Why “Gone Fishing” still seems the most sensible response to the midsummer madness of the WE imbroglio in Ottawa

Posted: July 31st, 2020 | No Comments »
Marie-Danielle Smith (centre), receiving an EU-Can Young Journalist Award in October 2017. Her fellow winners are Megan Devlin (l) and Jennifer Ackerman (r).

EMAIL FROM CITIZEN X, OLD SANDY COVE, ON : Marie-Danielle Smith at Maclean’s has published two different accounts of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s unusual appearance before the Finance Committee of the Canadian House of Commons yesterday.

One — the more drearily conventional (and overly rhetorical) — is called : “Three key takeaways from Justin Trudeau’s testimony.”

The other — to me an ultimately much more honest and accurate satirical account — bears the headline : “Prime Minister, how much broccoli did your family eat? In detail!

I have also recently been encouraged by undeniable evidence that I am not the only ordinary Canadian voter who profoundly fails to see the point of the deep attention the federal opposition parties, and so much of the mainstream media, are devoting to the so-called WE Charity controversy. (Or “WE Scandal” if you’re seriously just trying to stir up the dust.)

On July 27 the Angus Reid Institute reported : “ One-third of Canadians, mostly CPC supporters, but also one-in-five New Democrats, say We scandal will have a major impact on Liberal govt. Two-thirds say it won’t leave much of a mark.”

“As I Make This Journey” by prize-winning Toronto artist Michael Seward, July 2020.

I am certainly among the two-thirds here. Even so, the most distressing thing to me is that Canadian political culture does have a long and still too potent “scandal tradition.” It goes all the way back to the Pacific Scandal that brought John A. Macdonald’s (and George-Etienne Cartier’s) founding government of the 1867 Canadian confederation down in 1873.

In much more recent memory, it was to no small extent the so-called Liberal sponsorship scandal that finally led to the first minority government of Stephen Harper’s new Conservative Party of Canada in 2006. And then last year it quite arguably was the SNC-Lavalin affair that demoted Justin Trudeau’s majority government of 2015 to his current minority government of 2019.

So in at least one sense it is all easy enough to understand. The opposition politicians are still playing this increasingly crazy game because it still seems to work — at least well enough to win enough followers among political activists, journalists, and even managing editors of blogazines.

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Blue Jays 2020 — one part of major-league sports in the time of COVID

Posted: July 25th, 2020 | No Comments »
Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz in the NBA, who tested positive for COVID-19 “days after mocking the virus and touching all the microphones at a press conference.”

SPECIAL FROM ROB SPARROW, HIGH PARK, TORONTO. JULY 24, 2020. The sporting world, like most everything else, stopped earlier this year on March 11 when Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz became the first athlete to test positive for COVID-19. In many ways the shut down of the NBA, and the other sports leagues that quickly followed, was the proverbial canary in the coal mine, signaling the rapid spread and pernicious nature of the virus to the general public. Now after months of suffering, loss, turmoil and delays caused by the pandemic, the North American sports landscape is set to resume with baseball kicking it off this weekend.

Unlike the NHL (Toronto/Edmonton) and NBA (Orlando), Major League Baseball has opted not to go to the hub-city structure in its Return to Play plan. The notion of finding one or two locations to handle 30 teams of 60 players each with medical and coaching staffs, as well as umpires and other officials sounded like a good idea, but it just wasn’t feasible. The players made it clear that the hub-city plan was not something that they were comfortable with. Compounding this were the plans that had the players going to spring training sites in Arizona and Florida — two states that have recently seen significant spikes in positive COVID-19 tests.

In terms of play, one advantage MLB has over other major North American pro sports leagues like the NHL, NFL and NBA is that baseball is not a contact sport. Social distancing is easier to achieve in baseball, and following the guidelines set out by health authorities to further prevent the spread of the coronavirus is less of a chore for baseball players. They won’t sweat or breathe on one another, nor will players be making much contact with other players on the field; interactions in close proximity are pretty limited in the game.

Baseball fans were allowed back in Japan on July 10, 2020 — up to 5000 fans or 50% of stadium capacity.

