Category Archives: Quebec

(don’t tell the Irish) The Scots Invented Canada

Scots 2
April 6th is Tartan Day in Canada, how appropriate that I sit and write a few words about a book I first spotted in the office of a Senator when I toured the new Senate building a few weeks back.

I learned that there is almost a cottage industry of books written about things that Scots have invented.  There are books written about how the Scots invented the modern world, golf, fine single malts and Canada.  How Scots invented Canada was written in 2010 by Ken McGoogan and looks at 5 dozen or so Scots/Canadians with Scottish blood lines.

There are the expected profiles and where they stand in Canadian history, like Sir John A MacDonald, George Brown, William Lyon Mackenzie King, Frederick Banting and Sanford Fleming.  We know their place in Canadian history as fathers of confederation, the building of the CRP Railway and in the world of medicine and science.   McGoogan then goes and expands all our knowlledge of all things scottish and give us names like Alexander Grahma Bell, Doris Anderson, Timothy Eaton, John McCrae and Nellie McClung.  He manages to bring Scots into to present day Canada where the world continues to expand and unfold.

Lets go back to the pre-confederation for a bit.  Famine, wars, the American Revolution all emerge as some reasons of how many of Scottish decent came to the Upper and Lower Canada provinces.  Scots loyal to the crown found refuge in early Canada.  The Scots led to the successful mapping of trade routes to the west coast, some doing faster than anyone could have ever imagined. The growth of the Hudson Bay Company was at the hands of Scots that had been educated due to the “Scottish Enlightenment” where reading was given to many.  The enlightenment was a leading road to building the character of well educated Scots that would be foremost in business management and growth.  The growth of the fur trade and the establishment of the trade routes were instrumental in bringing the west coast colonies into an eventual confederation in 1871.  That move to came about with a promise to build a transcontinental railway.

Moving through the decades, profiles of Bell, George Brown and Timothy Eaton talk of leaders in communications.  Bell with the telephone, Brown as a leader in newspaper publishing and Timothy Eaton with the catalougue .  These communication giants helped grow commerce in a young country.  These three live on in 2018 with Bell Canada, The Globe and Mail and the centre of commerce in Toronto, the Eaton Centre.

Of Canada’s Prime Ministers, 60% have Scottish heritage.  14 of 24 can claim a direct Scottish lineage right up to our current PM, Justin Trudeau.  Younger Trudeau’s mother comes from the Sinclair Scots and his grandmother from his father’s side was also Scottish as Pierre Elliott Trudeau was borne from a Scottsh mum and French father.  Besides Sir John A, McGoogan brings us our other leaders; Diefenbaker, Tommy Douglas, Nellie McClung and paths through their family lines that started back in the homeland.

While the book is an informative read about the mapping, discovery and building of our nation, there are a few chapters where I find he looks pretty far back to find the thinest of Scottish thread.  But have no fear he talks about Robbie Burns and the ties that the great poet has to Canada. He even reveals a personal connection in his family to Robbie Burns.

Over 60 profiles build a a strong case that the Scottish really did build Canada.  If you are Scottish you’ll enjoy this, if you want to be Scottish “How the Scots invented Canada” will reinforce that feeling. With all of the work McGoogan does to lay out his claims that the Scots really did ‘invent’ Canada, you have to wonder what everyone else doing?

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker &  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

She said He said They said

It seems like ages ago that the first word on a small issue that may or may not have started out of the Prime Ministers Office came out.  Did anyone think seven weeks ago that  we would still be talking about this?  In fact as the timeline extends on what is commonly known as #LavScam or “the thing that Liberals don’t want anyone to talk about” you just have to know there will be more.

The fallout has been emence; three cabinet shuffles, two resignations from cabinet, one Liberal MP is now sits as an independent, one ‘retirement’ and the resignation of the Principal Secretary for the Prime Minister. Then there is the collateral damage; a committee shutdown, an inaudible budget speech, a walkout and 31 hours of voting.  Apparently, even though the Prime Minister and the Liberals on the Justice Committee have all said that the story has been told they neglected to ask the person at the centre of the storm, Jody Wilson-Raybould (JWR) – she has more to say.

The Prime Minister is treating this like a chess match, saying that JWR has used up all her time, 4 hours, when she appeared at the Justice committee a few weeks back.  The problem with that situation is that following her testimony former Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Gerald Butts came forward to tell his version of events to the committee.  In fact the Justice committee allowed now retired Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick to comeback to answer to some of JWR’s testimony.

Now that Butts and Wernick have had their chance to reply to JWR, the opposition have been pressing to have JWR back in front of the Justice Committee. They have held up regular proceedings in Parliament, they worked towards having the presentation of the budget delayed and forced a a vote on 257 motions, all spending items, that could – and almost did topple the government.

