Middle-aged well-educated white male, tired of the new dispensation.

Middle-aged well-educated white male, tired of the new dispensation.

Fear and loathing in the 21st century


Dear Diary:

We go about our lives in this country in fear. Yes, perhaps we are conscious of the threat of terrorism but now that we have run away and proven the Jihadist claim that we in the West simply don’t have the stomach for a fight, we think that’s probably fading. Why, after all, would there be any point in attacking people more than happy to supplicate?

No, we are afraid to even open our mouths and speak. Our little knees knock at the very thought of having a bit of a laugh let alone a serious conversation.

We tremble and huddle in societal corners, cowed by the spectre of some metaphorically hideous old matron berating and humiliating us for our thoughts, should they ever pass our lips, our Facebook posts and our Tweets. All thanks to the scourge of political correctness.

It emerged in the early 1980s and was designed then, or so it seemed, in a reasonably civil fashion to make us more aware of the unintended consequences of our language upon others – primarily in terms of gender, race and ethnic origin, and that, without intending to do so, we might cause offense and, perhaps worse, embarrass ourselves. Fair enough. It was certainly uncivil to be running about telling jokes about “so there was a (insert perjorative) woman who made her livelihood dancing naked, a black gentleman, a young man of south Asian origin and a Ukrainian sitting in a bar . . . “

We all endeavour to be pleasant social company and are willing, if we wish to enjoy the same, to adapt to changing social mores even when it occasionally involves explaining to very elderly parents that no mother we don’t refer to those ladies as Negresses anymore. This social evolution (“honey I really don’t think you should tell any more Catholic jokes when we are over for dinner at the O’Malley’s”) was, however, dangerously perverted by two developments – one legal and one cultural.

Human rights agencies were originally designed to ensure people were not treated in a prejudicial fashion in terms of gaining and retaining employment and accommodation – matters in which tangible harm to a person may occur. That, though, wasn’t enough and in a creeping series of decisions over the years, “harm” was redefined by virtually every such body in the country so that it included intangibles such as damaged “feelings.” Feelings, of course, are by their very nature self-defined and the assumed wisdom became that if Person A’s “feelings” were hurt or they were “offended by” a statement by Person B, it mattered not whether Person B had said a perfectly reasonable thing or not, Person B had no option but to withdraw the statement and apologize and even then might run the risk of being dragged before a veritable Kangaroo Court, fined and publicly shamed. Person A’s “feelings” trumped all the previous notions of social and legal judgment and reasonableness.

There was no longer any need to search for the Reasonable Person because their services were no longer required.

The other is that school systems imbued into what are now two generations of Canadian Eloi the notion that their feelings have social primacy; that individual rights no longer exist in a natural balance with societal group rights. In doing so, they invented (yup, they just made it up) the “right” to live unoffended – intended or otherwise. Any old-fashioned notion of “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” went out the door along with “suck it up buttercup: it’s a tough old world out there and – guess what – if you can’t tough it through a little taunting you won’t stand a chance unless you discover a couple of vertebrae.”

As a result, we are now all victims, either because we get upset when people say things which offend us or because we live in constant fear that someone will take offense from something we say and we will be thrown in the stocks of social media. And with the longstanding notion of “reasonableness” tossed aside by our institutions, all feelings are valid simply because we feel them. Oppose or even question a public policy objective and you are at risk – as occurred without apology recently from Kathleen Wynne to Ujjal Donsanjh – of being a racist and a xenophobe. Germaine Greer can be banned from university campuses because her insistence that a vagina is a requirement for definition as a woman. Oxford University can be brought to its knees because the very presence of a statue of Cecil Rhodes makes people feel “unsafe.”

If you’ve got nothing to actually go on that a person said, talk about “dog whistles” and imply that even though they never said something offensive you have decided that they probably meant to and are offended anyway because “we all know what that meant.” And so on and so on until we don’t even talk to each other about anything that actually matters anymore, so afraid have we become.

We talk about the weather but certainly not climate change or the cultural evolution of the country. People who have a moral belief that a fetus is an unborn child may not be a sitting member of the governing party.

This is the age of the Neo-Puritan. In it, we are surrounded by Joe McCarthys. Yet we have not yet found a Joseph Welch to ask the Wynnes and the Nenshis and the others: “have you no sense of decency?

Perhaps it was all well intended. Perhaps it was all to ensure we had our fun more politely. But we are an increasingly earnest and humourless people because, as John Cleese further explains here (and above), comedy depends on our ability to understand our imperfections and have a bit of sport – sometimes at our own expense and sometimes at the expense of others.


The Pravda of political correctness in this country is its mainstream media, as many readers are likely to agree.

They are the ones who, when the irascible if not always likeable Ezra Levant was fighting for something as fundamental to media as the right to free expression, stood mute. They are the ones who, when human rights tribunals were without legislative authority (see above) expanding their own purpose and meaning, stood blind and mute. And they are the ones who while freedoms of conscience were being stomped on by the governing party stood deaf, blind and mute.

Yet they are the ones who today beg for mercy from the public’s judgment as their industries die. The reason? Perhaps, as this piece from the CBC’s Neil MacDonald alludes to, it’s this simple: they are afraid to seek the truth, lest some take offense from it.


Speaking of the guardians of journalistic freedom and democracy, there was not a peep from them following the ejection from the public announcement of Alberta’s resources royalty review of one of their number attempting to report on the same.

We understand that Sheila Gunn Reid (among Twitter’s more, um, direct commentators) doesn’t actually fit in with the crowd, being of a conservative predisposition and all that. But how do media expect the public to stand up for their “rights” when they won’t stand up for those of one of their own?

