Tag Archives: Canada Day

Canada Day

I have never much liked Canada Day. Oh, the fireworks were a blast but an awful lot of the celebration seemed to me to be less about love of country and more about feeling smug. Last year the celebrations were virtual due to COVID, this year they are to be muted because unmarked graves have been found at the sites of residential schools. Apparently we are to have a day of reflection.

It is precisely this sort of moral preening which put me off Canada Day. I hate to say it but we’ve all known about the residential schools and their failings for decades. “Discovering” the graves of children who went there is horrific but, again, we knew that children died in those schools. But this year we are supposed to “reflect” on this fact.

This is typically Canadian. We’re going to reflect on the fact of the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of children while, essentially ignoring the current, awful conditions on many First Nations reserves.

If this country had any leadership at all, the Prime Minister, the leaders of the Opposition Parties and all of the Provincial Premiers would sit down and figure out how to, in the next year, get potable water to every First Nations reserve in Canada. Never mind the cost. Just get this basic thing done

Reflect on history all you want but start addressing the basic needs of First Nation Canadians as a matter of urgent, national, priority.

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Happy Canada Day!

Canada Day, Canadian ElitesMy little town on the Saanich Peninsula really puts on a show for Canada Day weekend. Because of the competition from Victoria’s Inner Harbour, we have our fireworks on Canada Day Eve. My youngest son, a fireworks enthusiast, rode his fixed gear bike the five miles in and five miles back. Tons of fun. Today there will be a parade, concerts and a general sense of a holiday. There are Canadian flags everywhere – we are not quite American with our flag mania, but there are a lot of them on display. Curmudgeons such as myself make sure our kids know that the real name for July 1 is Dominion Day and all that.

Meanwhile, the CBC has been polling Canadians and found that “nearly 80 per cent of Canadians either strongly or somewhat agree with the statement: “My country is divided between ordinary people and elites.” CBC At that link there is a long article suggesting that populist politicians are making use of the term “elite” in a derogatory way and that no one really quite knows what “elite” means.

Given that, in democracies, there is a certain amount of delicacy which surrounds frank discussion of elites, it is not surprising that no one is able to precisely describe what makes up an elite. The CBC and the guy on the street they interview are clear that it is not “money” per se. In fact, culture is more important than money in determining a person’s elite status and that culture, while in principle accessible, is, in practice, exclusionary. And it is exclusionary in very subtle ways.

To give an example, a million years ago I arrived for my first day at a very elite law school. It was actually, on the numbers, harder to get into than Havard Law. If ever there was an elite in embryo it was the hundred and fifty young men and women in that class. After a silly welcoming speech, there were cocktails and we set about getting to know each other as only a group in which fully 50% had been their high school president can. After a while, it got a little tedious as people humble-bragged about going to a “Boston area college” and how doing a triple honours degree set them up for the rigours of a legal education. My mind wandered and I began looking at the actual appearance of this class. There were virtually no fat people. In general, both the men and women seemed a bit taller than average. There were few, if any, people of colour. There were lots of WASPs and lots of Jews (the school shut down for Jewish High Holidays). There were lots of what I later came to understand were “good” hair cuts and the clothes were casual but lots of Ralph Lauren. But what was most striking were the teeth. So far as I could see there was exactly one person in that class who had not either been born with perfectly straight teeth or had access to orthodontry from an early age.

Now, having straight teeth does not make you a member of the elite, not noticing how unusual it is for a group of a hundred and fifty people to have straight teeth, does.

The CBC interviewee, Tony Laino, at Fordfest, said describing elites, “”Those that think they’re better than me,” he said. “Because I don’t espouse their beliefs.”

Which misses the point. Elites really don’t think of guys like Tony Laino at all. Largely because, as Charles Murray points out in Coming Apart, the new upper class rarely, if ever, meets the Tony Lainos of the world. Murray was writing about white people in America but much the same social bi-furcation is taking place in Canada. Murray looks at education, wealth, marriage, access and what he refers to as the rise of the super-zips, areas where highly educated, well connected, well off people live with others of their class and kind. It is an accelerating phenomenon in the US and it is plainly visible in Canada. Murray quotes Robert Reich as calling this, “the segregation of the successful”.

Inside elite communities “the issues” look very different than they do in the more pedestrian parts of the country. A few pennies extra for gas or heating oil or natural gas to fight the universally acknowledged menace of “climate change” makes perfect sense if your income is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. It is downright terrifying if you are making $50K. Only bigots and racists could be anti-imigration when you, yourself, live in virtually all white, old stock, Canadian enclaves and welcome refugees and migrants who you will never see.

