Grant Promise Not ‘Finalized’

The Department of Finance says it is still finalizing a pandemic program for children though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced it three months ago. Trudeau in a TV message to Canadian youth said: “Whoever you are, whatever you need, we’re here for you.”

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Predict Only 1 in 10 Infected

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam yesterday said fewer than one in ten Canadians will contract Covid-19 but would not release modeling data used to justify the forecast. One epidemiologist described the claim as “unscientific rubbish”.

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Not My Fault, Says Minister

Provinces are to blame for failing to stock up on pandemic supplies, says Health Minister Patricia Hajdu. Testifying at the Senate social affairs committee, Hajdu said the Public Health Agency “isn’t really in the business” of maintaining a national stockpile though Parliament created the Agency in 2004 specifically for pandemic preparedness: “What went wrong?”

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Big Waiver On Raw Sewage

Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is granting municipalities a twenty-year waiver to keep dumping raw sewage in fish habitat. The regulatory notice follows a 2019 promise to “keep our waters safe, clean and well-managed”.

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Claim Heat Deaths, No Data

The Department of Environment predicts extreme heat will become a killer due to climate change, though data show more Canadians die in winter than summer. An earlier questionnaire of physicians nationwide concluded extreme heat is a rare problem: “They don’t consider it to be an issue.”

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Second Wave Is “Very Real”

The likelihood of a second, more severe wave of coronavirus infection is “reasonable” as the economy reopens, says the nation’s chief public health officer. Federal researchers predict as many as seventy percent of Canadians may become infected before the pandemic runs its course: “What is your plan?”

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“Astronaut In Rideau Hall”

 

The Governor General

could go easy

on those who prefer astrology, alternative medicine,

or biblical stories,

over facts and reason.

 

After all,

evolution didn’t only create

scientists and engineers.

 

It also created the artists, the spiritualists,

and the climate change skeptics.

 

And those who follow the scriptures

and believe in divine intervention

could forgive the Governor General.

 

After all,

God extends His grace

to the atheists too.

 

(Editor’s note: poet Shai Ben-Shalom, an Israeli-born biologist, examines current events in the Blacklock’s tradition each and every Sunday)

Book Review: The Red, White & Blue

Border towns have a unique world view rarely documented by historians. The city flag of Lethbridge, Alta. is red, white and blue. The Columbia in British Columbia is named for an American schooner. New York’s Buffalo News used to publish a monthly commentary of legislation passed by Parliament. Most residents of Emerson, Man. can name the best place to eat in Fargo, ND.

Author Brandon Dimmel documents this border culture and its cataclysmic change born from fears of terrorism more than a hundred years ago. Engaging The Line  is a smart, crisp account of the First World War’s impact on border life. The topic is not merely timely but compelling.

Most interesting in Dimmel’s account is the story of Windsor, Ont. and neighbouring Essex County, a place so Americanized newsboys used to hawk the Detroit Free Press on local street corners. Longtime residents still speak with a slight Michigan accent discernible to fellow Canadians.

Well into the 1880s, Detroit’s fire department took calls in Windsor. For years Windsorites thought nothing of crossing the river to work or take in a Tigers’ ballgame. “Thousands traveled across the line,” writes Dimmel; “Many would make this trip across the border only a few dozen times during their lives, whereas others would do so on a daily basis, having established homes for themselves on one side of the line and using the efficient ferry system of the Detroit River to access employment or entertainment across the boundary.”

Southwest Ontario, like Michigan, had a large ethnic German population. When war came in 1914, the Windsor Evening Post wrote a cautionary editorial contradicting the ballyhoo of Toronto Anglophiles: “This is a time for sober thought,” wrote the Evening Post. “Reflect on the horrible consequences of participating in a war that really does not concern us.”

Engaging The Line dates the end of this era from June 21, 1915 when German saboteurs bombed a garment factory in the Windsor suburb of Walkerville, home of the famous Hiram Walker distillery that produced Canadian Club. Other explosives were uncovered at the Windsor Armoury, a truck factory and the Invincible Machine Company plant.

“Windsorites were understandably shocked,” writes Dimmel. The border town “came to recognize U.S.-based German sympathizers as a legitimate threat to public safety.”

By 1917 the days of breezy border crossings were over. A cabinet order requiring that cross-border travelers obtain permits prompted a riot at the Windsor Customs office.

“The entire border crossing experience had changed dramatically since 1914, when immigration authorities limited their interrogations to visible and undesirable racial groups, criminals, prostitutes and people with obvious mental and physical illnesses,” writes Dimmel. “Now a fifth-generation Anglo-Saxon Windsor resident with a family living in Ypsilanti and job in downtown Detroit could expect the same kind of attention.”

Engaging The Line is likeable and meticulously researched, a warm account of an era we left behind.

By Holly Doan

Engaging the Line: How the Great War Shaped the Canada-U.S. Border, by Brandon R. Dimmel; University of British Columbia Press; 242 pages; ISBN 9780-77483-2755; $32.95

Auditors Target U.S. Property

The Canada Revenue Agency yesterday said it will review six years’ worth of U.S. real estate transactions in a hunt for Canadians with unreported income. Auditors will examine “current and historical records”, the Agency said: “Penalties and interest associated with unreported real estate sales can be substantial.”

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Wife’s Charity To Run Grants

Cabinet yesterday appointed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s favourite charity to manage a pandemic grant relief program. The Prime Minister’s wife has appeared as an “official ambassador” and public speaker at We Charity events in New York: “I’m curious how that’s not a conflict of interest?”

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Record Spending Bills Pass

The Senate today will pass into law the last of a flurry of spending bills that drive the federal debt to a trillion dollars. One Senator noted bills received scant scrutiny: “A $44 billion supply bill whipped through here in forty-six seconds.”

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Warns Of Internet “Experts”

The Governor General yesterday said Canadians must be wary of “self-appointed experts” on the internet. The remarks by Julie Payette came as cabinet ponders mandatory registration of all digital media: “It’s difficult to decide what is real.”

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Senate Apology For Meredith

Senators yesterday expressed regret for misconduct by ex-legislator Don Meredith. An unnamed “independent expert” is to recommend compensation for employees who accused Meredith of lewd behaviour: “It is just so exasperating.”

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Turn CERB Into Wage Bonus

Arbitrary rules under the $71.3 billion Canada Emergency Response Benefit program discourage people from working, Opposition leader Andrew Scheer said yesterday. Conservatives proposed a descending scale of benefits instead of an all-or-nothing regulation that disqualifies applicants who earn more than $1,000 a month: “Workers are penalized for picking up shifts.”

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