Good to know. Meanwhile, Ontarians are left to wonder who’s in charge. The leadership convention is scheduled for Jan. 25-27, and Mr. McGuinty is hardly going to press forward on important issues while serving as a retiree-in-waiting. Ditto Mr. Duncan. With them goes the Liberal agenda. What replaces it won’t be known until the new leader takes over. And the odds on whoever-that-may-be adopting a similar set of policies are low, to put it mildly. Because if the agenda was popular, neither Mr. McGuinty nor Mr. Duncan would be heading for the hills.
So until at least late January Ontario will have "no government."
Let me hazard a few predictions about this period of anarchy in our province's history:
There will be no massive riots.
The overwhelming majority of government employees will continue to be overpaid and underworked.
I will continue to have to pay my taxes to the provincial government.
Dalton McGuinty will soon be a very rich man.
The Rest of Canada will not give a damn who becomes the next premier of Ontario.
There are nations that desperately need governments. These are nations where the vast majority of the people are incapable of self-rule. Despite the enervations of the welfare state, Canadians are manifestly capable of self-rule. The office of Premier could be vacant for many years and the province and the country would function much as before. On autopilot certainly, but that would be little different from what we've experienced over the last nine years. It might even be cheaper.
Among the talking points emanating from Fort Dalt these last few weeks is that the prorogation was necessary in order to negotiate new union contracts. I won't even bother trying to untangle that bit of pretzel logic. The Premier of Ontario is like a student who had nine years to study for an exam but decided instead to just cram the night before. But let us have faith. Faith that the man who lead us into this mess will lead us back out. Faith that Dalton McGuinty, who used to wrestle government unions to ceiling will now be able to wrestle them to floor. Now that the pesky legislature isn't looking over his shoulders.
Our Hebrew friends have a new word for chutzpah: McGuinty.
There were 32,310 traffic fatalities in 2011, the fewest there have been since 1949. More importantly, fatality rates per 100 million vehicle miles traveled have dropped substantially over the years, falling from 24.09 in 1921 to 1.09 in 2011. In addition, while interstate highway speed limits have risen since Congress repealed all federally imposed speed limits in 1995, fatalities categorized as “speeding-related” by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have declined since then. Specifically, there were 13,414 speeding-related fatalities in 1995 and 10,591 in 2011. Of the 10,591 speeding-related fatalities in 2011, just 964 occurred on interstate highways with speed limits “over 55 MPH.”
So even as critics contend that an 85 MPH speed limit will increase fatalities, it’s no surprise that Texas is implementing the higher limit: Driving in America has never been safer than it is now.
On Wednesday, Statistics Canada will publish language data showing how many people speak English, how many speak French, and how many speak a myriad of other languages — a consequence of increasingly diverse immigration.
In the last census, in 2006, the number of people who called French their mother tongue was almost — but not quite — on par with the number of people who identify other languages as their first.
If the trend lines continue, as the experts expect they will, they could cross come Wednesday. Measured in terms of percentage of the total population in Canada, French is expected to continue its long, slow decline as a mother tongue and "other" languages will continue their ascent, with the number of allophones — those with a mother tongue other than Canada's two official languages — surpassing their francophone counterparts.
As the article goes on to point out, the category of "other" comprises dozens of different immigrant languages. Most immigrant languages die out after two or three generations, a result of the natural process of assimilation. Francophone, as has been well established, do not assimilate. From this we are suppose to infer that multiculturalism is no threat to bilingualism. Graham Fraser, the Commissioner of Official Languages (Yes, that is an actual government position), even describes these two great isms of Trudeaupian Canada as "siamese twins." I'm not sure if that last comment is racist, but if it is I'm sure a formal complaint will be made shortly.
Multiculturalism has two meanings. There is the popular understanding of the term as a multi-ethnic and multi-racial society (more pavilions at Folkfest). Then there is the more academic understanding of the term as code for cultural relativism. Whatever meaning you accept, neither is very promising for the future of the French Fact in Canada.
