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The Russsian-Ukraine War

The tragedy of war once again plays out before us on our television screens. Commentators on various western television networks comment on the state of the war, declaring its support for brave Ukrainian fighters and decrying the destruction and loss of Ukrainian lives. One does not have to be an ardent student of modern history to know that wars are disorderly, disruptive, and destructive events in which people, including civilians, are injured or killed. As we watch the war coverage, let us pray for the war to end, and that the loss of Ukrainian and Russian lives ceases.

There is also hypocrisy in war. For example, the United States is supplying arms and supplies to Ukraine but warning The People’s Republic of China not to supply arms or supplies to the Russian Federation, and western politicians and political commentators are lamenting the death of Ukrainian soldiers but not those of Russia.

The NATO democracies, including Canada, are not without fault when it comes to the Russia Federation-Ukraine War, as can be seen from a brief review of defensive arrangements in Europe. After World War II, the nations of western Europe had reasons to become concerned about their physical and internal political security as the Soviet Union held power and influence over many countries in eastern Europe and communist movements elsewhere in Europe. The Americans did not want the western European nations to negotiate with the Soviet Union over matters of security, and therefore suggested an arrangement for collective security. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created in 1949 by the United States, Canada, and several western European nations to provide collective security against the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union did not want eastern Europe to have enemy soldiers along its border. During the Cold War and in response to the inclusion of West Germany into NATO, a collective defense treaty was signed in 1955 between the Soviet Union and seven other Eastern Bloc socialist republics of central and eastern Europe creating the Warsaw Pact Both NATO and the Warsaw Pact were defensive arrangements against the perceived threats of aggression by opposing political forces. Several communist (state socialist) governments fell to popular movements in the period 1989-1991, and the Warsaw Pact ended in February 1991. The Soviet Union itself was dissolved in December 1991. Although several of the former Soviet republics initially formed a Collective Security Treaty Organization, the threat to western democracies from a unified Soviet Union and a collection of communist central and eastern European countries had greatly diminished. The Soviet Union and the Warsaw pact were gone yet NATO remained, and expanded eastward. Instead of guiding Russia towards closer relationship with the west and greater democracy, several western countries maintained a confrontational attitude towards Russia. Russia could only perceive NATO as a military alliance against them. Russia faced a growing threat as several neighbouring Baltic states joined NATO, but the potential addition of Ukraine joining NATO was too great a threat and Russia reacted. If existing NATO members like Canada did not support NATO expansionism to the borders of Russia, perhaps the Russian Federation-Ukraine War could have been avoided.

The Canadian government has clearly sided with Ukraine. However, as citizens in a democracy, we need to question our government’s position and actions. We need to be patriotic but not nationalistic. We should consider how long and to what extent the supply of weapons to the Ukraine and the imposition of economic sanctions on Russia are justifiable. Canada needs to advocate for peace. In the long term, Canada should strive for good relations with both the Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

On Being Canadian

ON BEING CANADIAN

  • All Canadians are equal but some have a higher level of equality.
  • Canadians think Canada is a small country but over 150 countries are smaller in area, in population, and in economic wealth (gross domestic product).
  • Canadians can be racist if they belong to the right ethnic group (and it is not white Europeans and their descendants).
  • Canadians think they are law-abiding but they drive above the speed limit on streets and highways.
  • Canadians are proud that Canada has a high percentage of people with university degrees although many university graduates are underemployed.
  • Canadians revere university education but has a shortage of people with vocational skills.
  • Canadians think it is all right to import foreign workers to do the important work of food production and harvesting while many Canadians collect welfare.
  • Canadians think Canada promotes human rights but Canadian governments often support or encourage trade with countries that suppress human rights of their citizens.
  • Many Canadians think they are English or French but do not hold citizenship of the United Kingdom or France, and some have never been there.
  • Many Canadians think Canada and Canadians are well-liked internationally, but this is not universally the case, and it is better sometimes to pretend to be American or European than identify as Canadian.
  • Canadians think having teams in American sports leagues is better than supporting our national leagues, but this only shows Canadian subservience to having their favourites sports largely run by foreign business people.
  • Many Canadians think the role of the military is peace-keeping instead of maintaining order within Canada, defending Canada from foreign enemies, and being a deterrent to foreign invasion.
  • Many Canadians believe in freedom of speech and freedom of the press except if individuals or the media have different opinions from theirs about important socio-economic issues such as immigration policy, native rights, and international relations, or dare suggest that these issues should be debated rather than accepted.
  • Canadians think Canada can be everything for everyone but this makes Canada veer towards being nothing for anyone, i.e., a country without a distinctive culture and without a unified populace.
  • Many Canadians think it is wrong to be patriotic but patriotism is a virtue that strengthens a country (although nationalism is harmful).

