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"Five axiomatic propositions of Canadian Nationalism vis-a-vis the Americans:

1. Boy, we hate Americans.

2. We really do.

3. Really.

4. I'm not kidding. We really hate them.

5. So how come they never pay us any attention?"

--Will Ferguson, Why I Hate Canadians, Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1997, p.105.


Monday, May 27, 2002

Just how obtuse is Rick Salutin? I rarely agree with Canada's thinking man's leftist, Rick Salutin (who is to Noam Chomsky what Mini-me is to Dr. Evil), but I never thought he was willfully stupid. Mind you, I never thought he was as smart as he seems to think he is, but then again most people probably feel that way about me, too.

But what to make of this? In Saturday's Globe and Mail, Salutin and Canadian Jewish Congress leader Keith Landy had a Salon Breakfast Table-like debate about Israel. And Salutin's big point: that Jews shouldn't feel compelled to monolithically and uncritically support Israel! Landy keeps trying to highlight specific issues on why most North American Jews choose to support Israel. In response, Salutin offers critical comments about Israel and continues to argue that he and others have a right to a different opinion.

Is this even a question? Who the heck has been saying that they have to be in lockstep? This reminded me of the kind of "deep thought" in freshman seminar discussions. Sadly, the article does not seem to be available online.

Back in the 1970s, there was a joke about Henry Kissinger grabbing a parachute and diving out of a crashing airplane, saying "I must save myself, because I am the smartest man in the world!" The punch line is that the smartest man in the world has just jumped out of the plane with a backpack. With this point-counterpoint column, I think Rick Salutin has acted out a real-world version of this joke.
Disproportionate use of travel restrictions? Canada's Foreign Minister Bill Graham -- who has not yet responded to my email about what a "proportionate" Israeli response in March would have been, but (on the bright side) who has not yet been implicated in any corruption scandals -- apparently argued with Sharon about travel restrictions currently imposed on the West Bank. Here's the subtitle of the article: "Minister seeks immediate end to policy that Arafat blames for delaying elections; it's needed to stop bombings, Sharon says."

No doubt these restrictions create real hardship and ill feeling. Yet once again Graham doesn't seem to notice at all that these may be crucial to restricting the movement of suicide bombers and other terrorists. End the terror wave; no need for these restrictions. Until the terror stops, it would behoove Graham to explain what would represent a proportionate level of travel restrictions. Based on his inability or unwillingness to lay out such a proposal for a proportionate military response, I'm not holding my breath.
Chretien is shocked, shocked by cabinet corruption. Apparently recognizing that, althought voters may forgive the first five scandals, they might expect some corrective action after the sixth, Chretien has dumped his Defence Minister, Art Eggleton, and reshuffled some of his other tainted ministers. Eggleton had already been in hot water due to an apparently inept performance early in the Canadian troops' Afghanistan commitment. Over the weekend it came out that he had earlier funnelled projects to his ex-girlfriend's consulting firm in Ottawa. (Damian Penny's been all over this for the last couple of days.)

WIll this scandal embolden Paul Martin to challenge Chretien for the Liberal leadership this fall? WIll any of the other political parties be able to translate this into votes? WIll Chretien's length of tenure as Prime Minister match that of John Paul II's tenure as the Pope?We'll see.
Let the voting begin! The new billboards in the Toronto subway stations ask: "George Bush: Peacekeeper or Warmonger? The vote is currently at 27% peacekeeper, 73% warmonger. Note that this is one of the most annoying Web site formats that I have encountered.
And now for something completely different. Here's a possibly (or is that "passably"?) interesting column on innovation and national competitiveness.

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