We must increase our own sense of the multiplicity of our cultural imagination.
Margaret Wente is in top form today as she defends the Governor-General's $5.3 million "Polar Partners" tour:
The notion that this trip was nothing but a fun-filled junket is completely false. Anyone who knows them knows that Madame and His Excellency are nothing if not diligent. They worked like field hands. There were wreaths to lay at tombs of unknown soldiers and reindeer farms to inspect. There was a visit to the Arctic Monument at Salekhard, which had been carefully repositioned for the occasion so that it actually touched the Arctic Circle. There were state banquets to attend, and the Library of Lapland to tour. Mr. Saul kept busy hosting literary roundtables on such topics as Isolation in Canadian and Finnish Literature. There were visits to geothermal power plants, and seminars on the Importance of Citizenship.RTWT.
There were also professional wine-tasting events with Finnish and Icelandic sommeliers. His Excellency is a well-known oenophile, and has made it his personal mission to spread the great news about Canadian wines in an effort to boost this promising export. Those who doubt Canadian wines' export potential to the Icelandic market are simply thinking like self-loathing colonials.
As the vice-regal couple have been at pains to point out, theirs was not just another grubby trade mission. The real purpose of this trip was far more lofty. It was, so far as I can gather from their various speeches, to explore the archetypal reality of the North, which all Northern nations share.
"It is rather frustrating that people don't understand that we are a northern country," said Her Excellency, after she first came under fire for her trip. "It's something that a lot of people who have gone to the North get."