But wait, what’s this? The Liberals are willing to let JWR and Jane Philpott have their say, but not in a committee but in the House where parliamentary priviledge allows them to say anything without any threat of litigation on what is said.  The issue with this is that the government could and would limit Wilson-Raybould and Philpott’s speaking time and would not allow for questions to prode further into their statements.  This seems to be the message du jour from the Liberals as Judy Sgro and Melanie Joly have come out in favour of this and if this is what the Prime Minister wants expect more from the Liberal Caucus to speak out.

In the meantime Wilson-Raybould has said she will be sending a written statement with details of texts and emails that will further support her initial remarks. She can certainly send to the committee her written submission but I don’t think the Liberal majority on the committee will accept it, remember last week the Liberals forced an end to the study saying they had heard enough – nothing more is needed to be said.

The only thing I can safely say here; this is not going away. Just when you think all this is all done and there can be no more something happens and so far the something has been a misstep from the government. I mean, this is the third post I’ve written on this subject since February 12th, there will be more.

Both sides have called ‘check’ in this match of words and wills, but no one yet can claim “check-mate”.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker&  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

From the Gallery: #BlameBrison

Brison ResignsOn February 6, 2019 in the House of Commons former President of the Treasury Scott Brison said “thank you and miss me, but don’t forget me”.  A few days later Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a media scrum “if Scott Brison had not  stepped down from cabinet, Jody Wilson-Raybould would still be Minister of Justice and Attorney General.”   This is the beginning of what is being known as #BlameBrison.

#BlameBrison has caused the following moves; Minister Philpott from Indigenous Services  to fill the desk emptied by Brison at Treasury Board, Seamus O’Regan was moved to Indigenous Services and the now infamous move of Wilson-Raybould to Veterans Affairs and the move out of left field from the back benches of David Lametti to Justice Minister and Attorney General.  Trudeau also added one more Minister to his cabinet, bringing another back bencher forward, Bernadette Jordan into the role of Minister of Rural Economic Development.

Watching all this from the gallery, the strangest move was not Wilson-Raybould, it was moving O’Regan; Veterans Affairs  Canada (VAC) is not a slouch file and needs a Minister that will stand up for our Veterans. Bold promises by Trudeau in 2015 have been followed by Ministers, until Wilson-Raybould was appointed last month that were weak and did not perform well. I wish someone could tell me just what it is that Minister O’Regan did in 18 months in VAC to warrant a move to Indigenous Services, a file in which Trudeau’s entire claim of reconciliation is dependent on.

If Trudeau is in fact correct and Wilson-Raybould could still be the AG and Minister of Justice, there would only have been one seat fill when Scott Brison resigned. Now the move of Minister Pilpott to Treasury takes a solid cabinet minister to a key portfolio. That leaves only one person to move to replace Philpott and maintain the work being done on reconciliation. One person was more than qualified for the position and more qualified than Seamus O’Regan, Dan Vandel the Parliamentary Secretary who served under Minister Philpott.  Vandel has the experience in the Indigenous Services portfolio and also has worked with First Nations communities in Winnipeg.  Trudeau makes that one move and quite possibly Trudeau and PMO only has to worry about the Mark Norman Case where it’s expected Brison will be called to testify.

The 400 words above make sense if the following doesn’t happen.  SNC Lavalin had not spent years lobbying for a deferred prosecution agreement to avoid a criminal trial. A remediation clause for the criminal code wasn’t buried in a budget omnibus bill.  The allegations of PMO putting pressure of Wilson-Raybould were not published by the Globe and Mail. The Standing Committee on Justice was not a sideshow circus of a committee meeting, and as of today (February 18, 2019) Gerald Butts, Principal Secretary for the Prime Minister would not have resigned. Unfortunately all these events did take place, and the Prime Minister shuffled four Ministers to cover one resignation.  In the space of ten days, Minister Wilson-Raybould  resigned from Cabinet, Trudeau has told three versions of the reasons for the Wilson-Raybould move to VAC; The Ethic Commissioner announced an examination of the SNC Lavalin persuasion allegations and Liberals controlled the Special Justice Committee agenda.

Welcome to the Brison Effect. #BlameBrison

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker&  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Save the Dates

The New Year is a clean slate, nothing held over from the previous 365 days. It begs the question, what is coming our way that we should be bookmarking as key milestones this year?

February 2019: 4 Federal By-elections will be called for February 2019,   there should be 5 by-elections called this month, the Quebec riding of St. Leonard – St Michel has not been represented in the house for month. The only reason for it not being called is that it will be officially vacated January 22nd, nine months before the next general elections, by Liberal MP Nicola Di Iorio. The Prime Minister is not obliged to call a by-election for a riding that is vacant 9 months or less before the next general election.  The by-election all of Canada will be watching is Burnaby South BC, it’s where NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh will be tagging his hopes to win a seat in the House of Commons. Early prognications are not good for Singh.  If he loses what happens to the NDP under his leadership? Other ridings up for grabs are York Simcoe, formerly held by Conservative Peter Van Loan, Outremont which was the home of former NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and a second in BC, Nanaimo Ladysmith vacated by NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson to run in the same riding in a provincial by-election. At the time of writing this, no date had been announced by the Prime Minister for byelections.

