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.
A group of prominent writers has signed an open letter to Harper’s Magazine demanding an end to cancel culture and the narrowing of acceptable debate. Restricting free expression, the letter argues, works against society’s vulnerable and creates a repressive and intolerant culture. As George Orwell put it: “Freedom is the ability to tell people what they don’t want to hear.”
Few environmentalists have been more active than Michael Schellenberger. Yet he’s come to believe that climate change alarmism is not driven by science, but scientifically illiterate elites who grossly exaggerated the dangers – and now “exaggerate the exaggerations.” Writing in Quillette, Schellenberger chronicles how ideological journalists and politicians have gotten the science so wrong.
A group at Oxford University has branded Cecil Rhodes a racist and are demanding removal of his statue in Oxford’s High Street. Writing in Unherd, Nigel Biggar recounts the historical truth and shows how the real Rhodes was a man far removed from the caricatured colonialist scorned by the woke mob.
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.
You don’t see news media reporting that Germany has declared Audi and BMW to be obsolete companies from yesteryear. Nor that Switzerland has come to regard its banking sector and watchmakers as sunset industries. There’s been no announcement that South Korea is shuttering Samsung. Nor that the Greeks are tearing over hill and dale torching their olive and orange groves. Everywhere you look, countries are leaning on their proven economic strengths to power their post-Covid comeback. So why is Canada’s federal government, seemingly alone in the world, intent on euthanizing this nation’s number-one source of export earnings and inter-regional tax transfers – the oil and natural gas sector? Gwyn Morgan moves briskly through the recent madness and declares that this is one instance of ideological folly the country simply can’t afford.
Covid-19 poses a grave threat to many things: nursing homes, music festivals and café culture among them. But what of its broader implications? The coronavirus cares nothing for identity, imaginative individual rights or past grievances. It is severely undermining globalist fantasies. And recovering from its ravages seems likely to reward countries that focus on conservative values of pragmatism, frugality, duty, markets and tradition. Patrick Keeney charts the likely fortunes of conservative and liberal convictions once the pandemic recedes.
Everyone can agree public pension funds should be protected from political interference. But such abuse comes in several forms, some stealthier than others. Unaccountable investment managers indulging in the latest fads and activist demands – energy transition, anyone? – pose perhaps the greatest threat of all to retirees’ returns. George Koch argues that, paradoxically, elected office-holders are the public’s best defence against politically-motivated and potentially ruinous pension fund shenanigans.
Clear skies in once-smoggy L.A. Wildlife wandering through cities and bedding down in parks. Deserted streets. Idled factories. For the left, the pandemic has created a convenient waypoint on their path to utopia. To the rest of us, it has furnished a nightmarish vision of a potentially destitute future, and a wakeup call to focus on what it might take to revive our economy. For Matthew Lau, the choice is clear. And while news media reports continue to promote fanciful progressive agendas, Lau sees encouraging signs that the imperatives of survival will enable practicality and common sense to prevail.
It wasn’t so long ago that national borders were considered fusty relics of a bygone age. A knowledge economy respects no boundaries, we were told. Europe had erased all its internal borders. The UN was demanding migrants be given the right to go wherever they wanted. To question illegal immigration was xenophobic. Today, borders have returned with a vengeance. And not just between countries – even Canadian provinces are throwing up roadblocks and intercepting travellers. Mathew Preston sorts out the competing sources for this surprising resurgence of gatekeeping around the world, and charts the political implications.
The isolation imposed by the lengthy pandemic makes it both tempting and understandable for us to look inward, focused mainly on our own survival concerns and those of our immediate circle. Politics can wait. But the so-called progressive side won’t rest. It has remained busy, taking only weeks to begin redefining issue after issue through the lens of the coronavirus. More government, more regulation and less capitalism are its answers. They always are. But is this our inevitable future? Anthony Furey mounts a clear and powerful alternative case for Canada based on the national interest and equality for all.
No postwar generation has endured more delays and interruptions than the Millennials. A lack of permanency − in jobs, housing, education, relationships and everywhere else – is often considered their defining characteristic. So how are the cataclysmic disruptions of the coronavirus affecting Canada’s Millennials? Aaron Nava offers a revealing personal take on the generational costs imposed by social distancing and economic shutdown. And manages to find a welcome message of hope.
Canada has so far ducked the extreme growth in the Covid-19 hospitalization and mortality rates afflicting some other countries. The worst is certainly still to come, however – and when it does, the shortfall in Canada’s health care capacity will be laid bare. The vulnerability was largely avoidable, points out Gwyn Morgan, if Canada like nearly all other countries had only allowed private health care delivery alongside its public system. When the nation comes out the other side of the pandemic, Morgan writes, a health care policy reckoning will be long overdue.