Top 10 counterweights news articles in poignant year of 2023 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, USA, and around the global village

Dec 18th, 2023 | By | Category: In Brief
Michael Seward, Makes Me Think of …. 2023.

COUNTERWEIGHTS EDITORS, GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. MONDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2023. Without a shred of doubt the single biggest event of the new year just ahead for those of us living north of the Great Lakes (and the 49th Parallel and various points east and so on) will be the US federal elections on Tuesday, November 5, 2024.

We broadly share the view as well that much of what is good and even seriously great (not to say practically sensible) about the theory and practice of democracy in America is at stake in the USA today this coming November 5. And as we know so well in Canada what happens in and to democracy in America has an impact on democracy around the world.

Meanwhile, 2023 has been a remarkable year in its own right — from Gerald Kutney’s “The summer of 2023 … the season that Canada burned … and burned … and burned.” to the Israel-Hamas War that began with Hamas’s appalling October 7 attack on Israel and continues with Israel’s unclear quest for a military solution in Gaza, appalling physical destruction, and tragic numbers of civilian casualties among Palestinians.

Michael Seward, Autumn Dance. 2023. Acrylic. 20” x 30”.

Some of this wider environmental and military struggle inevitably spilled into our ongoing counterweights reaction as the year 2023 unfolded.

Yet in our editors’ year-end review we’ve been struck by how much attention the site has paid to such ordinary and essentially local parts of public life as municipal elections, provincial politics, and Canadian public policy, broadly construed. (These are things in which the wise seek refuge from the wilder storms abroad in the wider world?)

To arrive at a single Top 10 list for counterweights articles in 2023 the managing editor convened an extraordinary committee, which worked into the small hours of the early morning. For better or worse, the “most notable” pieces finally selected by the committee are :

(1) JAN 30 : Serious reform of the RCMP (in its 150th year) should begin by dropping “Royal” from the name (or just restoring the original “North West Mounted Police”)? … 2023 has marked the 150th anniversary of Canada’s once legendary Mounties.

Michael Seward, Magician’s Helper. 2023. Acrylic. 18”. X 22”.

On May 23, 1873 the still very youthful modern Canadian Parliament passed an act to establish “a Mounted Police Force for the North-West Territories.” (Though as this cw piece also notes, the executive “Order-in-Council to establish the North-West Mounted Police wasn’t signed until August 30, 1873 … in response to an attack on First Nations peoples in the Cypress Hills.”)

In fact there has been little serious celebration of this 150th anniversary in the Canadian mass media (or almost anywhere else) in 2023. And this no doubt reflects the ongoing controversy that has surrounded the diverse work of today’s “Royal Canadian Mounted Police” for some time now.

The main problem seems to be that while many agree the 21st century Mounties need some kind of major reform, there is as yet no serious agreement on just what this should be. For the moment life goes on, and some will say the Mounties are now at least investigating Ontario Premier Doug Ford. (Which is not exactly true, but in politics these days who cares?)

(2) MAR 20 : Is a second American Civil War now just inevitable? … 2023 was also the year when it became altogether clear that the political division in the USA about Donald Trump as a future (as well as a past) president of democracy in America still breaks the American people into two almost equal pieces.

Michael Seward, Brothers. 2023. Acrylic. 30”sq.

Some 81 million people voted for Joe Biden in 2020, but more than 74 million still voted for Trump.

At year end 2023 it seems clearer than ever that suddenly admirable old-school Republican notables like Liz Cheney openly say : “No honest person can now deny that Trump is an enemy of the Constitution.” But the mainstream Republican and even conservative leadership — and more importantly the Republican masses, even in the midst of Trump’s increasing legal and even criminal troubles — feel obliged to keep standing up for the guy who they believe (we of course think mistakenly) stands up for them.

Hopefully in 2024 those on the slight-majority progressive side of the equation will feel equally obliged to stand up against Trump as they did in 2020 (and 2022)!

