Rex Murphy: A PM that apologizes for our past sins should also celebrate our good

Justin Trudeau wanders the country speaking in the accents of atonement, but doesn’t execute public gratitude with any comparable frequency

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during the exoneration for Chief Poundmaker event at a community ceremony at the Chief Poundmaker Historical Centre on the Poundmaker First Nation, Thursday, May 23, 2019.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards

Rex Murphy

May 31, 2019

Our Prime Minister has shown a capacity, surpassing eagerness and tending towards habit, to provide an autopsy on all the sins of Canada perpetrated before his reign (which appears to be the definitional limit), and having unearthed and highlighted them, to make public apology on behalf of every other Canadian for the flaws, mischiefs, perceived crimes and follies of our ancestors.

Many commend him for this, even in the absence of a counter-effort to research the perhaps even greater good and more numerous acts of virtue that all the generations before his own entered into the national record, or gathered without record — the great mass of everyday decencies that lie outside written history. Combined, these did so much to forward the building what many of us, under no impulsion of mere chauvinism, believe is one of the finest countries in this 21st-century world.

Trudeau does not execute public gratitude in any comparable frequency, for all the great and good things accomplished by Canadians past. This is at least curious in the light of his marked inclination to wander the country speaking in the accents of atonement.

It is implicit in any act of apology for those faults and deeds not your own that the contrition is vicarious. It is a bystander’s regret. It is both theoretical and logical that all apologies, of either substance or effect, must come from the mouths of actual perpetrators. As a trivial example, if your loud sister slaps a neighbour’s child over the head, it will not appease the neighbour or comfort the child if some visitor from down the street, no way involved in the transaction, shows up at the wailing urchin’s door to apologize to the parents and child.

Whatever is good in the Canadian way, in the elusive but calm spaces of the Canadian temperament, is our ‘true heritage’ 

Vicarious apology is either sentimental or ersatz, a performance ritual at best, an approval-seeking gesture at its most mannered. The quality of such a performance is (not surprisingly) most elegantly stated by the greatest wit and poser of the 19th century, Oscar Wilde. Wilde, always clever, rarely sincere, said that that after listening to the music of Chopin, he felt “as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own.” There it is; tears for sins the weeper has not committed. Vicarious contrition is a costume halo.

Whereas, acknowledging previous greatness, either of character, person or deed, whether of affection, valour or intelligence, has an entirely different quality. Here there is nothing vicarious and second-hand. Saluting past worth summons virtue as present example.

It partakes of tribute and it born of grateful humility.

It is a needful scaling of our present against the past, by which we acknowledge how much of our current achievements and comforts, all that we are in arts and sciences, indeed our mode of being in this country as it is today, are received benefits, the work of hands and heads other than our own, of all Canadians who were previous to our modern time. It is a way of saying that whatever is best in Canadian life, what most we love — and most Canadians and those to immigrate to Canada obviously love very much of it — is inheritance.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with Poundmaker Chief Duane Antoine during the exoneration for Chief Poundmaker event at a community ceremony at the Chief Poundmaker Historical Centre on the Poundmaker First Nation, Thursday, May 23, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards

This idea can be found in the words of a troublesome but nonetheless a (fitfully) great poet, Ezra Pound:

What thou lovest well remains, the rest is dross
What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lov’st well is thy true heritage

Whatever is good in the Canadian way, in the elusive but calm spaces of the Canadian temperament, is our “true heritage.” It has in part been fashioned by greet leaders, writers, statesmen, captains and inventors. In more unmeasurable ways it is the product of the workers, housewives, farmers neighbours, townsman and country woman, in the accumulated transactions of everyday citizens over the generations — the smiles, hands stretched in consolation, a family supper, a neighbour’s morning greeting — the fabric of all our diurnal social being, woven over the thousands of passing days we have been a country. Some we have seen being built; some emerged with osmotic, coral-reef gradualness from near-random effect. There is greatness in small things multiplied by time and left to find its own pattern. But whatever it is that is good in us follows Pound’s prescription: it is our true heritage.

