Wednesday Night #1835 with Peter Trent OWN

Wednesday Night welcomes back its premier OWN in poetry and verse

May 10, 2017: A very special guest was greeted by an excited and appreciative overflowing Wednesday Night crowd. More chairs had to be quickly added for Peter Trent (now the former Mayor of Westmount and the first recipient of the Order of Wednesday Night-OWN) was being welcomed back after a considerable absence at our favourite salon. To celebrate the occasion, the series of “welcome back one-liners”, as requested by Madame Chairperson – Diana N., were by turns complimentary and cheeky, with a few limericks thrown in for good measure to add to the overall lightheartedness of the evening. Long-time Wednesday Nighter, Stephen Kinsman, unable to attend, forwarded his own comment (See Comment below), which was read aloud by Diana.

In addition, Peter himself contributed to the general levity by interjecting with some of his infamous puns (that elicited the customary groans) and personal one-liners and by performing one of his own poems, reworked for the occasion, the text of which has appeared in various forms over the years but most recently in the “Mayor’s Column” of the Westmount Independent newspaper entitled “The First Magistrate’s Lament”. It was published on page 7 of the April 11, 2017 edition as a fitting tribute to the ending of his 18 year tenure as Mayor Royal at Westmount City Hall. Peter, always up for a didactic moment, took the time to explain his poem was composed in the form of quatrains and written in tetrameter (native or four-beat meter and the form used most often for songs, ballads, nursery rhymes and marching cadence calls). It is reproduced below for your enjoyment.

Also composed for performance on this occasion, but for brevity’s sake not read, were a couple of free verse or spoken word poems (i.e. unlike Peter’s Lament there are no formalized stanzas, iambs, beats and meters) courtesy of Wanda Potrykus (who publishes under the initials WSP) and which are now provided here along with the texts of the limericks.

As most of you know, Wednesday Night is, for the most part, a relatively serious affair, but on this occasion, we eschewed commentary on the grim news in favour of the addition of poetry and verse to the evening adding a little welcome levity and laughter or perhaps simply the odd smile, that lasts long after the attendees have gone home. May 10, 2017 was one such evening. For those of you who were unable to attend we offer you a soupçon of some of the evening’s remarks in a little light verse.

The First Magistrate’s Lament
by Peter F. Trent OWN

I’m the mayor of a city called Westmount,
That’s noted for power and wealth
Of which none has had any effect
On my personal financial health.

The Summit can draw in new money,
Whose thirst for display they can’t quench,
Arrivistes, parvenus, nouveaux riches:
Well, it sounds so much nicer in French.

From the heights of our hill they look down,
They are masters of all they behold.
To access this upscale dominion
You need quite a bundle, I’m told.

So they socially climbed up our mountain,
Which now is just slightly old hat,
As over the years, with no bother,
Old money moved to the flat.

Myself, I reside on the slope,
High society is not my aim:
Since I’m lacking a cellular phone,
And not even a car to my name.

But suffering from temporary insanity,
Late in two thousand and nine,
I blue-boxed myself back to office:
The arena conundrum was mine.

I knew a new pool would go swimmingly,
Tennis would suffer no net loss;
And skaters in puckish good humour
Would cover the project with kudos.

But then there arose opposition,
They called the arena too grand;
Despite being under the ground,
And creating an acre of land.

I thought that the neighbours would love it,
No massive incursion they’d find:
An arena that’s out of their sight;
Was clearly not out of their mind.

On regaining the title of mayor,
I said to myself: “what a lark!”
But thanks to this local resistance,
It was not any walk in the park.

Again in two thousand thirteen,
I got in without opposition.
We managed to get free of debt
With cash payment for each acquisition.

In creating a spot for a dog run,
I was heatedly told to forgo it.
And a stripe on Côte Road for a bike path
Was the end of the world as we know it.

I’m the mayor of a city called Westmount,
That’s noted for power and wealth:
But my power’s restricted to Hydro,
And I only take bribes from myself.

Odes and goads to Mr Trent

The Word Warrior Returns

Time has passed but at Wednesday Night
we’ve lasted (more or less) to
Welcome back who? Why you…Peter
A favoured commentator and
Hater of all things merger…

Girder of his proverbial loins
He set out to battle for the city that he loved
Gloves on, he strode on to the field
Shield up, he valiantly fought the good fight
With Quebec…heck he stuck out his neck
For his convictions…loud and clear
Until the night his dear city was reinstated…

But the municipal debates weren’t over yet
His job as knight errant, or was that merely errand boy?
Was still needed…the lily was not yet gilded
Oh meant his time was not his own…till now
Well, you’ve cowed your enemies…
The seeds have been sown
A new generation of municipal soldiers has been grown

