Our top baker’s dozen on Canada, USA, & global village in strange year 2017

Dec 22nd, 2017 | By Counterweights Editors | Category: In Brief

From the August 10, 2017 issue.

Who would even want to deny that 2017 has been a strange year? Certainly not us, at any rate.

And here’s one cut at how the world looked to five brazen voices from our team on the northwest shore of the most easterly North American Great Lake — Dominic Berry, the Counterweights Editors, Rob Sparrow, Randall White, and Citizen X :

* JAN 14 : Was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s biggest success in 2016 the seduction of right-wing hockey icon Don Cherry?

Some would stress that 2017 has not been uniformly wonderful for the eldest son of Canada’s philosopher king, 1968–1984. Much later in the year, in the middle of November,  Citizen X was also asking “Who’s having a mid-life crisis — Justin Trudeau or the Ottawa press gallery?

As we go to press in December, other much vaster sites are reporting : “Trudeau Violated Conflict Of Interest Rules On Trip To Aga Khan’s Island” ; and “Trudeau apologizes for violating ethics laws with visits to Aga Khan’s island.”

We agree that PM Trudeau ought to apologize and be more careful in future. At the same time, just what is it that the Aga Khan — 49th Imam of the progressive Nizari Ismaili branch of Shia Muslims — is supposed to be looking for from Canada and its prime ministers anyway?

The Aga Khan and Prime Minister Stephen Harper in front of the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, September 2014. Photo : Jack Landau.

Could it be something like the Boston Globe pointed to a few years ago, when it reported : “At a time when anything associated with Muslims or Islam may produce responses ranging from unease to outright hostility, the new Aga Khan Museum in Toronto counters those sentiments with a thoughtfully-designed, tranquil place that honors centuries of Islamic art in a space welcoming to all.”

We still strongly believe that we the Canadian people are very lucky Justin Trudeau is Prime Minister of Canada in the age of Donald Trump.

* MAR 23 : Canada has its own populisms .. and rebellions — in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan!

This seconded Preston Manning’s motion that “Canada’s elites could use a crash course in populism” — while also stressing how Canada’s “own past experience with populism” has included Tommy Douglas’s CCF/NDP government in Saskatchewan, which pioneered public health care in Canada.

Still further back in the mists of time the Canadian populist past has also included “the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837–1838, the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837, the First Riel or Red River Rebellion of 1869–1870, and the Second Riel or Northwest Rebellion of 1885.”

And finally don’t forget the “18th century ancestor — ‘The Conspiracy of Pontiac’” and “another late 20th century descendant : the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the Constitution Act, 1982.”

* APR 8 : Mar-a-Lago dreamin’ : is the Trump administration finding its feet at last?

Many are still asking this question just before the good old fashioned Great American Christmas of 2017, as the Trumpicans celebrate their wild and crazy “tax reform” legislation for the rich and famous (and the rhetorical working/middle class too … of course, sort of).

Since early this past spring Mar-a-Lago has largely faded from official view, no doubt because (much more than Justin Trudeau’s holiday on the Aga Khan’s island) it blurs the working-middle-class fake-news message (to say the very least).

Much more significantly again in our eyes, just two days after our own Mar-a-Lago dreamin’ back in early April, Rob Sparrow posted his annual sporting life special : “Blue Jays 2017 : last year was close but once again denied .. how much longer will the window stay open?

It was finally not a very good year for the Jays in 2017 (and our latest old Bob-and-Doug draft-hall reports from the Sparrow do not suggest any too sudden improvements ahead).  But very big congrats to the champion Argos and Toronto FC.  And best of luck to the ravaging Raptors (possibly even the Maples, as someone’s grandma used to say?) in the now so-called Common Era 2018.

Meanwhile, for 10 more now historical items on this site from the year that will end soon (and without all the current run-on retrospective commentary … well, mostly), click on “Read the rest of this page” and/or scroll below!)

* * * *

French expats line up in Montreal to cast their votes in the first round of France's 2017 presidential election. (GRAHAM HUGHES / THE CANADIAN PRESS.)

* MAY 8 : French presidential election 2017, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, and the “We don’t need a king” bus ads in Toronto.

* JUN 5, 9 : London Bridge not falling down Ricky Gervais says .. meanwhile what about that UK election on June 8?

* JUN 11 : Stop the war on streetcars .. why does Toronto’s Ford family hate them so much?

* JUN 19 : Democracy in British Columbia 2017 : suddenly it’s very interesting.

