Fighting Cancel Culture
Politics may divide us, but what brings us together? With traditional cultural institutions such as religion in decline, sports and entertainment were filling the breach – generating a set of shared experiences crucial to a cohesive society. Lately, however, these pastimes have become poisoned with the same partisan rancour and division familiar to politics and the news media. But as conservative entertainers find themselves cancelled by corporate wokeism, their fans are finding new ways to push back. As right and left seek their own separate sources of entertainment, Aaron Nava ponders whether our future might even include a common culture.
Stories
Federal equalization has become a decades-long windfall for Quebec and an unending slow bleed for Alberta – that much is well-known. But the constitutionally enshrined policy has not merely levelled the playing field for Canada’s “have-not” provinces, it has enabled some of them to fund better public services than “rich” provinces. And, further, to hide billions in revenue that should be used to assess whether they even qualify for equalization. Tom Flanagan sets out the perverse incentives and bizarre outcomes baked into Canada’s equalization policy. More important, Flanagan lays out a plausible scenario for how Alberta could soon break the constitutional logjam.
Stories
In 2017, everyone had an opinion about Lindsay Shepherd, the young Wilfrid Laurier University grad student who went public with the school administration’s attempt to punish her for showing a video of Jordan Peterson to a class of first-year students. Was she a brave defender of open inquiry values? An opportunistic glory-hound? Or a deliberate purveyor of bigotry? After having her story told (and mis-told) repeatedly by others, Shepherd now looks to set the record straight. Veteran journalist Paul Stanway examines her newly-released memoirs and discovers a woman no one should ever underestimate.
Political Leadership
Canada’s Conservatives drew a bigger share of the popular vote than the Liberals in the last federal election. Today the Liberal government is mired in scandal, more-than-merely-runaway spending and a horrifically underperforming Covid-19 vaccine acquisition program. Yet the government’s popularity remains solidly ahead of the Official Opposition’s. New Conservative leader Erin O’Toole promises a new approach, better policies and a different-looking party, but so far most Canadians don’t understand or don’t like what he’s offering. Gwyn Morgan thinks he knows why, and employs a pointed format to offer an alternative pitch from O’Toole to those millions of orphaned Canadian voters.
Saving Humour
When the New York Times admonishes the unmistakeably satirical Babylon Bee for spreading “misinformation”, it’s likely a sign that humour is dying – or being killed off. Similarly when the formerly-fearless Bill Maher laments how it’s no longer safe to tell a joke at a party lest one be overheard by a Woke listener and ruined. And even more so when politicians threaten to ban internet memes that lampoon the elites. The eminently serious David Solway reminds us of the essential contribution of humour and laughter to the well-balanced and healthy life – of individual and culture – and points to the civilizational wreckage were levity stamped out. And before it’s too late, suggests we all head out for some subversive “gynecandrical” dancing.
Labour pains
Surely everyone can agree on the necessities of the democratic process – engaged voters, secret ballots and no dirty tricks. So why are these rules, considered essential to picking governments, frequently ignored when it comes to picking unions across Canada? While most provinces require a mandatory vote to determine if workers wish to join a union, some omit this crucial step. Giving voice to a group of concerned small-business owners and their workers, Peter Shawn Taylor reveals how “card-check” union certification is abusing workplace democracy in Ontario’s vital construction sector.
Positive vs. Negative Liberties
Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees liberty to all, but neglects to explain what the word really means. Is it the freedom to be left alone, as classical scholars understood it? Or the right to demand that government provide you with the ability to fulfil your own needs and wants, as the progressive definition holds? John Sikkema reports on a case that brings these two competing meanings into sharp conflict – a recent lawsuit against the New Brunswick government that makes bold claims about one of the most contentious issues of our time.
Comparing Four States
Randomized control trials may be the gold standard for generating scientific evidence, but such precision isn’t always possible. Natural experiments – such as comparing similarly-situated jurisdictions responding to the same crisis through different policy choices – offer the next best thing and sometimes the only thing. Using two carefully selected pairs of U.S. states, Masha V. Krylova examines key Covid-19 metrics across a year of hard and softer pandemic response policies. The results of her meticulously researched natural experiment provide important evidence on the efficacy of lockdowns and how we should tackle future pandemics.
Politics of Division
More information is generally a good thing, especially when it comes to government statistics. Better data should lead to better decisions and better outcomes. But is this always so? Consider Statistics Canada’s recent dive into race-based labour-market data. Philip Cross, former chief economic analyst at Statcan, and Peter Shawn Taylor observe that reporting on unemployment rates across 12 racial categories will do nothing to reduce inequality or make Canada a fairer place to live. It’s far more likely to stoke claims of systemic racism, further polarize society and distract from the task of economic recovery.