The success of baseball returning in Taiwan, Korea, and Japan shows that the virus can be somewhat managed. The question is whether major league players will be able to maintain the same level of discipline as the players in Asia, while living in a US environment where cases have spiked and most people are not nearly as disciplined. Containing the virus within the clubhouse and dugout will be critical, but more important will be the decisions players make away from the ballpark. They will go a long way toward keeping the game on the field.

Yet we should ask, with the pandemic ravaging throughout the US, is baseball at this time a good idea? “The virus is not going on a summer vacation,” says Dr. Bill Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt. Baseball does not exist in a vacuum; studies have shown the average player will have approximately 100 different contacts during a typical day of the season. The sports reopening will thus add tens of thousands of interactions, each carrying a level of hazard every day.

The prospect of teams traveling in and out of highly infected areas acting as super spreaders may in fact cause more harm than good. And with a prospective second wave expected later in the fall, many believe that baseball has a zero chance at crowning a champion in 2020. Why then begin at all?

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WE Charity—why such fuss about what won’t happen? Try fixing the Mounties instead? No, it’s back to Crazy Town—to prove Canada’s just as bad as USA!

Posted: July 18th, 2020 | No Comments »
“Evolving, the Open Road” by prize-winning Toronto artist Michael Seward, July 2020.

UPDATED JULY 24, 2020. (Click on “Read the rest of this page” and/or scroll down to “BACK TO CRAZY TOWN CANADA” below). CW EDITORS : The real “embarrassment” in parliamentary ethics committee calls for such things as receipts from Trudeau family WE charity speeches ultimately focuses on far too many of the 338 elected members of the Canadian House of Commons.

We are living in a time of unique political, economic, and cultural stress virtually throughout the global village. But so many of our MPs can apparently think of no more urgent public business than inside-baseball complaints about a public policy that has already been abandoned, in response to earlier vague objections about possible perceived connections with the families of the prime minister and minister of finance.

(And btw on Twitter you can also hear that, eg, both current frontrunners in the Conservative leadership race, and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, have had their own interesting involvements with the WE charity organization — as no doubt have vast enough numbers of other people in our vast country.)

MP Michael Barrett, Conservative party ethics critic, claims to be worried about “who was responsible for putting WE forward for the deal” (again now abandoned). As he went on to explain, the house ethics committee needs “to pin down all of the facts as soon as possible so we can assure Canadians that Parliament is exercising its function as a check against the executive branch of government.”

From the summer 2020 city-life photo collection of Toronto artist Michael Seward.

To start with, there is (hopefully) a growing highly justified cynicism about all such essentially deeply partisan political rhetoric, among we mere voters or “people of Canada.” And then Mr. Barrett also seems to suffer from the illusion that Canada has the same kind of political system (currently not working very well at all) as our big brothers, sisters, cousins, and other family and friends next door in the United States.

As noted in the preamble to what we now call the Constitution Act 1867, Canada has a “Constitution similar in Principle to that of the United Kingdom” (not the United States). And as explained at about the same time by the Walter Bagehot [1826–1877] who wrote the classic survey of The English Constitution, the kind of “Parliamentary Government” we are still supposed to have in Canada “is essentially a Government by discussion.”

As the Indian economist and political commentator Prabhat Patnaik has much more recently explained, in connection with the work of Amartya Sen, the “idea of democracy being ‘government by discussion’ really belongs to John Stuart Mill [1806–1873], though this particular phrase was coined by Walter Bagehot.”

In any case (and without going into any more fascinating historical and philosophical detail), “government by discussion” — when it is working properly — is supposed to be rather different from the “separation of powers” system in the United States (under which the concept of the legislature as a “check against the executive branch of government” is most warmly embraced : see, eg, Bagehot’s chapter eight, on “Supposed Checks and Balances” in the US and UK systems).

From the summer 2020 city-life photo collection of Toronto artist Michael Seward.

In our kind of parliamentary democracy the concept of government by discussion means that parliament itself is ultimately part of government, if not quite “the government” in the sense of prime minister and cabinet. (So one secret of our system, at least some have said, is not the separation but the cabinet-induced “fusion” of legislature and executive that gets things done — attenuated as it is in minority governments.) And democratically elected MPs at least ought to take a leading part in what Bagehot called the “constant speaking and writing” by which “a public opinion is formed which decides on all action and all policy.”

