In the News
Politics
Nova Scotia House of Assembly Chamber. Charles Paul Hoffman, 2009.

Nova Scotians elected a new government on Tuesday, delivering a crushing defeat to premier Darrell Dexter’s New Democrats and installing in their place the Liberals under incoming premier Stephen McNeil. The Liberals won a huge majority of 33 seats versus only 11 for the Progressive Conservatives and seven for the NDP. The Liberal majority came […]

History
Politics
armoured-carrier-NATO
Founding members of NATO

Founding members of NATO, 1949 (Hulton Archives, HB-7277).

On 4 April 1949, in the auditorium of the State Department on Washington’s Constitution Avenue, the foreign ministers of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and eight other countries signed the North Atlantic Treaty. An armed attack on one member, the treaty’s Article 5 pledged, would be an armed attack on them all.

The leading historian of the event called it a Second American Revolution, radically transforming United States foreign policy. It was no less a revolution for Canada. North America was engaging itself in the security of Europe for the long haul.

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History
In the News
Politics
Delta Force of Task Force 20 alongside troops of 3rd Battalion (image by Futuretrillionaire)

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, when US-led troops entered the city of Baghdad with the goal of  toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime and destroying the country’s weapons of mass destruction. The invasion was relatively brief: Baghdad fell weeks later, and on May 1 then-U.S. president George W. Bush declared that the mission was accomplished. The weapons of mass destruction were not found, but the goal of the invasion shifted to stabilizing Iraq and solidifying it as a Western ally. The invasion and occupation claimed the lives of 4,487 U.S. combat troops, 179 UK servicemen and women, between 97,461 and 106,348 Iraqi civilians and displaced an estimated 1.6 million Iraqis. The invasion cost the U.S. between from $802 billion to $3 trillion (figures from the BBC).

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Film
Politics
Jack Layton

“Jack”, the new biopic on the late Jack Layton, tells the story of romance and politics behind the charismatic NDP leader. It premiers on Sunday, March 10 on CBC.

History
Politics
doukhobor-pilgrims-header
Peter Verigin's powerful personality enabled the Doukhobors to weather their difficult first decades in Canada (courtesy NAC/C-8882, photo 1902).

Peter Verigin’s powerful personality enabled the Doukhobors to weather their difficult first decades in Canada (courtesy NAC/C-8882, photo 1902).

For over a day they trudged through the city in pairs, 700 men, women and children, carrying boards on their shoulders. Bewildered spectators watched. It was the port city of Batum, Russia, in December 1898. The 700 were volunteers from a large group of Doukhobors, Russian dissenters, preparing for the largest single migration across the Atlantic to North America.

Four groups crossed the ocean in ships intended for freight and livestock. The first group sailed on the Beaver Line’s steamer Lake Huron. Before sailing, the immigrants prepared the ship, building bunks in the hold from the lumber they had carried across the city and loading it with enough supplies to feed 2,140 people during the month-long journey. Nearly 200 stowed away, hiding in the bedding and among the coals of the boiler room. On January 20, 1899, when they reached Halifax, 2,300 Doukhobors disembarked.

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Politics
Jack Layton

August 20, 2011

Dear Friends,

Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.

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History
Literature
Politics

Maverick Sage

In Eugene Forsey, Canada’s Maverick Sage (Dundern Press), Helen Forsey talks about hearing her father’s typewriter as he banged away on it in his study. Eugene Forsey was a prolific writer—the sound of that typewriter must have comprised the background noise of Helen’s childhood. It is also  something of a keystone for her current awareness of her father, for it is through his writing that she explored his life to produce this book, which is not exactly a biography, though it tells the story of a life. It is much more—a book about Canadian history and public policy and what Ms. Forsey calls “a kit filled with the tools that he left us”—a manual for pursuing a true state of democracy.

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Politics
Primary Loyalties
Dalton McGuinty

Dalton McGuinty, premier of Ontario, 2003 to present (courtesy University of Western Ontario).

As election outcomes go, the results in Ontario’s seem pretty reasonable, though to some extent troubling as well.

In 2005 Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government introduced legislation creating fixed election dates. Elections were to be held the first Thursday in October, starting in 2007 and repeating every four years. There is similar legislation in every province, except Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. The federal government passed legislation proving for four year terms, but within two years Prime Minister Harper ignored the statute and called a general election, hoping to win a majority.

Fixed election dates take away the premier or prime minister’s ability to call snap elections for partisan advantage. All the parties know about the date in advance and can prepare for the campaign. The electoral system is fairer as a result.

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Politics
Primary Loyalties
Pierre Trudeau
Pierre Trudeau

Photo Credit: Agence France-Presse

Pierre Trudeau and I got off to a bad start. I left Canada in 1967 to study in England. Robert Stanfield had just become leader of the Progressive Conservative party and he struck me as an intelligent progressive politician. The British newspapers have never carried much news about Canada, so I knew little about the former justice minister who won the leadership of the Liberal party in 1968. I was astounded when he led the Liberals to victory.

In 1970 I completed my PhD and, in September, I accepted a teaching position at Mount Allison University in the tranquillity of rural New Brunswick. Within two months or so of arriving home, Pierre Trudeau proclaimed the War Measures Act and stripped me of most of my civil liberties.

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Politics
Primary Loyalties
Taxes
William G. Davis

Davis was leader of one of the most successful political parties in any democracy, the Ontario Conservative Party (Canapress).

William G. Davis, “Brampton Billy”, was premier of Ontario from 1971 to 1982. As the minister of education he presided over the massive expansion of the Ontario system of higher education, transforming its universities from cash-starved and dormant institutions to some of the finest in the world. He also was the person most responsible for the creation of the community college system. TVO, the educational TV network, was his construction.

As premier, he introduced regional government in Waterloo and other places, expanded the health care system, played an extremely important role in creating support for the Charter and, toward the end of his premiership, guaranteed full funding for Roman Catholic separate schools.

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In the News
Politics
Stephen Harper and President Obama
Stephen Harper and President Obama

Prime Minister Stephen Harper shakes hands with U.S. President Barack Obama after a joint news conference in Washington on Feb. 4, 2011. (The Canadian Press)

In a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President Barack Obama thanked Canadians for their support in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

“It is often said that the United States and Canada are great neighbours, trading partners and the best of friends…In one of the darkest moments in our history, Canada stood by our side and showed itself to be a true friend.” (The Toronto Star)

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In the News
Politics
Primary Loyalties
9-11-flag


September 11, 2001 was the day of my mother-in-law’s funeral. Mary passed away at the age of ninety-eight. She had known the cruelty and suffering of war first hand. The youngest in her family, she was barely a teenager when two of her brothers died in France in the First World War. Her favourite brother, the one closest to her in age, was one of the million or so soldiers and civilians who was wounded by an enemy gas. Although Hal survived the attack, his health was seriously compromised for the rest of his life. Mary still had the postcards her brothers sent her from France when she died.

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