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Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Henry Sandham's "The Coming of the Loyalists" (1910) reveals a romanticized conception of Canadian history common in his day.

Henry Sandham’s “The Coming of the Loyalists” (1910) reveals a romanticized conception of Canadian history that was common in his day.

(For the introduction to this series on national narratives click here.)

It’s the 4th of July. The skies of America are lit up by a bouquet of colours as fireworks announce another year of that country’s independence from Britain. With the Stars & Stripes on full display, crowds waft between watermelon picnics and baseball games, stopping now and then to listen to a marching band play “Yankee Doodle.” Magically, amidst all its political gaffs and global blunders, the sentimental face of the “Home of the Brave” reveals itself with an unabashed blend of pride and kitsch. It gets to you.

Just a little ways North of the border in a dingy but well-loved campus bar in Halifax, Nova Scotia an altogether different sort of celebration is taking place. Instead of the Stars & Stripes, you find the old “loyalist” flag of Britain tacked to the wall, while in some place of prominence – in front of an old speaker, perhaps – an image of Canada’s reigning monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, smiles down upon the revelries as undergraduates hoist their drinks in the air and stumble their way the lyrics to “God Save the Queen.” (more…)

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What is this, a pipeline for ants?

A pipeline for ants?

As the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel continues to snake its away across British Columbia, it is difficult not to reflect that this is a hard time to be an environmentalist.

When plans were launched to build a pipeline to carry Albertan oil through Nebraska’s sensitive wetlands, it took an unprecedented amount of criticism and activism to convince President Obama to reject the application. While that decision may soon be reversed, it didn’t take long before some bright entrepreneur suggested an alternative option: why not build a pipeline some place where environmental integrity won’t be an obstacle… say, British Columbia!

…oh joy. (more…)

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John “Angry Beaver” Baird

My post today concerns a comment made by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird on the latest outbreak of violence between Israel and Gaza. In his speech to a Jewish community gala, Baird refers to “the phoenix-like rising of the modern state of Israel, from a barren desert to the dynamic country we see today.” (For the full speech, click here.)

Now, I’m not sure that it’s possible to make a comment about Israel/Palestine without offending someone. I’m not sure that it’s desirable, either. But that’s not the fray I want to walk into today. Instead, I’d like to consider Baird’s comments from a standpoint somewhat (but not completely) outside the current conflict. (more…)

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Candy wrappers litter the floor. Pumpkins are splayed out across the road. The costumes have been hung up until next year. Another Halloween has come and gone.

But every Halloween has it’s monster, and they rarely retreat so readily. Last Tuesday, on a stormy Hallow’s Eve Eve, the Parti Québecois – that most Canadian of bogeymen – opened the National Assembly of Quebec’s fall session. Despite the dire warnings, the effect was hardly befitting the seasonal timing.

As with other bogeymen, we’ve been taught to fear separatists as constitutional home wreckers, hell bent on splitting up the country and eradicating the English language. Such parables tainted rumours of an opposition coalition in 2008, and helped to keep Charest’s Liberals in power for nine years. After Wednesday’s Inaugural Speech, however, those warnings are looking rather lackluster. Owe it to the state of the sovereignty movement, or the realities of minority governance, but the Marois under the bed is no monster. (more…)

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Canadian Stereotype Comics, Kate Beaton

Well, after writing three or four posts in week, I’ve slogged off. Typical, isn’t it: another idealistic graduate embraces the blogging world to seek an audience with unbridled optimism, learns quickly that he is in the company of tens of thousands of more articulate bloggers, realizes that his friends have jobs and relationships and lives and other inconveniences that prevent them from hanging on to every painfully selected word, and abandons the enterprise, jaded, slightly embarrassed, hoping nobody mentions the whole thing.

If only that were the case. Unfortunately, the blame lies more upon the technological hiccups of a geriatric macbook than upon blows to my idealism. Good news for my emotional well-being; bad news for my wallet. Hence I find myself using a computer on my old university campus, riding that unsettling wave of stress and nostalgia.

Which conveniently – if clumsily – brings me to the topic for the day. My first post made reference to an amusing phenomena that has arisen over the last five years: nostalgia for an older Canada that many of us grew up with, but which somehow differs from the country we seem to have inherited. Call it Canostalgiada, if you will. (more…)

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Ahoy,

Several weeks ago, after more than several years of living in Halifax, I finally got around to exploring one of our local national historic sites – the Halifax Citadel. Along with some new friends from Boston and busload of history-savvy seniors, I went along for the full deal: the college students with egregious 18th century facial hair, the bagpiping, and, of course, the tour. About half-way into ours, at the bottom of a grassy trench, another couple of students gave our guide a break to give a special presentation about the War of 1812.

Celebrating 200 years of child soldiers – boy scouts play War of 1812.

Funny that. Was Halifax ever militarily engaged during the war? Weren’t the states of New England that shared our border overwhelming against that little imperial adventure? Don’t get me wrong – those students earned their tuition this year – but I left unsure as to why exactly they were showcasing this event here, in the Halifax Citadel, of all places, and to a busload of seniors, of all people. (more…)

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