I’m pretty sure it’s just a minor head cold ~ the outdoor temperatures have been up and down lately ~ but I feel a bit miserable so I’m taking a day or two to rest and recuperate.
Tom Mulcair, a pretty savvy politician I think we can all agree, says, in an opinion piece in the Ottawa Citizen, that “Anyone who entertained doubts that Justin Trudeau is doing everything he can to clear the runway for a spring election only had to look at events of last week to understand that he’s going to go to the polls as soon as he decently can … [because] … From gun control to language rights, Team Trudeau has been checking the boxes on unfulfilled promises and making new ones on the pandemic front.“
And, as Jean Chrétien’s former “war-room” boss and now political commentator Warren Kinsella says, in the Toronto Sun, whoever leaked a “cringe worthy” and “puerile” video of Erin O’Tool and an outhouse is tying to make sure he wins a solid majority with ease. Mr Kinsella guesses that “someone” is on Mr O’Toole’s team and he (Kinsella) recommends some blood-letting.
Mr Mulcair praises Mélanie Joly for what he calls here “sterling” work on the language file. Even though, as I said a few days ago, I believe it is going to damage national unity, he says, and I agree, that Team Trudeau has “pulled off a classic Liberal masterstroke: fortifying key parts of his base and making them inaccessible to his opponents.”
Bill Blair, Tom Mulcair opines, was far less successful with the gun control file. It is, in fact, incoherent, and stupid is not to strong a word, and while it may do real, measurable harm to the few remaining Liberals who hold rural seats, especially in Québec it, dumb or not, is going to play well, I think, in urban Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and even Edmonton where fear of gun violence is, with good reason, pervasive ~ because progressive politicians are afraid to tackle gangs and illegal guns ~ even if it is confined to a very few neighbourhoods.
Prime Minister Trudeau’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been dreadful. He has demonstrated, beyond any shadow of a doubt that he is totally incapable of leading anything. When other leaders, like Australia’s Scott Morrison, for example, were, a year ago, closing their air borders, thus partially containing the “importation” of the virus, Justin Trudeau, was, for his own reasons, allowing visitors from e.g. China and Iran and Europe and so on to enter Canada without even having their temperatures taken at Canadian airports. His actions were so negligent that they border on being criminal. But the media barely bothered; in fact some journalists joined him in condemning travel bans as being racist … apparently stupidity is contagious, too. Then, when other leaders including even Donald Trump, were actually ‘Securing” guaranteed delivery of vaccines, he failed, again, because, I think, he was too busy trying to cover up his and his family’s involvement in the WE Charity Scandal. But the media, in the main, has allowed him to skate past both failures and now many journalists are busy spreading “good news” stories that vaccines will arrive “soon.” While the WE Charity thing is back in a parliamentary committee, the media has, essentially ignored it. Neither it nor the Uyghur genocide thing will be allowed to stick to Justin Trudeau. Mr Mulcair suggests that if things, finally, go well, likely of their own accord rather than any prime ministerial effort, “those those promises would mean that by late spring, most Canadians would be looking back at the pandemic.“
Tom Mulcair says that Québec is the key to Liberal success. He assumes, I suppose, that Erin O’Toole cannot make the breakthrough he must have in Ontario’s suburbs if he is to have any hope of victory. In Québec, he says, both the NDP and the Greens are “inconsequential,” and since Québec is a generally progressive place and since he perceives that the Bloc “tilts more and more right wing on key social issues,” even if the Liberals lose a handful of rural seats he suggest that a Trudeau victory, even a majority, is likely. I’m afraid he may be right.
It’s story time. Once upon time,* about 25 to 30 years ago, in the mid 1990s, when I was the director of a small, very specialized team in National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ) in Ottawa, something like this happened: One of my colleague, who had a title like Director of Maritime Requirements or something similar said to one of his principle subordinates, “Look, now that the 280s (Canada had four Tribal Class destroyers with pennant numbers starting at 280, they were often just called “280s”) are finished their mid-life refit and now that the new frigates are entering service it is time to put a “placeholder” in the DSP for their eventual replacements.” The DSP was (still is?) the Defence Services Programme, it is the internal document which sets out the long range spending plans (maybe hopes is a better word) for the Canadian Armed Forces.
