A thin blue line, doing nothing

In the continuing debate over police tactics during the recent G20 summit in Toronto, the focus has been on whether civil liberties were violated in order to keep the peace. From a distance though, it seems to me that the more fundamental question is how the police were unable or unwilling to keep the peace — as least for those property owners whose windows were smashed, or those taxpayers who watched police cars abandoned and set aflame. Continue reading

A sound program, now lying fallow

The battle for the prison farms has been lost. But it was a battle worth fighting. And it is hard to imagine what the winners in this battle think that they have achieved.

In the 2009 federal budget, it was announced that the correctional service would close its remaining prison farms, including the large Frontenac dairy farm and chicken barns right in the middle of Kingston, Ontario. For almost 18 months now, there has been a terrific local resistance, led by farmers, the correctional employees union, the Sisters of Providence, musicians and artists, city council and civic leaders of all kinds — including partisan Conservatives. Continue reading

Krakow on guard

In this land of anniversaries, where history is never only history, today marks the 600th anniversary of one of the most important battles in Polish history. Just north of the city centre, through the Florianska gate, is a massive memorial of the Battle of Grunwald, fought in 1410, which made possible the history of Poland.

It was on that day that the alliance of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania defeated the Teutonic knights. All of Europe had been awaiting that decisive battle. The triumph of King Jagiello of Poland and Lithuania constrained the Teutonic knights to what would latterly be called Prussia and eventually Germany, leaving space for the Slavic peoples to develop their own national identities and culture. The Jagiellonian dynasty that followed established Poland on the map of Europe, and gave rise to the great drama of Polish history, and her struggle to remain on the map of Europe, free and independent. Continue reading

God and the Charter

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms begins by affirming that “Canada is founded upon the principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.” This week’s minor controversy about God’s presence in the preamble — set off, indirectly, by a Quebec ruling upholding a Catholic high school’s right to set its own curriculum — is no threat to our Constitution, but it is instructive. To a certain secularist mindset, any mention of God is a danger to public life, and any legal recognition of religion is but a short step away from theocracy. That’s not the case in Canada, and the “supremacy of God” preamble is something worth understanding — and defending. Continue reading

How to make soccer less boring

I am a friend, though not a fan, of the World Cup. I think it a marvellous thing that the whole world, more or less, celebrates the world’s game together, and that a general spirit of goodwill prevails among peoples. It is good to see that countries otherwise dominant in armaments or economics do not hold sway on the pitch. Ghana is included, China is not. Where else does America have to take note of Algeria? It is odd but endearing that, as the tournament advances, people cheer passionately for other nations. Continue reading