Terrorist Suspects Rounded up and Canada, and Canadian Pundits Want to Discuss....

Thursday, June 08, 2006
...how stupid Americans are! As the French would say, but of course (read that with a French accent). Tonight on Studio 2, a Candain Interview/Magazine type show, the group that covers international relations discussed Peter King's comments instead of the implications for Canada about these (alleged) homegrown Islamists. The crew of Janice Stein, Richard Gwyn, and Jeffrey Kopstein, discussed how "uninformed" Peter King (R, NY) was to suggest Americans have to worry about al Qaeda coming across the border and that there is a large al Qaeda presence in Canada. They all suggest there was no (or virtually no) al Qaeda presence in Canada. Fortunately, the host Steve Paikin, kept their feet to the fire a bit, asking them, "how do you know that?" They patted themselves on the back about how ignorant Peter King is, as if that will help them sleep easier at night. No attempt was made to look in the mirror, as they would demand of America, and ask "why do they hate us?"

Many of the usual media suspects in the Great White North will be twisting themselves into pretzels to blame this on Iraq and Afghanistan. They were already quick to discuss what was referred to as "Bush talk" about these folks hating democracy and our way of life. The multi-culti crowd will turn this into a narrative they can understand, i.e., some form of victimhood.


truepeers said...

Well Barry, they're not the brightest pundits we have, the two I know about are lefter than than the Cnd. average, and they are way past their due dates. As I said at another site the other day, after reading some jaw-dropping nonsense from the Toronto (Red) Star, if Canada wants to survive we may have to separate from Toronto (said semi-seriously).

Skookumchuk said...


There is always the Cascadian option, but unfortunately that would only produce an echo chamber of Vancouver and Seattle moonbats in concert. Not good.

Of course, we Yanks could peel off Alberta, which would make a good fit with the rest of the Rocky Mountain west.

Or you guys could do somethig else. What happened to federalism, anyway? Outside of Quebec, I mean? How did Toronto the Bad get to where it is today? I guess what motivated the rambling here is that when I hear Canadians mention some intractable internal problem, the solution - even if only in fantasy - is always separation from Ontario. Each and every time. Why is that so?

Skookumchuk said...

Sorry, Barry too, he added sheepishly.

truepeers said...

Well Skook, my take on Ontario, for what it's worth is that it is the part of Canada most deferential to authority (I believe it remains deeply marked by its foundational trauma as a refuge for Loyalists from the Revolution), and it is also the place that has the most authority in Canada. Having almost forty percent of the Canadian population, unless Ontario is divided, it basically chooses the government, as it did for several elections recently, voting almost unanimously for the Liberals.

And Toronto, being the media and financial capital for anglophone Canada, is a natural gathering place for liberal elites - our Manhattan.

So it is basically a question of resentment at feeling alienated from the centre. But given Ontario's, especially Toronto's, elitist political tendencies (from people who are rather too provincial to make for very impressive elites), there is something to justify this resentment, it is not all delusion. There is also the question of immigration - Toronto being even more than Vancouver or Montreal the centre for immigrants in Canada, and the liberal elites playing their usual games of being unsympathetic to the prejudices and banalities of white folk culture (since their power and elitist raison d'etre rests on finding fault with ordinary sensibilities) and setting up patron-client relations with immigrant groups, feeling cosmopolitan and sophisticated, responding to all problems with victimary fawning (too many ethnic gangs? well, give the youth more playgrounds...) is all a volatile combination. In the ongoing flux between nation and empire, democratic authority has been on a downswing since the 60s, giving way to the cosmopolitan elites selling things like leftism (in the guise of popular democracy, but being really a bureaucratic powerplay) multiculturalism, etc.; well the people in the boonies often get upset.

In my opinion Canadian federalism requires a high degree of decentralization; all Canadians do not share much of a common political or constitutional mythos other than the desire to rule ourselves, as best we can; the attempt to forge a common mythos, to build up the power of the centre in the name of whatever liberal vision does not work too well since our traditional bonding mechanism was the British empire and we don't do well when we renew that kind of bonding in pomo forms: i.e. imperial, cosmoplitan, liberal sensibilities that come at the cost of developing any republican potential we may have.

The bonding doesn't work too well, except for a certain class of people (bureaucrats); Ontarians, however are the most happy with and deferential to Ottawa power and its vision of Canada, because it is mostly their power. Perhaps this is the essence of the beef.

truepeers said...

