Saturday, July 22, 2023

Justin Trudeau swarmed by protesters in Belleville - What has happened to civility in politics?

What has happened to civility?  Sadly, it appears that Trumpism and right-wing Republicanism is seeping into Canada.  On July 20th, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was swarmed by dozens of  protesters in Belleville, Ontario.  Trudeau was visiting the city to mark the seventh anniversary of the Liberal government's Child Care Benefit, to meet with Mayor Neil Ellis, and to spend  some time at a farmers' market.  He was also to meet about 10 vendors, but the event had to be cut short.

Protesters turned up at the market outside of City Hall as Trudeau met with community members and posed for selfies.  They prevented the PM from making his way to the other side of the public square.  It is no surprise that some of the unruly protesters were holding Trump flags, while others were shouting obscenities about the government and the media.  Whatever happened to respect for the office of prime minister?

Let me be clear.  Citizens have every right to protest peacefully, and they certainly do not have to agree with the polices of Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government.  If they don't like his policies. they do not have to support him or his party.  They can express their opinion through peaceful protests, petitions and at the ballot box. Canada is a democracy, they can vote him out of office at the next election.  

I am not picking on moderate conservatives.  I am criticizing the far right.  These kinds of protesters, as well as those of the so-called "freedom convoy" that caused havoc in Ottawa, are behaving like MAGA Trumpers.  They are sewing the seeds of hatred and this country.  For them, those who disagree with their politics are "the enemy," not their opponents.  They do not want to find common ground with their "enemy" for the sake of the country.  They only want to dig up dirt on their opponents and call them names.

Trumpism is a fast-spreading cancer on the body politic.  It is metastatic 

- Joanne

Monday, July 10, 2023

Orillia and Stephen Leacock Home Photos

Last week I visited the beautiful city of Orillia, Ontario, about 30 kilometres (18 miles) northeast of Barrie in Simcoe County.  I photographed the sculpture of the great Canadian singer/songwriter Gordon Lightfoot.  Lightfoot was born in Orillia in 1938.  He passed away on May 1, 2023 in Toronto.  He was 84 years the time of his death.

In addition ro Lightfoot's accomplishments as a singer and musician, Orillia is represented in the field of art by Franklin Carmichael of the Group of Seven, and in the field of literature by celebrated Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock.  Carmichael, known primarily for his water colours, was born in Orillia on May 4, 1890.  He died in Toronto in 1945 at the age of 55.

Carmichael in 1930

Stephen Leacock

Stephen Butler Leacock was born on December 30, 1869 in Swanmore, Hampshire, England, the third of the 11 children. of Peter Leacock and Agnes Butler.  When Stephen was six years old, he immigrated to Canada with his family.  They settled on a farm close to the village of Sutton, Ontario, near the shores of Lake Simcoe. In 1878, Stephen's father abandoned the family, leaving his mother to raise the faimily.  

Between 1915 and 1925, Leacock was the most well-known humorist in the English-speaking world.  In 1928, the success of Leacock's books allowed him to buy a summer estate.  He then spent the summer months at Old Brewery Bay, his home in Orillia, across Lake Simcoe, where he grew up.  It borders Lake Couchiching.  Leacock enjoyed boating and he was an avid fisherman.

Stephen Leacock died in Toronto in 1944 at the age of 74.  His summer estate was converted into a museum and was designated a National Historic Site in 1992.  I toured the museum and the boathouse.  Here are some photos.


The photo below shows Stephen Leacock's boathouse in the distance.

Below are chairs outside Stephen Leacock's boathouse.


- Joanne

Friday, July 7, 2023

Former Canadian PM seeks closer ties between Conservative Party and Hungarian quasi dictator

Has former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper been channeling his inner Donald Trump?  Is that why he wants his party to embrace a Hungarian quasi dictator who is viewed favourably by the former U.S. president and his Republican supporters.

Stephen Harper

Harper has called for closer ties between the Conservative Party of Canada and Viktor Orbán, Hungary's authoritarian leader.  That should give you a preview of what to expect from the Conservative Party should it form the government under its current leader Pierre Pollievre (Harper supported Pollievre for the Conservative leadership over his more moderate opponent, Jean Charest.).

Here is what you need to know about Hungary's authoritarian leader Viktor Orbán:

Viktor Orbán

He has extolled the value of racial purity, is vehemently anti-immigration, has cultivated close ties with Russia's Vladimir Putin and was a speaker at this week's Conservative Action Conference, known as CPAC, in Dallas,

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, 59, is widely criticized around the world for systematically dismantling his country's nascent democracy during his 12 years in power - but that hasn't stopped him from emerging as a darling of many on the right in America.

