Basic income in Canada, US GDP, small towns for people who flee Toronto, and waiting for new Governor General

Posted: March 2nd, 2021 | No Comments »
Julie Dzerowicz, MP Toronto Davenport.

FROM THE COUNTERWEIGHTS EDITORS, GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. 2 MARCH 2021, 1 AM ET. We have no idea what Prime Minister Trudeau’s Liberal governing establishment thinks about Liberal MP Julie Dzerowicz’s private member’s “BILL C-273 … An Act to establish a national strategy for a guaranteed basic income” — which received first reading on Monday, February 22, 2021.

Prime Minister Trudeau has made clear that, while he believes the concept of a guaranteed basic income for Canada is worth discussion and debate right now, his government does not “see a path to move forward on” the concept in any near future. So there is virtually no chance that the particular proposal advanced by Ms Dzerowicz, Liberal member for Toronto Davenport, will be taken up by the actual Liberal (minority) Government of Canada.

Yet the prime minister’s position seems to be that while the concept is interesting, it needs to be further debated and refined to arrive at seriously well thought-out practical proposals, in a world where Canadian governments have already committed unusually large financial resources to the more immediate needs of the citizenry in a time of high stress … and so forth.

Leah Gazan, MP Winnipeg Centre.

This implies that “the government” in the narrowest sense of prime minister and cabinet (or executive council, and now maybe the Prime Ministers Office/PMO too?) is at least not unfriendly towards hearing further debate and discussion on the subject. And it is encouraging that Liberal Members of Parliament are getting involved in the discourse, as political scientists might say.

(At her Bill C-273 Press Conference this past Friday Julie Dzerowicz was joined by basic income advocates Floyd Marinescu of UBI Works and Sheila Regehr at Basic Income Canada Network …and parliamentarians Hon. Wayne Easter, Annie Koutrakis and Senator Kim Pate … Special guests Hugh Segal and Art Eggleton also joined the event.”)

All this also has obvious things in common with the NDP MP Leah Gazan’s private member’s motion “M-46 GUARANTEED LIVABLE BASIC INCOME”, moved during the 1st session of the 43rd Parliament, and then reinstated in the current 2nd session. (Ms Gazan is MP for Winnipeg Centre. Her motion was seconded by fellow parliamentarians across the country — more than a dozen NDP, three Greens, and one Liberal.)

“Release of Endorphins” by Michael Seward, January 2021.

Federal New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh was pronouncing further on the issue a few months ago. We’re looking forward to hearing at least some further parliamentary debate and discussion on both BILL C-273 and motion M-46 (as enthusiastically reported by the mass media!). This is, we think, what many voters (including us) think their elected representatives should be doing with a good enough part of their time (and our money etc).

Of course there won’t be any Canadian Guaranteed Basic Income (Livable or otherwise) any time all that soon. But good government begins with the longer view. A few of our Members of Parliament are discussing an interesting and arguably important concept for our future (rather than composing not even very funny cartoons of prime ministers and outhouses, eg). There are reasons to hope that something of what does seem to make elemental sense in the concept, in the world we all too clearly seem to be moving into all too quickly, will be part of some future citizen survival kit offered by the “free and democratic” government we are so lucky to have in Canada today.

Meanwhile, a Statista chart from a month or so ago points out that in 2020 “US GDP Falls 3.5% in Biggest Drop Since 1946” — which gives at least some helpful perspective on the broader economic dilemma of the present moment for countries like Canada.

And then, also a month or so ago, Lauren O’Neil at blogTO wrote usefully about “These are the small towns people are moving to after they flee Toronto” — another key current trend with analogues in many broadly comparable places elsewhere!

Finally, much more recently (just the Sunday before last, February 21, 2021) we paid particular attention to a CBC News report from Ashley Burke : “Trudeau to announce process of selecting governor general in coming days … Former GG Julie Payette resigned last month after review found workplace ‘toxic’.”

