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Composite Elephant, 17th century, India (Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY)

It’s a day at a time.

I have been working on Despotism. Peter I (the Great & 6 ft 8 [203 cm]) wanted access to seas. He defeated the Swedish Empire and founded the Russian Empire in 1721.


In August 2017, my brother Jean-Pierre, nephew François and his wife, Josée, helped me move from a large apartment to a smaller one. I had too many books. After transporting something to my locker, my brother said: “I won’t sleep for three nights.”

What had I heard? I told François that his father could not help me anymore. He needed to be treated.

In the meantime, my brother’s urine grew into a mixture of urine, blood and an unidentified white substance. He saw a doctor who prescribed antibiotics. Antibiotics! We are now in the spring of 2018 (not August 2017). My brother saw a second doctor who diagnosed cancer.

I pity men who are treated for a cancer of the bladder. Jean-Pierre’s urethra was so damaged that he nearly went into shock and died, when a tube was inserted through the urethra, to fill his bladder with a chemical and then remove the chemical. The pain was excruciating, and they said they could not give him an anaesthetic or freeze the affected area. I nearly jumped out of my skin. More of these treatments had been scheduled.

Between treatments, my brother was not prescribed a painkiller. I tried to help by offering a few tablets of codeine that had been prescribed for stubborn migraines several years ago. I doubted these tablets could still relieve pain. Besides, medication should be prescribed by one’s own doctor. My brother did not take the codeine.

You know the rest…

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Portrait of the Elephant ‘Alam Guman, 1640, India (Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY)

A lunch in Ottawa

A few years ago, Mr MacEachen invited me to share a lunch with him in Ottawa. We were joined by Pearl, Mr MacEachen’s finest secretary, and Craig, who helped Mr MacEachen. Allan J. asked me about medicine in Quebec. I told him that I had not been able to find a doctor, so a secretary at the Medical School had referred me to an intern and that I now had a good doctor. He worked in a public clinic supervising interns.

In other words, I told Mr MacEachen that, in Quebec, one could not find a doctor. He answered that the system would break down. He was right. Allan J. MacEachean built Canada’s first social programmes, under Lester B. Pearson, and had studied economics in an ivy league university.

I have since learned that those who despair seek the services of a private doctor, which is extremely expensive. These doctors have rich patients and treat celebrities.

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Painting attributed to Bichitr (active ca. 1610–60)

The Syndicates

  • the priest-ridden province
  • the syndicate-ridden province

It appears that, in Quebec, doctors are protected by powerful syndicates. Before the Révolution tranquille, Quebec was considered a ‘priest-ridden’ province. Many priests had been sent to the Seminary in Quebec City because England did not know what to do with the French priests who had emigrated to Britain during the French Revolution. They then remembered that they had a French, and Catholic, colony. A second wave of priests and religious orders emigrated to Quebec in 1905, when the French passed the Law on the Separation of the Churches and the Statela loi du 9 décembre 1905.

Quebec may have been a priest-ridden province but it would appear it is now run by syndicates. (See Révolution tranquille, Wiki2.org.) A cousin of mine could not believe that my pension did not allow me to spend part of the winter, if not all, in Florida. “You didn’t have a very good syndicate,” she said. Truth be told, we did not have a syndicate.

An Emergency

I just read my email. A friend who lives close to Sherbrooke and suffers from Ménière’s disease (vertigo and deafness) wrote to say that he had been on a waiting-list to see his specialist for two years. He asked that his appointment be moved up but he was told to wait. My hearing is normal, so it’s easy for me to make phone calls. I called.


If a province chases away good taxpayers, a welfare state is a white elephant, particularly when doctors, university teachers, lawyers, and everyone else, are syndicated. I dare not say more.

We lowly creatures…

Love to everyone  💕

Camille Saint-Saëns “The Elephant” from the Carnival of Animals,
played by Zoltán Bíró
Budapest, 29 November 2008

© Micheline Walker
19/20 October 2018