Thursday July 7, 2016, The Globe and Mail

It may be un-Canadian to boast, but in the wake of Brexit, rising European xenophobia and the bellowing of Donald Trump, Canada looks like an island of stability.

In historical terms, most Canadians are immigrants, meaning that our leaders have had to nation-build with nuance and compromise. Because of jurisdictional quarrels between federal and provincial governments; flare-ups of endemic resentments in Quebec; a culturally disparate population huddled for warmth along the country’s southern border; and a mouse-to-elephant relationship with the most powerful country on earth, steady pragmatism has been the key. We do that well in Canada. [more]

Wednesday, May 25, 2016, The Globe and Mail

If you have read John Hersey’s classic book Hiroshima, you may recall the sights that will confront President Barack Obama on Friday when he enters the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. There he will see a life-sized display of a wounded family staggering toward the Ota River. Their “skin” hangs in shreds, but their faces are intact, to protect the millions of schoolchildren who visit the museum. No melted eyes stream out of empty sockets. [more]

Friday May 6, 2016, The Globe and Mail

The controversial French comedian Dieudonné is booked to perform 10 shows in a small Montreal gallery starting next week – if he’s allowed into the country. Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre has called him persona non grata. Federal Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly has pointed out that discriminatory speech is not tolerated in Canada. [more]

Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015, The Globe and Mail

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold/… And what rough beast, its hour come at last/Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? – Yeats, The Second Coming

As Christmas approaches, these words, written in 1919 by W.B. Yeats occupy my mind. Within a few years, the first incarnation of the prescient “rough beast” came to power as Adolf Hitler, to be followed by Josef Stalin, then by the purveyors of hatred in Rwanda and Bosnia, whose racist bile culminated in genocide. The early 21st-century wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have spawned their own beast: Islamic State. [more]

Monday, Nov. 16, 2015, The Globe and Mail

The pictures are shocking. A hospital engulfed in flames, helpless patients and staff trapped inside. A mangled bed upended against what remains of a destroyed wall.

This was the aftermath of the U.S.-led aerial bombing of a Médecins sans frontières (Doctors Without Borders) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, last month in which 30 people were killed and at least 37 injured. The internationally respected humanitarian organization has asked a bottom-line question of the United States, Afghanistan, and NATO – all of which played a role in the attack:

“Are we, or are we not, protected under the Geneva Conventions?” MSF international president Joanne Liu said in an open letter last week. “Did our hospital lose its protected status in the eyes of the military – and if so, why? Those responsible for requesting, ordering and approving the air strikes hold these answers.” [more]