World in 2012 from our corner north of Great Lakes could have been worse??

Dec 23rd, 2012 | By | Category: In Brief

Without any doubt, we would say here, the biggest news of 2012 in the larger universe to which Canada belongs (though quite independently of course!) was the re-election of Barack Obama as president of the USA. And we did at least follow this big story, like everyone else.

As early as January 13, 2012 we posted “Obama may yet prove smarter than all his critics — right AND left!.”  Then on June 28 we had “SCOTUS upholds Obamacare .. and cunningly evades single payer .. or blesses Trojan Horse for Canadianizing US health system?” This was closely followed by “Fourth of July 2012 way up north .. forget Romney : Obama is twice as popular in Canada as PM Harper!

As election day drew nearer, on September 9 we featured “Why I think President Barack Obama is the biggest thing that’s happened in American history in my lifetime.” And then when he won at last, we made a buoyant bow to Jack Kerouac (the latest movie of whose On the Road classic premiered at both the Cannes and Toronto film festivals this year), with “Nov 6, 2012 : ‘Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?’

We agree with Time magazine’s selection of President Obama as person of the year. (“‘We are in the midst of historic cultural and demographic changes, and Obama is both the symbol and in some ways the architect of this new America,’ Time Editor Rick Stengel told NBC’s ‘Today’ show.” We would just say Amen to all that.)

In the end Danielle Smith’s Wildrose Party did not win the 2012 Alberta provincial election, despite many predictions that it would. (And we were fooled too.)

Strictly within the boundaries of Canada itself, 2012 does not seem to us to have been either a very good or a very bad year. We do not agree with everything in the always interesting Chantal Hébert’s December 19, 2012 column in the Toronto Star (“Federal political landscape virtually unchanged in 2012”).  But her general argument that the “year 2012 is poised to go down as the quietest in [Canadian] federal politics in a decade” makes a lot of sense to us.

The corollary to this argument is that the interesting part of Canadian politics this year was at the provincial (and even the municipal) level. This had started to become clear by the end of April. We at least tried to signal our recognition of the trend with “Big surprise in Alberta .. Danielle Smith not necessary …  Alison Redford wins” (April 23),  and “Does Andrea NDP cute trick on Ontario Budget 2012 matter .. it did pass and there’s still no election?” (April 24).


1. Another year of vain hopes …

On other and related fronts, a lot of things we’d hoped for in 2012 have not come to pass (as usual).  Very early on in 2012 we were asking “Will showing the left how to co-operate be Ontario’s new role in confederation?

We’re probably still crazy enough after all these years to hold out longer-term hope on this issue. But we do try to pay some attention to the real world. And with the year almost over, not much has happened on Green-Liberal-New Democrat co-operation yet (to say the very least),on any level of government in any part of Canada!

Very early on in 2012 as well, we signalled another of our favourite vain Canadian federal political hopes with “If step-by-step reform is good for the Senate, why not the monarchy too?” Again, we still think this makes a lot of sense in theory. But in practice anyone remotely realistic will point out that, with the year almost over again, virtually no practical progress has yet been made on step-by-step reform for the Senate, let alone the old colonial British monarchy.

(See, to take just one further case in point, our mid-summer rumination on “PM Harper : Senate reform ‘much slower than I’d hoped, but … we’ll continue to push it forward.’” And note that as of late December 2012 further evidence of pushing forward has been extremely hard — no, make that impossible — to see.)

2.  But we did see a little traction for new Canadian future …

NDP MP and leadership candidate Nathan Cullen wanted the party to join forces with Liberals and Greens in some ridings. He also argued for fresh debate on the role of the British monarchy in Canada today!

Who knows what keeps any of us going in the world we live in today? (Apart from our sheer love of breathing and getting up to an intermittent brilliant sunrise?)

But we have been slightly encouraged that some of the 2012 posts on this site — on one or more of our particular favourite themes — actually attracted more readers than we thought they might, according to the WordPress internal statistics. Take, eg, these half dozen cases in point:

* Is Nathan Cullen the conscience of New Democrat race in Canada? …  January 30

* Constitution Act, 1982 “severed Canadians from ancestral monarchical foundations” (no wonder PM Harper doesn’t like it!) …  April 17

* Who pays for the Canadian Forces nowadays — the offshore monarchy or the people of Canada (and Quebec)? …  August 20

* Iran parliamentarians think it is the British queen who has closed Canada’s embassy in Tehran! … September  12

* Who really believes PM Harper’s new panel to ensure ‘non-partisan’ vice regal appointments will fix the problem? …  November 5

* 175th anniversary of 1837 rebellions more important for Canadian democracy today than War of 1812 …   December  4

3. Bad news — Ontario and Quebec not dead yet

Dalton McGuinty and Jean Charest both left office as premiers of Ontario and Quebec in 2012, in one sense or another. But that doesn’t mean that Ontario and Quebec themselves have vanished, of course.

The new Canada of the future is certainly going to mean a lot more than Ontario and Quebec. And the Laurentian thesis (whatever that is or was) is definitely on its way out, or has long since left the building, etc, etc, etc.

