Pubdate: Thu, 27 Apr 2006
Source: See Magazine (Edmonton, CN AB)
Copyright: 2006 SEE Magazine
Author: Kevin Wilson
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Escape Documents Aftermath Of Our Liberal June


Directed by Albert Nerenberg, Metro Cinema, Zeidler Hall, Citadel  
Theatre, *

In his most notable recent outing, Canada's Albert Nerenberg aimed  
his documentary lens at fuzzy thinking. Stupidity amply and comically  
demonstrated that the world still provides fertile ground for idiocy.  
But Stupidity was itself a little dense, and I don't mean  
"bewildering by virtue of being packed with insight." "Can you  
believe this shit?" the film seemed to ask, without offering much in  
the way of a solution or even a thesis.

Nerenberg's latest effort, Escape to Canada, fares rather better, at  
least in so far as it tries to make the point that boring, buttoned- 
down Canada became a mecca of liberalization on June 10, 2003. It was  
on that day in one Toronto courthouse that the strictures against  
both same-sex marriage and marijuana seemed to melt away. The former,  
of course, was subsequently endorsed by Parliament, whereas the  
latter, as Escape to Canada amply makes clear, has seen an U.S.- 
abetted return to the danger zone.

Escape to Canada likely won't change any minds, although it's  
baffling how anyone can deny the rightness of same-sex marriage after  
witnessing deeply moved same-sex couples sharing their first wedded  
kisses. Likewise, if you haven't yet figured out that our official  
policy toward dope is hypocritical, equivocal, counter-productive,  
and wasteful, you'd be better served by catching an eyeful of the  
superb Grass... although the former mayor of Vancouver's tirade,  
recorded in Escape, is a clear-eyed analysis that's probably worth  
the price of admission.

Instead, Nerenberg more or less artfully-and somewhat haphazardly- 
documents a moment in time, when Canada's unique identity (the one we  
can never put our finger on) came to the fore, when Americans and  
others swarmed across the border to smoke up and/or get hitched. To  
hear them express their gratitude for Canada's coolness make the  
chest swell with pride, even while we remind ourselves that  
legislators in The Netherlands had the spine to actually liberalize  
their policies in both areas well before Canada did, whereas our  
governments seem content to let brave citizens force such issues by  
putting themselves on the line.

Nerenberg also sounds a warning about the limits of Canadian  
tolerance... just in case you don't read the papers. The Harper  
government, paradoxically but perhaps not surprisingly, seems bent on  
donning the guise of a nanny state. (You want to hear from your  
federal cabinet? Tough. Think you're competent to decide whom you  
should marry? We'll figure that out for you.) If you needed a call to  
arms, this might be it.
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