So welcome back dear Peter
Sun powered meters (and more) have become a reality
On our streets for all to see…and to swear at
That you have to know by now,
Since the air is turning blue, thanks to you
and your trusty crew of councillors
Still dealing with the fuss

Thus, it seems the day (or is it night?) has come
Where we hope you’ll have more time for us
Gathered here expectant ‘round
the fabled Wednesday Night discussion table,
Able debater that you are
you’re welcome here, if Kathy lets you out…and
No doubt she will, if only to get an hour or two of peace
From having you mooching around the house,
No need to grease your discussion skills…we know
we can fill your mind with other things than
the going-ons at Council meetings

Fleeting though your fame on the municipal stage
May yet prove to be…here we all agree…
You – a true blue, never forgotten Wednesday Nighter,
Fighter against all things Suburban
Urbane, de-maned, though never tamed,
You, our friend…we insist
Have been well and truly missed.

Pete ‘Bent’ – Our Seeker Troubadour

Peter is considered to have been
Someone special on the municipal scene
However at early Wednesday Nights
the sight of Mr Trent aka Singer Bent
Sent some of the ladies there
to check their hair,
Gloss their lips and
Slip in next to him
Grinning their welcome,
But his strumming on the guitar
Marred somewhat his sex appeal
But sealed his reputation
As the sexy troubadour and more
of the female Westmount nation.

A Quartet of PT Limericks – With Apologies to Edward Lear

1) There once was a Wednesday Nighter called Pete
Who at the table was given a seat
The ladies adored him
The men they abhorred him
For garnering all of the “treats”.

2) There once was a debater supreme
Whose aspirations were more than a dream
He forewent our Wednesday discussions
For a stage with greater repercussions
The ramifications of which can’t, as yet, be foreseen

3) There once was a Wednesday Nighter named Trent
Whose alias was a singer called Bent
His sidekick was Trouser
Nom de plume of George Bowser
And together our eardrums they rent.

4) There once was an ex-Mayor called Trent
To whom accolades plenty were sent
From the citizens and the media
To the pages of Wikipedia
Their praises have all been well-meant.


Our hearts go out to the residents of Hudson, Rigaud and all the other municipalities and regions battling with the worst floods (in eastern Canada) in recent memory. While the tragedy is in our mind’s eye – and that of our politicians – it’s high time to consider how to mitigate such disasters in the future. Are there any municipal or regional urban and/or rural planning codes and/or regulatory models ANYWHERE that should be emulated? What is the role of the other levels of government in enforcing adoption? How do we (citizens and tax payers) ensure that politicians actively seek solutions? It seems to us that in other years, when the flooding has not been so severe, there is annual wringing of hands, but little else.
The current disaster has brought out the best in most of the political representatives of the afflicted areas. Our friend Peter Schiefke, MP for Vaudreuil—Soulanges, has been an exemplary worker and an encouraging social media presence. Perhaps we can hope that he and some of his colleagues whose ridings have been equally hard-hit will insist on a thorough review of what can and should be done.

While we all rejoice in Emmanuel Macron’s defeat of Marine Le Pen, the hard part is only beginning. As the Washington Post’s Griff Witte put it: “He must figure out how to translate the poetry of a campaign built on borrowing the best ideas from either end of the political spectrum into the prose of governing in a way that doesn’t alienate everyone.”
South Korea’s election outcome also appears to be a cause for celebration. The new liberal President, Moon Jae-in, was sworn in on Wednesday and vowed to immediately address North Korea’s advancing nuclear ambitions, begin efforts to defuse security tensions on the Korean peninsula and negotiate with Washington and Beijing to ease the row over a U.S. missile defense system being deployed in the South. We wish him well.

Meanwhile, the BC election results are in the cliff-hanger category. As of early Wednesday morning, the Liberals had won a minority government, elected in 43 of B.C.’s 87 ridings, compared to 41 for the NDP and three for the Green Party. It takes 44 seats to form a majority in B.C. But several ridings will have recounts and absentee ballots have not been counted. A lot of breath-holding until the final count by Elections BC between May 22 and 24.

Dystopia – not a word we used often in the past – only when referring to 1984 or A Clockwork Orange. Today, however, not only is there a growing literary genre (dystopian fiction), but it is hard to pick up any modestly literate article without encountering  the word, usually in reference to the U.S. under the Trump administration. According to its definition, the term refers to “an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives” whereas today’s pundits are applying it to a real situation. Be that as it may, the latest evocation – the television series “The Handmaid’s Tale”- is sending shivers down the spines of those who fear the worst from the Trump administration and its political allies. The past days’ events would seem to support those fears.

