Literature and Legend
The South Nahanni River is widely recognized as the Holy Grail of Canada’s wild rivers. Paddlers, hikers and nature lovers all dream of experiencing first-hand the wonders of this fabled river in a national park in the Northwest Territories. But how did it earn such a reputation? In the concluding installment of a series that began with his account of a recent canoe trip through the Nahanni’s famous canyons, Peter Shawn Taylor charts the creation and evolution of the river’s aura as a remote place filled with mystery and adventure. From native myths to early 20th century hysteria about headless prospectors to its stature today as a premier bucket-list item, the Nahanni has carved out a permanent place in our national consciousness. It may be Canada’s greatest brand. Here’s how it happened. Part I can be read here.
They have inspired artists and poets since the invention of paints and writing. They’ve adorned funerals, graveyards and other mourning sites for millennia – since the literal dawn of humanity. They say “I love you” like few other things. Why, then, have so many funerals and other rituals for the deceased become flower-free zones, with mourners instead pressured to send money to specified charities? Lynne Cohen explores the vexing “In Lieu of Flowers” phenomenon, provides her unique take on what makes it pernicious, and offers a ringing paean to the appropriateness, usefulness and morality of always sending flowers.
Canadian Wilderness
Among Canada’s active bucket-list crowd, canoeing the South Nahanni River is often found at the very top of the page. This fabled river in a national park in the southwestern corner of the Northwest Territories is remote, expensive to access and, at times, quite challenging. It is also spectacularly rewarding. And while the number of people fortunate enough to see this area number only in the hundreds annually, it looms large in Canada’s national consciousness. Peter Shawn Taylor recently returned from a multi-week trip that revealed the Nahanni in all its splendour and fury. In Part I of a two-part series, Taylor recounts his time on the river and what it means to complete the journey.
Academe in Crisis
If it isn’t clear that the “progressive” movement is its own opposite – regressive and reactionary – then the growing practise of Canadian universities to hire explicitly based on skin colour and other discriminatory criteria should remove any doubt. Perhaps worst, they are mindlessly and needlessly repeating if not amplifying mistakes made by the U.S. over the past 70s years – mistakes that south of the border are starting to be corrected. Martin Gruenn and Noah Jarvis survey the wreckage in Canadian academe, examine reams of evidence indicating hearteningly strong economic performance among many races and ethnic groups, and propose a nuanced, fair and empathetic restoration of the merit principle – one that takes on real discrimination where it exists while enabling any individual of merit to flourish.
Truth in History
Few Canadians know the story: thousands of black slaves taken west of the Mississippi by their Indigenous masters – who themselves were forced there on the Trail of Tears expulsion – faced continuing persecution when Oklahoma became a state. So a thousand of them pulled up stakes and headed to Canada, “where every man was accepted on his merit or demerit, regardless of race, colour or creed,” as one of them put it. In telling their inspiring story, Tom Flanagan recounts how they faced resistance both from some white settlers and, notably, from Wilfrid Laurier’s Liberal government, which banned black immigration. In an era when Conservative historical figures are decried as racist oppressors, it’s worth knowing the truth. It’s even more important to celebrate the determination and ultimate success of a freedom-loving people who came north.
Ideas and Culture
Moral and cultural relativism have rejected objective truth, denigrated accomplishment and knowledge, and debased common sense. The doctrine is ascendant throughout the West. Attempts to counter it usually founder as agnostic or atheistic audiences scoff at the typically religious foundation of appeals to restore objectivity and truth. Can the issue be addressed in some other way? With the West’s descent from the “live and let live” tolerant relativism of the 60s and 70s, through 80s-90s political correctness, to the zealous and even violent imposed moralism of wokism, the matter is urgent. Maria Krylova charts the evolution and interplay of the key ideas that got Western society where it is today, and advances a secular case for truth and objectivity.
Artificial Intelligence
Much of the recent panic over artificial intelligence and generative applications like ChatGPT has been over its capacity to fake or supplant real human endeavour: students can use it to write essays, companies can use it to replace workers. But in a world where public discourse is increasingly created and spread by machine, other dangers lurk – like built-in political biases and attempts to manipulate users. Drawing inspiration from The Matrix’s famous red pill that awakened its hero to unsettling reality, Gleb Lisikh pokes at ChatGPT to see if pointed questioning and factual evidence can persuade it to amend its worldview. But if an ability to change opinion based on evidence is part of real intelligence, Lisikh finds, perhaps AI is more artificial than intelligent after all. Part II of a special series. Part I is here.
