Accept Apology, Not Censure

New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh yesterday said a public apology, not censure, was sufficient for a Toronto candidate who posted anti-Israel tweets. Singh earlier pledged support for federal legislation to regulate hurtful comments on social media: “Why are you standing by this candidate?”

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No Right To Shop Maskless

Human rights codes do not protect maskless shoppers, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal has ruled. People who claim a right to forego Covid masks must have a valid medical reason, the Tribunal said: “I was told if I would not wear a mask I had to leave.”

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No Mandatory Vax In Prison

Federal prisoners do not have to get vaccinated, the Correctional Service said yesterday. However prison guards as federal employees would be required to show proof of vaccination under a cabinet proposal: “The Covid-19 vaccine is not mandatory for federal inmates.”

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Feds Polled On Nt’l Rifle Ban

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair’s department commissioned pre-election polling on whether to ban hunting rifles and shotguns. More than a third of people favoured a ban, mainly those who were “not very or at all familiar” with firearms regulations: “The objective of this research was to set benchmarks.”

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Seeks Ban On Street Protests

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau yesterday said any re-elected Liberal cabinet will amend the Criminal Code to outlaw protests outside hospitals, clinics and pharmacies. The Code already prohibits unlawful assembly by as few as three people: ““Why would that legislation be necessary?”

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Studied 40,000 Trump Tweets

The Bank of Canada in a review of Donald Trump tweets concludes the former U.S. president’s messages had a “statistically significant” impact on exchange rates. Twitter permanently suspended Trump’s account last January 8: “His tweets were informative and potentially consequential.”

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Fed Insiders Got VIP Service

Cabinet aides were in personal contact with VIPs and Liberal Party insiders seeking federal Covid contracts from the outbreak of the pandemic, according to internal emails. Other suppliers were told to register with a federal website: “Could we reach out politically on this one as well?”

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Sought Replacement Workers

The Newfoundland and Labrador government quietly petitioned the post office to hire replacement workers to deliver the mail, according to internal records. Neither Canada Post nor the Premier’s Office would comment on emails dating from a Covid outbreak in St. John’s: “The Newfoundland and Labrador government has requested that Canada Post look at hiring temporary workers.”

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Would Promote Arts Abroad

The Department of Canadian Heritage has spent three years devising a program to promote the arts at foreign embassies, according to a briefing note. Expenses to date were not detailed. It follows a fly-a-chef program by the Department of Foreign Affairs that cost $1.75 million a year: “People begin to gain a better appreciation of other perspectives.”

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Sunday Poem: “All Aboard”

 

Canadian politicians

love the train.

 

They either take Business Class

for added room and comfort,

or publicly denounce VIA executives

for failing to maintain

safety standards.

 

One way or the other,

it gets them to where they want to be.

 

(Editor’s note: poet Shai Ben-Shalom, an Israeli-born biologist, writes for Blacklock’s each and every Sunday)

Review – Heroes And Anti-Heroes

Historian Jack Granatstein decades ago crisscrossed the country interviewing the last surviving senior Canadian officers to serve in the Second World War. Once newsreel heroes, they were now old men, in their 80s and 90s, forgotten by the public – bitterly so, in some cases. Luckily for readers, Granatstein saved his notes.

“Some of what I recorded was indiscreet, self-serving and gossipy, no doubt, but almost all of it seemed to me to be the truth,” writes Granatstein; “During the war, several of the officers whom I interviewed had refused to be disparaging about the abilities of their leaders, despite probing questioning. They had no such qualms in disparaging politicians, but the passage of decades and the gaining of perspective relaxed such instinctive attitudes in many interviewees’ remarks on their comrades.”

The result is a collection of warm, indelible profiles of fighting men, by turns poignant and pathetic. The Weight Of Command is a compelling account of the deathbed recollections of Canadians who participated in extraordinary events. One suffered a nervous breakdown during the war, and still teared up at the thought of being greeted by old soldiers on the streets of Vancouver. Another officer is recalled as a “bastard” who affected a black beret and liked to visit the troops in a white chauffeured scout car. A third commander was a physical coward who cringed in a trench on D-Day.

“To succeed in battle, recent field experience, a willingness to learn and adapt, and the ability to lead and inspire were essential,” notes Weight Of Command. “No Canadian officers had those qualities at the beginning of the Second World War, and there were few keen military minds among them.”

There was General Harry Crerar of Hamilton, Ont., commander of the First Canadian Army, driven to drink after the war. An impaired driving charge scotched Crerar’s secret ambition to win appointment as Governor General. “He was so upset,” a colleague recalled.

Crerar in wartime was a careful, meticulous man so lacking in spontaneity he filed away jokes written on index cards for retrieval at appropriate times. “Crerar was really a senior civil servant, not a fighting general,” said one officer. “The troops scarcely knew him.”

Major General George Pearkes, a former Alberta policeman, had won a Victoria Cross in the First World War but was recalled as “no great administrator” and a vain and unintelligent man. “Whatever brains he’d once possessed had been blown out in the Great War,” one oldtimer told Granatstein; “He actually traveled with a trumpeter.” Lecturing once at a Junior War Staff Course, Pearkes announced: “Tanks are stupid; can a tank go up a staircase to clear a house?” After the war he was appointed defence minister.

General Andrew McNaughton of Moosomin, Sask., another defence minister, emerges as a lackluster and ineloquent commander fascinated by technology. One officer recalled attending a conference at Corps Headquarters “and finding McNaughton under a truck, looking for the source of transmission problems.”

“Andy wouldn’t say hello to people in the elevator,” one interviewee recounted. “He wasn’t interested in war, but only in the instruments of war. He liked gadgets; for example, he once sent someone to Oxford to study Greek fire.”

“Canadians know very little of their nation’s role in the Second World War,” Granatstein writes. “This is a terrible shame.” Weight Of Command in vivid reportage introduces new generations to Canada’s wartime heroes and anti-heroes.

By Holly Doan

The Weight Of Command: Voices Of Canada’s Second World War Generals and Those Who Knew Them,  by J.L. Granatstein; University of British Columbia Press; 312 pages; ISBN 9780-7748-32991; $34.95

Minister Used Ghostwriters

Internal emails show federal employees had to script a town hall appearance by Prosperity Minister Mona Fortier that included written questions submitted in advance. The Department of Finance yesterday did not comment: “We’re really looking forward to some of those answers.”

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