We are still waiting for the prime minister to announce this process — along with perhaps a few dozen other Canadians. While we’re waiting we note Randall White’s related January 30, 2021 piece on this site : “Why a Royal Commission on Democratizing the Governor General of Canada makes sense in 2021.”

Students in front of Rideau Hall in Ottawa, official residence and workplace of the Governor General of Canada since 1867.

Dr. White has also just passed along some further research notes on the “Letters Patent” theoretically from the British monarch, which, along with the Constitution Act 1867 and the Constitution Act 1982, form the current legal basis for the office of Governor General in Canada.

The so-called 1947 Letters Patent is the key document for the office as established now. And there is also a helpful Canadian Encyclopedia article on the 1947 Letters by the monarchy historian Dr. Carolyn Harris.

Dr, White notes as well that preceding Letters Patent for the Governor General of Canada in 1931 and 1905 are somewhat intriguing, as reflections of the evolution (and “Canadianization”) of the office. The 1905 Letters, eg, were signed by a senior British public servant (“Clerk of the Crown in Chancery”) as “By Warrant under the King’s Sign Manual MUIR MACKENZIE.”

“Boozy Days; Berlin Nightclub, Weimar Republic” (or the “Germany Tried Democracy” days where USA is not going, now that Donald Trump is not president) by Michael Seward, January 2021.

The 1931 Letters, after the Statute of Westminster which declared self-governing British dominions altogether autonomous from the United Kingdom, were signed by the Canadian Conservative Prime Minister as “BY HIS MAJESTY’S COMMAND R.B. Bennett.” The 1947 Letters (in the same year as the first independent Canadian Citizenship Act) were signed by the Canadian Liberal Prime Minister as “BY HIS MAJESTY’S COMMAND, W. L. MACKENZIE KING, Prime Minister of Canada.”

To conclude, Dr. White reports yet again that his next Canadian democracy book chapter on “The Return of the Natural Governing Party, 1992–2006” really will be completed very soon. And he has passed along the latest Vancouver-based Research Co. poll on a related subject : “Rising number of Canadians ready to rethink country’s relationship with monarchy.” We will report back here on Prime Minister Trudeau’s next “process of selecting governor general” when he or someone else finally does announce this process “in coming days.”

New Valentine’s Day Massacres 2021 in the United States and Canada

Posted: February 14th, 2021 | No Comments »
“A Bit of the Sun” by Michael Seward, February 2021.

CITIZEN X REPORTING FROM BUFFALO, NY AND FORT ERIE, ON. For me the most striking new thing revealed in the latest evidence from the second Trump impeachment trial in the US Senate was that at least one Canadian flag was on display during the wild invasion of the federal Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021.

I see from further hasty research that possibly more than one such flag was identified by others when it happened on January 6. (See HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.)

On balance, all this finally strikes me as just another reminder that, while Canada today is happily more left-wing, liberal and progressive than the United States, we are also the place where the Proud Boys were born, and we do have our own anti-democratic right-wing extremists who bear watching.

My biggest surprise at the conclusion of yesterday’s 57-43 vote to convict Trump in the US Senate (still 10 short of the two-thirds needed, but …) was Mitch McConnell’s final speech, resolutely attacking Trump’s actions on January 6, while also claiming in the end that it was not constitutionally possible to vote him guilty. (And that he and the other 42 Republicans who voted not guilty were somehow on the side of the angels.)

Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon witness Valentine’s Day Massacre in movie Some Like It Hot (1959).

I felt that Bill Kristol ultimately got this right when he tweeted : “McConnell’s speech after the vote didn’t have the effect of mitigating his dereliction of duty. It brought it into bolder relief.” At the same time, I also agreed with Michael Steele on MSNBC that Moscow Mitch may have made a “deft political” move. I have no idea whether he will finally work to take the Trump toxins out of the Republican Party.

Meanwhile, President Biden may have noted a February 12 article from the Gallup polling organization : “Americans Support Massive Stimulus Spending.” (Maybe they aren’t all that different from Canadians, or vice versa?)

Back in Canada itself, there are those who say the future of Justin Trudeau and his federal Liberals is now intimately tied to the future of COVID-19 vaccines in the country.