Anyway, the Navy commander (the officer assigned to write the document, not the Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy who is nicknamed the Kraken (CRCN)) sat at his desk and consulted the most recently approved planning document which, as far as I can remember, called for a surface fleet of 25 combat vessels and four large support ships plus numerous minor war vessels (like minesweepers) and training vessels. The officer then prepared a memorandum for the joint planning staff which said that the Navy would need 25 new combat ships, to be procured between about 2015 and 2035, in five “batches” of five ships each** at a total cost of about $100 Billion, in 2025 dollars. He didn’t say much beyond that, actually, he was just intending to “reserve” some money a generation or so in the future. His memorandum sailed, smoothly, past his boss and the commodore but questions came from a very senior Air Force general: Where he asked, did the $100 Billion come from? That was an outrageous number, he said.
A meeting ensure where the Navy engineering people came and said, “$100 Billion is a very reasonable guesstimate. Our brand new frigate are costing $1 Billion each when they come down the slipway. They will each have cost the taxpayers two to three times that by the time we send them to be broken up thirty or forty years from now. Adding in the inevitable costs of new technology and inflation, which we know is higher for things like military ships and aircraft than it is for consumer goods, then a life-cycle cost of $4 Billion for each ship is very conservative. The admirals and generals huffed and puffed but they didn’t argue ~ they knew that the engineering branch insisted on using life cycle costing, even though no-one but them understood it, and they also knew that arguing with engineers is like mud-wrestling with pigs: everyone gets dirty but the pigs love it.
A decade later, when a new government was planning the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, which was all about making the Canadian shipbuilding industry competitive and had very little to do with ships ~ except they would be the “product” for which the Government of Canada would pay top-dollar, the Navy was told it could have fewer ships, in two classes, and someone ~ NOT the military’s engineering branch ~ assigned a cost figure to the project which was, to be charitable, pulled out of some political/public relations staffers arse.
Which bings me to an article by Scott Gilmore in Maclean’s magazine in which he expresses shock at the fact that 15 major warships are, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer [here is the link to his report] going to cost something like $5 Billion each. Remember, please, that 25ish years ago the Navy’s engineers told the HQ senior staff that $4 Billion per ship was a conservative guesstimate. The fact that both Yves Giroux, the Parliamentary Budget Officer and Mr Gilmore, who is a regular Maclean’s columnist, a former foreign service officer who now self-describes as a “social entrepreneur” and is married to Minister of Infrastructure Catherine McKenna, seem surprised leads me to believe that neither understands much of anything about the costs of military hardware or life-cycle costing, either. Mr Gilmore, says that “Canada could buy similar frigates from the Americans, French or even Australians. Our current price tag is between four and five times more expensive than theirs.” That’s arrant nonsense and if Mr Gilmore doesn’t understand that it’s nonsense then he needs a lot of remedial education about procurement and engineering. The life cycle costs of American, Australian, British, Canadian, and Danish warships of similar capabilities will all be similar when adjusted (not too much, actually) for local circumstances. Canada is paying a premium because successive Conservative and Liberal governments-of-the-day have decided that, for valid strategic reasons, Canada needs a healthy shipbuilding industry as part of its industrial base. I eagerly await Mr Gilmore’s explanation as to why that is not true.
Canada is a maritime nation. Canada is a trading nation and it has the longest coast-line in the world. Only the most unbelievably stupid people do not understand that Canada needs a large and capable Navy. And only another group, who are nearly as stupid, believes that we should or actually can rely upon others to build our ships for us when we really need them. Mr Gilmore’s suggestion that we should buy our warships from overseas sounds like something the Canada China Business Council or the governments of France or Spain might advocate, it certainly is not in Canada’s strategic interests.
Warships are expensive. No one denies that. But Canada is a G7 nation, one of the world’s top-ten richest nations, and if we want to stay in those exclusive clubs we need to do a full and fair share of keeping the world safe for global trade ~ and that means keeping the sea lanes open for all. That requires a globally capable Navy. That Navy requires first rate warships. Canada may, as the Parliamentary Budget Officer suggests, require a mixed fleet ~ but not, as his report suggests, three or four Type 26 ships and a dozen of the smaller, less capable British Type 31s that are still in the design stage …
… a more correct “mixed fleet” is 12 of the very capable Type 26 ships and 12 smaller (say 2,500± ton displacement) fast, ocean going corvettes:
What’s the difference? The bigger, much more expensive, Type 26 ships have a very long range, they can stay at sea for weeks at a time, with underway refuelling and resupply, and they are a capable of a full rage of combat missions. Corvettes (and Type 31 frigates) are smaller, have less endurance ~ a corvette can cross the Atlantic or the Pacific with ease, but it is not designed to spend weeks and weeks, even a couple of months at sea without making port. Some corvettes are especially designed for air-defence, and others for e.g. anti-submarine operations and some a general purpose, able to do a bit of everything but nothing as well as a Type 26 can do. But they are much cheaper to buy and to operate ~ that life cycle cost thing again ~ than are the larger, more capable Type 26 Canadian Surface Combatants.