The populist moment has not yet come to Canada and, if Andrew Scheer’s brand of Liberal lite wins in October, there will probably be another decade of elite consolidation before a proper populist movement gets off the ground. Whether it will be right populism a la Trump and Farange, or left populism with a firebrand NDP leader, is hard to say. However, as the Canadian elite grows more insular and disconnected from the ordinary life of Canada and Canadians, that populist moment draws closer.

Happy Canada Day!

 

 

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Canada Day!

Canada, Canada Day, Trump. tariffsThere is nothing I like being more than a Canadian. My compatriots may drive me crazy but our disagreements are political rather than patriotic.

Sadly, our current federal government thinks it can win an election – in a year – by picking a fight with our friends in the US. The PMO’s polling tells them that Canadians a) can’t stand Trump, b) will rally around a PM who stands up for Canada no matter how wrong we might be. I suspect that polling is right but premature.

No one wins a trade war and today the smartypants Liberals are embarking on a series of deliberately political retaliatory tariffs designed to hit Republicans where it hurts, at the polling booth. There are many things wrong with this strategy beginning with the fact it won’t work. Tariffing soy sauce because North America’s largest soy sauce plant is in retiring GOP speaker Paul Ryan’s district looks clever but isn’t. After all, at best, that plant ships about 10% of its production to Canada. Our tariff will be an annoyance rather than a game changer. And just as Canadians claim to be willing to stand shoulder to shoulder with Trudeau in opposing the Trump monster, Americans are perfectly capable of supporting the industries we target.

Canadians win when we come up with creative compromises. Flat out telling the US that we will not accept a five year sunset clause on NAFTA is stupidly beligerent. Intelligent compromise would have created a process – general review at 6 years, sectoral review at eight based on the general review and the possiblilty of revision at 10. It’s boring but it is very Canadian. Same thing with the steel and aluminum tariff. Figure out what the Americans are actually after (likely an end to the transhipment of Chinese commodity steel) and figure out how to make that happen while enhancing the Canadian position.

Unfortunately, this very Canadian approach is not very sexy. It is not going to save a floundering Liberal government. To do that, the geniuses in the PMO realize they somehow have to cast the next election as a referendum on Trump rather than a review of the Trudeau government’s meager list of accomplishments. To that end picking a fight with the US seemed like a good idea.

It isn’t.

With a year in hand, the US can pretty much destroy the Canadian economy and flatten what manufacturing is left in Ontario. They don’t need to do much, just impose a 20% tariff on all cars coming into the US and fail to exempt Canada. Boom, done. Like the rest of the world, Canada enjoys access to the American market because we have negotiated that access and the Americans, to date, have had no particularily compelling reason to restrict that access. Indeed, up until the fracking revolution, there was a strategic reason to keep Canadian oil and gas flowing to the US. That reason has gone.

It is a Canadian pasttime to bash Americans. All the more so with Trump in office. Where that comes from is not obvious but the reserves of anti-Americanism in Canada are, apparently, bottomless. And those reserves are filling fast as the American economy under Trump revives and thrives in contrast to Canada’s. I have no idea if Trump is Making America Great Again, however he is, unambigously, making America Rich Again. And he is doing that through tax cuts and deregulation which are anathema to the economic illiterates who surround Trudeau and infest the Finance Department. Normally, when the US economy surges, Canada enjoys a knockon effect. But between nitwit “carbon taxes” and unnecessary “trade wars” and an apparent inability to build pipelines, Canada is going in the opposite direction.

Between now and next Canada Day I suspect it is a good bet that Canada will make itself poorer. The only question is how much poorer.

If the PMO and the Liberal Party really think they will be able to run against Trump in a little over a year they have to pray that he does not continue to deliver jobs, growth, prosperity and a reassertion of American might internationally. They have to hope Trump will, somehow, be impeached, or lose the mid-terms decisively, or have his economic policies crash or walk into some other disaster – because if Trump’s successes continue and the Democrats fail to win big in November, he is going to be a much less attractive target.

Yes, if Trump does tariff cars at 20% he’ll be demonized all over the world. But where it counts, in the car plants in Ontario and in the parts manufactories, there is not going to be much left. Rail at Trump all you want, the fact is that it will be Trudeau who was dumb enough to poke the bear for political points.

I hope all my Canadian readers enjoy our National Holiday. And then I hope all my American readers enjoy July 4. In a year, we will still be celebrating Canada Day but, unless our politicians smarten up, we will be a poorer and less consequential nation than we are now. And, worse, that condition may very well be permenant as our jobs flow south.

This Canada Day our situation is serious but, with intelligence, not fatal. Next year?

