With days to go we are confronted with two choices here in the Imperial Capital: The polished millionaire non-entity or the white trash millionaire bruiser. It is in moments like these that the vasty fields of Saskatchewan beckon with unusual strength. What are housing prices like in Regina anyway? What's the price for a Toronto-sized shoe box without the Toronto sized traffic and political idiocy? This used to be a boring city placed within a boring province. It's gotten very interesting of late and in the very worst way. I miss Mel Lastman. Heck I miss Art Eggleton, if such an emotion is even possible.
The Toronto Sun, a usual bastion of populist common sense, has decided to endorse John Tory. Given the farce that has dominated municipal politics these last twelve months I can't blame them. The Fords have become so terribly embarrassing. Vulgar, crude and probably violent as well. Respectable people can no longer abide by the Fords' antics. John Tory could not be more respectable. He says all the right things in all the right ways. The Right respects him, the Left respects him and the Centre looks upon him as a long-lost lover miraculously returned. Who are we to oppose?
What is said of Justin Trudeau might nearly be said of John Tory. The latter is certainly more accomplished and intelligent, but there is too much the whiff of Trinity College about him. His father just happened to work for the Thomsons and he worked for the Rogers. An upward glide through life aided by family connections. No doubt he worked very hard. But there is something too slick about him. An object stylized to slip effortless down a pre-determined path. All the right things to all the right people. Who are we to object?
The right people like him very much. It's the voters, those ignorant bastards, who seem not to understand what an impressive candidate he really is. Any mere mortal with a record of so many spectacular failures would never think of running for Mayor of Stratford much less Toronto. Can you imagine Tim Hudak of wooden memory running for any office anywhere? You can't and his failures were not quite as impressive as those of Mr Tory. Though, of course, Tim Hudak never practiced at a law firm founded by his grandfather. But who are we to criticize?
John Tory would be a very impressive looking and sounding Mayor. He would not stagger drunk down the Danforth or make sexual references about his wife in public. A good WASP from a good family he would never do anything like that. Will he be a good Mayor? No worse than David Miller. And that really is his appeal. A David Miller who limps to the Right.
Then there is Team Ford. Rob, Doug and whichever brother is currently running the family business. I don't think I'd ever invite any of them over for tea. They have a natural ability to alienate those around them. It's almost a talent. They have a flare for screwing things up. Toronto has never seen anything quite like them and will likely never again. A god awful mess. They are, however, the only conservatives running in this election. A house trained Doug Ford would likely do more to trim municipal government than John Tory. The latter needs to be liked but the former doesn't give a damn. Therein lies the difference. One is a carefully managed artifice and the other is a sincere disaster.
What I like most about the Fords is their lying. They lie like children. Attempts at deception, misdirection and deflection are so obvious they have a kind of charm. Beneath the trailer trash manners and the millionaire bank accounts they are actual, albeit deeply flawed, human beings. These are rare enough traits that they should be encouraged.
I don't want a smooth mediocrity bankrupting Toronto, or striking half-baked compromises with the Left. If the Imperial Capital is going to go, let it go with a bang and not a well-heeled whimper. Let's have Doug Ford's fat blond figure standing right in the middle of municipal politics for the next few years. For sheer obstructionism he can't be beat. A clear message to the great and good that there is a mass of people in this city who no have interest in being patronized to.
Zunera Ishaq, a Pakistani woman now living in Mississauga, is suing the Conservatives, arguing the ban violates her Charter rights by failing to accommodate her religious beliefs. Niqabs are worn by some Muslim women in public areas and in front of adult males who are not relatives.
In a Federal Court hearing Thursday in Toronto, one of her lawyers accused Kenney of imposing his own ideology on citizenship ceremonies when he imposed the ban unilaterally in late 2011 in an operational manual.
I suppose Minister Kenney was imposing his ideology. That's sort of his job. That's why we have politicians and Parliament and the whole bag of tricks. It's for people to espouse ideas and policies then vote on the whole thing. A strange concept in much of the world. We here in Canada are terribly fond of it. It isn't just the sartorial tastes that get the ideological once over, the oath itself is ideological too:
I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.
There is the swearing / affirming bit. You are making a promise to follow a set of rules, that's the true allegiance bit. Nor is this allegiance to any old person wandering down the street, it's to Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors. Which brings up the question of the monarchy. Our monarchy. A constitutional monarchy with a whole raft of traditions and customs dating back many centuries. Finally there's the bit about the laws of Canada and the duties of a citizen. More ideas and values that you are swearing to uphold.
