Elections, elections, elections … what’s happening to democracy in Turkey, Thailand, and Alberta today?

Posted: May 18th, 2023 | No Comments »
Approaching Istanbul by boat, late September 2007.

SPECIAL FROM L. FRANK BUNTING, GRAND BEND, ON. 18 MAY 2023. My only first-hand memories of Turkey go back almost 16 years, to the early fall of 2007.

It was just after the big second victory of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the July 22 election that year.

But it was still comparatively early on in Erdoğan’s 20-year career as Turkish prime minister (2003-2014) and then president (2014 to present, with a constitutional shift from a parliamentary to a presidential system of apparently still more or less democratic government in 2018!).

My early fall 2007 Turkish experience was also largely confined to the forward-looking ancient cities of Izmir and Istanbul — both almost surprisingly modern versions of very old urban pasts (somewhat but not quite like Athens or Rome).

Istanbul in 2007 and Turkey’s 2023 elections

Near Topkapi Palace in downtown Istanbul, late September 2007.

Istanbul in 2007 was especially fascinating — a place where a rigorous enough Islamic religious practice still seemed to live comfortably side by side with a more liberal and secular urban culture (a legacy of Kemal Ataturk’s modernization and secularization after the First World War).

From this highly limited vantage point back then Erdoğan seemed a possibly almost progressive reformer in Turkish politics. And Turkey at least appeared to have some authentic potential as a serious Islamic democracy.

Times have subsequently changed. Erdoğan has come to seem much more like a a hardcore Islamic nationalist with a right-wing authoritarian bent.

For a brief moment the Turkish elections this past Sunday, May 14, 2023 held out some prospect of more democratic change. (See, eg, Briar Stewart at CBC News on “Energized opposition and poor economy could spell defeat for Turkey’s long-time leader … Polls suggest opposition is narrowly leading Erdogan, raising possibility of 2nd round of voting” ; and Kaya Genç at the London Review of Books on “Erdoğan’s Challenger … Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition party.”)

Walking tour in downtown Istanbul, January 2023.

In the end, however, though a second round of voting on Sunday, May 28, 2023 now does seem likely (with no candidate quite securing 50% of the vote in the first round), Erdoğan also seems likely enough to win this second round — and another five years in office.

As reported by BBC News : “Turkey’s battle for the presidency looks almost certain to go to a run-off, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan set for a four-point lead in the first round ,,, Opposition challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu also claimed to have victory in his grasp … But incomplete results give him around 45%, with Mr Erdogan on more than 49% of the vote.”

BBC News continues : “And Mr Erdogan has an added boost as he seeks to extend his presidency. His People’s Alliance of parties has also won a majority in parliament, according to preliminary figures provided by the state news agency … For months, Turkey’s disparate opposition parties had pooled their resources in a bid to bring an end to a president who has extended his power dramatically since a failed coup against him in 2016 … Turks went out to vote in very high numbers. Officials put the turnout at 88.8% … [the highest turnout in any Canadian federal election has been 79.4% in 1958]… And … despite a very difficult few months, Turkey’s dominant president appears to have the upper hand.”

A more democratic progressive election in Thailand?

Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat, whose party won the most seats in May 14 Thai election, speaks at post-election press conference in Bangkok.

Meanwhile something closer to an encouraging democratic and progressive surge does seem to have taken place this past Sunday, May 14 in Thailand — homeland of the Rogers and Hammerstein musical The King and I (with Yul Brynner playing the lead in both the 1951 Broadway musical and the 1956 movie).

At the same time, even here an altogether democratic and progressive conclusion remains elusive. I can do no better than quote the analysis of Ishaan Tharoor (with Sammy Westfall) in The Washington Post :

“Psephologists in the United States have long puzzled over the demographic moment when a younger generation of voters will form the single most important critical mass in American elections. In Thailand, it appeared to happen Sunday. Analysts had expected the country’s electorate to reject the military-backed establishment that has been in power since a 2014 coup. But they hadn’t quite predicted the extent to which voters would turn to an upstart faction, powered by Millennial and Gen Z energy.

