A new mission for the Commonwealth

The old joke about the Commonwealth, whose heads of government are meeting in Perth, Australia, is that it is a collection of countries that have little in common, least of all wealth. The Perth summit will address that issue head on, namely, whether the Commonwealth countries share fundamental values in common and whether they are committed to defending and promoting them. Continue reading

Are changes to monarchy rules out of respect, or indifference?

Commonwealth summits come and go, with often nothing more dramatic taking place than Queen Elizabeth having to smile benignly upon some less-than-benign leaders of various unlovely regimes. This week in Perth, Australia, will be different. It is expected that the 16 heads of government from those countries where Her Majesty is head of state will agree to modifications in the rules for succession. If they all agree, the British parliament will amend the 1701 Act of Settlement to i) remove male primogeniture in favour of simple primogeniture, and ii) remove the prohibition on heirs to the throne marrying Catholics. Continue reading

Finding a place for God in the city

- in Calgary -
The newest downtown office building now rises above all others, the crescent-shaped building called The Bow. When completed next year, civic leaders intend it to be more than a symbol of Calgary’s economic power. The hope is that it will lead a revitalization of the east side of downtown, where a new office tower hasn’t gone up for 25 years. The Bow will be a Calgary landmark to be sure, but what kind of downtown will it preside over? Continue reading

Standing up for Don Cherry – a good ol’ Kingston boy

In Kingston and Wolfe Island, where I work and live, Don Cherry occupies a rather unique place. He grew up in Kingston and has a summer cottage on Wolfe Island. Here, he is one of our own.

In a larger sense, too, Cherry is considered by many across Canada to be just that — one of our own in a way that few are. For that reason, from time to time the whole nation erupts in a great Cherry controversy. The Globe and Mail employs a full-time columnist apparently for that reason alone. So for almost a fortnight, much attention was paid to what Grapes said Oct. 6 on the inaugural Coach’s Corner of the hockey season. On Oct. 15, in his regular spot, he apologized. Continue reading

Egypt’s war on Christians

Now we know. Back in January, I wrote that the Egyptian revolution then underway was an “unknown unknown,” to use the taxonomy of Donald Rumsfeld. We did not know that we did not know that the Egyptian regime was about to be overthrown. No shame in that – neither did Hosni Mubarak.

To employ Rumsfeld again, there was also a “known unknown.” We knew that we did not know what Egypt’s revolution and the wider Arab Spring would bring. Would there be a shift toward fundamental liberties and greater pluralism? Or would violent jihadism expand with the support of the state? Continue reading