April 27, 2017

QotD: Canada the (self-imagined) “moral superpower” … the military midget

Filed under: Cancon, History, Military, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

… Canada has no influence whatever in the world. It is unique in this condition among G7 countries, because it has a monstrously inadequate defence capability and takes no serious initiatives in the Western alliance or in international organizations.

Canadians seem to imagine that influence can be had in distant corners of the world just by being virtuous and altruistic and disinterested. That is not how international relations work. The powers that have the money and the applicable military strength have the influence, although those elements may be reinforced if a country or its leader is able to espouse a noble or popular cause with great persuasiveness. This last was the case in the Second World War, where Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Charles de Gaulle and Adolf Hitler were all, in their different ways, inspiring public speakers who could whip up the enthusiasm of their peoples. Churchill and Roosevelt stirred the masses of the whole world who loved and sought freedom. There are no world leaders now with any appreciable ability to stir world opinion, and influence in different theatres is measured exclusively in military and economic strength, unless there is a colossal moral imbalance between contending parties. Even where such a moral imbalance exists, as in the contest between civilized and terrorism-supporting countries, the advantage is not easily asserted.


But we are almost entirely dependent on the United States for our own defence. When President Roosevelt said at Queen’s University in Kingston in 1938 that the U.S. would protect Canada from foreign invasion, Mackenzie King accepted the responsibility of assuring that invaders could not reach the U.S. through Canada. Since the Mulroney era, we have just been freeloaders. If we want to be taken seriously, we have to make a difference in the Western alliance, which the Trump administration has set out to revitalize. As I have written here before, a defence build-up: high-tech, increased numbers, and adult education, is a win-double, an added cubit to our national stature influence (and pride), and the best possible form of public-sector economic stimulus. It is frustrating that successive governments of both major parties have not seen these obvious truths. Strength, not amiable piety, creates national influence.

Conrad Black, “Being nice gets Canada liked. But we won’t be respected until we pull our weight”, National Post, 2017-04-14.

November 26, 2013

Twenty-five years on, Canada has clearly changed

Filed under: Cancon, History, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 10:23

Richard Anderson notes the 25th anniversary of an almost forgotten Canadian crisis:

From the perspective of a quarter century the whole thing is almost inexplicable. It isn’t just that everything turned out well. The oddness of that time is how worked up people got about a trade agreement. Seriously. It’s an international trade agreement. The Harper Tories have signed quite a few, including an important deal with the EU. It’s barely headline news. But way back then it was the beginning of the end of Canada, if the good and great of the Canadian Cultural Establishment were to be believed.

Adding more distance to the passage of time is the demographic revolution that has taken place since, a revolution kicked into high gear by Mulroney not Trudeau. The Canada of 1988 was a much whiter and far more WASPish place than it is today. The Canadian WASP is an odd creature. Genial to a fault, decent, hard working and subdued in manner and lifestyle. He does, however, have one terrible weakness: A paranoid fear of the United States.

The Punjabi, the Vietnamese and the Filipino immigrant could not tell a Loyalist from a lolipop. The strange psycho-drama that has consumed the Canadian elite since Simcoe landed is now, mostly, over. The new Canadians have no fear of the old enemy America. There are no intergenerational flashbacks to the Battle of Queenston Heights. The Americans are just the loud neighbour to the south. It is not entirely coincidental that free trade was at last brought to Canada by an Irish Catholic, supported by a phalanx of Quebecois. Neither group ever really feared America. Among them there was never that nagging sense of imminent cultural absorption.

September 27, 2013

QotD: Canadian leaders

Filed under: Cancon, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

[Canadians] dislike leaders who look to be show-offs. This is why Brian Mulroney was so comprehensively loathed. Despite a fairly strong record of governance the man is still more hated than PET, whose sixteen years at the top nearly wrecked the country. But Mulroney came off as a nouveau riche poseur and Pierre Le Grande projected the image of a bohemian aristocrat. The former tried too hard and the latter didn’t seem to have to try.

Stephen Harper had a clear idea of why he wanted to become Prime Minister. It’s just that the idea shrank in size over the years. From quasi-libertarian vision to modestly conservative manager of the welfare and regulatory state. His personality is that of an aloof wonk. The badly coiffed one, however, was shrewd enough to mask his intelligence and lack of empathy in a style so bland it could be used to make cubicles.