Occasionally vesting ourselves in garments of sackcloth and ashes for various moments of apology has its merit. There is nothing adverse in reiterating that the country has failed over time in some of its tumults and torments. As is natural with every evolving society, some periods laboured under a darkness and ignorance that has thankfully been dissipated. But darkness and ignorance is not a full remission for faults and crimes past. But all was not dark; nor everyone ignorant — there was always a tendency towards the light. How else did we get here?

Under the cascade of things done wrong, may we not ask were there not things done well, were there not acts of decency, kindliness and exceptional charity? Were there not those opposed to the mores of the day, leaders who wished better than was done and whose ideas outlived the days of prejudice and misery? If there were not, where would we find the Canada of today? So let us celebrate the good and kind with the same tenor of zeal we seem to be apologizing for when, in accident or by design, we wandered or fell from our better ways.

It would be well, too, not to take too much of a sense of superiority for our “now” to their “then.” Had we lived under the same past spirit there is no easy conclusion that we would have acted differently than those we now so suffusingly deplore. We are, in many cases better simply because it is “now.” Our now will have its own sins, count on it.

There were always more good than the bad, more better than worse, otherwise … ask again, how did we get here?

Once More Unto the Breach… by Mark Steyn The War on Free Speech

May 31, 2019

This coming Tuesday, June 4th, I’ll be returning to Ottawa to testify to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Last time I was there, a decade back, it was to trash Canada’s ghastly and shameful “hate speech” law, Section 13 – after which, I’m glad to say, Section 13, got repealed by Parliament.

But there are no permanent victories, and thus, the battles of the late oughts being long forgotten, today’s Liberal-controlled House is minded to exhume Section 13 and restore it to hideous life. So here we go again. Joining me on Tuesday morning – 8.45am – will be Lindsay Shepherd and my old comrade from the Southam dailies and The National Post, John Robson.

Since my previous appearance, they’ve moved the committee out of the Houses of Parliament and into the Wellington Building just across the street and a block down. I do hope the move didn’t occasion them to do that thing that insecure wanker US senators like Ed Markey apparently require and build themselves some ludicrous podium halfway to the heavens thereby reducing the citizenry before them to irrelevant specks far below. If so, there may be words: In the people’s house, the people’s legislators should be on the same level as the people.

The hearing is open to the public, so I hope to see at least a few of our Ottawa readers there. For anyone else, I believe you can watch it live on ParlVU and/or CPAC. We’ll link to those on the big day.

~Back when it was last announced that I was to appear before the Justice Committee, the then “blogosphere” was agog with anticipation. Now “Social Media” has all but completed its task of homogenizing the Internet into a dreary conformity, and the group of independent Canadian writers that played an indispensable role in the repeal of Section 13 have mostly abandoned their blogs – from Deborah Gyapong to Kathy Shaidle. Even Mindy Alter, my favorite online song parodist, seems to have cut back to a more manageable post per quarter. (That said, please welcome back to the ranks Laura Rosen Cohen at her spanking new blogsite.) We would not have won without the rambunctious decentralized organic Internet of the early 21st century. It will be a tougher battle this time.

I have gotten so used to dialing up the old urls and seeing a cobwebbed entry from 2017 and moss and lichen creeping over the archives that, the last time I looked in on The Camp of the Saints and found nothing happening, I assumed that Bob Belvedere was simply the latest blogger to hang up his quill. I came across Bob because he was the nearest to a kindred spirit in cyber-space – like me he was big on civilizational collapse and good music. Along with the also vanished Pundette, he played a huge part in our Sinatra centenary celebrations.

