Best of counterweights 2011 D : our top 10 issues today, 2009-2011 .. and why is Canada only 23rd happiest in world?

Dec 30th, 2011 | By | Category: In Brief

Toronto Mayor (and football coach?) Rob Ford.

If Google Analytics is to be believed – and it no doubt is, in some significant enough degree – the majority of visitors to this site arrive via “Search Engines,” looking for information on specific issues or subjects.

We also have a discriminating flow of “Direct Traffic” and “Referring Sites,” which we value very highly (and to which or whom our commentary and reporting and whatnot is in the first place addressed).  But inevitably the Search Engine traffic takes most advantage of our now more than seven-year-old archive, at least certain parts of which continue to be visited often enough to remain accessible to users of major searching sites. Many of us involved with this site find the daily visitation results reported by our current Word Press software an intriguing window on what at least the kind of people who visit this site find interesting.

L. Frank Baum (1856—1919), “kindly author of the Oz fantasies” (ie Wizard of Oz etc) – after whom L. Frank Bunting was apparently named?

With all this in mind, L. Frank Bunting finally agreed that for our very last “Best of counterweights 2011” we would report on the top 10 counterweights articles being visited today – as it turns out, more exactly, as of 1PM, December 30, 2011. Before unveiling these fascinating results, however, I want to quickly note four recent articles from the mainstream media in Canada’s most populous urban region:

* “Canada ranks 23rd in world happiness, poll says … The top five countries for happiness were Fiji at 85, Nigeria 84, Netherlands 77, Switzerland 76 and Ghana 72.” This group of happiest countries certainly challenges some of my assumptions about the global village today – and/or just what “happiness” means? And in an interesting way, I think.

Quebec political scientist Antonia Maioni, at a dinner in her honour this past October.

*  Antonia Maioni … “A wish list for 2012 Canada … Let God save the Queen: I’m about the closest thing Quebec has to a monarchist … I remain a lifelong British history buff. But … Canadians don’t need more superficial reminders of Her Majesty through colonial spectacles of pomp and circumstance. What we really need is to understand the relevance of the Crown to Canada’s history, and to think about whether this is still necessary to our political system in 2012 and beyond.” Our own colleague Randall White is apparently at work on a book with more or less exactly this agenda – which will hopefully appear in the fall of 2012.

* Peter H. Russell … “Does it matter if our laws are passed illegally? … The government could have avoided this issue by asking Parliament to repeal the entire Wheat Board Act, or at least Section 47 … this view does not mean that Parliament can never change its mind and rescind legislation passed by previous Parliaments. But if it is going to depart from … an earlier Parliament … it must do so explicitly and repeal the legislation … Canadians should understand that at stake here is not just a technical point of law, but the integrity of parliamentary government.” This seems to me the most strictly correct view of the current controversy over the Harper government’s recent decision to strip the Wheat Board of its monopoly, while ignoring earlier legislation requiring a referendum of wheat farmers on the issue. I also wonder whether many Canadian voters may see it as closer to a mere “technical point of law” than Professor Russell – even if that is not the strictly correct view?

Kevin Lynch, right, clerk of the Privy Council Office, swears in Industry Ministry Tony Clement as Prime Minister Stephen Harper looks on during a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa in October 2008. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press).

* “The wizard of Ottawa, behind the curtain” … In this short piece “Brian Laghi and Ottawa Bureau Chief” (whatever that may mean?) sketches the now concluded career of “Kevin Lynch, the former public service chief with unparalleled access to Stephen Harper.” Not altogether unlike Peter Russell (above), Mr. Lynch wonders “just how well or poorly folks actually understand” his former role as “clerk of the Privy Council … ‘I worry that there isn’t as much broad-based understanding about our core institutions.’” It seems hard to know just what to do about this. But it also certainly seems true – or even truer than it used to be?

At work on a book about the history of the British monarchy in Canada, “which will hopefully appear in the fall of 2012.”

Anyway the main business here is the following list of the top 10 counterweights articles being visited today, on the most visible part of the site now AND in the archives  – as of 1PM, December 30, 2011. (Of course I should also say on behalf of all the counterweights editors, HAPPY NEW YEAR 2012. The next article on this site will be in the New Year, as Bunting and I are both ourselves abandoning the office today, to get ready for New Years Eve on Saturday night!) I just point out in conclusion that the list below appears in reverse order of rank – ie, with number 10 first and number one last – just like on David Letterman:

(10)  Best of counterweights 2011 B : Entertainment, heritage, obituaries, sporting life, and USA today – DECEMBER 23, 2011

(9) G20 diary 2010 .. police finally go overboard .. new global village leaders take small step ahead, maybe? – JUNE 10, 2010

(8) Did Wonder Man of Mount Royal work miracles? .. Merry Christmas Brother Andr̩ anyway 2009 РDECEMBER 22, 2009

(7) Canadian Navy already has a good name – DECEMBER 6, 2010

Ernest Hemingway (1899—1961) – a great American writer whose short, unhappy life haunts us still.

(6) Streetcar Named Rob Ford … DECEMBER 3, 2011

(5) Best of counterweights 2011 C : Aboriginal peoples of Canada, 2005-2011 .. and btw have you met Andy Radia yet? – DECEMBER 28, 2011/

(4) What Canadian politician said “We don’t support any Senate appointments”? – AUGUST 27, 2009

(3) Two cheers for public funding of Canadian political parties … and the Bloc Québécois – AUGUST 7, 2009

(2) There’s Pontiac .. and then there’s Pontiac .. both worth a few historical tears – JUNE 5, 2009

(1) The short unhappy life of Ernest Hemingway – MARCH 19, 2009

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