Technology and People
When ChatGPT first came along, many in the world of higher education worried it would let students outsource the hard work of research and writing to artificial intelligence. Those concerns have quickly faded – even though it does exactly that, and much more besides – and universities now embrace AI as both a labour-saving device and a learning tool. But as Christopher Snook explains, AI presents an existential threat to higher education. Not only does it encourage vapid public discourse and squelch a diversity of viewpoints and opinions, it’s another technological innovation allowing universities to dispense with their traditional job – producing students capable of and interested in free and independent thought. Part I of a special series. Part II is here.
Truth in History
Academics, politicians and the media have reduced Canadian history to a series of regrettable events requiring abject apology and compensation. In doing so they downplay, ignore or deny the many admirable aspects of our past that remain worthy of celebration and respect. But what of those events that truly are lamentable today? Greg Piasetzki looks at Canada’s Chinese head tax and the role played by Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, commonly considered the racist villain of this policy. Piasetzki’s careful scholarship reveals in full what Macdonald actually said and did on this issue, and recounts his efforts to protect minority rights in Canada a century before the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Options in Education
When Lindsy Danzinger decided to homeschool her children, she joined a low-key wave that has seen the number of kids schooled at home across Canada double in a decade – and then double again in the first year of the pandemic. This despite critics hammering homeschoolers as irresponsible parents or religious zealots who are failing, even damaging their children. In this personal essay, Danzinger details how she overcame her own doubts and anxieties to embrace the job of educating her children. Homeschooling, she writes, not only brought her family closer together but produced happy, smart, well-adjusted kids – one of whom is about to start high school – instilled with the values and character she had hoped for.
Trade and Competitiveness
Free trade and economic liberalization have been bedrock beliefs of Canadian conservatives and official Conservative party policy since the 1980s. But in the past few years, conservatives in the United States and Europe have charged that these policies destroy manufacturing jobs, promote national economic decline and cede authority and influence to bad actors like China. What’s a Canadian conservative to do? Samuel Routley traces the evolution of conservative thinking on free trade and draws lessons for how it should change now. Conservatives, Routley argues, should dislodge free trade from ideological orthodoxy and redirect attention to a renewed engagement with social and cultural institutions.
Climate Politics
When does a once-lofty ideal that some time ago degenerated into blind dogma collapse further into suicide cult? Right about now, when it comes to “save the planet” by forcing Canada to “net zero.” Gwyn Morgan charts the Trudeau government’s further ratcheting up of taxes and regulatory burdens on Canada’s hard-pressed consumers, businesses and the energy sector, all in the name of fighting climate change to which Canada’s contribution is barely a rounding error – while the big emitters like China get a free pass from the Trudeau government itself.
Power of Narratives
Two of the basic things governments and public health officials needed to know to gauge the dangers of Covid-19 and plan the response were: how many transmissible cases were out there, and how lethal the virus really was. It turns out they didn’t really know either. Perhaps, gripped by their narrative of panic, they didn’t want to know. Gleb Lisikh reveals how skewed interpretation of the standard Covid-19 test combined with public health policies of inflating Covid-19 death numbers led to massive overestimation of the pandemic’s scale. If there is a next time, then before they shut down the world economy and destroy personal freedoms, they might want to make sure they get the numbers right.
Underground Economy
How big is Canada’s black market? In 2021 Statistics Canada estimated annual illegal economic activity (not including hard drugs and prostitution) at $68.5 billion, or 3 percent of national GDP. Whatever the underground economy’s actual size, federal Liberal policies are making it bigger, not smaller. Examining recent changes to Canada’s payday loan industry along with other striking examples, Peter Shawn Taylor reveals how the Trudeau government’s propensity for striking poses, raising taxes and imposing onerous regulations on legal businesses is boosting the profitability of their illegal competitors.
Cancelling Canada?
Public discourse in Canada today is dominated by voices insisting our history and culture comprise little but oppression and racism. We see it in the cancellation of historical figures and in the demeaning of Enlightenment values like freedom of conscience and respect for reason, alongside the elevation of so-called social justice and critical race theory. Canada seems a country gripped by ideologically-driven amnesia and calculated self-loathing. A new book, The 1867 Project, seeks to deconstruct and push back against this slow-motion cultural train wreck. John Weissenberger reveals how The 1867 Project rescues Canada’s history, reveals critical truths about our culture and charts the potential for national renewal.
