The debt-fuelled buildout of Canada’s airports, predicated on the dubious though common premise of unending growth in air travel, has stalled badly. While there’s been virtually zero news media attention, it seems the entire Canadian airport operating model could be about to crash and burn – at a time when governments are themselves wildly over-committed through their own borrowing binges. In this thoroughly reported original, Peter Shawn Taylor dissects Canada’s uniquely strange and problematic approach to owning and running airports, explains how we got into this mess and, looking to Europe and Australia for guidance, charts a way back out.
We are now onto Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s third official ethics imbroglio. Mr. “blind spot”, as a previous ethics commissioner termed him, is back at it, once more trailing cabinet ministers and political flunkies. The blind leading the blind, as it were. This time around it’s a close to billion-dollar sweetheart deal offered to WE Charity – an organization with close ties to Trudeau and cabinet ministers. As the Opposition and media focus on the mechanics and legalities of the growing scandal, Gwyn Morgan probes the deeper question of why anyone would think shovelling vast sums into yet another summer jobs program for students was a good idea. The possible answer is downright diabolical.
Most of us have heard it said that a lot of science and engineering went into bringing you the automobile gleaming beneath your gaze in the showroom. A lot goes into the act of driving as well. And while many people no doubt find driving banal or worse, Patrick Keeney believes there’s also a lot at stake. To drive, he writes, is to exercise our skill at being free, to display our competence, to accelerate for the sheer joy of it, and to negate the technocrats who strive to make our lives idiot-proof and safe. To steer our very lives, as it were. To Keeney and the author of the book he reviews in this essay, few places are better than behind the wheel, breathing the heady air of freedom.
In the Victorian Era viral illness incited pathological fear exacerbated by the lack of empirical understanding about what germs were or how viruses mutated. In Charles Dickens’ novels, fevers served a narrative function, leading to the victim’s disfigurement, destruction or moral salvation. Writing in The Critic, Natasha Green suggests that our own paranoid fears aren’t so different from our ancestors’.
Thomas Frank is one of the few high-profile journalists to write sympathetically about Donald Trump and his supporters. The native Kansan understands the concerns of Middle America and has taken on the smug, condescending coastal elites. Matt Taibbi, writing in Substack, reviews Frank’s new book, The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism.
Covid-19 was initially thought to be extremely virulent and many governments worldwide locked-down their countries. But more complete data suggest the contagion isn’t nearly as lethal as originally predicted. Lionel Shriver, writing in The Spectator U.K., argues the coronavirus has been grossly oversold by a witches’ brew of bad science, a hyperbolic media and cowed politicians.
Whatever we might think of marriage and divorce, few of us would claim they are unimportant. The topic has occupied not only the hearts of billions but the minds of great thinkers through the ages. Why, John Milton wrote a whole book on divorce way back in the 1600s. So why have the great thinkers at Canada’s top statistical agency – who spend their days ferreting out the most trivial of trends – closed their minds to the entire subject? Might the numbers point in some politically incorrect directions? Peter Shawn Taylor dives into the subject with gusto and reports on the modern-day benefits of one of humankind’s oldest institutions.
To suggest something ought to be done about unrestricted online pornography is likely to be thought of as out-of-touch, heavy-handed, hopelessly idealistic or, paradoxically, sexist. Yet the damage wrought upon innocent young lives by ruthless elements in the porn sector is all-too real; the academic and legal evidence about the phenomenon’s global toll is there for anyone who cares to look. While recognizing that simply banning all porn will never happen in today’s cultural and legal environment, Devin Drover lays out a carefully researched and soberly argued case that protecting the innocent against the industry’s vilest excesses lies well within the reach of our politicians.
Care for some “snuggling”? Such appears to be among the deepest thoughts and most memorable expressions of our current generation of poets. The best-known, “instant” kind, anyway. The real kind still exist, poet David Solway notes in this essay, although they’ve been pushed to the cultural margins. And while understanding and appreciating real poetry – a learned and often challenging practise – has fallen into disfavour, it remains vital to our civilization, if there is to be one. That millions of people are buying Instagram poetry, Solway argues, does not change the fact that it is self-indulgent rubbish.
Over the past four months Canadians have been taught to heed and obey their public health officials. And we have dutifully complied, often hailing them as celebrities for their efforts. But as the lockdowns are lifted, what might happen to this habit of control? Peter Shawn Taylor charts the evolution of public health from its early origins to the modern, activist version that eagerly promotes soda taxes and demands an end to income inequality. With public health having become a political movement, are its practitioners prepared to give up their newly-acquired powers of command once the crisis ends?
While Canada has been spared the violence, looting and anarchy that overwhelmed sincere protests over racial issues in multiple American cities, the question of racial prejudice and the accusation of systemic racism have been pushed to the fore in our country as well. In a sensitive discussion informed by a personal and family history that led to many years of study and introspection, Roland Mascarenhas shares a vision based on his belief in individual agency, one opening an alternative path towards well-being for individuals scarred by racism.