Happy Canada Day!

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Canada Day in the Age of ISIS

imagesCanada Day is going to be hot and sunny in my part of the world. Living flags, obscure multi-cultural bands and, later fireworks with routine police checks of everyone riding the buses to make sure no one is actually carrying a beer to the festivities.

Sounds like fun and it is. But this year there is just a hint of caution. Do I really want to take my family into a crowded place? Sure, there is tons of security – those cops will take away your kettle bomb as well as your beer. Chatter is being monitored. CSIS and the Horsemen are on the job.

There is an argument that if you hesitate, if you alter your behaviour in any way, the terrorists have won. It is a good argument but unconvincing. Back in the day, a decade ago, rowdy teenagers were the only issue at Canada Day festivities. Hardly a big deal. Now we have the niggling suspicion that even with Canada’s excellent security services, whack job “lone wolves” are a live possibility.

Looking at the pictures and video from Tunisia, the carnage inflicted by one (or perhaps two) gunmen armed with automatic weapons is dreadful. But one evil Islamist in a F-150 pick-up could do equal damage in a crowd.

Security is always a balance between resources and threat. In Canada, for the moment, the threat seems to be relatively minimal and somewhat contained. Yet I would have said the same thing before the Islamic terrorist shot up the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.

Canada Day celebrations across the country are now targets and the security services wisely treat them as such. Which, I think, tells you how far our situation has deteriorated.

For a variety of reasons I do not like Bill C-51. It is too broad, it lacks essential oversight, it invites abuse. But I agree with the impetus behind the Bill. There are terrorists abroad in the Dominion. They are motivated by support for Islam. They need to be found, stopped, and their networks rolled up. The Tunisians knew where to look – they closed 80 mosques.

If we are going to have our security services deal with terror they need the tools to do it and they need strict oversight and real consequences if they abuse those tools. I wrote about that here. We also need to stop adding fuel to what, in Canada, is still a very small fire. As we lack the resources to positively vet immigrants from majority Muslim nations, we need to have a moratorium on immigration from those nations save for the minorities in those nations who are being slaughtered by ISIS and its ideological allies. And we have to stop pretending that Islam has nothing to do with Islamic terrorists who commit their crimes in the name of Allah.

Canada Day celebrates the birthday of an extraordinary nation. A nation which has welcomed newcomers for its entire life. To keep that nation strong and free, we have to have the gumption to prevent its invasion by people who do not share our broadly held values and whose ideology (masked as a religion) means that they never will. Our security services can, I hope, deal with the potential terrorists who are already here; but asking them to deal with wave after wave of people who will not accept, much less share, our democratic commitments is too much. Sooner rather than later we need to understand and confront the Islamic threat to Canada and the West.

Meanwhile, enjoy the day!

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Happy Dominion Day!

Sure we have a logo for a flag and Pride has taken over the festivities in TO but, what the heck, Canada is a pretty amazing country and I am proud of her.

There is always room for improvement. There are always busy bodies who want to impose their version of “the good” at the cost of our freedom. But, far too gradually, we are pushing back.

We won on s. 13. And now the feds are making it more difficult for rent a protestors to hijack critical resource projects. We are winning – largely by default – on the global warming scam. (When was the last time you heard a Canadian politician actually do anything about the not very scary AGW file?)

At the federal, though not the provincial, level politicians are coming to grips with the fact that fiscal prudence is actually sensible in even the middle run. No, Harper has not moved quickly enough to reduce the size and cost of government. Perhaps he will as the Opposition falls further into disarray. (What is to be done about the profligate provinces is intractable. BC seems to have some clue but Alberta seems determined to blow its natural advantages. And what is going on in Ontario? Racing Quebec to bankruptcy is not a very clever strategy.)

Where Harper has really shone is on the foreign affairs file. If you begin with the position that Israel is, realistically, the only nation in the Middle East with which Canada has any affinity, the rest is straightforward. Stay the Hell away from disasters like Syria, stand up to Islamic bullies, provide safe haven to the victims of the more medieval Muslim elements.

But here is what PM Harper said today on Parliament Hill:

They’ve set an example for the rest of the country, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.

“When floods forced so many from their homes, communities dug deep, neighbours helped neighbours and people sheltered complete strangers,” he said.

“That’s the spirit that makes Canada the best country in the world. The best, bar none.”…

“Canada is not just any country, but a people determined to do right — a fact that makes me proud as we approach the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of our country,” he said.

“Compassionate neighbours, courageous warriors, and confident partners, a bastion of freedom in an un-free world, a standard-bearer of goodwill, in a time when too many choose to hate, a land of hope in a sea of uncertainty.”

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