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About "johnrobson"

John Robson, columnist and commentator with Sun Media, is also an Invited Professor at the University of Ottawa and a commentator-at-large with News Talk Radio 580 CFRA in Ottawa. With a B.A. and M.A. in history from the University of Toronto and a Ph.D in American history from the University of Texas at Austin, he has worked in academia, think tanks and politics as well as doing print, radio, TV and online journalism in Canada. He is married to Brigitte Pellerin.

Minister of what?

- July 15th, 2013

After a fairly successful stint as Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney has just been made Minister of Employment and Social Development. There, I expect, he will continue to carry out the wishes of Prime Minister Harper and bolster the fortunes of the federal Tories. But pause, if you will, for one moment to consider what National Citizens’ Coalition president S. J. Harper or Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation president J. T. Kenney would say about the very concept of a minister of social development.

Of course, that was then.

Hot stuff

- June 26th, 2013

According to a Sierra Club Canada press release, Barack Obama’s global warming bowl of mush yesterday, in which he didn’t even take a clear stand on the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, “may turn out to be one of the most important speeches in American history”. Right. Forget “I Have a Dream” or the Farewell Address or the Gettysburg Address. Give a formulaic shout-out, take off your jacket again, mop your brow theatrically and drone on and your words “may turn out to be” studied, cited and cherished two centuries hence.

Or not.

Copt out

- June 20th, 2013

For some mysterious reason one result of the Muslim Brotherhood’s triumph in Egypt is vastly increased repression of the Coptic Christians who make up 10 percent of the population. Violence is up, police response is down and emigration is rising. Fortunately the people forever telling us Islam is a religion of peace are about to start indignantly and insistently reminding President Morsi and his colleagues of this point until Cairo steps in to stop the brutality and make tolerance, peace, love and respect effective policy. Right, guys? Huh? Any minute now?


Whine and rhyme don’t

- June 19th, 2013

If Canada’s poet laureate did not exist it would not be necessary to invent him. And perhaps not possible either, even for a gimlet-eyed satirist.

Consider that the actual incumbent of this actual position, Fred Wah, was just quoted in the newspapers whining to some Scottish audience that in all his time in office he’s only been asked to produce one “mediocre poem” (his own description) about the Queen, instead of being invited to land one left-wing verse haymaker after another on the Harper administration “about immigration policy, about Idle No More, about Canada’s complicity in the Middle East, the Enbridge pipeline” and so on.

When you consider that his official oeuvre begins “She said looking through the monarchy of pronouns Her halftone face profiles the moment” it is less surprising than he seems to believe that he was not asked for an encore. Besides, what rhymes with Enbridge? Although I gather rhyming is passé in poetry these days.

So long then Fred

Your stuff’s unread

Up we are fed.

If that’s a poem

You should go home

And cease to show ‘em.

Running Iran and running in it

- June 17th, 2013

If you’re wondering how only 8 of 686 would-be candidates were allowed to run in Iran’s presidential election, it’s very simple. The Guardian Council of the Constitution approves candidates… or doesn’t if they’re not sufficiently keen on wholesome principles like death to Israel and death to the Great Satan and an Iranian nuclear bomb and such like. And where does this GCC come from? Again, very simple. The Supreme Leader chooses six members while the Parliament (whose legislation it can veto and whose candidates it can also veto) chooses six from a list prepared by the head of the Judicial Power who is (but you saw this coming) appointed by the Supreme Leader.

Even if you do get to be President, you don’t run the country. That’s the Supreme Leader, chosen by the Assembly of Experts (directly elected from candidates approved by… itself, and vetted by that darn Guardian Council again). Oh, and the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution can create things that aren’t laws but are binding and can’t be overruled except by the Supreme Leader… who appoints the SCCR personally.

Which raises the vexed question: Even if you could run for president of Iran, or for its parliament, why would you want to? That so many people would vote for a fake moderate anyway (a “pragmatist” according to the New York Times and we all know what that means) suggests most Iranians wish this question had a better answer than it does. But those who rule them for their own benefit without their genuine consent probably don’t care. Certainly this tangled self-perpetuating institutional framework suggests they don’t.