Stephen Harper returns, and he has plenty to say

The former Conservative prime minister has advice for us on Trump, economics, immigration and more

Stephen Harper returns, and he has plenty to sayStephen Harper is back. After flying under the radar for the last three years, Canada’s former prime minister has returned to the arena, albeit not as an active politician. Instead, he’s a commentator with several messages to impart, all of which are packaged in his new book Right Here Right Now. Not everyone is impressed.…

The man who shot Billy the Kid

Pat Garrett has been maligned for killing his "friend" in a "cowardly" way. Neither indictment is persuasive

The man who shot Billy the KidTo the extent he’s remembered at all, Pat Garrett (1850-1908) is known as the man who shot Billy the Kid. Reputation-wise, it’s been a mixed blessing. Although the shooting happened in Garrett’s capacity as a sheriff hunting down a convicted murderer, the fictionalizing of the Old West and the power of Hollywood storytelling often cast…

A Brexit perspective with 55-year-old roots

Charles de Gaulle's view of the English should help inform the conversation about whether the U.K. belongs in Europe

A Brexit perspective with 55-year-old rootsWatching the fraught state of Brexit negotiations brought Charles de Gaulle to mind. On Jan. 14, 1963, de Gaulle – in his capacity as president of France – publicly blocked Britain’s entry into what was then known as the common market. “England,” he said, “is an island, sea-going, bound up by its trade, its markets,…

Hubert Humphrey’s futile dash for Presidential power

Humphrey tried and tried again but, ambition notwithstanding, he was never meant for the job

Hubert Humphrey’s futile dash for Presidential powerOn Sept. 30, 1968, an American vice-president made a dash for political independence. Speaking in Salt Lake City, Hubert Humphrey began the process of trying to separate his floundering presidential campaign from the spectre of his boss, President Lyndon Johnson. Humphrey’s initiative was to call for a change in America’s prosecution of the Vietnam War.…

Was the 2008 financial crisis exacerbated by official misjudgment?

Countries as disparate as Ireland, Iceland and Greece showed that misplaced financial exuberance has many pedigrees

Was the 2008 financial crisis exacerbated by official misjudgment?We were on a train from London to Edinburgh when the financial crisis erupted in September 2008. The newspaper headlines were downright lurid and the detailed stories provided little comfort. A financial catastrophe was about to descend on all of us. As relatively recent retirees, we felt particularly vulnerable. There’d be no time or opportunity…

Support for multiculturalism declining in Sweden

The influx of immigrants into Sweden in 2015 is threatening the country's vaunted beliefs in multiculturalism, immigration and political conformity

Support for multiculturalism declining in SwedenAs the final votes are counted in Sweden’s general election, the rifts in this famously conformist society are getting deeper. Sweden may be the western world’s most self-consciously liberal state, but significant cracks are appearing in the foundation. To get a sense of the trend, look at the trajectory of the gradually-building support for the…

The Swedes weren’t always peace-loving

As far back as the Viking age, the Swedes were troublemakers of the first order. And they persisted for centuries

The Swedes weren’t always peace-lovingWalking around Stockholm on a recent sunny Sunday, I was struck again by a nagging question: When and why did the Swedes become the peace-loving exemplars we’ve come to know and sometimes envy? They weren’t always like that. Far from it. As far back as the Viking age (circa 793-1050), the Swedes were troublemakers of…

Cruising the Baltic, gathering perspectives

From perspectives on politics to perceptions of history, every region has a story to tell. And sometimes they're complicated

Cruising the Baltic, gathering perspectivesCruising the Baltic and the west coast of Norway doesn’t make one an expert on the region. But it does convey impressions, and here are a few of them. First, though, a brief observation about modern travel. While there are distinct inconveniences centred on crowded airports and milling throngs, currencies are no longer an issue.…

The tangled tragedy of Mary, Queen of Scots

Over the past four-plus centuries, Mary’s reputation has waxed and waned. A movie due out this year should put a positive spin on it

The tangled tragedy of Mary, Queen of ScotsThis Christmas, cinema patrons will be offered the historical drama Mary, Queen of Scots. With Saoirse Ronan in the title role and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I of England, the movie casts two of today’s prominent actresses in a retelling of the 16th century’s most compelling personal rivalry. As the movie is based on John…

Meddling in other countries’ elections isn’t always outrageous

There are plenty of instances of foreign influence, including in Canada. Why is it okay for Kennedy and Obama but not Putin?

Meddling in other countries’ elections isn’t always outrageousYou’d have to be living in a cave to be unaware of the controversy over Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. And much of the related discussion has approached apocalyptic levels. We’re told that when one country meddles in another’s election, it’s a hostile act. Some have even likened it to war. But…

What if Bobby Kennedy had lived?

It’s still a stretch to believe he could have become president in 1972 or later, given his beliefs and the circumstances of the time

What if Bobby Kennedy had lived?Coincident with the 50th anniversary of U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s murder, I wrote a column several weeks ago wondering whether he’d have otherwise been elected president in 1968. My sense was negative. In fact, I didn’t think he’d have won the Democratic nomination that year. However, that doesn’t mean that his presidential prospects were…

The man who cheated death again and again

Caryl Chessman won eight stays of execution until the gas chamber finally caught up with him on May, 2, 1960

The man who cheated death again and againHe’s a forgotten figure now but there was a time when anyone following the news cycle would have known who Caryl Chessman was. Sentenced to death in California on June 25, 1948, Chessman won eight stays of execution until the gas chamber finally caught up with him on May, 2, 1960. In the process, he…

Is Ontario’s Big Blue Machine rolling again?

There's no evidence the tribal loyalty of the past can exist today. And today's financial limits will ultimately handicap any government

Is Ontario’s Big Blue Machine rolling again?With Doug Ford’s surprisingly decisive Ontario election win, you might wonder about going back to the future. Specifically, is the Progressive Conservatives’ fabled Big Blue Machine rolling again? Younger voters may find this hard to credit, but there was a time when the Progressive Conservatives consistently dominated Ontario politics. Beginning in 1943, they won 12…

The Black Death and its aftermath

Surprisingly, post-Black Death populations tended to live longer and enjoy better health and standards of living

The Black Death and its aftermathBubonic plague came to England in the summer of 1348. Popularly known as the Black Death, the disease arrived via a French ship that docked in what is now Weymouth on the south coast. From there, it spread rapidly inland and westwards over the water to Ireland. It was also transmitted across the North Sea…

Would Bobby Kennedy have been elected president?

On the 50th anniversary of his assassination, a close look at the facts suggests another Kennedy president was unlikely

Would Bobby Kennedy have been elected president?It’s now 50 years since U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was murdered on the night of his victory in the California Democratic presidential primary, on June 6, 1968. The shooter, a Palestinian immigrant with Jordanian citizenship, was apparently angry at Kennedy’s support for Israel. Kennedy, generally referred to as Bobby, was a controversial figure in…
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