Women and Trans
Not many years ago, a naked man parading around a women’s changeroom at a public swimming pool would likely have faced criminal charges of voyeurism. But when Lindsy Danzinger’s 66-year-old mother recently witnessed just such a thing, she didn’t speak up or complain. She and other witnesses were paralyzed by fear of being labelled bigots in a world where gender self-identification is revered. In this exploration of the incident, Danzinger examines how aggressive gender ideology turns simple, objective truth on its head, violates women’s privacy and protected spaces and threatens to undo decades of hard-fought-for women’s rights.
Law and Justice
Unashamed racial discrimination in the name of equality. Judges refusing to hear scientific evidence and basing life-altering rulings on mere assumptions. Public institutions brazenly claiming to be above the law – and courts agreeing. Jurists upending unambiguous constitutional provisions. Public intellectuals enduring professional misconduct investigations for the crime of applying their intellect. Professionals punished for exercising independent judgment. Bruce Pardy surveys the descent of Canada’s legal system into Alice-in-Wonderland surrealism, a state that poses dangers to virtually every Canadian and to the future of the rule of law itself.
Culture and Society
What came before government? Family. The biological family of a mother, father and children has constituted the basic building block of society throughout humanity’s development. It is the wellspring of relationships, education, economics, law and basic well-being. The UN’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights referred to family as “the natural and fundamental group unit of society.” Yet progressive thinkers and governments have long worked to erode this innate authority by undermining the definition of family and usurping its functions. Daniel Zekveld stands up for the biological family based on its tremendous social benefits and its role as a bulwark against an overreaching state.
Truth for Reconciliation
Canadians are regularly harangued about how their nation and its institutions, including the RCMP, ostensibly brutalized Indigenous people to the point of “genocide.” But the fact is, the RCMP proved among the best friend Indigenous people had. Robert MacBain tells the near-forgotten story of how its predecessor force, the North-West Mounted Police, saved one of Canada’s largest groups of Indigenous tribes from a terrible fate. Drawing from contemporaneous accounts, including the words of prominent chiefs, MacBain recounts how the force protected the Blackfoot from the depredations of the whiskey trade, winning their friendship and trust. It was about as far from genocidal behaviour as can be.
As Covid-19 recedes, a worldwide evaluation of how the pandemic was handled is finally underway. As much as governments, public health leaders and official science want to avoid questions, others with courage and determination are digging in and finding answers, including Canada’s privately organized National Citizens Inquiry. Margret Kopala examines the damage done by misguided public health measures and presents disturbing new evidence that vaccines were not only pointless but have caused injury and death on a horrific scale. And she reveals how efforts to fight back in the courts and against the media are gaining traction. As more information comes out, the truth about the greatest disaster of our time is becoming clearer.
The New Racism
When his son was disqualified from a summer course offered by his local high school because he wasn’t black, Gleb Lisikh was troubled, but curious. Surely such discriminatory and segregationist practices could not be sanctioned by Ontario’s Ministry of Education. So began a disturbing odyssey through the province’s human rights machinery, where Lisikh found discrimination not just tolerated but encouraged, provided the targets were of the correct race. He also soon discovered that “race” itself has been reimagined as a “social construct” that includes everything from diet and clothing to leisure preferences – things that not long ago were reviled as odious stereotypes. This is Lisikh’s account.
Freedom of Inquiry
As Canadian universities descend into apparent madness – hiring for skin colour rather than merit, enforcing draconian speech codes and unravelling the ancient protection of academic tenure – one voice has been resolute in demanding a return to higher standards in higher education. Mark Mercer, president of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship since 2015, has proved Canada’s pre-eminent defender of Enlightenment values throughout the academy. In a wide-ranging discussion with C2C Journal’s Patrick Keeney, Mercer charts the origins of our current Woke revolution, the overarching significance of academic freedom and how its loss is affecting life both on and off campus. It may not be a happy story, but it is a necessary one.
The coronation of King Charles III led many Canadians to ask, once again, a simple question: Why should an old man in a land across the sea be our head of state, simply because his ancestors were? It’s a good question, and the case against the monarchy seems powerful. Jamie C. Weir takes on the key arguments and explains why an antiquated and undemocratic institution remains the centrepiece of Canada’s unique political culture, provides a profound and even magical link to our past, and serves as an essential bulwark against the two political death-traps of anarchy and tyranny.