The Canadians shipbuilding industry was allowed, since the late 1960s, to stagnate. Governments are not totally to blame for the poor shape that the shipbuilding sector was in but the federal government is able to offer a support programme to get it back into better shape. Part of that “support” involves having a steady stream of government work ~ year-after-year and decade-after-decade (that’s why that long forgotten Navy commander said 25 ships built over, say, 15 years, in five “batches” of five ships each ~ so that shipyards have some financial stability. Of course, we can buy all our ships from others … from the Americans or from the Chinese, if they will sell to us when it suits us, but is that what most Canadians really want? And would that be in our national interest? I am 100% sure the answer to both questions is: No!
I hope many readers will take note of Mr Gilmore’s opinion and agree that it is rubbish.
* The story is true, in general, but I was not directly involved in any of it. I learned about what happened from three main sources: 1. routine briefings that my bosses (directors-general and branch chiefs) gave, regularly, to we directors, dealing with what was going on in the HQ and in the big wide world; 2. periodic chats with my colleagues, after work on Friday afternoons, in the bar of the Officers’ Mess ~ many of us regarded 2. as a more reliable source of information than 1.; and 3. in the case of the story about the Navy engineers and the Air Force general, by a friend and colleague who was in the room.
** The idea, long before the National Shipbuilding Strategy, was to keep shipyards moderately busy on a continuous basis. The 25 ships would all be similar: the first “batch” of five would be identical, one to the other; the second “batch” would be very similar but with some improvements; the five ships of batch 3 would be similar to the ships from the second batch and those from batch 4 would be rather like their batch 3 sisters. Finally, the batch 5 ships would be product improved. versions of batch 4 ~ they would still be “sisters” of the batch 1 ships, but not, in any way, twins. The idea was that about the time that the batch 5 ships were being delivered the first of the batch 1 ships would be getting ready for a mid-life refit (after 15 to 20 years of service) which would result in it being much more like the batch 5 ships … and so on.
The very sad, to me, anyway, news that just retired General Jon Vance and his replacement, Admiral Art McDonald are both being investigated for sexual misconduct and that Lieutenant General Chris Coates had an inappropriate relationship with an American lady …
… while he was Deputy Commander of the combined (Canada-USA) North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD), which made his service there problematical for the US military hierarchy, leads some folks to wonder if the top ranks of the Canadian Armed Forces are not due, likely long overdue, for a shakeup. I don’t mean quite as far as the satirical Beaverton recommends 😉, but a shakeup, and some “new blood,” all the same.
The problem might be that the “club” of admirals and generals is too close because we have such a small military force. Maybe Canada’s most senior admirals and generals are more than just colleagues. Many went to Military College together and then served together in joint staff appointments; they became friends and perhaps they turned blind eyes to each other’s problems and even failings. Maybe Admiral McDonald and all of Vice Admirals C.A. Baines and H.C. Edmundson and Lieutenant Generals F.J. Allen, C.J. Coates, W.D. Eyre, O.H. Lavoie, A.D. Meinzinger, J.P.A. Pelletier, and M.N. Rouleau are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
(Can you believe that the Canadian Armed Forces ~ 67,500± full time, regular force and 36,500± part time (reserve force) members ~ has a dozen four and three star officers,* while the Israeli Defence Force ~ 67,000 full time, regular force and 102,500 full time conscripts and 465,000 reservists and with a defence budget slightly larger than Canada’s and nuclear weapons ~ is led by one, single Rav aluf (a lieutenant general)? The Israeli Chief of Staff is assisted by many, to be sure, Alufs (rear admirals/major generals) and Tat alufs (commodores/brigadier generals), but the nation’s rules allow for only one Rav aluf at any time except during a general war.)
Now is the time to be more like Israel.