(3) APR 14 : Could some Liberal-New Democrat “non-aggression pact” really be the progressive wave of the future in Canadian federal politics this time ???? … Meanwhile, in the northern North American wilderness the great political innovation of March 22, 2022 — the Supply and Confidence Agreement between 158 minority-governing Trudeau Liberals and the one-more-than-two-dozen Singh New Democrats — remains intact at the end of 2023.

Michael Seward, Anti-Portrait; Ghostly Presence. 2023. Acrylic. 30”. x 36”

More and more professional and other observers of the Canadian federal scene seem to agree that it could last until the next fixed-date election in October 2025.

There is nonetheless as yet no serious indication that the real world will finally unfold “ as hypothesized in Éric Grenier’s ‘Weekly Writ for Apr. 12: What if the Liberal-NDP deal went past 2025?’. In the almost serious political maturity lately being shown by some Liberals and New Democrats there is still nothing to suggest the two parties will somehow run together in a 2025 election. (And more than a little to suggest they certainly will not!)

At the same time, there is also nothing to say that M. Grenier’s entertaining scenario of this past spring may not finally prove some harbinger of a very new federal political reality in Canada! And as noted this past spring in this cw piece, as matters stand : “Other things equal, Canada does still have at least a bare progressive majority!” (Not all that different from the USA??)

(4) MAY 6 : Offshore Coronation : last leg of long journey to Canadian republic begins … At the end of 2023 as at the beginning we on this site remain resolute Canadian republicans. This is of course a species massively different from American Republicans.

Michael Seward, Anita Berber Redux; Weimar Haze. 2023. Acrylic. 30”sq.

We simply believe that the time has come for what the Constitution Act, 1982 calls the “free and democratic society” in Canada today to at long last officially (and of course politely) wave goodbye to obsolete connections with the offshore monarch who lives in the United Kingdom. The sad passing of Queen Elizabeth II late last summer 2022 and the May 6, 2023 coronation of her son King Charles III strike us as related signs of the times.

There was an ulterior motive in our noticing of the coronation. It accompanied noticing that “our colleague Randall White completed the last or concluding draft chapter of his political-history work in progress, Children of the Global Village : Democracy in Canada Since 1497.”

As the author further explained : “The book explores the quite deep history behind what in many ways has almost already become the Canadian republic of the 21st century.”

Tom Thomson, “The Canoe,” 1912.

The author went on : “At some point not all that far down the road, I think, Canada will politely part company with Charles III of the United Kingdom. Note the Abacus poll April 28–May 3, 2023 which found ‘2 in 3 Canadians would vote to eliminate the monarchy in Canada.’”

In mid December 2023 Mr. White offered a final year-end thought on the matter : “It’s unhealthy for our present-day democracy, for our democratic political culture in troubling times — the “free and democratic society” in the Constitution Act, 1982 — to go on pretending we are some kind of ‘constitutional monarchy’ that most people believe in, when we’re not.”

At this point as well it is altogether clear that we cannot continue to dwell on the last six of our Top 10 2023 Articles list as we have for the first four.

And in this spirit we conclude by simply listing and linking to the remaining titles without further commentary!

Ojibwa allies of Ottawa Chief Pontiac’s Rebellion in defence of Canada at Fort Michilimackinac, May 1763. Painting by Robert Griffing.

(5) JUN 17 : Democracy in Toronto 2023 : looking at the “mayoral byelection” coming soon to Canada’s largest metropolis …

(6) AUG 3 : Trump 2020 election indictment and Trudeau separation — so much for “nothing serious happens in summer” …

(7) SEP 4 : Farewell to the slippery summer of 2023 — pointing in so many new directions at once, around the global village ?? …

(8) SEP 26–OCT 4 : Will Louis Riel’s Manitoba elect first Indigenous premier on October 3? YES!!

(9) NOV 12 : Remembrance Day 2023 in an old-city corner of Toronto, Canada — these are troubling times in which many of us are looking for something to hang onto …

(10) DEC 8 : Crombie and polls : 2026 voter turnout in Ontario should at least crack 50% again …

Happy holidays to all 2023/2024. (And to all a good night.)

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