-30-

“Being There” for all Canadians

Dear Diary:

Whew! What a breathtaking week.

It all began with our glorious leader’s cringe-inspiring response to an under-employed oil worker who should “hang in there” – apparently for eternity while the PM steadfastly refuses to indicate that are any conditions possible under which he would approve a pipeline – Energy East – that would run through Montreal.

Nevermind that there has been a pipeline running through Montreal for close to 75 years – that being the Portland-Montreal pipeline that in a good year has carried close to 100 million barrels of foreign (Saudi, Venezuelan, who knows?) oil under the St. Lawrence river.

Suncor refinery in Montreal
Suncor refinery in Montreal

This probably comes as a surprise to most media such as Le Devoir’s Marie Vastel who regularly wonder – unchallenged by the likes of Rosie Barton – on political talk shows whether enough is known about pipelines, their safety, the threat of spills and whether they can be cleaned up. Hmmmm.

So, we dug around a little and here’s what your journalists – yes, yes, the same folks who have been whining all month about their craft’s demise and how it is vital to democracy, blah, blah, blah – aren’t filling you in on.

The Portland-Montreal pipeline is in trouble because the Energy East project involves carrying Canadian crude from West to East which means no one in Eastern Canada would have to buy oil from people who regularly conduct mass beheadings. A couple of years back, there was a proposal to actually reverse Portland-Montreal, which would have made it possible to not only get Canadian crude to Montreal, it could also then get loaded on tankers in Portland. But in a delightful confluence of the economic interests of the pipeline’s Montreal and Portland owners and the eco-kook lobby, civic leaders in Portland said no to “dirty” oil. This, as we all know, is because it is morally superior to buy oil from medieval kingdoms, west African dictators, South American tyrants, and various other mullahs than it is from fellow Canadians.

And as far as Albertans are concerned, as Ian Robinson – a good Timmins kid – points out: we don’t like them.

Anyway, we don’t think the eco-kook lobby’s biggest concern is that oilsands crude is so “dirty” – what with it being responsible for 0.15% of global emissions and all. No, it’s because there is a lot of it. And so long as there is a lot of oil, its price will remain low and people will still be able to heat their homes, drive their cars, etc at affordable prices – thus delaying the orgasmic day when “green” alternatives are economically affordable and the new Utopia arrives. (the parallels to the Social Gospel movement are unmistakable).

Anyway, the next time one of those journalists/saviours of democracy blathers on like some upper class twit about Quebec not knowing whether oil pipelines are safe, ask them how the, er, blazes they can not know – they’ve had one for 75 years.


#PMJT continues to insist the reason he can’t be sure whether Energy East’s $9 billion infrastructure proposal and its liberating influence on Canada’s largest industry – energy – is because Stephen Harper  “politicized” the National Energy Board process.

If this is true, it is an extremely serious charge. What is pretty much just as serious is that you can read, or watch, or listen to just about any report on this accusation without finding the slightest shred of evidence that even one of those doing the reporting asked the fundamental follow up question – how? Like, “Mr. Prime Minister, you just said that your predecessor of violating the rule of law by interfering with the workings of an independent, quasi-judicial administrative/regulatory agency. Exactly how did he do that?”

Nope. No one asked. Not one. We suppose we are expected to accept as the nation’s journalistic elite does, that just because someone says something, it is true. If it is, someone should call the cops about the former prime minister. If it’s not true, the current prime minister is telling lies. But we, the mere public in whose interest these noble guardians of the truth serve, apparently don’t have the “right to know.”


Staying on energy, we were all moved by the government’s speedy response to the economic crisis in the West, weren’t we? Sure you were. How can you resist those doe-eyed glances of sincerity, flanked as they are by Gallic locks and exposed, manly forearms? Come on.

trudeau_notley_meeting_20160203-1

First, it was announced next to his new pal “Rachel” that $700 million in routine infrastructure funding earmarked by the previous government for Alberta would be “fast-tracked.” We don’t know the details regarding over how many years this money was originally intended to be spent (mostly because, again, no one in our media apparently thought to ask) versus how it will now be spent. So, let’s assume it was intended to be spent over 5 years at $140 million annually and now will be spent instead over two years at $350 million annually. Here’s the problem: after two years, it’s all gone. What happens then?

being-there-peter-seller2We assume this what the PM – who some are saying is  revealing an increasing resemblance to a younger Chauncey Gardiner – means when he talks about Canadians “Being There” for each other.

Then, it was announced with much fanfare that Newfoundland, Saskatchewan and Alberta could apply for some short-term assistance that they already were completely legally  entitled to apply for that in the case of Alberta amounts to $250 million.

Gosh and golly in Alberta that’s almost a whole $1 billion worth of “assistance” that the province was going to get sooner or later but will now get more of sooner and, near as we can tell, less of later. Impressive.

To be fair – and to relieve our incessant berating of the journos – the announcements were greeted with skepticism by most Alberta-based commentators (none of whom, we note, are ever asked to participate in CBC panels filled with people who live and work in Ontario/Quebec but apparently are, like Hollywood actors, experts on everything).

Most notable among this is the quite reliable Rick Bell who pointed out that $1 billion amounts to $60 per Albertan as compared to the $1,130 each and every Quebecois et Quebecoise gets every year in transfer payments, most of which come from Alberta.

In case you were wondering, as we were, the total amount Alberta has contributed to Confederation – the difference between what it sent in and what got sent back – between 1960 and 2002 at least – was $244 billion.

Following the predispositions of the nation’s national media, we are too lazy today to find out how much more was added to that total in the ensuing 13 years, but we did find this government document that shows that in 2011 alone, Alberta’s net contribution to “Confederation” was just under $16 billion.