(And see also, on Sep 12 : “BC ‘NDP and Greens celebrate a stunning political power play’ as ex-Liberal Darryl Plecas takes speaker’s job.”)

* JUL 15 : Memories of Gerry Mulligan and other time travelers in the strange North American summer of 2017.

* SEP 20 : If the USA can have Donald Trump as president, Canada can have Wab Kinew as leader of Manitoba NDP ????

This statue of 19th century Métis leader Louis Riel by Winnipeg artist Miguel Joyal was unveiled on the south grounds of the Manitoba Legislative Building in May 1996.

Among many other things 2017 was supposed to be a year for the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.

Almost everyone seems to believe this is a good thing and long overdue. Almost no one seems to know where it will or even ought to lead practically — including the diverse Indigenous leadership.

Electing First Nations activist Wab Kinew leader of the provincial New Democrats in the Manitoba that Louis Riel founded was one Indigenous Peoples’ step forward still full of great promise in our view.

It will be worse than a great shame if this promise is largely lost in the otherwise also long overdue new harassment of sexual harassment and all that, in the United States and Canada.

* OCT 29 : Homage to Catalonia : déjà vu all over again .. it may belong in Spain but this isn’t the way to keep it there?

In fact, there was a related election in Catalonia yesterday,  December 21, 2017. See the Toronto Star on “Catalan secessionist parties win slim majority in regional parliament … The result left more questions than answers about what’s next for Catalonia, where a long-standing push for independence escalated to a full-on clash with the Spanish government two months ago.”

Dans le Canada d’aujourd’hui, qui comprend beaucoup le Québec (surtout sous Justin Trudeau), cela ne peut être que fascinant.

We’ll be staying tuned in 2018. Why couldn’t what has happened with Quebec in Canada happen with Catalonia in Spain?

* NOV 8 : The polite fiction that the governor general is somehow “above politics” is what really lacks credibility today.

* DEC 3 : Age of the Incredible Canadian, 1921–1948.

This is the latest installment of Randall White’s story of the evolution of Canadian democracy, tentatively entitled Children of the Global Village — Canada in the 21st Century : Tales about the history that matters.

He tells us he especially enjoyed working on this latest installment, about Canada’s still longest serving prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, spiritualist grandson of the 1837 rebellion leader William Lyon Mackenzie. He hopes some of the enjoyment seeped into what he wrote.

“Randy’s Donuts is an unquestionable icon of 1950s Los Angeles, for obvious reasons” (Los Angeles Conservancy). And this icon at 805 West Manchester Blvd in the California heartland of the Resistance to the accidental US federal government now precariously installed in Washington, DC, opened a second LA location in the summer of 2017, at 10250 Santa Monica Blvd in the Westfield Century City mall.

The inside story here among we editors is that we’re resolved to keep the site active (if still a bit slower than in the past), until the end of our current “counterweights program of early digital publishing for parts” of the good Dr. White’s book “that are now largely complete.”

Will he actually finish the entire thing in 2018? That would be wonderful. And he is apparently now working on the last chapter in Part III, with only four chapters in Part IV and an epilogue to go after that. No one here is placing bets yet. But many have high hopes (well … fairly high), including, we are told, the author.

* DEC 14 : The whole town’s talking about the Jones Boy / The Jones Boy / The Jones Boy.

In a truly Canadian spirit of giving credit where credit’s due, there no doubt is something vaguely impressive about how the Trump Republicans (Trumpicans?) finally got their wild and crazy “tax reform” legislation for the idle rich etc through the two houses of Congress they are said to dominate if not exactly control right now. (And with some statistical reason.)

Again, where all this may or may not lead is among the several great world mysteries of 2018, when the strangeness of 2017 will … who really knows just what?

Up here in the northern woods the late 2017 political event in the deep south that ultimately  made us smile and take hope for the great American future was what Doug Jones and his African American (and just younger and women) friends did in Alabama.

And we think it’s at least intriguing that the great Mills Brothers’ hit of 1954 was “The Jones Boy.”

And 1954 was also the year of the Brown vs Board of Education Supreme Court decision that sparked the US civil rights movement.

And now, some 63 years later, our best wishes for happy holidays, or not, whatever your cultural, economic, political, or religious persuasion (or current place of residence), and a happy new year. We place a very high value on our discriminating readers, from all the various remarkable parts of Marshall McLuhan’s global village today.

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