POLITICAL JUNKIE – Deuxième Partie

Source: Maclean’s-The 91 most important economic charts to watch in 2018, Dec 5, 2017

Why Is Justin Trudeau Spending like a Drunken Sailor?

At the end of 2017, Maclean’s published an excellent analysis piece which provides a financial view of where Canada is sitting at the beginning of a new year. For this article, I will focus on Justin Trudeau’s out of control spending habits.

The chart above is part of an extremely informative snapshot of how the Federal government has been hemorrhaging money with no end in sight.  Here’s a list of all Canadian Parliaments to cross reference against the Federal debt numbers.

Let’s do some analysis: The Liberals starting with Lester B. Pearson (1963) and ending with Turner (1984) (minus of course Joe Clark’s six month blip in 1979) successively started to dramatically raise the Federal debt. Brian Mulroney (1984–93) continued this upward, steady climb of federal debt. Jean Chrétien took over from 1993–2003 and with some soul searching and Paul Martin’s help, finally slayed the deficit and turned the beast around in 1997. Former Finance Minister Martin accomplished this by cutting transfer payments to the provinces and the larger than forecast federal revenue. (Personally, I liked Paul Martin and I thought he was good for the country. But my beef and point of these writings is really with Justin Trudeau and where he’s taking Canada.) Steven Harper was elected in 2006 and of course was replaced in 2015. He was continuing the path of successive government surpluses when a little thing called the Great Global Recession came along in 2008. Harper is widely credited with having positioned Canada to a point of a somewhat soft economic landing but plenty of credit is due to Chretien/Martin for turning the head of the ship around in the first place. It is normal and sound economic policy to go into deficit spending mode during times of great economic downturn or in time of war.

Source: Maclean’s-The 91 most important economic charts to watch in 2018, Dec 5, 2017

As illustrated in the chart above, there was a sharp Federal deficit starting in 2008–09 to deal with the immediate effects of the recession in Canada. This was followed by a swift return to a surplus balance in his last year in office. Despite having weathered the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Harper leveled out the debt in 2013 holding steady to 2015.

Source: Maclean’s-The 91 most important economic charts to watch in 2018, Dec 5, 2017

Now focus on Trudeau’s tenure in office and his spending. We’re not at war and not in a global recession but his deficit numbers are increasing dramatically and the projections from his finance minister don’t show any decrease any time soon especially with an election looming in a couple of years.

The Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bill Morneau are spending like we are in a Golden Age when we are not. Canadians seriously need to ask if we can afford another term in office from Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.

POLITICAL JUNKIE

Trudeau before becoming PM looking and acting as the perfect metrosexual PC man

Canada’s Beta Prime Minister

Trudeau is having a rough time of it lately with lapses of judgement in the race to shore up his Muslim ideology.

Many of the country’s populace and politicians jumped on the alleged assault of an 11 year old girl by a man who was trying to cut her hijab off. Instead of waiting for a complete investigation, which ended up taking only a day or two extra, Justin Trudeau and the Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne rushed to decry this latest example of Islamophobia. The entire story ended up being a farce.

On Dec 19, the PM hosted Joshua Boyle and his family in his office. The family had just returned to Canada after years of being held by the Taliban. There were always questions as to why the man was backpacking in Afghanistan in the first place with his pregnant wife who ended up giving birth to three children in captivity. It seems that almost immediately upon their return to Canada, he started beating his wife (this is by inference) and now faces 15 separate serious charges.

This past November, the Liberals started to be brought to task over Canadian nationals returning from fighting with ISIS. The Liberals have been somewhat less than convincing wrt properly bringing these enemy combatants to justice compared to other nations.

This past March, the Liberals felt the need to pass Bill M-103, the so called Islamophobia bill even though Canada has long had strict laws against religious discrimination in all its forms.

Lastly, there was a bitter debate over the 10.5 million CAD payout to Omar Khadr this past year. The move was bitterly opposed by the majority of Canadians but Trudeau stated that the man’s Charter rights needed defending. Meanwhile, returning Canadian Armed Forces troops are seen as not receiving the help and support they deserve. As a kicker, Vice Admiral Mark Norman who was 2nd in command of the CAF until his police investigation started over a year ago, still sits in limbo. To this day, he has ‘still never officially been provided the reasoning for his unprecedented removal as vice-chief of the defence staff. He has never received a military hearing on the matter, and there has been no independent examination of the facts of his case.’ His supposed crime: he attempted to kick-start the process to equip the Royal Canadian Navy with a sorely needed supply ship of which the RCN has been without for years. His efforts put egg on the face of the newly elected Trudeau government and he’s been made to pay the price for the actions of a patriot.

Trudeau on his Canadian Charm offensive regarding NAFTA talks

Trudeau and his ‘Sunny Ways’ gang have a particular ideology and political correctness agenda. He plays well with the selfie types, jet-setters, and elites of the world with his smooth patter, PC ways, love for feminism, devotion to the environment and fancy socks. He also has the ability to cry on cue when he’s apologizing for the latest indignity Canadians have inflicted on this group or another. I don’t want to be mean-spirited but if you look at his body language when he meets with Trump, he looks like the little boy who has been invited to the adult table. It even appears as if he’s crossing his ankles with his knees firmly together in the picture above. Isn’t that how women wearing skirts usually sit?

Justin did shorten his hair after being elected PM as it was a political point the Conservatives were trying to make fun of. It’s more difficult for the adults to tousle now.

Blair’s LinkedIn Profile

Blair is a personification of a ‘Jack of All Trades and Master of None’. He has held several careers and has all the T-shirts. Time to add the title Blogger to the list.

APPLE PICKER

So What About Glyphosate?

If you scroll through the news feeds, Facebook and Twitter posts, there are plenty of entries from the anti-everything crowd to do with ‘residues’ in our food. One of the favourite targets of the ignorant rabble is the company Monsanto and the chemical glyphosate, the main active ingredient in the popular weed killer Roundup.

There’s a dirty little secret the environmentalists are holding tight. If it got out or if people learned the concept of critical thinking, they know their influence would vanish like a summer evening’s chemtrail.

The fact of the matter with regards to herbicide use is the amounts present before and after application are so miniscule, the entire argument and discussion is mute. The anti-everything crowd gets into a lather every time there is an increase of measurement of anything whether it’s Roundup, CO2, hormones, antibiotics, etc. What is never focused on is proportion. Just because we can measure something in the parts per billion doesn’t mean that 80 ppb is any worse for us than 40 ppb even though it really sounds scary when a headline screams that such and such has been found to contain TWICE as much SCARY SOUNDING chemical than such and such. We get so lathered up over amounts of this and that which essentially amount to zero impact on humans or the environment. It’s just an effective propaganda ploy used by the anti-crowd.

