Spring is Coming to Nova Scotia: May 10th

David Mamet is a prolific Jewish American playwright, filmmaker and author whom I had never heard of until I heard him interviewed by Alex Marlowe on Breitbart News. His latest book, “Recessional”, is a collection of essays related to contemporary issues. He is a wonderfully profound and very funny man

Here is a quote by Mamet I came across this morning: “Now, I don’t know what systemic racism is, but neither does anyone else. Like social justice, any communicable meaning is destroyed by the adjective.” See what I mean?

Good Friday, April 15th

After a lengthly family visit in Portugal’s Algarve region, my wife and I look forward to a break from the 24 degree sunny weather and a return to the bracing 8 degree, rainy conditions that are predicted for our return to Nova Scotia next week. There used to be a significant “liberty dividend” for living in the colder, less hospitable climes of North American nations. That is unfortunately no longer the case.

March 17th St.Patrick’s Day

Well into Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, it is clear that most American conservatives deplore the Russian leader because he is a former Soviet era KGB officer and a ruthless dictator. The American left loathes Putin because he is no longer a KGB officer, while certain Christian constituencies appear to be celebrating Putin because he makes speeches in favour of family values before invading a neighbouring country and killing scores of woman and children.

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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The Christmas Spirit is a Mysterious Thing

Sometime soon, chances are someone will ask you if you’re in the Christmas spirit. The first I felt it this year was a couple weeks ago, as I attended Elf Jr. The Musical, at Alexander Galt Regional High School. While I’ve experienced the sentiment to various degrees throughout my life, it remains a somewhat mysterious thing.

A common explanation for this phenomenon points to the magical veil that has been built into the holiday over time. On a yearly basis, adults have the challenge of maintaining the veil for children, and in the process of doing so they are likely to relive their own magical childhood experiences. This — so the theory goes — would be how and why Christmas cheer is so widely experienced, and not only by religious people. While this has merit as an explanation, I can’t help but sense that there may be more to it than that.

According to Buddy the Elf, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear, and since this was a musical, there was plenty of singing going on, and cheer was certainly being spread. Before the play even began, Christmas songs were playing over the sound system, setting the mood.

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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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Deplatforming Maxime: The left is up to its old tricks

During the 20th century era of national socialist and communist dictatorships, the deplatforming of political opponents was a straightforward process. It usually took the form of prolonged torture, a bullet to the back of the head or long incarceration in a concentratio

Today, in the West, deplatforming is a much more sanitary process. State executions or long incarcerations are frowned on, even for convicted felons. In the present era deplatforming has increasingly come to be understood as a therapeutic intervention into the body politic. 

Generally speaking, the technique worked effectively for the commanding elites of totalitarian regimes. That’s why there are relatively few writers like Alexander Solzhenitsyn or Vladimir Bukovsky on 21st century bookshelves. This vicious approach toward political adversaries permitted leftist establishments to silence some of the most brilliant and accomplished voices of reason in our times. It still does in countries like China and North Korea.

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Facing Tragedy and the Forces of Evil

The tragic events that can befall someone and the terrible things a person can do to another can be so awful that just hearing about them can permanently scar the soul.

You’d think that such incidents would be rare, but they are not. There is no shortage of them in fact. And while we are often exposed to negative news reports, most of the suffering around us goes unreported. There’s indeed a lot of pain and despair in this world, and there are indeed some who come to experience a certain type of personal hell here on earth. Throughout my career in law enforcement; I’ve seen it; I’ve contended with it; and I’ve felt its burning heat.

Often, when I meet someone, and they learn that I am a police officer, I am greeted with some comment or story about a traffic citation of some kind. It’s often a complaint about how they felt they should have benefited from the officer’s discretion, but didn’t. Traffic code enforcement is indeed the context in which there is the most contact between citizens and officers, so I can understand how this may be the default subject of conversation, but I’m nonetheless struck by the absence of appreciation for the many other duties taken on by police officers on a day to day basis.

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The Free World Must Take Heed

What is the Canadian government to do in response to China’s recent aggressive moves against it?  In retaliation for the arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, the Chinese government has arbitrarily detained two Canadian citizens since last December, and more recently, a Chinese court suddenly changed a Canadian man’s drug smuggling sentence from 15 years imprisonment to execution. 

The Canadian justice system, after all, appears to have done everything by the book, respecting its extradition process with the US while acting independently from government influence.  In spite of this, it appears as though little can be done except backchannel and wait, a solution that is void of any satisfaction and that has yet to yield fruit in this ongoing conflict.

The rule of law and the independence of the judiciary are fundamental features of a free society, and since Meng’s arrest many politicians have been trying to explain this fact to the Chinese government, as though it simply doesn’t understand, and as though it may suddenly realise its error and free Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.  It’s rather doubtful, however, that the Chinese government needs a lesson on the basic structures of free societies.  While China has experienced massive transformations over the last few decades, it has actively resisted the emergence of such structures, so it well knows the Canadian government’s limitations in this matter. What, then, is it trying to accomplish, and does it not realise that its overreaction merely strengthens suspicions that Huawei is facilitating foreign intelligence gathering on its behalf?

Much has been said and written about the emergence of China as a major player on the world stage.  While it pragmatically turned its back on the centrally-planned economy, one of the fundamental elements of communism, and while it successfully lifted millions of people out of poverty in the process, it has regretfully retained the other fundamental element of communism, the totalitarian style of government.  The free world once hoped that by increasing relations with China, alterations would eventually be made in its political structures in addition to its economic ones.  The idea was that China would eventually come to look a little more like the free world, perhaps with limits on state power, a system of checks and balances, and an independent judiciary with due process. 

China’s latest actions against Canada, however, suggest that such a hope is but an evaporating dream, and that the very opposite is threatening to take place.  In the immediate aftermath of Meng’s arrest, Vice Foreign Minister, Le Yucheng, warned of “severe consequences” if Canada didn’t release her immediately.  Armed with the largest economy in the world, this totalitarian government is pressuring Canada to do away with its judicial independence.  China wants Canada, and the entire free world by extension, to look more like it, and it is not afraid to use its clout in an attempt to make that happen. 

While back-channelling may be the only card Canada has to play in the short-term, there is certainly something more to be done in the long-term.  As Canada continues to bring this matter to the attention of its allies, it should point out that this is much more than an isolated diplomatic incident; this is a confrontation with a rising political force that has no regard for the foundational values of the free world and the domestic institutions that protect them, and that any nation that chooses to do business with China is at risk of having to play by its rules, whatever the cost may be.

The free world shouldn’t permit this form of aggression, and it must be bold in protecting and asserting its way of life.  Given China’s increasing clout, and given its increasing predisposition to use it, the free nations of the world would do well to formally unite in the face of it, and Canada can certainly play a leading role in making that happen.  It must be clear that while friendly relationships are indeed desirable, free nations will not compromise their institutions to appease the bullies of the world, and that any attempt to impose such a thing will have consequences of its own.