On CBC TV’s Power and Politics last week Liberal strategist David Herle was urging that if the ultimate good news Prime Minister Trudeau is promising on vaccines proves true, the Liberals will win a majority government in an election before the end of this year. If it proves false they will lose even their present minority government.

Arrowhead Provincial Park, Huntsville, Ontario.

For some deep background on all this — from an arguably somewhat objective source — see the recent BBC News piece “Why Canada is falling behind in Covid vaccinations.”

For a report that seems to imply Trudeau’s promises just may prove true see The Canadian Press on “Deliveries of COVID-19 vaccine doses to Canada set to more than quadruple next week.” (If this is on the money, we should get a little closer to the truth by the end of the work week that starts tomorrow.)

And for an argument that declining Liberal poll numbers induced by vaccine shortages mean the next Canadian federal election won’t be all that soon, see Politico on “Has the moment passed for a spring election?

I will say I have been impressed myself by Justin Trudeau’s steely but still friendly responses to criticism over vaccines and everything else at his recent regular TV press conferences. And, at this point in any case, when push comes to shove in an election campaign it is still hard to see any other party leader who looks like a better possible prime minister.

But of course the mantra for 2021 already seems to be : who knows, who knows? For the moment, Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone wise and wonderful enough to be reading what is written here.

Why a Royal Commission on Democratizing the Governor General of Canada makes sense in 2021

Posted: January 30th, 2021 | No Comments »
Lieutenant-General Julian “Bungo” Byng from his family’s ancestral lands in Hertfordshire, UK, in early June 1916. Just after his appointment as commander of the Canadian Corps of the Empire in the First World War. And not long before the Corps would conquer Vimy Ridge. Viscount Byng of Vimy was later Governor General of Canada, 1921–26.

SPECIAL FROM RANDALL WHITE, FERNWOOD PARK, TORONTO, JANUARY 30, 2021. The main reaction to the unusual resignation of Governor General Julie Payette so far has focused on how she was vetted, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau chose her to fill the office in the summer of 2017.

The Democracy Watch advocacy group has already spoken up for a somewhat broader view of the issue, by calling on the prime minister to “democratize and Canadianize the choice of the next Governor General.”

This is important because the governor general or de facto head of state has significant reserve powers in our kind of parliamentary democracy. And this can be especially relevant for minority governments like the one we have in Ottawa now.

As authorities on the subject note, the governor general is meant to provide some degree of restraint on the prime minister, and evaluate his or her requests “to suspend Parliament or call new elections.”

From confederation in 1867 to the 1930s the Governor General of Canada was effectively appointed by the government of the United Kingdom. And this at least gave the office enough real-world independence from Canadian prime ministers to credibly assert prime ministerial restraint as required.

King George VI (left) with William Lyon Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada (right), in London 11 May 1937 — the day before the king’s coronation, and three days before the start of the last Imperial Conference of Great Britain and her self-governing dominions overseas.

As the “free and democratic society” finally written down in the Constitution Act, 1982 evolved over the 20th century, this arrangement was quite rightly found wanting. The crafty mid 1920s clash between Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King and Governor General Lord Byng led to the 1931 Statute of Westminster.

The 1931 Statute made clear that the self-governing British dominions overseas were completely autonomous from the government of the United Kingdom. And this led the power to advise the monarch about governor general appointments to pass, as it were, from the prime minister of the United Kingdom to the prime ministers of the dominions.

In an earlier era this was a welcome sign of the growth of Canada’s own independent parliamentary democracy. Today it may seem more like just another step towards the never-ending aggrandizement of the friendly prime ministerial dictatorship in Ottawa.

Democracy Watch’s call on Prime Minister Trudeau to “democratize and Canadianize the choice of the next Governor General” now that Julie Payette has resigned is welcome enough.

But it is finally just another version of the advisory process put in place by Stephen Harper, but then not used by Justin Trudeau when he advised Queen Elizabeth II to appoint Julie Payette Governor General of Canada.

