Illustration of greed hand hold muslim woman shaking to get all

Allons enfants de la Patrie.

Do you think Jews should pay twice what non-Jews pay to attend the University of Toronto? Or Blacks twice as much as whites to go to Western? Or women, twice as much as men to go to Queen’s? Non bien sûr que non!

But this month, Quebec announced it would double university tuition for students from outside the province. Double it at the Université de Montréal, the Université du Québec, or Université Laval? Non. Fees are only doubling at English-speaking universities like McGill and Concordia.

Said Quebec’s Minister of Higher Education Pascale Déry: “Quebeckers will no longer pay for the training of English-speaking Canadian students, most of whom return to their province after graduation.”

True, this isn’t discrimination based on national origin; it’s discrimination based on provincial origin. Making an Ontarian pay $17,000 to study human rights at McGill when a Quebecker pays $9,000 is the latest head-scratcher from a government that already forbids Muslims from wearing hijabs at work; forces small companies to rat out their employees who don’t speak French; and makes communicating with the provincial government in English complex and hard.

All of this is in defense of the French language. Premier François Legault has repeatedly said that French will always be under threat in North America and he wants to avoid Quebec becoming like Louisiana, where few people speak French despite the state’s French history.

The problem with the Premier’s Louisiana analogy is that America isn’t a bilingual country and Canada is. The signage at LaGuardia isn’t in English and French, or rather, English and Spanish. Donald Trump can’t demand that he be tried in Spanish in court. And members of Congress can’t insist on addressing their colleagues in Spanish. But all of that is not only possible for anyone who wants to speak or read French in Canada, it’s enshrined in our constitution.

There’s another big difference. If you want a career as a senior civil servant in Ottawa, or you want to be considered for a Cabinet post in the government, you must speak French. Or be well on your way to being fluent. Are Anglo-Canadians marching in the streets on this issue? Is it even an issue? No. But it is a reality, and one that I’m proud to live under.

Who knows? Over time, French may die out as a daily language in Quebec. The province really is surrounded by hundreds of millions of English-speakers. But one way to be sure it goes silent sooner is to discriminate against English-speakers so blatantly that they’ll not bother to move and work there. After all, today you can get information about COVID from the City of Toronto in 180 languages , but in Montreal in just 24.

I’m not at all sure Le jour de gloire est arrivé.


1. Where women go on strike. This week, Iceland’s women, including its Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir went on strike to protest the gender pay gap and sexual violence. It wasn’t the first time women have refused to turn up for work; in 1975, 90% of Icelandic women refused to work as part of “kvennafrí” (Women’s Day Off) and this is the sixth Women’s Strike since then.

But maybe we’ve been wrong about women’s work forever.

2. How things work. From how pens deliver ink, to how to make a giant Mars Bar, to how to forestall fake parmesan cheese, and how horror films are Hollywood’s best investment.

3. Wild. The Wildlife Photographer of the Year is a Canadian guide who works for Arctic Watch on Somerset Island, 3,700 kilometres north of Toronto. Mark Williams’ winning shot, from among 49,957 entries from 95 countries, shows a three-legged Arctic Fox making his way across the tundra.

Speaking of small worlds, Nikon has a competition to celebrate the tiniest ones of all.

4. The real problem with AI…is that we won’t be able to trust any information, and hence, anyone in the future. This may turn us into Luddites, who didn’t revolt against technology two centuries ago, but against its owners, the tech titans.

5. Local girls make great. Toronto’s Mariko Tamaki, is one of the world’s top graphic novelists. She’s now collaborating with her cousin, Jillian Tamaki, on a 400-page graphic novel, Roamingthat’s the springboard for a new joint career in Hollywood.

6. What do Robert DiNiro and Roger Federer share? A contract from Swiss Tourism to promote Federer’s homeland.

Another odd couple: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Andy Warhol.

7. The triumph of PowerPoint. It’s like those thousand-year-old bugs living in the Antarctic ice. Nothing can kill them. Even though we all hate PowerPoint, and it once killed seven astronauts, why do we keep using it?

8. Taylor Swift takes over. It’s hard to overstate the American singer’s iron grip on the world of entertainment and now sport. But when an old curmudgeon friend of mine went to see her Eras tour movie, he was vastly impressed. “In short, I was amazed.” Even better, she seems human.

9. Live long. Die Well. The idea of ‘blue zones’, those parts of the world where people live an extraordinarily long time, is not new. What may be is the 9 things you can do to make it into your early 90s.

10. You want maps? We’ve got maps. Not Google Maps. Real maps. By the thousands.

11. What I’m liking. Rory Stewart’s memoir of his days as a British MP and Cabinet Minister. Wildly articulate and gossipy, he turns Britain’s ruling class into a bunch of righteous incompetents. His reading of the audiobook version is as magnetic as Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential.




On November 1, you can learn all about them at an online webinar from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. ET.

You can sign up for the webinar here.

If you want to know how this adventure came to be, read on:

The story of your trip to the Orkneys, Shetlands and Faroes next June 13th to 24th back in 2018.

I asked Wade Davis where he’d like to explore next summer with a group of 16 of us. I was sure he’d say some exotic part of South America, because that’s his world and he knows it better than just about anyone else on earth. Instead, he said, “the Shetlands and Orkneys.”

“Really? Why?”

“I’ve never been there.”

I guess that’s the best reason of all: going to places you’ve never been to is always eye-opening, all the more so wild and woolly places in the North Atlantic.

Our brief conversation started an annual pilgrimage to Britain’s northernmost isles – and the Faroe Islands. We added the Faroes to give our trip a third leg and it isn’t British; It’s Danish. Different history, language, currency, politics, religion, everything.

The trip would happen in 2020. Then COVID hit. So it was last year before Wade and I found 16 other first-timers to join us.

That trip was one of the most memorable either of us had been on. In a word – aaaaaah-mazing! Not just for the end-of-the-world views and discovering the deep roots the Orkneys and Shetlands have with Canada, but oddities like a Michelin restaurant in Tórshavn and serendipities like having Laurie Goodlad as our Shetland Guide who’s now organized next year’s entire trip to all three islands. She’s that good. Indeed, Laurie will be with you from your welcome dinner at Angels With Bagpipes on June 13 when you overnight in Edinburgh, to your final flight from Tórshavn back to Edinburgh on June 24.

In this past summer’s version of the trip, Wade and Jean and I gave others a chance at this truly different trip. This summer’s Gang of 16, filled by Anne Fitzgerald, husband Ian Tuck, and her friends, got the same rave reviews as the 2022 trip. Anne and Ian will bow out next year (as will we), but not before we worked with Laurie to nip and tuck the two previous trips so yours will be the most remarkable ever.

All to say, you’re invited to take a step on the wild side. A safe step. None of us is 30 anymore. There’s hiking, but not enough to tire you; archeology and history, but only enough to excite you, plus wildly interesting people and of course many thousands of sheep!

So if you and yours are looking not for a bucket-list trip, but more a rainbow-at-the-end-of-the-world adventure, please book your place now, Now, NOW.

The attached itinerary will give you the full flavor of what’s in store for you and yours.

All to say…

Laurie and Anne Fitzgerald and I and Shetland travel agent will be hosting a webinar to go through the details of next summer’s trip.

So join us online from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm ET on Wednesday, Nov. 1. Just sign up here and we’ll send you the Zoom link 48 hours before the event.

As both Laurie and AA Milne both note: “When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”


Bob Ramsay

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