AS CANADIANS we like it when homegrown personalities make it big in the world. We especially like it when they make a point of reminding people of their Canadian heritage. We’re proud when they’re proud.
Among music superstars who wave the Maple Leaf on world stages are Bryan Adams, Rush, Shania Twain, Celine Dion and our own Paul Shaffer.
And now a man we in Thunder Bay consider to be an honorary citizen has followed suit. Neil Young gained his U.S. citizenship this week (retaining his Canadian loyalty — he’s a dual citizen) and made sure that everyone knew where he came from.
Young sang a little ditty for the cameras that he’s “proud to be a ‘Can-erican’ while twirling tiny twin U.S. and Canadian flags.
Locals of a certain age will remember Young and his first band, the Squires, left Winnipeg in 1965 and, in the words of Randy Bachman in Prairie Town, “went to play for awhile in Thunder Bay.” From here he went to Toronto and then to Los Angeles where he reunited with Stephen Stills, whom he’d met here at either the Fourth Dimension or the Flamingo (Ray Dee — help here, please), and formed Buffalo Springfield.
Young did not waste time in getting political at his U.S. naturalization appointment. “Vote your conscience,” he intoned, urging against a repeat of the 2016 election that brought to office the unlikeliest president of all time, Donald Trump.
While Young was speaking in Los Angeles, U.S. lawmakers on the other side of the country were debating articles of impeachment against Trump for bribing his Ukrainian counterpart to try to find dirt on Trump’s leading rival in this year’s election, Joe Biden. (Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara this week mocked Biden for his occasional stuttering. It seems that despicable behaviour runs in this dysfunctional family.)
This week, Democrats have laid out in painstaking and compelling detail, the chain of events and cast of characters involved in revealing and hiding Trump’s abhorrent behaviour.
They are trying with all their might to get Republicans who are privately aghast at this deviant to stand up in public and say so.
Someone posted on Facebook this week a version of ‘don’t think your vote doesn’t count.’ Imagine if enough Democrats had failed to cast ballots in 2016 to hand control of the House of Representatives to the Republicans as well as the Senate where they hold a majority and, so far, appear willing to use it to save Trump’s ass.
Their turn comes starting today when Trump’s attack-dog legal team sets out to try to refute the mountain of evidence that’s staring them in the face — evidence that is incomplete insofar as Trump has ordered key players and evidence kept secret. And still the case against the president is overwhelming.
It’s too bad the GOP old boys’ club is in charge in the Senate. They could take a lesson from the Dems’ House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, who has demonstrated remarkable resolve and patience in laying out the case against Trump.
Women have shown themselves to be equal in every way to men in politics and lately to be superior in many ways. People thought dazzling rookie Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 2018 primary win in New York over an apparent male shoo-in was a long shot.
She showed them why young women should never be underestimated. Her endorsement of Bernie Sanders was seen as a major coup, though Hillary Clinton’s criticism of Sanders this week took some of the bloom off the rose.
Slovakia’s first female president, Zuzana Caputova, a lawyer and environmental activist, has vowed to restore justice in a country largely affected by large-scale political corruption. She is sometimes called the “Erin Brokovich of Slovakia” for her decade-long struggle to close a toxic landfill in her hometown. She succeeded.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wasted no time imposing strict new gun control measures following a mass shooting last year. Canada continues to not know what to do about its own gun violence and the U.S. will talk about it till kingdom come while roughly 40,000 people die from gunshots every year.
While Trump rips up environmental legislation and locks refugees’ kids in cages, Greece has just elected its first woman prime minister. Katerina Sakellaropoulou chairsan environmental law society and is known to advocate for refugee rights.
Finland’s new prime minister is Sanna Marin. At 34 she is the youngest female head of government worldwide. She leads a centre-left coalition in which all five government parties have women at the top. Among other progressive ideas, Marin is talking openly about a four-day week and a six-hour-working day.
Here in Canada, Rona Ambrose might have had the Conservative party leadership for the asking but having earlier served in an interim capacity, she has ruled out a return to bitter politics, preferring to “make a difference in the private sector.”
Ambrose was one of three leading candidates, each of whom had a decent shot at challenging Justin Trudeau. The decision by Ambrose and then Jean Charest to forgo the contest leaves Peter MacKay as the clear front-runner. The other seven are merely padding their resumes.
There’s a difference between being electable and wanting to be elected, writes Emma Teitel in the Toronto Star this week.
Finally, in contrast to the principled positions of all these women, there’s this.
From the “Ignorance of the law by a person who commits an offence is not an excuse for committing that offence” dept. comes this beauty from Sen. Lindsey Graham, obedient Trump ally, defending the president against impeachment charges: “All I can tell you is from the president’s point of view, he did nothing wrong in his mind.”
It’s getting hard to maintain hope, isn’t it?
(Ian Pattison is retired as editorial page editor of The Chronicle-Journal, but still shares his thoughts on current affairs.)