The advantage of this approach is that it does not require troublesome constitutional amendments. It can be done on the whim of any prime minister.

“Conversation” by Michael Seward, January 2021.

The disadvantage is that it is still the friendly dictator the governor general is meant to restrain who makes the final choice. And, as Harper and Trudeau have shown, how one prime minister decides does not bind any successors.

Another appointment by Prime Minister Trudeau in the near future — however he may be advised this time around — is what needs to happen right now.

Yet as we start to think about the new world beyond COVID-19, it could make some very good sense to start thinking seriously about a future stand-alone constitutional amendment to democratize the selection process for governor general — and finally give Canada the credible and accountable independent office of head of state it still needs for its longer-term future.

There is no re-invention of the wheel required here. India (indirect election by federal and provincial legislatures) and Ireland (direct popular election) offer time-tested models from other former British dominions, who have already democratized their former offices of governor general.

Prime minister William Lyon MacKenzie King (centre) with US president Franklin Roosevelt (left) and British prime Minister Winston Churchill (right) at the First Quebec Conference during the Second World War, August 1943. Compliments Kitchener Waterloo Record Archives, University of Waterloo.

(Germany and Iceland offer parallel examples of similar contemporary parliamentary democracies outside the Westminster tradition.)

We could also democratize the office of governor general in Canada without immediately severing the institution’s current arguably still-too-contentious ties to the monarchy at Buckingham Palace.

All Canadian provincial governments may be interested as well in an amendment that would give them an entrenched constitutional role in the process for indirectly or directly electing the governor general.

So … what if Julie Payette’s resignation finally precipitated some suitably short and sweet Canadian royal commission, enquiring into the much-needed longer term democratization of the office of Governor General of Canada? That could at last give us what Mackenzie King ultimately had in mind, when he craftily challenged the authority of Lord Byng 95 years ago.

Randall White has a PhD in political science from the University of Toronto. From the late 1960s to the early 1980s he worked as an Ontario public servant. He subsequently worked as an independent policy consultant for private and public sector clients at all three levels of government in Canada and the United States. He has written 11 books on Canadian history and politics, and is at work on a twelfth. In 2021 he contributes a bi-weekly column to the Ontario News Watch website. His writing on history and key current issues in Canada’s most populous province appears on this counterweights site as well.

Biden inauguration at last : “Americans always finally do the right thing, after they’ve tried everything else first”

Posted: January 20th, 2021 | No Comments »
The 22-year old poet (and democratic political theorist) Amanda Gorman was the surprise star of the Biden-Harris inauguration.

FROM THE ELEGANT NEW MACBOOK AIR LAPTOP OF RANDALL WHITE, GANATSEKWYAGON, ONTARIO, CANADA. JANUARY 20, 2021, 10:30 PM ET : I had noted Daniel Dale’s tweet last night — “The President and The First Lady will depart the White House at 8:00 AM for Palm Beach, Florida.” I made a point of getting up to watch it on TV.

As it concluded Donald and (a smartly-dressed-in-black) Melania Trump left Joint Base Andrews on Air Force One, to the recorded strains of Frank Sinatra singing My Way. I have altogether no use for Trump’s politics. But if you seriously believe in democracy (as I certainly do : what else is there to believe in nowadays?), you have to respect the 74.2 million votes (or 46.9% of the total) that he won on November 3, 2020. My feeling was that this last bow of the blatantly lying President Trump who would soon vanish from the official record was a “class act” of sorts — different from the “low class” supporters he apparently regretfully observed on TV at the January 6 invasion of the US Capitol he did so much to inspire.

Lady Gaga also gave a sensational and deeply passionate performance of the US national anthem at the inauguration.

Out of the same democratic respect, I want to put some positive spin on Trump’s (albeit inadvertent) contribution to what Richard Hofstadter called The American Political Tradition (in a classic history book first published in 1948). My best shot is that Trump has finally forced the US political system to recognize and stand up for its most important evolutionary past, present, and future as a democracy : a “free and democratic society” — the society rightly celebrated in President Biden’s inaugural address. Of course, the narcissist authoritarian Trump does not believe in any of this himself. But as the Reverend William Barber suggested on TV, we may be able to most usefully regard Trump’s four long years as president not as the end of something in the past, but as the “pangs of a birth of a third reconstruction” in the evolution of democracy in America — which the Biden-Harris administration has now happily begun!