Hopefully you’ve heard of the phrase, it’s the dose that makes the poison. What if you heard that your favourite apple was being sprayed with cyanide for some reason, maybe to control some particular bug? Then even though it was scientifically demonstrated that any cyanide residue that made it to the supermarket via the outside of those apples was only in the Parts/Billion range, could you imagine the outcry, particularly from the organic types? Cyanide is pretty scary sounding. It is the suicide pill issued to spies like 007 to avoid spilling secrets when captured. What sane person would want that in their food, let alone heaven forbid, feed to their children? There would be a plummet of apple sales, protests in the streets, letters to government, boycotts of supermarkets, and entire celebrity blog sites dedicated to the eradication of a proven, beneficial agricultural practice. Concurrently, organic apple producers and marketing companies would be slapping “CYANIDE FREE” stickers on their apples and food products. They would even be throwing their stickers on their oranges and bananas because you know, you can’t be too careful when it comes to the food that you feed little Johnny and Janie. There would be whole marketing campaigns built around how much better tasting a CERTIFIED by the Anti-Cyanide Random made up Society (trademarked) cyanide free apple tastes.

What is sad, is the above was a scenario pulled straight out of my butt. Then it was pointed out to me that this exact same script played out over apples and the use of a chemical called Alar back in 1989. The science was back and forth as to the long term harm of the product but in an over abundance of caution, the chemical was banned for products intended for human consumption. But there was a massive over reaction to the news that the chemical might be carcinogenic. Apples and their products disappeared overnight. Organic outlets reaped a windfall touting ‘Alar-free’ apples and juice. The apple industries in Washington and Quebec took significant hits. The chemical is still allowed to be used for spraying on ornamentals.

Well, ironically, if you are truly worried about cyanide poisoning outside of my hypothetical example, take a trip to your local health food (snake oil and quackery) store and buy yourself a packet of apricot seeds. A Quebec man recently poisoned himself due to inattention to the small warning on the package. One kernel could be enough to kill a toddler. Here’s what the easily overlooked warning on the backside of the package looks like:

The European Food Safety Authority has specific Mg amounts that are lethal. I doubt people weigh the kernels they eat.

The front side of the package reads like a cornucopia of goodness. They are even touted as a cancer cure! (Debunked here)

WOW! This looks like a superfood. We should all eat this!

Now, if the package above was labelled properly with a sticker like the one below, how likely would your choice be to buy it for your kids? The only real warning for those who can’t consume it are women who are pregnant or nursing. It doesn’t say children can’t eat them only ‘not intended’.

By rights, these Apricot Kernels should have a poison label on the front of the package.

This is the argument against labelling products with GMO stickers. Sales of so-called healthy, sweet apricot kernels would plummet if they were labelled properly. GMO sounds scary versus natural, organic, or any of the other advertising buzzwords employed to entice you to buy a particular foodstuff. I count SEVENTEEN instances of ‘wholesomeness’ advertising on that 8 ounce package. What caring mother would buy food for her kids that has a prominent warning label on the front of the package? It’s so much easier to choose and trust a food labelled ‘ambrosial’. Besides, a multi-billion dollar ‘health’ food industry can be trusted, right?

It’s just an artificial ploy that keeps the rubes distracted and siphons more money out of their wallets. The organic industry, the climate industry, the renewable energy industry are all operating with similar scams in order to funnel our buying habits and wealth into money and power redistribution schemes. Gradually, the hypocrisy and anti-everything lies are being revealed through films like Food Evolution.

Hopefully people will eventually stop putting so much stock in these snake oil salesmen.

Blair’s LinkedIn Profile

Blair is a personification of a ‘Jack of All Trades and Master of None’. He has held several careers and has all the T-shirts. Time to add the title Blogger to the list.

DEPLOYMENT OFFICER – PART II

HMCS St. John’s on manoeuvres during Operation REASSURANCE

Originally published with RUSI(NS)

HMCS ST JOHN’S and Operation REASSURANCE

The popular RUSI(NS) Distinguished Speaker series continued on 4 October 2017 with a presentation by Commander Sheldon Gillis. The charismatic Cdr Gillis gave an illuminating talk to an appreciative audience on the activities of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) St. John’s whilst he captained the Halifax-class frigate last spring on deployment as the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) contribution to Operation REASSURANCE.

From 9 January to 14 July 14, 2017, Cdr Gillis and his ship’s company of 239 sailors and RCAF personnel conducted Roto 6 (sixth rotation) in support of Op REASSURANCE, taking on the mission from HMCS Charlottetown.  HMCS St. John’s conducted operations in the central portion of the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, off of Syria, and near Iceland, before returning to their home port of Halifax. According to the commander, the post-Halifax-class Modernization/Frigate Life Extension (HCM/FELIX) ship and embarked Sea King helicopter performed admirably.  In his opinion, the expenditure of billions of dollars on upgrading the frigates has proven itself in theatre.  He is looking forward to the next technological and operational leaps forward when the RCAF’s new Cyclone maritime helicopter becomes available for operations.

The commander is a long serving naval officer whose first major deployment was in HMCS Protecteur when she sailed in 1990 on Operation FRICTION to the Persian Gulf.  Cdr Gillis has observed first-hand the sea changes of world naval power.  To him, what was old is now new again.  In the late 2000s, Russia was flush with revenue from oil sales.  Portions of this windfall have gone to modernizing and beefing up an ailing Russian Fleet.  While his frigate was deployed, a Russian carrier conducted air operations off of Syria, Russian surface ships and a brand new Kilo-class submarine were preparing to fire cruise missiles into Syria, and numerous Russian ‘research’ vessels were in the Mediterranean. For 21 days, he and his company kept constant surveillance on the Kilo-class submarine whilst she operated off the coast of Syria.  As he described it, he was conducting old school Cold War symmetric anti-submarine operations.  These skill sets used to be the raison d’être of the RCN and one of its main foci.  Thankfully, the ship was able to pivot back to this vital role.  Apparently the modernized frigates and younger sailors can ably handle the ‘novel’ task of Russian sub-hunting that was second nature to sailors of a past generation.

Other novel dealings for the Canadian frigate were the numerous ship-to-ship interactions with the Russians.  There was quite a bit of interest in St John’s  whilst they spent 21 days in the Black Sea conducting port visits and patrols.  Whilst they were shadowing the Kilo-class submarine off of Syria, there were at least 10 to 12 Russian surface ships in the same small area of water space. Although both navies act professionally, they each realize that everyone is keeping a wary eye on each other.  There was a significant shift in naval operating dynamics where the normal exercise safety factors did not exist.  Most navy personnel are used to the somewhat artificial exercise parameters and haven’t been exposed to real world symmetrical threats.  As Cdr Gillis stressed, the Russians are not our enemy but they are worth keeping more of an eye on in the future.

