Do 2019 and 2020 tell us anything about 2023 and 2024 .. especially in northern North America??

Nov 20th, 2023 | By | Category: In Brief
Michael Seward, ‘Emerging Figure. 2023. Acrylic. 30” x 42”’.

COUNTERWEIGHTS EDITORS, GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2023. We are inspired on this blue-Monday adventure by the creative use of recycled website articles as adroitly practised by the London Review of Books. Eg, “Fortress Conservation … Writing about conservation and land ownership in the LRB archive.”

On some accounts our thoughts were pushed in this direction when someone accidentally stumbled across a counterweights piece from more than four years ago : “Does murder in Alice Munro country say something larger on troubled times?” (Jan 22nd, 2019).

Others point to recent parallels between local November 11 Remembrance Day commemorations in 2019 and 2023 (aka Veterans Day in USA). Both cases finally raise similarities between 2019 as a prelude to the crucial year of 2020 in American politics, and 2023 as some comparable precursor of a perhaps still more crucial 2024 ahead.

In our case all this also necessarily views planet earth through a Canadian lens and mostly Canadian examples — as signaled by the lead article on “murder in Alice Munro country” in Southwestern Ontario (in Canada’s most populous province — which would be the fifth most populous US state, if Canadian provinces actually were states of the Union).

Five other 2019 counterweights articles that have some echoes in 2023 ????

Moon over the Canadian Yukon … just after sunset, 2019.

Here are five other 2019 pieces from our own counterweights past that suggest struggles in Canada and beyond, with 2019 threads that do seem to lead into 2020 in ways which may somehow relate to 2023 and the fateful year of 2024 that lies just ahead :

Some notes on how the 2019 counterweights articles look in 2023

MURDER IN ALICE MUNRO COUNTRY? The first thing you see in the January 22, 2019 lead article on “Does murder in Alice Munro country say something larger on troubled times?” is a quite large photograph of “David Salter, 71, neighbour to the murdered Doug and Marian Fischer on C Line Road in Huron County, Ontario, and his dog, Donald Trump. Photo : Mike Hensen/The London Free Press.”

David Salter, 71, on C Line Road in Huron County, Ontario, and his dog, Donald Trump. Photo : Mike Hensen/The London Free Press.

Almost as if taking a cue from this “two-year-old Australian shepherd mix … named Donald Trump” the Southwestern Ontario electoral district in which this strange and almost inexplicable murder took place back in 2018 (and very early 2019) votes Conservative in all things lately. But it has an earlier history as a bastion of the old Liberal family farm democracy in the region.

Moreover : “In the Ontario elections of 2003 and 2007 Carol Mitchell won Huron Bruce for the Ontario Liberals. The riding was Liberal consistently from 1962 to 1990. And in the unusual 1990 election it sent a (more clearly “socialist”) New Democrat to the legislature at Queen’s Park in Toronto.” (Bonnie Crombie or whoever wins for the Ontario Liberals next week take note!)

TRYING TO TURN SNC-LAVALIN INTO A SERIOUS LIBERAL SCANDAL. Meanwhile, one still striking thing about “Pacific Scandal is great grandma of SNC-Lavalin : but all ‘systematic organization of hatreds’ is obsolete today” (Feb 15th, 2019) is the late 1940s Harold Innis quotation with which it concludes :

As evidence of the futility of political discussion in Canada, there were Liberals who deplored the activities of the federal administration in no uncertain terms but always concluded with what was to them an unanswerable argument — ‘What is the alternative?’ In one’s weaker moments the answer does appear conclusive.”

For us this still rings true enough today. And when all is said and done our guess is still that the next Canadian federal election (even more than?) arguably remains as much as two years away.

And we similarly still think that a next election which is about “choice not change” could finally land on the side of the late 1940s Harold Innis’s weaker moments — and even the Justin Trudeau who (like Joe Biden) has a better progressive track record in government than many current polling participants are giving credit for!

Ontario Premier Ford at Toronto Raptors’ NBA championship celebration, June 17, 2019.

DOUG FORD’S EARLY TROUBLES IN ONTARIO : Rushing ahead to the late spring, “A very short note on the Ontario cabinet shuffle, June 20, 2019” contemplates Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s initial big stab at correcting his first wave of big mistakes, which peaked when he “was so visibly booed at the Toronto Raptors NBA championship celebration this past Monday.”

Now, four years later in 2023, after actually winning a second election in 2022 with what deep critics (aptly enough) call only 18% of the vote of the total eligible electorate, Premier Ford is frequently said to be in big trouble again. (Back in 2019 the tide began to turn for him for a time with the pandemic in 2020 — which also boosted Justin Trudeau. If not quite Donald Trump!)

We believe more of we the people of Ontario will turn out to defeat the recurrent man of big mistakes in the next Ontario election in 2026! And Doug Ford won’t again win 66.94% of the seats in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario with 40.82% of the province-wide popular vote.

(As he did in a 2022 Ontario election that equally “set a record for the lowest voter turnout in an Ontario provincial election, as only 43.53% of the people who were eligible voted. This broke the previous record for low turnout of 48.2% in the 2011 election” — Wikipedia,)

Michael Seward, ‘Totem: 2023. Acrylic. 30”sq.’.

2019 FEDERAL ELECTION IN CANADA! Meanwhile again, back in 2019, our counterweights piece on Oct 22nd, “A ‘Pearsonian Liberal’ minority government, facing some big challenges but still with Justin Trudeau as PM” presented the results of the 2019 federal election in Canada, as seen shortly after they just happened!

There were times earlier in 2019 when the Conservatives seemed consistently ahead of the Trudeau Liberals. See Wkipedia’s “Opinion polling for the 2019 Canadian federal election”.

And (like his father, intriguingly enough) Justin Trudeau was held to a minority government in his second winning (largest-number-of-seats) election. Opposition pressure on SNC-Lavalin (however much of a real-world exaggeration, at best?) managed to at least achieve that.

Yet in the very same sense that Stephen Harper won in 2006 and 2008, Justin Trudeau still won in 2019 and then again in 2021. So … can he finally “win” a fourth Canadian federal election, whenever it may arrive. And, right now in November 2023, the smartest thinkers seem to be asking will Justin Trudeau still even be Prime Minister of Canada in November 2024?

Meanwhile yet again, our apologies (for one good reason or another). There is just no more time and space (even for those who might still actually be reading, no doubt).

Except to acknowledge that what many in the global village are worried most about in 2024 is of course who will win the US presidential election that looms now somewhat less than one full year ahead. For the moment we are reduced to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself” from March 4,1933.

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