If Justin Trudeau’s party took old Liberal approach to Canadian sovereignty, urging goodbye to British monarchy, it might do better in polls (& India too?)!

Posted: September 15th, 2023 | No Comments »
Michael Seward, Georg Duvalio. 2023. Acrylic on canvas 4ft sq.

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 19, 2023. 2:30 AM ET. RANDALL WHITE, TORONTO. Yesterday Canadian PM Justin Trudeau provided some deep background on his most recent disagreements with PM Narendra Modi in India. (Note my original post here for September 15, far below!)

See, eg, John Paul Tasker at CBC on “Trudeau accuses India’s government of involvement in killing of Canadian Sikh leader … Hardeep Singh Nijjar was killed in BC in June” , and Tom Yun at CTV on “Trudeau accuses India of role in killing of Canadian Sikh leader.”

India has rejected Justin Trudeau’s claims (although the fine print is not quite as strong as “claims” — more like “credible allegations of a potential link”) . As explained by Mr. Tasker : “India’s ministry of external affairs issued a statement Monday night rejecting Trudeau’s allegations, calling them ‘absurd … Such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity … The inaction of the Canadian Government on this matter has been a long-standing and continuing concern.’”

“Nehru as the main campaigner of the Indian National Congress, 1951–52 elections.”

Cheryl Chan at the Vancouver Sun has also provided some useful background on murdered Surrey Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar : “Nijjar, 45, was president of the [Sikh] temple [in Surrey where he was murdered] and an outspoken supporter of Khalistan, an independent Sikh nation supporters want to see carved out of the Indian state of Punjab.”

According to his lawyer, “Nijjar had been warned by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service of threats against him because of his political activism … India had accused Nijjar of terrorism-related activities in the past … In 2016, New Delhi alleged Nijjar was linked to a 2007 bombing at a Punjab cinema that killed six. Last year, India’s counterterrorism National Investigation Agency announced a $16,000 reward for information leading to his arrest in relation to a conspiracy to murder a Hindu priest … Nijjar had said the allegations were false. ‘I am living here [in Canada] since 1997. I did not go back to India … I’m working hard as a plumber and at the temple’ … He even wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, urging him to ‘dispel the Indian government’s fabricated, baseless, fictitious and politically motivated allegations against me.’”

As explained by PM Trudeau, “Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar.”

According to Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc, the RCMP is now leading the Nijjar murder investigation. As explained again by Mr. Tasker at the CBC : “Trudeau also urged the Indian government to participate in the ongoing investigation and ‘co-operate with Canada to get to the bottom of this matter.’”

“Nehru with John F. Kennedy at the White House, 7 November 1961.”

If there is little chance that Narendra Modi’s India will in fact co-operate here, both Canadian Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre and New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh have expressed support for the government and people of Canada.

According to Mr. Poilievre “it’s ‘outrageous’ that India may be behind Nijjar’s killing … ‘Our citizens must be safe from extrajudicial killings. Canadians deserve to be protected on Canadian soil. We call on the Indian government to act with utmost transparency as authorities investigate this murder. The truth must come out’.”

In his speech “NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh blasted the Indian government under Modi, a Hindu … Singh said the Modi-led government has been ‘one of division, violence, persecution … attacking those who are critical’ of its actions.”

With this as background, here are two (well maybe three) very quick notes on how these latest developments relate to the broader arguments I have advanced below.

First, if the investigation being led by the RCMP finally shows that agents of the Government of India were not in any way involved in the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, this will not help the current Trudeau Liberals’ increasingly troubling low standing in Canadian opinion pols and beyond. On the other hand … (The one time Pierre Poilievre does the right thing could ironically work out badly for him politically! LATER NOTE : On the other hand again, he soon reverted to his customary attack-Trudeau mode on September 19!)

“Great Canadian flag debate … in Canada from 1963 to 1964 over the design of a new national flag.

Second, the lack of courage, patriotism, political will, and even serious support for a sovereign Canadian future reflected in the current and immediately previous federal government’s unwillingness to politely wave goodbye to the old colonial British monarch as symbolic Canadian head of state, has something to do with the governments of other countries’ unwillingness to take Canadian sovereignty seriously.

And this just may extend to some kind of involvement in “extrajudicial killings … on Canadian soil.” If we Canadians don’t care about our sovereignty enough to renounce the ultimate lingering of our colonial past (and what the late, great René Lévesque called “the colonized mind”), why should anyone else?