It is time, I believe, for Prime Minister Trudeau to tell ALL of the currently serving four and three star admirals and generals to retire, forthwith. He should recall a recently retired officer~ one suggestion would be Lieutenant General (Ret’d) Guy Thibault, a formed Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, who is generally regarded as an exemplary officer and whose name, as far as I know, was never tarnished by even a hint of scandal (I’m sure there are other suitable choices but some, like recently retired Vice Admiral Mark Norman might not be politically acceptable) ~ to return for a brief (say 18 months) fixed tour of duty to reorganize and reshape the Canadian Armed Forces. The prime minister might tell this temporary Interim Chief of the Defence Staff to be guided in some part my former Lieutenant General (and Liberal MP) Andrew Leslie’s report on transformation, which called, inter alia, for a less top-heavy command and control (C2) superstructure.
The Interim CDS’ mandate should be to:
- Put in place a programme to renew the military ethos, which, it appears to many, is not serving us well at the senior rank levels;
- Renew the Command and Control superstructure of the Canadian Armed Forces to make it much leaner ~ the CDS to be a three star officer and there to be no more than, say, 65 commodores, admirals and generals on full time, regular service (one flag officer or general officer for every 1,000 service members still seems generous);
- Select, from the surviving commodores, brigadier and major generals and rear admirals, three new three star officers (vice admiral/lieutenant general): a Deputy Commander in Chief for NORAD, a Canadian Military Representative to NATO, and a temporary Associate Chief of the Defence Staff who will be in the Interim CDS’s choice for her or his replacement; and
- Renew the officer promotion system, starting at the very bottom, to ensure that proven ability and merit, alone, determine who gets promoted above junior officer level, who gets to attend the various staff colleges, who gets command of ships and units and who, then, gets promoted to flag or general officer level.
That seems more than enough for even the most able man or woman to accomplish in 18 months.
But, and this is a key “but,” let’s please remember that adultery may be a sin, but it is not a crime … not yet, anyway. But, there are some things that are wrong: obviously, coercion is wrong, and it is even worse when sex is involved. Misuse of power, of command authority especially to establish (initiate) or maintain a “relationship” is wrong, too. We, the government, the media and the Canadian people, should not be engaged on a witch-hunt, but we should be looking for ways to prevent wrongdoing and that includes covering up the wrongdoing of friends and colleagues.
There is an old, and usually misquoted Chinese maxim which says that a crisis can also be an opportunity. That the Canadian Armed Forces are in the midst of a crisis seems undeniable, to me. The question is: can this also be an opportunity to make some needed and useful changes? I believe the answer is yes, and IF (which I doubt) the prime minister of Canada gives even the tiniest of damns about the military ~ beyond play acting ~ and the defence of our country then he will seize the opportunity.
* I have been criticized for using the “American” star designations rather than saying “three and four leaf” or something similar or using the NATO (OF-1 to OF-9) system. The “star” terminology was in use, in the Canadian Army, anyway, for as long as I can remember and I think most people understand what it means. But, yes, Canadian admirals and generals do have maple leaves as their rank insignia.
So, normally, I flog this
dead dying horse about once a year when the veterans’ lobby ~ the Royal Canadian Legion and Veterans Affairs Canada and so on ~ decide that we should make the hours and days and even weeks around November 11th all about veterans. That is a lame notion that ignores why King George V, grieving nations and, above all, veterans themselves wanted a Remembrance Day in the first place: to Remember those who died in battle. But it is never enough for the veterans lobby: the dead, you see, are gone and mostly forgotten and cannot award themselves medals for attending conventions. The living want to be special. They want some extra recognition for the fact ~ and, for some, it is a fact ~ that they served, that they did something that their neighbour and coworkers didn’t do. But it goes beyond that, many want recognition of their “service” in veterans’ organizations, even if they never wore a uniform for a day in their lives.
Now, I see they are at it again; Veterans Affairs Canada is mounting a full-blown public consultation about a Commemoration Strategic Plan:
Now, I admit that my initial reaction was “here we go again,” and my initial, first draft response is: ” Great, let’s have a Veterans’ Day, just like the Americans do, but let’s, please, not confuse it with Remembrance Day. Let’s have our Canadian Veterans’ Day in May or June, when the weather in fair and the older veterans don’t have to wrap up in blankets and shiver while they are being fêted by politicians and minor celebrities. Because that, it seems to me, is what a lot of people want.