“The progressive Move Forward Party, led by 42-year-old Ivy League-educated business executive Pita Limjaroenrat, pulled off a stunning result, coming in first with a predicted 152 seats in the 500-seat lower house. In second with likely 141 seats was Pheu Thai, the main opposition party, led by Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the 36-year-old daughter of exiled populist former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Beautiful downtown Istanbul, late September 2007.

“The two opposition parties both secured far greater vote shares than the paltry 36 seats projected to have been won by the party of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the former military leader who seized office following the 2014 coup and renewed his mandate through a controversial election in 2019. The election result offered, first and foremost, a blunt message to the army, which has a decades-long history of interrupting the country’s democracy.

“‘This is an unmistakable frontal rebuke, a rejection of Thailand’s military authoritarian past,’ Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political scientist from Chulalongkorn University, told CNN. “It’s a rejection of military dominance in politics.’” Yet : “An alliance between Move Forward, Pheu Thai and a number of smaller parties could command up to 60 percent of Thailand’s lower house. But that still may not be enough to oust Prayuth and his allies. Under rules established by the military-backed government, the job of prime minister is determined by a calculation combining both the 500 seats of the lower house and the 250 members of the unelected Senate, which is stuffed with boosters of the establishment. Thailand’s military leaders appoint all 250 senators. The race to secure an overall majority of 376 members backing a prime ministerial candidate may prove complex

Meanwhile back in Alberta — Canada’s dynamic fourth most populous oil-and-gas-rich province between the Prairies and the Rocky Mountains

Angus Reid on Alberta election, May 17, 2023.

Finally, for a time it almost seemed like Rachel Notley’s New Democrats would handily enough defeat Danielle Smith’s governing United Conservative Party in the Alberta provincial election on Monday, May 29, 2023. (Presumably if current worrying wildfires in the north don’t get much worse.) And this would be a local Canadian triumph for the democratic and progressive cause in a usually much more conservative place!

Here too, however, as voting day has drawn closer the good news for the democratic and progressive cause has apparently grown quite thin. Of four recent polls by major firms all of Angus Reid, Ipsos, and Mainstreet Research now have Danielle Smith’s UCP somewhat ahead of Rachel Notley’s NDP. Only Abacus Data still has the NDP somewhat ahead.

Naheed Nenshi, former purple (mixed red and blue) mayor of Calgary (and said to be the first Muslim mayor of any North American big city) has done his best to explain the situation to non-Albertans, in “In Alberta, will ‘good enough’ be good enough for Rachel Notley and the NDP?”.

Abacus Data on Alberta election, May 17, 2023.

Mr. Nenshi has also most recently tweeted a reference to the latest Angus Reid poll‘s reference to the concentration of UCP support among voters over the age of 54 — and the parallel concentration of NDP support among voters under the age of 35. He notes that “Gen Z and millennials made a huge difference in the US midterms. Will they vote this time” in Alberta?

If voters under the age of 35 do turn out en masse on May 29 the NDP could do better than the latest polls seem to be saying, on balance. And this appears somewhat parallel to this past Sunday’s election in Thailand as well.

Old and new cultures in Istanbul, late September 2007

In Thailand in fact, as Ishaan Tharoor with Sammy Westfall at The Washington Post have recently noted, “a younger generation of voters” did “form the single most important critical mass.” And analysts beforehand “hadn’t quite predicted the extent to which voters would turn to an upstart faction, powered by Millennial and Gen Z energy.”

So, cast in terms of the wider global village (a concept much discussed by the late Marshall McLuhan who was born in Edmonton, Alberta), the big question about the Alberta election on May 29, 2023 could be whether it turns out more like the Thai election on May 14, 2023, or the Turkish election on May 14 and 28, 2023.

(And even if it is the former, Ms Notley will of course still have to contend with her own country’s unelected Senate in Ottawa! Which is at least only appointed by the prime minister, not the Canadian Armed Forces … or even the Mounties! … So far at any rate, I think as I gaze out at the suddenly choppy waters of the great Lake Huron, here on the sparkling beach at Grand Bend.)