Richard Anderson, “The Power and the Glory”, The Gods of the Copybook Headings, 2013-09-26

February 21, 2013

RCAF still confident that Sea Kings will last long enough, hopefully

Filed under: Cancon, Military, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:27

Sea King unit patchDid you know that the Canadian military is still waiting for the delivery of their new helicopters? This leaves the military brass with little to do but put on a show of confidence and perhaps cross their fingers behind their collective backs:

The head of the Royal Canadian Air Force says he’s confident the military’s 50-year-old Sea King helicopters can stay in the air long enough for their troubled replacements to arrive.

“It’s good for a while,” Lt.-Gen. Yvan Blondin said of the Sea Kings, in an exclusive interview with Postmedia News Wednesday.

“In the short term, the Sea King can fly. Eventually I’m going to replace some equipment on it if I want to keep it flying longer, but I’ve got flexibility.”

That flexibility will likely be needed amid recent reports that the air force won’t receive the first of its planned Sea King replacements, U.S. aerospace giant Sikorsky’s Cyclone maritime helicopters, until 2015 — seven years later than scheduled.

Here’s the long, twisted history of Canada’s attempt to replace the venerable Sea King helicopters:

  • In 1963, the CH-124 Sea King helicopter (a variant of the US Navy S-61 model) entered service with the Royal Canadian Navy.
  • In 1983, the Trudeau government started a process to replace the Sea Kings. That process never got far enough for a replacement helicopter to be ordered.
  • In 1985, the Mulroney government started a new process to find a replacement for the Sea Kings.
  • In 1992, the Mulroney government placed an order for 50 EH-101 Cormorant helicopters (for both naval and search-and-rescue operations).
  • In 1993, the Campbell government reduced the order from 50 to 43, theoretically saving $1.4B.
  • In 1993, the new Chrétien government cancelled the “Cadillac” helicopters as being far too expensive and started a new process to identify the right helicopters to buy. The government had to pay nearly $500 million in cancellation penalties.
  • In 1998, having split the plan into separate orders for naval and SAR helicopters, the government ended up buying 15 Cormorant SAR helicopters anyway — and the per-unit prices had risen in the intervening time.
  • In 2004, the Martin government placed an order with Sikorsky for 28 CH-148 Cyclone helicopters to be delivered starting in 2008 (after very carefully arranging the specifications to exclude the Cormorant from the competition).
  • Now, in 2012, we may still have another five years to wait for the delivery of the Cyclones.

February 8, 2013

PM’s long awaited (ghostwritten) book on hockey to be published in the US due to Canadian publishing regulations

Filed under: Books, Cancon, Media, Sports — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:47

A double-whammy from the Globe and Mail‘s John Barber: due to protectionist media rules brought in during the Mulroney years, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s book on hockey — ghostwritten by G&M columnist Roy MacGregor — will have to be published outside the country. Inline Update: The G&M has retracted the claim that the book was ghostwritten. Thanks to commenter Dwayne for the update.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s upcoming book on the history of professional hockey will be published in the United States rather than Canada because of prohibitions embedded in the government’s own cultural policy.

Simon & Schuster, the U.S.-based company chosen to publish the English-language edition of the Prime Minister’s book, is banned from publishing books in Canada under the Investment Canada Act. But the act does permit foreign-owned companies to distribute titles they have published in their home territories.

A single edition edited and printed in the U.S. will likely appear simultaneously in both markets, so Canadians will not have to wait to buy a copy.

“It’s ironic that he is publishing with a company that is forbidden by his government to have a Canadian publishing program,” Toronto literary agent Denise Bukowksi said. “But if North American rights are contracted in the U.S.A., they can get away with it.”

Three years ago, the Harper government announced a review of the policy, which the government of Brian Mulroney adopted to promote the growth of Canadian publishers at the expense of the multinational companies that then dominated the domestic market. The government has yet to announce changes.

Update: Hmmm. The story gets a bit more confused, as Roy MacGregor is quoted in this story denying any involvement:

Roy MacGregor, who has written 40 books, including the popular Screech Owl series, has talked with the prime minister about the book and describes him as “fanatically” knowledgeable.

MacGregor, who has worked as a ghost writer, says Harper hasn’t employed one.