You do the math. We are searching for amber fluids.

 

Saving the planet one layer of bureaucracy at a time

Dear Diary:

It is remarkable to watch a country wage Jihad on its own economy but – right now – that is what we are witnessing in Canada.

Energy is by far the nation’s largest industry. And the federal government has decided to bleed it to death. What other possible explanation can there be for its refusal to even say that it thinks pipelines to get oil to tidewater are a good idea even – yes, yes, yes – with all the usual environmental caveats.

The Prime Minister, who only weeks ago said he thought the Keystone pipeline was a great idea, now refuses to say the same about Energy East, deciding that even though he just did prime ministers shouldn’t be promoting things they should just be refereeing them.

In doing so, he appears to have confused his role with that of the Governor General or perhaps Her Majesty herself which, giving the PM’s sturdy self-image is not out of the question. Selfie anyone?

People do not elect referees. They elect leaders. So, lead on fighting greenhouse gas emissions or lead on building a stronger economy or – here’s an idea – lead on both. Just don’t stand there, as happened this week, like a deer stuck in the headlights of an oncoming Peterbilt.

This week, the government announced a new layer of regulatory examination for pipelines. It appears to have been sketched out on the back of a cocktail napkin at the moment but says, essentially, that a project’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions must be a factor and that must include “upstream impact” – in other words the emissions that come from creating the product, not just those involved in shipping the product. It does not say what an acceptable or unacceptable level is but that’s probably for another day and another cocktail napkin.

Here’s the deal: Most of that is already known. A comprehensive report done for the Ontario Energy Board indicates that:

The overall global greenhouse gas impact of Energy East will be an increase of one one-hundredth of a percentage point – 0.01%. And that most of the emissions increase comes from consumption of the product in foreign lands. Oh, and that large parts of the ghg impact in Canada comes from the fact the project consumes electricity.

There is really no debate over whether it is more or less environmentally friendly to ship oil by pipeline than it is by rail. Sourcing Environment Canada, the industry association points out that Canada’s vast network of pipelines is responsible for 1% of the nation’s emissions. That is backed up by American regulatory reports on Keystone, this report from the University of Waterloo and emphasized by TransCanada’s CEO who, when speaking of the Keystone project noted that:

“For every mile you move a barrel of oil by rail, you emit three times the [greenhouse gases] that you do by moving it by pipeline.”

Removing all doubt is that when the issue of whether railways or pipelines have a larger environmental impact, David Suzuki responds with a “but that’s the wrong question” because what we really should be doing is making sure the “tarsands” go out of production, thus reducing their 0.15% – that’s right, fifteen (count ‘em) one-hundredths of one per cent – contribution to global emissions and, using math made of fairy dust, rainbows and dancing unicorns – saving the planet.

This, dear diary, is what passes for evidence-based decision-making which only makes sense because, well, it’s 2016.


Because we worry – oh, dear diary, you know how much we worry, tossing and turning at night about anthropogenic global warming – we are mystified, given all of the above, that our leaders are about to give the Bombardier family of Quebec billions of other people’s dollars to help them cover for some bad business decisions and sell more airplanes.

Airplanes, as our revered friend Dr. Suzuki points out, are a major and growing contributor to green gas emissions.

We will not rest – no, we will not – until a full review (downstream and upstream) is done of the impact on climate change of encouraging Bombardier put more airplanes into the air.

Furthermore, primarily in order to aid Bombardier’s risky anti-climate behaviour by letting them sell more airplanes, Canada is restoring relations with Iran – the world’s 8th largest greenhouse gas emitter which will now be able to further gear up its emissions following the decision by the USA to lift its embargo on Iran’s oil exports. Again, where’s the emissions analysis. Come on, the future of the planet is at risk here, right? Right? It is, isn’t it?

Little wonder we toss and turn. Oh, how we do.


Finally, some good news. The really cool thing about living in a post-rational world that has fully embraced relativism is that now we can finally be whatever we want to be just because we say we are and play on whatever sports team we want or go to whatever bathroom we want because we and only we get to define who and what we are.
And so, this.

cat lady

Say no more.

-30-

Temporary truce established in war on Stone Age oil people

Dear Diary:

Sometimes we are wrong and when we are, we are happy to say so.

Following British Columbia’s thumbs down on the Trans Mountain pipeline, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s abandonment of Northern Gateway, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s imposition of more conditions on Energy East and, ultimately, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre’s vigorous thumbs down on the latter and its Stone Age proponents, we despaired that Canada had declared war on Alberta..

But this week, things turned around. First, the Mayor of Quebec City said “I wonder how I would feel if a province or a region in another province prevented Hydro-Quebec from building its transmission lines. I would feel exactly like the people in the West do now. I understand them.”

And then, after the Globe and Mail’s deep thinkers tugged their forelocks and pondered Coderre’s “provincialism,” Rick Mercer used his weekly rant to tear a strip off His Worship.

Those developments made us happy even though, had it not been for Coderre’s inability to resist putting the boot in with his remark about Albertans being “people who think the Flintstones is a documentary” he actually did pretty much the same thing as Wynne, B.C.’s Christy Clark and numerous aboriginal leaders have done when it comes to expanding the nation’s industrial infrastructure: indulge in Canada’s baksheesh complex (in which beggars incessantly demand more and more).

Nevermind, the PM visited Coderre and, ever mindful of the fact he and others have for years worked diligently to convince Quebeckers that oil and its pipelines are putting the very future of the planet in peril, emerged with an ever more muddled view of how no one trusts the environmental review process and he’d have more to say about that at some point and obviously blah, blah, blah.

This was widely praised by Parliamentary media who of course slurped up the spin that the PM can’t take sides and needs just to be a good referee.

