As reported by The Toronto Star, when police raided the home of Denis and Margaret Deneault in August 2006, they found illegal drugs, including hashish, cocaine and ecstasy. The Deneaults were charged, and the police bragged about their conquest in multiple press releases. But here’s the crucial point: The Denaults were never found guilty of any drug (or other) crimes related to the police’s storming of their house. In 2009, the government abandoned its prosecution of the couple for unknown reasons (this time with no crowing press releases). And that should have been the end of the matter.
And we're still laughing now. By-elections in safe Tory seats are near meaningless. The base doesn't bother showing up because they know it doesn't matter. The greatest organizational problem facing any major political party isn't reaching the middle, it's motivating their base. Had the fate of the government hung in the balance the margins in those by-elections would have been much wider.
That NEP still stings can be attested to by a quick chat with many Albertans of a certain age, or by a glance at news article comment treads. Click on a story about Justin Trudeau and, almost inevitably, there is a NEP rant. It's been thirty-four years since that inter-regional vote buying scheme was foisted upon the Canadian West by a deeply cynical Liberal government. It's been more than a quarter century since the Mulroney government belatedly scraped the program, years after global price had rendered it's statist pricing scheme a dead letter.
But the population of Alberta today is nearly twice what it was in 1980. The majority of modern Albertans have no personal memory of NEP. It's a folk memory kept alive by the oil industry and conservative commentators. For a large swath of the electorate it's not the memory of NEP that is holding them back from embracing Trudeau, it's the Liberal Party's political leanings and culture. They don't trust a political party which is based out of Toronto, which will win and lose the next election based on what happens in the 905, and that instinctively regards Alberta as a backwater saved from complete disgrace only by the presence of the much beloved Mayor Nenshi of Calgary.
There is something of the federal Liberal Party that smacks of Alison Redford. Put aside the meaningless party labels. Redford was a Liberal in all but name. The tremendous sense of entitlement, the barely disguised contempt for the common Albertan and the basic failure to understand the culture that has created Canada's most successful province. The spoiled heiress who came home to run the family business in a socially responsible manner. That faint odour is detectable among every Liberal Party operative I've ever met.
Justin Trudeau doesn't emit the same level of entitlement. He's isn't intelligent enough. But there is a sneaking suspicion among the more observant voters that maybe, just maybe, the lad isn't writing his own off the cuff remarks. That cleverer men are at work and that, should the unthinkable happen, it is they who will govern the nation come 2015.
Albertans remember NEP but they're hardly embittered dead enders about it. That sort of angry obsession with the past is characteristic of only one region of the country: Quebec. It's not a healthy fascination with what came before, it's an alternate universe to project one's fantasies upon. Quebec is obsessed with the past because, at a very basic level, it doesn't believe it has a future. A dynamic place like Alberta has a future. The province has completely surpassed the heights it reached during Peter Lougheed's glory years. That's why Albertans have moved past NEP in a way that the Quebecois have never moved past Lord Durham.
What worries Albertans about Justin isn't his daddy's name, it's his daddy's bad ideas and tremendous arrogance. A repeat of that the whole country could do without.
The Department of National Defence confirmed Thursday it has donated five six-wheeled armoured vehicles to police agencies since 2007 — a Grizzly armoured personnel carrier to Edmonton police in 2007; two Cougar armoured vehicles to the B.C. RCMP in 2010; and one Cougar each to the New Glasgow and Windsor, Ont., police in 2013.
“It’s like insurance,” New Glasgow police spokesman Const. Ken MacDonald said. “Our police force wants to prepare for anything we may encounter.”
New Glasgow, Nova Scotia has a population of 9,500 and is located two hours north of Halifax. You can pass it on the way to the PEI ferry. It's a town the size of a Toronto office block and it has an armoured personnel carrier sitting in the police station's garage. This begs a somewhat obvious question of the good constable: What exactly are you insuring against? Rowdy Japanese tourists? Islamist Anne of Green Gables fans? Drunken middle aged hockey players?
An APC would be regarded as over kill in Toronto. In Nova Scotia? Seriously? It should be noted that the town has an unusually high crime rate by national standards. New Glasgow has actually been voted the worst place in Canada to live. I take it that the people who reached that conclusion had never visited Hamilton, Ontario. This dubious distinction was likely reached by crunching the StasCan numbers in a particular way. The residents of the town, however, seem pretty upbeat.