So, what with the ever shrinking ranks of bloggers, I figured Bob had been fighting vainly the old ennui long enough and decided to surrender to it. Instead, it turns out he has had an annus horribilis – ending, in his account thereof, with some grim medical prognostications. Quite reasonably enough, he has decided to prioritize the book he’s working on. You don’t have to have undergone the terrible year Bob’s had to start thinking about the most valuable use of one’s remaining time, but he has been a courageous voice on the Internet, both in defense of the west and in the important and related cause of small musical pleasures. If you have a moment, do head over and read his piece, and send him your best, as we all do over here.

~Speaking of Lindsay Shepherd, with whom I’ll be appearing in Ottawa, she was a guest on The Mark Steyn Show last year – and her story confirms how the forces of “tolerance” and “diversity” are determined to usher in a world of intolerance and ruthless conformity. It required extraordinary strength of will on Lindsay’s part to resist that:

‘What the hell have you done with the tomorrows we gave you?’


POSTED MAY 28, 2019

Arwen~ To watch the video clip of Martin Maxwell, please click on link

Six days before D-Day, Max Meisels and his fellow Jewish soldiers got an order from their commanding officer.

“If the Germans catch you, you’re dead,” the officer told them. “You have 10 minutes. Go to the telephone book and get a new name.”

Meisels emerged from that meeting as Martin Maxwell, the name he carried throughout his time in the British army and bears to this day.

Maxwell went on to play a key role in the early hours of D-Day, the opening salvo of the bloody Allied invasion that ultimately led to the defeat of the German army.

At the time, Maxwell felt he had helped strike a decisive blow against the rabid anti-Semitism that fuelled Adolf Hitler’s rise and led to the killings of millions of Jews, including his own relatives.

But today, as hate crimes against Jews surge dramatically in Canada and around the world, the longtime Toronto resident and decorated veteran isn’t so sure.

“I feel like I’m reliving the 1930s,” Maxwell, 95, said in an interview. “The rise of anti-Semitism is something unbelievable.”

Orphaned at a young age, Maxwell watched with despair as the Jewish-run orphanages in Vienna that housed him and his siblings were closed in the wake of Germany’s 1938 annexation of Austria. He endured the sight of relatives being rounded up by German officers, never to be heard from again.

When he secured passage to England through a program that rescued nearly 10,000 children from Nazi-occupied countries, he eagerly waited until he was old enough to join the British military.

He was closer to the action than most when D-Day dawned, having flown in with a group of fellow glider pilots under cover of darkness in a stealth mission to destroy one of the bridges German troops relied upon to bring them reinforcements in the looming battle.

Their goal, he said, was to secure the bridge ahead of the main assault and to do so in relative silence so as not to warn enemy soldiers of the pending attack.

“We were towed by a plane on a rope, and when you think you have your target, you cut the rope and you fly,” he said. “The glider can only go down, but not up.”

Once there, Maxwell and his peers were told to avoid the racket of gunfire and rely on bayonets and knives to slay German soldiers.

The harrowing scenes he witnessed in the ensuing days lingered long after the Nazis were defeated. The image of one fallen Allied soldier, he said, remains particularly vivid.

“His helmet had fallen off, he had red hair, and he looked like he was asleep except with a bullet hole through his head,” Maxwell said. “And I thought, ‘in years to come, will anybody remember what you did so that we could live in freedom?’”

Recent international headlines make Maxwell suspect the answer is no, and Canadian data validate his fears.

Statistics Canada documented a 47 per cent rise in police-reported hate crimes between 2016 and 2017, with incidents involving Jews surging 63 per cent and coming second only to the 151 per cent spike in attacks against Muslims.

A report on anti-Semitic incidents in 2018 prepared by the League for Human Rights, the advocacy arm of B’nai Brith Canada, documented a 16.5 per cent increase over levels recorded in 2017. The report also noted anti-Semitic incidents had climbed steadily for the past three years and have reached levels not seen since 1982.

Barbara Perry, director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism at Ontario Tech University, said the pervasive nature of anti-Semitism is part of its unique complexity.