Finally, increased tension between the governments of Canada and India can only hurt my ultimate argument below about how waving goodbye to the British monarchy in Canada (as some two-thirds of Canadians apparently do want already) can most easily be achieved by following the parliamentary democratic republican trail blazed in India by Nehru and Gandhi, after the Second World War.

I am hoping as well, however (albeit against all odds?), that the Rahul Gandhi Congress Party and other successors of the cosmopolitan but ancient, world’s-largest-democratic India launched by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, 1947–1964 (“VOTE CONGRESS for a stable secular progressive state”), can at least make very serious inroads on Mr. Modi’s BJP in India’s spring 2024 national elections!! (And here’s also hoping that the Congress Party is getting money from the legendary George Soros!)

* * * *

“Conversation” by Michael Seward, January 2021.

RANDALL WHITE. FERNWOOD PARK, TORONTO. FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2023. As if Justin Trudeau didn’t have enough troubles, he has just had to deal with such global and local headlines as, eg :

(1) “Justin Trudeau: Stranded Canadian PM leaves India after plane snag fixed” ;
(2) “Trudeau finally leaves India, but will land in Canada amid domestic backlash” ;
(3) “Justin Trudeau’s painful India trip: Earful from Modi govt, criticism back in Canada” ;
(4) “Delayed by plane troubles, Trudeau finally heading home from India” ;
(5) “Modi scolds Trudeau over Sikh protests in Canada against India.”

Some are bound to remember the somewhat parallel disaster of PM Trudeau’s first trip to India in 2018. (And for local reaction of the day here see “Canadians disapprove of Trudeau’s trip to India, poll suggests,” published in the Globe and Mail, March 20, 2018.)

Others will underline the point that while PM Justin Trudeau did not win a majority government in either the 2019 or 2021 Canadian federal elections, he did remain Prime Minister of Canada. So a second disastrous trip to India in the late summer of 2023 does not necessarily mean that he will exactly lose an election in the fall of 2025.

Sikhs and Indians in Canada and India (and Trudeau Liberals still in more trouble in Canada now than ever before!)

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a bilateral meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G20 Summit in New Delhi, India on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick.”

Meanwhile, no one quite talks this way in the real world at the moment. But there is as well the quiet point that Narendra Modi’s right-wing nationalist India — not altogether unlike Donald Trump’s right-wing nationalist USA — increasingly likes to throw its weight around. And, for all Justin Trudeau’s missteps in early 2018, in the real global village 2023 any prime minister of Canada is an easy target for such things as “Modi scolds Trudeau over Sikh protests.”

Then there are such Indian headlines after the 2019 Canadian federal election as “Canada: 18 Sikh leaders elected to Parliament, five more than India.” One of these 18 was New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh, who in 2022 would sign a Supply and Confidence Agreement to keep the minority governing Trudeau Liberals in office until 2025. And : “In 2013, Singh was denied a visa to India for raising the issue of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. He became the first Western legislator ever to be denied entry to India.”

Canadian New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh at his wedding to Gurkiran Kaur Sidhu.

Then again there is PM Trudeau’s August 15, 2023 “Statement by the Prime Minister on India’s Independence Day.” Here he noted that “Canada is home to one of the largest Indian diasporas in the world, with nearly 1.3 million people of Indian descent living in our communities from coast to coast to coast. These communities are an integral part of Canada’s national identity …”

Whatever else, for the most part current opinion polls are still leaving no doubt that Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party of Canada are in more trouble in the fall of 2023 than they have been since they were first elected as a majority government in the fall of 2015. They do need something completely different to buoy them up. And beyond trying to make rigorously practical progress on, eg, the genuinely troubling high cost of groceries and housing, I think there could be yet another more philosophical prospect.

A long Liberal tradition of moving away from the old British monarchy and towards the new Canadian democracy

Michael Seward, Portrait of Ruvi Vors. 2023. Acrylic on canvas. 24”sq.

An Abacus poll taken early this past May 2023 suggested that “2 in 3 Canadians would vote to eliminate the monarchy in Canada.” Quite recently a Leger poll taken this September 2023 is showing that “63% of Canadians believe it’s time to reconsider Canada’s ties to the monarchy now that Charles III is king.” And : “Only 14% of Canadians feel attached to the monarchy.”