- Patrick Smith, NBC News Digital, August 6, 2022

A day after discussing migration with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyven in Brussels, Orbán made the following statement : "We don't think a mixture of Muslim and Christian society could be a peaceful one and could provide security and a good life for people." Has Orbán ever read the parable of the Good Samaritan?  

Numerous political scientists and watchdogs consider Hungary to have experienced a reversal of democratic rights during Viktor Orbán's time in power.  He has curtailed press freedom, eroded judicial independence and undermined multiparty democracy.  Furthermore, Orbán has criticized the polices of the European Union while accepting its financial support.  He has been accused of funneling that money to allies and family.

You should also know that between 2010 and 2020, Hungary fell 69 places in the Press Freedom Index and lost 11 places in the Democratic Index (The Economist). In addition, Freedom House has downgraded Hungary's democratic rating from "free to "partly free."  In 2003, The V-Dem Democracy indices ranked Hungary as the 96th electoral democracy in the world.

Orbán has characterized his policies as "illiberal Christian democracy."  He obviously has a skewed view of Christianity and democracy.  I shudder to think of the Conservative Party of Canada's foreign policy should Pollievre become prime minister.  After all, Stephen Harper supported the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.  In 2008, Harper grudgingly admitted that he was wrong about Iraq, after being goaded by then-Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe in a leaders' debate during the federal election  campaign that year.  

Thankfully, Jean Chrétien was PM in 2003 and he refused to send Canadian troops to aid the Americans in Iraq.  If Harper had been prime minister in 2003, Canada would have participated in the disastrous invasion.  At least Harper admitted that he made a mistake, which is more than once can say for Trump - but that's setting the bar extremely low.  Harper's support of Orbán demonstrates his continued lack of judgement in foreign affairs.

- Joanne

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Canada Day Reflections

“My dream is for people around the world to look up and to see Canada like a little jewel sitting at the top of the continent.” 

~ Attributed to Tommy Douglas, Premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1961 and Leader of the New Democratic Party from 1961 to 1971

Canada became a nation on July 1, 1867.  Our country is 156 years old today and we have much to celebrate.  I am proud to call myself a Canadian.  This is not to say, "My country, right or wrong."  It is merely to say that in an imperfect world, with an abundance of war and strife, Canada is one of the best places to live.  To the cynics I say, Canadians try to acknowledge our mistakes.  We try to atone for our errors and the dark moments in our history, just as we celebrate our great achievements. - and there are many

The last few years of the COVID-19 pandemic and the residential school revelations have been difficult and challenging.  This nation may have been bent, but it has never been broken.  The Canadian spirit is very much alive. It is amazing that Confederation ever came about in the first place.  Yet this vast northern land was brought together peacefully.  Against all odds, a new country was formed, eventually stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the Arctic Circle to the Great Lakes.  Canadians found a way to make it happen.  Immigrants from all over the world have made Canada their home.  

This country remains a beacon of hope  It is the land where Terry Fox made his dauntless run for cancer research.  It is the place where Frederick Banting and Charles Best, co-discovers of insulin, brought hope to diabetics around the world.  It is the home of artist Emily Carr of Victoria B.C. and author L.M. Montgomery of Prince Edward Island.  Our 14th prime minister, Lester B. Pearson, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for his part in ending the 1956 Suez Crisis.  Our 15th prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, was instrumental in patriating our constitution in 1982 and providing us with our Charter of Rights and Freedom.

In 1967, Canada wowed the world with Expo '67 in Montreal, as the country marked its Centennial.  There was a song that year that celebrated 20 million Canadians.  Our population has doubled to 40 million in the ensuing 56 years.  That is still a small population for a country with the second largest land mass in the world.  It is slightly less than than that of the state of California.  

Canadians have accomplished much, but there is still much more work to be done. Reconciliation with  Indigenous peoples is of the highest priority, as well as welcoming immigrants and refugees.  The meanness and cruelty of Trumpism and the far right must be soundly rejected.  

It is also important to know and understand our history.  As John Diefenbaker, Canada's 13th prime minister stated, There can be no dedication to Canada's future without a knowledge of its past. " I firmly reject the notion that Canadian history isn't interesting or exciting.  It just needs to be presented in a more interesting and exciting manner.  Our history is rife with fascinating stories.  They just haven't been told enough.  

A recent study by Leger found that just one in four Canadians (23%) would pass the Canadian citizenship test. The respondents answered 10 randomly selected question and the average score on the test was only 49%, significantly lower that the 75% required to pass.  That's not good enough.  We have to do better in making Canadians more aware of their history and their form of government.  

No country is above criticism, but Canada Day is a time to praise this nation.  This is a great country and we have the potential to be even greater by moving boldly into the future.

- Joanne