Oct. 25, 2005

 A True (Scary) Halloween Story

If it weren’t for coincidence you might not read what you are about to. This story begins one late rush hour afternoon a few days before Halloween on one of many travels around this city. Waiting at a bus stop, I let a number of crowded buses pass me by before giving up on the idea that there would be one vacant seat for a tired body. After three or four buses passed, I finally boarded one.

Straight away, the bus driver, a tall gentleman with a calm, restrained voice, recognizing me as a Share columnist, greeted me by name. Oddly, he even seemed to know where I lived. Just before driving off, he handed me a sheaf of papers. As the bus lurched forward, he urged me to look at the package of photocopied newspaper articles. It included a column I had written on the difficult economic conditions immigrants to Canada face. The package was a meticulously organized set of documentation that may serve as clues or answers to what is happening in this post- modern world — if you use mysticism and the Book of Revelations as a reference point.

I don’t lay a lot of store in much of this, but as noted, the power of coincidence suggested that “Richard” had to have his due. Besides, the questions are being raised in churches, in bars and points in-between about the meaning behind all the recent natural disasters, devastating earthquakes and record number of category five hurricanes.

The articles  — many which appeared in the Toronto Star — revealed that technology exists to create some scarier-than-Halloween developments including biometric technology. His notes pointed to Revelations 13:16, a reference to “the mark of the beast”. And as I scanned a March 14, 2005 Toronto Star article on U.S. supermarkets using fingerprint scanning to pay for purchases, Richard proffered that the technology exists to create weather disasters. It was his explanation for the recent spate of killer hurricanes.

His file contained a March 25, 2005 article from the subway paper, Metro, on “Africa’s bloody war for cellphones” about how “the growing demand for cellphones and other high tech devices” meant industrialized countries exploited the war in Congo that killed 4.7 million. Congo has a wealth of coltan, the ore from which tantalum — “a rare, highly conductive and heat resistant metal” used in electronic components — is derived.

Richard’s file contained information on genetically modified (GM) foods. He cautioned against fruits and vegetables that contain no seeds. He noted that rich countries are trying to avoid GM foods, but poor countries are advancing their use.

There was information showing that in 2004, Canadians spent more than $18 billion on prescription drugs. Star feature writer Judy Gerstel wrote in a September 2, 2005 article, “Pushing pills down our throats”, that most Canadian adults are likely taking some prescription drug, whether it’s to lower bad cholesterol or for depression or high blood pressure, etc.

Then Richard’s file got even more interesting. Next came an article that ran in the January 21-23, 2005 24 Hours on U.S. president George W. Bush’s inauguration in which Bush is photographed making a hand gesture that Richard labeled “Black Magic Devil’s Horn”. He also extrapolated on the significance of certain numbers mentioned in the article including, “39 tradition-hallowed words that every president since George Washington has uttered” and the U.S. nation’s 55th inauguration.

His file wrapped up with articles about preparations for the flu pandemic, which he stressed officials say will occur. One Star article (Aug. 26, 2005, “GTA gets ready for the flu pandemic”) notes that a 2004 pandemic report form Health Canada estimated that “up to one-third of the population could fall ill and more than 50,000 could die as a result of a pandemic.” And, a Star article from Oct. 5, 2005 says the U.S. military would be called in to maintain quarantines to control the spread of the avian flu pandemic.

Finally, back to those biometrics and other tracking devices, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Department is planning a $6.5 million trial project to digitize photos and fingerprints of new immigrants. Biometrics will be collected from applicants to the GTA refugee claimant centre and visa offices in Seattle and Hong Kong. And, microchips on radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags will track products in a pilot project being run by Bell Canada at Staples Business Depot. The idea is that it will “reduce costs and increase productivity.”

It is difficult to make sense of the times. Some will frame the facts of the day using Revelations as their reference point. Richard did. As I got off the bus and it headed west into the darkening evening, I felt an otherworldly sensation, disoriented by the coincidence of choosing that bus over any of the others, but sure that because of it, Richard’s insights had to be shared.          ~~~~~~

Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of In Through A Coloured Lens, available for Kindle, tablet or PC at Amazon.com.


