Remembering Neil Cameron

Last year at this time Discourse happily published senior contributor Neil Cameron’s annual Christmas doggerel, a piece he thoroughly enjoyed preparing over the years for the amusement of friends and colleagues around the St. Lawrence Institute in Montreal.

Sadly, after prolonged health problems, Neil passed away this year before he could produce a final contribution. His lively wit and prolific command of history will be sorely missed. He was an irreplaceable fixture in our city’s small but feisty network of conservative intellectuals.

Neil was held in high esteem by many of his former students at John Abbott College. Among them was, Andrew Swidzinski, who penned the following piece about his life and times for The Montreal Suburban.

Remembering Neil Cameron

By Andrew Swidzinski

Former Equality Party MNA, History Professor and Suburban columnist Neil Cameron died Wednesday December 18th 2019 at age 81 from complications resulting from kidney failure. He will be long remembered and sorely missed not only for his brief but eventful political career but as an exceptional teacher and mentor to generations of students who, like myself, had the privilege of learning from him.

Neil Cameron was born in 1938 in Weyburn Saskatchewan, but grew up mostly in Calgary, Alberta. His father, a surgeon who had served as a field medic in World War I, died when he was an infant, leaving his mother to raise him alone. From an early age he was a voracious reader and excellent student. His childhood heroes were the great scientists and philosophers of the 19th and early 20th centuries. As a rare young admirer of the soapbox atheism of Bertrand Russell in the heart of the Bible Belt, he would sometimes attend evangelical revival meetings so that, when asked for his name and number for further contact, he could cheerfully provide that of a neighbor or acquaintance instead. He earned a degree in Mathematics from Queens University in 1964, travelled Europe, and moved to Montreal where he studied at McGill, earning an M.A. in History and working towards a PhD for which he moved to Britain to research and interview leading British scientists on their involvement in the Allied war effort in WWII.

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“This Changes Everything” A Reflection on Canada’s Election

In the months prior to our 2019 election, among the usual third of Canadians who look less favourably on permanent surrender to socialist ideologues and post-modern dialecticians, there was a perception that the winds of change might be blowing across the Canadian political landscape.

In the Canadian west Justin Trudeau’s trendy opposition to the fossil fuel industry was wearing thin. The national debt level was troubling and several unforced errors had tarnished the brand of the most photogenic and“woke” Prime Minister in the history of the Dominion.

South of our border the much maligned, American capitalist, Donald Trump was presiding over one of the most dramatic economic turnarounds in American history. Many ordinary Canadians were making common sense comparisons between the two leaders and Justin Trudeau’s priorities were raising serious questions.

In addition, some very skeptical antennas went up when the Prime Minister attempted to gain political advantage by interfering with the justice system and was censured by the Parliamentary Ethics Commissioner for improperly trying to influence the course of justice in an ongoing criminal case against the Quebec-based engineering firm, SNC Lavalin. All of this, along with a rather embarrassing trip to India which looked more like a costume party than a state visit, had damaged the Liberal brand and left the PM with a much diminished 32% approval rating by July 2019.

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We are stronger than we think!

Every day there are children who go to school in dread of what will happen when they cross paths with their bully. Though this is nothing new, and though we all have stories of things we’ve seen or experienced, we shouldn’t lazily brush it aside by claiming that is merely a part of growing up. Just as adults have the right to be safe in their workplace environment, so too do children at school; it should, therefore, be effectively addressed. Reprimands should be firm, and recourse should be clear. While the issue of bullying is indeed taken more seriously than before, I fear that our efforts are somewhat too focused on the victim-predator dynamic; I fear that they are unintentionally weakening the development of the self-confidence and strength of character that comes as a result of asserting one’s self.

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