Suffice it to say that the worst city in Canada is still better than most cities anywhere else. We leave the massive urban decay stuff to our older brethren to the south. Which bring up the contrast. There is a vague sort of logic in providing APCs in cities with very high violent crime rates. America's drug wars have generated an escalating arms race between police and drug gangs. If the criminals are walking around with AK-47s then yes, perhaps, the police must up their game too.
But does no one stop at any point and ask, in all seriousness, how the hell do civilians afford such powerful arsenals? That if America was to move toward reduced enforcement, decriminalization and finally legalization that these turf wars would gradually reduce and dissipate. That when it becomes necessary to even consider using military grade weaponry on civilian populations, not as an exception but as a routine act, it's time to start looking at root causes?
That's not bleeding heart liberalism, it's common sense. When a very similar country immediately to your north can somehow police its streets without warrior cops, the question becomes what the hell is the matter with your basic approach? The violence in Ferguson has deeper causes that incompetent cops and absurd government subsidy programs.
This brings us back to Canada. If there is a vague logic in having APCs in America's heartland, what logic is there in having them in the Maritimes? Unless New Glasgow is plagued by running gun battles in the streets, then why have them at all? The argument that such weaponry is an insurance policy is risible. Are the police either incapable or unwilling to do a very basic risk assessment? If not then anything goes.
How about an Apache attack helicopter? A nuclear submarine? Perhaps they might need a Leopard II tank? Because you never know what can happen. This is the same logic a paranoid relative once gave me as to why their son couldn't get a driver's license. Because he might get killed! Sure he might. But the chances of dying behind the wheel are way higher than the chances of a small Nova Scotia town needing an APC. Oh. And should the truly unforeseen arrive we have this thing, it's called the military. When they're not killing bad guys overseas they occasional help out during emergencies in Canada. If you ask nicely they'll even shovel the snow for you.
A substantial majority of Canadian electors are on the same page as Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau when it comes to legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana, a new Forum Research poll suggests.
The Forum Research survey earlier this week found 66 per cent of voting-age Canadians who responded either support the legalization of marijuana and taxing legal marijuana sales or taking marijuana possession out of the Criminal Code.
That sounds a little high. Even if true it doesn't answer the important political question for 2015: How many people will change their voters simply because of Trudeau's pro-pot stand?
Ten years is a long time in politics. It's an eternity in blogging. What the hell was I thinking?
Well you can stroll through the archives and come to your conclusions. Due to various shift in the blogging template over the years the archives only go back two years. It's something I'll sort out eventually when I have the time. This also explains the occasionally erratic posting schedule. This is not a source of income for me and I must prioritize accordingly. Unlike many blogs there is a fair amount of original content posted at GCH. That makes the process of keeping this site going somewhat more labour intensive than average.
But ten years is a very long time. A decade ago the Iraq war was still in its early and mostly hopeful stages. John Kerry was the Democratic Presidential nominee. Paul Martin was beginning his suppose decades long reign as the Greatest Prime Minister in All of Canadian History. Stephen Harper was a marginal Right-leaning figure whose Reform Party connections would doom him to political irrelevance. Rob Ford was a somewhat obscure city councillor. David Miller was the mayor of Toronto. Kathleen Wynne was a parliamentary assistant to Gerard Kennedy. Justin Trudeau was dropping of engineering school. Dalton McGuinty had broken less than two dozen promises.
That's the details stuff. The historical minutiae that future generations will forget, save for desperate graduate students seeking a thesis topic. The big tech stuff has still been fairly big over the last decade.
In 2004 cell phones were used for calling people and occasionally texting. Virtually none of them had cameras and their internet capabilities were limited or non-existent. Netflix's primary business model centered around mailing DVDs. Blu-Rays were still a very new and very pricey technology with players selling for thousands of dollars. People bought desktops and with them printers. The printers cost more than the ink. The idea of making a living online was considered fanciful. No one had ever heard of Facebook, Twitter, You Tube or Instagram. People still bought and read physical newspapers.