It is also true enough that the differences between the “presidential-congressional” political system in the United States and the more fluid “parliamentary democracy” in the United Kingdom are in some degree changing in our time. And for current examples of how Walter Bagehot’s old constitutional verities do not actually seem to be helping the United Kingdom itself lately, see “Superman Falls to Earth … Ferdinand Mount on Boris Johnson’s first year.”

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The Palace Letters in Australia 1975 — a big boost for the republican cause down under in 2020 (and in Canada too)!

Posted: July 15th, 2020 | No Comments »
Australian historian Jenny Hocking with some of the 1975 Palace Letters at last in July 2020. PHOTO: Rick Rycroft/AP.

SPECIAL FROM GREG BARNS. HOBART, MELBOURNE, BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA, 14 JULY 2020. The 11th of November 1975 is a date etched into the collective mind of the Australian body politic. It was the day that the Queen’s representative, Governor General John Kerr, dismissed the elected Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, and commissioned Opposition Leader Malcolm Fraser to form a caretaker government. Mr Fraser’s centre right Liberal-National Party coalition government went on to record a thumping victory in a general election a few weeks later and remained in office until 1983.

And now in July 2020, after a four year battle for historian Jenny Hocking, which went all the way to the High Court (equivalent to Canada’s Supreme Court), Australia’s National Archives has this week unlocked 1975 correspondence between Kerr and Buckingham Palace. What it reveals is that while the Queen was not informed by Kerr he was going to sack Whitlam, she and her Private Secretary Martin Charteris overstepped the mark in encouraging Kerr and implicitly approving Kerr’s actions which were based in part on his fear Whitlam would sack him first.

Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam meets with Mao Zedong in Beijing, China, 1973.

For Australians and Canadians the Palace Letters, as they are being called in the media here, amply demonstrate the lack of independence each nation labours under by refusing to cut the apron strings to London.

The sacking of the Whitlam government occurred because the opposition parties had determined to block Supply in the Senate. Unlike its Canadian counterpart in Australia the Senate is a fully elected chamber and it has the power under the Australian constitution to reject a government’s budget. Whitlam and the Australian Labor Party (ALP) he led, had been elected in 1972 after 23 years of conservative government. Like his Canadian counterpart Pierre Trudeau, Whitlam was a well educated and erudite politician who wasted no time in embarking on a large-scale reform program that included introducing government health care, no fault divorce laws, a more independent foreign policy, and greater control over Australia’s vast mineral and energy resources. By mid 1975 his government had been battered by the world oil crisis and rampaging inflation. Senior ministers were forced to resign after they sought petro dollar loans through a shady middle man called Tirith Khemlani. By September that year the newly appointed and politically ruthless Opposition Leader Malcolm Fraser determined to force Whitlam to an election, two years before it was due. Fraser’s tactic was simple. The conservative parties, that had a majority in the Senate, would block the Supply Bills which grant authorisation for the government’s budget spending.

The Queen with Australian Governor General John Kerr in the 1970s. Getty Images.

Kerr as Governor General watched events unfolding closely, knowing that he might be asked to intervene to resolve the fast moving constitutional crisis. Whitlam had suggested holding an election for half the senate to resolve the impasse. The Palace Letters also reveal that Kerr, and Buckingham Palace were also of this view, could enact the Supply Bills into law, bypassing the Senate. Whitlam, a formidable lawyer before entering parliament in 1955, would not sanction such an action arguing it was unconstitutional. Kerr turned to the Chief Justice of Australia Garfield Barwick who had been a minister in the conservative government during the 1960s and who was known to be hostile to the Whitlam government. The issue was whether what are termed the “reserve powers” of the Queen’s representative, to sack a government that cannot command supply, could be invoked.

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Greater % in Quebec proud to be Canadian than Americans are proud to be American (to say nothing of Alberta)!

Posted: July 8th, 2020 | No Comments »
“Jean Chretien addresses the nation after 1995 Quebec referendum.”

RANDALL WHITE : In all this early summer 2020 heat and coronavirus worry, I am struggling in spare moments with my Long Journey to a Canadian Republic chapter on the Chrétien (and then Martin) years in Ottawa (1993–2006) — with special reference to the almost big surprise of the second Quebec sovereignty referendum on October 30, 1995.