It is true enough that Justin Trudeau has up to this point said things which suggest he is not at all interested in pursuing the end of the British monarchy in Canada as a practical issue. (And it is worth remembering that he first met the late Queen Elizabeth II when he was five years old.)

Politics in a real democracy, however, is not finally about private emotions. And there is a long Liberal tradition of moving away from the old British monarchy and towards the new Canadian democracy. After the Second World War in which “42,042 men and women of Canada’s armed forces died” it was a Liberal Government of Canada that, eg :

Michael Seward, What Makes It Go? 2023.

(1) introduced the first Canadian Citizenship Act in 1947 (before which Canadians were legally just “British subjects” in Canada) ;
(2) appointed the first Canadian Governor General of Canada, in 1952 (before which holders of the office were British aristicrats) ;
(3) led the Canadian House of Commons’ creation of an independent Canadian flag in 1965 ;
(4) changed the name of the Dominion Bureau of Statistics to Statistics Canada in 1971 (quietly walking away from the old colonial term “Dominion of Canada”) ; and
(5) led the federal-provincial process that finally “patriated” Canada’s 1867 constitution from the United Kingdom with the Constitution Act, 1982 (which begins with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms).

Changing Monarchy in Canada under Constitution Act, 1982

Michael Seward, Portrait of Ossip Stein. 2023. Acrylic on canvas. 20” x 24”.

The Constitution Act, 1982 is also of course a great legacy of Justin Trudeau’s father, Pierre Trudeau. And there are those who delight in pointing out that under section 41 (a) of this legacy any constitutional amendment involving “the office of the Queen [now King], the Governor General and the Lieutenant Governor of a province” must be “authorized by resolutions of the Senate and House of Commons and of the legislative assembly of each province.”

Thus, some urge, the required but highly unlikely agreement of the federal parliament and all 10 provincial legislatures makes it practically impossible to change the clear role of the British monarchy (as it was 156 years ago under Queen Victoria) in what we now in Canada call the Constitution Act, 1867 (formerly the British North America Act, 1867).

This, it has been wisely said, amounts to a counsel of weakness at best. At worst it is just the monarchist minority (albeit still well represented in Canadian elites) pretending that its increasingly less popular option is still protected by some divine right of intransigent provincial legislatures. (Which Canadian provinces are just too foolish and unpatriotic to ever rise above!)

Michael Seward, Vibrations.

And yet the recent Leger and Abacus polls point to a growing popular sentiment against the British monarchy in Canada. In some serious historical Canadian world this would or ought to belong in some measure to the historic Liberal Party of Canada — again. And getting back to India in conclusion here, the cosmopolitan experience of Nehru and Gandhi in the 1940s, if not quite the narrow Hindu nationalist experience of Narendra Modi in the 2020s, helps clarify that it is not really all that complicated for a former British dominion (and constitutional monarchy) to become an independent democratic republic within today’s Commonwealth of Nations.

Adapting the Indian model to Canada in Justin Trudeau’s last term????

The Hon’ble Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India (centre right), leaves Canadian Parliament during his three-day visit to Ottawa in October, 1949.

The Indian model of the Canadian future in this respect, it could be said, also gives fresh advantages to all 10 Canadian provinces, who have to agree to the deed under section 41 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

What the British dominion of India (1947–1950) did to become a simpler democratic republic without any constitutional allegiance to the British monarch was turn the Governor General of India into an independent head of state who replaced (and played the practical role of) the monarch, in what otherwise remained a UK-style (or “Westminster”) parliamentary democracy.

This new Indian Governor General as head of state (renamed a President, as may not be advisable in Canada) was selected not by the old dominion prime minister (as the Governor General of Canada still is today) but by a more democratic electoral college of both federal and state (or provincial in Canada) legislatures or parliaments.

“Members of Parliament with flag at the time of closure during the flag debate. December 1964”. Library and Archives Canada, PA-142624. MIKAN no. 3201820.

What all 10 Canadian provinces would gain by voting for this model is a role in choosing the Governor General (who already plays the practical role of the monarch in Canada, under George VI’s Letters Patent of 1947). And this finally ought to be enough to persuade all 10 provinces to vote for a constitutional amendment that will at last politely wave goodbye to the British monarchy in 21st century Canada.