The premise behind bilingualism is not simply that Francophone should be able to access government services in their own language. That would be uncontroversial enough. The policy, however, soon stepped over the line into creating a privileged class of Canadians. The federal government's employment practices routinely discriminate against anglophones, offering preferential treatment for fluently bilingual Canadians, who are overwhelmingly Quebecois. It's affirmative action with a linguistic fig leaf. The French language is then imposed on large swaths of private life from cereal boxes to Montreal office blocks.
The ROC accepted this two-tier notion of Canadian citizenship out of guilt and fear. Guilt about the alleged crimes of the English against the French in Canada. Think of it as the Lord Durham Effect. The smallest slight is interpreted by militant Quebecois nationalists as proof of a dark plot to assimilate their culture into a bland English Canadian whole. The fear came from decades of nationalist blackmail: Give us free stuff or we'll break up the country.
The WASPs who have ruled this country since its inception have gotten tired of this game. The guilt is fading and the threats are empty. To the growing mass of ROCers who are neither English or French the Quebec game of extortion is only so much old history. They don't care anymore, assuming they ever did. When Quebec's share of House of Commons seats drops below about 20%, expect many of these special privileges accorded to the French language to be slowly rolled back.
As the people turn against bilingualism, an artifact of another time, the academics and intellectuals will be showing less love of Quebec and its demands. Back in the 1960s the Quebecois were an excellent victim group for a self-hating Canadian WASP. They were the Other which needed to be apologized and appeased to. Modern Canada has so many Others, so many potential victim groups, that a bunch of highly subsidized white western Europeans just aren't that compelling. If you want to feel guilty about yourself, just take a stroll down Yonge Street. You could spend weeks just apologizing to people who come from countries beginning with the letter "I".
The expansion of our immigration policy outside of its traditional European sources was a gamble. It was hoped that by bringing in cultures who were neither English or French, or Protestant or Catholic, the Two Solitudes could be steadily diluted to create the New Canadian. What that new Canadian was suppose to look like was never clearly defined. The focus was more on breaking up the cultural logjam of the era. A cultural mosaic approach seemed the logical approach. Yet at the same time there was felt a need to appease Quebec nationalism. With that you have one of the central contradictions of Trudeaupian Canada: Claiming to regard all cultures as equal, while giving explicit special privileges to one minority group simply because they showed up first.
The contradictions inherent in the system are leading to its destruction.
He wrote dozens of books across many decades, demonstrating that old age did not necessarily mean intellectual decline. He published his most ambitious and encyclopedic book at the age of 92 (and credited his productivity in part to chronic insomnia). That work, “From Dawn to Decadence,” is an 877-page survey of 500 years of Western culture in which he argued that Western civilization itself had entered a period of decline.
Mr. Barzun was both of the academy and the public square, a man of letters and — he was proud to say — of the people. In books and in the classroom he championed Romantic literature, 19th-century music and the Western literary canon. He helped design the influential “great books” curriculum at Columbia, where he was one of its most admired figures for half a century, serving as provost, dean of faculty and university professor.
Ask Trent University history professor John Milloy, and he will tell you Canadians have been “much too polite” about their history.
While the FLQ was blowing up mailboxes in Quebec in the 1960s, Canada became so bent on selling an uncontroversial national narrative that it neglected all the meaty details: The hard-drinking Prime Minister who lied and cheated his way towards a cross-continental railway; anti-government rebels shot dead on Yonge Street in Toronto; voyageurs who slept their way across the frontier; and the hundreds of 1940s Vancouverites who looked the other way when authorities came for the Nakumura family next door.
“Blood, sex, greed,” he said. “That’s the good stuff, that’s what brings people into the movie theatres.”
Do not succumb.
