lice was very tired of sitting in the law library (the Bibliothèque des sciences juridiques* at UQAM, to be exact). So she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for Constitutional Law made her feel quite sleepy and stupid), whether it was worth all the trouble to write a proceeding.
She was reading page 17 of Volume 41 of the Proceedings and Evidence before the Joint Senate Committee on the new Constitution of Canada … and had just happened on the words of Justice Minister Chrétien:
“There is a right in the Constitution that belongs
to the citizen and not to Parliament …”
Well, that sounds democratic, reflected Alice.
But a pang of foresight warned she ought not to make up her mind so fast. Further reading was called for, as in every constitutional case.
Alice was seated at a computer terminal near the library turnstile. She had the Internet on with a web-cam view of the Parliament. On the Peace Tower, four clock faces looked out over the vast expanse extending every way in the distance.
How majestic! thought Alice. She could see from the Hill cam that the weather in Ottawa was excellent — although of course that could always be misleading.
Was that the sun shining on the clock face over the Parliament, or the distant twinkle of a storm?
Alice began to sigh and her head nodded.
She soon fell forward onto Volume 41, and seemed to be fast asleep where she sat, for she had been working especially hard. But, unbeknownst to her, she had fallen into that long-familiar world between dream and reality.
Consequently, a White Rabbit came skipping across the law library, weaving and bobbing through the stacks.
It was dressed to the nines in a bright red waistcoat with a Canadian coat of arms on the back, white gloves, a matching red vest, and a heavy gold chain looped from an inside pocket.
Rabbit paused at the turnstile, right beside Alice, pulled a watch from the pocket, and hoisting the chain high to read its face, as though he were far-sighted, the Rabbit exclaimed:
“Mon Dieu! Mon Dieu! Je serais trop tard!” (“My God! My God! I am going to be too late!”)
Re-pocketing his watch, the Rabbit leaped sharply to the left and vanished into the stacks.
At that very instant, the clock in the Parliament tower began ticking backwards: Back! Back! Back!, but Alice hardly noticed, so intent she was on the fleeing rabbit.
How curious!, cried Alice.
Not that it was odd to see anyone rushing into the stacks at this late hour — after all, it was exam time …
But, White Rabbits usually spoke English; this one was speaking French, and with a proper accent!
A dedicated advocate of Canadian bilingualism, Alice had to know more …
Leaping to her feet, Alice hurried after the Rabbit.
She arrived at the shelf of Big Red Books at the back of the stacks — the Supreme Court Reports — in time to see him jump through a hole in the shelf between the 1981 Patriation Appeal and the 1998 Quebec Secession Reference.
The years between had been removed, apparently in haste, by someone strewing the books across the floor. It must have been Rabbit, making his way.
Alice herself had pored over that shelf more often than she cared to count. She wondered what on Earth a Rabbit would want there …
Without a thought for her safety, Alice made straight for the Rabbit Hole! In went Alice, head first, feet after, and instantly found herself falling and falling … and falling …
“Oh no!,” groaned Alice as she fell and fell and fell …. “This is the one they tell you to watch out for, this is the big one, the Constitutional Hole!” And here she’d leaped headlong into it without a care for whether she’d be back in time to prevent the guards being called on account of her dallying past the curfew again.
“Oh well, what’s done is done,” she pronounced aloud, and a bit optimistically, for she continued to fall and fall and fall and fall and fall.
– 30 –
* The “Bibliothèque des sciences juridiques” at UQAM … Literally, the Library of legal sciences at the Université du Québec à Montréal.
UPDATED 24 July 2021.