In Canada we have ten “provinces”. Think about the difference between States and Provinces. If you are “stately” it means you are elegant, distinguished, imperial even. If you are “provincial”, you are local, unsophisticated, as y’all say in the States, “a goddamn hick”. That does not apply in Canada. In our country, provinces have much more autonomy than states do in the US. Health care, education, taxes, marriage, property and most civil rights are all the domain of the provinces not the federal government.The feds give money to the provinces to provide these services, but the provinces control the rest.
Please permit us to introduce you to our biggest province, Ontario, the Centre of the Universe. Ontario's premier is an 800 lb. Gorilla!
BY MATT ZIMBEL © 2021
LISA: On this episode the centre of the Universe Ontario!
MZ: Hi I’m Matt Zimbel in Montreal.
Mio: And I’m Mio Adilman in Toronto, Ontario
MZ. We’re getting to that.
Mio: Getting to what? I’m here already. I’m probably not as excited as our announcer Lisa was when she said Ontario.
Mio: Yeah, I could hear our announcer, Lisa, was excited about Ontario. Today, we continue our efforts to help you ace your citizenship test and find a cool place to live in Canada once you are accepted as immigrant or a political refugee.
MZ; Given how much gun violence has been taking place in the US in the last few months, I think that there should be a new question on the Canadian immigration qualifying test:
Mio: And what would that question be, Matt?
MZ: Yes or No:
Have you recently been forced to flee a psychotic white man armed with an AR15?
Mio: You know I really shouldn’t be laughing about this because people are dying.
Mass shooting in the United States in the past 106 days? 147. Mass shootings in Ontario in the past 106 days? Zero. It’s not always like that, but it is truly a sad statement that we have to entice you to Canada with the fact that our psychotic white men have a much harder times getting AR15’s.
MZ: So, Americans …you can start packing in America or start packing for Canada …the choice is yours. If you choose Canada, may we introduce you to Ontario?
Mio: Good things grow in Ontario – we have a national anthem, but it should be said this is the anthem of Ontario.
MZ: You know what I love about these songs they are written by committee. Oh, we gotta have something in there for the French people, oh, don’t forget about the Indigenous peoples….
Mio: Good things grow in Ontario. Veg lobby. The farmers. The farm lobby was all over that one. I was once pitched a story by the asparagus lobby.
MZ: So, you were writing for the Asparagus people?
Mio: Yes. No, lie the Ontario Asparagus lobby.
MZ: That’s called big Asparagus. Right?
Mio; I was not under the control of the asparagus lobby. They were able to influence the recording of the song they were not able to influence Mio Adilman, because I cannot be bought by Asparagus.
MZ: Yeah, you could be bought by Broccoli though.
Do you remember when George Bush said he didn’t like broccoli and the industry went crazy…it was a veg moment.
Mio; No, I don’t – senior?
MZ: That song is the leading cause of mass shootings in Ontario.
Ok, It’s right in the middle of the country. It’s the most populated province in Canada with 13.4 million people, 38 % of Canada’s total population and it’s the fourth largest province or territory in terms of land mass. It’s Canada’s industrial heartland, lots of manufacturing, lots of …sexy banking and home of the only Canadian basketball franchise the NBA, Champion Raptors.
Mio: Are you going to mention the Maple Leaf’s Hockey team, the second highest grossing hockey team in the NHL?
Mio: Oh. Ok. Most importantly, Ontario is where you will find Toronto!
MZ: Here’s a question that will certainly be on the test. Be careful it’s a trick question.
Q: What Canadian City do all Canadians love to hate? What Canadian city do all Canadians love to hate?
MZ: Excellent Mio you nailed it again. Toronto is an Indigenous word meaning “dull”. It is in the province of Ontario which is an Indigenous word meaning “duller”. Toronto is Canada’s largest city with a population of roughly four million people if you count the outer lying boroughs of Scarborough which in the Native language means “East of Dull” and Etobicoke which means “West of Dull”. In the 1960’s people in Toronto would make the two-hour drive to Buffalo, New York, a city that, at the time, was half the size of Toronto, for what they called “a night in the big city”.