I am, officially, a veteran. I get pensions for my service and for service related injuries. But I neither expect nor do I want your thanks, or that of our nation. I self-identify as an old, retired and slightly broken-down soldier. I enlisted and served for over 35 years my own reasons. They always seemed and still seem sufficient to me, but, let me assure you that dying for my country was never high on my list. I was paid for my service, not as well as I might have wished, and, now and again, not quite as much as it was worth, but that was the only “thanks” I ever expected from my country.
I have not set foot in a Legion since I retired ~ we were, too often, even when I was a senior officer, voluntold to go, on 11 November, for a pint with the “old vets.” In later years I understood that the Royal Canadian Legion knew it was dying and it was trying to drum up interest from, especially, serving officers. I wish the Royal Canadian Legion and its programmes ~ for veterans and for the community ~ well; I’m just not interested.
But I am interested in the Commemoration Strategic Plan and I hope many of my readers will be, too. When the consultations open here is, roughly, what I plan to say (not too different my initial thoughts):
- We need one time each year ~ and a few minutes around November 11th seems about right ~ to Remember, quietly, those ~ and only those ~ who died in Canada’s wars. It doesn’t have to be 11 November, exactly ~ the nearest Sunday would do;
- Canadians don’t really need a public holiday in early November, especially not for something that makes many people uncomfortable. But, Canadians would like a seasonal ‘shopping day’ on about the first Monday in December if having public holidays is a key driver;
- Please get the Legion out of the annual Remembrance Day or Remembrance Sunday service. The Royal Canadian Legion no longer represents the men and women who served alongside those who died in battle. Let local communities organize their own services in their own ways, tell the military to help them. There’s nothing wrong with the Legion being involved, in a supporting role, but it is not their “day,” it belongs to someone else, to someone who cannot speak for themselves; and
- Let’s have a Canadian Veterans’ Day, but let’s have it in the late spring or early summer when the weather is fine and older veterans can actually enjoy gathering with old friends and marching along to the applause of the crowds. Let the Legion organize that day and the weeks around it, in every city, town and village; but
- Please don’t confuse thanking living veterans for their service with remembering those who died for our country: two different things need two very different sorts of commemoration.
Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), is in the news, again, as the government seeks another legal delay while it tries to make a law that does not offend someone’s Charter rights.
Back in September of 2019 a Québec judge ruled that the existing Canadian and Québec laws that restricted medical assistance in dying to those who were unconstitutional because the “requirement that a natural death be “reasonably foreseeable” before someone can be eligible for assisted death” discriminated against people whose suffering was intolerable but who were not near death.
I sympathize with the two people who asked Justice Christine Baudouin for help. And, generally, I support the judge’s conclusions ~ as well as I understand them. My problem is that I believe that all rights are universal; they must apply, equally, to all of regardless of race or creed or anything else, which, I suppose, includes mental capacity, and they must apply to the governed and the governors, alike. But I do make some exceptions: I believe, for example that it is right and proper and just and MUST be constitutional to deprive a person of their rights while, for example, they are serving a prison term. I think that giving prisoners the right to vote, as Canada does, is a monumentally bloody silly idea that takes the absolute nature of rights a step too far for me. The Charter, our top court says, requires it; prisoners don’t cease having rights just because they have committed a crime. That means, to me, that the Charter is flawed and needs to be amended … a lot.
But, here’s another “but:” what about a person who is mentally handicapped? Do they have all the “rights” that I say are universal or is there some sensible limit to rights? Can a mentally handicapped person make the sort of informed decision that seeking to end one’s own life should require? I have known more than one person with what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder who simply couldn’t endure the continuous pain and decided, one-day, to end their life. They were mentally “able” enough to figure out how to end their own lives but I’m about 99% certain that many medical professionals would declare them to be mentally handicapped (by pain which is every bit as real as the pain of a physical wound) or even mentally disabled.
I don’t have any answers, but, in my opinion:
- Every person, everyone over the age of, say, 18, ought to be able to seek medical assistance in dying ~ no exceptions; but
- No person can be required to provide any assistance, not even in providing information, to anyone who wants to take their own life; and
- No physician or nurse or any other “medical” person may ever be brought to court for refusing to provide any assistance (or even information) about taking on’s own life.
