May 26th 2002
Events in the Middle East have had quite an impact on Canadian society over the last few weeks.
The most tragic event was the death of four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan as a result of an American bombing incident. Out on a night exercise near Kabul a unit of the Princess Patricia's was mistaken for the enemy by an American pilot, who proceeded to use a “smart” bomb on the “enemy” below.
Not only were four Canadians killed but over a dozen were injured as well.
This seemed to galvanize the media into a frenzy of loathing and recrimination. Those that were avowedly left-wing used the whole exercise as an attack on the United States as well as a carefully crafted propaganda ploy to get Canadian troops out of the country.
Because Bush didn't get on the phone to Chretien seconds after the incident to express regret there was a flurry of accusations.
Of course everyone conveniently forgot Chretien's similar lack of action shortly after the 9/11 events. When it was pointed out that Bush actually had expressed sympathy and a damn side quicker than Chretien did, this was totally ignored. Imagine letting the enemy be portrayed as reasonable? After all the USA is far more of an enemy to Canada than anyone else. Right?
Well according to all the vociferous trendy lefties anyway. Who haven't had a good anti-American rant since the Berlin Wall collapsed and the Cold War sort of fizzled out.
In fact at one stage you would be forgiven for thinking that the USAF pilot deliberately bombed the Canadians in the opening stages of the “invasion of Canada!”
Which is probably why we suddenly had all manner of Liberal members popping up at the carefully staged memorial ceremonies. Especially the televised events! Chretien and his cronies making miraculous public appearances for the very people they had decried and ignored for ages.
Which is why the singular lack of action over the events in Israel spilling into the streets of Toronto, and other Canadian cities, was interesting.
All those “New Canadians” who have settled in this country because of the events back in their homelands making it impossible to live there, suddenly become very patriotic and attend demonstrations to decry whichever side they are in opposition too.
Palestinians, and their supporters, creating havoc by marching in predominantly Jewish area's where, as is always necessary in these events, trashing, mayhem and general hatred predominate.
At one such event an elderly Jewish Doctor had his arm broken by one of the “peace loving” Muslims. Who also seem quite adept at taunting and attacking little old ladies. Synagogues were firebombed or stoned. Police were called in to separate both sides on numerous occasions.
Given the haste with which Chretien rushed to defend the Muslims after the Twin Towers massacre you would expect at least some comment with regard to the naked hatred being shown toward the Jews.
Yes well! Holding your breath is not a good idea here.
In fact various members of the Government actually had the gall to stand up and blame it all on the Israeli's and by extension, the local Jewish population.
Doing this at a Jewish meeting did not go down too well I might add. Nor did the apparent backtracking and “I meants” that followed the outcry.
The far left NDP was more or less forced to censure one of it's members for making an ass of himself by going to Israel and trying to force a confrontation with the Israeli army.
Other MP's from the Mississauga area were flown to Palestine by a local Palestine support group to “report” on the situation. Which, given their constituency, and political leanings, was a foregone conclusion anyway.
Letters to the editor were filled with the most vile hate speech. In most cases from the Palestinian supporters but very often from the greater Muslim community as well. The sort of stuff that if it was written by a Canadian would have them up in court on hate speech charges so fast their heads would be spinning!
Not that there wasn't the odd letter from the local Jewish community that fell into this category either. In fact I am still amazed at how the newspapers allowed some of this rubbish to be spewed out on their pages.
Well perhaps not. One particular newspaper here has always allowed hate speech so long as it is directed toward the people it disagrees with.
Then an interesting fact came to light. For months now we have been hearing how “hate crimes” have escalated since 9/11. It has generally been used to admonish Canadians for their nasty attitude toward the Muslim community.
Except that over 70% of the crimes that were reported actually involved the Jewish community!
And still we wait for Chretien and his cronies to say something to the Muslim community. Anything!
Ah well. I suppose annoying your loyal sheep is not a good idea. Let them practice hate so long as they vote for you. At a quarter of a million new sheep a year that is a lot of support.
And potential future conflicts!
Sadly there appears to be no attempt to control this possibility either.
May 23rd 2002
Down at the bottom end of Toronto, nestled in amongst the high-rise buildings, train tracks and, oddly enough, a golf driving range, lies a valuable part of Canadian history.
I am referring to Fort York at the bottom end of the aptly named Garrison Road. Well actually it is down Bathurst Street but Garrison Road has a certain ring to it and anyway you need to go up Garrison road to get to the parking lot.
This weekend they are commemorating the invasion of Toronto 189 years ago.
In those days Toronto was actually known as York, or, to give it the more apt name given by the inhabitants, “Muddy York”!
York was the capital of what was Upper Canada in the early 1800's. Lower Canada being mainly what we now refer to as Quebec.
Fort York itself was 2 kilometres away west of the muddy village of York. An outpost in the wild rather than a patch of green under the Gardiner Expressway as it is at the moment.