Touching on the future course of the RCN, Cdr Gillis opined that although his frigate, helicopter and company acquit themselves well with respect to the tasks assigned to them, it is vital that the RCN pushes forward with the Canadian Surface Combatant project.  Other world navies such as Russia and China are boosting their naval inventories and sea presence.  In order to keep up, Canada needs to keep re-investing in our own sea going capabilities to deal with the resurging symmetric abilities and/or threats.  In addition, the RCN’s ‘to do’ list is not shrinking but expanding year upon year.  A nation’s naval power is as important in today’s world as it has ever been.

RUSI(NS) members and invited guests enjoyed Cdr Gillis’s frank and open presentation and follow on discussion of HMCS St. John’s latest European deployment.  It was quite evident that he was proud to have commanded a RCN warship.  For the audience present, it was a rare opportunity to hear from a senior naval officer who had been out ‘doing the business’.

Blair’s LinkedIn Profile

FATHER OF A DAUGHTER

 

A LinkedIn letter from ‘a proud father of a 10 year old daughter who has a strong will to question and fight “Gender bias” and prove herself.’

Genesis of a Snowflake

After the 1986 release of the movie ‘Top Gun’, it was reported that the USN saw a 500% increase of young men wanting to become Naval Aviators. Although I had already made an attempt to join the Canadian military as a pilot and was instead accepted as an Air Navigator, the movie still validated my decision to join the Air Force. Movies, TV, and celebrities are powerful motivators that influence people’s thinking and ambitions. Ironically, Tom Cruise’s dyslexia would have precluded him from being considered as a Naval Aviator. The cold, hard truth is many dreams are impossible. Borrowing some USAF statistics, supposedly out of 2000 prospects walking through the recruiting door, only one will eventually earn their wings. Many of those people who fail will accept their shortcomings but the more popular route being drilled into our youth is to blame outside forces.

The letter pictured above popped up in my LinkedIn newsfeed. This father’s 10 year old girl perceives that because of gender bias she will have trouble attaining her dream of becoming an airline pilot. She feels that it should be ‘Only Girls -˃ Then Boys’. The vast majority of comments are along the lines of ‘You go Girl! Tell it like it is!’. Only one person came out to contradict her position with this statement, ‘I work for an airline. 28 years. I have lots of experience. Someone needs to tell this girl that what she’s seeing and hearing isn’t true. I’ve flown with lots of female pilots and male flight attendants. She has every chance in the world. All she really needs is someone to believe in her dream with her.’ It would be interesting to know where this girl is getting her beliefs from. My guess is the constant bombardment from the MSM, celebrities, and feminists stating that women are being treated unfairly by a paternalistic society is to blame.

It seems that her home state of California has some of the strictest gender equity laws in the country. People in the industry and my own considerable experience in the field would say she’s got as much of a shot at being a pilot as any boy would. The USN trained their first six women Naval Aviators in 1974. In point of fact, to become an airline pilot having deep pockets is more of a factor than a great flying aptitude or good ‘hands and feet’. Archie Bunker is long gone and has been replaced by legions of well-meaning cheer leaders extolling the virtues of women. If anything, the gender playing field is as level or tipped in favour of women as it has ever been.

I would like to use the example of my daughter’s route to becoming a RCAF pilot to help illustrate the point I’m trying to make.

At the age of 12, she joined the 386 Komox RCACS. During her ‘career’ with the Air Cadets, she was the head of the First Aid Team & Precision Drill Team, became an accomplished shooter, a decent Biathaloner, became the Drum Major and finished as the Squadron Commander of 100 plus kids. She attended camps each summer and earned her glider and power licenses. I’ve flown with her and she’s got better ‘hands and feet’ than her old man. She finished off Cadets with a prestigious exchange trip to Europe.

Within weeks of her return to Canada, she went to the Royal Military College in Kingston, ON to begin her engineering degree. Attending a military college is difficult enough to just survive let alone graduate with an Aeronautical Engineering degree. In addition, she eventually became the head of the Highland Dance club and was very active in the Fencing Club. She has just returned from participating with the CAF contingent sent to the World Military Fencing Tournament in Italy.

Last November, I had the great pleasure to present her with her Wings and promotion to Lieutenant in Moose Jaw, SK. She has since trained to become a Category ‘C’ instructor, flew one of the Harvard II’s over Ottawa for the Canada 150 Flypast and represented the RCAF at Edmonton’s airshow. After her tour as an instructor, she will probably be asked to attend the Hawk course for eventual CF-18 training.

My daughter is 25 and accomplished all of the above through her hard work and ambition, NOT because she’s a woman. She actually becomes quite angry at any mention of her success being because of her sex. It demeans the incredibly hard work and effort she and her fellow female military friends have put into creating successful military careers.

There should be no substitute for hard work, dedication and sacrifice. Merit alone should be the basis for selection. The girl in the letter is already setting the stage for her own failure, ready to blame the misogynistic old boys club if her dream of becoming a pilot doesn’t come to fruition. Blaming others for your own failings and lack of hard work is a characteristic of the ‘Snowflake’ generation. Reality is even with all the dedicated effort in the world, you may not succeed just because you don’t measure up.

To quote Lt Worf, “If winning does not matter, than why do you keep score?”

CANADIAN HISTORY STUDENT

Nova Scotia Highway 101 sign welcoming travellers to Clare

Acadians in Nova Scotia

The recent furor over historical Canadians such as John A. MacDonald, Edward Cornwallis or Frank Oliver and their place in modern day Canada has brought forward the fact that we are woefully ignorant of our own history. Other than the hazy recollection of a CBC Vignette, the vast majority of us know very little Canadian history. Hence when a vocal minority seizes control of the narrative surrounding a particular character, the majority doesn’t immediately dismiss the hyperbole as they have no knowledge of the subject.

Towards the end of shedding some light on a piece of Canadian and Nova Scotia history, the focus of this article will be on the Municipality of Clare and the vibrant present day Acadian culture. Until I had spent some time visiting the region, I had no idea of the rich Acadian culture thriving in the southwest corner of the province. The entire Le Grand Dérangement episode was never a part of my school history lessons and it seems after checking with my kids, it still is not a part of high school studies. I consider it a sin that our own history receives such short shrift.

Location of the Municipality of Clare on the southwest tip of Nova Scotia

The History of Clare (La Baie Sainte Marie)

Starting in 1755, the Acadians were flung hither and yon from their homes in the Grand-Pré region of Nova Scotia. After close to a decade, under a kinder British governor, many of the exiles were allowed to return to British territory in 1764. Their former lands had already been ceded to New England Planters, so a new area of the Nova Scotian peninsula needed to be found for them. Legend has it that a surveyor from the Irish county of Clare, carved out a large chunk of land for the returning Acadians. This became the Municipality of Clare located in the County of Digby.

