Few Canadians have any connection to our depleted military, fewer still enlist, and the number who consider joining a special branch of a foreign country’s forces that began as a way to soak up society’s dregs must be vanishingly small. Yet that was the path chosen by Joel Struthers, and his five years spent in the French Foreign Legion don’t seem to have done him any lasting harm. Peter Shawn Taylor shows that the historical aura of the kepi-clad brawlers still exerts a romantic tug on certain modern-day hearts in this fond portrayal of one Canadian’s life in the Legion and his remarkable work since getting out intact.
Conservatives, centrists – heck, just about anyone not on the far “progressive” end of the spectrum – probably think too many people are claiming victim status. Many of us do seem nauseated by the never-ending official apologies and constant picking on the country. Yet self-professions of victimhood by ever-more atomized groups and dubious claimants seemingly march ever-onward. What to actually do about it? How to even confront it? Veteran journalist Paul Stanway peers into a new book and discovers what might be an answer.
A book’s significance doesn’t always lie in its literary quality. Poor writing, storytelling and plot might be fatal for a novelist, but politicians can often get away with all this and more. Their work’s importance lies in the insight provided into the mind of the person who presumes to rule, or participate in ruling, a country. Brian Giesbrecht finds it is just so with Jody Wilson-Raybould’s From Where I Stand. The public’s heroine in the SNC-Lavalin affair just won re-election as an Independent MP and, for good or ill, is likely to influence Canadian public policy for many years to come.
The Harper Conservatives’ only major scandal was driven by a sole Senator and those who tried to pay back the piffling $90,000 in question. Yet that misstep plagued them for years and contributed to their 2015 defeat. It seems they’re just not like the Liberals. Those guys know how to do scandal. They think big – the Sponsorship Scandal alone totalled $100 million – their habits are well-honed and their expertise is inter-generational. You could say it’s in their political DNA. Chronicling it all could fill a multi-volume history. Fearless muckraker Ezra Levant has made a start with a new book focused on the most recent phase, the Justin Trudeau years. Barry Cooper reviews Levant’s The Libranos.
The Liberal government’s relentless assault on the West’s resource economy must have countless older Albertans (and Saskatchewanians) seething at Eastern Canada’s refusal to mature beyond its politics of envy and younger generations mystified that the careers they studied and worked hard to launch are pronounced destined for phase-out by our current prime minister. In this essay, C2C Journal pairs two veterans of the federal-provincial energy wars: oilpatch insider Dave Yager, author of a new book on Alberta’s resource sector and its immense contribution to Canada, and political scientist Barry Cooper, who reviews Yager’s From Miracle to Menace: Alberta, A Carbon Story.
The future belongs to Canada. And it seems it always will, at least going by the many failed predictions of Canada’s imminent emergence as a praised and respected world-class nation. That’s because it’s not really about Canada in the global community, it’s all about us and our insecurities, writes Benjamin L. Woodfinden. That’s also why Woodfinden expects prodigious commentator, author and former news media magnate Conrad Black’s prescription to transform Canada into a “laboratory” – though a “sensible” one – for great new policies, or at least policies Black thinks are new and great, to go the way of similarly grandiose historical attempts.
The Mueller report icing the Russian collusion charges did not end Trump Derangement Syndrome. You can still trigger an argument just by wearing a red baseball cap with a certain caption on it. But a new book about the Trump era so far, by American conservative scholar Victor Davis Hanson, is mercifully TDS-free. Hanson’s bias in The Case for Trump is that whatever the failings of the disruptor, the Deep State needed disrupting. As the SNC scandal lifts the veil on Canada’s own Deep State, Barry Cooper wonders if it will be the harbinger of our own disruptor.
2019 marks the 40th anniversary of the election of Prime Minister Joe Clark. “Joe Who?” millions will ask. Don’t worry. That’s what he was called in 1979 too. There is a modest effort underway to try burnish his legacy by Central Canada’s few remaining Red Tories. It includes a play which portrays Clark as more honest than Brian Mulroney, much nicer than Stephen Harper, and less vulgar than Pierre Trudeau. 1979 had a Clark-like run – i.e. short – on a Toronto stage in January. Neil Hrab attended and found the play marred by earnest overreach, rather like the man.
A tour of Southeast Asia brought Patrick Keeney to the city of Yangon in Myanmar and its clutch of used bookstores on Pansodan Street. He writes of the joy of his literary discoveries there, in language echoing Orwell’s beautiful prose in Burmese Days.
Stephen Harper’s new book about the populist uprising against globalization provides pithy insights into contemporary politics. But his lesser-known 2013 work about the early days of professional hockey reveals more about the author and his place in politics. Just as the Central Canadian elites once conspired to keep working-class players out of hockey, so they tried to keep Harper out of power, and failed on both counts. James Coggins detects a hint of gleeful revenge in the hockey-as-social-history writing of Canada’s 22nd prime minister.