At the same time, another theme of the Canadian federal-provincial scene in 2012 was that Ontario and Quebec are not dead yet.  (Which is hardly surprising, since together they still account for more than 60% of the Canada-wide population.) Here are a half dozen cases in point from this site:

* What will feuding politicians finally do with “the Don of a new era in Ontario”?…  February 16

* Iggy returns .. laughing to keep from crying on Canada and Quebec…  April 27

* Is Liberal Conservative détente next big thing in Ontariario .. and will it work? …  May 7

* Maybe Pauline Marois is telling the rest of us that we cannot do nothing about Canada’s constitutional future forever! … August 27

* Is yet another Ontario election blowing in the autumn leaves of 2012? …  October 2

* Dalton McGuinty’s big surprise .. will he finally be founder of new “relentless progressive” dynasty in Ontario? …  October 15

4. Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto : Call Me Crazy Maybe????

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, 2012.

We started our “Streetcar Named Rob Ford” page on the last day of October 2010. And we’ve updated it more than a dozen times in 2012.

In many ways we’d agree that the less said the better about the man who just may qualify as Toronto’s craziest mayor (although the historical competition is pretty stiff, on some readings: to cite just a few cases, eg, Mel Lastman, Allan Lamport, Sam McBride, and Tommy Church … etc, etc).

But Mayor Ford does attract attention (even across the country some say). And he also appeared on our front page a number of times in 2012.

(Oh and btw, to us in December 2012 it’s clear enough that, whatever else, he’s far from a spent force, whatever that may mean!)  :

If Rob Ford really is a “spent force” in Toronto, does that mean at least something for Stephen Harper too? …  February  2

* Game change : Sarah Palin movie, Rob Ford nation, and the new leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada …  March 11

* Is Rob Ford on the ropes? Let’s hope so .. What might help him most now? A loss, not a victory, in Court …  September 17

* Rob Ford and Mark Carney .. one Canadian gravy train off the rails .. another bound for Bank of England …  November 27

5. Canadian foreign policy

We missed Keith Olbermann in 2012. He ought to be back on US TV, bigtime, somewhere, in 2013 or certainly in time for the mid-term elections in 2014.

The welcome re-election of Barack Obama notwithstanding, 2012 has in many ways been a year of turning inward. Our home base is Canada’s current largest metropolis, and our turning inward has kept us closer to home than we ought or want to be.

We have still indulged in recurrent outward glances in the interests of better informed foreign policy (especially if you adopt the not entirely accurate view that the United States qualifies as a foreign country in Canada, and vice-versa):

* It’s not Keith Olbermann’s fault that democracy in America today can’t seem to find a place for him ..  March 31

* Clyde Prestowitz’s neo-mercantilism could be telling us something about the revival of manufacturing in Canada too …  April 14

* Where will the new German hegemony in Europe lead this time? …  June 4

* Manic depressive markets … another reason for stopping the market economy from turning us into a market society? …  June 12

* Discovering Canadian girl Alison Pill .. and probing women’s constitutional right to go topless in public …  September 21

* Do Susan Rice’s Canadian connections disqualify her as US secretary of state? …  December 1

6. True north strong and free — real Canadiana 2012

We’re finally starting to agree that Paulina Gretzky doesn’t really deserve the attention she’s been getting, especially in Canada, in 2012. Or at least we were, until we stumbled across this photo.

We’ve come to the end of our year-end review, and we’re just too tired  from wrapping gifts to say anything much more.

Except here are eight final postings on this site from this fast-fading year that we somehow think are memorable, for reasons we almost seem to have forgotten already, except that they all involve people who have somehow said or done something about what Canada means or ought to mean this year — or at least that’s our story, etc … :

* Happy 60th anniversary Mr. Massey .. and why aren’t more Canadian leaders like Leo Gerard in Canada today? …  February 28

* What if Conrad Black divorced Barbara Amiel and married Paulina Gretzky .. where would that leave Canadian citizenship? …  May 2

* Canada Day 2012 : Duff Conacher, Helen Forsey, Michaëlle Jean, Percy Robinson (again), and maple leaf flag tattoos… June 30

* Now that loonie’s 25 let’s put David Thompson and wife on the heads-up side .. to celebrate real history of Canada …  July 6

* PM Harper’s spin-doctor boasts about Canadian economy are wearing thin ..  July 12

* The unbearable lightness of being Justin Trudeau .. just what Canada after Stephen Harper wants? …  September 28

One of the saddest events in our experience of 2012 was the death of the Canadian civil rights lawyer and political activist, Charles Roach, on October 2.

* RIP Charles Roach : “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery ; none but ourselves can free our minds” …  October 4

* RIP Raymond Souster : “Toronto’s foremost bard of bop .. and the small city moment, closely observed” …  October 23

And a very happy new year 2013 to all our highly valued discerning readers, who sometimes almost seem to be telling all our equally valued contributors that another year of contributing to counterweights.ca has been at least no crazier than the present mayor of Toronto, Canada, on the northwest shore of Lake Ontario, in what the late George Grant called “the Great Lakes region of North America.”

Meanwhile, remember what Marie de l’Incarnation said about the country of Canada a very long time ago: “Un français devenait sauvage avant qu’un sauvage ne devienne français.”

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