Archive for March, 2008

A tree fell in Nova Scotia and…

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

(Canscene) …up sprang a family of dolphins.When Hurricane Juan hit Nova Scotia in 2003, one of its victims was a magnificent Dutch Elm, uprooted in Stellarton near Halifax.unknown.jpgAlex MacLeod carved this pod of 15 dolphins from a single hunk of wood from that tree. Taking several years to complete, the sculpture is 14 feet in length and not a single piece of wood was added on to the sculpture.


The hazards of segregation

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

(Canscene) — It’s time for adults to learn how to distinguish between political correctness and cultural sensitivity. Too often, under the expedient of political correctness, foolhardy decisions will be made in the hope that a given problem will just “go away.”

The knee-jerk reaction of the Halton Catholic School Board to a single complaint about the “atheism” of the author of the Golden Compass series of children’s books resulted in them being removed from school libraries. (more…)

Moura, Patricia and a guatuza

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

(Canscene) — The other night, watching the DVD of A Fish Called Wanda the chords or memory were sounded by the appearance of British actress Patricia Hayes as the little old lady intended as a murder victim. And that brought me to thoughts of Dame Moura Lympany the British concert pianist. Both these ladies lived well into their eighties and both played a part in in my thwarted ambition to become an actor.

But first things first. I’ll begin with the guatuza, a South American rodent abut the size of a guinea pig. (more…)

McCallum strikes back

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

(Canscene) — The following op-ed is from the Honourable John McCallum, a former federal Liberal cabinet minister and before that a vice president and chief economist of the Royal Bank of Canada. He writes:

A new Conservative attack on the Liberals’ spending priorities is nothing more than a $62-billion Conservative lie. The claim that Liberal election promises would return Canada to deficits is simply false.

The fact is the glossy 67-page booklet accompanying the Conservative attack ad makes more than 50 questionable assumptions to come to this false conclusion. It uses the phrase “it is assumed” more than 50 times, in a series of misleading statements and calculations. If this is what counts as sound financial analysis, then Canadians have every right to be worried about the Conservatives’ ability to manage our country’s finances.


The truth is, the Liberal Party has a stellar economic and fiscal record. During the mid 1990s, it was the Liberal Party that eliminated the $42-billion deficit left to Canadians by Brian Mulroney’s Conservatives. (more…)

That’s Italian! The joys of Vaughan

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

(Canscene) — Frequently, Anne and I drive up from Toronto to Vaughan to shop. Actually, it’s not that far away from Downtown TO, a 40-minute drive on good days. While there, we invariably visit four special places.

First, lunch at Emilia and Cosimo’s Grappa, an unassuming trattoria whose hot table offers a variety of hearty fare. For light lunchers like us their bruschetta is a fabulous gathering of chopped tomatoes on a toasted Kaiser and if we’re really lucky, rice balls and sauce are on the menu. Top that with a multicoloured sweet pepper salad and you’ve banqueted like royalty. Grappa is situated at a tiny strip mall on the south side of Langstaff Road, immediately east of Longo’s. (more…)

How do we turn them on?

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

(Canscene) — In my last issue, I urged readers to learn about Canada’s World, the massive, ongoing study of our nation launched by Simon Fraser University.

Last month, Environics Research released the results of the first poll taken in that study. Some of the results were surprising, particularly regarding our relationships with the United States.

Although we have strong ties with the U.S. most Canadians strongly disapprove of their foreign policy, astoundingly naming the U.S. as the country with the most negative influence in the world. Fifty-two percent named the U.S. with Iran a distant second at 21 percent.

However, Canadians overwhelmingly support a Democratic government over a Republican by a margin of 7 to 1.

Young Canadians are more engaged in international issues than Canadian politics feeling we could do more to tackle environmental issues, issues in the developing world and human rights abuse worldwide.


Given that Democratic front-runners Obama and Clinton are attracting large followings of younger people, it seems that the youth vote in the U.S. will be very big next November.

Which makes one ask why in our own elections is the youth vote so low? How do we turn them on?

It’s likely to stay low unless our federal political parties rise to the challenge of young Canadians.

The best laid plans……

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

(Canscene) — NATO’s plans for Afghanistan call for no less than a compete defeat of the Taliban, just like what the Americans aimed for in Viet Nam and Iraq. We all know what happened in Viet Nam and while we did achieve complete victory of sorts in Iraq, it has by no means put an end to insurgency resulting in violence and loss of life.

Roland Paris, director of the Centre for international Studies at the University of Ottawa, is highly critical of what’s transpiring in Afghanistan . In an article he calls Washington’s 2002 action an effort to “build peace on he cheap”. (I am tempted to ask, could this be because George W. Bush already had his sights fixed on Iraq?)

Poppy fields in Afghanistan

Today, says Paris, the opium trade is still flourishing, insurgency is on the rise and support for the elected Karzai government is dwindling. Paris even suggests we may have to settle with less hardline elements in the Taliban since, given current trends, complete defeat seems impossible.That’s the prospect Canadian politicians ought to be facing instead of pandering to the egos of NATO generals and debating whether to pull out of Kandahar next year, or in 2011 or whenever.

The last word

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

(Canscene) From The March of Folly by Barbara W. Tuchman.

Rulers will justify a bad or wrong decision on the ground, as a historian and partisan wrote of John F. Kennedy, that “He had no choice,” but no matter how equal two alternatives may appear, there is always freedom of choice to change or desist from a counter-productive course if the policy-make has the moral courage to exercise it. He is not a fated creature blown by the winds of Homeric gods. Yet to recognize error, to cut losses to alter course, is the most repugnant option in government.

For a chief of state, admitting error is almost out of the question.