Few experiences are as emotionally wrought as seeing a loved one succumb to a deadly infection. Yet setting emotion aside is precisely what must be done in order to rationally evaluate the efficacy of Canada’s response to Covid-19. A rigorous review of our performance to date will be crucial in dealing with future crises, including a possible second wave of the coronavirus. Two weeks ago, Gwyn Morgan made the moral case against damaging economic lockdowns. In a new and original academic analysis, economist Herbert Grubel provides the hard numbers to back up Morgan’s plea for a more rational approach to saving lives.
Government deficits are soaring, the economy is reeling and the restart is slow and halting. Nobody knows what lies ahead. How the federal Liberals plan to handle Canada’s tectonic shift in public debt is anybody’s guess. In Part I of this two-part report, Matthew Lau described the challenge our country faces and evaluated two of the most destructive options for dealing with the Covid-debt. In Part II, Lau sets out what would happen if Ottawa decides to engineer a return of high inflation, and then explores more practical options for addressing our enormous post-pandemic indebtedness – including the one method that has worked decisively at the federal and provincial levels.
In many ways these are magical times. Governments seemingly exist to protect us from all harm and negative consequences. When a pandemic hits, the existing gusher of public spending becomes an unchecked torrent, interest rates are lowered to effectively zero, yet inflation remains caged. Almost any item large or small can be purchased with instant credit on easy terms. Individuals, organizations and groups in trouble are showered with financial beneficence. But where is the money actually coming from? Who, if anyone, is to pay for it all? Can nothing bad come of the unprecedented profligacy? Matthew Lau reminds us that reality will reassert itself and when the spell is broken at last, potentially ruinous consequences lie in wait. Lau evaluates the options available to debt-burdened governments – most of them bad. Part I of a two-part analysis.
The days are at their longest, everything’s blooming, summer is nigh and Canadians are increasingly going about their regular lives. Spirits are lifting. And serious questions are being asked. Like Plato’s cave-dwellers emerging out of the darkness, we are blinking in the dazzling light of our 5 am northern dawns. What just happened? Do the claimed but unprovable benefits of the pandemic response stack up against the staggering quantifiable damage? Could we have done better? Gwyn Morgan takes a clear-headed look at these questions and prescribes some principles to dig our way out and avoid a needless repeat.
The infirm and chronically ill seniors who live in long-term care facilities are among Canada’s most vulnerable populations. So too, it seems, are the executives and investors who own and operate many of those nursing homes. The first group is vulnerable to disease and neglect. The second is suffering from aggressive ideological attacks by unions, left-wing academics and politicians who casually accuse them of being greedy “dehumanizing” villains, and are now plotting the expropriation of their entire business. Peter Shawn Taylor seeks to clear the air in this thoroughly reported account of how Canada’s long-term care sector really works.
Canadian conservatives have most of the summer to ruminate on what they want their federal party to become – as embodied by their soon-to-be elected leader, anyway. Acceptability, likability and winnability will be key criteria. Above all, however, should be crafting and advancing a compelling policy alternative to today’s managerial liberalism, which has been inflated by the pandemic almost beyond recognition. Mark Milke offers a forceful rebuttal against the Conservative “alternative” comprising little more than a massaged form of top-down management.
Architecture and its cumulative result – our built environment – affects every aspect of our daily lives. Yet most of us rarely talk about it. And despite ultimately paying for it all, the ordinary person has almost no input into the process or the outcome. Some believe the discipline veered horribly off-track in the last century. Informed by over 50 years of professional experience, Vancouver-based architect Oberto Oberti weaves professional insights, aesthetic judgment, philosophy and memory into an impassioned plea for the restoration of timeless aesthetic values and the individual’s needs to the centre of 21st century architecture.
Is it possible the modern world so readily accepted government-decreed physical isolation because most of its inhabitants were already living essentially disconnected lives? For people existing mainly in a virtual world, does it even matter that they can’t go out into the real world? Author, poet and songwriter David Solway observes how, once they do venture back out, many people hardly even look up or recognize others. While accepting the usefulness of the mobile device, Solway ruminates on the increasingly obvious psychological, social and, yes, civilizational effects of this ubiquitous technology.
What does conservatism do, above all? It works. In the great debate about whether Canada’s federal Conservative Party should be defined by libertarians, populists, free traders, Harperites or Red Tories (new or old-style), it bears keeping in mind that Conservatives above all need to craft a party that, if elected, can make the country work. Sean Speer and Sam Duncan argue that the world has changed beneath our feet, so much that the post-Cold War order itself is fading into history. If Canada is to thrive and grow, our nation must adapt, and if they are to lead the way, Conservatives must eschew dogma and see the world as it really is.
In our ahistorical age, the “lessons of history” rarely rise above the level of casual slogan or self-serving proof. But what if there were two ready-made historical North American case studies showing how sharply different government approaches to an economic crisis can produce two starkly different results? And what if everyone is now focused on the wrong example? Peter Shawn Taylor dives deep into economic history and, with a respected Wall Street investment guru and historian as his guide, unearths a “Forgotten Depression” whose lessons could help us plot the best way out of our Covid-19 depression.