Families named Comeau, Deveau, LeBlanc, Robicheau, Belliveau and Melanson were typically given land for a homestead and a 100 acre woodlot. Unlike the fertile lands of the reclaimed Grand Pré delta or the Annapolis valley, it was tough to grow crops on the rocky, wooded, boggy land. Most of the Acadians turned to logging and fishing to survive.

Today, the main industries include agriculture, lobster fishing, other fisheries, ship building, mink farming, logging and tourism. Although all the larger sawmills are gone from the region, numerous hobby sawmills are busy making lumber from the family woodlots. Red Spruce, Yellow Birch, Hemlock, White Pine, Sugar Maple, and American Beech are common Acadian forest trees. Burning wood for heat is very common. Sawing logs into planks, boards and beams for various building projects is the usual destination for the larger felled trees. A couple of niche markets is to make maple wood slats for lobster traps or Hackmatack ‘knees’ for wooden ships.

The Culture

The Acadians of Clare are fluently bilingual, had a rich Catholic religious background and have several unique foods and customs.

  • The Acadian Churches along the Evangeline Trail

The small Acadian communities of loggers and fisherman managed to erect several magnificent churches that run the length of the Clare portion of the Evangeline Trail.

Église Saint-Bernard Church, Saint-Bernard, Nova Scotia

This is the first large church you come across after taking the Church Point turn-off from the main 101 Highway. The granite for the structure was brought from Shelburne, NS and the first mass was held after a 32 year construction period in September 1942.

Église Sainte-Marie, Church Point, Nova Scotia

After only two years of construction, 1500 volunteers finished building North America’s largest wooden church in 1905. Located next to it is the Acadian Université Sainte-Anne.

Paroisse Sacré-Coeur, Saulnierville, Nova Scotia

Further ‘down the line’, is another larger wooden church built and financed by the local inhabitants in 1880.

Saint-Alphonse-de-Ligouri Church, Mavillette, Nova Scotia

Again, this 1921 church was another example of the local Acadian craftsmen and parishioners coming together to build a place of worship.

Acadian Food

Nova Scotia Acadians have many signature and staple dishes unique to their culture. Similar to the more esoteric dishes from other cultures, many of the traditional meals take some getting used to.

Acadian ‘comfort food’ – Rappie Pie

I wish I could say it was more appetizing than it looks but I will be charitable and say Rappie Pie is an acquired taste. The process of making the dish starts with finding an old fowl in the yard and boiling the meat to tenderize it. Meanwhile, you make ‘zombie’ potatoes (my characterization of the process) by mashing all of the liquid and starch out of them. They get re-energized by the chicken broth. Then in a large pan, you layer the chicken meat, some diced onions and the grey, goopy potato paste. Bake in the oven until there’s a crisp crust. It’s a time consuming dish to make especially the processing of the potatoes. This is why it is served for special occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Check out the recipe here.

Traditional Acadian Chicken Fricot

This dish is similar to a meat and dumplings stew. Again, if chicken was the meat in the stew, they would use an older bird. The dish looks and tastes more palatable than the Rappie pie. Check out the recipe here.

Acadian Stuffed Quahogs
  • Quahogs

Quahogs are large clams that can be found in the intertidal regions on Clare’s shoreline. Many places in the Maritimes and states such as Maine will cut them into strips for deep frying similar to other clams. The Acadians prefer to eat them stuffed as pictured above.

Dulse – An edible seaweed harvested and sold in Clare
  • Seafood

Due to the nature of being so close to the ocean, Acadians frequently ate lobster, oysters, red mussels, dulse (a type of seaweed), herring, and haddock. Seafood and fish chowder are common meals.

Cultural Events

Acadians in Clare hold festivals similar to other Acadians elsewhere in New Brunswick, PEI, Maine and Quebec. They also hold their own unique yearly events.

Tintamarre traffic driving up the ‘Line’ to Sainte-Anne University

This is a relatively new Acadian tradition that had its roots in New Brunswick when it was held in conjunction with important Acadian anniversaries. The traditional way of holding a Tintamarre was to start at one end of the village and make a lot of noise as you passed by the neighbors with everyone ending up at a central meeting place. In Clare, because of the long distances up and down the ‘Line’, people get in their vehicles and drive the highway from both ends of the municipality to end up at the Sainte-Anne University. It is held on Acadian Day, August 15, and in Clare is the culmination of a week-long Acadian Festival. Houses next to the road decorate their yards with flags and droves of people come out to wave at the honking line of traffic.

Metaghan, Nova Scotia Easter Canoe Trip, April 2-3, 2010 – Photo Courtesy of Lisa Sutt
  • The Spring Canoe Rallies

There is a strong connection between the inhabitants of Clare and canoeing. Several Canoe rallies take place in the spring. One traditional rally that had its start in the 70’s uses the Salmon River/Lake Doucette drainage area for participants to make their way right down to the ocean. The two day event is held every Easter long weekend and attracts scores of canoes. It also attracts numerous spectators and well-wishers who follow the boaters on their ‘four wheelers’. Certain popular haul-outs are good vantage points to watch the participants shoot some rapids and occasionally tip over in the frigid spring runoff. Check out YouTube video highlights of the 2010 Meteghan Easter Canoe trip courtesy of Lisa Sutt through this link.

Grou Tyme – ‘A Great Time’ for all Acadians to come together for music and dance
  • Acadian Music

The Acadians of Clare enjoy their music. Years ago, community centers held weekend dances for the locals to party. Numerous small home-grown bands entertained their neighbors. In recent years, several popular bands such as Radio Radio, Grand Dérangement, and Blou got their start in the area. Unfortunately, outside of the region, only Quebec fans may be familiar with their music as most of their songs are in French.

Canadians need to discover the fact that Nova Scotia is not just Halifax, Peggy’s Cove and lobster. Clare is a Canadian historical gem whose heart is a short three hour drive from Halifax. Next time you visit the Maritimes, it would be worth the time to visit.

Blair’s LinkedIn Profile

Blair is a personification of a ‘Jack of All Trades and Master of None’. He has held several careers and has all the T-shirts. Time to add the title Blogger to the list.

INFANTRY SOLDIER – PART II

Selling UN Peacekeeping to Canadians

***Originally published with FrontLine Defence***

Most Canadians would agree that the atrocities happening in places like Mali, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (and any numerous other corners of hell in the world) should be stopped. But hard lessons in Afghanistan have taught us that spending precious blood and gold may not make the kind of difference needed to set some of these regions firmly on a path away from lawless anarchy. Prime Minister Trudeau’s trepidation towards committing a large military contingent to a quagmire such as Mali is absolutely understandable. There seems to be no upside in it for Canada other than the altruistic humanitarian angle. Why send Canadians to a place that (a) doesn’t want peace and (b) doesn’t want foreigners meddling in their affairs? The return on millions or billions spent, will likely only be the return of Canadian dead, maimed, and mentally injured. UN peacekeeping is a tough sell to Canadians who have witnessed repatriation parades and an epidemic of soldier suicides. Would it not be easier to throw up our hands in despair and say “let them work out their own issues and stay out of someone else’s fight”?