Dwelling on this at the time quite unsettling Canadian political history a quarter of a century ago also makes some reporting in Philippe J. Fournier’s latest summer 2020 Maclean’s piece especially intriguing : “The CAQ is in landslide territory despite the province’s severe outbreak—and Quebecers are feeling as good as ever about being Canadian.”

If you recall that the age of the second Quebec referendum was also the golden age of Preston Manning’s Reform Party in Ottawa, some of M. Fournier’s reporting on how proud Albertans are to be Canadians in 2020 (“WEXIT” notwithstanding) only thickens the intrigue.

Dominico Field at Christie Pits in Toronto — in other years home of the Toronto Maple Leafs in Southern Ontario’s Intercounty Baseball League. Photo by prize-winning Toronto artist Michael Seward, July 2020.

Especially in this summer heat the managing editor is urging all of us who post on this site to aim for more marketable shorter pieces. So here quickly are the numbers I’ve found so striking, especially as viewed from back in the mid 1990s.

According to a Léger poll, June 27–29, 2020, among a representative sample of 1,524 Canadians, when asked “Are you proud of being Canadian” 90% of all Canadians, coast to coast to coast, answered Yes!

According to Léger here, this compares with only 74% of Americans who are currently proud to be American. (And note that in a Gallup survey last year only 70% of Americans reported being either “Extremely or Very Proud” of being American.)

The Canadian regional results on these pride statistics are almost more provocative. The largest percentage of Canadians proud to be Canadian at the end of June 2020 — 97% — are in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. They are followed by Atlantic Canada (96%), Ontario (93%), Alberta (92%), BC (89%), and Quebec (80%).

As Philippe J. Fournier suggests : “While some will notice that Canadian pride is lowest in Quebec with 80 per cent, Jean-Marc Léger himself noted this was the highest level for Quebec since his firm began polling this question 35 years ago.”

Portrait of the Artist As An Old Man. Photo by Marie Auffrey, July 2020.

A Quebec in which 80% of voters are proud to be Canadian is also not the kind of place where the independent Quebec with a separate UN seat that at least Jacques Parizeau thought was at stake in the second sovereignty referendum of 1995 makes serious sense.

(And btw an Alberta in which 92% are proud to be Canadian doesn’t seem all that seriously tempted by any alternative WEXIT futures either.)

So … in some respects Canada has grown and become more mature over the past quarter century.

My own very strong view is that the trend should continue, gaining still more ground between now and 2045.

Slow and steady wins the race (wherever it is we are going exactly).

Meanwhile, if you’re in Southern Ontario or some similar place elsewhere stay cool, somehow, as best you can manage … in the Summer of 2020.

Meditations on the 5th of July 2020 — USA today from a short distance away (on the northwest shore of Lake Ontario)

Posted: July 5th, 2020 | No Comments »

L. FRANK BUNTING : History is written by the winners as the old adage has it. Looking at Donald Trump’s USA halfway through 2020 suggests a corollary : it is also constantly being re-written as the winners change.

“America” today is not what it was in 1920, to say nothing of 1820, 1720, or especially 1620 when the Mayflower landed in what is now New England.

(A dozen years before, Virginia had been established by another group of English settlers, who welcomed their first boatload of reluctant workers from Africa in 1619. In northern California today some will say that Francis Drake landed just north of San Francisco on behalf of England as long ago as 1580, though this has recently been disputed by an archaeologist at Portland State University in Oregon. And then there is, eg, the 17th and 18th century imperialism of the Five and later Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy in northern New York, opening up the westward canoe-and-portage waterways for the later transcontinental expansion of the financial sector on Wall Street in New York City.)

Pilgrims John Alden and Mary Chilton landing at Plymouth from the ship Mayflower 1620.”

At his 2020 Mount Rushmore rally in South Dakota the President Trump who is not otherwise known as even an unserious student of anyone’s history (including his own) emotionally denounced some current “merciless campaign to wipe out our history.”And then he altogether insanely claimed : “There is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance … this left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American revolution.”

You could say that, here as elsewhere, Trump’s recurrently wild and crazy fantasies on the US past, present, and future still have some clever political traction, even with audiences that are not always his own. Whatever else, however, they have nothing at all to do with the ongoing real-world story of Democracy in America : the one great political innovation for which the modern United States of America was at least once genuinely admired, around the world.