Since the 1960’s things in Toronto have improved. The population is growing and there are less Torontonians.
Mio: Wait, you ask, how can that be? I feel a trick question coming on.
MZ: Simply put, fewer WASPS, more ethnics… much more interesting.
Mio: Ah, the poor WASPS, the only ethno-religious group you can just toss overboard
with no fear of cancel culture retribution. I feel bad. Sorry. Historically WASPS have indeed been a rather dull people, a rather dull people, and I believe they would consider that a point of pride. The writer David Brooks said that WASPs can be identified in the wild by their "good posture, genteel manners, personal hygiene, pointless discipline and their ability to sit still for long periods of time.”
MZ: Any special skills? Yes, actually I’m really good at sitting still…. for long periods of time. Tickety boo.
MZ; Originally the W in WASP stood for “wealthy”- so we are talking about the “establishment” and in Toronto that, my friend, is the definition of dull.
But that’s not why the rest of the country so despises Toronto. When you move to Canada you will soon learn new and exciting words like “Torontocentric” and hear phrases when people dismiss the city like, “ach! Toronto - the centre of the Universe”.
Mio: I prefer welcome to the dullhouse…
MZ: I never heard that. Hey that’s good…did you make that up?
MZ: T-shirt good Mio – we need some merchandising.
Mio: we also need some new nicknames. Toronto is nicknamed T.O. the Big Smoke – supposedly because it creates a great deal of smoke but never produces fire. Back to the dull metaphor. It used to be called Hogtown, because there were a lot of stock yards. More recently it has been known as “The Six”, because rapper Drake, a native of Toronto decided to call it that. That’s not why. That’s ridiculous. It was not some abstract choice, it has to do with the area code 416.
MZ: But just for Drake and ridiculous. I heard his back yard is big enough. Do you know someone just gave him a 737?
Mio: No, no, no, that’s a branded jet. He doesn’t keep it in his backyard.
MZ: Oh, I heard his back yard is big enough,
Mio: No he keeps it in Hamilton. No that’s not actually true…it is called “The Six” because it is an amalgamated city of six surrounding cities, burbs or hamlets depending on your perspective. Toronto often refers to itself as “world class”, which of course, no truly world-class city would ever do.
Toronto has its envious eyes firmly planted on New York City. In fact, there is a joke on this very subject, it’s more of a teaching joke than a ha ha joke;
MZ: Thank you for moderating our listeners humour expectations, Mio.
MZ: Q. How many Torontonians does it take to change a light bulb?
A. I don’t know, how many New Yorkers does it take?
Mio: Oh, that’s a sick burn. That’s not a joke.
MZ; Hurtful huh? I think it’s like when Montreal used to look at Paris.
Mio: Because most of the Anglophone national media is headquartered in Toronto, it is only natural that the Toronto POV might dominate the national media agenda. Which of course drives everyone living outside of Toronto bat shit crazy.
MZ: In the late 1950’s the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (aka The Mother Corp) like your National Public Radio but way better, hired a senior manager from the BBC in London. At the time the CBC was located in an old schoolhouse on Jarvis Street, once a very classy street, full of elegant, stately homes but by the 1950’s the street had fallen upon hard times and the mansions had mostly been transformed into rooming houses for sex trade workers. The BBC executive took a room on Jarvis Street and his assistant was aghast:
Mio: “Sir, Jarvis Street is not a very distinguished address.”
MZ: Young Man, Toronto is not a very distinguished address”.
Mio: Now this will not be on the test, but Toronto is known for being exceptionally clean So clean in fact, that when Toronto doubles for New York, as it often does in film and television shoots, the props department has to import garbage from New York.
“How do you like your garbage served this evening”?
MZ: “Imported”. “Stand by on du dumpster in thee, two, one. Go!
Mio: We never have this much fun in Toronto. Toronto has become a good city to live in except the real estate is out of control stupid. When people list their homes there, they regularly sell in a bidding war for way over their asking price, with zero conditions…inspection what’s dat? Financing? Huh? Places sell in minutes, not weeks. Municipal taxes are low compared to many U.S. cities but housing is crazy expensive and just so you know, if it’s new housing or massively renovated, you also have to pay a 13% Services Tax, though there are some rebates if the home is worth less than 450,000. Which in Toronto buys you a port-a-potty with a crappy view. God, who writes this shit? What am I a fucking realty magazine. Get me Zimbel. I’m not selling houses here, I’m not selling Asparagus either.
