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.
Jack Layton’s last letter to Canadians was, as everyone was told from the very beginning, a collegial affair. Layton, party president Brian Topp, chief of staff Anne McGrath, and his wife and colleague Olivia Chow all had input into the final draft.
The letter was hortatory rhetoric, defined as writing that encourages its audience to pursue, or not pursue, some course of action rather than another.
In 1980, Pierre Trudeau defeated Joe Clark’s bumbling regime and formed a new Liberal government. However, he faced a serious problem constructing his cabinet. The voters of western Canada showed they did not much like the prime minister who had taunted them with the question, “Why should I sell your wheat?”
With the passing of Jack Layton last week we’ve lost a charismatic and engaging leader and a strong voice for our country. We’ve also lost one of our biggest advocates for young Canadians. One of the things I loved the most about Jack was his commitment to engaging young people and encouraging their participation in politics. I became involved with the NDP while studying at the University of Ottawa. In September 2006 I went down to a small bar on campus where Jack and his wife Olivia Chow were coming to talk to students. There was no election on and no campaign in sight; they were just taking time to check in.
Stephen Harper restored the “Royal” in Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy. He had no need to in the case of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or the Royal Mint. In the case of the military changes, who can say if it’s a good or a bad idea? It draws attention to Canada’s heritage. It will cost millions in terms of simple things like changes in stationery.
However, constitutionally ill-informed critics have had a field day. “Harper is re-colonializing Canada.” “Canadians are becoming subordinate to the Queen of England.”
Our friend and contributor to The Canadian Encyclopedia, Alan Whitehorn of the Royal Military College of Canada, explains the significance of Jack Layton’s legacy and the unique role of the New Democratic Party in Canada on Radio Canada International. Some highlights:
On August 22, 2011, Jack Layton, the leader of the New Democrats, died after a brief and aggressive battle with an unnamed cancer. He was 61. Just months before, he led his party to unprecedented electoral success, becoming the Official Opposition in this year’s federal election in his last amazing race.
Everything about Jack Layton’s rally at Montreal’s Olympia Theatre, the biggest campaign event ever staged by the NDP in Quebec, had a sort of retro flair. There was the 1925 theatre itself, with its rococo red-and-gold plaster details. There was the lead-on band, the aptly named Quebec group Tracteur Jack, which played hopped-up swing. When Layton made his grand entrance, wading through a roaring crowd of more than 1,200, jauntily wielding the wooden cane he carries after hip surgery, he leapt to the podium like a barnstorming politician of old. Now that he’s 60, that signature moustache, which once recalled the disco era, looks more like a tribute to his social-democratic forebears. Some of his applause lines have a time-honoured left-wing ring, too. “A prime minister’s job,” he declares to cheers, “is to make sure the government works for those who have elected him, and not for big corporations.”
The intention of the Government of Canada in its August 2011 re-designation of three components of the Canadian Forces, namely Maritime Command, Land Force Command and Air Command as the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force has been met with praise and derision by civilians and armed forces personnel alike. The government contends the restoration of these historical names is important to our heritage and is necessary to improve pride in the armed forces. Critics harp on several themes, including the expense of the name changes and more fundamentally, the nature of our constitutional monarchy.
Every Indian in B.C. who could and would work was employed, yet Aboriginal people were defined as lazy and irresponsible
On March 15, 1843, the fur trader James Douglas arrived at the south end of Vancouver Island on board the steam vessel Beaver to establish Fort Victoria for the Hudson’s Bay Company. The arrival of Douglas and his men occurred on the exact day that a bright comet with an extremely long tail appeared in the sky. Known to posterity as the Great Comet of 1843, it was so brilliant that it could be seen in daylight and it was visible for more than a week. It is not known whether the Lekwungen (Songhees) people who inhabited southern Vancouver Island associated the arrival of strangers with the sudden bright light in the sky. They had been having intermittent contact with Europeans for some time and must have known the newcomers were not mysterious gods. On the other hand, as John Lutz points out in his book Makúk: A New History of Aboriginal-White Relations (UBC Press), Lekwungen cosmology did propose that the first human had fallen from the sky in the form of a meteor. The local inhabitants might well have given special meaning to the coincidental arrivals of comet and pale-skinned intruders. Read More
Very few things are as gleeful and inherently entertaining as a politician – usually so staid and serious – dusting off his tap shoes and taking to the stage. In anticipation of Harper’s cameo on Murdoch Mysteries tonight, we present a roundup of our favourite moments of Canadian politicians in the limelight.
At Buckingham Palace in 1977, Pierre Trudeau was caught twirling a pirouette behind an oblivious Queen Elizabeth II during the G7 summit in London. The act was seized upon by both admirers and detractors. To the former, it signified his maverick charm and refusal to bow to pomp and aristocracy. To the latter, it was evidence of his irreverence and calculated showmanship. Trudeau’s was a pirouette that divided the nation. Read More
I had the most remarkable sense of historical context while reading Deborah Lipstadt’s book The Eichmann Trial at the very time President Barack Obama announced that American forces had invaded Pakistan and killed Osama Bin Laden. Lipstadt recounts the remarkable reaction in the United States to Eichmann’s abduction from Argentina.
If I were to ask you who you are, what answer would you give? The answer in this case is difficult because of the lack of context.
There are many possible identities that we might have. Some we choose for ourselves and others people try to impose on us. In the recent debate over the long-gun registry, the prime minister has apparently tried make me understand myself as something called an urban dweller. Urban dwellers are apparently fundamentally at odds with people called farmers who live in rural areas who need long guns to shoot rabbits and gophers. I think it quite reasonable for farmers to shoot rabbits. The rabbit who inhabits my back yard wreaks considerable havoc, though not sufficient to incline me to acquire a rifle and send him to bunny heaven.