The underlying crux of American democratic political evolution in the earlier 21st century has everything to do with demographic change — in both the USA today and the wider global village. In March 2018, eg, it was reported that : “The US will become ‘minority white’ in 2045, Census projects … Youthful minorities are the engine of future growth.”

What it might be most analytically appropriate to characterize as the old age of “White Hegemony” (or even until not all that long ago “White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Hegemony”) is on its way out. A new more diverse multicultural and multiracial American majority is waiting in the wings.

The administration of President Barack Obama (2009–2016) marks one early expression of what lies ahead. The government of President Donald Trump (2017–????) has been possibly not the last over-anxious gasp of the old age of White Hegemony. (Which does indeed have too long a history, in the USA first introduced to the global village by the stirring near-universalism of the 1776 Declaration of Independence.)

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Happy Canada Day 2020 : Is a fake-news monarchy really the “future we want to build together” after COVID-19 ??

Posted: June 30th, 2020 | No Comments »
“Evening Walk III” from photos of prize-winning Toronto artist Michael Seward, June 2020.

CANADA DAY, JULY 1, 2020. GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. RANDALL WHITE : As quite recently noted by the counterweights editors, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has urged that the COVID-19 pandemic has given us a “chance to reshape Canada’s future.”

In the prime minister’s own words, the coronavirus “has been an unprecedented challenge.” But it “has also been an important opportunity to figure out what really matters in our communities … and perhaps above all, to think about what kind of future we want to build together.”

A still more recent article in the Globe and Mail, by four eminent and what may reasonably enough be termed old-style mystical conservatives has focussed on what at least strikes me as a very good example of the kind of future we absolutely do not want to build together, in the challenging 21st century.

Three of the four authors of this article are associated with the Institute for the Study of the Crown in Canada at Massey College on the University of Toronto campus — John Fraser, founding president ; D. Michael Jackson, current president ; and Serge Joyal, board member. The fourth author, Michael Valpy, is a well-known journalist turned academic and aggressive Canadian monarchist, who probably ought to join the Massey College Institute too.

Ignoring the advice from these four gentlemen

From photos of Toronto artist Michael Seward, June 2020.

I am myself a “Canadian republican” (or “anti-monarchist” some say) — and thus bound to disagree with these four eminent Canadians, no matter how cunningly they put their arguments.

(Or how much I agree that we are all entitled to our opinions on this issue about the future Canadians will build together, over the next half-century say. And of course in 2020 no one is going to shoot anyone over what Fraser-Jackson-Joyal-Valpy would call the Canadian monarchy, and I would call the British monarchy in Canada. It is just too easy to ignore in practice.)

Meanwhile, my Canada Day 2020 argument for ignoring the advice from these four gentlemen, in their article “The Supreme Court reaffirms the Canadian Crown’s importance to our country’s sense of order,” is in principle addressed to a much broader assortment of what long-ago federal PM John Diefenbaker (1957–1963) liked to call “My Fellow Canadians.”

My argument is for all of us who want to see a realistically somewhat bigger, fairer, more egalitarian, and more interesting future for Canada and Canadians over the next 50 years. My feeling is we have an interest not necessarily in getting rid of the British monarchy in Canada tomorrow (tho I’d be happy with that myself), but at least in carrying on with what Brian Slattery at the Osgoode Hall Law School has called “the long process of decolonization that Canada has undergone since 1867.” Or, we do not yet want to stop the long movement since the start of the British Dominion of Canada in 1867 toward an independent “free and democratic” Canada, with such things as its own navy (1910), flag (1965), constitution (1982), and ultimately its own theoretical head of state.

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Admiring The Tyee’s quest to “Consider Changing the Name of British Columbia” in the wilds of central Canada

Posted: June 24th, 2020 | No Comments »
Relaxing in Stanley Park (“the world’s best park”) in Vancouver, BC.

CW EDITORS : According to CTV News this past Monday : “Pandemic has provided chance to reshape Canada’s future, PM says.” At somewhat greater length Justin Trudeau urged :

If this pandemic has been an unprecedented challenge for our country, it has also been an important opportunity to figure out what really matters in our communities, to have meaningful conversations about how we can take care of those around us, and perhaps above all, to think about what kind of future we want to build together.”