Offshore Coronation : last leg of long journey to Canadian republic begins

Posted: May 6th, 2023 | No Comments »
Tom Thomson, “The Canoe,” 1912.

COUNTERWEIGHTS EDITORS, GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. MAY 6, 2023. Almost by accident we have stumbled across a (for us) especially sensible way of commemorating the events of today back in the old imperial metropolis across the seas.

Recently our colleague Randall White completed the last or concluding draft chapter of his political-history work in progress, Children of the Global Village : Democracy in Canada Since 1497 — entitled “Epilogue : the near future.” A final version (we are assured) will be published in hard copy by eastendbooks in the near enough future. Meanwhile, Dr. White posted the current draft on the Heritage Now section of this counterweights website late yesterday.

Ojibwa allies of Ottawa Chief Pontiac’s Rebellion in defence of Canada at Fort Michilimackinac, May 1763. Painting by Robert Griffing.

Shortly after the posting was complete last night a few of us gathered with the author for some last-minute reflections — on his book project and on the coronation in London, England , which many of us on this side of the Atlantic Ocean somewhat reluctantly woke up to this morning.

On finally completing “Epilogue : the near future” (and thus the entire draft of Democracy in Canada Since 1497) Dr. White had only two brief thoughts :

“First, having now looked the last chapter Epilogue over online I’m somewhat appalled myself by its excessive length. Only a select few today will read quite so much — about anything. For the time being I’ve tried to deal with the problem by putting most of the excessive length in an Appendix that only insomniacs need consult in depth. Most readers can stop at the end of the first 10 pages of the hard-copy printed text.”

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Why Is the Unreformed Senate of Canada still unreformed almost 100 years later?

Posted: April 29th, 2023 | No Comments »
“Days before Japan’s Hakuto-R lunar lander apparently crashed into the moon’s surface on Tuesday, it snapped a truly gorgeous picture of our planet.”

OTTAWA VIEWED FROM A (COMPARATIVELY SHORT) DISTANCE WEST. RANDALL WHITE, FERNWOOD PARK, TORONTO, FRIDAY, APRIL 28, 2023. A few recent items in the news raise a few fresh questions about just what is going on in the Trudeau-Liberal-reformed Senate of Canada in the second quarter of 2023? See, eg, “P.E.I. Senate replacements taking too long, says Downe … No other province has half of its seats vacant, senator says.”

And then there’s the Senate’s role in prolonging passage of Bill C-11 to regulate online streaming. For the last stages here see : “’Time to move on,’ minister says, as Senate debates passing Bill C-11 without further changes”; “With Bill C-11 on the verge of becoming law, Senate Conservatives decry gov’t debate cut-off plans” ; and “Controversial bill to regulate online streaming becomes law … Bill C-11 prompted much debate in its tumultuous journey through Parliament.”

The long journey to the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments

Current Temporary Senate of Canada Building in Ottawa’s old central train station, while the Senate’s permanent home, Parliament’s Centre Block, is undergoing its first major rehabilitation since the building’s opening in 1920.

Both the current Trudeau Liberal and the preceding Harper Conservative governments have made half-hearted efforts to reform a Senate of Canada that still has more in common with the UK House of Lords than the US or Australian Senates (or “upper houses”). Former PM Harper at least aptly characterized the current Canadian upper house as “a relic of the 19th century.”

In a 21st century parliamentary democracy that was at all serious about democratic politics the Senate of Canada would have been reformed long ago. (Back, say, when Robert A. MacKay first published his seminal The Unreformed Senate of Canada in 1926 . And this was 13 years after the US Senate became elected by popular vote, with the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment. In Canada’s fellow former British dominion and current Commonwealth realm of Australia, a Senate elected by popular vote was born with the Constitution of the modern country itself in 1901 — 25 years before Mr. MacKay’s still instructive book on a Senate effectively appointed by the federal prime minister in Canada.)

