A monument to our consumerist age

- in Vancouver –

We build the buildings, and then the buildings build us. That aphorism about the importance of architecture reminds us that we ought to pay attention to what we choose to build, and how we choose to build it, for it in turn will build us.

The re-opening on Friday night of the new BC Place stadium is therefore a key moment for Vancouver. We are what we build, and what we build today are shopping centres and sports facilities. Previous generations built the great churches, public libraries, university campuses and other great centres of culture – today’s culture of consumption and comfort is marked by great temples of entertainment and commerce. Continue reading

Arrogance on full display in papal snub

It’s not right to characterize a people by their elected representatives. Who among us would advise our visitors that the Canadian character is what one witnesses, say, in the House of Commons during Question Period? So the fact that many members of the German federal parliament (Bundestag) boycotted Pope Benedict XVI’s speech in that chamber last week ought not be held against the German people. Continue reading

Praying for wisdom

- in Vancouver –

It’s called the Red Mass, and it is a tradition that is being revived here tonight, and in recent years across Canada. It’s a special Mass in the autumn to mark the opening of the courts, usually in the local Catholic cathedral with the archbishop, attended by senior judges and leaders in the legal profession.

The tradition is well established in Toronto, where the Red Mass will be held this evening. After some years, it is being resumed in Vancouver tonight also. Ottawa too is having their Red Mass tonight, including this year for the first time those legislators who make the law, with the Speakers of the Commons and the Senate hosting a joint reception for the occasion. The most notable Red Mass is held annually in October in Washington, DC, with the chief justice of the supreme court and several of his colleagues always in attendance. Continue reading

A tale of two funerals

Enough has been written about the Jack Layton funeral, but indulgent readers may permit me to add a final thought to what I have written elsewhere. Not so much about how Mr. Layton chose to organize his final parting, but rather to note the contrast between two funerals.

A few days after Jack Layton was feted at Roy Thomson Hall, the funeral Mass for Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic was offered at St. Michael’s Cathedral. The difference was like black and white. Continue reading

Rallying the West, saving the country

It was 25 years ago that Alberta Report, then the flagship magazine of western Canadian conservative politics, ran its famous cover story, “The West Wants In”. Today in Edmonton, the alumni of Ted Byfield’s magazine and all that followed are justifiably fêting themselves. The West is now in.

When Stephen Harper won his majority government (with Jason Kenney as architect), an extraordinarily bold political project was brought to a successful conclusion. The festivities in Edmonton today are focused on a remarkable achievement for those involved, but it ought to be an occasion for national gratitude, too. Continue reading