Which is not true. The Prime Minister can take sides if he wants and does so all the time. It’s kind of his job, we think. He didn’t have any trouble last summer taking sides against Northern Gateway when he said that when he becomes PM “I will not be approving this pipeline.” And he didn’t have any trouble taking sides in backing the Keystone pipeline. So, we will go out on a limb and say Northern Gateway got a thumbs down because that’s what wins over lefties on the west coast, Keystone got a thumbs up because that’s what wins with righties on the Prairies and Energy East is, um, hard.


For some reason – and this “thought” was expressed with some incoherent vigor the other day by the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Secretary Adam Vaughan – the government seems to be of the view that if additional environmental scrubbing takes place on industrial investment projects such as Energy East (most of which already exists, we remind you) opponents will be satisfied.

That will never happen. Greenpeace, Tides Canada and others don’t really care about the pipeline. They care that it carries oil and they believe – oh, they believe – with a Come to Jesus passion that every drop of oil brings Environmental Armageddon once step closer. They don’t want to kill the pipeline. They want to kill the oil and gas and coal and forestry and mining industries. Until that glorious day arrives and those four horsemen of the Apocalypse are slain, no amount of bureaucratic tinkering will win them over.


Speaking of oil, our spies in the West indicate most media have accepted the spin spun from Notley chief of staff Brian Topp (Toppspin?) that when people who have paid the country’s bills for decades get angry about petty things like having their livelihoods put at risk via all the above and being called knuckle-draggers, they are “not being helpful.”

As if, had they stayed mute like Chairwoman Notley has, Coderre and the like would not have been reined in. This is more than ably debunked here by Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose.

The bigger issue for Topp, Notley, et al is that they don’t really like oil either but can’t quite kill it yet as they have coal and it’s very hard for them to put their heart into pipeline promotion when, given their druthers, they’d prefer the industry just died and the planet was saved and all true believers were swept up in The Rapture. So, you will never, ever hear them criticize those who oppose pipelines because those people are their friends and they need them to vote for them. As this troubling blog by a fellow actually doing a Ph.D studying (no kidding) on the relationship between political activism and climate change makes clear, whatever Notley does will never be enough for The Saved.

For these folks, the same crowd Adam Vaughan believes can and must be satisfied, the energy industry and the provinces where it is based might very well ask, “what is it you want us to do?”
This would be the response.

A litany of media misdeeds

Dear Diary:

We begin this week with the entirely predictable knee-jerk reactions of those who style themselves as guardians of journalism while simultaneously working to undermine the same.

The first is inspired by Michael Den Tandt’s column distributed through the presses and portals of Postmedia – an apocalyptic institution dedicated to sucking marrow from the bones of Canada’s newspapers.

All should be saddened by Friday’s tragic events in La Loche, Saskatchewan, where four died and seven were wounded following an armed assault on a school. Clearly, at this stage, many will wonder why this took place, just as some still ponder how it came to be that five young people were murdered at a house party of university students a couple of years back.

There is speculation that the shooter was provoked because he was endlessly teased about having big ears, which may be so but doesn’t explain why so many big-eared people have managed to negotiate life without going on a homicidal rampage. But, whatever, the facts is that at this stage the motivations are unknown. Den Tandt insists, however, that this situation “resonates differently” largely due to the fact that the community and, everyone assumes, the shooter are Dene people and in support he lists the well-worn list of poor social conditions that often plague aboriginal communities. The commentary concludes with the thought that “Canada’s original sin remains untouched.” In other words, he’s figured it out:

Most of the victims are Dene. The alleged gunman is Dene (we think). The community is Dene and therefore of course people pick up guns and go on homicidal rampages. And, it’s all the fault of someone else. Most Dene people, the vast majority of whom bear whatever indignities they are faced with in life with physical, moral and emotional courage, should be outraged by such stereotyping.

These appalling generalizations, delivered with a doe-eyed “resonates differently” mentality perpetuate a destructive narrative of victimology that solicits a faux white empathy for the killer when it is his victims we should prioritize in our thinking. Normally, when innocent people are murdered, one expects the sympathy to fall on the side of the victims but, oh no, using a race-based white guilt paternalism, common commentary immediately defaults to Canada’s “original sin.” Oh please. Here’s an idea: start treating Dene people as people – common folks who when it comes to things like this are just like the rest of us – and stop with the latte-laced, self-serving, I’ll-be-popular-at-cocktail-parties “original sin” routine.


Marsha Lederman, provoked by criticism of her craft on Facebook, wrote what we’re sure she thought was a stirring defence of why we all have a stake in the future of mainstream media in which she attempted to list its necessities. In doing so, there were a few giveaways, most in a single paragraph:

“Without good reporting, Rob Ford might still be considered some kind of hero and brother Doug Ford could be Toronto’s mayor; Jian Ghomeshi could still be hosting Q (not q); Bev Oda might at this very moment be sipping overpriced, taxpayer-funded orange juice.”

Thanks goodness we have unbiased, objective reporters dedicated to making sure Doug Ford never became Toronto’s mayor. Whatever will we do with fewer of them? Rob Ford’s misdemeanors were exposed by a website and, ultimately, because the Globe and Mail paid money not to its journalists but to people who make their living in an even more dubious fashion. And the Ghomeshi story first came to light through a pitch from a freelancer. But, sure Marsha, we’ll give you the orange juice scoop. That changed the world alright.


We couldn’t recall the last time a pipeline spill resulted in 47 people being killed, let alone as horribly as people died in Lac Megantic a couple of years ago when a train filled with oil derailed and engulfed the town in flames.
So, as proof that we would never be a good fit within mainstream media, we checked to find out and it turns out that, according to the Transportation Safety Board the last fatality in a Canadian pipeline incident was in 1988.

