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…

Ronald Reagan’s remarkable mission to Moscow

The American president's loathing for nuclear weapons and his desire to see new freedoms in the Soviet Union framed his trip

Ronald Reagan’s remarkable mission to MoscowLate in his presidency, Ronald Reagan went to Moscow for a visit that generated some dramatic images and memorable moments. If you’d predicted this when he was elected in 1980, most people – pundits and experts especially – would’ve scoffed at you. Reagan, so the narrative went, was a dangerous cowboy, a warmonger and a…

Britain’s social (and economic) revolution

A stunning 94% of Britain’s richest made their money themselves. Land ownership no longer holds the keys to the kingdom

Britain’s social (and economic) revolutionIf you watched the royal wedding, you’d be tempted to think of Britain’s social order as immutable. While the bride’s background introduced a degree of diversity, the image of Britain as hereditarily hierarchical seemed to be alive and well. Reality, though, is different. The tectonic plates have shifted significantly over the past half-century, transforming what…

Movie musical Grease turns 40 this summer

Forty years after its release, the movie poses a conundrum for those disposed to view everything through an ideologically-tinted lens

Movie musical Grease turns 40 this summerBelieve it or not, the movie musical Grease turns 40 this summer. It’s no exaggeration to say that it took the 1978 box office by storm. Indeed, the radio-ubiquitous title song caught the mood of the moment perfectly: Grease is the word. Alas, the simple joys can never stay simple. In the fraught temper of…

Marxism “the opium of the intellectuals”

On the 200th anniversary of Marx's birth, let's admit Marxism has nothing useful to say to the modern world

Marxism “the opium of the intellectuals”Karl Marx is buried in England, in the north London suburb of Highgate. I know that because I came across his grave in the summer of 1964. Topped by a large bronze bust on a marble pedestal, the tomb is hard to miss. And although you might think of Marx as a quaint figure, you’d…

Ireland’s abortion referendum puts it all on the table

If you probe the granular views of most people, I suspect you’ll find they’re somewhere between the two extremes

Ireland’s abortion referendum puts it all on the tableThere is no abortion law in Canada. Canadians uneasy about that can look across the Atlantic for an alternative way of doing things. On May 25, the Republic of Ireland goes to the polls in an abortion-related constitutional referendum. Abortion was outlawed in Ireland by the Offences Against the Person Act passed by the United…

What happens if America stops underwriting world order?

Because there are bad guys and bullies out there, a muscular cop – however imperfect – brings a degree of reassurance

What happens if America stops underwriting world order?Pax Americana is the Latin term for the idea that American power underwrites the post-1945 world order. If there’s a major international problem, the underlying assumption is that the United States needs to take the lead in resolving or containing it. Other countries may play a supporting role but the Americans need to do the…

The Marshall Plan wasn’t a silver bullet

Called ‘the most generous act of any people, anytime, anywhere, to another people,‘ the post-war economic boost still had flaws

The Marshall Plan wasn’t a silver bulletU.S. President Harry Truman signed the Marshall Plan into law 70 years ago this month. Named after then-U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall, the plan was aimed at the economic reconstruction of Europe in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. It got rave reviews. Its own chief administrator characterized it as “the most…
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