Literature
hot art joshua knelman

Hot Art: a fast-paced true crime story of the seedy underbelly of international art theft.

Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives though the Secret World of Stolen Art
Joshua Knelman
Toronto/Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2011

From the middle ages until 1995 there was something in the south London borough of Bermondsey called a market ouvert. Anything sold in this market between sunset and dawn, literally under the cover of darkness, conveyed legal title to the purchase, no matter how dodgy its provenance. Unscrupulous dealers bought antiques and fine art from even more dishonest burglars and conmen, who likely acquired them within the previous twelve hours. If you have ever bought an antique in London, there is a chance that it was stolen. Bermondsey, literally, was a thieves’ market.

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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
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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
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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Politics
Primary Loyalties

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.

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Politics
Primary Loyalties

NDP Leader Ed Broadbent, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Progressive Conservative Party Leader Joe Clark during a televised debate during the 1979 election. May 13, 1979.

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?”

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In the News
Politics
Primary Loyalties

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.”

Poppycock.
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Politics
Primary Loyalties
Pierre Trudeau at the polls

Pierre Trudeau at the polls

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.

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Politics
Primary Loyalties

Parliament Building
Does Stephen Harper have a hidden agenda? This was a question that many people asked about him in the last two elections. Many came to the conclusion that he didn’t. They thought that the Conservative Party was business as usual. The prime minister might be aloof. Perhaps he was a control freak. Even though you didn’t want Michael Ignatieff dropping in at your BBQ, Harper was your guest from hell.

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In the News
Primary Loyalties

Since the Second World War, Canada has experienced inflation of one sort or another. At times the inflation has been mild. It would have taken $1.13 in 1955 to buy what $1.00 bought in 1950 and only $1.10 in 2005 for a dollar’s worth of the same goods and services in 2000. In other periods […]