None of the facts, including that 59% of spills involve 1 cubic metre (or less) of “gas oil or other petroleum product” get in the way of breathless reporting epitomized by this piece by the CBC. Nor of course does it matter to the likes of Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre that the amount spilled annually is basically equivalent to three teaspoons of gas slopped by an individual at their weekly gas station fill up.

And of course it is inconsequential that transporting oil by rail is 4.5 times as dangerous as it is via pipeline or that cleanup technologies have improved to the extent that 99% of liquid spilled is recovered.

No, no, no these are the thoughts, according to Coderre of the same sort of people who “believe that the Flintstones is a documentary” – a slag coined, as Rick Bell points out, by Warren Kinsella many years ago when it was fun to make fun of Stockwell Day for his religion.

Coderre, bless his heart, did not specify whether it was westerners in general to whom he was referring or a specific pro-prosperity breed but it really didn’t matter. None of the usual suspects who are so swift to denounce the slightest level of denigration towards “an identifiable class” and who see “diversity as a strength” denounced Coderre for his smug slanders because Canada has pretty much declared war on oil and Alberta and Saskatchewan, who have been paying the country’s bills – including Quebec’s Cadillac day care system and hydro subsidies, for decades. Nice.


Speaking of dog whistles, what to think of #pmjt’s latest musings in Davos that he doesn’t want Canada to be known for its resources so much as for its resourcefulness – a trite phrase that betrays a common Laurentian/Upper Canada College view that, well, you don’t actually have to be very smart to “dig things out of the ground.” This was more than ably dealt with by Rex Murphy so we will add only this from a correspondent in the West:

“The essence of the difference between Laurentian elites and westerners is that the former are obsessed with the view that “how smart do you have to be to dig things out of the ground.” Westerners think the answer to that is “plenty” but also ask in return “how smart do you have to be to inherit your daddy’s money?

Stop the presses! Oh, wait, where’d they go?

Nevermind that 62,000 oilpatch workers lost their jobs last year. Or that 31,000 Alberta construction workers are predicted to hit the unemployment line this year. Or that suicide rates in the West rose 30%.

Termination Tuesday’s big national story was that the presciently-named Postmedia under President for life Paul Godfrey fired 90 employees and announced plans to merge the newsrooms of: The Vancouver Sun and The Province; The Calgary Herald and Calgary Sun; the Edmonton Journal and Edmonton Sun, and; the Ottawa Citizen and Ottawa Sun.

paul-godfrey-20120312
“Postmedia” CEO Paul Godfrey

Even the Prime Minister, who obviously likes journalists a lot better than oil workers, was pretty sad but not so sad that he’s likely to intervene. Nor is the Competition Bureau, which showed not the slightest whiff of concern when it approved Postmedia’s purchase of Sunmedia, making it by far the nation’s largest publisher and giving it carte blanche to do what it did: eliminate competition in newsrooms.

The demise of these titles, some of which are rich in romance and history, is indeed cause for a moment of wistful melancholy and of course no joy can be found in the troubles of others. The removal of a man or woman’s work is devastating financially and emotionally. But this news, while unsettling to those involved, should have come as no surprise.

Newspapers have been in palliative care for many years now and for the most part are managed by executives possessing all the swashbuckling artistry and elan of your average undertaker. Oh, sure, some papers still have the appearance of life but 568 years after young Guttenberg invented the moveable type printing press . . . It. Is. Over. To paraphrase the New York Times, The King is dead.

It was a helluva good run for well over half a millennium, with print’s staggering finish accelerated in Canada by a number of circular follies, beginning with foreign ownership restrictions that paved the way for consolidation of ownership and the comical CanWest fiasco which in turn led to having most of the nation’s newspapers owned and directed by – you can’t make this stuff up – foreigners. To wit, distressed debt fund operators in New York whose sole interest has and continues to be, as David Olive of the Toronto Star put it a year ago, “picking the carcass clean.”

What piques our instinct for irony, however, is the hand-wringing about the “loss” of journalistic competition. Applying the usual caveats and exceptions, Canada’s media has for years lacked anything resembling a vigorous intellectual cut and thrust let alone a modicum of gravitas. Nor have we stood breathless and often aghast at its take no prisoners battles for our hearts, minds, loyalties and eyeballs. Rather, it has conducted its affairs with an overwhelming obsequiousness to conformity, building consensus over coffee or beers on the essence of the day’s events and, when occasionally aspiring to rugged individualism, meekly succumbing to the intimidations of risk-averse editors who feared to wander from the warm embrace of the oh-so mushy middle.

Apart from the Suns in their impetuous youth and a brief Renaissance under Conrad Black’s proprietorship when editors such as Ken Whyte and Neil Reynolds were released to battle what Lord Black referred to as the “overwhelming avalanche of soft, left, bland, envious pap which has poured like sludge through the centre pages of most of the Southam papers for some time,” the hallmark of Canada’s journalism has been the herd-like uniformity of its mindset.

So, while no joy is taken in saying this, there is little prospect of bewilderment when a herd is led to the slaughter.

Nor does the Prime Minister quite have it right when he sighs (sadly) that journalists are vital to democracy.

Yes, they can be useful within it but they are not the essence of its vitality. Journalism is a craft which no matter how noble and at times even glamourous, no more invented democracy than it did Nazism or Facism or Communism, all which many of its practitioners served with distinction at publications similar to Pravda. What is vital to democracy; what distinguishes it from totalitarian regimes is neither journalists nor journalism.

