Autumn leaves 2019 : watching US, UK, Canada from the northwest shore of the smallest North American Great Lake

Nov 8th, 2019 | By | Category: In Brief
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister (left) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are meeting in Ottawa in wake of 2019 Canadian federal election.

TORONTO, ON. NOVEMBER 8, 2019. FROM THE DESKTOP COMPUTER OF CITIZEN X. There was a little snow on the ground yesterday morning — unusually early in the season for Canada’s current largest metropolis.

(Between the former largest, still vital past in Montreal, and the future in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa-Gatineau, and beyond. The 10 Canadian Census Metropolitan Areas with the largest % population increase 2017–2018 included Peterborough and Kitchener-Cambridge- Waterloo in Ontario, Regina and Saskatoon in Saskatchewan, and Halifax in Nova Scotia!)

Whatever else, the wild and crazy autumn of 2019 is also an unusual time for three of the many, diverse UN member-state narratives from which we the contemporary people of the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area view the new life of the 21st century :

(1) The American Republic next door. On what one Western Canadian correspondent has called “the train wreck south of the border” I think I feel about the same as I did a month or so ago, when I wildly and crazily came up with “Is Trump impeachment inquiry yet another boogie-woogie rumble of the dream deferred?” (October 4, 2019).

As of November 8, 2019, I would just add four further notes. The first two are embodied in the recent helpful Statista charts posted here : “US POLITICS : Do you think President Trump should be impeached?” (October 30) and “Impeachment: How Support For Trump Compares To Nixon” (November 6). What I take from these numbers is that what’s going on the USA today is more like at least a kind of civil war than anything else — and the analogy with what happened to Richard Nixon in 1974 is weak at best.

Two further notes point to first, a November 4 editorial in the Toronto Globe and Mail : “Donald Trump is a terrible person, but that’s not enough to stop him from being re-elected” ; and second, a November 6 piece by Michael Tomasky on the New York Review of Books website, called “A Dem for All Seasons?”.

Both pieces worry that the Democrats may be at least close to dropping the ball in the kind of civil war right now, and they come up with somewhat similar conclusions — though Mr. Tomasky’s inevitably draw on better inside knowledge (and a real commitment to progressive politics).

At the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument in Ottawa, 2018.

The (in a Canadian context rather conservative) Globe and Mail urges : “What will matter is whether white, working-class voters in key states believe that a return to adult politics won’t also mean the return of their perceived disenfranchisement and economic isolation … It won’t be an easy sell, unfortunately.”

Mr. Tomasky somewhat more optimistically concludes : “it might turn out that all this hand-wringing about the Democrats is misplaced … They need to put the Obama coalition back together. And they mustn’t choose between Obama-to-Trump white working-class voters and younger, more multiracial and “woke” voters. They need both.”

(2) There’ll always be an England — but what about the United Kingdom? Meanwhile, the wild and crazy world of Brexit across the North Atlantic — and everything else in current UK politics — now turns around the Thursday, December 12, 2019 election that close observers were predicting for some time before it was confirmed.

The new piece in the puzzle from my own limited-knowledge end of observation from a considerable distance has been my discovery of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s brain trust, Dominic Cummings. And a key source for me here has been a helpful article by the “British novelist and journalist” James Meek in the October 24, 2019 issue of the London Review of Books, called “The Dreamings of Dominic Cummings.”

“Boris Johnson (left) arrives at parliament on Thursday watched by his special advisor Dominic Cummings © George Cracknell Wright/LNP.”

Cummings is, as explained by Wikpiedia, “a senior British political strategist and adviser. From 2007 to 2014, he was a Special Adviser to the then Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove. From 2015 to 2016 he was the Campaign Director of Vote Leave, an organisation opposed to continued British membership of the European Union that took an active part in the 2016 referendum campaign on that issue … In July 2019, new Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed him [to] the role of Special Adviser to the Prime Minister.”

Mr. Cummings has perhaps inevitably been compared to Steve Banon and Stephen Miller in the USA today. Yet my sense from a distance in both directions is that just as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is not finally as alarming and near-crazy a political leader as President Donald Trump, Dominic Cummings is a more impressive backroom big thinker than either Banon or Miller. Does this mean that the leader the London wits call BOJO is actually going to win the December 12 election and somehow resolve the current Brexit conundrum? My view would be : read James Meek’s article on Cummings (and/or even “Dominic Cummings’s Blog” — from at least one horse’s mouth) ; and then remember what William Davies said not too long ago in the London Review of Books — “Before very long, we will be witnessing an electoral showdown … only a fool would claim to know which way it will go.”

(3) November 8 : National Aboriginal Veterans Day in Canada. Canada is more sensible these days than either the UK or the USA — or so many among we Canadians think. (We recently more or less re-elected the Justin Trudeau Liberals, eg.) But …

Celebrating National Aboriginal Veterans Day at The Military Museums in Calgary, Alberta, 2019.

For one good introduction to the not-at-all sensible “Wexit rumblings” (echoes?) in the old British North America, see soon-to-retire CTV luminary Don Martin’s interview with Sandy Garossino on Canada’s Pacific Coast : “Where has BC been amid talk of Western alienation? … ‘We’re being held hostage by a bunch of guys on Facebook … If there’s a west, it’s in BC and we’re not going anywhere and we have no time for any of this.’” To which many on the northwest shore of Lake Ontario will of course just say Amen.

Finally note that today — November 8 — is being celebrated (or perhaps commemorated is the better word) as National Aboriginal Veterans Day in many parts of the geographically second-largest UN member state in the contemporary global village.

To cite Wikipedia yet again : “National Aboriginal Veterans Day is a memorial day observed in Canada in recognition of aboriginal [aka First Nations, Indigenous] contributions to military service, particularly in the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War. It occurs annually on 8 November … The memorial was inaugurated in Winnipeg [ancient homeland of the late great Canadian Métis leader Louis Riel] in 1994, and has since spread nationwide.” Note as well that “Canada” itself is an Aboriginal/First Nations/Indigenous word (as are, to become unbearably provincial and local, “Ontario” and “Toronto”). And so it is even progressive to commemorate and even celebrate the ancient warrior traditions of the most northern North America, and what they have so nobly done In Defence of Canada today.

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