Fidel Castro faints, and op-ed pages throughout the land are filled with speculation: Whither Cuba once he actually dies?
Like the tired guy in the Bob Dylan song looking for a place to stay, I have always liked Fidel, and his beard.
I think that the U.S. embargo against Cuba is immoral and that the majority of anti-Castro Cubans in Miami are frightening dogmatists on a par with the Taliban in Afghanistan, Christian fundamentalists who want to ban the teaching of Darwin in schools, and telemarketers who interrupt my dinner.
And I'm an American citizen. To some of my compatriots, admitting that I don't equate Fidel Castro with Slobodan Milosevic is grounds for stripping me of my citizenship. Even my own mother -- a thoughtful woman who generally shares my lefty political leanings -- despises Fidel. She happened to be visiting me in Calgary when Pierre Trudeau died, and we watched the funeral together on TV. Throughout the eulogy, she kept screaming at the screen, "Are you listening, Fidel?"
"Okay, so Fidel could loosen up on the freedom-of-religion thing," I acknowledged, "and, yeah, there's human-rights abuses, but what about the abject poverty that most Cubans suffered before the revolution? You'd prefer another Haiti?" Alas, my reasoning fell on deaf ears.
In the interest of both domestic and world harmony, I have come up with a simple solution to the worries, strife and violence that are likely to occur at Fidel's death: Invite Cuba to become Canada's 11th province! Didn't we almost acquire St. Kitts and Nevis a few years ago?
Anyway, here's my top 10 reasons why Cuba should become Canada's 11th province:
10. Sports. We instantly acquire a baseball team that kicks ass. As for the Olympics, half the summer team is already here, having defected during last summer's Pan-Am Games in Winnipeg. We put them in charge of the summer team, we concentrate on the winter -- and Canadian Olympic domination is achieved.
9. Spanish becomes Canada's third official language. And French-English tensions are reduced, since a third language must now be accommodated on cereal boxes. Quebeckers are no longer the only group that can claim "distinct society" status. (License plates with the slogans Me recuerdo! or Viva Fidel! are optional.)
8. Better music. CRTC regulations ensure that Ibrahim Ferrer and the rest of the Buena Vista Social Club play in equal radio rotation with the likes of Celine, Shania, Paul Anka and Rush.
7. Cheap cigars.
6. Cheap rum.
5. Cubans get to brag that their country is No. 3 on the United Nations quality-of-life index -- way ahead of the gringos.
4. June 14 -- Che Guevara's birthday -- becomes a federal holiday, and God knows we could use a long weekend in June.
3. No need to negotiate the sensitive issue of pardons for FLQ terrorists still residing in Cuba -- they're already home!
2. Fidel saves face and we gain a vacation land to call our own. Imagine, all those snowbirds wintering in the province of Cuba instead of Florida. Think of the tourist dollars being siphoned straight back into the Canadian economy. As for the loss of those tourist dollars for Florida -- what better payback could there be to the governor and state that rigged the outcome of the U.S. presidential election and gave Canada George W. and his environmental policies?
1. It would really, really piss off the Americans.
Rita Sirignano is a visual artist and writer living in Calgary.
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