And remember, that forty percent of the population includes Quebec (twenty-five percent); so Ontario is a little more than half the anglophone population of Canada, which is significant in a world where communications is the basis of the economy.

Barry Dauphin said...

and they are way past their dues dates

Ouch (but on target). Actually, they do occasionally make sense. However....

Skookumchuk said...

I lived in Argentina in the mid-90s and there are a few similarities. An overdeveloped megalopolis in Buenos Aires, where all decisions are made, where all the financial power is located, and whose inhabitants think of the rest of the country as inhabited by primitives, almost as another planet.

As to Argentina itself, a lack of definition - what are we? Are we a collection of people who keep our Italian and Spanish passports in our back pockets and are forever looking back to Europe (somewhat like the English did in old South Africa) and are, emotionally anyway, more interested in our ancestral identities than in creating a single new one? Not good.

In my opinion Canadian federalism requires a high degree of decentralization . . .

Is this possible, even in theory? Who espouses it today?

truepeers said...

Skook, Canada is not too much like Argentina, in that there is already a lot of decentralization and people respect it; it's just that many of us want yet more decentralization. (Remember 7 of the 10 provinces today were once independent crown colonies, with their own legislatures, before joining COnfederation between 1867 and 1949, and that earlier independence is remembered today: British COlumbians and Maritimers often joke about "going to Canada" when they go to Toronto; people on Vancouver Island even talk sometimes of separating from mainland BC - the island was once an independent crown colony)

One of the insightful moments in my historocal education was when i came to realize that the AMerican revolution happened in large part because the English were not imperialists at heart. They didn't want to share their national government in London with Americans. And later, there was never more than just the occasional colonist who managed to rise to a high position in London where ideas of Imperial Federation were never as popular as in Canada. And it is that insular English national spirit (taught to Scots and Irish) imported to Canada that still does much to define us: when I call for decentralization, e.g. for British Columbians to have a lot of powers in their own legistlature, I think i am being rather English...

If you read the 1867 Constitution Act, it seems as if the idea behind modern Canada was to build a state with a strong central government - e.g., Ottawa has the power (no longer ever used) to disallow provincial legislation. However, from the start in the 19th C. the courts (and our highest court used to be the law lords in London) have tended to intepret the constitution in favor of provincial powers, which have only grown with the importance of their main areas of concern: healthcare and social welfare; education.

Now while the federal government retains more of the taxation power - so when it redistributes money to the provinces which have the administrative responsibilities, the feds can try to attach strings in the name of national standards - it has never managed to monopolize moral authority, or come anywhere close.

Note also that before WWII the big metropolis in Canada was Montreal where the railways and some banks and insurance HQs were headquartered. In the early 20th C the Canadian Pacific Railway alone employed something like one in ten working Canadians - the equivalent percentage of the "nation-defining" healthcare industry today. In those days, everyone complained about the power of MOntreal and the railways. After the war, Toronto has grown at the expense of MOntreal and it has become the villain city. But the possibility of the shift itself tells you somehing about the freedom and independence of Candians. Maybe one day Calgary will be the big evil city. Indeed, it already is to some.

Skookumchuk said...


Well, my reflections on Argentina were driven more by observing the condescension often displayed by big city dwellers toward their rural brethren and to the dangers of such concentrations of people and power on the fate of a nation, instead trying to draw conclusions about any real political similarities between the two nations. In Buenos Aires, the attitude toward their hinterland is like that of New Yorkers toward red-state America, only squared. Like Paris. After the obligatory throwaway line about the glories of la France profonde they get down to brass tacks about what Neanderthals those hicks really are. Tiresome, tiresome, tiresome. And I have found some of that in the attitudes of eastern vs. western Canadians, too. Not good.

But maybe Toronto won't be replaced by Calgary or some other "evil city". Demographic decentralization is the order of the day down here, and I imagine it is up there too. Now, your Prairies are probably becoming depopulated as are eastern Montana and North Dakota, for example. But I sense a lot of movement of people from one healthy, growing city to another; all those Vancouverites heading to the Okanagan and Penticton, for example. Lots of moving around, with everybody growing

And that kind of decentralization of population and economic activity can only be a good thing in the end.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

The only question is why George Bush had to cause this terrorist cell. Why can't he just allow the Canadians to live in peace?

Coisty said...

