Articles

Friday April 6, 2018, The Globe and Mail

Although ordinarily somnolent, the black dog of unaddressed history will sometimes warn about obscured misdeeds. U.S. President Donald Trump’s nomination of Gina Haspel to head the Central Intelligence Agency has triggered just such a wake-up – for Ms. Haspel’s history with the CIA includes practising torture – a war crime – during George W. Bush’s “war on terror.”

There was sporadic outrage when Ms. Haspel’s nomination was announced: Republican John McCain demanded that she explain the nature of her involvement in the interrogation program. Democrat Ron Wyden said her past makes her “unsuitable to serve as CIA director.” The American Civil Liberties Union called for her CIA records to be declassified. But when the moment of her Senate confirmation arrives this month, only one thing will matter: the decibel rate and the resonance of their dissenting voices. [more]

Friday January 4, 2018, The Globe and Mail

Eugene Ionesco’s comic play, Amédée, featuring a “corpse” in a closet that extends grotesque members during an urbane dinner party, was almost certainly intended to spoof the blindness of the French to their wartime collaboration with the Nazis; but the playwright’s metaphor can be extended to other willful hidings, including one now facing the government of Canada.

Canada’s unexamined role in transferring captured Afghans to notorious prisons where they were certain to be tortured is another stubborn entity that keeps popping out of the cupboard. Both former prime minister Stephen Harper and current PM Justin Trudeau have tried to ignore the unwelcome visitor, but it will not be snubbed. [more]

Tuesday November 7, 2017, The Globe and Mail

Will Trumpism come to Canada? When asked over the past year, I’ve said no. Canadian respect for diversity, an economy that has stayed afloat and our reputed politeness have made such an evolution improbable – at least in the near term.

That’s still true, but we’re seeing ground-level challenges.

Yes, Ezra Levant’s hateful website, The Rebel, fell into disrepute after its coverage of the white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., last August. Yes, the federal NDP has elected a Sikh man as its leader. And yes, the recent outing of men with a history of predation may actually kick-start change to the oldest status quo in history: the demeaning of uppity women who think they’re equal. [more]

Wednesday July 12, 2017, The Globe and Mail

It appears we can become accustomed to anything, provided it’s repeated often enough. What may have appalled us last year, or the year before, eventually loses its edge and is rendered normal. Think of the way highway speeding ratchets up as drivers accelerate to maintain the faster flow of traffic.

Something similar happens with language. Words accelerate. Without thoughtful restraint, they are like speeding cars, prone to accident. [more]

Monday, May 8, 2017, The Globe and Mail

A heavy sigh of relief could be heard in Brussels and across most Western capitals on Sunday after Emmanuel Macron won France’s second round of voting. Had his opponent Marine Le Pen become France’s next president, the beleaguered European Union might have taken a fatal nosedive into oblivion, further disrupting the international order.

So there’s a reprieve, but possibly just that. Mr. Macron faces formidable challenges, and a failure to meet the high bar he has set for himself could have far-reaching consequences. He’s a man of clear talent and mind-boggling ambition. But for now he’s a one-man show. And without a strong party structure, and without winning a majority in the June parliamentary elections, his bold promises may prove elusive. [more]