Thank you, book buyers

Two more readers bought copies of my debut ebook In Through A Coloured Lens. Whoever you are, thank you. For any writer, most rewarding is people reading one’s works. I extend my gratitude.




Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of In Through A Coloured Lens, available for Kindle, tablet or PC at Amazon.com.

Small insights to daily life

A note on the bellwethers of a society…

An old, Black woman begs for your small change at Bloor and Sherbourne. An old White man is literally on his knees with his hands in front of him begging for your small change at North York Centre. They are not inebriated or mentally ill. The elderly are emerging on the streets with their hands out. Imagine the day each made the decision to take that desperate step.

On a note of incongruity…

The very talented homeless duo, hoping for spare change in return, sang and entertained the ready-made audience in the subway car. They traveled the length of the car singing a pleasing harmony and, as they neared her, switched languages as an appeal to include her. But she wouldn’t pull her face out of reading her Bible long enough to spare the pair even a smile.

On a note of losing one’s self…

If reality has come down to whether it’s better to have someone looking beneath one’s clothing via a scanning machine rather than having one’s body touched all over by security personnel at airports then we are really failing to admit that the terrorists have already won.


Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of In Through A Coloured Lens, available for Kindle, tablet or PC at Amazon.com.

Black males being traumatized by police stops in Toronto

Black males being traumatized by police stops in Toronto

Here is the lead-in from my October 3 opinion column in Share newspaper:

The Toronto Star has been reporting again on the actions of Toronto police officers regarding the over documenting of Black males in this city.   This is a grievous issue, and there does not appear to be any intention on the part of the police to put a stop to it.

The best the Toronto Police Service (TPS) has been able to offer so far is that they will give a receipt to those men that they stop. Not sure what that is supposed to do. This is at best an empty gesture.

The news media do a particular effective job of regularly reminding everyone about what terrible lives Black people live. And, if someone didn’t know any Black people, just their portrayal in the mainstream media alone would make readers wary about getting to know any.

Thankfully, the very core of Share’s purpose is to counter the narrow presentation of the lives of Black people that permeates the mainstream.

Frankly, I do not know any Black people who have committed the kinds of serious crimes that are presented with regularity in the mainstream media. I do not know any individuals who are members of gangs.   I do know a lot of hard working, God-fearing Black people who go about each day trying their best to live respectful lives. I know a lot of Black people who would like to spend more time away from being preoccupied with how they are maligned in the public mind.

See more at: http://sharenews.com/police-stops-of-black-males-like-an-undeclared-war/#sthash.mJZqpw0z.dpuf

Share is Canada’s largest ethnic newspaper and is now in its 36th year of publication.

Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of In Through A Coloured Lens, available for Kindle, tablet or PC at Amazon.com

Diabetes is a major health concern

Here is the lead-in for my September 26 column in Share newspaper:

The name Slinger Francisco might not be familiar to many, but there is hardly a person of Caribbean origin who doesn’t know Francisco by his stage name, the Mighty Sparrow. Clever and engaging lyrics and unique nuances of double entendre earned Sparrow the title of the undisputed Calypso King of the World with eight Carnival Road March titles in Trinidad and Tobago and 11 Calypso Monarch titles. You only have to hear the screams from women in the audience during a Sparrow performance to know the genius of his talent.

It wouldn’t be possible to travel into the world of calypso music without taking in some of the Mighty Sparrow’s gems – “Ten to One is Murder”, “Dan is the Man”, “Drunk and Disorderly”, “Melda (Obeah Wedding)”, “Mae, Mae”, and on and on.

In recent weeks, Sparrow, 78, has been listening to his own music along with other favourites from his hospital bed in a New York hospital. A long time diabetic, he had fallen into a diabetic coma two weeks ago. A great deal of prayer went toward his recovery. The good news from his family is that he is now out of the coma and responsive.

We hear an awful lot about the deadly diseases that claim lives daily worldwide. Cancer is one of note, but among the African population diabetes has a tremendous hold.

Here is the url for my column in the September 26 issue of Share newspaper.


Share is Canada’s largest ethnic newspaper and is now in its 36th year of publication.

See more at: http://sharenews.com/diabetes-epidemic-can-be-deterred/#sthash.cssbdq0R.dpuf

Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of In Through A Coloured Lens, available for Kindle, tablet or PC at Amazon.com