In a similar determination to take an optimistic view of the USA today on January 20, 2021, I am happy to think as well that Joe Biden in his late 70s just may be the right person at the right time in the ongoing history of democracy in America. He is reaching out not so much to the extremist Republicans who still crazily believe the blatant big lie that Trump somehow actually won the 2020 election, as to the increasingly largest share of the electorate who now call themselves Independents, in between Republicans and Democrats. Recent polling also suggests President Biden just may be able to unite at least some broader swath of America, including at least parts of the Republican USA that former President George W. Bush spoke for on January 20, 2021.

Jean Chretien and Bill Clinton in Montreal, October 2017.

In this same spirit, still currently obsessed as I am by the prime ministerial career of “Yesterday’s Man” Jean Chrétien in Canada, 1993–2003, it seems to me at any rate potentially vaguely relevant to the presidential career of Joe Biden 2021–202?. It is no doubt also crazy to think Canada has anything to suggest to the USA. But Canada did live through serious domestic conflict and secession aspirations in the later 20th century.

Though Jean Chrétien had none of the intellectual elan or charismatic profile of his predecessor Pierre Trudeau (who wrote books and so forth), like Biden he had a long and deep career in federal politics. Whatever else, Chrétien’s political savvy and long experience in government and parliament helped Canada hang together and then go on to prosper, during a challenging period in its recent past that might have seen the end of the evolution of democracy in Canada (since 1497!).

And (in any case) Canadians were pleased to hear that President Biden’s first telephone call with a foreign leader will be with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (Reminiscent of the almost warm relationship between Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and President Bill Clinton, who also helped keep Canada together in the 1990s.)

“Must Be Mating Season” by Michael Seward, January 2021.

Finally, I am probably old enough to have a few colonial memories of life in the old (and now vanished) British North America of the British North America Act 1867, now just known in Canada as the Constitution Act 1867. In a related vein something about what has been finally sealed and delivered in the USA on January 20, 2021 reminds me of the most important democratic fact that on November 3, 2020 81.3 million American voters — or 51.4% of the total — voted for Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Ms Kamala Harris.

The legendary Winston Churchill (1874-1965), that is to say, is apparently much admired by the current UK PM Boris Johnson (who was born in the USA himself). And Churchill is alleged to have observed long ago : “The Americans always finally do the right thing, after they’ve tried everything else first.”

Waiting for Biden-Harris at the last minute .. on a great lake in the far north

Posted: January 18th, 2021 | No Comments »
Pancake Bay on Lake Superior, in warmer weather.

SPECIAL FROM L. FRANK BUNTING, PANCAKE BAY, ON. JANUARY 18, 2021, 2 AM, 2 PM ET : Some worried that yesterday would be a kind of state-Capitol reprise of what transpired at the national Capitol in Washington on January 6, 2021. According to CNN, however : “Weekend protests at state capitols stayed small amid heavy police presence.”

CNN authors Christina Maxouris, Eric Levenson, and Dakin Andone have reported some further details : “Demonstrations remained small and peaceful as of Sunday night, despite warnings that armed protests were being planned at all 50 state capitols and the US Capitol ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration” (on Wednesday, January 20).

The Daily Cartoon from The Independent in the UK, 18 January 2021.

A FEW STATE CAPITOL CASES. In Michigan “several dozen demonstrators — some of whom were armed and armored … gathered at the state Capitol in Lansing under a light snow … There were fewer than a dozen people at the Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul — a group far smaller than the journalists and law enforcement who were present.”

In Denver, Colorado “demonstrator Larry Woodall told CNN he was disappointed with the low turnout, saying he’d come out to ‘support Trump, let him know we still care’ … Woodall said he did not support violence or the Capitol riots this month, and he’d accepted that Biden would be president, calling it ‘a done deal’ …”

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Good morning America how are you?