The whole thing is ideological. It's all based on ideas developed and refined over a great long while. The nature of politics and the nature of Cabinet government is inherently driven by ideology. But, of course, that's not what she meant. Most educated people today use the term ideology as a pejorative. It's a secular version of an older term: Dogma. When a Catholic says dogma he means a set of theological principles ruled upon by the Church. When English speaking Protestants have historically used the term dogma they meant a series of arbitrary edicts. It is in that latest sense that the word ideology is understood today.
Naturally one man's principles is another woman's ideology. The hypocrisy is in claiming that Minister Kenney's ideology is inherently false or untrue simply because it fails to match up to that of the plaintiff. On the contrary Minister Kenney's ideology can, in certain circumstances, trump anyone else's ideology. Canadian citizenship is not a right. We don't hand it out, not yet anyway, to all comers. To get the passport and nice laminated card there are certain rules. If you don't follow the rules then you don't get the prize. Whether the rules are foolish or wise does not matter. Jason Kenney was entitled to make the rules, he made them and now you must follow them.
This begs the legal question of why a non-citizen has standing to challenge a citizenship oath. Is this accorded to anyone who bothers asking? Could the President of France launch such a suit? If only for the sake of personal amusement? Or are we old fashioned enough to insist that the individual in question be at least a permanent resident? I ask merely for information.
Now both Minister Kenney and the plaintiff have ideologies. Two sets of competing ideas. I don't think it too much of a reveal if I admit a preference for Minister Kenney's ideology. There is an old fashioned tradition, which many of us adhere to, that when making a public oath or statement you identify yourself. This principle was once so strongly believed in that even voting was a public act. You walked into a polling station, stated your name and address and who you were voting for this election.
I'm not calling for the abolition of the secret ballot. I'm not that much of a reactionary. But Minister Kenney was more in the right on this occasion than usual. Please keep in mind that this regulation applies only to those taking an oath during the ceremony. It does not impinge on people going about their daily business. What we are expecting of new Canadians is that they identify themselves and publicly declare their allegiance. Not some anonymous creature in a tent. An individual making a personal pledge.
The rights of the individual are the flip side of the responsibilities of the individual. If a prospective Canadian cannot make that simple compromise then they should ask themselves why they are here. There is no shortage of countries in the world where the niqab is widely and completely accepted. Canadians have a problem with customs that deny our individuality. That basic concern for the individual is a building block of our society. Minister Kenney was not being petty or bigoted, he was being ideological in the best sense of the word. He was insisting that ideas have consequences. The consequence of allowing niqabs during citizenship ceremonies would attack a fundamental part of what makes us Canadian.
Should the burden of removing a small item of clothing prove too onerous, I'm quite sure there are many in other lands perfectly willing to take the place of this particular applicant. I have a few cousins, each with practical skills and decent English, who will wear, or not wear, whatever is necessary in other to become Canadian.
The Government of Canada is providing $35,484 in funding through the Aboriginal Languages Initiative to support 765 hours of Ojibway language lessons for children and parents.
Bryan Hayes, Member of Parliament (Sault Ste. Marie), made this announcement today on behalf of the Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages.
I wasn't aware that Ojibway was an official language. Perhaps it's one of those things PET snuck in when no one was looking. If the great concern with our aboriginal peoples is marginalization, economic as well as social, why are we are making such efforts to teach them a nearly dead language? Providing funding for Latin would actually make more economic sense. A firm grasp of the language of Cicero would provide a strong basis for grasping the Romance languages. It is not the duty of the government to preserve culture.
Government of Canada helps youth in Regina get jobs:
The Regina Work Preparation Centre is receiving more than $142,000 from the Skills Link program to help 24 youth facing barriers to employment get the skills and knowledge they need to find jobs.
Participants will develop the skills and knowledge necessary to make a successful transition to the job market or return to school. They will gain useful skills such as problem solving and team building. They will also benefit from work experience with local not-for-profit, private or public sector employers in areas such as retail sales and recreation. In addition, participants will work with a job coach to further develop their individual skills.
The unemployment rate in Regina stands at 3.4%. If you're unable to find a job, even a very menial position, in that kind of a labour market what the hell is wrong with you? And is there anything the federal government can really do to help?
"It's kind of shocking to realize the person known as the father of modern economics, Adam Smith, didn't think the pursuit of wealth was a very good idea," say Russ Roberts. "He thought it was corrosive, thought it was bad for you, thought ambition was bad for you, thought the pursuit of fame would destroy your character and your happiness, your serenity, your tranquility.