Historically, Canadians have, and will do what’s right. As witnessed by the Royal Canadian Navy sailors recently returned from West Africa’s mission, NEPTUNE TRIDENT 17-01, the Canadian flag, the people and our ideals are respected and powerful. We are seen as honest brokers with no ulterior motives unlike other larger countries. We are wanted and needed. Canada can and must make a difference outside of our borders.

So how do you sell the bitter medicine that is UN peacekeeping to Canadians? To begin with, they need to be given the straight goods. Recently, the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), General Jonathan Vance stated something similar with reference to the new Canada Defence Policy. The Policy lays out firm timelines and monies for the next 20 years, giving hard direction for the military to follow irrespective of change of government. The same firm, clear direction needs to be in place before Canada’s next UN peacekeeping operation. The government and military needs to be brutally honest, open and realistic about the whole proposed operation. Number one is to identify the goal. Why are we going, where are we going, what will we accomplish, and how long will we be there? How many of our soldiers might be taking the Highway of Heroes home? What will be the ultimate cost, including expected care associated with returning soldiers maimed in mind and body? How will we decide when enough is enough? Will there be a natural ‘Victory’ or just a point where we’ll just cut our losses and leave? When there is no discernable upside to a bad mission, Canadians would be more willing to sacrifice to the greater good if they are given the straight up honest cost ahead of time, with regular, candid updates.

People don’t want sugar-coated BS, and are tired of politicians trying to feed it to them.

Once Canadians have the straight goods, they’re going to demand that our soldiers have the best tools and training to accomplish the mission. Again, a remark from the CDS is apropos. The military still recruits based largely on a model of a WWI soldier. Similar to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) recruiting strategy overhaul envisioned by General Vance, Canada also needs a complete rethink of how to approach peacekeeping missions in order to be effective during and long after we’ve been there.

The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative based at Dalhousie University in Halifax uses this type of forward thinking with their Veteran Trainers for the Eradication of Child Soldiers (VTECS) program and research. The program just graduated a second cohort of veterans who will work overseas to help end the scourge of child soldiery and exploitation, utilizing the proactive, and progressive, research, education and training pioneered by the Dallaire Initiative. So far, the combination of expertise and research has been paying increasingly large dividends, with countries such as Sierra Leone, Rwanda and even Somalia embracing this new approach.

These new types of peacekeeping methodologies need to be embraced and leveraged by the CAF in order to ensure successful future peacekeeping missions. As part of a speaking series co-hosted by Wounded Warriors Canada and VTECS, Major-General Patrick Cammaert (retired from the Royal Netherland Marine Corps) spoke of UN-sponsored peacekeeping challenges. Peacekeeping efforts fail when any of the following occur:

  • Participating countries and their forces have neither the will nor appetite for the missions – if your heart isn’t in it, it’s obvious to the populace and they lose trust in UN backed programs.
  • Peacekeepers have a lack of understanding of the issues surrounding the conflict they’ve been dropped into.
  • Commanders are derelict in serious reporting regarding the actual issues in theatre.
  • UN forces operate under a risk-adverse attitude and are not proactive.
  • Peacekeepers have a general lack of knowledge of the mandate, the Rules of Engagement, and who they will be dealing with.
  • There are no consequences for mission failure (the attitude is: keep your head down, don’t risk your own people, ride it out until you get to go home).

MGen Cammaert, who is no stranger to peacekeeping and what it takes to run a successful operation, had strong ideas of what is required if future UN missions are to be successful.

  • Political will and a firm direction needs to be in place before there can be any peacekeeping. A political solution needs to be hammered out, communicated and implemented ahead of the mission.
  • Peacekeeping nations need to ask the local populations: “what do you need of us and how can we help you accomplish your goals”, instead of the usual: “we’re here and this is what we’re going to do.”
  • There needs to be a holistic approach that involves the diplomats, NGOs, police and military.
  • Commanders in the field are key to success. They need to be competent and fearless. They need the tools and authority to make decisions that cannot wait for authorities back in the UN.
  • Pre-deployment training is crucial, with a heavy emphasis on scenario-based problems (it’s already too late to learn when boots hit the ground).
  • The local population needs to see activity, movement and engagement by the peacekeeping forces. Similar to a cop walking the beat, the local population and adversaries need to see a continuous presence and constant interaction.
  • Mobility and decisive action can be critical. Sometimes a quick, pivotal action to a threat will thwart years of subsequent strife.
  • The concept of ‘No Consenting Adults’ needs to be 100% enforced in conflict zones.
  • Finally, there needs to be substantially more women deployed in the field. A woman is invaluable when dealing with other women or children in these conflict zones. It isn’t sexist, it’s plain fact that a woman can diffuse tense situations involving women and children better than a man.

Quality is better than quantity, asserts MGen Cammaert. As Peacekeepers, you need to gain the trust of the people, you are there to help. You need to do it right, you need to be seen doing it right, and you have to be there long enough to make sure it will continue to be done right. Otherwise, don’t bother with half-hearted attempts which will do more harm than good.

The CAF lacks the type of peacekeeping soldier and doctrine that MGen Cammaert described during his presentation. During the event, the Foundation screened a short film from DHX Media entitled ‘Checkpoint’. The powerful short film illustrated how the ‘old’ way of running the business of peacekeeping is not adequate for the 21st Century. Drawing on my own experience, military members are trained to take decisive and, if necessary, lethal action. For example, back in 2007 during Basic Training, our platoon was introduced to a bayonet drill. A pair of Royal Canadian Regiment sergeants got our bloodlust to the point where we were quite willing and able to impale and kill the enemy. This is the job of the infantry, who are often “up close” to the action. You kill or are killed. This was how a child soldier ends up dead when the film first ran a checkpoint scenario manned by two young armed boys.

Peacekeepers of the future require more complex skills. They need to be part diplomat, social worker, police, soldier, and definitely more gender- and racially-diverse. They also need better pre-deployment scenario-based training that will give them the tools to deal with the likely situations for the particular conflict zone they’re headed for. The CAF prepares as well as it can, and has excelled at pre-planning for battle since Vimy Ridge – but I cannot stress enough that today’s peacekeeping missions need a different approach. When the ‘Checkpoint’ mission scenario ran a second time, the child soldier did not die, and the UN peacekeeper was not traumatized by the experience of killing a child.

The CAF does what it can to keep up with their better-equipped NATO allies. But realistically, Canada is not going to be a major player during a World War III. However, we can be effective at dousing the hotspots that lead down that path. Our military has a long history of doing amazing things with somewhat less-than-adequate tools, manpower and equipment. They really shine when it comes to niche military areas of expertise such as our Sniper program, our Clearance Diver units, our Search and Rescue program, our Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), our expertise with Nuclear Biological Chemical Warfare (NBCW), and our JTF-2 team. We know how to specialize and become world experts. The next thing we need to become expert in, is Peacekeeping.