In other words, everyone, even the young and even the mentally ill, must be able to end their own lives … suicide may be a sin but it ought not to be a crime. But no one can be forced, in any way, to do something that violates their moral code. (And, yes, I know that means that bakers can, therefore, refuse to bake cakes for same-sex weddings.) If, as our Charter seems to imply, we are going to have absolutes ~ if a right cannot be arbitrarily limited ~ then we had better get used to the notion that the idea cuts both ways. If A has an absolute right to seek something, including a dignified death, then B has an equally absolute right to refuse to help; B has a right to refuse to provide a service if it offends their moral standards.
Absolutes are a problem, especially when they are written down. It’s another reason why I wish we had an unwritten Constitution.
I see, in an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail, that Konrad Yakabuski says that here, in Canada, “The ideal of a country in which French and English can co-exist on an equal footing without one overpowering the other has never come close to being realized. Francophones employed in the federal public service know all too well that their right to work in French exists more in theory than in practice. The irresistible force of attraction of English has left francophones both within and outside Quebec feeling they are in a survivalist race against the clock … [while] … For proponents of linguistic Darwinism, most of them unilingual anglophones … [and that designation, , includes me, I must admit] … this does not appear to be a problem that needs fixing. They rail relentlessly against Quebec’s treatment of its anglophone minority, sometimes using loaded terms borrowed from apartheid-era South Africa or the Balkans war of the 1990s … [and, yet, he says, and I agree] … no one can honestly argue that English is threatened in Quebec. In the Montreal region, where the vast majority of the province’s anglophones and immigrants live, anyone can live and work almost exclusively in the language of Shakespeare.“
I think that it is an undeniable fact that the French language is in decline, globally, including in France. There is one, and only one, global language: English. And history matters only in understanding how that came to be … the Seven Years War and the battles of Louisburg and the Plains of Abraham and so on had nothing to do with the rise of English and the ongoing decline of French. Four relatively modern Scots, David Hume, Adam Smith, James Watt and James Clerk Maxwell …
… about whom, sadly, I would guess that only a tiny handful of so-called educated Canadians, know even the sketchiest of details, shaped the modern world, the whole world, in English, and gave the world almost all the ideas that really mattered in the 20th century and matter, still, in the 21st, in English. We are an enlightened, capitalist, mechanized and electronic world because of those four.
No one in America, China, Germany, India or France made any comparably important contributions. And yes, I am cognizant of Hamilton, Madison and Jefferson, of Goethe, Schiller, Planck and Marx and of Descartes, Racine, Rousseau and Voltaire, too. While all of them were fiddling around the edges, the four Scots were shaping the modern wold … in English. And that, not anything else, is why English is THE global language and Arabic, Chinese, French, Hindi and Spanish are all static or in decline.
All that to say that French is dying. It will an almost imperceptibly slow, even a graceful death, and no one should blame Francophones, anywhere in the world, for wanting to save their language which helps, greatly, to define them.
To try to appease French speaking Canadian voters the Trudeau regime intends to revise the Official Languages Act to further “advance” the use of French in federally regulated workplaces. That will go some way to meeting a long standing demand by the Gouvernement du Québec to help it to further restrict the use of English. It will be another irritant. It will, I suspect, have little measurable effect on Québec’s English speaking population, but it will give the linguistic Darwinists, and especially the new Maverick Party, another “grievance” against Central Canada and the Laurentian Consensus which says that appeasing Québec is essential for national unity. And, the conventional political wisdom, since the 1940s, has been that placating Québec, on issues ranging from conscription to religious discrimination, is what is needed to keep Canada together.
The problem is that a growing number of Western Canadians, a minority, still, to be sure, don’t agree, and Wexit is a very real thing and, I fear, it is gaining ground, and if Justin Trudeau goes farther to appease the Québecois (and Québecoise) then he will add fuel to the Wexit fire.
My, personal sense, is that Québec separatism is a declining issue while Wexit is gaining strength. I blame that almost wholly on Justin Trudeau’s words and deeds, going all the way back to 2010. He is perceived, with some good reason, I believe, as being anti-Western-Canadian and even anti-English-Canadian. He seems to treat Québec as special but everything West of Windsor, ON, as a national afterthought, a mere trifle. But there are more people (11.9 million), almost all English speaking, in the four Western Canadian provinces than in Québec (8.5 million) and, by 2050 it is expected that Western Canada’s population will be nearly double Québec’s and almost equal to Ontario’s.
