Festival-goers uniformly shed their usual conservative business attire in favour of an upscale but casual (and even slightly nautical) look, as if taking their lead from Wordfest opener John Ralston Saul whose navy blazer, baby blue socks and double-buckle shoes sent spirited ripples of approval through his sold-out audience. However, looks can be deceiving, as authors in one panel discovered after several failed attempts at light-hearted political humour.
The Vertigo Theatre was Saul’s first stop on a national tour to promote his new book, A Fair Country: Telling Truths about Canada. The book aims to unmask the cultural assumptions underlying Canadian life, and expose a dangerously out-of-touch and elite strata of decision-makers.
Having spent a few years in Calgary, first as a young student, then later as policy advisor to Maurice Strong (founder of Petro-Canada), Saul had no hesitation weighing in on Alberta’s unique place within Canada. Of course, he had no invitation to do so, either.
Published in National Post, October 25 2008