Canada’s Foreign Trade

CANADA’S FOREIGN TRADE

The trade balance of goods is the amount of exports minus the amount of imports.  A positive trade balance means a trade surplus; a negative trade balance means a trade deficit.  Between 1970 and 2008 Canada recorded trade surpluses every year, but since 2009 Canada has trade deficits, with an exception of years 2011 and 2014.  In other words, Canada buys more than it sells.  Overall, Canada incurred a $6.6 billion trade deficit during 2019, with trade deficits in both goods and services.  The largest trade deficits by country were recorded with China, Mexico, Germany, Italy, and Vietnam while the biggest trade surpluses were recorded with the US, the UK, HK (China), the UAE, and Norway.

Canada is a trading country, and our prosperity as a nation and people is tied to international trade.  However, the Canadian government and Canadians should recognize that our country’s foreign trade policy and practices must be advantageous foremost to Canada and Canadians.  Below are seven thoughts as to what Canada’s trade policy should accomplish.

  • First, Canada should diversify its trade, as about 15 countries account for over 90% of Canada’s trade. Especially, Canada should decrease its dependence on trade with the United States.  Trade with the USA, in terms of the percentage of trade exports should be reduced from about 75% of total goods exported to the range of 50% to 60% of total goods exported.  This would give Canada greater economic and political independence from the United States, increasing the capability of our government to make decisions that are primarily in Canada’s best interest.
  • Second, Canada should be willing to sacrifice some trade with China if China mistreats its or our citizens. Our trade with People’s Republic of China (PR China) accounts for about 4% of exported goods, which means that Canada does not need to kowtow to the communist regime there.  As PR China is unafraid to use trade sanctions and restrictions for political purposes, perhaps Canada should do the same.  Canada should also consider itself free to establish closer trade ties with Taiwan, perhaps leading to free trade with respect to some commodities, e.g., the import of Taiwanese tropical fruits.
  • Third, Canada should diversify its sources of supply to ensure that the international supply chain of goods e.g., semiconductors, needed by domestic industries are not severely disrupted by war, interruptions in foreign manufacturing or international transportation (due to pandemics, labour disruptions, etc.), or trade disputes.
  • Fourth, Canada should double its amount of trade with Commonwealth countries within the next 5 to 7 years. The Canadian government should develop new mechanisms for this to be accomplished, and encourage Canadian companies to take advantage of the arrangements under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), in which five other Commonwealth nations participate.  Our trade with the United Kingdom should also be increased strengthening ties between the two countries.  Increasing Canada’s trade with Commonwealth nations would increase Canada’s standing in that organization, thereby potentially enhancing our international political influence and opportunities for multilateral cooperation.
  • Fifth, Canada should develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade. You do not have to be a great businessperson to understand that if you buy more goods than you sell, your business will not prosper.  Specifically, Canada needs to reduce and possibly eliminate its large trade deficit with PR China, which is Canada’s greatest trade deficit with any country.  The Canadian government also needs to address the competitive disadvantage it has with PR China and the outflow of Canadian money to that country.
  • Sixth, trade policy should never override food security. Canada should ensure it does not rely on any country for food to feed its people.
  • Seventh, the Canadian government and business community should recognize that there are limits to free trade, and that unlimited free trade may not be in our country’s best interest. Canada needs to manufacture items important to its domestic security, including certain vaccines, medical supplies, protective gear, military hardware, and agricultural equipment.  The government also needs to protect our financial institutions and industries from corporate and industrial espionage, that occurs when foreign countries and companies practice unfair trade practices.

Trade policy must complement foreign policy, and vice versa.   Trade policy must also be aligned with policies concerning industrial and fiscal growth, domestic food production and distribution, and national security.   Media must report on trade issues with this in mind, thereby focussing on what is in the best interest of Canada and Canadians.  Finally, governments must be held accountable for trade deficits and trade policies.  Canadians need to consider a party’s or candidate’s statements on trade when elections are held.