Democracy thrives based on its ability to maintain a profound belief in the unfettered dissemination of ideas through freedom of speech and its articulation in a free press. In this, journalism and the many who plied its trade did indeed play a key role in the capturing, recording and dissemination of information, ideas and opinions. At times they have even participated in the development of the same but for the most part, they have been democracy’s hewers of wood and drawers of water, fetching and carrying – occasionally with great courage and innovation.

Good and faithful servants many have been but their duty was always to accumulate and circulate through finite technologies that are now redundant. All have been replaced by a much more powerful, far more democratic congregator and disseminator bereft of timorous gate keepers and their agitated manipulations.

Soon there will be no more presses and therefore no more need for anything other than their freedom as a metaphor. Democracy will instead thrive or founder on its willingness to maintain a free and open Internet.

Yes, the King is dead. Long Live the King.

-30-

Islamophilia is the new Beatlemania

We are all aware by now that the fear of being accused of Islamophobia has trumped feminism and gay rights, both of which are problematic western cultural ambitions for many of the faithful.

If the weekend is anything to go by, it has now trumped outrage. It is, as a west coast contact noted in an exchange on the weekend, the new Beatlemania. It is not enough for the hip to be just Islamophobia phobic any more. We are now in an age of full blown Islamophilia. Come on kids it’s time to get your Mohammed on. We’re all Islamophiles now. No party will be complete without an imam and we’ll all mix it up on the dance floor in our groovy jubbas.

How else to explain that, while our leader could have been in the nearby town of Laval visiting the family of a victim of last week’s terrorist attack in Jakarta, he was instead in Peterborough attending the official re-opening, sensitively scheduled for a Sunday, of a mosque where last fall one of the most heinous crimes of the year took place after someone set a fire there.

So that you are up to speed, here is what the Prime Minister said after the horrors inflicted there:

“I am deeply disturbed . . . Canadian authorities will not abide innocent and peaceful citizens being targeted by acts of vandalism and intolerance. . . .To the families who attend the mosque . . . the Government of Canada and our law enforcement agencies will protect your rights and make every effort to apprehend any perpetrator.”

Many suspect but no one knows the motivation of the perpetrator as, despite the above noted full commitment of Canada’s law enforcement resources, no one has been arrested. And no one was in the building at the time so no one was physically harmed. But it is clear that the PM was upset, which his presence Sunday reinforced. Fair enough, and despite the solemn nature of the occasion, he did have a bit of fun asking folks there if they’d like to take some selfies with him. (Secretly, he knows, they all wanted one and who’s gonna say no anyway?)

To show how seriously Canada takes it when people are mean to others, another official statement was issued in November two days after the Peterborough fire, noting “with deep regret” the smashing of windows at a Hindu temple and the mugging of a Muslim woman in Toronto.

These were “vicious and senseless acts” that have no place in our country and that “our focus must be on fighting those responsible” for acts of terror.

And hey there bro, speaking of terror, we had a little action going on over the weekend didn’t we? No less than six Canadians working for a Christian aid organization among the 28 people slaughtered over the weekend by Islamic Jihadists in the delightfully named Burkina Faso capital of Ougadougou.

This is what the leader said about the biggest one-day death toll for this country’s citizens at the hands of terrorists since Sept. 11 2001:

“Canada strongly condemns the deadly terrorist attacks (no reference to by whom). . .we offer our deepest condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of all those killed and a speedy recovery to all those injured. We are deeply saddened by these senseless acts of violence on innocent civilians We have offered assistance to the Burkinabe authorities in their investigation of this terrible crime.”

What happened to “vicious?” Apparently it was good enough to describe breaking windows and rolling ladies in Toronto but not for mass murder which, OK, is conceded as a “terrible” crime. And no mention whatsoever about a commitment to “stopping the people responsible for the terror.”

Nuthin’.

The leader was “deeply disturbed” by a small victimless blaze in Peterborough of yet to be determined motivation, but just “deeply saddened” by wholesale slaughter? Canadians “will not abide” vandalism and intolerance and make “every effort to apprehend any perpetrator” in the case of Peterborough, but when it comes to the making of a human abattoir in Burkina Faso, the response is best paraphrased as “meh.”

“Strongly condemns” means nothing. When fellow citizens are butchered, most Canadians are actually outraged, as are relatives of the deceased. Or appalled. Or shocked. Or alarmed. Or even, to reference the Peterborough statement, “deeply disturbed.” Or state, as Quebec’s Premier did, that these kind, gentle people died “at the hands of barbarians.”

Even more illustrative, there was no official statement at all – the ultimate “meh” – regarding the murder last week of Canadian Tahar Amer Ouali by Islamic terrorists in Jakarta. Nothing vicious and senseless to see here folks. Move along. Given his Algerian heritage, Ouali likely would have had been a better candidate for official sympathy if he’d had a rock thrown through his window in Laval.

So go ahead, Al Qaeda or Isis or whoever. Whack Canadians all you want and all you will do is make us sad. Our revenge will be dejection. Our defence, melancholy. All you will do is reinforce our Islamophilia.

We will fight on the beaches every time a woman is mugged and insulted in Toronto. We will rush to the ramparts of political corrrectness every time a rock is tossed suspiciously through the wrong window. We will gird our loins, don our jubbas and give you the full Haka any time you mutter anything concerning discomfort about how our culture is changing but shout “Allah Akbar,” strap on your suicide vest, take the safety off that AK-47 and kill us anytime.

It will only according to nation’s chief Islamophile, make us a little woebegon.

A Canadian solution for Canada that will never happen in Canada (updated)

Dear Diary:

Like most Canadians, we have been laying awake lately, tossing, turning, fussing and wondering how to fix Canada’s suddenly “broken” electoral system.
Searching for solace and sleep, we read Andrew Coyne’s series of commentaries on the same subject which, yes, is pretty dense stuff but important for those millions who, like us, can’t rest for worrying about it.