Anticipating the PM’s words by six full days, on June 16, 2020 in the always interesting online magazine from Canada’s Pacific Coast known as The Tyee, Crawford Kilian urged “We Should Consider Changing the Name of British Columbia … Let the discussion, and your suggestions for a new name, begin.”

Changing the name of BC (beyond just using the two letters, somewhat in the manner of some Canadian banks today, eg, “TD” for the musty “Toronto-Dominion”) is a concept that most of us in this counterweights global head office on the northwest shore of Lake Ontario have been quietly supporting for literally several decades (or more!).

Ontario’s capital city today in photos of prize-winning Toronto artist Michael Seward, June 2020.

As Mr. Kilian explains, the present name British Columbia “fails to acknowledge the Indigenous Peoples here before Europeans arrived, implicitly honours England’s racist colonizers, and explicitly lionizes Christopher Columbus. If ever there was a moment to rebrand, it is now.”

On a very hasty survey of the comments to “We Should Consider Changing the Name of British Columbia” so far, we kind of like Dave Pollard’s suggestion : “I kind of like Klahanie. Chinook indigenous word meaning the Wild Land.”

There is much precedent for Indigenous names in Canada today as well. As commentators on Mr. Kilian’s article note, “Canada” itself is almost certainly an Indigenous word. (Iroquoian more exactly — though as in many such cases the exact meaning seems frequently contested.)

Yet just changing to an Indigenous name for a Canadian province is not enough for an altogether serious and (as the Constitution Act 1982 puts it ) “free and democratic” rebranding of the “kind of future we want to build together” in 2020.

Gwaii Haanas legacy totem pole on Lyell Island in Haida Gwaii, BC. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck.

Consider, eg, the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Ontario — both of which are already Indigenous names (though, it appears, Algonquian rather than Iroquoian — or Chinook).

Their current parallel problem is their provincial flags. They are each obsolete versions of the old British Red Ensign that used to serve as a flag for the old British Dominion of Canada — before the Canada of today gave itself its own independent flag in 1965.

We might not quite say about the current Manitoba and Ontario flags what Crawford Kilian has said about the name “British Columbia” — that a flag of this sort “implicitly honours England’s racist colonizers.”

It does nonetheless stand for what might in an older lexicon be called “British Supremacy” — a sub-species of the “White Supremacy” or even “European” or “Western Supremacy” that the global village is now suddenly and happily altogether abandoning (well hopefully …), in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 (and who knows how much beyond?). And rightly so!

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Now that summer’s here 2020 — Canada and China, Wente and Trotz, sort-of better-behaved Canadian politicians, Dylan’s new “Rough and Rowdy Ways”

Posted: June 20th, 2020 | No Comments »
The city today in photos of prize-winning Toronto artist Michael Seward, June 2020.

CW EDITORS : GETTING SUBTLY MORE AGGRESSIVE WITH CHINA IN TRUE NORTH

Along with the disturbing case of “the two Michaels,” headlines like “New nationwide polling conducted for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute reveals that 4-in-5 Canadians believe Ottawa must speak up about China’s human rights abuses” are telling us that it is time for even the Canada that is just David with a slingshot to get (a lot) tougher with the giant Goliath that is China today.

(And see also : “’They are applying pressure,’ Bains says of China’s push for Canada to adopt Huawei’s 5G tech.”)

Our growing sense is that over the past half century Canada has been a better friend to the People’s Republic of China than China has been to Canada. It’s time to stop being quite so naive.

We don’t think that having the Prime Minister publicly attack the present government but not the people of China will do much good. (We are just David with a slingshot — and what is the slingshot anyway?) But far beyond Huawei, China today has many particular interests in Canada and Canadian-based projects. Someone in Ottawa should be drawing up a list, with notes on quiet ways the government of Canada might use this list to signal that it doesn’t intend to be kicked around by a newly resurgent China, anymore than anyone else.

ADVENTURES OF MARGARET WENTE IN OUR TIMES

Alissa Trotz, Professor of Women & Gender Studies and Caribbean Studies at New College, University of Toronto.