So, more exactly and quickly, on this scenario in the 2025 campaign (which may actually be starting now, in the fall of 2023?) the Justin Trudeau Liberals would promise to hold a federal-provincial First Ministers Conference and subsequent referendum/s on a practical proposal for democratizing the office of Governor General of Canada, involving both federal and provincial legislatures, during PM Trudeau’s last fixed-date term in office, 2025–2029 …

There is of course much more that could be said about this kind of proposal … But I have already said more than enough for now!

Farewell to the slippery summer of 2023 — pointing in so many new directions at once, around the global village ??

Posted: September 4th, 2023 | No Comments »
Michael Seward, “2 People Talking 2023 acrylic on canvas 4 x 4 feet.”

NORTH AMERICAN NOTEBOOK. RANDALL WHITE, FERNWOOD PARK, TORONTO . LABOUR DAY, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2023. This is the last day of the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in Toronto — sibling of the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) in Vancouver, which also ends today.

In my personal Toronto history the last day at the Ex starts with the Labour Day Parade, which will finally burst through the CNE’s Dufferin Gate, after an extended stroll along Queen Street West, starting more or less at City Hall.

In fact I am not going to the Ex this Labour Day 2023. Or as is said south of the northern US border Labor Day 2023.

At the heart of the Bay Area : A view of the San Francisco skyline between the Golden Gate and Bay bridges. (David Hayashida).

For one thing both my wife and I long ago gave up going to the Ex every year, let alone every Labour Day, as we grow older and older. (And seriously younger people have largely vanished from the house — though this summer was happily enlivened by a visit from grandsons [10, 9, and 8] who currently live in the Bay area of northern California.)

For another thing, we have enjoyed afternoon cappuccinos on our front porch this summer. And we have studied people and cars (and bicycles, assorted baby carriages, and sometimes even canoes) going to the beach at the foot of our street, on the city’s Great Lakes shoreline.

Between cappuccinos and buttered croissants we have also been somewhat overwhelmed by the big events in the history of the world that 2023 seems to be advancing.

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What Fani Willis has done in Georgia means that Donald Trump is finally not going to get away with his un-creative destruction of democracy in America

Posted: August 22nd, 2023 | No Comments »
Fani Willis at her shock-and-awe presentation on August 14, 2023.

NORTH AMERICAN NOTEBOOK. RANDALL WHITE, FERNWOOD PARK, TORONTO . TUESDAY, AUGUST 22, 2023. There have been, I think, two main channels in my deep attraction to Fani Willis’s “Overwhelming Show of Force…Shock and Awe” fourth Indictment of Donald Trump, for his Georgia misdeeds in the 2020 US presidential election.

The first channel is just Ms Willis herself as I have seen her on TV — dressed in “you can’t go wrong with basic black and pearls,” neatly summarizing the crux of a complex case against Mr (or if you must former President) Trump and 18 other individuals, when she finally made her presentation after the “indictment handed down Monday [August 14] by a grand jury in Atlanta.”

The second channel is the way Ms Willis has used especially Georgia’s state racketeering law (RICO or Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law) to frame Trump’s illegal and unconstitutional conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Whatever else, this seems to me to focus on what it is about Trump that is most deadly for American democracy. He is a kind of upscale thug or even more exactly a racketeer — a leader of what I believe Ms Willis called in her public presentation a “racketeering enterprise”! That kind of leader can never be an acceptable president of the United States of America.

“Portrait of Ghost with Hat” by Michael Seward, August 2023.

To let Trump get away with the kind of destruction of the free and democratic USA (or just “Democracy in America” in de Tocqueville’s historic phrase) that he has so mindlessly toyed with since the fateful fall of 2016 would only tragically poison the future of America and (as my wife reminded me just last night) even of the world at large.

With what Fani Willis has now done in Fulton County, Georgia I have somehow come to feel that, in the very end, Donald Trump is not going to get away with the recurrent “you’re-fired”-tin-pot dictator abuses of power that made a joke and sometimes much worse of American politics for four long years — and that continue to raise international (and even national!) doubts about the near future of US leadership in world politics (and even economics!).

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RIP Happy Warrior of Canadian politics — who spoke with a broader voice that needs to be louder in the 2020s.

Posted: August 12th, 2023 | 1 Comment »
Hugh Segal, Summer 1998.