Indeed, the government views this file so seriously that the Prime Minister has placed it into the hands of rookie MP and now Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef who was 29 years old when she was elected to represent Peterborough-Kawartha on Oct. 19.

The good news is that Monsef, who is the first MP ever to have been born in Afghanistan (coming to Canada as a refugee from a series of other godforsaken countries when she was 11) has had a birthday since and is now alleged to be among the few 30-year-olds of her generation to have assumed the responsibilities of adulthood.

Her extensive experience as a “dedicated community volunteer, organizer and advocate”  (it is unclear from a scan of her bios if she ever had a job of note) will be of great assistance in framing the future of Canadian democracy. Having won the Liberal nomination in her riding by fewer than 20 of the 1500 votes cast, she certainly knows something about the horrors of the first past the post system that has burdened parliamentary democracy and the LPC lo these many years.

The good news is, as a volunteer, organizer and activist, she’s open-minded on everything about democratic reform other than, well, subjecting it to the democratic will of the people through a referendum. Better to follow the prime ministerial preference for a preferential system which will force conservatives to create two parties just as liberals/leftists have two parties.

What amuses us most, however, is the – so far – laughably myopic Canadian nature of the debate. Perhaps someone has, but a scan of the discussion Coyne’s series has inspired indicates no one has noticed that a perfectly workable example of democratic reform already exists in Canada. We refer you to the Northwest Territories which appears to function quite efficiently via a consensus form of government. It is very straightforward. Each constituency – via a first past the post system – elects its representative to the Assembly. The members then elect a Premier. And then they elect a slate of cabinet ministers who are then assigned to their portfolios. The Premier then depends on the confidence of the Assembly to retain the position. There are no political parties and therefore no party caucuses.

We are confident, however, that this will never see the light of day because a) southern Canada can’t see beyond its own backside, and b) this would mean the end of the LPC, CPC and NDP and those, of course, must be saved. At. All. Costs.


We’ve lost track of how many attacks were undertaken over the last week by Islamic terrorists, but expect someone is keeping a tally. And we note that the PM’s Twitter account, shortly after express concern for the peril of Demar DeRozan as the Toronto Raptor’s player vies for a spot on the NBA All Star game roster, did justly condemn the attacks in Burkina Faso in which six Canadians were killed. And while we did note the heartfelt concern for Celine Dion following the death of her husband, we were unable to find any specific condolences for the family of Taha AmerOuali, the Canadian from Laval who was killed in the ISIS suicide bombings and shootouts in Jakarta.

So, this is life in the 21st Century. You can get strong words of support from your nation’s leader if you are standing at a bus stop when someone lets go with some pepper spray, but naw, not much of a shout out if you are sitting in Starbucks when someone wearing a vest packed with explosives, ball-bearings, nails, screws, etc decides he just can’t wait for those 72 virgins in paradise and, sorry pal, you’ve gotta go.

UPDATE: You have to admire the Cirque de Soleil-like contortions Canadian media have pulled off in – at least their early reports – to avoid mentioning that their compatriots put to the sword in Burkina Faso were Christians. The Ottawa Citizen here and the Globe and Mail here and the CBC here all make references to a “humanitarian mission” and that they were members of a “religious congregation” etc but not a hint of what that religion might be or that it might be relevant given Jihadists’ fondness for targeting Christians in Africa and a recent assault. So, who knows? Wiccans? Sabians? Gnostics? Who cares? No tweets, either, from Kathleen Wynne or Vancouver’s Mayor Moonbeam or anyone else mentioning that they might have been targeted for their faith or even what that faith might be. And, while earlier reports certainly indicated the Jihadists had a special fondness for killing white people, not a mention of the word “hate.”


As a follow up to our look the other day at the chaotic state of Alberta, we note that Finance Minister Bill Morneau was in Calgary the other day where he was asked by citizens and journalists if Ottawa was considering some assistance to jurisdictions hard hit by the stunning drop in the price of oil, particularly given that those jurisdictions have been propping up the rest of the country for a long time. More? He (pun intended) said no.

Meanwhile, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr was asked on Power & Politics what could be done to assist the nation’s largest industry – energy – through its crisis. Carr, who apparently hates the oil and gas industry, said that the solution was to create a green economy. He actually said that. This is equivalent to, hmmm, what? Oh, I know: Imagine if when the auto industry was in peril a few years back Jim Flaherty had been asked what could be done to help the industry and he said “we have to invest in public transit.”

 

If you thought Alberta was weird when Klein was in charge . . .

ralph2

 

Dear Diary:

This week, while the federal government ponders a bailout for Quebec’s Bombardier family business due to some bad corporate decisions and the Prime Minister makes a much-welcome visit to Toronto to talk about nothing, we turn our attention West.

Alberta, near as we can tell, is making history by transitioning from custodian of the nation’s most important industry into, well, New Brunswick: pleasing to the eye and senses but nonviable. It has become, as the Calgary Herald’s Don Braid eloquently put it after the assumedly centrist government of British Columbia rejected approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline “an economic version of mixed martial arts these days. Nobody knows if the next blow will be a punch, a kick, or an eye-gouge.”

No one, of course, blames the rag tag group of socialists and eco-extremists who run the joint these days, for the devastatingly low price of oil or for the appalling mismanagement over the past 10 years by the left-wing Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta. What many do point out, however, is the absolute horror that occurs when the challenges of the real world impose themselves on the aforementioned eco-kook/communists. (Yes, the new Alberta deputy chief of staff once stood for office in Edmonton as a Communist.) Once the real world unveils all its, ah, real world stuff, the issue becomes less about the extent to which those who govern believe in rainbows and unicorns than, dare we say it, whether they are remotely competent – a concept rigorously rejected by Canadians and Albertans in recent elections.