For those of a certain age, say who remember the Apollo missions, this all seems like so much gadgetry. Communications technology has improved exponentially over the last ten years. But so what? We still generate electricity, manufacture cars, treat the sick and run our governments in much the same way we did forty years ago. We've had technical improvements here and there, and those have had a significant cumulative impact, but there has been no Big Bang that will take your breath away.
Watch or re-watch the film The Right Stuff and ask yourself if the cultural universe in which that film was made, much less its historical setting, still exists. Could anyone make a movie like that today? Would it make sense to a generation that gets excited over a phone app that is slightly more efficient at doing nothing in particular. A generation that is not only the antithesis of Chuck Yeager and the Mercury 7 but likely wouldn't even grasp their importance.
This blog was started with a feeling that the culture of the West was, a few upticks aside, on a long down trajectory. A decade later I have little reason to revise that assessment. The gadgets get smarter but the people seem to get dumber. A growing political problem in a stagnant economy where only the most skilled seem to have a decent and stable living standard. That is until those industries get technologically disrupted as well.
That which does not change dies. But that tells us nothing about the nature of change or our ability to cope. A nation of self reliant individualists, reared on the stories of Horatio Alger, can cope with change far better that an overcredentialized and under challenged populace. Real change isn't mastering the latest gadget, it's figuring out how to walk off a cliff and not fall. That's a talent for survival and improvisation that previous generations had, as a matter of necessity, in abundance. The soft-wrapped creatures I encounter in my daily life, eager not to offend and terrified of defying social norms, are not the sort that encourage much hope.
Kate McMillian, who has been blogging only slightly longer than I have, has a wonderful saying:
She's got about a thousand variants. They're funny because they're true. I have no idea how much actual social decay she sees out in Saskatchewan, but here in the Imperial Capital it's an object lesson every day. The punchline gets less funny when you deal with this nonsense on a daily basis, when it passes from internet meme into a living physical problem standing in your way.
The reams of entirely pointless government regulations. Young workers who lack basic numeracy and literacy skills as well as anything resembling a work ethic. The triumph of office politics over even marginal competency. Even the sheer obliviousness of people walking down the street. And that's just the ones not glued to their bloody phones. Working in downtown Toronto is like doing an obstacle course with the added bonus of filing your lungs with pollution. Virtually everyone I know past thirty-five, no matter what line of work or education, is just trying to survive long enough to pay-off the mortgage and cover their kid's education. They have no ambition or dreams beyond that. The cynical idiocy of daily life had beaten it out of them.
My father, who grew up without running water and electricity, does not envy the youth of today. They have every material advantage he lacked, but they seem to lack everything he took for granted. Not all change is for the better. He has seen Toronto go from an efficient WASPish town into a disorganized multicultural bazaar. This isn't obvious to the WASPish elite that still runs this town because most of them don't live in Etobicoke or Scarborough. Those are places they drive through on their way to Montreal or Niagara-on-the-Lake. They enjoy the restaurants and the exotic dresses that dot the downtown. They miss the subsidized housing projects where black veiled women are ubiquitous. If the menfolk work its seems improbable they bring in enough to support their large families. That's what I deal with because my daddy didn't buy me a condo on Queen's Quay.
Diversity is fun when you meet the smart, intelligent well educated cream of the crop. Where I work the Indians, Chinese, Jamaicans and Latin Americans are by far the best workers. They seem to blend the best of their traditional cultures with an ambition that is mostly lacking in the WASP working and middle classes. But how many are like this? For every civilized man and woman how many peasants who refuse to accept even the basics of assimilation? The Cult of Multicult has taken a few sharp shocks in recent years but it is not dead. Those who could speak refuse to out of fear. Those who want to speak are ignored, excluded or marginalized.
Where there's life, said a pastor to me many years ago, there's hope. True enough. But that same pastor also taught that God helps those who help themselves. That kind of old time religion is in very short supply. I'm not quite ready to Enjoy the Decline but I don't see much of an alternative.
Here's to another ten years. Hopefully less bleak than the last.
A whopping 83 percent of Americans think there should be a law that prohibits kids 9 and under from playing at the park unsupervised, despite the fact that most of them no doubt grew up doing just that.
What's more: 62 percent feel the same way about 12-year-olds. They would like to criminalize all pre-teenagers playing outside on their own (and, I guess, arrest their no-good parents).
It was a nice civilization while it lasted. Really it was.