MZ: I do. Sorry.
Before you buy a home in Canada, you’ll need to know a few things. In the US your mortgage interest is tax deductible. Not so in Canada. But here Medicare is free and there are fewer mass shootings so you can likely enjoy your home longer.
Mio: Housing in Toronto is indeed a challenge, but there are options. Hamilton, a steel town like Pittsburgh, is a forty-minute drive south west of Toronto and it’s becoming Toronto’s Brooklyn. Go have a look down there. Tell them Mio sent you.
MZ: Hamilton – the only city in the world I ever got mugged in.
MZ: I got mugged at a folk festival.
MZ: Nothing like a good mugging to help you decide where to live I always say.
To understand Toronto, you have to know a little bit about Ontario… You just groaned, didn’t you? Look, we told you this before, we respect that as an American, you are only interested in yourself, but our interest is to make sure you don’t waste the money you spent on this podcast…
Mio: Whoa whoa whoa, They spend money on the podcast?
MZ. Um, no. They didn’t. We’re a public service. Focus please this next part is free and important!
Mio: I’m not paying you for no podcast.
MZ: In Canada we have ten “provinces”. Think about the difference between States and Provinces. If you are “stately” it means you are elegant, distinguished, imperial even. If you are “provincial”, you are local, unsophisticated, as y’all say in the States, “a goddamn hick”. That does not apply in Canada. In our country, provinces have much more autonomy than states do in the US. Health care, education, taxes, marriage, property and most civil rights are all the domain of the provinces not the federal government.The feds give money to the provinces to provide these services, but the provinces control the rest.
Mio: Every year or so the powerful provincial premiers allow the courageous Prime Minister to host a Federal / Provincial conference where all the Premiers gang up on the Prime Minster and beat the living crap out of him or her. And then the PM emerges from the meeting and scrums the press:
MZ; “It was a frank and earnest dialog and if you’ll excuse me, I’m enroute to the ICU to deal with these lacerations.C’est une conversationtres tres animi.merci tout monde je suis enroute au
Mio: Now that you understand what a province is, let’s get back to Toronto. Though Toronto is the largest city in Canada, and the 4th largest city in North America, it has always been considered very “provincial”. It is the seat of the Ontario government. From 1943 until 1985 the Progressive Conservative party ruled Ontario without interruption. The government was called the “Big Blue Machine”. Which, from this historical perspective makes you wonder if pot or maybe even acid was legal in Ontario in the 1940’s.The leaders of these so called “Progressive” Conservatives were dull white males much more conservative than progressive.
MZ: In 2013 Kathleen Wynne became the Premier of Ontario. Cool, huh, a woman? It gets cooler…she’s was a gay woman. First openly gay person ever elected to a premiership in Canada. Maybe those Ontario voters are not as provincial as they once seemed. I do not think you will be asked about the sexual orientation of former Canadian premiers on the citizenship test, but just in case, let’s do this practice question:
What is the name of former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s husband?
Good work, I think you nailed it.
Mio: Now,until very recently, you guys have never elected a gay governor. There was that Jim McGreevey dude in Jersey who was elected as a raving heterosexual and then came out while in office on the same day he resigned, but I think we can agree that doesn’t count.
MZ: And now you actually have your first openly gay governor …do you know who and in what state?
Mio: Is this going to be on the Canadian Citizenship test?
MZ: Strong possibility –because surveys have shown that Americans want the Canadian Citizenship test to focus more on Americans.
Mio: Completely understandable. It’s the xenophobic exceptionalist way!
MZ: Before we do the big reveal of the only openly gay governor in the United States, I should mention that we are only discussing sexual preference in government leaders as a way of measuring their populations enlightenment. Sheddin’ some light on the locals… if you will…Frankly we could care less what your governors do in their governor’s mansions. We don’t even care what our Provincial Premiers do in their Premier’s Mansions…because they don’t have mansions…they don’t even have official residences, let alone mansions, although the Premier of Quebec has what’s called an official “apartment”. As the first Prime Minister Trudeau, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, once said, “The Citizens have no place in the bedrooms of the Government”.
