Diefenbaker and discontent
As he embarked on the federal election campaign in April 1957, John Diefenbaker was filled with doubts. He had led the Progressive Conservatives for just four months and didn’t think he had done well as opposition leader. The opinion polls were showing the incumbent Liberals miles ahead. He was concerned that he might even lose his own seat in…
Why we should go with the flow
In the mid-nineteenth century, the settlers who travelled west to California’s Central Valley quickly discovered that they had arrived at a place with annual floods from winter rains and spring snowmelt. Some years were more sodden than others. Nonetheless, the determined newcomers cut down trees, planted crops, built houses, and hoped for the best. After…
Saskatchewan knows what it wants
Populism has fuelled Fascist and Communist governments and every brand of authoritarian regime in between. And while populist leaders have always pitted the people against the elites, figuring out which is which has not always been easy. There has been no such confusion in Saskatchewan. Indeed, in the long, murky history of populist movements, there should be a special chapter set aside for the Land of the Living…
On our faulty logic
You hear an earthquake before you feel it. The dishes in the cabinet start to rattle, the wood joists in your house scrape at each other. Then you feel the rumble and stumble to keep your balance as the floor shakes. Thirty seconds, a minute — more if you’re unlucky. Regardless, it feels like an…
So irksome and so terrible
July | August 2021
Charles Dickens, who knew a thing or two about the horrors of Victorian prisons, was impressed when he visited the Kingston Penitentiary in 1842, seven years after it opened on the windswept shores of Lake Ontario. “There is an admirable gaol here,” he wrote in American Notes, “well and wisely governed and excellently regulated in every respect.”…
How Ottawa slices the pie
If the prospect of discussing Canada’s equalization scheme sends you into narcoleptic despair, consider the bright enthusiasm of Lyndhurst Falkiner Giblin, who, on a warm day in August 1938, eagerly sauntered into a room on Parliament Hill to talk about the nitty-gritty. The sixty-five-year-old Australian economist wasn’t put off by the dry-as-dust topic; indeed, he had sailed across the Atlantic from England solely to testify before the Royal Commission on Dominion-Provincial…
Examining Canada’s health care history
The bare outlines of the story are the mother’s milk of Canadian identity: Tommy Douglas, the plucky premier of Saskatchewan, staring down his province’s combative doctors and establishing a pioneering system where people could get medical care without having to open their wallets.
The tale is true — as far as it goes.
The complicated lessons of genocide
When thousands of Rwandans gathered this spring in the capital, Kigali, the hope was that they could put behind them the genocidal rampage that tore their country apart twenty-five years ago. First, they watched as world leaders, including Canadian governor general Julie Payette, laid wreaths and lit a memorial flame at a site where more than a quarter of a million victims are…
An industry that writes its own rules leaves us all at risk
You can be forgiven if things get a bit foggy when you think about the Lac-Mégantic disaster. Nearly six years ago, on a splendid weekend evening in a quiet Quebec village, forty-seven people died after a runaway train loaded with tank cars carrying highly volatile crude oil went off the rails and exploded.
It was the largest disaster on Canadian soil since the Halifax explosion of…
With no new deals since 1996, AECL faces a challenging future
Everything old is new again. The global nuclear industry, which suffered a prolonged slump in the wake of the Chernobyl and Three Mile Island incidents, is once more on the move.
Nearly 30 nuclear plants are under construction worldwide with perhaps another 70 contemplated as countries respond to rising prices for oil and natural gas and a demand from the public to do something about emissions that are seen to be causing climate…