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The Most Famous Spoiler of Canada Celebration

This April we will mark the 100th anniversary of the highly symbolic victory of the Canadian soldiers at Vimy Ridge, and the 150th year of Confederation will come in July. But there will be some 50th and 25th anniversaries that resonate mainly or only in Quebec. Of 1967 and 1992, I retain strong recollections. In 1966-67, I was taking half a dozen history courses at Sir George Williams, to qualify for graduate studies at McGill. I had lived in Montreal some years earlier, but had grown up and taken previous undergraduate studies elsewhere, and was nearing thirty, so was almost a decade older than the mass of baby boomers arriving at all campuses in 1965-75. I had been reading history for many years, and scarcely encountered television until my twenties, so I often felt like a visitor from a disappearing older civilization. Montreal, especially on the francophone side, was full of the continent-wide youthful fevers. As elsewhere, much of these centred on opposition to the American war in Vietnam. But there was as much or more local noise coming from intensified and recently radicalized nationalism. Excitement had been stirred earlier, by the death of Duplessis, the reforming Papacy of John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council, and the state expansion and modernization launched by the Lesage Liberals in the first half of the decade, not much reversed by the last Union Nationale governments of Daniel Johnson and Jean-Jacques Bertrand in the second half. However, there was also good cheer in Montreal about the future of a united Canada. Montreal was Canada's largest and richest city, its business and financial head offices booming, and its population growing rapidly. Jean Drapeau, in youth himself a fiery right-wing Quebec nationalist, had proved an energetic and imaginative Mayor, and in co-operation with the Pearson… Read More

Leitch: I do have 22 letters at the end of my name, I’m not an idiot

  Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch is on a crusade against the elites. But it's not going well for her, and all those letters after her name are partly to blame. The Prince Arthur Herald has obtained an audio clip of Leitch berating a Conservative Party supporter and using her titles to show her intelligence. Partway into a discussion at an event with young Conservative Party members in Montreal on Thursday evening, Leitch responds to criticism by proclaiming: "Please understand that I do have 22 letters at the end of my name, I'm not an idiot." Her parliamentary profile reads her official title as The Hon. Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, P.C., O.Ont., M.D., M.B.A., F.R.C.S.(C) There are actually 16 letters after her name. Including "the Hon. Dr." before her name brings the total to 24. Leitch was being questioned about her plans to abolish the Indian Act without consulting aboriginal groups by a man who does not have 22 letters after his name. "I have thought through all of the details with respect to what we should do in order to make sure people feel full at the end of the process," Leitch continues. "But the short of it, the first step, we have to eliminate the Indian Act." By all accounts, Leitch is a very accomplished woman. She earned her MD at U of T, received an MBA from Dalhousie, has taught at the University of Western Ontario, worked in several distinguished medical organizations, and she's a former Minister of the Crown and current Member of Parliament. Those jobs come with important titles. And Dr. Leitch loves her titles. As already reported by Maclean's, Leitch went into a fit of rage when "Doctor" was excluded from her Party business cards during the 2015 general election. "This is unacceptable. Even the prime minister [Stephen Harper] introduced me as… Read More

Advice from a 17th Century French Aristocrat for Public Figures of Our Times.

François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac, (1613-1680) was one of the finest writers of maxims. The carol 'Good King Wenceslas' is about a 10th century Bohemian monarch, now patron saint of Czechs; its melody is from 16th c. Finland, the English lyrics from 1853. For Christmas this year, the notion came to me that, with a few judicious adjustments, a dozen of the Duc's maxims could be sung to the melody of the carol, as good advice to some celebrated folk of our time.   Advice from a 17th Century French Aristocrat for Public Figures of Our Times.   Re-reading La Rochefoucauld, found us still his brothers; Had we no faults., be less pleased, finding fault in others. And take one on success eased, done in manner steady: Always pretend, when you can, you're success alrea-dy. Donald Trump   Judging speeches aimed at you, use this firm foundation: Sincerity is found in few, much dissimulation. Self-reflection seldom nails, how two things we sever: All admit their memory fails, but their judgement ne-ver. Hillary Clinton   Don't expect the world will bless, nor for it to hopes kill, Temper rules our happiness, just as much as fate will. Need to watch out what believed, when you're shaped by druthers; Simplest way to be deceived, think you out-think others. Bill Maher   When we're old and give advice, it's without elation: As we can't now practise vice, warn as consolation. While we can't still coolish be, nor an early riser, In old age more foolish we, also are much wi-ser. Conrad Black   Bad behaviour isn't nice, though it comes with cheap trick: Vice to virtue pays a price, hypo-crisy laid thick. While we pretend to be kind, schadenfreude we treasure, Friends' misfortune we don't find, causes our disple-asure.… Read More