Death of Books?
Books – what are they good for, anyway? They’re bulky, they gather dust, they get frayed, they offer little that can’t be rendered digitally. Yet in the past, wars were fought over the people’s right to read, and spreading literacy became among society’s foremost social goals. Time was when some even risked prison to get their clutches on books they craved. Today, some see signs we’re about to turn our back on all of that. Patrick Keeney considers this civilization-threatening subject in his light-hearted meditation on his own voluminous collection of volumes.
Illiberalism on Campus
The closing of the campus mind is proceeding apace. Today more than two-thirds of right-leaning academics across North America consider themselves caught in a hostile workplace. While several Canadian provincial governments have unveiled policies to officially protect free speech at post-secondary institutions, Ian Brodie believes that the nature of the university governance model and sheer resistance doom this top-down model to failure. A new approach is needed. Otherwise, predicts Brodie, the “progressive” left’s campaign to impose its upside-down definitions of diversity and tolerance will continue to rack up wins.
Covid Politics
While much of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s behaviour remains mysterious, one pattern seems clear: the greater the hand of Canada’s Liberal government in the response, the higher the likelihood of a shambles. One can virtually plot the curve! International travel policy is an egregious and worsening example. While “essential” travellers who have collectively logged millions of border-crossings remain exempt from Covid-19 testing, and arriving migrant farm workers head straight to the fields, those travelling for “mere” personal reasons must foot the bill for hotel-prisons and remain quarantined even after two tests. Gwyn Morgan chronicles the mess – and fingers the culprit.
Media Bias
The news business is at its least reliable when reporting on itself. Coverage of a media company’s own financial results, for example, is inevitably glowing and upbeat, whatever the actual figures might say. The same thing holds for concerns over “fake news”. Seizing on recent panic about the spread of misinformation, and thanks to a generous federal grant, Canada’s legacy newspapers have devised their own system for identifying fake news. But as Peter Shawn Taylor discovers, the criteria strangely celebrate their own product at the expense of their many online competitors. And much of it contradicts the basic rules of good journalism.
Overcoming Adversity
Who kicks a person when they’re down? Who dresses up their own resentment, spite or ideological fervour as analysis? One doesn’t need to agree with Jordan Peterson’s every idea to regard his recent comeback from the brink of death, destruction and oblivion as welcome, commendable and inspiring. At least worth a shred of empathy. But not from the more doctrinaire of his woke Left critics. As Janice Fiamengo finds, they aren’t just revelling in the popular author’s misfortune but are committing what they normally consider an unforgivable sin: blaming the victim.
Tyranny of lies
“The whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought”, George Orwell wrote in his famous novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. “In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.” Orwell understood that whoever controls language controls political thought. And such an insight is as applicable to Myanmar in 2021 as it was to Oceania in 1984. Using Orwell as his guide, and relying on his extensive personal contacts throughout the country, C2C Journal associate editor Patrick Keeney takes a close look at reality and meaning in the recent coup in Myanmar.
Cancelling A Culture
Any Canadian possessed of a basic curiosity and sensitivity who ventures abroad will notice the tendency of locals to extol their country’s achievements and their culture’s delights, rendered with an enthusiasm and detail that quickly make it plain what the place and its people are all about. So why should Canadians be condemned to inhabit a country that has been engineered not even to have a culture all its own? John Weissenberger, a Montreal native and son of postwar refugees, chronicles the disturbing decisions of an increasingly self-loathing governing elite, how it spurned the legacy of a once-confident millennium-old society and offered millions of newcomers a hollowed-out shell.
The Covid Trap
Pandemic-rattled politicians and health officials would do well to recall the lesson of King Canute. The early 11th century Danish-English king had his throne carried to the seashore and commanded the tides to stop. They didn’t. It was meant as an exercise in humility; Canute was revealing that even absolute monarchs face limitations to their powers. Such self-awareness seems to elude Canada’s present-day rulers. Last spring, Brian Giesbrecht and George Koch write, our leaders simply got lucky when the Covid-19 tides receded. And having drawn exactly the wrong lesson about their powers, they set for themselves a political trap that has ensnared us all.
Job Killing Policies
One might think that with Canada’s formidable array of pandemic restrictions, lockdowns, curfews, shuttered businesses and myriad other prohibited places and activities, the last thing Canadians need is another incentive to stay home and do nothing. And yet demands for paid sick days are now reaching a fevered pitch. Alongside labour and the political left, even some business groups claim to support the idea. As Peter Shawn Taylor finds, however, European-style sick-day benefits are no panacea. In fact, they threaten great harm to Canada’s post-pandemic economic recovery.