October 21, 2019: This will go one way or another, you either support the government or you don’t and plan to vote that way.  The subtext of this election is more interesting and diverse.  Is Trudeau doing well?  Is he not?  It has not been a smooth four years.  Two key promises have been broken; despite what Trudeau said, this election WILL be decided under ‘first past the post’ and rather than small meaningful deficits and a one balanced budget there will be huge deficits and no balanced budget for 40 years. Will Justin Trudeau remain a one-term Prime Minister because of these broken promises or will he hold on in spite of them?  As MP’s get set to return to Ottawa the polls are close between the Liberals and Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives, this will be an important session for both as leaders will need to score “points” if they want to be Prime Minister. As the election gets close, has the anti-Harper vote been eclipsed but the “I voted Liberal, but didn’t vote for this” vote? 

March/April 2019: Ontario 2019 Budget will be the first budget from Doug Ford and will build on the November Fall economic statement delivered by Finance Minister Vic Fedeli.  The new Ontario government made may promises about reducing the debt and being responsble in spending.  This budget could be influenced by the promised line by line audit of government spending.  The Ford government has already announced cuts in programs that were brought in under Kathleen Wynne.  Notable were announcements include the end of the Gauarranteed income project, pausing the Francophone University spending and freezing the minimum wage at $14/hour. What Minister Fedeli will introduce will likely shock the NDP and Liberals, but it shouldn’t – the Ontario PC’s campaigned on reversing the out of control spending of the Wynne government.

Before or on May 31, 2019: The Alberta Provincial Election outcome seems to be pre-determined.  A NDP government elected four years ago was a blip on the Albertan polictical scene. It happened because the Alberta PC was too comfortable, an outcome that many governments have had to face.  Under a new leader and a new banner, Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party seem primed to wrestle the reigns of power back from the NDP.   The lone question may be, what capital has Premier Notley earned in her defense of building pipelines and moving Alberta crude to market?  What kind of election result will that give the Alberta NDP? June 1stor the day after the election will be a pivotal day for not only Alberta, but also Canada, Justin Trudeau’s Canada.  With a likely victory by the UCP, Alberta will become the 5thprovince to opt out of the Pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, and eliminate the provincial carbon tax.

Mark the dates on your calendar and watch the events unfold.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker&  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Book Review: Legacy – How French Canadians Shaped North America

Legacy

The editors of Legacy start and finish the book, in between those pages are the stories of twelve French-Canadians, some I knew of and some I have not – though their names were known to me as street names in Gatineau, across the river from Ottawa.

Andre Pratté contributes the Foreword and Jonathan Kay the Afterword. In the foreword, Pratte hints of who might be considered for a second volume as they were left out. Kay writes in the afterword of his ‘regret’ as a Anglo-Quebecer and how English Canada needs to know about these twelve French Canadians, but also that there are others that need to be heard and known of west of the Ottawa River. Both speak with pride about the role French Canadians played in the growth and prosperity of North American.

Kay says as much in a reply to a tweet I wrote after completing the book.

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My dilemma in reading Legacy was HOW do I read it? Do I read the essays in the order I want, or do I follow (trust) the Editors Pratte and Kay have purposely placed these essays in a particular order? I trusted the editors. 

Legacy was an interesting read, the subject matter was great, but because of the format, I was as at the mercy of the contributors of the book. There were some essays that I had difficulty getting through because of the writer’s style, but I got through them and learned more about the contributions our Quebec cousins made to Canada and North America.

In reading some of the essays I had questions as in with Deni Ellis Bechard’s essay on Jack Kerouac I couldn’t tell if it was written when Kerouac was alive as Bechard doesn’t mention his death in 1969. I was drawn into the life of Montreal’s Paul David and his medical accomplishments. The political tour de force of Thérese Casgrain left me wondering why we had not heard of her and why her name is not mentioned with the Famous Five when it comes to women who leave their mark on this country.

In reading the essays on Thomas-Louis Tremblay and Georges Vanier, their heroics and bravery were outstanding. They are connected through their membership of the 22nd Battalion, the Van Doos and their battles in WWI. It’s interesting that another great Canadian has such a presence in the life of Vanier, Vincent Massey was the foil for everything that Vanier stood for – but both became Governor Generals of Canada, George Vanier was appointed Canada’s Regal representative following the death Massey in 1959.