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Could some Liberal-New Democrat “non-aggression pact” really be the progressive wave of the future in Canadian federal politics this time ????

Posted: April 14th, 2023 | No Comments »
Michael Seward, ‘Carbon Footprint: Nobody’s Tale. 2023. 24”sq.’

COUNTERWEIGHTS EDITORS, GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. APRIL 14, 2023. Wiser heads than ours have remarked that Canadian federal politics today reflects the consequences of “proportional representation” elections without actually having proportional representation.

Stephen Harper’s new Conservative Party of Canada had one majority and two minority governments between 2006 and 2015. And now Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party of Canada will likely enough have one majority and two minority governments between 2015 and possibly as late as 2025.

Moreover, if the real world were ever to unfold as hypothesized in Éric Grenier’s “Weekly Writ for Apr. 12: What if the Liberal-NDP deal went past 2025?”, another minority government could likely enough result from the next Canadian federal election “on or before October 20, 2025.” Mr. Grenier, eg, provocatively asks us to contemplate the following future scenario :

It is a chilly March morning in 2025. Justin Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh appear at an Ottawa press conference. The confidence and supply agreement their two parties embraced back in March 2022, they say, has worked so well that it “will be extended into the next parliament — if Canadians re-elect a majority of Liberal and NDP MPs in the upcoming election. And to help them do that, the two parties have signed a non-aggression pact … ‘It’s not a merger, and it’s not a coalition,’ Trudeau says, as Singh nods.”

What does Liberal-NDP non-aggression pact in 2025 election mean?

Cartoon by Patrick Corrigan in Canadian Dimension, May 2022.

This non-aggression pact just involves the two parties’ agreeing on a list of ridings (or electoral districts) in which there will be only one Liberal or NDP candidate in the 2025 election.

In each riding on the list the one party will be whichever of the two has the best chance of winning. And ideally it should be a place where the customary vote of the other party to the pact could also help the projected winner beat the Conservative candidate and supporter of (we agree) the appalling Pierre Poilievre. Mr. Grenier provides examples of both Liberal-winner and NDP-winner riding possibilities.

(And in assessing the likelihood that the Poilievre Conservatives just might win at least their own minority government in 2025, note that the Harper Conservatives managed this in 2006 with not quite 36.3% of the Canada-wide popular vote. Note as well that a March 9, 2023 Mainstreet Research poll gave the Poilievre Conservatives 37% of the vote — as did a February 15, 2023 Abacus poll — though the April 2, 2023 338Canada projection gives only 34%!)

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On the edge of history in the USA .. as Manhattan DA confronts former president’s Crimes and Misdemeanors

Posted: April 3rd, 2023 | No Comments »
Michael Seward, “The Torment of Wm. Blake,” March 2023.

NORTH AMERICAN NOTEBOOK. RANDALL WHITE, FERNWOOD PARK, TORONTO, SUNDAY, APRIL 2, 2023. My first encounter with US TV this Sunday morning (with Donald Trump to be arraigned Tuesday in New York) was all about this year’s unusual March Madness — the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s annual quest “to determine the … Division I men’s college basketball national champion.”

I clicked on CNN just as Victor Blackwell and Amara Walker were showing great amazement and amusement at clips of yesterday’s stunning end to the San Diego State vs Florida Atlantic semi-final game, when : “San Diego State needed a furious second-half comeback and an incredible buzzer-beater from Lamont Butler to hold off FAU and advance to its first National Championship game in program history.”

The (only half) illusion of American business-as-usual good humour in March Madness

San Diego State teammates congratulate Lamont Butler on his incredible buzzer-beater basket that put his team past Florida Atlantic University 72-71 on April 1, 2023.

That clips of the final moments of a college basketball game could unleash such merriment and good feeling among two (admittedly congenial) US TV co-anchors (and no doubt that they also were the African American Mr. Blackwell and the Korean American Ms. Walker) somehow made it seem that things were still fundamentally upbeat business-as-usual in the USA today.