If I'm not mistaken all three of those TVO Studio Two analysts initially supported the invasion of Iraq so they are not that left wing.

TP - Most areas of Ontario settled by the refugees from the American Revolution vote Conservative. Ontario used to be a true blue Tory bastion and even today most of the southern Ontario map is painted Conservative blue with greater Toronto almost completely red.

The problem is not the United Empire Loyalists but the non-WASPs. Not only do non-white immigrants vote as a block for the Liberals but so do so-called white ethnics - Italians, Jews, Ukrainians, Poles, etc. It doesn't seem to matter how much the Tories pander to ethnic communities if a riding (ie electoral district) is any more than 20% ethnic the Tories just can't seem to win.

I'd be very surprised if there was a breakthrough for the Tories in multiethnic Toronto as most ethnics see traditional WASP Canada as some kind of threat. They also see WASP Canadians as being too American and as you know virtually all new immigrants hate Americans - on 9/11 foreign language, particularly Chinese, talk radio was filled with celebratory callers. Many of them also hate the British and when they see the Union Jack on provincial flags they are reminded that Canada's majority is of British descent.

If I were Stephen Harper I'd forget the ethnics of metropolitan Ontario and concentrate on French-speaking Quebec. I think if the Tories are to win a majority government Quebec is the key, not Ontario.

Barry Dauphin said...

A couple of them supported the invasion, but in quite an unesthusiastic way, with Bush bashing aplenty. It's not so much that they are Michael Moore lefties (none of them are), in this post I was curious about their lack of attention to the issue in their own backyard and subsequent attention on the supposed ignorance of those silly Americans.

I have heard them speak intelligently and in very silly ways, even on the same show. In some ways they believe themselves to understand American power when they don't. Part of the problem with some, not all, Candaian pundits is that they presume greater knowledge of America than they have. Yes, most Americans are ignorant of Canadian politics, but that doesn't make these pundits experts on America (though they fancy themselves as such). It is quite different to talk about someone else's power when you have so little of it yourself than it is to have a certain level of power and literally face the choices of whether and how to use it. Power entails a responsibility that is not always easily understood by "outsiders".

truepeers said...


Yes I know I was downplaying traditional tory blue Ontario in reference to recent federal elections, when the LIberals dominated (after the fall of Kim Campbell). In any case, a political culture is not simply the division between two parties, but the centre around which they both circulate... Ontario still remembers its Loyalist tradition, but by the end of the 19th century what was perhaps notable was how Irish it had become - and here I want to hear your expert opinion on one of my theories - given the great immigration starting in the latter 1820s, predominantly Orange, but by no means exclusively, such that a lot of Orange-Green tensions were imported as Toronto became known as the Belfast of the Canadas.

The Loyal Orange Association was Canada's most popular - by membership numbers - fraternity in the late nineteenth and early 20th centuries (staying ahead of the Freemasons until about 1920, if I recall correctly). The Orange order in Canada was not strictly Irish, in the sense that it appealed to protestants of various backgrounds and attempted to develop a Canadian version of its covenantalism.

In politics, the Orange order was the popular cultural muscle of the Conservative party and it was never deemed very respectable in the higher reaches of society, so that even highbrow Tories had to tread lightly in appealing to the Orangemen. The Liberals, with their protestant-Catholic alliances were, in their opposition to the Orangemen, setting something of their model for twentieth-century politics in which they opposed a somewhat "dominant" folk culture to the interests of a "multicultural" Canada. At the same time, the ORangemen could of course not be too nationalist in an American republican sense, in any kind of clear opposition to elitist (liberal) imperialism. So, something of muddle ensued. All in all, the Canadian elites became antagonistic in quite a lot of ways to the Orange order, and in time it faded away, no longer respectable, as were, say, the relatively more generic, apolitical, Oddfellows or Freemasons.

It is on this model that I think of Ontario Liberals and Conservatives deferring to elite authority about what is pc (the former clearly opposed to the popular spirit in the name of their imperial-cum-UN values; the latter in some alliance with it, while remaining Loyalist in a way that remained somewhat suspicious of the popular crowd and preserved an extra-national "British" authority). So, even while there are a lot of tory blue voters in Ontario they have never become "blue" (now red) in an American, small-r, republican sense, while the Liberals are hardly a true party of the left because they are so elitist and patronizing, in so many ways.

Anyway, I agree with you that the strongest basis for hope is the recent Conservative gains in Quebec.