New Canada, as, almost 20 years ago, the late Michael Bliss termed everything West of the Ottawa River, is growing more and more quickly and it is growing in English. Old Canada, Québec and Atlantic Canada, will stagnate, at best, and begin to decline … and so will the French language in Canada, if there even is a Canada by, say, the turn of the next century. If there isn’t a Canada anymore you can thank Justin Trudeau, Marie-Claude Bibeau, Steven Guilbeault, Mélanie Joly and all the others who, quite understandably, want to preserve the French Fact in Canada but may be doing so by stoking the fires of separatism in the West.
In 1948 the United Nations formally codified genocide as a great crime against humanity. The concept was new, even the word was new, it was “first coined by Polish lawyer Raphäel Lemkin in 1944 in his book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe. It consists of the Greek prefix genos, meaning race or tribe, and the Latin suffix cide, meaning killing. Lemkin developed the term partly in response to the Nazi policies of systematic murder of Jewish people during the Holocaust.” Mr Lemkin did not want the term genocide to represent only the Holocaust ~ which, because of its association with the ritual sacrifice of a “burnt (cooked) offering” is how I prefer to refer to the organized murder, by the Nazi Germans, with the complicity of many other Europeans, of six million Jews in the 1930s and ’40s ~ but the definition of the crime is that it requires the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” That leaves a hole through which lawyers can drive trucks.
That the Holocaust of the Jews in the 1930s and ’40s was a genocide is beyond question. We know the intent was there because Martin Luther, an interior decorator who became an undersecretary at the Nazi Foreign Ministry, was a participant at the infamous 1942 Wannsee Conference and he neglected to destroy his copy of the proceedings after the fact, so we know that the intention was to destroy the Jews ~ no matter if you define Jew as a religion, a nation, an ethnicity or even as a race.
But ever since 1948 there have been persistent arguments that other events are also genocides. Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is, for example, regularly cited, particularly by those who want the “final solution of the Jewish question” to be completed, in the 21st century as Hitler and Heydrich and the others planned 80 years ago.
The question of whether undeniable attempts at “ethnic cleaning” by e.g. Turkey in Armenia circa 1915 and by Bosnian Serbs in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s rises to the standard of a genocide is still being debated. Lawyers ask: was “intent to destroy” present or were they something less, attempts to drive people out of their homes and just “away,” to somewhere, anywhere else? Presumably, if the latter was the case, then “ethnic cleansing” is less than “genocide.”
Which brings me to Canada’s genocide.
In 2019, as Erna Paris, an author and Vice President of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, explained in an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail, the “report [on] the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls has conflated the recent murders of women and girls with the entirety of the Indigenous experience in Canada, past and present, then framed its conclusions under the powerful rubric of genocide, for which both past and present federal governments are held directly responsible.” That the abduction and murder of far too many indigenous women and girls or even the entire residential schools episode should be equated to a genocide is ludicrous and, sadly, one stupid comment ruined an otherwise useful report. But it was enough, because Canada has a stupid prime minister and Justin Trudeau, being a short-sighted fool, couldn’t resist agreeing with that stupid assertion. By so doing he pur himself and his cabinet and his country into an uncomfortable position.
And that brings me, of course, to China and the House of Commons vote which declared that China is guilty of a genocide. Some lawyers will say that, like Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank, and like the actions of the Bosnian Serbs 25 years ago, what China is doing does not rise to the standard required to say “genocide.” Others, including former justice minister Irwin Cotler say it does. By stepping into the Canadian genocide debate when he should not have, Prime Minister Trudeau has made his current position (trying, somehow, to play both ends against the middle) untenable.
So, here we are: Canada’s Parliament has made the right choice. It has spoken out, loudly and clearly. But the Government of Canada is offside, again … it is on the wrong side of history, again. All because 39.47% of those who bothered to vote in 2015 and 33.12% of us in 2019 decided to vote for a Party led by a dimwit. Let us, please, stop making that mistake. Justin Trudeau is a fool. Keeping him in office will not change that.