Posted: January 7th, 2021 | No Comments »

FROM THE DESKTOPS OF THE COUNTERWEIGHTS EDITORS, TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA. JAN 7, 2021. 4:15 AM ET. We just want to make clear that, like so many others in so many parts of the world today, we are altogether appalled by the happenings at the US Capitol (and various state capitols as well) on Wednesday, January 6, 2021.

At this point in the early morning of January 7, with the boardroom TV running overtime, we don’t have the energy to note down so many deeply disturbing details. Anyone interested in our more specific thoughts can consult the counterweights Twitter profile for the many re-tweets we’ve also indulged in, to provide some group record of how we reacted as the “attempted coup” or “insurrection” by pro-Trump activists unfolded.

For public consumption, so to speak, we support the initial reaction of our prime minister and other Canadian democratic political leaders. (As in Prime Minister Trudeau’s 6:17 PM tweet : “Canadians are deeply disturbed and saddened by the attack on democracy in the United States, our closest ally and neighbour. Violence will never succeed in overruling the will of the people. Democracy in the US must be upheld — and it will be.”)

We’d underline as well some remarks by Canada’s UN ambassador Bob Rae : “The stolen election thesis is actually a lie, and a dangerous lie. The fomented chaos tonight reflects that danger.” (We’d similarly agree with Senator Mitt Romney’s urging that the “best way we could show respect for the voters” who have been upset by this lie “is by telling them the truth.” And we say this without any prejudice flowing from Senator Romney’s family cottage and summer retreat in Grand Bend, Ontario, Canada!)

We are disturbed by the results of an instant YouGov poll, suggesting that 21% of US registered voters — including 45% of Republicans — “strongly or somewhat support” the “storming of the Capitol building.”

And then there are the Republican senators and members of the House still offering sustenance to what Bob Rae calls the “stolen election thesis” — even after the storming of the Capitol has shown just where refusing to take Mitt Romney’s advice to tell the voters the plain truth can lead.

Whatever else, however, the most recent past in US politics does equally have its more forward-looking, getting-stronger, even buoyant notes, starting with the Democrats’ two new Senate seats in Georgia (thanks to Stacy Abrams and her many fellow street-level patriots and democratic organizers).

Back down on earth, at our quick meeting to review and approve these hastily drafted notes from several hands, someone also remembered a “country folk” tune from the older generation so dominant among our counterweights editors’ numbers.

It was written in 1971 by Steve Goodman, and then recorded most memorably twice — by Arlo Guthrie in 1972 and then by Willie Nelson in 1984. Somehow the haunting refrain seems to work as a conclusion for our quick comments here: “Good morning America how are you? / Say, don’t you know me? I’m your native son / I’m the train they call the City of New Orleans / I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.”

(And btw it appears that the at-great-cost democratically elected US Congress has now made it completely official that Joe Biden has won the US presidential election of 2020, with 306 electoral votes and 51.3% of the popular vote from sea to shining sea. And here’s hoping, praying even, that the new Biden-Harris administration will manage at least five hundred miles further, on the great continuing journey of Democracy in America in the four years that lie ahead.)

Happy New Year 2021 : (+ Jan 4: US politics really crazy now?), Indigenous Edmonton, Saul Alinsky’s democracy, Trump etc, old New York jazz clubs

Posted: January 1st, 2021 | No Comments »
“The Furies” by Toronto artist and political observer Michael Seward, January 2021.

COUNTERWEIGHTS EDITORS’ VIRTUAL NEW YEAR’S PARTY 2021 (UPDATED 9 AM ET, MONDAY JANUARY 4, 2021), FERNWOOD PARK, ON. To start with, we’ve moved our January 4, 2021 update on US politics right up front here instead of at the end of our original comments as usual, for what we think should be obvious reasons!

