Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

We are duty-bound to bring Rat Portage back into the fold

Manitoba is their motherland

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According to Russian opinion polls, Vladimir Putin is a popular guy right now. According to Canadian polls, Greg Selinger is not. In the interest of restoring the popularity of Manitoba's premier, I hereby offer the following speech, free of charge (but not free of satire):

Friends, comrades and fellow citizens of Greater Manitoba, it is time to right a terrible historic wrong.

In recent months, we have witnessed the depravity of our historic enemy to the east, the Ontarians, who have chosen to shatter more than a century of interprovincial peace. They have once again set their greedy sights upon our fertile fields, our verdant forests and our ample garages full of snowmobiles.

As you recall, it has been 131 years since Oliver The Evil -- that is, Ontario premier Oliver Mowat -- sent his shock troops to the shores of Lake of the Woods and seized the Manitoba electoral district of Varennes.

During this illegal act, the Ontarian aggressors incarcerated Manitoba magistrates in the town of Rat Portage, battered down the door to the Manitoba jailhouse and freed criminals loyal to Toronto.

The Ontarians then claimed Rat Portage as their own. Mowat, in league with prime minister John A. Macdonald -- the man who hanged Louis Riel -- claimed Lake of the Woods was "disputed territory."

They did not recognize Manitoba premier John Norquay's claim over the lakes and forests of our dear, beloved Varennes. They did not respect the whisky parlours of Rat Portage.

After sweeping aside the law-abiding Manitoba conscripts, Mowat's forces proceeded to expanded Ontario's borders to the west. They also gave Rat Portage a new name -- "Kenora," which isn't a real place but an anagram of Rat Portage, Keewatin and Norman, three communities that fell under the boot of Toronto that have been separated from the Manitoba Motherland ever since.

The good citizens of Lake of the Woods have always considered this move unjust, even as wave after wave of unwashed and ill-tempered Ontarians boarded railcars in uncouth Hamilton, York and By-Town and disembarked on Matheson Dock, hell-bent on wreaking havoc on the inhabitants of Lake of the Woods.

The indigenous people of the lake never recognized Ontario dominion. Neither did their Manitoba allies, who continue to live out virtuous lives in their modest dwellings on the islands and bluffs of Lake of the Woods.

For 131 years, our Manitoba brothers and sisters have endured the Ontarian occupation with stoicism and grace. They have always considered themselves Manitobans and refused to fly the Trillium Flag, swear allegiance to the Maple Leafs or sing songs by the Barenaked Ladies.

They have resisted any and all attempts at Ontario assimilation. But this has not sat well in Toronto, where the economy is suffering and their leaders are devoid of ideas. It is even said the mayor of Toronto imbibes in tinctures of the Peruvian coca plant and flies off into wild rages at all hours of the night.

When Rob The Intoxicated looks to the west, he learns of a Winnipeg foodstuff known as the Fat Boy and desires it for his own.

He is seeking it, seeking it -- all his thought is bent on it. It is only a matter of time before Ford attempts to repeat the horrors of Rat Portage -- only this time, at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine.

Already, Kenora has expanded its borders, creating subjects out of the Manitobans on Lake of the Woods. The Ontarians are taxing our Toban brothers and sisters in the name of "providing services" to their own.

This shall not pass.

We must protect our fellow Manitobans by reclaiming what is ours: Rat Portage and all the lands illegally considered "northwestern Ontario."

We must move quickly and decisively. First, we will seize Devil's Gap and the entrance to Kenora Harbour. Manitoba forces in uniforms without insignias will patrol the waterfront. The Manitoba flag shall fly over the patio at Hap's Landing and all those who do not swear allegiance to bison and the prairie crocus will be exiled back to Barrie or Niagara Falls.

We will then hold a referendum, between the hours of 9:04 and 9:05 p.m. on April 1, with all the polling taking place at the new Lake of the Woods municipal office in Hadashville.

Then on April 2, we will annex the lands of eastern Manitoba and integrate them back into our republic.

We will do this to protect the Manitobans of Lake of the Woods. We will do this to right a historic wrong. We will do this to restore the glory of a just and beautiful Manitoba.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 22, 2014 A10


Updated on Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 9:21 AM CDT: Changes headline, adds photo

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About Bartley Kives

Bartley Kives wants you to know his last name rhymes with Beavis, as in Beavis and Butthead. He aspires to match the wit, grace and intelligence of the 1990s cartoon series.

Bartley joined the Free Press in 1998 as a music critic. He spent the ensuing 7.5 years interviewing the likes of Neil Young and David Bowie and trying to stay out of trouble at the Winnipeg Folk Festival before deciding it was far more exciting to sit through zoning-variance appeals at city hall.

In 2006, Bartley followed Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz from the music business into civic politics. He spent seven years covering city hall from a windowless basement office.

He is now reporter-at-large for the Free Press and also writes an outdoor-recreation column called Offroad for the Outdoors page.

A canoeist, backpacker and food geek, Bartley is fond of conventional and wilderness travel. He is the author of A Daytripper’s Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada’s Undiscovered Province, the only comprehensive travel guidebook for Manitoba – and a Canadian bestseller, to boot. He is also co-author of Stuck In The Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg, a collaboration with photographer Bryan Scott and the winner of the 2014 Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award.

Bartley’s work has also appeared on CBC Radio and Citytv as well as in publications such as The Guardian, explore magazine and National Geographic Traveler. He sits on the board of PEN Canada, which promotes freedom of expression.

Born in Winnipeg, he has an arts degree from the University of Winnipeg and a master’s degree in journalism from Ottawa’s Carleton University. He is the proud owner of a blender.

On Twitter: @bkives


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