The White House centipede dropped yet another shoe with the firing on Tuesday evening of FBI Director James Comey which took everyone by surprise. The reasons offered are laughable. The timing is suspect: right after Sally Yates’ devastating testimony and right before Mr. Trump’s Wednesday meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss Syria (we hope DJT can remember which country) and other international issues  Some prominent Republicans are uncomfortable. David Frum’s reaction was swift and takes us back to those fears of dystopia: “Perhaps the worst fears for the integrity of the U.S. government and U.S. institutions are being fulfilled. If this firing stands—and if Trump dares to announce a pliable replacement—the rule of law begins to shake and break. The law will answer to the president, not the president to the law.”

Not as sudden (nor, sadly, as surprising) are several other recent developments:
— The dismissal of scientists from an EPA 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC), which advises EPA’s prime scientific arm on whether the research it does has sufficient rigor and integrity and their replacement with representatives of the regulated industries. At the same time, the Department of the Interior has frozen the work of the Bureau of Land Management’s 38 resource advisory councils, along with other panels focused on a sweep of issues, from one assessing the threat of invasive species to the science technical advisory panel for Alaska’s North Slope.
Republicans start literally deleting their health care promises
Remember this online Q&A published on the House Republican leadership’s website?
The day after 217 House Republicans voted for their party’s health care plan, the website was changed – and these promises, which Republicans broke, were replaced with new text.
In other words, instead of keeping their promises, Ryan and the House GOP leadership quietly – and literally – deleted some of their promises.
— But that pales beside the news that All of Trump’s campaign statements just vanished from his website.
Kushner Family Stands to Gain From Visa Rules in Trump’s First Major Law
(NYT) It was the first major piece of legislation that President Trump signed into law, and buried on Page 734 was one sentence that brought a potential benefit to the president’s extended family: renewal of a program offering permanent residence in the United States to affluent foreigners investing money in real estate projects here.
–And now we learn that amidst squabbling about whether or not to withdraw from the Paris Agreement,  Ivanka Trump has been tasked by her father with reviewing the issue. We are sure that makes all environmentalists supremely confident.

When no less a conservative voice than George Will condemns DJT in the epic phrase: “His fathomless lack of interest in America’s path to the present and his limitless gullibility leave him susceptible to being blown about by gusts of factoids that cling like lint to a disorderly mind., we know we have cause to worry. Perhaps Dystopia is not an exaggeration?

Time to change the subject.

A provocative piece brought to our attention by Hosein Maleki
The meaning of life in a world without work
As technology renders jobs obsolete, what will keep us busy?

The two WN Davids, Jones and Kilgour, write respectively on International Trade and the Trump Administration, and Trade Challenges: United States, Canada, and China. As always, an interesting dialogue.

Kyle Matthews reminds us
‘We can turn the tide of fear and hate’
MAY 26-27: Join Concordia’s Montreal Institute of Genocide and Human Rights Studies in recognizing the city’s role in sheltering the oppressed
To acknowledge the city’s role in advancing human rights, Concordia’s Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) has joined forces with Amnesty International Canada, the United Committee of Armenian Organizations in Quebec and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights to organize Rights City/Montréal, ville des droits humains, a major event on May 26 and 27. Details

Also, don’t forget the exciting  “Geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific”  course that Cleo Paskal is leading at CERIUM from 29 May to 3 June.

2 Comments on "Wednesday Night #1835 with Peter Trent OWN"

  1. Diana Thebaud Nicholson May 10, 2017 at 3:20 pm ·

    Desmond Morton: “A letter in the Globe today recalls that a federal government in the mid-1990s had a program of flood-control spending but it was severed from public funding. There is no policy when there is no funding. Hence the policy.”

  2. Stephen Kinsman May 10, 2017 at 6:48 pm ·

    I am very sorry I can’t be there to welcome Peter Trent with you all but I do have a small contribution to wish him well.
    I remember Peter’s erudite comments, mostly serious, sometimes jocular, sometimes even punny. very occasionally acerbic but always to the point. He added important and informed views to any discussion in which he participated.
    I also remember he played the guitar rather well and his favourite song was “There is a house in New Orleans / they call the Rising Sun …” His voice rang out filled with emotion. So much so, that I often wondered if he owned the house. I thought that , just perhaps, if a political career failed him, he could travel with Willie Nelson and allow Willie to be his introductory act.
    Thank heavens we didn’t have to find out. He stuck with politics throughout the years and steered us all – Westmounters or not – through some occasionally very sticky stuff and his role,meven today, I am sure I am sure is as confidant to many Canadians in various disciplines.
    Peter, I will miss you on the political scene and elsewhere. I only wish you a happy “retirement” and I trust you will not hide yourself under a bushel but will feel free to speak out publicly and privately on any subject which you believe demands your attention. We need that from you.
    All the best,
    Stephen Kinsman

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