Introducing The Walrus Blog’s weekly roundup of Canadian and foreign affairs
This week, an unsurprising election process—considering New York Times blogger Nate Silver’s spot-on forecasts—culminated with Americans voting to become more Canadian. At TheTyee.ca, David Beers summed up six takeaways from this year’s US election, though we already know the most important result: Beyoncé joined Instagram.
Elsewhere in the world, Michael Ignatieff predicted the death of parliamentary politics at the BBC’s annual Free Thinking Festival. The former Liberal Party leader later emailed Postmedia News to explain: “loosening of the party whips may be necessary to keep our democracy from suffocation.”
Stephen Harper proved that he has more important things to do than wait around for foreign election results. The Prime Minister visited India this week, to finally close a uranium export deal that had been stalled since 2010. Harper referred to India and Canada as lovers from a Bollywood film (“they know they are meant for each other, but they have obstacles to overcome”), hoping to compel further trade through a Foreign Investment and Protection Agreement. The effort was to no avail. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh heads a minority government, and is having trouble pushing economic reforms through his parliament.
Indian obstacles aside, Harper is on a roll: the PM has been busy promoting Canada internationally as a resource-rich country, and pushing for a controversial trade agreement with China. Some say Harper has a vision for Canada; the Boston Globe reported it might be world domination.
At home, Canadians will be frequently reminded of our militaristic heritage, with the new $20 bill coming into circulation this week.
Less publicly, British Columbia’s Liberal and New Democratic Party MLAs granted themselves a $127,000 severance fund upon facing recall prospects in 2011. The MLAs retained their seats and the fund was never paid out, but voters are newly outraged that their representatives called a secret meeting to gift themselves a golden parachute.
Meanwhile in Ontario, Dr. Chris Mazza, former chief executive officer of the controversy-ridden ORNGE helicopter ambulance service, asserted that he tried to step down from his position in the summer of 2011. Mazza now says he was suffering from severe stress and depression linked to PTSD, but his board of directors wouldn’t let him go. ORNGE’s chairman, Rainer Beltzner, refuted the claim, insisting that Mazza never made the request to the board.
After: (1) raids at his home, office, and banks; (2) testimonies alleging he accepted kickbacks from construction companies; and (3) a two-week sick leave from work, Laval’s embattled mayor, Gilles Vaillancourt, finally announced his resignation.
Many Torontonians wish their fearless leader would do the same. “I’m as clean as the days are long,” Mayor Rob Ford insisted after his latest scandal, in which two transit buses were rerouted to pick up the high school football team that he coaches—leaving some of his citizens stranded on the curb. The city’s patience with Ford, like a winter’s day, is growing shorter by the minute.