Paying for the Pandemic
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.
Saving Our Economy
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.
Disease and Elder Care
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.
The Conservative Sensibility
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.
Our Built Environment
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.
The Individual and Technology
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.
China and Industrial Policy
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.
Reviving the Economy
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.
Post-Covid Economy
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.
Post-Covid philosophy
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.
Pensions and Politics
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.
Covid and Economy
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.
Frontier policy
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.
Progressivism vs. Freedom
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.
Coronavirus Isolation
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.
COVID-19
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.
ELITES, ACTIVISTS AND US
Democratic politics must continue even in times of war. Despite suspension of the federal Conservative leadership race amidst the coronavirus, members and supporters still need to think about how to shape their party and pick the right leader to best meet the many challenges of our era. C2C Journal has looked at revived Red Toryism, at uncompromisingly principled conservatism and at the decidedly compromised but successful Harper way. We have sought insight from abroad. And now we turn to populism. Barry Cooper applies his usual fearless thinking and cheerful bluntness to evaluate whether the Canadian political landscape has become hospitable terrain to a Canadian Trump.
REGULATORS VS. MARKETS
Solving Canada’s housing crisis shouldn’t require more than a single lesson in economics. When prices are high, a free market always responds and supplies more. Yet amidst Canada’s severe problems of housing affordability, this foolproof mechanism is continually frustrated by governments that are either ignorant of how markets work, fixated on preserving the status quo or display naked contempt for the profit motive. Peter Shawn Taylor looks at the scorn heaped on land developers, landlords and the rest of the housing supply industry and wonders how they became the villains of this story.
THE INNER CONSERVATIVE
How should the conservative mind respond to the coronavirus pandemic? Panic and despair are in ample supply, and the urge to succumb appears widespread. Others have steered, via deliberate ignorance, to fatalism, though the walls are closing in on such rebels. Both extremes are beneath thoughtful conservatives. C2C Editor-in-Chief George Koch counsels that however dark today might appear, the eternal search for objective truth – the foundation for all conservative thought – is the first necessary step along the path to seeing humankind through to brighter days.
The International Scene
As Canada’s Conservatives evaluate leadership hopefuls and ponder what their party is about and which path might lead to electoral victory, it’s easy to ignore international politics. They should take a look, for the world holds dozens of established centre-right democratic parties, and many are tackling challenges of relevance and adaptation at least as steep as those burdening Canada’s Conservatives. John Weissenberger travelled to Washington, D.C. for the annual conference of the International Democrat Union (IDU) and provides his assessment in this essay. Later this year, once international travel is restored, Weissenberger heads to Vienna to deepen his understanding at the IDU’s 2020 Forum.
Climate and Economy
Pursuing grandiose visions tends to cloud judgment, and when the vision is saving our very planet from an apprehended climate crisis, it’s little surprise that numbers are fudged, logic is twisted, the hardest-hit are ignored and entire social classes are cast into the trash. Matthew Lau, however, refuses to be dazzled by dreams. In this article, Lau remains rooted in reality and fixed on crunching the numbers to come up with some arresting conclusions about the huge costs of government climate policies to working people here and now, set against marginal if not ephemeral benefits to come over the next 80 years.
Judicial Review
When Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Beverley McLachlin stepped down in 2017, she was regarded as one of the most consequential jurists in Canadian history, largely due to her court’s activist approach to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Her career arc was also widely considered a triumph of progressive feminism in the face of an entrenched legal patriarchy. That reputation is due for a re-assessment. Grant A. Brown sifts through the evidence of McLachlin’s autobiography and various post-retirement missteps, and unearths what he feels is a surprising lack of principle, objectivity and sound reasoning.
Diplomacy and Development
The sight of Justin Trudeau’s ministers genuflecting before petty aristocrats, anarchists, tire-burners and masked thugs sickened millions of Canadians – and made some of us think about hoarding critical supplies. Aside from the venality and sheer ineffectiveness of the Liberals’ approach, Gwyn Morgan was struck by our enlightened rulers’ bone-headed misunderstanding of diplomacy. Going cap-in-hand to the people who despise you is unlikely to end well. And when there are other options, it’s unforgivable. Morgan suggests instead applying age-old principles of diplomacy – like supporting one’s allies to maximize their influence. He should know, for he has done it himself.