Premier Rachel Notley, whose smile thinly hides her trembling hands on the tiller, has done pretty much everything possible to make things worse. As pictures best tell a story, here it is:

wildrose rose ndp

Most notable among these misdeeds is the review of the royalty structure, which is the foundation for Canada’s largest industry. What business/investment craves most – at least next to exactly what it wants – is stability. So, when Notley opined on the weekend that the review, which was to be completed and made public by December but then was delayed until January was to again be delayed and made public in “a few weeks,” financier and TV personality Kevin O’Leary had had enough. First he promised on radio Monday to invest $1 million in the energy industry if Notley just resigned.

Then Notley, pithy as always, bit back about Albertans not needing any more advice from rich Toronto businessmen (always an easy sell) and suggested O’Leary “bring it on.” Oops. So he did, delivering a withering interview hosted by a wincing Rosy Barton on Power & Politics in which he excoriated Notley. We highly recommend viewing it.

O’Leary was, of course, scorned by the followup panel of journalists and assorted other lickspittle leftists, not one of which has a molecule of economic knowledge, who dismissed him as “a game show celebrity” and otherwise. No matter one’s opinion of the abrasive O’Leary, he is rich (and he makes for good TV). And when it comes to money, people who have made themselves very rich are very likely to know how it works (unless of course it comes from a trust fund). Still, what was most obvious was that no one on the panel had a clue that Notley’s latest royalty review delay was obviously a breaking point for the investment community that will not send a dollar into Alberta until it knows, as O’Leary makes clear, what “the plan” is. Or, in other words: They. Had. No. Idea. What. They. Were. Talking. About.

Moving on, the first bold step toward fiscal responsibility was taken the following day by the NDP when it froze all non-union government wages for two years (it is notable that deputy ministers in Alberta earned about $100,000 a year more than their counterparts in sensible Saskatchewan). Or, as @BrockWHarrison tweeted: “BREAKING: Alberta government finds 0.0003% in annual savings. #ableg #bold” Surely that will calm the markets and lenders who have already downgraded Alberta’s historically pristine credit rating.


Notley’s government was much more in its strike zone later in the week when it announced that it’s OK to have a penis and be in the girls washroom at Alberta schools so long as you and your penis feel OK about it.

Not only that, but should any school board balk at the idea that penises – which many contend can have a mind of their own – should be lurking next to their young daughters, they will be subject to dissolution.

And, for that matter, if a person in a male body (and vice versa) wishes to self identify and play sports on the “girl’s” team, that request must be honored. Any school board that does not comply with the “rights” – which go well beyond the bounds of traditional definitions of sexual orientation – of anyone who says they are “lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirit, queer, questioning and/or gender diverse” will be bulldozed.

No science is required, only belief. And a bureaucratic bulldozer.

Gender, in other words, is an outdated construct, a scientific development which no doubt will take some adjusting to on the part of those who are part of the refugee influx and other newcomers from less sophisticated cultures still hung up on biology.

Surprise! You’ve come to a country where bureaucratic tanks roll on anyone who believes in outdated concepts like gender.

We are conscious, of course, that it must be a dreadful burden to feel trapped in the body of a gender with which it is impossible to relate. And we are extra conscious that death wishes get directed at neo-con dinosaurs such as notorious old school feminist Germaine Greer, who while expressing sympathy for people in the trans community has had the temerity to say biology-based things like

“just because you lop off your penis and then wear a dress doesn’t make you a fucking woman.”

We are not sure how any of this destruction of the essence of womanhood and profoundly Orwellian purging of the concept of gender as anything other than a societal construct is shaking down at Alberta’s growing number of Islamic schools but we indeed are confident that the only sensible next step is a good old book-burning of The Female Eunuch and any of Greer’s other 42 books.

The tanks roll on, in this case over the bones of someone whose work (with which in the past we often had issue) and life was dedicated to and was successful in promoting the advancement of women, will conclude, defamed, on search engines as a misogynist.

 

Where have all the nannies gone? (long time passing)

This morning we awake to the news that our leader has been on vacation.
And, most sincerely, we do not begrudge Him that. His job is important and it’s just as important He and his family get a break when they can.

And no problem at all with being flown to and fro by the air force. That only makes sense.

But we do have two points to make about the hero of the nation’s bedraggled middle class’s escaped to a $2,500 a night villa on the Caribbean island of Nevis.

Why did no one compare the Christmas vacation of this leader – whom we have been told faced a unique set of challenges with a young family of three children – to that of the previous leader whose family merely consisted of two children? Perhaps because should they have done so they would have discovered that the Harpers spent their Christmases at their home in Calgary where the PM had constituents and where any excesses were limited to attending hockey games and visiting seniors centres.

And why didn’t anyone ask about the nannies? You know, the ones the leader and his enchanting missus moved from their personal payroll onto the public payroll upon moving in to 24 Sussex? It seems, after all, that with the amount of money saved by moving just one nanny at, say, $30,000 a year, onto the taxpayer’s tab there would be enough loose change left in the leader’s pockets to (lemme think) pay for airfare and 10 nights at a $2,500 a night Caribbean villa? So, did the nannies take the trip? Given their necessity, it would be fair to assume they did. Or maybe they got their own vacation. The question, it seems, never crossed our media’s mind. Or maybe it did and was just dismissed as something the people do not have the right to know. It’s the questions that go unasked that are always the giveaway.