Neighbourhood Watch
Urban parks were once amenities local residents escaped to – welcome refuges from the noisy chaos of city life where one could exercise, meet neighbours or simply commune with nature. Lately, however, many of these parks have become something residents desperately want to escape from. With dangerous, drug-infested homeless camps now occupying once-beloved downtown green spaces in numerous Canadian cities, and with governments seemingly incapable of stopping this invasion, it is has fallen to a few brave locals to lead the resistance. Veteran journalist Doug Firby recently sat down with one reluctant warrior, a former overseas journalist and neighbourhood mom from Vancouver who’d simply had enough.
Collective Guilt
It is fair to say that nearly any Canadian feels empathy towards the survivors of Indian Residential Schools, is glad they are being compensated and wants justice visited upon the abusers. But who was actually at fault? Individual perpetrators? The churches that ran the schools? The government that ordered them established? Canadian officialdom has decided that, in fact it’s every one of us – even those who immigrated from overseas or were born 150 years after the schools were set up. With the deep empathy and unique authority of a survivor of abuse at the hands of people entrusted with his care and education, David J. MacKinnon issues a defence of the Canadian people and a denunciation of the doctrine of collective guilt.
Rescuing History
To a Canadian of good will and fair disposition, the hostility of “protesters” who vandalize or tear down statues commemorating Canada’s past is as mysterious as it is unnerving. Where does such anger come from? And short of unconditional surrender and abject self-abasement, what is to be done to satisfy these urges? Applying a veteran educator’s perspective, Patrick Keeney finds the problem rooted in progressive reforms that have gradually debased the education of four generations of North American children, leaving the youth of today not just willfully ignorant of their past but openly hostile towards it. With a necessary note of optimism, Keeney proposes the solution is to be found – and the battle must be joined – in the soil whence it sprang.
Pandemic Management
Remember those anxious days last January when news of a deadly new virus first appeared out of China and then, like an avalanche gathering speed, spread to Italy, Spain and France? Remember how no one seemed to know what to do as the contagion made its way to our shores? If only our governments had a plan – a plan to arrest the disease and protect us from the collateral damage of our own clumsy responses. Drawing on decades of high-level experience in military and civil emergency planning and preparation, David Redman explains what went wrong with Canada’s planning process, how the errors heightened a tidal wave of fear, and what it will take to rebuild confidence in government.
Saving the Planet
Carbon dioxide emissions are a globe-girdling phenomenon driven by industrialization, and atmospheric gases obviously don’t care about national boundaries. So it’s distinctly weird that some left-leaning governments, Canada’s Liberals among them, insist that recognized emissions reductions must take place right here at home! Isn’t the goal “saving the planet”? In fact Canada has a clean-burning energy resource that’s voluminously abundant and economically accessible with current technology – and which the world can’t get enough of. As Gwyn Morgan writes, jobs, wealth-creation, tax-revenue and environmental improvement on a global scale all await, if only governments dropped their ideological blinkers.
High Culture and Politics
Among 2020’s many unfortunate pandemic casualties was the Stratford Festival. Today it’s anybody’s guess how, when or whether the beloved cultural institution, held annually in the Ontario town named for the hometown of William Shakespeare, can restart. But, writes Grant A. Brown, serious wounds were already being inflicted upon the festival – from within. A Stratford resident and business owner, Brown brings a lifelong Shakespeare lover’s perspective to his dissection of the progressive degradation of the great playwright’s greatest works and the garbling of his eternally revealing insights into human nature.
Historical truth
Were he alive today, Sir John A. Macdonald would make short work of his many present-day critics through his legendarily quick wit, disarming personality and mastery of the facts. Unfortunately, he isn’t around to defend himself against horrifying claims he committed genocide against Canada’s Indigenous people. To take on this calumny, Greg Piasetzki goes back to the source. Using Macdonald’s own words and other contemporary voices, Piasetzki brings alive our Founding Father’s determination to save native lives and protect their interests throughout his time in office.
