Political orthodoxies are being challenged in Europe

From the UK to Sweden to Italy, progressive parties are losing ground

Political orthodoxies are being challenged in EuropeQueen Elizabeth II’s death may have consumed most of the oxygen over the past couple of weeks, but other interesting things are happening. Across the Atlantic, three (non-Ukraine) developments stand out. United Kingdom U.K. political governance has four great offices of state – prime minister, chancellor of the exchequer, foreign secretary and home secretary. And…

Rocky Marciano vs Sugar Ray Robinson

Rocky Marciano retired undefeated while Sugar Ray went into a long decline

Rocky Marciano vs Sugar Ray RobinsonWhen professional boxing was still a mainstream sport, it often caught the fancy of young boys who’d immerse themselves in the newspaper build-up to championship fights and root passionately for their favourites. And because it’s natural to identify with a winner, you often adopted whoever was the heavyweight champion at the time your interest was…

What is the monarchy’s future in Canada?

Now that Queen Elizabeth II is gone

What is the monarchy’s future in Canada?Realistically, Queen Elizabeth II’s death at age 96 wasn’t a surprise. But it still came as a jolt, the impact being accentuated by the apparent suddenness of her final decline. For many, such as my Toronto-born wife, Elizabeth’s 70-year reign as Queen of Canada rendered her a benign presence who symbolized continuity in a changing…

Winston Churchill: ruffian or hero?

Doesn't matter. He was a very useful guy to have around when the chips were down

Winston Churchill: ruffian or hero?When Winston Churchill died in 1965, it marked the end of an era. Already a shade past his 90th birthday, he was the last survivor of the Second World War’s top political leadership. And given his youthful participation in a cavalry charge at the 1898 Battle of Omdurman, it was as if a relic from…

Mikhail Gorbachev, from global hero to forgotten man

The situation got away from him. He was overwhelmed

Mikhail Gorbachev, from global hero to forgotten manMikhail Gorbachev died in Moscow last week at the age of 91. Once the world’s most celebrated politician, he had quite the rollercoaster ride. First, what was dubbed Gorbymania swept the western world and the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize credited him with ending the Cold War. Then he was rudely relegated to political obscurity. What…

Gaining perspective: Princess Diana’s death 25 years on

She was a young woman of scant personal resources who believed she was basking with dolphins when she was foundering among sharks

Gaining perspective: Princess Diana’s death 25 years onIt’s hard to believe that Aug. 31 marks the 25th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death. The passage of time has a way of creeping up on you. In the days and weeks immediately following the tragic accident, the story consumed the headlines and the airwaves. You couldn’t escape from it, even if you wanted to.…

Modern India turns 75 despite the bitterness and violence

Independence was declared on Aug. 15, 1947

Modern India turns 75 despite the bitterness and violenceAug. 15, 1947, represented the formal end of the British Raj. India became independent, and what had once been the crown jewel of the British Empire was gone. The rest of the empire soon followed suit. Indian nationalism had been growing since the early decades of the 20th century, becoming increasingly focused on complete independence.…

The assassination of Sir Henry Wilson Ireland’s Sarajevo?

Regardless of the British reaction to Wilson’s death, the Irish civil war was likely to happen

The assassination of Sir Henry Wilson Ireland’s Sarajevo?Michael Collins was the most dynamic figure in the events leading to the establishment of the Irish Free State. And he was killed in an ensuing civil war ambush on August 22, 1922. Just two months earlier, Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson had been assassinated in London. Allegedly, Collins ordered the hit. Irish journalist Ronan…

Richard Nixon’s California embarrassment

How did a man with one of the highest profiles in American politics flop so badly in 1962?

Richard Nixon’s California embarrassmentIncluding his two campaigns for vice-president, Richard Nixon ran for office nine times and lost twice. One of these losses was the razor-thin defeat to John F. Kennedy in 1960’s presidential contest. The other was his ill-advised California gubernatorial effort two years later. California was Nixon’s home state and he’d always done well there, even…

The legend of King Arthur is a gift that keeps on giving

Although it may be a fabrication, the story has powerful resonance

The legend of King Arthur is a gift that keeps on givingKing Arthur is back in the news, thanks to an archeological dig in Herefordshire, England. The dig site in question is Arthur’s Stone, a Neolithic-era burial chamber that’s somewhere in the vicinity of 4,000 years old. It’s technically a dolmen with a capstone resting on nine uprights. And with an estimated weight of around 25…

The past is a foreign country. Just ask Keith Richards

The changes in attitudes over the past half-century are little short of astounding

The past is a foreign country. Just ask Keith RichardsIt was 55 years ago this summer that English journalist William Rees-Mogg penned a widely read editorial for London’s Sunday Times. Borrowing from the 18th-century poet Alexander Pope, Rees-Mogg’s piece was titled Who Breaks a Butterfly on a Wheel? In it, Rees-Mogg took issue with the severity of the legal treatment meted out in consequence…

Hollywood icons and the Second World War

Some Hollywood legends actually participated in the reality of war, rather than merely on celluloid

Hollywood icons and the Second World WarIf you’re like me, the most vivid combat images you have of the Second World War come from Hollywood movies. Whether it was John Wayne on Iwo Jima or Errol Flynn in Burma, heroism was very much the order of the day. And Americans were invariably at the centre of the action. Naturally, the historical…

Could Jean Charest shatter the Conservatives?

So far, disaffection among the Conservative base exceeds his attractiveness to non-Conservatives

Could Jean Charest shatter the Conservatives?The premise of Jean Charest’s campaign for the federal Conservative leadership is that he’ll deliver power by bringing in votes that have eluded the party. Hence the Built to Win theme. Charest would undoubtedly appeal to some people who’ve recently voted for other parties, especially the Liberals. But whether there’d be enough converts to actually…

Lessons from Boris Johnson’s departure and the contest to replace him

The diversity quotient of the leadership candidates is striking, at odds with the conservative caricature

Lessons from Boris Johnson’s departure and the contest to replace himCanadians with a general interest in politics will be watching the current developments in the United Kingdom. They might even feel a touch of envy. Less than three years ago, Boris Johnson bestrode the British scene like the proverbial colossus. Thwarting the dogged opponents of Brexit – including many in his own party – he…

Canada’s Fenian years featured some interesting personalities

A plotter, a spy with an overactive libido and a three-time attempted invader all called themselves Fenians

Canada’s Fenian years featured some interesting personalitiesHistorian David A. Wilson’s new book is Canadian Spy Story: Irish Revolutionaries and the Secret Police. It recounts a mid-19th-century episode where Irish revolutionaries – known as Fenians – tried to use Canada as a pawn in their struggle for Irish independence. Last week’s column looked at the Fenian attempts to invade Canada and hold…
1 2 3 19