“I can guarantee you there’s no ghost,” he said. “I’m sure it would come up. The reason it would come up is I know of his stated determination that no matter how long it took, he wanted to be the one that did it. He had research help but it was going to be him plucking away at the computer keys.”

H/T to Colby Cosh for that URL.

January 19, 2013

Failing to charm

Filed under: Media, Sports — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:33

Is the real reason Lance Armstrong’s televised confessions failed to “redeem” him in the public eye just a lack of charm?

But by the standards we have come to expect in these things it was relatively candid, blessedly free of self-pity. He’d told a lot of lies. Now he was telling the truth. Yet if he was expecting this confession to stanch the flow of vitriol, it appeared to have the opposite effect.

Because if there is one thing we expect of professional cyclists, it is that they will compete fairly and stay clear of drugs. And if there is one thing we expect, no demand of our public figures, it is that they will tell the truth.

Oh really. Listening to all this high dudgeon, I was carried back to last September’s Democratic convention, and the rapturous reception given to Bill Clinton, the former president and noted perjurist in the matter of Jones v Clinton.

That may have been the most famous of his lies, but it was hardly the first. Clinton was well known as a liar — an “unusually good” one, according to Bob Kerrey, the former senator — long before he ever reached the White House. As early as 1992, the question posed by his candidacy, as defined by Michael Kinsley, was not is he a liar, “but is he too much of a liar?” By the end the lies and abuses of power had piled up so high that Christopher Hitchens was forced to title his scathing account of the Clinton presidency No One Left To Lie To.

[. . .]

So let us drop the pretense that we’re all so scandalized by Armstrong because he lied. Granted, he lied about cycling, rather than mere financial dealings or affairs of state. But the reason he is in such obloquy, and Clinton and Mulroney are not, is not because his lies were worse, but because he’s not as good at it: because he is not as charming — shall we say manipulative? — as they. Frankly, when it comes to conning the public, he is not in their league.

Anyone can pull a con like Armstrong’s. You just lie and keep on lying until someone catches you. It takes a master to keep the con going even after you’ve been caught.

July 1, 2012

“… except in Canada”

The National Post editorial board celebrates Canada Day by making a case for Canadian exceptionalism:

The acronym “EIC” can refer to a newspaper’s editor-in-chief, the various forms of the storied East India Company, the Engineering Institute of Canada, and, in scientific circles, Electromagnetically-induced chirality. But in these odd times, they might also be deployed, for verbal economy, to denote “except in Canada.”

As in: Banks all over the Western world have suffered a series of shocks since the 2008 financial crisis – EIC. Economies have slowed — EIC. Real estate bubbles have popped — EIC. Deficits have ballooned to crisis proportions — EIC.

OK: Perhaps national pride leads us to exaggeration. A more truthful acronym might be EICAG — to include Canada “and Germany.” Various smaller European nations, as well as countries in Asia and Latin America, also have fared well. Yet it is hard to remember a time (if ever there was one) when Canada’s fortunes, taken as a whole, were so rosy compared to those of all other Western nations. This good fortune is something worth celebrating as we prepare to celebrate Canada’s 145th birthday this weekend.

They even have some praise to lavish on two former prime ministers who don’t normally get a kind word from the right:

Canada’s relative lack of red ink also is no accident. Two decades ago, Canada was what Greece was today: a bloated welfare state running up massive bills that it couldn’t pay. The unpopular job of fixing the balance sheet feel primarily to Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin — and they accomplished the task without any of the political chaos that has been gripping Athens and other southern European capitals in the last year. The prosperity and stability we enjoy today is in large part due to what those two men did with the fiscal mess bequeathed to them by Brian Mulroney and Pierre Trudeau.

Of course, not everything is going wonderfully well in the Dominion: we still have not emulated one of the notable successes of our European friends:

One of the few institutional factors holding Canada back is its healthcare system. As Shaun Francis writes elsewhere on these pages, our refusal to explicitly permit full-blown private alternatives to the current government-payer health monopoly is bad policy that is out of keeping with that of leading European jurisdictions.

Fortunately, this is a shortfall that can be cured easily. As the furor over Obamacare in the United States shows, building a universal public health system is difficult. But Canada has already done this heavy lifting over the last 50 years: All we lack now is a parallel private track — and that is something that will spring into being without any governmental action at all, save the legislative stroke of a pen needed to modify the Canada Health Act accordingly.

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