We feel driven to post something about Donald Trump’s gangster-style phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (a Republican), made public over the first weekend of the new year. We re-tweeted various eminent comments on this subject on Twitter yesterday (and much earlier this morning). And we’ll content ourselves with four of them here :

First we commented briefly on Mr. Raffensperger’s historic response to the lame-duck president : “Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true. The truth will come out.” And we prefaced this with our own lonely question : “Will this become classic summary tweet on Trump presidency?”

Second, we re-tweeted MSNBC historian Michael Beschloss’s comment on President Trump’s phone call to Mr. Raffensperger : “Can you imagine how many calls like this he might have made over the past four years that we don’t yet know about?”

Third, we noted Ezra Klein’s compelling historical observation : “It’s always been lunacy to have a lame duck period this long and we’re really seeing why this year.”

Canadian PM Jean Chretien and finance minister Paul Martin back in the mid 1990s.

Finally, we also very much liked former Obama senior advisor David Axelrod’s high-minded and non-partisan comment, that showed there are still reasons to keep hope alive about Democracy in America in 2021 : “Here’s one other thing the latest Trump tape reaffirmed: Whatever else he has done or will do, @GaSecofState [ie the Republican Mr. Raffensperger] deserves enormous credit for standing up to the kind of pressure he has endured from the @POTUS [Mr. Trump] and his mob.”

Now we return to our original post, while dedicating this update to the free and democratic futures of five very young American citizens currently resident in California (by age, Tatum, River, Skyler, Slater, and Sunny)!

DEMOCRACY IN CANADA SINCE 1497. Our first [New Year’s party] assignment in between gulps of iced sparkling water was to extend the apologies of our senior editor (Dr) Randall White, who has not quite managed to complete the second or at least third last chapter of his work in progress on Democracy in Canada Since 1497 by the end of 2020, as once promised.

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Citizen X plays fanfare for the common man on the weird year 2020

Posted: December 15th, 2020 | No Comments »
“Homo Ludens” by Michael Seward, December 2020.

FROM THE DESKTOP OF CITIZEN X, BUCKHORN, ON., DECEMBER 15, 2020, 2AM ET : Over the past few years the counterweights editors have commemorated the end of another year on what remains a Western (if also African) Christian calendar (even when it’s called “Common Era”) by posting links to this political blogazine’s most popular articles over the past 12 months.

This year being so strange, however, the editors have asked me — a floating contributor from the diverse masses — to offer my own brief views on what we have been somehow living through in 2020.

President Donald Trump golfs at Trump National Golf Club on November 21, 2020 in Sterling, Virginia. Photo : Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images.

TWO BIG EVENTS IN 2020 NORTH OF LAKES. Without doubt the two big events of this strange year north of the North American Great Lakes have been the plague of COVID-19, which began to settle into these parts in the middle of March, and what remains the still a little too strange US election on November 3.

I am a partisan of the old Frank Underhill argument that Canadians almost always vote Democratic in American elections. And it makes sense to start my own brief views on 2020 with the in many ways unusual November 3 US vote.

Very briefly, President Donald Trump was clearly defeated by Joe Biden (in both the popular vote and the electoral college). Yet as long predicted by Bill Maher and many others the stable media genius who loved to say “You’re fired” on TV continues to prove unable and/or strategically unwilling to (altogether?) accept his 2020 defeat!

He has been joined by all too many Republican colleagues. And anyone who cares about the 21st century future of democracy in America (and by extension in the rest of the world too) has yet another few more reasons to be worried, as we look out on what presumably can’t help but be a somewhat better journey in 2021.

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Canada’s new finance minister tells it like it is (just after National Review attacks “Disgraceful Endgame” down south)

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 | No Comments »
“Out of Nowhere” by prize-winning Toronto artist Michael Seward, November 2020 (after the US election).

FROM THE COUNTERWEIGHTS EDITORS, GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. WED 2 DEC 2020 : The main focus of our November 30 gathering was federal finance minister Chrystia Freeland’s economic and fiscal update for the Government of Canada — on cable news TV at or about 4 PM, direct from the Canadian House of Commons in Ottawa.