Even more interesting is that far from being a good kilometer away from Lake Ontario as it is today in 1813 the water of Lake Ontario was actually right up against the walls. The small river that ran alongside named Garrison Creek has long since been diverted into culverts and all that remains is the Road.
In 1812 the Americans and the British were at war with each other and the Americans needed a propaganda victory as much as anything else, so they decided that invading Canada was a good option. Having been beaten in numerous battles down in the Niagara region a victory was becoming important.
In 1813 on the 27th April an American invasion force of 14 ships and almost 2000 ground troops set sail for the Upper Canada capital.
Facing them at Fort York were 300 regular British troops under the command of Major General Sir Roger Sheaffe and another 300 untrained Canadian militia. The British troops were actually on their way to Niagara to bolster the forts on the Niagara peninsula and it was probably more bad luck than foresight on their part that they happened to be part of the process.
The Americans stormed ashore and a bloody fight ensued. The British troops trying to stop them on the shore were slaughtered. Over 100 men were killed and 300 wounded in the short battle. Sheaffe decided that withdrawal was appropriate and pulled his men back to the fort and then pulled them even further back by moving east to Kingston. Most of the casualties were amongst the American and British as the Militia scattered early and took little part in the proceedings.
Before he withdrew though Sheaffe took a decision to deny the Americans the munitions that were stored in the York munitions building. So he ordered the troops to blow up the building.
The resultant explosion blew both friend and foe apart. One of the chief casualties being the American leader, General Zebulon Pike. Many of the American casualties were as a result of this action and, like troops everywhere who get a bit ticked off they, then went on a rampage in York itself.
Looting and pillaging of houses and buildings was the order of the day. The Upper Canada Assembly buildings were burnt to the ground and the American troops claimed the Parliamentary Mace as a “war trophy”, taking it back to America.
Oddly enough looting was not confined to the American troops and there is some mention of “York hoodlums” joining in the mayhem.
An interesting sideline to this whole affair was that in 1814 the British invaded Washington and as a direct result of the burning and looting in York did the same thing to the American Capital.
In fact the White House is so called, and remains to this day, as a reminder of that invasion. The British troops attempted to burn down the American Presidents residence. Badly scorched and damaged, when rebuilding it, it was painted with whitewash. Hence the term “White House”.
In addition over the years the burning of Washington has gradually moved from being a British victory to being a Canadian one. The American invasion of Canada being a series of defeats for the Americans. Oddly enough both the Canadian and Americans downplay the series of wars and skirmishes that have erupted over the years. The Americans because they ignore their defeats, while the Canadians ignore anything that took place more than twenty years ago. The sixties now being taught as “history”!
Luckily for us there are still Canadians who take a pride in their countries past and so we have many active historical societies that repair, upgrade and run these historical places.
Fort York has eight reconstructed buildings as well as the earthworks, glacis and gun emplacements faithfully recreated to bring the Fort back to its original state.
All the volunteers dress in historic uniforms and period costume. Throughout the day there are demonstrations of drill, period dancing, military music and on Sunday at 12:30 a cannon fires a blank charge. Which is quite deafening and must have made the explosion at the armoury particularly frightening at the time.
All of this for $5 an adult and $3 for a child by the way. You get good display, plenty of stuff to see and, depending on the weather, a good day out in the sun. There is even the obligatory souvenir shop if you want the odd trinket to remind you that you have been there.
It reminds me of The Castle too. Obviously in a much smaller way but still a relevant and interesting part of the countries history which I am glad is still around to be looked at.
May 6th 2002
Brian Mulroney is arguably the most reviled Prime Minister in Canada's history. I say arguably because Canadians have a love-hate relationship with their Prime Ministers that seems to encompass all of them.
Of the two most hated, one, Mulroney, is a Tory, and the other of course was Trudeau who was, in theory at least, a Liberal. Trudeau seems to have done more damage to Canada in both the physical, and definitely in the psychological, sense while Mulroney's main claim to fame appears to have been the inability to keep his, and all his crony's, snouts out of the trough. In fact Mulroney's fall from grace revolved around two aspects that over the last week have had particular relevance to local affairs.
The first was the order that was placed to buy helicopters from a European consortium where it appears that questionable dealings were merely part of the process. Apparently questionable dealings were always part of the process with the Mulroney Government anyway. Then Mulroney decided to spend $500,000 on updating the Prime Ministers' aircraft. Shortly after handing over the reigns to Canada's first female Prime Minister, Kim Campbell, the Tories were all but annihilated in an election.
Much of which was focused on the corruption and greed of the Mulroney Government.
At the time one of the Opposition members stood up and called this a “monumental waste of money being spent on a flying Taj Mahal”. This member was Jean Chretien, who has risen since then to the lofty heights of “Chief snout at the trough” or Prime Minister of Canada.
On Thursday 28th it was quietly announced that the Canadian Government was to acquire not one but two Bombadier aircraft for the personal use of ……Yes you guessed it! The Prime Minister. At the not insignificant cost of $100 million!!