RANDALL WHITE. FERNWOOD PARK, TORONTO. SATURDAY, AUGUST 12, 2023. I did not know Hugh Segal personally. I never met him face to face. The closest I came was when my real-world acquaintances among Ontario bureaucrats urged that some document under discussion betrayed the Hugh Segal touch.

I have, on the other hand, read and even been slightly involved in the fate of a number of government documents that betrayed the Hugh Segal touch. At this point in his Ontario career he was an unusually young Secretary of the Policy and Priorities Board of Cabinet. (Born in October 1950 in Montreal, he first appears in this role in my collection of Ontario government phone books in March 1979.)

I could ruin more of an agreeable summer afternoon tracing Mr. Segal’s subsequent career in my Ontario government phone book collection — an artifact of a now much reduced age of “Paper and the Printing Press.” (And yet, if you already have many such now near-obsolete printed paper collections yourself, the temptation to use them remains vast.)

The long and short is that I did at least bump into what might be called Mr. Segal’s policy process handiwork from time to time — while working for the Ontario government myself. Like others I came to admire the high-minded and authentically “progressive conservative” (or even “Red Tory”) tilt that Hugh Segal brought to public policy debate. (Without making any ideological or other big deal of it!)

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Trump 2020 election indictment and Trudeau separation — so much for “nothing serious happens in summer”

Posted: August 3rd, 2023 | No Comments »

NORTH AMERICAN NOTEBOOK. RANDALL WHITE, FERNWOOD PARK, TORONTO . THURSDAY, AUGUST 3, 2023. We had just arrived home from a short late-July adventure in the northern woods. Suddenly the TV and all other mainstream mass media were reporting that “Trump indicted for efforts to overturn 2020 election and block transfer of power.”

Then the next day, here in the native land, we were somewhat more surprised to learn that “PM Justin Trudeau and wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau are separating.” So much for the concept that nothing serious happens in the summer when everyone is away on holidays.


I of course share the view that Donald Trump is altogether unfit to be President of the United States of America. And somewhere I recently read or heard that virtually every serious person who worked for him when he was in the White House finally drew this conclusion as well.

I also find it distressing and unsettling that : “Despite Trump’s deepening legal woes, voters are split right down the middle in a rematch of the 2020 race with 43% supporting each candidate, according to a new Siena College/New York Times poll released Tuesday.”

(At the same time : “In a glimmer of good news for Democrats, the 14% of voters who don’t support either candidate seem to lean fairly strongly to Biden.”)

I similarly agree that the latest indictment of former President Trump “for efforts to overturn 2020 election and block transfer of power” points to a case that ought to be decided by the courts before the 2024 US election. Voters do have a right to know if the former president now running again is a convicted felon, before deciding who to vote for in 2024.

I (also of course) have no idea whether this will happen. And I do still think that those of us who altogether despise Donald Trump ought to try a little harder to understand the substantial millions of Americans who still seem strangely prepared to vote for him.

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Summer 2023 : some small good news from Westminster in the UK

Posted: July 23rd, 2023 | No Comments »

RANDALL WHITE. FERNWOOD PARK, TORONTO. SUNDAY JULY 23, 2023. There was a time in these parts when more than a few citizens of the modern Canadian democracy still looked up to the political culture of the United Kingdom.

In my mind (in casual gear at any rate) all this is still vaguely reflected in the name of the Lord Elgin — “a prominent hotel … located … across from Confederation Park in Downtown Ottawa.”As Wikipedia further explains, the “twelve-storey limestone structure,” opened in July 1941 in an Ottawa increasingly busy with the Second World War, “was named after James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin, the first Governor General of the united Canadas.”

In fact, the old United Province of Canada (ie Ontario and Quebec) began life in 1841, in the wake of the Lower and Upper Canadian rebellions of 1837–38. Lord Elgin did not start work as Governor General until 1847.

James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin (1811-1863), Governor-in-chief of British North America and viceroy of India, early 1860s.” Photograph by Disdéri.

He is best remembered for (at last at the behest of the UK government across the seas) asking Canada East and Canada West Reformers who had just won a majority of seats in an election to form a “responsible government” in March 1848. (Though this marks only the second beginning of what we call our parliamentary democracy today, taking place shortly after Lieutenant Governor John Harvey did something similar in Nova Scotia, in February 1848.)

In Canada today the 8th Earl of Elgin is also memorable for negotiating the 1854–1866 Reciprocity (or free trade) Treaty between the United States and all the British North American provinces of the day.