Truth vs. Ideology
Slavery is an outrage, pure and simple, truly one where it is accurate to say “even one is too many”. But even slavery requires context. Out of the more than 12 million Africans captured and shipped across the Atlantic, by the year 1700 precisely six were held in what would later become Quebec. So how and why did La Belle Province decide to upend the truth of its past? In this version of an essay that appeared originally in the Dorchester Review, Frédéric Bastien chronicles Quebec’s bizarre orgy of “historical correctness” and the damage it is doing to memory, truth and perspective.
Trudeau’s Foreign Policy
Canada’s diplomatic, corporate and legal establishments have worked to deepen ties with China for nearly 50 years, greatly abetting the Communist state’s historic drive for international normalization. Any pushback against such a policy of ingratiation has been fragmented, weak and usually portrayed as naïve or futile. Now this half-century of appeasement has come to a head in the most surprising way. Fin dePencier examines the legal affair of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, its profound impact on Canada-China and Canada-U.S. relations, the shifting tide of public opinion and our prime minister’s often-sorry role in the ongoing drama.
History’s Echoes
The lessons of history? These days, who cares? The past is no longer revered or even carefully examined as woke-leftists seek to topple statues, cancel contrarian views and remake society in a paroxysm of radical change. Yet such an approach hasn’t rendered history entirely obsolete, just obscure. Amid the revolutionary aspirations of our current age, Peter Shawn Taylor takes a look back to where it all started ¬and finds an era awash in bold promises, tragic failings, bloody repudiations and, in the end, desperate pleas for a return to normalcy. When it comes to revolutions, what goes around, comes around.
West Coast Politics
With its bizarre political melange comprising the colourful, the confrontational, the stodgy, the greedy, the eccentric and the unhinged, B.C. often confounds locals as much as outsiders. Could it be the NDP, of all parties, led by a former steakhouse waiter, that cracks that nut, breaks that mold and at last restores a measure of stability and continuity – if of a very big-spending kind? British Columbian Steven Threndyle takes a lively look at B.C.’s recent electoral contest and ventures some predictions about the governing style of a premier who seems more earthy unionist than latte-slurping hipster.
The Legal Landscape
Barely 50 years ago a man could tire of his wife, tell her he wanted a divorce and, with a little luck in court, walk away financially intact, leaving his ex in virtual penury to start over if she could. Since then, the legal and financial pendulums have swung. And swung. And swung some more. About time, too! many will answer. But should there be no limits at all on spousal support obligations? Janice Fiamengo dissects a prominent – and, for the male party, extremely costly – divorce case to reveal the one-sidedness now baked into Canadian family law.
Defending Truth
Vilifying critics of accepted dogma as irrational extremists has become standard. Wondering whether Donald Trump is entirely bad? You’re a sexist and a xenophobe. Noticed that the always-predicted climate conflagration never quite shows up? You’re like a Holocaust denier. Think that critical race theory takes things a little too far? White supremacist! And if you question “the science”, you must be a conspiracy theorist (maybe even a Christian). Patrick Keeney is willing to go there, however, reviewing the work of a scholar whose burning commitment to real science has driven him to chronicle the malfeasance among today’s scientists and the politicians who bob along in their wake.
Political Moves
Threatening to take your ball and leave because you don’t like how the game is going is the sort of selfish behaviour we discourage in young children. So why do we celebrate it every four years when apparent adults do the same thing? With the U.S. presidential election only days away, American Democrats are once again vowing to move to Canada if Donald Trump wins. Don’t hold your breath. With bracing realism, Aaron Nava looks at how this electoral petulance always plays out, the hypocrisy it embodies and what it means for democracy in the U.S. and Canada.
Fantasy vs. Physics
Solar panels filling fields in cloudy northern countries. Wind turbines manufactured for export by the world’s largest builder of coal-fired power and worst emitter of greenhouse gases. Governments deliberately demolishing their country’s most valuable industry. It is increasingly clear that so-called green energy isn’t just another instance of youthful idealism going a little too far, much less a practical way to a clean future, but a nasty utopian ideology bent on impoverishing entire countries. Gwyn Morgan examines a slice of this destructive landscape and warns of the severe risk to Canada’s economic well-being.