Unlike some ideologies that flourish only in isolated social groups, Perry said anti-Jewish sentiment can be found across the political spectrum. Hatred and distrust of Jews underpins everything from overt white nationalism to conspiracy theories blaming Jews for economic woes and social inequality, she added.

“Jews are relatively privileged in terms of their relationship to the cultural and economic and political elite, yet they still are subject to a whole array of very old, outdated stereotypes as well as new ones,” Perry said, “But then, of course, that very closeness…with the corridors of power further feeds that mythology.”

Alex Polowin, a former Able Seaman with the Royal Canadian Navy, said he’s keenly aware of the increasingly hostile climate.

He, too, was motivated to join up after Nazis killed his relatives in his birth country of Lithuania.

Like Maxwell, Polowin felt he and his fellow seamen serving aboard the HMCS Huron shaped history when they helped beat back the remnants of Germany’s naval fleet during the D-Day campaign.

“We put them all out of commission, and there was no more Nazi ships in the English Channel,” Polowin said. “Had those ships gotten in, they could have killed numerous Canadian troops that were landing. We prevented that, and I feel very good about it.”

Polowin, 94, said those positive feelings have become more checkered in recent years as a growing number of news headlines illustrate that crushing the Nazis did not defeat anti-Semitism.

He said he’s now constantly mindful of anti-Jewish sentiment and takes pains to avoid situations where he feels his safety may be at risk.

Both he and Maxwell share their wartime recollections with the Memory Project Speakers Bureau in a bid to ensure their efforts were not wasted.

Yet Maxwell keeps tracking the rising tide of anti-Semitism through current events at home and abroad, including two deadly shootings at synagogues in Pittsburgh and southern California.

The 19-year-old man charged in the California case, according to U.S. authorities, was fuelled by powerful hatred toward both Jews and Muslims and took inspiration from other recent fatal shootings at synagogues and mosques alike.

Maxwell has watched the rise of religious violence with deepening chagrin, quoting a frequent epitaph on the graves of soldiers proclaiming that they sacrificed their todays for survivors’ tomorrows.

“If these young men would get up today and look at the world and what is happening, not only against the Jews — mosques are being attacked, churches are attacked — they would say ‘what the hell have you done with the tomorrows we gave you?’”

Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

Philip Cross: The ‘anti-fascist’ left were the real fascists all along

Conflating conservatism with extremism is a sophomoric error by those who don’t understand fascism’s place on the political spectrum

Many student groups have adopted from fascists “their anti-intellectualism, their anger, their street theater, their glorification of youth, or their mysticism,” conservative sociologist Peter Berger says.Getty Images file photo

Arwen~ A friend’s comment on this article..” If you want to understand the political times we are in, and the political principles driving the discourse. “

It is fashionable among the radical left to demonize the growing number of elected conservative governments in the Western world as the rise of the extreme or alt-right. This is most pronounced in the anti-fascist (antifa) movement, particularly on university campuses. However, the anti-fascist movement has a sophomoric misunderstanding of fascism and its location on the political spectrum. More disturbing, this lack of understanding extends to its own social media and even physical tactics that mimic the mob psychology, street rage and bullying that are hallmarks of the fascism they denounce.

Fascism is best thought of as a nationalistic version of socialism, embodied in Hitler’s National Socialist party, which was shortened to the Nazis. Fascist governments like those of Hitler and Italy’s Benito Mussolini (and, to some degree, Spain’s Francisco Franco) in mid-20th century Europe believed in totalitarian control of the economy and oppressive state curtailment of individual liberty. Those are the antitheses of conservative principles. Fascism subsumes all ideology to the goals of the state and the need for state surveillance. The extreme version of conservatism isn’t fascism, as the left wants us to think. It’s libertarianism.