CPC Leadership – The Case for Kevin O’Leary

Despite not having officially announced his candidacy for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, business magnate Kevin O’Leary is effectively in the running. On Monday, O’Leary held a luncheon for Conservative Members of Parliament in Ottawa. At the luncheon, attended by roughly 20 Conservative Members of Parliament and Senators, O’Leary delivered a speech. Throughout his speech, O’Leary took shots at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, dubbing him “surfer dude.” He expressed frustration over the management of the economy, and said he can beat Trudeau in 2019. Can he? Right now, it’s hard to definitively answer that question. Considering Trudeau is only in his first term, that will be a daunting task, but O’Leary will shake things up more than any of the other 14 declared candidates currently in the race. And that alone makes him a top contender for the Tory leadership. What does “Mr. Wonderful” bring to the race? While he doesn’t need an introduction as much as the other candidates, it’s worth going over O’Leary’s background first. His background differs greatly from the other candidates, and indeed other prominent politicians. That in itself is one of his potential strengths. Kevin O’Leary was born to an Irish father and a Lebanese-Canadian mother in 1954 in Montreal. After his father’s early passing, O’Leary took his mother as a source of inspiration. He often credits her with teaching him about savings, and inspiring him to make the jump into the world of business. In addition, O’Leary was inspired by seeing the frustrations and hardships a middle-class family, and even more so a single mother, often face. After studying business and years working in the world of business, O’Leary was involved in deals worth millions of dollars, if not more, by the 1990s. As an outsider, Kevin O’Leary can appeal to… Read More

EDITORIAL: Liberal survey makes a mockery of democratic reform

At all cost, governments must prevent the people from asking, "What do they take us for?". This is the question provoked by the latest iteration of the Liberals' however-we'll-spin-it-this-week strategy on electoral reform. MyDemocracy.ca invites Canadians to answer a few dozen questions – or perhaps more accurately: a dozen questions asked a few different ways – about their values regarding the electoral system and other matters of democratic reform. Unfortunately, the poll avoids the most important matters of concern to both sides of the electoral reform debate, and should not be taken seriously as an effort at advancing the discussion. This survey would not have been so terrible had it not seemed so obviously an effort to make a pesky election promise go away. The Prime Minister has already said – in a French-language interview with the Devoir from October – that ditching first-past-the-post is now less important, given that it has delivered his own party to power instead of Stephen Harper's. This confirms a disappointing but fundamental insight about the politics of electoral reform: first-past-the-post is an unmatchably convenient system for the party that has won power. To any such party, dismantling FTFP rightly appears against its self-interest, and using bad excuses to keep it in place seems politically justifiable. Directly polling the population was once treated by the government as some kind of offence to the country's minority groups – this is the reason for which Minister Monsef would not entertain a referendum. Now, the Liberals' chosen alternative – community outreach and a cross-party committee – has produced recommendations for a referendum with an option to allocate parliamentary seats in better proportion to the popular vote. The government's language has implied great respect for Canadians and their democracy. It is time that the government's actions live up to its words. Neither… Read More

Max Aitken and the limits of unidirectional power

The Canadian who did most to change the world in the first half of the 20th century did so as a a British tycoon. Max Aitken, First Baron Beaverbrook (1879-1964), a small pixie in appearance, was a phenomenon of energy. Son of a Scottish clergyman, growing up in New Brunswick, he made his first fortune in Canada as a bold and adventurous company promoter and stockbroker, becoming a millionaire before he was thirty. He left permanently for Britain in 1910 and became a Commons MP less than a year later. He then set about becoming the richest and most politically influential of the British press barons. He built the Daily Express, from a circulation of 40,000 when he acquired it, into a giant, with hundreds of thousands of readers by the end of the 1920s; after 1945 it reached daily sales of almost 4 million, highest of any newspaper in the world. By then, he owned as well a large string of other newspapers and businesses, and maintained a dozen luxurious homes in England, France, Canada, and the U.S., famous as well for his many affairs and for the lively conversation of his dinner table. Aitken was both a whirlwind business expansionist and a writer of real talent. Near the end of his life, over eighty and dying of cancer, he still sometimes telephoned orders to his employees, barking “You gotta say...you gotta say...” I knew some Daily Express reporters in London in the early 1960s; an otherwise irreverent crew, they all held "the Beaver" in awe. They recognized his astuteness about what readers wanted, and his own literary gifts. His many books included three brilliant ones about British politics in the First World War. He also hired other first-class writers, including Evelyn Waugh, who lampooned him in two of his… Read More
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