According to legend, he took a vast supply of champagne to Washington to help stimulate negotiations. He especially reached out to pre Civil War Southern senators and congressmen of the 1850s, attracted to the argument that more North American free trade would prevent the British North American provinces from ultimately adding six far northern free states to the politics of the American Union.

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Is downtown Toronto on its way out?

Posted: July 14th, 2023 | No Comments »

NORTH AMERICAN NOTEBOOK. RANDALL WHITE, FERNWOOD PARK, TORONTO, FRIDAY, JULY 14, 2023. To start with, Joyeux quatorze juillet et Bonne Fete Nationale! (Or in the American language Happy Bastille Day.)

Meanwhile, on the morning of Tuesday, July 11, 2023 my business partner and I went on a downtown Toronto excursion to test the argument that (quoting the headline on a recent blogTO piece) “Toronto’s downtown core is in major trouble as office vacancy rate soars.”

(See also in the Toronto Star in early July : “‘This will get worse before it gets better.’ Office vacancy rate in Toronto hits highest level in nearly three decades.” And then from this past April, in NOW magazine “Will downtown Toronto ever be the same? New stats show 30-year high on office vacancy rates” ; and from Bloomberg business news “Toronto Office Vacancies Hit 28-Year High as Remote Work Lingers.”)

We left from our own office in the streetcar suburbs of the old city — ordinarily about half an hour by public transit from downtown. This time the streetcar was re-routed just before the Don River, to avoid subway construction now underway at Queen and Yonge.

The streetcar turned up Broadview, then onto Dundas which it followed to the downtown core. We got off at Yonge and Dundas. Then for the first leg of our excursion we walked up Yonge north to Wellesley.

On the streetcar west of the Don River on Dundas we had seen tented and other homeless people on the sidewalk outside, especially in the area around S. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church near Parliament Street. One thing that struck me a short while later, walking up Yonge, was larger numbers of street people than I remember from my own daily downtown days long ago.

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On the beach : why do people in Hollywood movies of 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s still somehow seem real in the 2020s??

Posted: July 9th, 2023 | No Comments »
On the Lake Huron beach at Grand Bend, Ontario today.

SPECIAL FROM L. FRANK BUNTING, GRAND BEND, ON. 8/9 JULY 2023. We’re supposed to be getting some light rain tonight.. But I’m not worried. I’m safe in our place here, watching TV on a Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Right now I’m into a recording I made of a TCM movie from this past Friday night — the 1937 version of King Solomon’s Mines, with Paul Robeson, Cedric Hardwicke, Roland Young, John Loder, and Anna Lee.

King Solomon’s Mines in the Movies

This 1937 movie of the 1885 novel by Henry Rider Haggard is in black and white. And on this ground alone it cannot compete with the 1950 remake — shot moreover both in brilliant colour and on romantic location in Africa. This 1950 movie also has Stewart Granger playing the role performed by Cedric Hardwicke in 1937, and Deborah Kerr in the part played earlier by John Loder (with a gender change to accommodate the large ambitions of Ms Kerr!).

Paul Robeson as Umbopa. in the 1937 movie of Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines.

On the other hand, Paul Robeson (logically enough) had star billing for the important role of Umbopa in 1937. But the African amateur actor Siriaque who strikingly played the role in 1950 apparently remains little known beyond this one movie. And as one critic has complained : “An Oscar nominee for best picture, MGM’s 1950 adaptation of H. Rider Haggard’s adventure novel dazzled audiences with its Technicolor images of African wildlife and exotic natives. However, the film more closely resembles a nature documentary than a work of narrative cinema.”

As best as I can quickly make out for the moment, there have so far been two further movie-like versions of King Solomon’s Mines. The first was a straight-out third movie in 1985, with Richard Chamberlain in the Cedric Hardwicke/Stewart Granger role, and Sharon Stone in yet another variation on the large ambitions of Deborah Kerr. The second was a two-episode 2004 TV series with Patrick Swayze in the traditional male lead, Alison Doody in still another large female lead, and Sidede Onyulo as Umbopa (and Hakeem Kae-Kazim as Twala).

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Happy Canada Day 2023 to Canadians not proud to be Canadian right now (and of course to those who are too!)

Posted: July 1st, 2023 | No Comments »
Canada Day fireworks in Halifax.