In a recent column in the Globe and Mail, John Ibbitson writes that “Our immigration system is geared to attracting high-skilled workers in the professions and trades. But our economy also depends on people whose work we undervalue, and they too should be welcomed to Canada as permanent residents … [because as Usha George, director of the Centre for Immigration and Settlement at Ryerson University said, “The pandemic revealed that many people who were described as low-skilled were really essential workers,” but] … Surveys show a significant minority of Canadians … [many of who, I (sadly) believe, are a vocal part of the Conservative voting base] … believe that immigration levels are too high. There is plenty of evidence on social media that some Canadians of European background resent high levels of non-European immigration.“
Mr Ibbitson reviews the pretty basic arithmetic that predicts ‘natural’ population growth and concludes that, “Canada’s fertility rate has been declining since the 1970s, and is now more than half a baby shy of replacement rate. Without immigrants, our population would soon start to … [get older and then decline, and] … Aging societies across the developed world need immigrants to fill vacant jobs and to pay taxes to support the elderly, whatever nativist know-nothings may think … [and, because of that ] … In the not-too-distant future, rather than the federal and provincial governments choosing which applicants get to come to Canada, we will be begging potential newcomers to pick us over the American and European competition. The sooner we get used to that idea, the better.“
Another simple fact is that too many Canadians, including some conservative Canadians, have the unhealthy belief that ← this someone like this is, somehow, superior or more valuable to society than is someone like this →. Leaving aside some societal views on gender and race, the relative “value” of work is being reassessed, right now, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers in long term care homes ~ disproportionately female and recent immigrants or temporary foreign workers ~ are, rightfully, being called heroes while many are wondering what regiments of highly-paid, bilingual civil-servants are doing while they “work” from home at full pay.
It’s simple, really: Canadian families have not, for two generations, had enough children to keep our population from first aging and then shrinking. There is nothing to indicate that will ever change; it is a global phenomenon. As we become richer we have fewer children. Some people don’t like that fact. And that’s OK, no one says that a few angry white men have to like facts, but they remain facts and not even Donald J Trump could change facts. Real Conservatives need to face the facts and ask themselves what kind of a future they want for Canada. Shall we be old, poor and weak? Or shall we be big, rich and strong? The choice is, really, that stark and that bloody simple. Only simpletons look for ways to avoid making it. John Ibbitson says, and I agree 100%, that the Government of Canada needs to get its head out of its political hind end and make some serious decisions about that, soon.
I suggest that the Conservative Party of Canada needs to embrace what is called the Century Initiative and announce that it wants to make Canada big, rich and strong ~ a socio-economic powerhouse ~ with, by the year 2100, a population of 100 million. And yes, that means that in 75 years your great-great-grandchildren (and mine) might look a bit different. If that’s a problem for you then I suggest that the Conservative Party should not want your vote.
So, there is a new Angus Reid Institute poll out, and it has a boat load of bad news for everyone.
First, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remains mired in minority territory:
Experience with Canada’s five party system, starting from 2006, says that a party needs something slightly in excess of 39% of the popular vote to secure a majority in the House of Commons.
And a majority, I seems to me, is what he wants, quite desperately. As far as I can see, last summer, when other world leaders were actually working, personally, to secure guaranteed vaccine supplies for their countries, Prime Minister Trudeau was focused, almost exclusively, on covering up his (and his family’s) role in the WE Charity Scandal. He fought hard to keep documents secret then he improperly redacted them, then he prorogued Parliament and then sent his
trained seals backbench MPs to filibuster in committees whenever the subject came up. It is no secret that I am vehemently anti-Trudeau (père et fils) but I also really wish that I could find some reason, other than Watergate level wrongdoing to explain the Watergate level coverup attempt. I say that because we, Canadians, have seen more than enough elected MPs led away in handcuffs, none of us wants to see more, and the political system, already weakened by Justin Trudeau’s ineptitude on too many files, doesn’t need that sort of scandal.
Prime Minister Trudeau’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic appears, the Angus Reid Institute says, his only big problem and he might be able to address that by high summer. As the analysts say, the Liberal Party is vey good at digging itself out of holes.
But the news for Erin O’Toole is worse. It seems that the more Canadians get to know him, the less they like him:
Further, the issues that Mr O’Toole seems to be emphasizing: the economic recovery, massive deficits, jobs, foreign policy (especially China) and pipelines matter less to Canadians than do responding to the pandemic, managing health care and fighting climate change:
My reading of this says that a summer (July/August) election, held while a vaccination programme is in full swing, is highly possible and if it is a referendum on Prime Minister Trudeau’s handling of the pandemic and of Trudeau vs O’Toole on issues like the environment and “caring and sharing” then Justin Trudeau will have a good shot at another majority and Erin O’Tool will be a lame duck leader while the Conservative Party looks its third chief in two years.