Resisting Cancel Culture
In our Unbrave New World, most of us would prefer to keep our heads down or repeat empty slogans rather than face censure from the mob. Against this backdrop of timid conformity, a few determined individuals stand out for the fearlessness and gusto with which they speak their minds. Professor Frances Widdowson of Calgary’s Mount Royal University is among that handful. In a lengthy interview with Peter Shawn Taylor covering a range of important subjects, Widdowson defends her controversial stances, explains the necessity of difficult discussions and reveals how hard it can be to remain rational in these increasingly irrational times.
Free Speech, Law and Politics
It is one sign of the remorseless march of the administrative state that appeals to Canada’s Constitution appear almost quaint, as well as typically toothless. The news media often frame provincial objections to federal encroachments as claims or perceptions rather than testable assertions, as if Canada’s constitutional documents comprise long-lost secret scrolls written in a dead language. It has been Canada’s judges, however, who have most decisively tipped the balance in favour of federal supremacy in more and more areas. No case has proved too small to keep the process rolling. Not even, as Grant A. Brown reports, a dispute over a simple Ontario government sticker that even the judge had to concede was factually accurate.
Living Life
The barriers to travelling for personal reasons certainly appear daunting. They range from shifting government restrictions to the moral pressure from risk-averse peers to the slight but real probability of contracting the virus. Plus the prospect of getting stranded overseas. Daunting they are. But insurmountable? Or merely not worth the benefits in pleasure, renewed personal connections, emotional wellbeing and horizon-broadening? C2C Editor-in Chief George Koch decided to find out for himself, venturing to Europe in mid-September for three weeks. He returns with a take that we hope helps demystify the process and encourages people to keep an open mind.
Ideas with Consequences
Most of us probably regard the word “narrative” either as an creaky cliché thrown around mostly by posers or, if we unwittingly fall into the latter group, as a handy instant signal that we’re culturally au courant (to use another aging cliché). There’s far more to the concept of narrative – unfortunately. Would that it were harmless trivia. Instead it has shown not only indestructible staying power but a viral cunning, mutating and replicating and insinuating itself into every cultural nook and cranny. And that’s profoundly dangerous, writes David Solway, who provides the intellectual heavy lifting in this thorough analysis of the concept’s nature, seductive allure, political misuse and potentially civilization-wrecking power.
Labour Policy
Erin O’Toole became leader of the Conservative Party of Canada on the strength of his Big Tent vision for the party. But how big should that tent be? Recently O’Toole surprised commentators by extolling the benefits of the union movement and repeating many of its claims as Conservative policy. Matthew Lau charts the origin of this unorthodox political strategy, and its worrisome economic implications. If the Conservatives want to attract workers’ votes, he argues, they should start by recognizing the damage done by unions to growth and job creation.
Tinker vs nurture
Left versus right. Urban versus rural. Baby boomer versus millennial. Us versus them. There’s no shortage of division in society these days. As we all retreat into our separate corners, Brian Lee Crowley, head of the Ottawa-based Macdonald-Laurier Institute, offers up a brand new pair of opposing, society-defining categories: gardeners versus designers. In his review of Crowley’s latest book, veteran journalist Paul Stanway points out what works and what doesn’t with this novel take on the eternal political struggle of ideas. And how it just might decide the next federal election.
Pandemic Comparison
We are living in an “unprecedented reality” according to the recent Speech from the Throne. Certainly the effects of Covid-19 have been serious and far-reaching. But unprecedented? Hardly. As difficult as our current situation may seem, it doesn’t hold a candle to the situation 100 years ago when a vastly more terrifying global epidemic struck a far less prepared world. With a second wave of Covid-19 on the horizon, Lynne Cohen takes a close look at the Spanish flu of 1918-20 and finds many stark and revealing differences – as well as some unsettling echoes that suggest while times may change, our fundamental fears do not.