Former president Mr. Trump’s experience turning himself in to the authorities in Manhattan on Tuesday 4 April 2023 will be historically unprecedented. But this is also a country that has lived through one quite real civil war — in which as many as 750,000 human lives were lost according to one recent estimate. (As opposed to the only 620,000 of earlier accountings : see eg “New Estimate Raises Civil War Death Toll” by Guy Gugliotta, NY Times, April 2, 2012.)

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Where are Blue Jays going in fateful year 2023 … as expectations continue to rise, what was good enough then isn’t good enough now ????

Posted: March 30th, 2023 | 1 Comment »

SPECIAL FROM ROB SPARROW, HIGH PARK, TORONTO. MARCH 30, 2023. 4:15 PM EDT. [NOTE FROM CW EDS : The Sparrow’s much awaited review of “Canada’s MLB Team” at the start of the fateful year of 2023 has arrived just in time for the Jays’ season opener in St. Louis today. And it is divided into a half-dozen dazzling hits : (A) 2022 Roundup … Promising season ends with a post-season thump ; (B) New Rules for the Grand Old Game… ; (C) Retrofitted Rogers Centre… ; (D) Shifting Culture in the Dugout and on the Field… ; (E) So who are these new Jays… ; and finally (F) Outlook for 2023… In what does seem a year of some changes — in both the Toronto Blue Jays and a new-rules MLB!]

(A) 2022 Roundup … Promising season ends with a post-season thump …

After missing out at a chance of the postseason by a single game in 2021, the Blue Jays Vladimir Guerrero Jr. raised expectations in spring training by saying, “Last year was the trailer. What you are going to see this year is the movie.” And while their regular season record was one game better at 92-70, good enough for the first Wildcard and a ticket to the playoffs, it still had to go down as a disappointing campaign for the Blue Jays, as they bowed out quickly and in embarrassing fashion to the Seattle Mariners.

Along the way, Manager Charlie Montoyo was fired mid-season, at once an admission that the team had underperformed and an acknowledgement that the easy-going bongoist was no longer the best choice to manage the team. Replacement manager John Schneider then led the team to a 46-28 finish, yet there was a lingering sense throughout the year that it didn’t quite involve the fireworks that Vladdy predicted.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is still a big part of any Blue Jays magic in 2023.

The inconsistent play was manifest in Game 2 of the Wildcard playoff, armed with a seven-run lead amid a boisterous sellout crowd, victory seemed to be in the bag when Toronto led Seattle 8-1 after five innings. Yet, it fell apart in remarkable fashion as the Mariners staged the largest road comeback in post-season history for a 10-9 victory and two game playoff sweep. There has never been a loss like this for the Blue Jays, a defeat this painful, this sudden, this significant. This looked like a laugher — like fun — and then it wasn’t funny at all.

In many ways it was this single defeat that was a microcosm of the Blue Jay entire season. For as talented as the team was, it still had flaws that had been noticeable throughout…the lack of attention to detail, focus and effort on the basepaths, poor outfield defence, a starting lineup that consisted entirely of streaky right-handed bats, and a shortage of shut down relievers who miss bats in key leverage situations. It was the taste of this defeat which in turn would shape all the offseason management decisions. They simply could not run the whole thing back with this both talented and fun group, hence setting off a series of moves that changed the overall culture of the team. Yet before we dive into how that will play out for the Blue Jays in 2023, there is a whole new set of rules this season that will change how the game will be played…

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Is a second American Civil War now just inevitable?

Posted: March 20th, 2023 | No Comments »
Michael Seward, ‘On the Way to Nowhere, 2023, 20” x 30”.’

SPECIAL FROM CITIZEN X, BUCKHORN, ON. 19 MARCH 2023. Yesterday’s announcement by Donald Trump that he expects to be arrested shortly (this coming Tuesday, March 21?), especially as followed by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s feisty reaction in vigorous support of Trump (and then something similar from former Vice President Mike Pence), has got me thinking at last.

As genuinely crazy as it may be, some sort of second American Civil War may also just be inevitable. And soon enough in the 21st century?