Mio: No, Matt, that’s not what he said. He said, “the Government has no place in the bedrooms of the Nation”.
MZ: It was close, Mio, sometimes history just needs a little punch up, you know what I mean?. Ok Mio, the gay governor reveal…please…
Mio: This just in…two years ago…Jared Polis was elected in Colorado. Jared Polis. Gay and Jewish which is fine but apparently, he’s also a… gaming nerd, which frankly I find a little unsettling.
MZ: Agreed. You would think a gay governor in Colorado would be a tough sell. I would have thought New York or California, but when you think about it they, little tiny PEI, which is known for being rather provincial, elected a gay premier in 2015…at least he vasn’t Jewish! I’m kidding…it’s a joke…borsht belt humour …
Mio; Well, Colorado’s cred for progressive thinking is well known, they were one of the first states to legalize pot way back in 2012. And now it’s cha ching cha ching cha ching
MZ; Lots of dope dough now going into state coughers, coffers….
Mio: They actually had a problem with people coming across state lines to do what you were doing. As an actual Toronto resident, I think it is incumbent on me to say that Ontario is a lot more than Toronto. Some other stuff of note…We share a seventh wonder of the world with youse guys – Niagara Falls, might even be funner on our side. We border on the world’s largest lake system – the Great Lakes. We also have over 250,000 freshwater lakes in Ontario … so we’re good for water, in case you were worried about that.
MZ: They weren’t. Ontario is also the home of the Federal Government, which is housed in the Nation’s Capital, Ottawa.
Mio; Oh… that’s really exciting.
MZ: Ok I can do better. London Ontario has more tattooed women in their 70’s and 80’s than any other place on earth.
Mio: Fuck off dude, what the fuck. Is that in the Guinness World Book of Records?
MZ: No, it’s from a survey I made – I was at another festival down there. I never saw so many senior citizens with so much tatooage
Mio: Was it an Elvis festival?
MZ: There are a lot of Franco Ontarians… 5% of the Ontario population has French roots, which makes the place slightly more interesting. Sudbury is the cultural capital of the very vibrant Franco Ontario Culture. Ontario also has very rich Indigenous culture actually let me rephrase that – the Indigenous culture had a very rich Ontario.
Oh, yeah and last time we had a war with y’all it was in Ontario! Well, it wasn’t really us as such, it was… THE BRITISH! The War of 1812!
Mio: Yeah, they burned down your White House.
MZ: International Arsonism! Did you know that’s a word? Your Stable Genius blamed Canada for burning down the White House. Which is factually not true … we were “future Canadians”, “aspirational Canucks”. But we weren’t very neighborly I’d say”
Mio: Stable Genius also spoke glowingly of how the American Revolutionary Army defended the airports in 1770’s.
MZ: What is alarming to me is not how dumb he is – we already know that, but that someone in his White House allowed that speech to be uploaded to a teleprompter! Lord have mercy.
That would never happen in Ontario…
Mio: No, never…not with Doug Ford in the Premiers Chair!
MZ: Wow, hold the theme…Chris…it’s a special show today. Today Mio wraps on season one! Yeah! Congrats my friend, I am so happy you agreed to do this with us. It has been such a pleasure to have you on board. You’ve been renewed for season two – did you know that? Starts in the fall…
Mio: You didn’t tell me this was going to happen.
MZ; I spoke to your agent. You’ve been renewed for season two.
Mio: Well, let me just say I have learned so much about this country…if I was to take the citizenship test…I think I would pass!
MZ; It’s a real pleasure having you on this show. I think that probably what you’ve learned on this show, probably about 30% is true.
Mio; But if anyone ever asks me recite a list of all the gay heads of state in North America – I’m good to go.
MZ: Thank you so much Mio it’s been just fantastic having you with us on this adventure.
MZ: Ok, Chris, let’s roll the penultimate theme out…