Instead of left and right or liberal versus conservative, a better schema is to locate movements on a spectrum that runs from tyranny to liberty. Fascism embodies many elements of the socialist’s state control of society. For libertarian icon Friedrich Hayek, Hitler’s National Socialism “was indeed socialist in concept and execution,” while H. Pierre Secher, biographer of one of Austria’s leading socialists, Bruno Kreisky, wrote of the striking similarities between the leftists and the fascists in that country: “Ideologically, the distinction between the ‘Sozis’ (Socialists) and Commies on the one hand and Nazis on the other, was probably only the internationalism of the Marxists and the nationalism of the Nazis. In every other respect they agreed on the evils of capitalism.” The connection of Jews with capitalism helped fuel the anti-Semitism of the Nazis.

Mussolini’s claim that in a fascist regime there was to be “everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state” is of course the totalitarian opposite of the libertarian ideal. Mussolini was long involved with the socialist movement in Italy, breaking with it because of personal ambition and because his socialist brethren would not support Italy’s entry into the First World War. Once in power, he inaugurated a major extension of welfare spending and public works projects. Mussolini’s insistence that his fascist deputies take seats on the far right of the Italian Constituent Assembly may have led some observers to wrongly conclude that fascism was right wing.

… ‘mob psychology’ and ‘the militant anti-reason impervious to argument’ are characteristics amply evident in today’s campus protests against a fascism they hotly denounce but whose tactics they generously employ. 

Students have been drawn to the appeal of totalitarian certitude long before political correctness and the antifa movements arrived on campus. When the conservative sociologist Peter Berger, whose family fled Austria from the Nazis, found himself in the midst of a violent, left-wing anti-war demonstration in the 1960s, he said it reminded him “of the stormtroopers that marched through my childhood,” with student protestors adopting from fascists “their anti-intellectualism, their anger, their street theater, their glorification of youth, or their mysticism.” There was also their “mob psychology” and “the militant anti-reason impervious to argument.” These characteristics are all amply evident in today’s campus protests against a fascism they hotly denounce but whose tactics they generously employ.

Off campus, the triumph of religious appeal over reasoned argument today is found in the radical environmental movement, whose early roots were in German fascism. The historian Anna Bramwell, while making the common mistake of conflating conservatism and fascism, nevertheless wrote that “Greenness was seen as an incipiently sinister conservative or even Fascist idea in German thought” going back to Hitler’s support of renewable energy to help reduce Germany’s dependence on oil, in short supply through much of the war. The anti-fossil-fuel movement uses the fascist’s appeal to emotion over reason, demonizing all who dare question it as “climate change deniers.”

Today the rise of extremism is more pronounced and frightening on the left than the right. The demonization of the right as fascism, that therefore forfeits its place to be heard in the public square, employs the strategy developed by the Marxist scholar Herbert Marcuse. One of the progenitors of the so-called New Left in the 1950s, Marcuse maintained that certain views on the right had to be silenced because this freedom of expression was “serving the cause of oppression.” In this line of thought, censorship serves the cause of freedom because intolerance against the right, while indulging extremism from the left, somehow levels the playing field for democratic debate. That absurd notion is at last managing to take hold in many academic and media circles today.

• Philip Cross is the former chief economist at Statistics Canada.

‘I’ll remember their bravery’: Canadian soldier returning to Normandy after 75 years knows pilgrimage won’t be easy


Earl Kennedy, a veteran of the Second World War, puts on his uniform in his room at Ste. Anne’s Hospital in Montreal on May 21, 2019. Mr. Kennedy will return to Normandy, France, with a Canadian delegation of veterans for the first time since the D-Day invasion in 1944 to mark the event’s 75th anniversary on June 6, 2019.CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

The last time he saw the beach in Normandy, it was an inferno of smoke, bullets and blood.

Earl Kennedy was 20 years old on June 6, 1944, a soldier from Canada storming the beach in France in the D-Day landings. He lost comrades that day. He lost part of his youth that day. But he never gave up his memories, even the ones he wishes he could forget.

Now, as the world prepares to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Mr. Kennedy is setting off on a personal pilgrimage.