There is a need for the CAF to stand up a dedicated peacekeeping unit similar to the Special Operations Forces or Maritime Tactical Operations Group (MTOG) models. They need to recruit from across the spectrum of the CAF for dedicated men and women who will become experts in the field of peacekeeping. Give them the diplomat, social worker, and soldier training.

There may be a necessity to recruit directly from civilian sectors to bolster personnel shortfalls, particularly females. When the Search and Rescue technician trade had personnel issues, they went directly to paramedic associations for qualified people. Perhaps the CAF could target women in police forces or social workers associations to help fill personnel gaps. Bring in leading edge organizations such as VTECS to keep training and techniques fresh and innovative. Give this core group the best tools and training before they end up on mission. Then once we’re experts, similar to the men and women graduating from the VTECS program, the knowledge can be passed to allies and the local populations. Partnership with world-renowned and universally recognized external organizations, like the Dallaire Initiative, may add an important perspective. New threats and complex scenarios call for new and innovative approaches by the CAF, moving beyond the insistence that only they can train themselves, and leveraging the capabilities provided by civilian organizations that can blend advanced education, military experience and real-world approaches to address these complex realities.

The second scenario presented in the ‘Checkpoint’ short film resulted in three children dropping their weapons and no one being shot. A simple psychological technique diffused a deadly situation. Modest solutions and techniques pay significant dividends; no dead child, no angry opposition force, no angry parents, no anti-peacekeeper propaganda fodder, and no soldier living with a kid’s death on his conscience.

Hope and honesty is how you sell Canadians on UN peacekeeping. Be straight with the costs and the reasons. Give our CAF members the correct tools and equipment to do the job. Incorporate innovative techniques, training and leading edge research to give our people the best edge to be successful.

What’s happening in places like Mali is horrendous, and Canada could make a difference. We just need to be forward thinking enough to make a quality impact.

TOUR DIRECTOR

Preserver alongside Her Majesty’s Canadian Dockyard Halifax, 28 July 2017, ready to be towed to the ship breaker. Photo credit, Blair Gilmore, RUSI(NS)

The Sun Dips on PRESERVER, Last of the Protecteur-Class AOR

Originally published with RUSI(NS), Bourque Newswatch, and Ottawa Citizen

August 2, 2017, marked the end of an era for the Canadian built Protecteur-class AOR (Auxiliary Oiler, Replenishment) when Preserver transfers from the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) to her new owners, Marine Recyling Corporation. Navy tugs will tow the vessel one last time a short distance off of her berth at Her Majesty’s Canadian Dockyard Halifax, from where she will then be transferred to a civilian tug and towed to a special facility in Sydney, Cape Breton for breaking and recycling.

As I toured the flats taking part in the last official tour of the vessel, I reflected on the bygone era represented by the ship and her predecessor, Protecteur. Standing on top of the bridge next to the Officer of the Watch’s station by the Engine Room speaking tube, I could envision the numerous ‘sundowners’ that area had witnessed. How many times had the Captain and his ship’s officers spent a few quiet contemplative minutes up in this spot? How peaceful it would have been on some far off ocean, sipping a beer and perhaps indulging with a cigar, quietly contemplating life at sea as the fiery orb sank once again into the abyss. As we traveled through the stripped out 555 foot long ship, I wondered how many Duty Roundsmen had followed these paths? How many thousands of times had the decks been scrubbed or the brass fittings polished? How many dignified cocktail gatherings, ‘channel fever’ parties, baptisms, summary trials, mess dinners, RPC (Request the Pleasure of your Company), and countless other functions were held in the Officers’ Wardroom, Chief & POs’ Mess, Hangar and the Main Cave? What were the number of sea ditties floating about the fleet generated from decades of good natured Preserver sailor’s high jinx? The old ship’s motto was ‘Heart of the Fleet’ but it was the continuous presence of thousands of RCN sailors serving, living and toiling aboard her over all those decades that brought life to inanimate steel. Their salty souls permeate the bulkheads and deck plates.

But the old lady’s time has come, and she is scheduled meet her fate at the breaking yard. Back on July 30, 1970, when she was put into commission at the New Brunswick Saint John Shipbuilding yard, it was still common for ships to be powered by steam, and she ended up as the last boiler powered vessel in the RCN. In addition, many materials used in her construction are long gone from today’s modern ships. Miles of PCB coated copper wiring run through her hull. Much of her interior surface is covered with the old ubiquitous Navy red lead paint. Marine Recycling will have a challenge to safely removing all those toxic substances. Helping to ensure their proper disposal, our RCN tour guide explained that the Department of National Defence will continue to play a watchdog role until the last fifteen feet of the ship is left. The building and ultimate breaking of Preserver represents a true ‘cradle to grave’ Canadian shipbuilding process.

Preserver faithfully functioned as a vital force multiplier for the RCN. But as the world moved forward, parts for the old ship became scarce and tightening environmental regulations would have kept the single hulled fueling vessel out of most ports. But Preserver’s usefulness has not entirely waned as she will perform one last useful task for the Navy. The military always ends up in possession of material and equipment that has become obsolete or too expensive to dispose of. Much of this material ends up warehoused to collect dust. There is a unique item still onboard the ship that epitomizes this dilemma of how to dispose of items that have outlived their usefulness, namely the Wardroom piano. Years ago, an upright piano was presented to the ship’s officers as a gift. It is said to have taken four days of work pulling up hatches and making openings to bring it to its home onboard. The time and effort to remove this unique musical instrument is now not worth the bother. So as is common in the military recycling business, the new owners will receive a ship full of extra bits and pieces of military surplus including a piano. Wouldn’t that be a rare find a few months from now on EBay?

There is always a touch of sadness and nostalgia when you say good-bye to a ship, especially when it is the last of her type. The countless eyes who have witnessed innumerable sunrises and sunsets from her decks and stared across the thousands of miles of endless oceans are long gone. All that is left is for the graceful old lady to take her final voyage into the setting sun.

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DEPLOYMENT OFFICER

Members of the Royal Canadian Navy, US Navy and Sierra Leone Navy watch as HMCS Moncton comes alongside HMCS Summerside in Freetown, Sierra Leone during Obangame Express on March 19, 2017.
Photo: MCpl Pat Blanchard, Canadian Forces Combat Camera

RCN innovation furthers Canadian diplomacy in West Africa

Recently, I had the pleasure to participate in a ‘round table’ group discussion regarding the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) spring 2017 deployment to West Africa, NEPTUNE TRIDENT 17-01. The Commanding Officers of the participating vessels, Lieutenant-Commanders (LCdr) Nicole Robichaud of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Moncton¸ and Paul Smith of HMCS Summerside, plus the head RCN planner, Commander (Cdr) David Finch, spoke at length about the tremendous success of the endeavor.