COUNTERWEIGHTS EDITORS, GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. SATURDAY, JULY 1, 2023. The dread Canadian wildfires of late spring/early summer 2023 affect Canadian as well as US cities, suburbs, exurbs, rural small towns, rural townships, district townships (in Northern Ontario) and (especially in Canada) the still quite vast North American wilderness beyond.

And in some parts of the second largest political geography in the world Canada Day fireworks are being cancelled as a result of too much smoke and hard-to-breathe fresh air.

In some no doubt dubious gesture of compensation our patriotic deep thoughts on Canada Day here are illustrated by photos of recent Canada Day fireworks in the six cities of Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton (most northerly city of more than 1 million people in North America), and Vancouver.

This is of course for the most part a very big-city view of Canada. And a new Leger poll nicely reported on by Nicole Thompson at The Canadian Press suggests that big-city Canadians are not exactly the proudest Canadians. (See her June 29, 2023 “Conservative voters less likely to be proud to be Canadian, new survey suggests.”)

The six least populous provinces

Canada Day fireworks in Montreal.

The summary chart of the Leger report that Ms Thompson helpfully includes at the end of her online article starts with the good news that Canada-wide the “Total proud to be Canadian (%)” in the Leger “Web survey of 1,512 Canadian adults conducted June 23-25, 2023” was “a strong majority” of 81%.

The chart goes on, however, to reveal more subtle trends above and below the Canada-wide average. By province and/or region, eg, two groups are notably above the 81% average in their proud to be Canadian populations.

First are the two mid-Prairie provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan at 87%. Next are the four provinces of Atlantic Canada at 86%. And then, not surprisingly perhaps (?), all six together in this highest proud to be Canadian sector are also the least populous six of Canada’s present 10 provinces.

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Will Olivia Chow become new Mayor of Toronto — and will Yevgeny Prigozhin still be alive when she runs again??

Posted: June 26th, 2023 | No Comments »
“Mayoral candidate Mitzie Hunter makes an announcement about her library plan in Parkdale Monday, April 24, 2023.”

NORTH AMERICAN NOTEBOOK. RANDALL WHITE, FERNWOOD PARK, TORONTO, MONDAY, JUNE 26, 2023, 2:00 AM EDT. UPDATED 10:30 PM EDT. The unusual Toronto mayoralty byelection is the big local political event today. It already seems almost clear enough, however, that left-wing progressive Olivia Chow will be the city’s next mayor.

The biggest news will be if this does not happen — despite last-minute efforts by such diverse conservatives as Ontario Premier Doug Ford on behalf of Mark Saunders, and former Toronto Mayor John Tory on behalf of Ana Bailao.

UPDATE TORONTO, MONDAY, JUNE 26, 2023, 10:30 PM EDT : As of “10:27 PM on June 26” Olivia Chow has 37.2% of the city-wide vote with 1,444 out of 1,451 polls reporting.

Ana Bailão has come much closer than virtually all opinion polls predicted with 32.5% of the vote, followed by Mark Saunders (8.6%), Anthony Furey (5%), Josh Matlow (4.9%), Mitzie Hunter (2.9%), Chloe Brown (2.6%), and Brad Bradford (1.3%).

Even so, there is now no doubt that, as widely expected, Olivia Chow has finally come in first and is Toronto’s new mayor. She and all the other leading candidates also gave high-minded and high-class remarks after the results of the election became clear. The underlying theme was that everybody loves the city, and will have to work together to take its next steps forward.

Whatever else, and with all its many challenges and problems, this did make it seem that even in 2023 Toronto ultimately is a good place to live and work, with some kind of strong future ahead of it. Any city that 102 people want to be mayor of must have something going for it. And, while still practicing his angry face in his bathroom mirror, Premier Ford has apparently already called to congratulate Olivia Chow, and say that he looks forward to working together with her. Which was of course the right thing to say, even if it’s not exactly true.

Meanwhile, back at whatever it is that is actually going on in Russia at the moment, see Robert Reich on “Putin, Trump, and the privatization of tyranny … The likeliest reason why Yevgeny Prigozhin staged his apparent coup.”

All this makes today’s mayoral byelection in Toronto (not exactly the first byelection of this sort in the city’s recent history, but certainly the most unusual with 102 candidates) seem like an even more encouraging example of if not exactly excellence in local government, at least some degree of more or less serious and civil “free and democratic” spirit!

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