This is not teaching history. It is not educating the public on our history. It is trivializing the past in hopes of getting some fleeting interest from a gore and gossip addicted public. If the goal is to get Canadians to appreciate their history as important, and by extension that Canada is a nation worthy of preserving, playing to the cheap seats is self-defeating.
This is, sadly, not a new phenomenon. I have come across more than a few educated people whose knowledge of Canadian history is derived from some long ago history professor who tried to keep things "interesting." There are two ways to make history interesting. You can try to explain cause and effect, place events into a broad narrative, while pointing to genuine accomplishments along the way. Try to connect the student to the lived reality of the past. The alternate method, and the more popular method because it is easier, is to make fun of the falling down drunk who founded the country.
The amusing drunk theory of Canadian history will certainly keep the kiddies interested. But when they walk out of the classroom all they'll remember is the falling down drunk. They won't remember much else John A Macdonald did. More importantly than what they think of John A is what they think of Canada. America might have founded by slave owning hypocrites, a crude simplification of the reality of colonial America, but Canada was founded by alcoholics. Funny, eh? Problem is that no one will take seriously a country founded by drunks.
The attempt to make Canadian history interesting, because it is suppose to be intrinsically boring, is insulting. We have to emphasize the falling down drunk, the raving bigots, the philandering politicians and the corrupt speculators because otherwise this stuff is a real dud. This approach is less a criticism of Canadian history than of a certain type of mediocre Canadian historian. There are library shelves groaning with well written, compelling and intellectually serious material.
Instead we have slapstick Canadian history. This is a foolish approach at anytime. In modern Canada, which is one of the most ethnically and racially diverse nations in human history, it is positively suicidal. Do you really want to tell the Somali refugee that the nation they've arrived in is nothing more than a rich man's joke? That will be their understandable reaction. There are worse things than being boring: Being ridiculous is one of them.
The greatest long-term threat to the survival of this country is the idea of Canada as a multicultural hotel. A sensationalistic, as opposed to a balanced, approach to Canadian history will only speed up that process. It will help convince the waves of immigrants that have arrived, and those yet to show up, that there is no need to take Canada seriously. We are not a serious country. Our values are a joke. Our great historical figures were either clowns or monsters. Why should that immigrant care to assimilate? There is nothing to assimilate into. Why not retain his primitive customs? At least those customs are taken seriously by someone.
It is the operating assumption of this blog that history should be taught warts and all. This is the warts only approach. Here is something better: Don't whitewash the past but explain it properly. Yes, John A Macdonald was a high functioning alcoholic. But here is the rest of the story: Alcohol consumption was often high in frontier societies. There isn't much else to do and life is very hard. Clean water, especially in urban areas, is not always available, so drinking beer is often safer than drinking water. Macdonald himself lead a difficult life. His first wife had a mysterious illness that left her near death for years. All the while he was responsible for leading a fractious colony only a few steps away from religious and ethnic violence. For much of his time in office Macdonald did not lead the government, he was the government, it being so difficult to find talented or even competent people to enter politics.
The above is something closer to John A in full. A skillful, often devious man confronting a complex set of problems. Try to place the students in John A's place, making the choices he had to make, knowing that the wrong decision could lead to disaster. In a best case scenario Canada might have been annexed by the United States. In a worse case scenario we might have collapsed into a civil war and then been annexed by the United States. The man who avoided either fate, for all his many faults, deserves something more than the Three Stooges treatment by Canadian history teachers.
What goes for John A also goes for scores of other prominent historical figures.
It is an old cliche, though a very true one, that a nation without a history has no future. What about a nation with a joke for a past? For that country the future is unlikely to be amusing.
Workers at LG Chem, a $300 million lithium-ion battery plant heavily funded by taxpayers, tell Target 8 that they have so little work to do that they spend hours playing cards and board games, reading magazines or watching movies.
They say it's been going on for months.
"There would be up to 40 of us that would just sit in there during the day," said former LG Chem employee Nicole Merryman, who said she quit in May.