He will return to Normandy for the first time in 75 years. He will smell the sea air he last breathed in 1944 and see the beach whose sands turned red with blood. And he will reimagine the 20-year-old he was, afraid but battle-ready, eager to fight in the campaign that would ultimately liberate Europe from the Nazis.

“I’m going because it’s a matter of saying: ‘We did it,’ ” Mr. Kennedy, 95, says from Ste. Anne’s Hospital in suburban Montreal. “And we did it, by God, with a lot of blood and guts. It wasn’t a fairy tale.”

Mr. Kennedy is part of an official Canadian delegation of 36 Second World War veterans travelling to France for the milestone anniversary next week. All in their 90s, many using walkers and in wheelchairs, they will likely be the last contingent of Canadian veterans to make the voyage to Europe for a major commemoration of the war.

Just 17 when he enlisted, Mr. Kennedy served with his older brother Reggie, left, with whom he is seen in a contemporary photograph.CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Age is decimating the ranks of those known as the greatest generation. Twenty years ago, there were 416,000 Second World War veterans in Canada; today there are only 41,100, and their average age is 93. With each passing year, Canada loses the eyewitnesses to a searing page of history.

They include men such as Mr. Kennedy, who enlisted at 17. When his father refused to sign his army papers, he did it himself. He was intent on fighting Nazi Germany.

“I thought that what Hitler was doing was unforgivable,” he says.

Mr. Kennedy, who was born in Ontario and grew up in Montreal, shipped overseas to England and trained as a wireless operator.

As D-Day dawned on June 6, he was surging in a landing craft across the English Channel with the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders. Rain and rough seas left the troops wet and seasick. When the beach code-named Juno appeared before him, Mr. Kennedy said a prayer.

“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”

The ramp on his landing craft went down. Mr. Kennedy, seated in the back of a jeep with his radio on his lap, was plunged up to his neck in frigid water as the vehicle sank into the sand. Mercifully, a tank towed the jeep out and provided cover from the rain of German machine-gun fire. Mr. Kennedy began the race to safety.

Mr. Kennedy is part of a dramatically reduced contingent of Canadian veterans of the Second World War, whose ranks have been thinned by age to only 41,100 men.CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Others were not as lucky.

“Young fellas with knobby knees and shiny cheeks tried to get off the landing craft onto the beach,” he recalls. “They so much wanted to get in there and get at the Germans. And they didn’t even have the chance. As they got onto the beach, they were blown to hell.”

They wore Canadian uniforms. Yet he was unable to help them.

“I could see these men suffering and dying, but you couldn’t do anything about it because the Germans were going after us with their bloody machine guns,” he says. “You just had to keep moving.”

Mr. Kennedy – Gunner Operator Kennedy on that day – had a mission to report on troop progress to headquarters. Once he had taken cover, he tapped out an encoded message.

“Landed safely. The regiment is on the move.”

For his gallantry on the battlefields of France and Belgium in the months after the D-Day invasion, Mr. Kennedy was recognized with numerous medals, including the prestigious Légion d’honneur from France.CHRISTINNE MUSCHI

He fought through France and Belgium and took part in the liberation of Holland. His navy veterans’ blazer, hanging neatly over his bed, carries numerous war medals, including the Légion d’honneur from France.

He returns to Juno Beach fully knowing the journey may not be easy. During a war commemoration in Montreal 25 years ago, the sound of bagpipes and the sight of Scottish regimental kilts made him start to cry. It reminded him of his Highlander comrades who were killed. “I’m concerned the memories will come back and hit me,” he says. “The horrors I saw on D-Day were unbelievable.”

Next week, he will have the chance to pay them a final tribute. He will visit the Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery and see the white headstones marking the graves of 2,049 Canadians who died in the Normandy campaign. Some of the names on the markers will be those of the soldiers who fought beside Mr. Kennedy. After 75 years, he will say goodbye and feel the weight of their sacrifice.

“I’ll remember their bravery,” he says. “We were brothers. We trained together. We shared our dreams together. And then they were gone.”