday night, the Mayor stopped by T Dot (Toronto) nightclub, Muzik, but did not get snokked (drunk), have a forty pounder (beer) or do to the rock (crack cocaine).  Doug Ford aka Jones (the Mayor’s nickname for Doug) who is the Mayor’s campaign manager and brother said that the appearance created a larger buzz than the Bieber.  Jones continued that they went to breakfast the next morning as Jones (Doug’s nickname for the Mayor) “needs eggs” as part of his “strict diet”.  Jones didn’t mention whether Jones had a double-double (coffee with two creams and sugars).  No more jambusters at Horny Tim’s (doughnuts at Tim Horton’s) for the Joneses.

Those from the Van (Vancouver) over on the Left Coast are talking about the recent discovery of a 16th century coin buried in clay on The Island (Vancouver Island).  It is thought that Sir Francis Drake did a secret, undocumented voyage to Canada in 1579, two centuries before Captain James Cook’s “discovery” of the area.  Former cabinet minister Samuel Bawlf believes that the trip was intentionally hidden by Queen Elizabeth I to mask England’s intentions in the New World.

Looking at Canada’s interior, Neil Young is upset with the government in Harper due to their mining of oil sands in the Cow Town (Alberta) area and last Sunday held a concert in Hog Town to bring attention to the problem.  Young is pointing out that pollution from mining is causing the landscape to look like Hiroshima after the atomic bomb while poisoning local First Nations (Native Americans to us).

Wine aficionados might prefer discussing a raging fight between most Canadian vintners and their Quebecker counterparts as it relates to ice wine.  Ice wine is created by letting the grapes freeze and thaw on the vine repeatedly.  Once the grapes get to a 35% sugar content, the grapes are harvested and made into ice wine.  While the conventional way to make ice wine is to let the grapes mature on the vine, Quebeckers cut their grapes after the first freeze while leaving the grapes outside until the sugar content is high enough.  A Canadian oenologist (wine scientist) has analyzed both approaches and found that there is very little difference.  Nevertheless, legislation is being passed to ban the approach used by Quebeckers.  While ice wine accounts for only 1% of all Canadian wine sales, it represents 45% of industry profits according to the Canadian Vintners Association.

Lastly, while Americans try to understand the Affordable Care Act, Canadians are debating whether they should know how much is being spent on their personal healthcare.  Healthcare is nationalized in Canada as they believe healthcare is a right and not a privilege.  The Progressive Conservatives feel people should know how much has been spent on their healthcare while the New Democrats and healthcare professionals believe that knowledge is a waste of time despite healthcare accounting for 40% of budgets in some provinces (states to us).  Globally, Canadian healthcare system is ranked 30th (USA 37th; France 1st) by the World Health Organization.

Armed with these current news stories, you can better avoid a kerfuffle (stressful situation) with a Canadian because you didn’t know what to talk about.

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