May 20, 2024

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Bottoms Up

by Maggie Van Ostrand

"Yours till the U.S. drinks Canada Dry," said the old advertising slogan for the non-alcoholic soda created in the late 1890s by John J. McLaughlin, a Toronto-based pharmacist. For his base recipe, he used Belfast-style ginger ale, but following a champagne-tasting trip to France, McLaughlin became convinced that a lightly coloured and clear ginger ale would be his ticket to riches. He was right.

Whether the U.S. drinks Canada Dry or not, it can't seem to keep up with the drinking done by Canadians themselves. And we're not talking about soft drinks. "While residents on either side of the border enjoy tipping back a few drinks, Canadians are slightly more likely to say they do so than Americans," said Josephine Mazzuca, PhD and Senior Staff Writer, Toronto Bureau, The Gallup Organization.

While drinking alcoholic beverages ran pretty much neck and neck between the two countries for over 50 years, in the last few decades, Canadians have consistently out-boozed Americans. That can't be easy.

Which brings us in a roundabout way to Alcoholics Anonymous.

Albertan Leonard M. Blumenthal, LL.D., a resident of Rolly View, Alberta, who worked for the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission for almost 30 years, and who has been a trustee of Alcoholics Anonymous since 2000, was elected Chairperson of AA's General Service Board.

One of his first official appearances as Chair will be at the 2005 International A.A. Convention to be held this year in Toronto from June 30 to July 3. This is the 70th anniversary of the venerable fellowship which helps drunks get off the bed rolls and onto tax rolls.

“We look forward to holding the Alcoholics Anonymous International Convention in Toronto this upcoming summer. The last AA International Convention held in Canada was in 1985 in Montreal and drew over 44,000 people,” Blumenthal said. “We are excited to be holding this celebration in Canada once again and bringing worldwide attention to this fellowship of men and women from across the world.”

In the course of his work, according to an A.A. press release, Blumenthal has acted as a consultant to Grant MacEwan Community College, the Department of the Attorney General and the Government of the Northwest Territories, for which he conducted a series of seminars with Native and non-Native Canadians, with special reference to management and control of alcohol and alcohol-related programs. In 1985, he was a speaker at the International Convention celebrating A.A.'s 50th anniversary in Montreal. In 1993, he was presented with the Eagle Feather, the highest honor of the Nechi Institute on Addictions, “for wisdom and bravery in working with Native Indian addiction problems.”

"Yours till the U.S. drinks Canada Dry," said the old advertising slogan. That should please Dr. Blumenthal. He's not an alcoholic.


©2013 Maggie Van Ostrand, all rights reserved.