Up to this point, though an ardent critic (and more) of Donald Trump as a political actor in the ongoing pageant of Democracy in America, I’ve finally been most impressed by the 74.2 million votes the former President Trump won in the 2020 US presidential election.

This was clearly not enough to prevail over President-elect Joe Biden’s 81.3 million votes. (As Mr. Trump did [and does?] deny quite shamelessly, and destructively.)

But while 51.3% of the American people who cared to vote did choose the winning Democrat Biden, no less than 46.8% still voted for the losing Republican Trump …

And no serious democracy — in the spirit of Alexis de Tocqueville’s legendary Democracy in America — is going to altogether ignore the opinions of 47% of an unusually active electorate.

But is Mr. Trump finally just making all this up : fake news, fake news ????

In the end, it appears that three different legal authorities — in New York, Georgia, and Washington, DC — are nonetheless thinking about charging the former president for at least some of his law-breaking activities (the easiest to convict him on it would seem, which are not always the same as his most offensive, if that kind of thing bothers you).

Summary of statewide results of the 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020 presidential elections by state : Dark red = Won by the Republicans in all four elections ; Light red = Won by the Republicans in three of the four elections ; Purple = Won by each party twice in the four elections ; Light blue = Won by the Democrats in three of the four elections ; Dark blue = Won by the Democrats in all four elections.

I am personally somewhat sceptical of Mr. Trump’s own claim that he is going to be arrested on Tuesday, March 21, 2023. One thing I like many others have learned to give him credit for is a certain strategic brilliance in playing the still quite important mass-media ingredient of Democracy in America today.

There certainly have been recent rumblings about various thought-to-be-developing legal cases against a former president of the United States on MSNBC and even CNN. (As I can testify all too well personally, and as whatever robot is collecting my TV viewing data already knows.)

With not much more than this to go on, but in pursuit of his somewhat flagging new campaign for president 2024, claiming that he’s about to be arrested could be just another brilliant way of making the news in the USA today all about Donald Trump … once again, the way we were … (And once again, it works!)

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Manir Singh on “Time to Rethink the Idea of the ‘Indigenous’” (and how this relates to Southern Ontario and “Canada” today)?

Posted: March 13th, 2023 | No Comments »
Michael Seward, ‘Homage to First Nations. 2019. 16” x 20”.’

NORTH AMERICAN NOTEBOOK. RANDALL WHITE, FERNWOOD PARK, TORONTO, SUNDAY, MARCH 12, 2023. This weekend we’ve been hearing that several more days of serious rainstorms are expected in the county exurbs “approximately 25 miles (40 km) northeast of Sacramento,” capital city of the Golden State of California.

(While in the heights around Lake Tahoe residents are said to be waking up in houses almost encased in snow! And then there’s the latest more local news on climate change in “Nearly half of young Canadians think humanity is totally doomed.”)

In the midst of our own recurrent and possibly somewhat un-seasonal snowstorms (certainly annoying, but it is Canada, etc), reports of this sort can temporarily put you into a kind of damn-it-we-gotta-get-serious-about-what’s-going-on frame of mind.

And in this spirit I am emboldened to say a few (possibly risky?) words of support for Manir Singh’s piece in the February 27, 2023 New Yorker : “It’s Time to Rethink the Idea of the ‘Indigenous’ … Many groups who identify as Indigenous don’t claim to be first peoples; many who did come first don’t claim to be Indigenous. Can the concept escape its colonial past?”

Manir Singh’s argument on time to rethink

Michael Seward, ‘Sharing the News, 2011, 36” x 48”.’

Mr. Singh reports that : “Today, nearly half a billion people qualify as Indigenous. If they were a single country, it would be the world’s third most populous, behind China and India. Exactly who counts as Indigenous, however, is far from clear …”

He goes on : “Indigeneity is a project of hope. It was crafted by enterprising activists over years of strategizing, absorbing ideas from Red Power, Third Worldism, African and Asian anti-colonialism, and the environmental movement. With it, people sought a politics of the oppressed, aiming to protect land and sovereignty, to turn “backward” natives into respected stewards …”

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Remembering the London Declaration of 1949 in 2023 : it really shouldn’t be that hard to end the monarchy in Canada?