Participants of the exercise included the two Kingston-class patrol ships, often known as Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels (MCDV); a RCN Maritime Tactical Operations Group detachment (specialists in boarding); and ships and personnel from Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, France and the US. The RCN has produced numerous descriptive articles about the deployment, some of which can be accessed at:

The continent of Africa has significant strategic importance for Canada in relation to future security, humanitarian and trade missions. The RCN has participated in similar deployments in North and East African waters but this was a first for these West African countries. Keeping with the tradition of Canadian ingenuity, the RCN planners came up with an innovative solution to building a positive presence in the region.

Lieutenant-Commander Paul Smith, Commanding Officer of HMCS Summerside talks to students at the all-girl Saint Joseph’s Primary School in Freetown, Sierra Leone during Neptune Trident 17-01 on March 23, 2017.
Photo: MCpl Pat Blanchard, Canadian Forces Combat Camera

To begin with, why was a vessel designed to operate locally be sent all the way across the Atlantic? These 55 metre coastal vessels have been pressed into service on voyages well past their original design. They have been given ice ratings and regularly sail in Canada’s Arctic Ocean. They frequently sail the East and West Caribbean on Operation CARIBBE drug enforcement patrols. They have been across ‘the Pond’ (familiar navy name for the Atlantic) participating in NATO European exercises. Put into perspective, these ships are not much smaller than the 62.5 meter Flower-class RCN corvettes that were on Second World War convoy duty, so it is not that much of a stretch to have them sail so far afield. Thankfully, with today’s technology, alternate southern routing and forecasting tools, a Kingston captain can do a proper risk assessment before attempting the crossing. According to the Commanding Officers, the ships handled the voyage well. The only significant maintenance issues centered on excessive African heat as RCN ships are primarily designed for cooler northern climates.

Once the ships voyaged across the Atlantic, there were several justifications that led to their being the perfect platforms for the mission. There are challenges inherent to operating in less-than-optimal African ports. Kingstons, with their smaller size and crew complement, alleviate many of the practical issues that would have prevented the efficient use of a larger ship such as a Halifax-class frigate. Many of the African ports would not have been able to accommodate a larger vessel with berthing, fuel or supplies. Kingstons generally do not need tug assistance. While alongside, a higher percentage of personnel can participate in community relation events. Lastly, expenditures on Kingstons come in at approximately $5000 a day for operating costs vice $35000 a day for a frigate. As LCdr Robichaud stated, Kingstons are excellent for this type of deployment.

Lieutenant-Commander Nicole Robichaud, Commanding Officer of HMCS Moncton speaks to guests onboard the ship in Freetown, Sierra Leone during Obangame Express on March 20, 2017.
Photo: MCpl Pat Blanchard, Canadian Forces Combat Camera

As the RCN officers assembled at the round table explained, there were strong psychological components to their mission that helped contribute to their resounding success. For centuries, the world’s navies acted as their country’s diplomats. A ‘ship of the line’ would appear at a port, drop anchor and send a delegation ashore to make contact with the local dignitaries. Fancy receptions would be held at the local government houses with reciprocating parties held onboard the vessels. The practice continues to this day. For example, as part of Canada Day 150 celebrations, several US Navy ships including the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D Eisenhower were present in Halifax, Nova Scotia. One of the hottest tickets in town was to be invited to Eisenhower’s reception party. The Kingstons were used in a similar fashion during their port visits as there were plenty of opportunities for parties, hands-on training and day sails for guests. Canadian embassy staff remarked that more ‘diplomacy’ happened over these get-togethers than what they could accomplish in months.

Another point favouring the use of the Kingstons was the fact that they are not overwhelming ‘weapons of war.’ Many of the African navies are in the nascent stages of development. During joint training, they were still mastering basic seamanship and security skills. Boarding exercises are easier to accomplish with a smaller vessel. The guest navy personnel were happy with hands-on firing of the Kingstons’ .50 caliber machine guns with no need to learn about missiles or large naval guns. The African navies have limited resources, and if you don’t take an air of superiority, then they can relate and be greatly cooperative.

Another aspect to the deployment that is a result of the Canadian Armed Force’s (CAF) push for diversity was the coincidence of LCdr Smith being black with matriarchal ties going to Freetown, Sierra Leone, and LCdr Robichaud being a woman going to Liberia whose president is the first elected female head of a state of Africa. Cdr Finch joked that he couldn’t have planned the circumstances better. It is a testament to the dedicated efforts of the RCN for inclusivity that these types of situations will become normal, and the focus is on the person and the mission, not their race or gender.

This led into an important point that LCdr Smith wanted to stress. The Canadian flag and reputation were very powerful in that part of the world. Unlike the Americans and French who also participated in the exercise, the RCN was perceived to have no ‘history’ or ulterior motives. Canadians are seen as helpers wanting to do the right thing regardless of who you are. This built-in good will helped the RCN accomplish its outreach goal to such a point that next year’s mission has already been approved.

Members of the Christian Young Adult Fellowship of Sierra Leone go for a ride aboard a rigid hulled inflatable boat during a visit of HMCS Summerside to Freetown, Sierra Leone during Neptune Trident 17-01 on March 22, 2017.
Photo: MCpl Pat Blanchard, Canadian Forces Combat Camera

I asked Cdr Finch if there was any downside to this RCN success story. He replied that the only negative was they could not get to all the nations that asked for the Canadians. African nations want to be part of the wider world and are hungry for training and expertise to be able to secure their maritime interests. While Summerside and Moncton were present in the area, illegal fishing fleets kept their distance. With training, local navies will be able to build their own ‘Recognized Maritime Picture’ (plot of the situation at sea) to first document these criminals and then move towards interdiction and prosecution. Furthering that, the RCN is considering demonstrating during next year’s deployment of Kingston-class ships a number of ‘maritime domain awareness’ capabilities that would progress maritime security capacity building within the Gulf of Guinea. The concept of ‘like’ methods and training used to train ‘like’ capabilities coupled with affordable technology appears to be paying dividends.

The CAF is renowned for doing more with less. If there is a job needing doing, the men and women of the Forces will find a way of doing it with what they have. The Kingston-class ships not only accomplished this latest mission admirably but it was done cost effectively. Even though the recently released government’s Defence Policy contained no mention of replacing these 1990s era vessels, I predict that these workhorses of the RCN will be called upon for years to come. They are proving their worth, and a serious conversation is needed to either extend their lifespan or to start a replacement program.

