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 […]
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.
A nation is a group of people who share the same illusions about themselves. Academics call it imagining a community. Vancouver cyberpunk novelist William Gibson calls it “consensual hallucination.” Whatever you call it, April Fools seems like a good opportunity to think about some of the illusions Canadians have about ourselves.
One illusion we share is that we don’t know enough about our own history. The arrival of Canada Day invariably brings with it another poll showing how few Canadians can name three prime ministers, or know the words to the national anthem, or some other piece of national esoterica. The implication being a) this is a bad thing and b) people in other countries know more. Both these assumptions are wrong. The same polls, with the same results, appear with regularity in the United States and I imagine in other countries as well. Canadians may not know much history, but neither does anyone else.
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).
“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.
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.
August 20, 2011
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.
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.
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.
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)