Posted: March 1st, 2023 | No Comments »
Michael Seward, ‘End of an Era, 2023, 24”sq.’.

COUNTERWEIGHTS EDITORS, GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. MARCH 1, 2023. This morning’s editorial meeting tabled a two-page pdf file headlined “London Declaration, United Kingdom, 1949.”

The suggestion was that this is a document not much remembered in the 2020s. But it is nonetheless of serious interest in the current post-Elizabeth II debate on practical alternatives to the increasingly obsolete British monarchy in Canada today.

In short the London Declaration dated 26 April 1949 recognized the right of the imminent new Republic of India, that would not recognize the British monarch as head of state (and all other such nations that may follow), to remain in a re-organizing “British Commonwealth of Nations.”

As explained on The Commonwealth website today : “India became independent in 1947. India wanted to become a republic which didn’t owe allegiance to the British king or queen, but it also wanted to stay a member of the Commonwealth. At a Commonwealth Prime Ministers meeting in London in 1949, the London Declaration said that republics and other countries could be part of the Commonwealth. The modern Commonwealth of Nations was born.”

Why no Canadian PM at 1949 meeting?

Michael Seward, ‘Breakthrough, 2023, 30”sq’.

The first paragraph of the Declaration text adds further notes of interest : “ During the past week the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan and Ceylon, and the Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs have met in London to exchange views upon the important constitutional issues arising from India’s decision to adopt a republican form of constitution and her desire to continue her membership of the Commonwealth.”

One intriguing point here is the presence of Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs Lester Pearson at this meeting, as opposed to the recently appointed Prime Minister of Canada Louis St. Laurent.

This story starts with the almost last prime ministerial days of William Lyon Mackenzie King (grandson of the William Lyon Mackenzie who was among the leaders of the Canadian rebellions of 1837–38). They were spent in a somewhat genial hospital bed in the old imperial metropolis of London, England.

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Ave atque vale Mayor John Tory — last of a long line in Toronto history?

Posted: February 15th, 2023 | No Comments »
“Hot Day in the City” by Michael Seward, February 2023.

RANDALL WHITE, FERNWOOD PARK, TORONTO. FEBRUARY 15, 2023. [UPDATED FEBRUARY 16]. To start with belated Happy Valentine’s Day 2023, wherever you may be and whatever your circumstances in real life.

Here in Toronto it was something of a twisted Valentine’s Day, in the wake of the sudden and altogether unexpected resignation of Mayor John Tory — after a third decisive electoral victory just this past fall.

The precipitating issue was an extramarital affair with a (considerably) younger staff member during COVID-19. As the mayor explained, the affair is over and he himself now sees it as an inexcusable error in judgment.

What I took from what John Tory said in his surprise public announcement on TV at 8:30 on a Friday night was that he was resigning largely as a sign of deep amends and atonement to his wife of 45 years and his family of adult children and younger grandchildren.

But did he really have to resign?

“History on the March; thanks Max Beckmann. 2013. Tryptich left” by Michael Seward.

I can only say myself that I don’t altogether see why John Tory had to resign as mayor because of his affair — any more than, say, Bill Clinton had to resign over Monica Lewinsky.

I take some guidance, however, from Lorrie Goldstein’s Toronto Sun report one day later on “Why Tory knew he had to quit once extramarital affair exposed.” The crux of Goldsterin’s answer is “Tory himself knew he had to resign because he violated provisions in the city’s Code of Conduct for Members of Council.”

Lorrie Goldstein gives various examples from the Code. These don’t entirely convince me. But Goldstein also notes : “It’s to Tory’s credit he resigned immediately, although keep in mind the reason was that the Toronto Star had broken the story of his affair minutes earlier.”

And then there is a poll in the Toronto Sun on “Do you agree with John Tory resigning as mayor over his affair with a now former staffer?.” As of noon yesterday 57% of responding Sun readers had voted Yes. Only 43% voted No (as I did myself).

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