The Government at the moment of course is struggling to serve the unusual global pandemic and other aspirations, needs, and plain wants of the Canadian people, to whom it ultimately reports.

(In the “free and democratic society” invoked in Article 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in the Constitution Act, 1982. And especially in increasingly democratic elections under the earlier Constitution Act, 1867. Right now the smart money is also talking about an unscheduled snap federal election this coming spring or even earlier … )

While we waited this past Monday for 4PM to arrive some tweeted news from the American side of the great lake prompted a brief surprised continental celebration as well …

National Review attacks Trump’s “Flawed and dishonest assertions” … at last

At 6:30 AM ET Monday morning (we later learned) the National Review — illustrious and notorious US conservative magazine founded by William Buckley in 1955 — published an editorial called “Trump’s Disgraceful Endgame.” And this at last happily suggests that there are some conservative democrats in the USA today who do not already work for MSNBC.

As many have urged, it is important for American democratic political culture that especially conservative voices of this sort be raised. Our view is that, however much they may be wrong about most other things, the editors of the National Review in 2020 are just telling the plain truth at last when they say, eg : “The chief driver of the post-election contention of the past several weeks is the petulant refusal of one man to accept the verdict of the American people.”

Similarly : “Almost nothing that the Trump team has alleged [in their massive voter fraud con-campaign] has withstood the slightest scrutiny … Flawed and dishonest assertions … pollute the public discourse and mislead good people who make the mistake of believing things said by the president of the United States.”

Finally, the National Review editors succinctly explain : “Trump’s most reprehensible tactic has been to attempt, somewhat shamefacedly, to get local Republican officials to block the certification of votes and state legislatures to appoint Trump electors in clear violation of the public will. This has gone nowhere, thanks to the honesty and sense of duty of most of the Republicans involved, but it’s a profoundly undemocratic move that we hope no losing presidential candidate ever even thinks of again.”

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Can “socialism” in Canada (er I mean “social democracy”) be any inspiration for Joe Biden’s USA today (and meanwhile will the pivot to Asia now revive) ?

Posted: November 18th, 2020 | No Comments »
Sophia A. Nelson, author of “E Pluribus One: Reclaiming Our Founders’ Vision for a United America.”

FROM RANDALL WHITE, FERNWOOD PARK, TORONTO, WED 18 NOV 2020 : Sophia A. Nelson (who might qualify as one seasoned guide to the new political middle ground many Americans apparently now yearn for) published an interesting piece on the Daily Beast site this past Sunday.

Her article is called “The Authoritarian Threat in This Country Isn’t Socialism … Socialism reverberated like crazy in this election, but it was ironic that Trump supporters couldn’t recognize what a threat to democracy he posed.”

The delusional American right-wing view of “socialism” can seem especially eccentric if you live in Canada — and, like the majority of your fellow Canadians, almost always vote Democratic in American elections. Yet in reviewing my own favourite authors on the subject, I find that no less astute a political prophet than George Orwell put Americans and Canadians (and possibly even Mexicans?) together in the global picture.

As Orwell explained in his 1947 meditation on why socialism was only possible in Europe : “In North America the masses are contented with capitalism, and one cannot tell what turn they will take when capitalism begins to collapse … It may be that Europe is finished and that in the long run some better form of society will arise in India or China. But I believe that it is only in Europe, if anywhere, that democratic Socialism could be made a reality in short enough time …”

Socialism in North America and Canada

“The Grand Tour” by prize-winning Toronto artist Michael Seward, November 2020.

In her thoughts on conservative, Republican, and right-wing demonization of “socialism” in the 2020 US election Sophia Nelson points to a 2019 Daily Beast article by veteran journalist Jack Schwartz. It argues that socialism was a deeply rooted force in American political culture long before Bernie Sanders revived its secular gospel in the age of Donald Trump.

Schwartz’s still well-worth-reading historical article is called : “How Socialism Made America Great … As a nation, we seem to have forgotten the circumstances that turned rock-ribbed Americans into labor activists, social reformers, populists, and, yes, socialists.”

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