We aren’t sure just what to make of “Massey College’s only Black governing board member resigns over Margaret Wente appointment.”

Unless it’s just more hard data on why we usually try to avoid Ms Wente’s writing — even though it is intermittently clever, often reflective of old upper middle class white suburbia, and often enough replete with “good copy” that attracts impressive numbers of readers.

Kudos as well to “award-winning University of Toronto academic Alissa Trotz,” aka “Professor of Women & Gender Studies and Caribbean Studies at New College, University of Toronto.”

And tks to the Georgia Straight on Canada’s Pacific Coast for Charlie Smith’s reporting on all this!

HOW LONG CAN BETTER FEDERAL-PROVINCIAL RELATIONS IN CANADA LAST?

Longtime Liberal strategist and Hill + Knowlton VP John Delacourt has an intriguing piece in the latest issue of Policy magazine. It’s nicely entitled “Crisis is the Mother of Collaboration: Federalism and COVID-19.”

The city today in photos of Toronto artist Michael Seward, June 2020.

The piece points out that, to the great surprise of students of Canadian federal-provincial politics in allegedly more normal times : “Despite all the systemic weaknesses revealed by the COVID-19 crisis, its public health and economic exigencies have proven that Canada’s governments are capable of working together.”

Some would say that just among the federal politicians in Ottawa, or the provincial party members in Any Province, Canada, politics is already going back to the normal many of us were hoping to escape. Can the constructive good manners last longer between federal and provincial (and territorial) governments? Mr. Delacourt has some thoughts worth thinking about.

YAY BOB DYLAN’S BACK … MORE MARCHING MUSIC ON THE STILL LONG ROAD TO THE WHITE HOUSE (AND THE SENATE) 2020 ??

Yesterday the Daily Beast caught our attention with “Bob Dylan Emerges from Lockdown with a New Modern Masterpiece.” (Or as the tweet we saw right at the start put it, the “humor and lyricism of Dylan’s latest album ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways’ … shines a light on our times.”)

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If only police forces knew more about the black and red genius of Charles (Yardbird) Parker Jr 2020 might seem better

Posted: June 16th, 2020 | No Comments »
“Bird in Flight” : Charlie Parker at Birdland in New York City, 1949.

CW EDITORS : The summer is in sight. We have just a few quick things to say, before settling down to a more rigorous holiday schedule of (more) regular (more brief) reporting in these fascinating and intermittently near-overwhelming times. (That at least is the plan.)

To start with, while diverse protests for equality and freedom in a multiracial universe bubble so wonderfully more or less throughout the global village, we have been giving our colleagues at birdhop.com what little help we can in their latest struggle to stay alive.

The result, posted at last just a few days ago, is “Early recordings of Charlie Parker’s Cherokee — from the Trail of Tears to Ko Ko in NYC, November 26, 1945.” The argument is that this piece also supports the new temper of the times in late spring 2020 (which will hopefully last for many further steps down the road).

At birth on August 29, 1920, that is to say, the Charles Parker Jr. who would largely invent modern jazz was, in the words of biographer Stanley Crouch, “a brown baby, with a red undertone to his skin.” He was African American, but Native American too — from the Choctaw nation so grievously afflicted by the 1830s Trail of Tears, in the now somewhat problematic Age of Andrew Jackson (along with the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole).

“JACKKEROUAC‘ONTHEROAD’” by prize-winning Toronto artist Michael Seward, June 2020. Kerouac was one of the early Charlie Parker aficionados and proselytizers in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

All this must have had something to do with the young Charlie Parker’s obsession over a late 1930s pop tune called “Cherokee,” by the British band leader Ray Noble (as part of a larger work called “Indian Suite”). It reached # 15 on the 1939 USA hit parade (well at least #18 or #20 on some lists), in a version that later morphed into the theme song of the Charlie Barnet Orchestra.

That at any rate is the thought pursued by “Early recordings of Charlie Parker’s Cherokee — from the Trail of Tears to Ko Ko in NYC, November 26, 1945.” Like all other African Americans Charlie Parker had his own never-ending struggles with racism, white supremacy, and/or whatever else you want to call it. But he had some memories of his Indigenous heritage as well. And this was arguably part of one of his greatest musical achievements, in a New York recording studio not long after the end of the Second World War.

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