Megapundit: Canada: slightly better than America, but way worse than Europe

Must-reads: Jonathan Kay on carbon taxes; Henry Aubin on the Order of Canada; Andrew Cohen on the Canadian dream; Peter Worthington on Veterans’ Affairs new ombudsman.

Canadian crises
Too insignificant for the G8, crappier than Europe, hypocritical, drowning in carbon, crawling with neo-nazis and ignorant of the ways of minority governments. Was Canada Day really just a week ago?

Canada is “clinging to G8 membership with its fingernails,” the Toronto Star‘s James Travers warns, and unless we address our flagging productivity, aggressively work against protectionism and border paranoia with the next US president and rededicate ourselves to a “more inclusive” model of “world governance,” we’re in big, big trouble. Or, translated into Travers’ unique, Goldbergian prose: “No crystal ball is needed to see the future. Economics, trade and leadership are threads in the same rope. Structures that fail to loop it around their waists by accommodating change tie it around their neck.”

Reacting to Maclean’s Canada Day spectacular—which deems us “wealthier and healthier” than Americans, even as we “work less and live longer” and have significantly better sex—Andrew Cohen plays spoilsport and laments how “sadly comforting” such news must be “to the envious Little Canadian who happily consumes America’s popular culture, works for its branch plants, huddles under its nuclear umbrella and then feels free to criticize its vulgarity, debt and crime.” We should really be comparing ourselves with Europe, Cohen insists in the Ottawa Citizen, because they’re leaving both us and the Americans in the dust. Indeed they may be. And we’ll take that under advisement just as soon as Cohen—or someone, for God’s sake—finally explains to us how friggin’ Denmark is in any way comparable to Canada.

In light of Henry Morgentaler’s investiture in the Order of Canada, the Montreal Gazette‘s Henry Aubin finds it somewhat curious that McGill University bioethicist Margaret Somerville was turned down on grounds, according to the person who nominated her, that she’s too controversial. “I think most Canadians thought the Order was making an effort to reflect a significant current of public opinion,” he writes. “It’s hard to be against broad-mindedness.” But if Somerville’s nomination was indeed nixed because she reflects the wrong current of public opinion—she’s an outspoken critic of same-sex marriage—then this suggests a problem. It’s also ironic, Aubin notes, given the juvenile silent treatment some members of academia have imposed on her.

The National Post‘s Jonathan Kay lays out the “conservative case for a carbon tax” in its pure form—i.e., before Stéphane Dion and his ilk got their grubby, big-government hands on it. It would be simple; it would be fair; it would encourage people to abandon suburban, commuting lifestyles, which are poisonous to the traditional family dynamic; and it would soften our dependence on Saudi oil, which among other things makes it “impossible to maintain any semblance of a principled foreign policy.” Dion’s Green Shift, by contrast, “is so full of spurious, politically inspired hedges and add-ons that it squanders all of the above-listed benefits.” And sadly, says Kay, “when the federal Liberals lose the next election and Dion is forced to resign,” he’ll probably take his good idea with him into the sunset.

“One hates to side with Aryan Nations,” writes The Globe and Mail‘s Margaret Wente, but she’s with the Winnipeg mother who recently lost custody of her children due in part—or in whole, if you believe Wente—to her white-supremacist beliefs. “Simply teaching your children odious and creepy beliefs is not enough to lose them to the state,” she argues. “If it were, we’d have a good case to apprehend the offspring of, say, Tom Cruise.” (She’s here all week, folks—or maybe it just seems that way.) We don’t necessarily disagree with Wente on the whole, but declaring the “swastika-loving mom” a “reasonably good parent” without even mentioning a child services worker’s reports of drug and alcohol use in her home strikes us as a bit odd.

The Vancouver Sun‘s Barbara Yaffe appreciatively notes a recent article by University of Montreal political scientist Henry Milner, in which he argues (in Yaffe’s words) that “all those folks who have attacked Dion and his Liberals for cowardice—for their repeated refusal to pull the plug on the Harper crowd—are out to lunch,” and that the Liberals have actually been “responsive and canny, showing their adaptive skills in relation to the new lay of the land on Parliament Hill.” They understand minority government, in other words, and we don’t. Ahem. Perhaps. But we find it difficult to believe it’s good strategy to be as loud and as histrionic as possible about any given policy proposal before abstaining on the ensuing vote.

John McCain—home and away
The Globe‘s John Ibbitson looks at the recent shakeups to John McCain’s campaign team, and what little chance his new staff has of compensating for Barack Obama’s many, many advantages. We especially like Ibbitson’s assessment of McCain’s decision to appoint Mike Duhaime as political director: “Mr. Duhaime ran Rudy Giuliani’s spectacularly unsuccessful campaign for president, but has had greater success in previous efforts.”

McCain “saw right through” Stephen Harper’s last-minute trip to Saskatchewan when the Arizona senator visited Ottawa last month—a move widely viewed as an attempt by Harper to dodge further fallout from the NAFTA memo affair—and he was “miffed and mystified” at the snub. Or so says the Globe‘s Jeffrey Simpson, anyway. It’s the first we’ve heard of McCain reacting at all, and Simpson offers no clue as to where we might find more information, so we’re not sure whether “the Harper government has at least mildly irritated the camps of both pretenders to the White House” or just one. That said, Simspon’s dismissal of the affair as an embarrassingly “petty” moment in Canadian politics is perfectly apt (if weeks late).

Veterans’ affairs
The appointment of an ombudsman for Canadian veterans is “long overdue,” the Toronto Sun‘s Peter Worthington argues, but for those accustomed to the military runaround, it smacks of a “dubious promise.” Worthington might share the skepticism were it not for the ombudsman in question—retired Colonel Pat Stogran, who brings to the office a reputation as a “straight shooter, a blunt talker, [and] a guy who stood up for his troops” in all of his many postings. Indeed, Worthington argues, the fact Stogram “did a little bit of everything” in the military is itself a perfect qualification.

The Edmonton Journal‘s Graham Thomson reports from yesterday’s ramp ceremony at Kandahar Airfield for Pte. Colin Wilmot, the combat medic killed Monday while on foot patrol in the Panjwaii district.