Defending Individual Rights
Preston Manning, former Leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition, founder and leader of the Reform Party of Canada and, most recently, member of Alberta’s Fair Deal Panel, compares the many damaging consequences of Canada’s pandemic management to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and finds that governments have violated virtually every right it enumerates – repeatedly and egregiously. Furthermore, governments have refused even to attempt to show that such violations are “demonstrably justified” in a free and democratic society. Though retired from politics, Manning brings a stature that cannot be ignored, giving voice to millions of Canadians who believe that individual rights and freedoms need protection most especially during times of national crisis.
Conflict studies
The “Great Game” was a series of military and political manoeuvres and confrontations during the 19th and 20th centuries between Imperial Britain and Tsarist Russia over control of central Eurasia. Today that game continues, but with regional power Turkey having replaced Britain. A bloody war late last year between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the ancient battleground of Nagorno-Karabakh represents the latest episode of this ongoing powerplay. Arriving just weeks after the fighting ended, Fin dePencier offers an eyewitness account of the war’s chaotic aftermath, its terrible human cost and the role played by Canadian volunteers in helping Armenia recover from its devastating loss.
Higher standards of conduct
The rise of the educated middle class over the past 250 years is one of the great triumphs of Western civilization. But just as the middle class became ascendant, the intellectual left began figuring out how to tear it back down, an impulse that has since spread to virtually every privileged element in society. The elite’s war on the middle’s prosperity, social mobility and freedom has been accelerating. Where might it take us? Author David Solway is not alone in thinking it won’t end until we are reduced to a new serfdom that, though partially masked by the peons’ access to 21st century gadgetry and other technology, will be very similar in social structure and oppressiveness to the Middle Ages.
Resisting Totalitarianism
We have fallen a long way since the day, seemingly lifetimes ago, when “The End of History” and the global triumph of liberal democracy were considered plausible political predictions. Today a bellicose Russia is still tormenting its neighbours, China is on a global rampage and democracy itself is looking beaten-up. Why is this happening? Maria Krylova believes that totalitarianism derives much of its momentum and longevity from the human psyche itself. In this essay drawing on her understanding of Russian history and literature, her formal education and her burning belief in freedom, the adoptive Canadian issues an eloquent warning that no society is truly immune.
Saving the Economy
Canada’s economy was supposed to have been cruising along the road to recovery by late last year. Instead, the nation is once again shedding jobs, unemployment is high, companies continue to shrink or go under, entire industries are threatened and growth is almost nowhere to be seen. So why are governments seemingly doing everything in their power not only to hold back recovery but destroy much of what remains? Gwyn Morgan assesses several key areas of our nation’s battered economy and reviews the central role played by poorly thought-out, unneeded and avoidable government policies in each one.
Human Dignity
Ever since the mid-1990s when Sue Rodriguez and Robert Latimer forced euthanasia onto the Canadian landscape, debate has been passionate and polarizing. In recognition of this controversy, the federal Liberals’ 2016 assisted-suicide legislation set strict limits on the procedure and promised a full review after five years. Barely three years later, however, the Trudeau government changed its mind. Now, a new law removing nearly every existing restriction sits with the Senate awaiting final approval. Lynne Cohen lays bare the legislation’s deadly implications, the political machinations that brought us here, and how the entire concept of human rights has been stood on its head.
Defending Mobility Rights
Influence-peddling. Self-dealing. Nepotism. Junketeering. The ways politicians can betray the public trust are legion. But should this list include behaviour that not only abides by the law, but offers a welcome example of independent thought and self-care? Politicians from diverse parties across Canada have been excoriated and, in some instances, dramatically punished for going abroad for personal reasons during the holiday season. While this may contravene government “recommendations” to stay home, C2C Journal editor George Koch argues passionately that all Canadians – including those whom we elected – should be allowed to act as the law permits. And that includes international travel.
Attack on Free Trade
The mutual gains created by international trade have been well-established since 1817, when economist David Ricardo first explained why Portugal sold wine to Britain, and Britain traded cloth to Portugal. Capitalizing on each’s “comparative advantage,” Ricardo observed, raised overall incomes and left consumers better off in both countries. The same still holds today. Yet our current global pandemic has many claiming self-sufficiency in all things is not only a virtue, but a national necessity. With Canada’s future prosperity at risk from an outbreak of Covid-19 inspired protectionism, Peter Shawn Taylor explains just what’s at stake and offers a stout defence of classic free trade principles.
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.

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