What I anticipated the most ended up being the most difficult to read. Lucien Bouchard’s essay of Henri Bourassa was riveting. It being a hard read, it forced me go through it twice, I am glad I did. Bourassa ‘s battle with the Catholic Church and Pope Pius XI is well documented, as is his passion for Quebec, a passion that lives on long after his death.

From explorers Pierre de la Vérendrye and Albert Lacombe to Jacques Plante and Kerouac, Legacy brings nine men and three women, all French Canadians and all-important contributors to North American Anglophones AND Francophones to learn about. Writers Ken Dryden (Jacques Plante), the afore mentioned Lucien Bouchard Bourassa), Samantha Nutt (Casgrain), Roméo Dallaire (Tremblay) and Jean Charest & Antoine Dionne-Charest (George-Étienne Cartier) add their voices through their words on Quebec’s and French Canada’s history and place in North America.

Surely there are more than enough subjects for a Volume II.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

 

Three Races

There are currently three ‘National’ political leadership races underway. Each has its own narrative in the early months of the process.

CPC

The Conservative Party of Canada came out of a weekend convention the last weekend of May and gave the first three contestants plenty of airtime to discuss the early stages of their campaigns and to tell their story and why they are running to be only the 2nd leader of the CPC. It has been a pretty tame race until this week when Maxime Bernier threw down the first major policy platform – the end of supply management for dairy, chicken and egg producers. Bernier called it a subsidy being paid for by 35 million Canadians. It’s a pretty intense subject in the farming community especially since the Federal government has yet to ratify the recently negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership. The announcement came just two days before a major convoy of Quebec dairy farmers came to Parliament Hill to protest in favour of supply management and Quebec dairy concerns. When Bernier was asked what he thought his leadership rivals would say of his announcement and supply management, Maxime asked the reporter to make sure he asked Michael Chong and Kelly Leitch that question to start the debate. As of now, neither Chong nor Leitch have made any public comments.

The CPC membership meanwhile waits and bides its time waiting for the party heavyweights to decide if they will challenge Bernier, Chong and Leitch for the Leadership to be decided in May 2017.

NDP 2

The NDP Leadership race created waves by who decided NOT to seek the top job of the party. Nathan Cullen, who came third in the leadership contest won by Thomas Mulcair, announced that he would not be running. Citing his young family, Cullen will focus on his real pet project – the electoral reform promised by Trudeau. He will lead the NDP into the committee and in the house to their preferred proportional representation model for electoral reform. No single person has announced the intention to take a run at the NDP Leadership. With a small caucus to draw from the list is going to be limited of who might go for it. Those who have publically stated anything about the Leadership include Quebec MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau. Two other names being bounced around from outside the federal scene are Mike Layton, Jack’s son, a Toronto City Councillor and perhaps a more intriguing person, Ontario NDP Deputy Leader and MPP Jagmeet Singh.   Having seen Singh work in Queens Park, I can say he is a smart, likeable, young, well-spoken and intelligent politician that would be able to bring a new young activism to the federal party.

UPDATE: Since I posted this on the weekend, Ontario MPP Cheri DiNovo (Parkdale-High Park) is set to announce that she will become the 1st official candidate to replace Thomas Mulcair as the Federal NDP Leader. Here is the link to the story posted in the National Post: Three Races

 

PQ

The 3rd National leadership race is that of the Parti Quebecois following the quick departure Pierre Karl Peladeau, members of the PQ will select their new leader October 7th. The PQ race is unlike the others because as of Friday June 3rd, thera are now five candidates, with Lawyer Paul St-Pierre Plamondon seeking support for bringing the party back to its roots of giving Quebecers a political party to call their own. He has written a book titled ‘Les orphelins politiques’. He joins Alexandre Cloutier , Veronique Hivon, Jean-Francois Lisee and Martine Ouellet in the hunt for the leadership.

The main platform that seems to reach us outside of Quebec is that of a referendum. Of the five candidates Ouellet is the only one calling for a referendum in the first mandate of a PQ government. Ouellet ran against Peladeau for the leadership in 2015 and finished third, Cloutier also rain in 2015, coming in second. Of all the five candidates, Plamondon is the only one that is not sitting in the Quebec National Assembly as a MNA. Lisee also sought the leadership last year but was unable to secure the signatures required to meet requirements to run. Veronique Hivon was the Minister in the Marois government responsible for bring in the assisted death legislation that is in place in Quebec. In that process she established a reputation of being able to reach across party lines to get support for the bill.

As the campaign approaches October 7th this leadership has the potential to have one or more out “Quebec” another as they attempt to be seen as the one to bring the PQ back to power to govern within a confederation or to govern as their own nation. I won’t want to try to call heads or tails on this, but it will be fun to follow and read.

There you have it, three different leadership races, and three races going at different speeds. Each has the chance to shape the national political landscape.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.