Lester Pearson’s British lite

In 1967, Queen Elizabeth II attended the Dominion Day celebrations in Ottawa for the centennial.

On Thursday, Her Majesty will be back for Canada Day — the new name for the holiday rushed through Parliament in 1982.

The 1967 centennial visit fell during an intense period, 1964-1968, when Lester B. Pearson’s government launched a reinvention of Canadian identity — a new flag, new Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. Those reforms are the subject of a groundbreaking new book by my friend, C.P. Champion: The Strange Demise of British Canada: The Liberals and Canadian Nationalism, 1964-1968. Continue reading

Conrad Black shall overcome

Since the prosecutorial assault on Conrad Black began five years ago, even strangers have asked me how his faith has endured, to use his words, this cataract of horrors. He has answered that question himself, and I decline on principle to answer questions of sacerdotal confidence. Yet I can allow as to how we have disagreed on one matter of faith, namely his trust in the fairness of the American criminal justice system. Given abundant evidence that the whole racket is shot through with caprice and brutality, it requires something very much like faith to think that justice will prevail. Yesterday, Lord Black’s faith was largely vindicated by his unanimous victory in the Supreme Court. Liberation day has not yet come, but it is now at hand. Continue reading

Standing up to Quebec’s totalitarian impulses

Six years ago I wrote an essay for a journal of religion and public life about growing restrictions on religious liberty in Canada. The editors entitled it “Thinly Disguised Totalitarianism” — admittedly tough language. I claimed that Canada was not a totalitarian state but that the “totalitarian impulse had infected the body politic.” Six years on, the infection has become a disease. Continue reading

Football’s capital punishment

In the United States they call it the “death penalty.” Who would have thought it would be administered in Waterloo, Ontario?

On Monday, the University of Waterloo announced that it was suspending its football program for the 2010 season after team-wide drug testing. Nine players of 62 either tested positive for banned substances or confessed to using them. I was heartsick when I heard the news, which arrived on the day of the annual golf fundraiser for Queen’s University football, where readers know I serve as chaplain of the Golden Gaels. The Waterloo Warriors had their own golf fundraiser scheduled for the same day, but in 2010 there will be no team to raise funds for. The agony and ecstasy is one of the clichés of sports, and so it was. As we took another turn celebrating our national championship, our fellow football players, coaches and fans in Waterloo lost everything. Continue reading