The timing of the announcement was particularly important. Right at the end of the day just before the Easter weekend. This is done in the vain hope that everyone will be so happy at the thought of a few days holiday that no one will notice. Sneaky, but in this case, not particularly effective. Someone did notice and the proverbial hit the fan.
It might just be that the media were a bit miffed at having to pay over $12,000 each to accompany King Chretien on his current aircraft in his schmooze fest to Africa. It could just be that more than a few people were annoyed about the sheer arrogance of what had transpired.
Whatever it was, the egg dance of the Liberal spin-doctors was interesting. The best being that it was a “bargain” at the price! This from the same people who cancelled a contract for the original replacement helicopters, which, incidentally, cost taxpayers over $500 million in “cancellation fees”.
The Sea Kings that were due to be replaced have soldiered on and are now in a state that seriously imperils the lives of all who fly in them.
Which is why the statement that the current aircraft that is used by the Prime Minister is old and needs to be replaced because it could become a danger to life is even more disgusting in it's blatant disregard for the average person out in the street.
Even worse was the blithe comment that the money was to come out of the defence force budget!
That's really putting the boot in!
I wonder how many correct camouflage uniforms that little lot would buy. Maybe even one transport aircraft so that the Canadian military wouldn't have to hitch a lift from the USAF to go to war. Spare parts for the helicopters. I could go on but there is only so much paper to write on.
In case you are wondering why Teflon Jean needs two jets you may need a bit of a geographical and history lesson.
Simply put the company that makes the jets is Bombadier. Bombadier is Canadian. Bombadier is situated in Quebec. Chretien is from Quebec. Two backs in need of scratching. QED!
There is no truth in the rumour that Bombadier fortuitously had two jets hanging around due to a foreign deal that fell through and they urgently needed to get rid of them. According to the Government spokesman anyway!
Where was Teflon Jean when all this took place?
Teaching Africans to suck eggs!
Chretien was over in Africa meeting with the Heads of State of what Canada sees as the more important African nations. His mission was to lay out the Canadian plan of action that is to be discussed later at the meeting in Alberta.
Roughly translated it goes like this:
“Instead of us just giving you money to put into your Swiss bank account we feel that we should perhaps, maybe, possibly expect a bit of accountability from you and so we are prepared to discuss restrictions on how rich we make you and your cronies!”
Mind you it could just be that Chretien was there to point out to the Leaders that his way of ripping off the masses for personal enrichment was the clever way to do things. After all there is some debate as to whether our Jean is a Prime Minister or a Dictator. And his involvement in some very questionable practices has, and is still, raising eyebrows!
True to good Liberal Party policy Chretien never once raised any issue that may in fact call into question some of the practices and policies of his hosts. Nigerian racism and graft being ignored, Mbeki's policy on Aids being conveniently overlooked, and as for Zimbabwe….well… you know.. not everyone's perfect!
Of course there were the odd bits of enlightenment as to Chretien's little road show. Canadian Government stooges traveling ahead to villages to hand out Canadian flags to the little kids for the photo opportunity and then taking them back after the motorcade had moved on. This did cause a bit of an outcry when it was pointed out that giving a child something to play with, and then taking it away is not very nice. Even for the Liberals.
When a busload of reporters and minor Government hangers-on was fired at in Nigeria Chretien dismissed it as “nothing”. He got annoyed in South Africa that reporters dared to question Mbeki's AIDS policy. In fact he acted like a petulant child whenever his little sideshow hit a speed bump. Including the need to go to the UK to attend the Queen Mothers' funeral. Which was only done as a result of public opinion I might add.
Many Canadians feel that the whole Africa trip was a fiasco and a waste of time and money. The Liberal spin-doctors are hard at work to prove otherwise. Unfortunately with uninspiring results so far.
In fact the most interesting event last week was the reaction of Chretien and his cronies to a report from a market research company that said that almost 70% of Canadians believed that the Federal Government was untrustworthy. This was higher even than the much-derided local Provincial Governments.
Behind closed doors Chretien, to put it mildly, “did his nut”! Apparently he is aware that Canadians are beginning to question his actions and as he wants to go down in history as a “great” Prime Minister, this doesn't bode well for his legacy.
Of course changing his ways is out of the question so obviously the only way to do it is to shoot the messenger. As such the media was treated to the remarkable spectacle of the Government spin doctors coming out of the meeting to start an attack on them as being “unpatriotic” and “misinformed” and “biased” and all the other trite phrases used by the guilty when they wish to deflect blame. The Liberal supporting media got their knickers in a twist and did their own take on the required propaganda.
Saint Jean of Teflon rides again!
The sheer arrogance of their actions is beginning to annoy Canadians and questions are starting to be asked by people that have traditionally looked away.
In time to come I'm pretty certain that Chretien will rank right up there with Mulroney as the worst Prime Minister Canada has had.
So much for his wished legacy. The Right Honourable is merely a title not an indication. Something he would do well to remember!