Many historians have written that Nero not only played sad songs on his lyre as Rome went up in smoke; he actually started the fire. Some suggest it was because he was mad, which was probably true considering that it was a fairly common affliction among Roman emperors.
A book on the history of Roman emperors, that I’ve just recently finished reading, theorizes that Nero started the fire to punish some of his critics in the patrician class and to make way for the construction of new buildings including a grandiose palace in his honour.
Whatever is or is not true, two things are fairly clear. Rome did go up in flames and Nero was almost certainly mad – stone, cold nuts. He, like many of his predecessors and successors was more obsessed with the privilege and indulgences of governing than with its responsibilities.
And so continued the formal decline – the big slide – of an empire that had sowed the seeds of its own destruction at its birth.
Take a look around. We don’t appear to have learned much since then and there are moments when I believe our political leadership has gone as mad as any Roman Emperor. Like the good people of Rome, many of us are just as happy to tolerate it as long as there are bread and circuses to feed us and to keep us amused. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Yesterday morning at 9:52, a lone gunman fatally shot Cpl. Nathan Cirillo as he was standing to post at the National War Memorial. Three blocks away, my wife Maggie had just left her office to make a presentation in a building across the street from Parliament Hill. As she took the elevator she, along with tens of thousands of other civil servants, had no idea what was about to be unleashed.
After shooting Mr. Cirillo the gunman, now identified as Michael Zehaf Bibeau, left the memorial to drive the short distance to Parliament Hill. He abandoned his car in a no parking zone on Wellington St. directly in front of the Parliament Buildings. Carrying a rifle, he walked from his car onto Parliament Hill where he commandeered a car and drove to the centre block of the Parliament Buildings. Pursued bu the RCMP entered the building walking through the rotunda where he started shooting as he worked his way toward the Parliamentary library. A few moments later, he was dead, shot by Parliament’s Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers who met his responsibility to protect the institution and its members.
It was during the shooting that the Canadian government in Ottawa, as well as much of the downtown core, went into lockdown and like countless others, I lost contact with my wife, her daughter and a dozen other members of our family.
There was no information available from our government about their security. Like everyone else, I was left with nothing but ongoing media coverage, often scant at times, to try to get some reassurance that Maggie and family members were and would continue to be safe.
Today, on the day after, many questions about security need, and have already begun, to be asked but the most obvious question to me is glaring.
Where was our political leadership yesterday? →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” -Benjamin Franklin
Forty-four years ago this month terrorists of the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) kidnapped Quebec Cabinet Minister Pierre Laporte and British diplomat James Cross. Mr. Laporte was subsequently murdered, his body left in the trunk of a car.
In response to the crisis, the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act, effectively imposing marital law on Montreal and Ottawa. Hundreds of Canadian citizens were rounded up and arrested without charge or warrant. They were detained on suspicion; guilty by association and a frightened government suspended their constitutional rights and ordered troops into the streets of Ottawa and Montreal.
Long after the crisis was resolved, the government’s actions were re-examined and widely criticized. Cooler heads determined that the ability of a government – any government – to have the power to arrest and indefinitely inter citizens based on nothing more than suspicion was an even greater threat to Canadians than the terrorists themselves.
As a result the War Measures Act was repealed effectively removing the power to override every citizen’s rights and freedoms under the law.
This morning a gunman shot a member of the Honour Guard at Canada’s National War Museum and then proceeded to the Canadian Parliament buildings where he engaged in a gunfight with security staff and law enforcement. He was subsequently shot by the Sergeant at Arms. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
This post contains scenes of violence, nudity and coarse language with frequent references to Justin Trudeau which may be deemed toxic to some. In the absence of a literary hazmat suit, reader discretion is advised.
Has it really only been a couple of years since Justin Trudeau was anointed Liberal Leader? Actually, it hasn’t been quite two years but it seems much longer somehow. I think it’s because many in Canada are so obsessed with him that barely a day goes by without some article, comment or news story in which he is prominently featured.
There has been more talk about Canada’s Peter Pan for the past sixteen months and a bit than any other politician or political topic. A quick search of “Justin Trudeau” on Google returned 2.45 million hits compared to only 878,000 for Stephen Harper who is not only Canada’s Prime Minister but who has been in the public eye about four times longer than Trudeau has been Liberal Leader. Indeed, pick a subject and even if Trudeau isn’t a part of it, his detractors and supporters alike will find some way to weave him into it.
Even God doesn’t get mentioned as frequently as Justin Trudeau and that’s saying something because God gets mentioned quite often especially towards the end of a frisky moment or two between the sheets.
It’s quite astonishing when you step back and actually think about it. Bill Shakespeare could have been referring to the constant focus on Justin Trudeau when he wrote ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
By way of explanation for my non-Canadian readers, this does not mean that we are about to have an election; that would be too easy. It means that we’re going to have a federal election in about a year and while you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s a little soon to start campaigning – our major political parties would disagree with you.
There are some serious issues facing Canada and you might think those issues would dominate election platforms – but you’d be wrong. Instead, Christmas is coming early to some Canadians as our political masters launch their Bribes for Votes campaigns.
While it is true that Canada finally has a budget surplus after six years of deficit financing; it is also true that the deployment to Iraq to combat ISIS will take upwards of $3 billion from that surplus. The government is doubling its aid to Africa to fight Ebola and government revenues are dropping thanks to plunging oil prices. In fact, the drop in oil prices, which appears to be being driven by Saudi Arabia, could so narrow the gap between the cost of production and revenues in the oil sands that there is a very real possibility that some companies may halt production. That would further reduce government revenues and increase unemployment which in turn would increase the amount government pays in EI benefits.
Add to that the instability in the European economy where there is growing fear of another global recession, falling stock markets and talk of increased interest rates and it begins to appear that the economy may not be quite as stable as our leaders would have us believe.
A 1% interest rate increase alone would double the cost of servicing all government debt.
How likely is a rise in interest rates? I don’t know but the American economy is heating up and the Fed is signaling an increase in the not too distant future.
But why spoil the beauty of a twelve-month election campaign full of marshmallow dreams and tangerine skies with something as boring as reality? At least that seems to be the opinion of our political leaders including the fiscally prudent Conservative government. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
In today’s paper, Sun News columnist Lorne Gunter spelled out the futility of the American-led air-strike campaign against ISIL. As far as he went, the analysis by Mr. Gunter was somewhat accurate although he continues to cling to the absurd idea that what he refers to as ‘serious’ air strikes might work. A tepid military response is not going to defeat or even contain ISIL and anything less than a well-planned and coordinated full military campaign which by necessity will include combat ground troops, artillery and tanks is doomed to fail
In the end, the Coalition of the Unwilling that the Obama Administration has cobbled together will be confronted with the harsh choice of either packing up their tents and going home or committing to putting combat troops on the ground to deal with an enemy that has grown stronger and even more dangerous.
There was something else about Mr. Gunter’s piece that got under my hat. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading