The Northern Magus

(Originally published on my old LiveJournal.)

Let’s see, we’ve riffed on Canada being cold, on Canada being peaceful and nice, and on Canadians being indistinguishable from Americans. This final alternate takes off from Canada’s newly emerging image as a pot-smoking, gay-marrying, wife-swapping Babylon North. It’s also a tribute to Pierre Trudeau, Canada’s Prime Minister and Philosopher King from 1968 to 1984. Some of the Canadiana in this one is going to be pretty obscure for our American friends, I fear. But everyone mentioned by name here is in fact Canadian.

The Northern Magus
“If this little sub-arctic, self-obsessed country can put on this kind of show, then it can do almost anything.”
—Peter Newman, on Expo ’67

“The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation.”
“The Pope is not the menace he used to be…”
“How far will I go? Just watch me.”
“Fuck off.”
—Pierre Trudeau, on various occasions

Expo ’67, held in Montreal to mark the 100th anniversary of Confederation, was a flower-power birthday bash—a party in Canada’s mouth with everyone invited. But only one man knew the real purpose of Expo’s signature landmark, the iridescent sphere at the dark heart of the fair. There, on July 1st, 1967, Pierre Elliot Trudeau broke through the bonds of space and time and made contact with Les Choses Qu’On N’est Pas Censé Pour Savoir.

There Trudeau learned the sorcerous words “fuddle duddle” and the forbidden hand gesture known as the Voorish sign. His subsequent rise to power was swift. Brilliant, arrogant, mesmerizing-Canadians had never known anyone like Trudeau. Women swooned; men fell to their knees under his hypnotic gaze. By 1968 the entire country had fallen under his spell.

With a twirl of his cape and his floppy hat, the man they came to call “the Northern Magus” tore down Canada’s fussy notions of propriety and morality. From his famous dictum, “The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation,” it was merely a skip and a jump to, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” The True Age of Aquarius dawned in late 1960s Canada as draft dodgers, hippies, yippies, and freaks flocked to Trudeau and his Summer of Dark Love.

By the 1970s, the bad trip had set in. Trudeau’s Canada is now a culture of drugged, swaying decadence, where all is permitted and nothing is valued. Ottawa has become a Canadian Interzone, a kind of Gomorra-on-the-Rideau. (In real life, you have to go to Hull for that! Thank you, try the veal!) Trudeau’s very Liberal Cabinet swills nephilitic cocktails and riots in mindbending orgies. In his aerie at 24 Sussex, the Northern Magus conducts loathsome experiments with the abominable Doctor Frightenstein, and feasts with the vampire Count Floyd on pigtailed urchins from PEI. By the 1980s, Parliament has decriminalized the Liao Drug, defied the American embargo on trade with R’lyeh, and made Tcho-Tcho the country’s third official language. (Fitting nutritional information on cereal boxes in all three languages is made easier by the adoption of a non-Euclidean metric system.)

Few Canadians have the magical potency to stand against him. The Amazing Randi seeks to debunk Trudeau’s claims of occult power; a psychic counterattack drives the famous skeptic mad. The young Maharishi Doug Henning tries to banish the Dark Magus with the vedic energy of 7,000 yogic flyers. They are torn to bits by a flight of byakhee; their blood rains down on Parliament Hill.

As the century draws to a close, the time is ripe for the Magus to produce an heir. Using ghastly Cronenberg-tech, a team of doctor-priests (government subsidized, bien sur) implant parasitic alien seeds into Pamela Anderson—born on Vancouver Island on July 1st, 1967, and thus fated from birth to be Trudeau’s sacrificial bride.

Iä, Canada! What rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Ottawa to be born?

They really did call Trudeau “the Northern Magus” in real life. It’s hard to explain to non-Canucks the emotional significance Trudeaumania, or Expo ’67, or “fuddle duddle,” for that matter, used to have. Dearly loved and bitterly hated, the real life Trudeau already seems to me like he came from an alternate Canada. He wore a cape, for God’s sake! He dated (and I should think almost certainly nailed) Kim Cattrall, back when she was the hot teacher from Porky’s. While he was in office! He can’t possibly have come from the same country as the doughy mediocrities we have been electing ever since.


  1. We used to take our family vacations, every year without fail, either in Nova Scotia or at the big Canadian Shakespeare / Gilbert & Sullivan festival. Each year, I was allowed to buy one book on the trip. One year I picked up a collection of political cartoons by a guy named Ben Wicks, which featured a lot of jokes about Pierre Trudeau. I had no idea why they appealed to me, but they did.

    Now I know … and was not meant to know. The horror … the … horror …

  2. As I sit here and listen to Great Big Sea, Canada as Evil, Non-Euclidian Empire I can do:

    The dissidents against the regime would be the newly-awakened Druids of Cape Breton, the shamans of Mohawk Nation, and the secretly-rebellious demon-hunting Magic Cops of the RCMP (that one’s for and his Feng Shui character from college). Problem is, though, they all have to use dark magicks because the PM has changed the predominant magickal paradigm.
    Leaping from the tossed-off mention of Cronenberg, what is the deal with Canadian content on TV? There are some families who sit in front of the television all day, hypnotized, some say. I foresee families eaten whole by their TVs, especially south of the border. When that patriotic, Bud-drinking NFL fan can’t stop watching the CFL and trying to obsessively figure out “What the hell is a rouge?” and focusing on that mysterious 55-yard line, well, he’s a lost cause. There’s nothing left in the morning but his recliner and a bottle of Labatt’s. And let’s not even mention those kids in upstate New York and elsewhere who watched too much SCTV and became part of America’s most subversive comedy troupe.
    I could riff here on the 1979 “too many men on the ice” penalty between the Canadiens and the Bruins being some sort of intrusion of Dimensional Shamblers, but I’ve already had too much fun with this.

  3. Wait, I thought there were supposed to be 5 of these? Am I missing one? Or is this just more of your accursed northern Metric hoohah?

    Also, on the topic of Yogic Flyers…I hadn’t realized until recently their connection to the Natural Law Party, a group that ran John Hagelin for president a few years ago and to which I briefly belonged (before their Catastrophic Irrational Hatred of genetically modified food scared me off). He got about 0.12% of the vote! How frighteningly close to the White House they came! Now there’s an alternate history hook for you! Picture it: The US Army butt-hopping across Afghanistan in pursuit of the Taliban.


  4. Quelle bête rugueuse, son heure viennent en rond enfin, slouches vers Ottawa à soutenir? René Lévesque, L’voûte-ennemi de Trudeau.

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