Friday, June 26, 2009

Salute to Canada

British news paper salutes Canada . . . this is a good read. It is funny how it took someone in England to put it into words... Sunday Telegraph Article From today's UK wires: Salute to a brave and modest nation - Kevin Myers, "The Sunday Telegraph" LONDON:

Until the deaths of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan , probably almost no one outside their home country had been aware that Canadian troops are deployed in the region.And as always, Canada will bury its dead, just as the rest of the world, as always will forget its sacrifice, just as it always forgets nearly everything Canada ever does.

It seems that Canada's historic mission is to come to the selfless aid both of its friends and of complete strangers, and then, once the crisis is over, to be well and truly ignored.Canada is the perpetual wallflower that stands on the edge of the hall, waiting for someone to come and ask her for a dance. A fire breaks out, she risks life and limb to rescue her fellow dance-goers, and suffers serious injuries. But when the hall is repaired and the dancing resumes, there is Canada, the wallflower still, while those she once helped Glamorously cavort across the floor, blithely neglecting her yet again.That is the price Canada pays for sharing the North American continent with the United States , and for being a selfless friend of Britain in two global conflicts.For much of the 20th century, Canada was torn in two different directions: It seemed to be a part of the old world, yet had an address in the new one, and that divided identity ensured that it never fully got the gratitude it deserved.Yet it's purely voluntary contribution to the cause of freedom in two world wars was perhaps the greatest of any democracy.

Almost 10% of Canada 's entire population of seven million people served in the armed forces during the First World War, and nearly 60,000 died. The great Allied victories of 1918 were spearheaded by Canadian troops, perhaps the most capable soldiers in the entire British order of battle.Canada was repaid for its enormous sacrifice by downright neglect, it's unique contribution to victory being absorbed into the popular Memory as somehow or other the work of the 'British.' The Second World War provided a re-run. The Canadian navy began the war with a half dozen vessels, and ended up policing nearly half of the Atlantic against U-boat attack. More than 120 Canadian warships participated in theNormandy landings, during which 15,000 Canadian soldiers went ashore on D-Day alone.Canada finished the war with the third-largest navy and the fourth largest air force in the world. The world thanked Canada with the same sublime indifference as it had the previous time.

Canadian participation in the war was acknowledged in film only if it was necessary to give an American actor a part in a campaign in which the United States had clearly not participated - a touching scrupulousness which, of course, Hollywood has since abandoned, as it has any notion of a separate Canadian identity.So it is a general rule that actors and filmmakers arriving in Hollywood keep their nationality - unless, that is, they are Canadian. Thus Mary Pickford, Walter Huston, Donald Sutherland, Michael J. Fox, William Shatner, Norman Jewison, David Cronenberg, Alex Trebek, Art Linkletter and Dan Aykroyd have in the popular perception become American, and Christopher Plummer, British.It is as if, in the very act of becoming famous, a Canadian ceases to be Canadian, unless she is Margaret Atwood, who is as unshakably Canadian as a moose, or Celine Dion, for whom Canada has proved quite unable to find any takers.Moreover, Canada is every bit as querulously alert to the achievements of its sons and daughters as the rest of the world is completely unaware of them.

The Canadians proudly say of themselves - and are unheard by anyone else - that 1% of the world's population has provided 10% of the world's peacekeeping forces.Canadian soldiers in the past half century have been the greatest peacekeepers on Earth - in 39 missions on UN mandates, and six on non-UN peacekeeping duties, from Vietnam to East Timor, from Sinai to Bosnia.Yet the only foreign engagement that has entered the popular non-Canadian imagination was the sorry affair in Somalia, in which out-of-control paratroopers murdered two Somali infiltrators. Their regiment was then disbanded in disgrace - a uniquely Canadian act of self-abasement for which, naturally, the Canadians received no international credit.

So who today in the United States knows about the stoic and selfless friendship its northern neighbour has given it in Afghanistan?Rather like Cyrano de Bergerac, Canada repeatedly does honourable things for honourable motives, but instead of being thanked for it, it remains something of a figure of fun. It is the Canadian way, for which Canadians should be proud, yet such honour comes at a high cost. This past year more grieving Canadian families knew that cost all too tragically well.

Lest we forget.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Premier Brad Wall's Nuclear Decision

The Brad Wall SaskParty government is performing well since being elected to govern. Wall’s message of “hope beats fear” has caught on and Saskatchewan will benefit long into the future as a result. Unfortunately, the NDP serve as nothing more than an anchor to our progress and look only to drag us back to the past.

Brad Wall is Saskatchewan’s Barack Obama. He is likeable, thoughtful, careful, prudent and well spoken in his role as Premier. His position on a nuclear reactor for Saskatchewan to address the world shortage of medical isotopes is the right and only decision. Public consultation is necessary and is underway, but Wall must act now if Saskatchewan is to take advantage of this special opportunity to place Saskatchewan on the world map as a leader. This will be the single most important legacy the Brad Wall SaskParty government will leave the people of Saskatchewan. He must act now and continue to display the leadership he has shown since taking office. Saskatchewan and the world, except the NDP and anti-nuclear groups, are expecting no less.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

CTV and Ministerial Responsibility

The recent controversy regarding the matter of a binder containing sensitive government documents is very troubling. The binder was left at CTV offices and the fact Lisa Raitt, Natural Resources minister, made no request to CTV to recover the documents for a number of days is also troubling. Further, it is troubling that CTV may have breached the ethics bar when they chose to go through the confidential government documents and report some of their findings on CTV news. The media apparently will stop at nothing to get a story or ruin a career. The professional response would have been to contact the minister immediately and return the documents. Was the good of Canada served by the actions of CTV over a human error on the part of the minister and her staff?

The fact that the minister has not resigned and that the Prime Minister has chosen to make Raitts' staff person, 26-year-old Jasmine Macdonnell resign and take the fall is the most troubling of all. You have to question the governments hiring policy for ministerial staff. Jasmine Macdonnell apparently has significant ties to the liberal party. Do you have to have a membership in the conservative party to work for a minister wherein you are privy to confidential documents?

The minister has a degree in chemistry and in law so it is reasonable to conclude that she is a pretty bright person. Controversy has surrounded this minister in and out of politics. She is the minister and gets paid the big bucks. It is assumed that Macdonnell was the person who failed and left confidential documents at CTV. Is a minister of the government not personally responsible for their staff while they are together on an assignment? Minister Raitt is a smart person and should have taken the time to assure that her staff and her documents were altogether before leaving CTV. Taking days before finally missing the binder full of sensitive and confidential material before recovering the binder from CTV is simply unacceptable.

The minister, Lisa Raitt, should have resigned along with her staff person, Jasmine Macdonnell regardless of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to not accept the offer to resign by minister Lisa Raitt. I believe the minister is ultimately responsible for her actions and those of her staff. What else will the government blame on their staff?