Power of Unions
Canadians, we are often told, are a caring and sharing people. Perhaps Canada’s federal workers and their union bosses failed to read the memo, for their recent behaviour has been the opposite: callous and greedy. After coasting through the pandemic “working from home” on full salary, Canada’s “public servants” threw tantrums over returning to the office, demanded an enormous pay increase – then went on strike and blockaded federal facilities. This week they came out of the process richer and even more coddled. Gwyn Morgan charts the federal government’s cave-in to its unionized employees and the ever-growing disparity in compensation between them and the private-sector workers who are taxed to pay for it all. Part II of a special series (Part I is here).
The freedom to choose whether or not to work is surely the most basic of worker rights. Without it, no one can ever truly be master of their own labour. Yet the federal government is planning to remove this fundamental choice from 1 million Canadian workers. And for reasons of naked self-interest. In the wake of the PSAC strike, Lynne Cohen looks at Ottawa’s plan to worsen labour relations by banning replacement workers throughout the federal civil service and across the myriad of crucial federally-regulated industries, including banking, telecom and transportation. Based on economic evidence and expert opinion, Cohen reveals the damage such a move will cause – and why potential solutions seem so far away. Part I of a special two-part series.
May 14, 1948
It is the most improbable of political ventures, the most far-fetched of stories. A nation that returns conquered lands to countries that attack it. A people who provide material aid and medical care to those who mistrust them. A culture that laughs at its brushes with extinction. And a stirring embodiment of the Western idea in a lonely and vulnerable outpost. David Solway examines Israel and finds a modern Jewish homeland whose Diamond Jubilee next month merits international celebration, a model the world should be shooting for, not shooting at, a country that provides an image of the possible while serving as a touchstone of the real.
Rule of Law
Early this month, some of the targets of the Justin Trudeau government’s imposition of the Emergencies Act to quell last year’s protests in Ottawa finally had their day in court, alongside civil liberties groups, arguing that the government’s actions were unreasonable, unconstitutional and illegal. The Attorney General of Canada’s response? That the court hearings should not even be held, that the anticipation of a theoretical threat is the same as actual violence, and that the federal Cabinet should be left alone to do as it pleases with a law deliberately written to be used only in extremis and under strict criteria. Christine Van Geyn summarizes what the two sides had to say – and notes just how much now rides on the shoulders of a lone justice of the Federal Court of Canada.
Many Canadians retain a sentimental attachment to the RCMP born of its long and, until recently, distinguished record of public service. Even as crime rates rise worrisomely across Canada, however, the force’s crime-fighting competence has increasingly come into question and its image has been tarnished by a series of fiascos. In this comprehensive look at a force under fire, Doug Firby investigates why so many jurisdictions, most notably Alberta, are considering dropping the Mounties to build their own police forces – and why the strongest impetus for change might end up coming from Ottawa.
Evolution of Media
Many are concerned about Big Tech’s increasing censorship, manipulation and left-wing bias – sometimes openly admitted. But that doesn’t mean Facebook, Google et al are always wrong, nor that their enemies are necessarily our friends. In this instance, Canada’s legacy newspapers, which are waging an increasingly unctuous campaign for legislated subsidies both from government and the unwilling tech giants. Peter Menzies believes Canada’s media companies are dead wrong. The former newspaper publisher and media regulator regards their demands as unfair extortion by a dying sector – “palliative care for zombies.” Even worse, signal an increasing dependency upon and subjugation to the censorship-happy, control-obsessed Justin Trudeau government.
Truth in History
Late in life, Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe was asked if his view of colonialism had changed in the half-century since he wrote Things Fall Apart, his famous first novel critical of British rule. “The legacy of colonialism is not a simple one,” he replied, “but one of great complexity with contradictions – good things as well as bad.” Today our understanding of that complexity is rapidly being obliterated as governments, universities and museums race to “decolonize” their institutions and make colonialism synonymous with racism, violence and exploitation. In his controversial new book Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning, British ethicist Nigel Biggar seeks to revive the notion that the British Empire contained “good things as well as bad.” The Scottish-born Biggar recently connected with Peter Shawn Taylor to discuss the morality of empire, Canada’s own colonial legacy and how it feels to be named an “honorary” Courageous Canadian.

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