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SOCIAL COMMENTATOR

Governor Edward Cornwallis, the founder of Halifax, Nova Scotia

No Balance

When Canada’s social experimenter, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, repatriated the Constitution of Canada on April 17, 1982, he famously made the remark, ‘For if individuals and minorities do not feel protected against the possibility of the tyranny of the majority, if French-speaking Canadians or native peoples or new Canadians do not feel they will be treated with justice, it is useless to ask them to open their hearts and minds to their fellow Canadians.’ It was a laudable goal to ensure that Canadian minorities felt protected but there were rumblings at the time that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the first part of the Constitution would cause unnecessary strife to Canada. In fact, Canada almost blew apart because of a Manitoba MLA, Elijah Harper’s opposition to PM Mulroney’s Meech Lake Accord. As a minority of one, the Oji-Cree politician opposed the Accord due to First Nations issues. His obstinate rejection ultimately led to the 1995 Québec Referendum which narrowly was won by the pro-Canada side. The tables have turned and present day Canada has been gripped by the tyranny of the vocal minority.

On July 10, 2017, a local Halifax Mi’kmaq activist threatened in a Facebook post that her group was ‘REMOVING CORNWALLIS’ the next Saturday at 12 pm. Uttering threats to destroy property is an offense according to the Criminal Code of Canada Section 264.1(1)(b) punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment. The group repeated their threat right up until the morning of the event. The authorities, led by Halifax’s mayor, Mike Savage, had no intention to uphold Canadian law prior to or on that day but instead caved to the strident minority and draped the beleaguered statue of the city’s founder in a tarp. The few police officers present appeared to be there in case of a counter-protest. Regardless of ample evidence that Governor Edward Cornwallis was not a Hitler-like tyrant bent on Native genocide, the statue’s days are numbered and it will probably be quietly removed in the dead of night similar to Confederate statues in the US Southern states. The press has been complicit in pushing the narrative because except for one excellent counter-balance article on the full history, all they focus on is the Governor’s 1749 bounty on the Mi’kmaq. Zero mention is made of the war that was being waged or of the atrocities committed by both sides. A person has to dig deep to learn of the rescinding of the decree in 1752 in an attempt to make peace. Revisionist zealots flaunt the law at will and the silent majority are being fed one-sided stories to keep them quiet.

There are a few rare individuals and groups who dare point out the hypocrisy and lawlessness of minority special interest groups. They are quickly condemned as neo-Nazi, alt-right, misogynistic, hate groups by the press and minorities in question. A group that publicly identified the threat uttering members of the July 15 event was taken to task by the press for ‘doxing’. The activist group’s transgressions were swept aside but the angle to charge this alt right group with a criminal act was fervently pursued. It was the same for members of the Proud Boys group that peacefully confronted a prior Cornwallis protest. The men were pilloried nation-wide and have probably irreparably harmed their military careers. Taking a recent example from Quebec, the rejection of a Muslim only cemetery was condemned as a racist, far right act that disappointed PM Justin Trudeau. Instead of raising the question about religious discrimination over the fact that it was going to be a Muslim only cemetery, the top politician of the land went straight to siding with the minority who will be claiming their human rights have been infringed. The message is loud and clear to the majority. If you oppose the edicts of the politically correct monoliths of the power elite and mainstream press, you will be set upon. As the vast majority of the majority just wants to go about their lives, nary a brave soul will pop their head above the wall for fear of having it lopped off in a frenzy of social media powered righteous justice.

It is only occasionally, that the majority rises up in indignation over particularly egregious decisions of our political masters and their minions. It was telling when a poll saying 71% of Canadians opposed the Amar Khadr $10.5M payout. The elites and the press came out telling us to put up with the decision. Trudeau cited Charter issues as the justification and a sudden fervor to reign in government spending. But like in a hotly contested hockey game, savvy, regular folk cried foul because they know cherry-picking when they see it.

Hypocrisy is hypocrisy and people notice. Anti-establishment splinter groups dictating who can participate in LGBT(assorted letters and numbers) parades are giving black eyes to a movement that was accepted by the mainstream for promoting inclusivity. Collectively, the rest of us are going, ‘Hold on there, we’re supposed to bend to your will but it doesn’t go the other way?!?’

Another hotspot that strikes a common chord with the masses is the occasional spat over vanity license plates. If only one person finds your plate to be offensive for whatever reason, the authorities will revoke it. ASIMIL8, GRABHER, and this list of ICBC rejected plates are all verboten for various arbitrary reasons. The rejections are all done anonymously by some triggered individual or by some faceless bureaucrat. The plaintiff faces long court battles against the politically correct State who feels free to trample on their rights of free expression on the off chance that some minority group or individual may feel offended.

This full on censorship of sensitive subjects that may ‘trigger’ minorities has been aided and abetted by our national broadcaster, the CBC. They are acting as a proxy propaganda arm for these minority groups as they have put a lock down on any sort of conversation regarding certain ‘subjects’. There is zero commenting allowed regarding the Native, LGBT, or Muslim communities. Granted, there is enough hate speech directed towards these subjects and the moderators would have their hands full deleting inappropriate opinions. But pretty much every Trump story is opened for comments which are dripping with vitriol. Supposedly, an old, rich, American white guy and his ‘privileged’ supporters are fair game for hate speech. I do not believe in free speech that masquerades as a method of cyber attacking but when you shut down all conversation, it kills any sort of dialogue designed to move an issue forward.

Maybe I should put in my own complaint for my Charter Rights of free expression being suppressed. I regularly make comments on the CBC forum boards and fairly often my content is ‘disabled’. The moderators can block it or after someone has flagged my comment, it can be blocked and deleted. For example, this particular comment was disabled four times as some individual decided to keep flagging it: ‘Trudeau is addicted to playing the Showboater Extraordinaire. All politicians enjoy the limelight and attention, it is part of the process of relentless self-promotion. But he’s all pot smoke and fancy socks with little substance. He’s been jetting around being seen by the ‘right’ crowd and making sure to march in all the politically correct parades. His office was able to shoehorn in a brief trip to the Stampede when literally a few hours away in BC there are 40,000 evacuees in a province in crisis. You can debate the value of the PM visiting a disaster scene but he was quick with the selfies while filling a sandbag in Quebec and ran up to a Northern area to discuss the emergency issues up there. But he hasn’t said word one about the BC Wildfires. I guess he’s more comfortable with special interest, in vogue causes instead of the plebian mainstream issues that affect the bulk of Canadians.’ The Ministry of Truth is making sure that only their dialogue and message makes it out to the masses.

Similar to the grassroots phenomenon that brought Trump to power in the States, I predict that Canada’s masses will eventually rise against the elite politicians, mainstream censoring press and vocal minorities who seek to push their narrow minded, special agendas. Eventually, the nail which is the tyranny of the minority will hurt the old dog enough that he/she/it/some gender neutral pronoun will get up and shake out some common sense where the needs of the few do not outweigh the needs of the many.

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Blair is a personification of a ‘Jack of All Trades and Master of None’. He has held several careers and has all the T-shirts. Time to add the title Blogger to the list.