Student and Teacher
Talk, as they say, is cheap. But the right kind of talk can be priceless. Higher education began as a conversation between a tutor and a single student or a small group. It has been this way from the time of Plato onwards. Only in our era has higher education become a mass-market phenomenon. And while some regard online or remote learning as education’s apotheosis − bringing access to advanced degrees within anyone’s reach − others worry it’s accelerating the decline of thoughtful pedagogy. Drawing on his own professional background, deep love of the Western Canon and cheerful optimism, Patrick Keeney reflects on the timeless value of a real, in-depth conversation.
Race-Based Law
How do you make new laws and policies or reform old ones in a democracy? You talk openly about every aspect, carefully consider the pros and cons and the long-term implications, and strive to come up with solutions that are fair to everyone. That has been the ideal, anyway, in Canada since Confederation. So what happens when vast areas of law and policy cannot even be discussed any longer? Bruce Pardy lists the things that have become perilous to say regarding Indigenous issues – but that need to be said if Canada is to maintain a legal system that is fair to all Canadians.
Lessons of history
Supporting or working to bring about “democratic” socialism has become an alluring option for ever-more voters across North America. It is ascending on clouds of virtuous intentions, high hopes and utopian goals, backed by elaborate theories, with good doses of anger and envy adding punch. Yet it has all been tried before – and failed calamitously, an unmitigated horror ending in ruination. Luckily, people who have personally lived through it are still around to tell the tale. Through the eyes of one survivor of Eastern European communism, Doug Firby issues a stark reminder of what real oppression looks like and a plea to younger Canadians to resist the seductive call of socialism.
Lockdown vs. Living Life
It will remain forever unknowable how Canada would have fared had our country not largely aped the “lockdown” model adopted by most of the advanced countries. But there is meaningful evidence for those who care and dare to look – and the implications aren’t pretty for our public health officials and their political acolytes. Brian Giesbrecht examined an obscure, far-off country run by an eccentric old man who decided to do the pandemic his own way – and may well have saved not only his nation’s economy but hundreds of his compatriots as well.
Stories
Copernicus disproved Ptolemy. Galileo disproved Aristotle. Einstein took physics beyond Newton. Human understanding moves forward as existing beliefs and doctrine fall to bold new theories and ideas. Recognizing that enforced dogma is the enemy of progress, UBC professor Andrew David Irvine offers a lament for the rigid political monoculture currently found in Canadian universities. Amid today’s statements of political solidarity and demands for conformity, it is becoming harder and harder for independent minds to follow the evidence wherever it might lead them.
Liberal Wrongdoing
While it remains too soon to tell whether the WE Charity scandal will finally be the one that truly sticks to the Liberals and their leader, it has entirely consumed Justin Trudeau’s Covid-crisis bounce. Opposition parties are attempting to delve deeper, and even the mainstream media have shown more than a passing interest. It could get nasty indeed for the Liberals. Yet as Grant A. Brown points out, there’s so much more! As bad as WE may be, Brown urges us hold on a second and keep most of our outrage in reserve, for there’s a lot more Liberal wrongdoing where that came from.
Post-Covid Economy
“You don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone” was penned long ago as an environmentalist, anti-establishment lament. These days, the environmentalists are the establishment, industry is the underdog, and the federal Liberals have come close to destroying the nation’s foremost generator of wealth and tax revenues. Some recent pronouncements by certain federal ministers, however, have Gwyn Morgan seeing glimmerings of reason, or at least pragmatism. If they do suspend their scorched-earth campaign against oil and gas, though, it won’t be for any love of the resource sector, let alone of Alberta. It will simply be because they need the money desperately. If that’s what it takes, writes Morgan, so be it.
Monopolies vs. Markets
As you take that satisfying summertime pull of the frothy, feel crisp cool wine on your lips or perk up to the sound of ice cubes rattling, you might pause to consider just how much your adult beverage has endured to find its way into your possession. Provincial liquor control monopolies, in particular, limit the acquisition and jack up the prices of “imported” beverages – even those produced in the next province. Hopes ran high that the most recent round of legal jousting and political fine-tuning would throw things wide open. Constitutional law expert and connoisseur of fermentation and distillation Rainer Knopff explains why, sadly, killing the IILA didn’t free the beer.

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