Leadership
In the past month’s anti-pipeline protests and blockades, Andrew Scheer seemed to find his voice at last. But for him it is too late. The Conservative Party of Canada is choosing a new leader. Much advice has been received, often urging the party to slide to the left. But perhaps its future hinges on a leadership candidate who brings a fresh set of clothes to the spring season: intelligence and courage. Maybe the key is to ignore the left-wing pundits and activists, ditch the focus groups and spurn the consultants. How about picking a leader who displays a keen mind guided by conservative principles and steadied by political bravery? That would be a new ensemble indeed. Grant A. Brown has something to say on the subject.
Conservatism in Canada
The expression “he’s earned his retirement” could have been written for Preston Manning. The party-founding Canadian political original, onetime Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, prolific author and tireless public affairs commentator has accomplished enough for any five regular folks. He’s nearly 78, has grandchildren, a ranch and loves to ride horses. But with distant echoes of the early Roman republican Cincinnatus or the late Roman emperor Diocletian, crises of the state and confusion among the citizenry press upon him. So Manning finds himself doing double-duty as the most politically experienced member of Alberta’s Fair Deal Panel and, today in Toronto, launching a nationwide tour to promote his new book aimed at the current problems of democracy and conservatism in Canada. Paul Stanway reviews.
Tax Dollars
With fiscally-conservatives parties in power in most provinces and deficits plaguing nearly all of them, contentious labour negotiations with entrenched public-sector unions seem inevitable, and strikes are very likely to follow. Ontario’s current teachers’ strike is thus a sign of things to come, with Alberta probably close behind. So how should politicians prepare themselves for the pain of long, drawn-out public sector strikes – perhaps even avoiding the typical ignominious climb-down? Peter Shawn Taylor reveals how one provincial government came up with a simple, parent-friendly strategy to buy itself time for credible negotiations.
Future of Conservatism
There are two components to any political movement: theory and reality. A coherent political ideology is crucial to any functioning party, but so too is recognizing a viable path to success. Few Canadians have as much direct experience fusing political theory with political reality as Tom Flanagan − scholar, author and senior decision-maker in three major conservative political organizations. In the second installment of C2C Journal’s Future of Conservatism Special Series, Flanagan reveals four important lessons from the recent past as the Conservative Party of Canada reassembles the shards of its devastating October electoral defeat.
Freedom of Speech
Secret video recordings. Former counter-terrorism policemen interrogating a lone journalist over his recent book and promotional lawn signs. Insults and accusations of bullying. Potentially draconian fines and even jail time over spending $501 or more on a perfectly legal service that thousands of businesses use daily. Grant A. Brown chronicles Act I of the tragicomic battle between free speech warrior Ezra Levant of Rebel News and the Commissioner of Canada Elections – and warns that free speech rights for all of us are again under threat.
Plea to Politicians
It’s difficult to imagine that even Canada’s activist appellate courts truly intended what they eventually wrought with the doctrine of “aboriginal consultation”. But here we are, with tiny minorities-within-minorities seeking vetoes over critical projects, oblivious to the impact on tens of thousands of others. The federal government, meanwhile, is busily deepening the hole as it kowtows to UN directives as ignorant as they are arrogant. Gwyn Morgan evaluates the farcical melodrama and issues a stout “Stop!” Will the politicians listen?
Indigenous Welfare
No one will disagree that there’s something terribly broken with Indigenous child welfare in Canada. But is the solution for the rest of the country to give up caring about native children altogether? That’s the plan behind new federal legislation that aims to ‘fully Indigenize’ child welfare services. Drawing on his own deep experience with the tragic consequences of the current system, former Manitoba provincial court judge Brian Giesbrecht reveals why Ottawa’s new approach will simply perpetuate Canada’s long history of failure to protect native children from the real causes of family dysfunction.

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