#trade #Canada

Canadian English

Canadian English contains major elements of both British and American English, as well as some uniquely Canadian characteristics. Spelling in Canadian English varies regionally and within social groups, yet general trends are as follows:

  •  The letter u is retained in words such as colour and odour,
  • ‘re’ is used rather than ‘er’ ending in words such as metre (length of measure), and centre,
  • the consonant “l’ is doubled when adding suffixes to words even when the final syllable (before the suffix) is not stressed, for example, travelled, counselling, and marvellous,
  • the British spellings of defence and offence are used,
  • Nouns are spelled with -ice while matching verbs take -ise – for example, practice and licence are nouns while practise and license are the corresponding verbs.
  • Canadian English uses curb, tire, and aluminum, which in British English are spelled kerb, tyre, and aluminium.

Language is an important feature of culture, and culture is an important factor in national identity. Canadians should try to use Canadian English as much as possible.

Canadians often do not use Canadian English in correspondence and reports as the default setting is American English in many word-processing software packages. Generally, this is easy to correct by changing language preferences. So, change your language settings today (if necessary) and keep your computer and work Canadian!

Revisionist History

Revisionist history is alteration of the historical record to downplay individuals or events that are in drastic disagreement with the historical record and/or a (socio-) political view or agenda. Of course, the sins of slavery and racial injustice done in the past should be condemned, but be careful not to overlook the accomplishments of the past and of individuals who lived in earlier centuries. Therefore, modern society needs to be avoid tearing down or removing statues of persons who in the context of today’s morals and sensitivities are deemed to have acted inappropriately. We should be careful not to judge others and this applies to historical persons. This is especially true considering that we do not live in their time periods or face the challenges and (or) hardships they endured. Furthermore, our history needs to be preserved, as part of our national identity and as potential lessons for the future.

Foreign Influence

Foreign governments exist which are human-right abusers or which threaten Canada’s citizens, territorial sovereignty, national unity, and system of government. Canada’s foreign policy and security apparatus should recognize this problem. Canadians cannot take an idealistic view that every country and every person is a friend to Canada.

Canada should expel foreign agencies which have the purpose of spreading propaganda in Canada that intentionally undermines Canada or misinforms Canadians about international events. Of course, diplomatic missions can express their political messages on behalf of the governments of their countries, but agencies that purport to be news agencies and cultural-exchange institutions should not have this right.

Canada should create a special agency to investigate adverse foreign influence on politics, politicians, and the electoral process in Canada. Corrective action should be taken to lessen or remove the power and impact of Canadian business and political leaders, who are under the influence or control (through blackmail, intimidation, or financial enticement) to adversarial foreign governments.

It may also be worthwhile for the Canadian government to establish a judicial inquiry or public hearings about foreign influence on Canadian business and politics. This may result in new information being brought forward to investigators, and raise the level of concern among the Canadian public. Of course, care must be taken not to create racial or ethnic tensions or to curtail the legitimate and worthwhile cultural exchanges that benefit Canadians.

Improve Mental Health Services

In any given year, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 1 in 5 people in Canada will experience a mental health problem or illness. Mental illnesses affect people of all ages, education, religions, income levels, occupations, and cultures. Mental illness affects how a person deals with everyday life and interacts with other people.

Provincial and territorial governments need to improve services for persons suffering from mental illness. As mental illness varies in type and severity, several types of services are needed as listed below:

  • emergency response units who understand psychotic disorders and can provide non-violent aid and comfort to people suffering a mental-health crisis (that is, to mitigate a situation over time rather than try to instantly control it),
  • hospital emergency-ward mental-health services with trained mental-health psychiatrists and nurses for patients in acute psychiatric distress, recognizing that trained mental- health professionals may be needed in the evenings and overnight,
  • hospital inpatient mental-health services for those who are acutely ill, who have additional physical illnesses or injuries, or who need oversight and evaluation during medication adjustment,
  • hospital outpatient mental-health services for those requiring minor medication management and (or) group therapy,
  • residential mental-health and behavioral-health treatment centres for people requiring longer term treatment for mental illness,
  • community-based behavioral-health services such as group therapy, meditation, and individual counselling to help people deal with their illness,
  • education programs to help mentally ill people understand their illness and to adjust undesirable behaviour or substance abuse caused by their illness, and to inform the public about mental illnesses, and
  • telephone and online mental health services for persons who are housebound, need support in-between appointments, or live far from a hospital.

Governments should also make it easier for persons with limited financial resources to see psychologists or psychiatrists in private practice at their offices. Furthermore, governments should make it possible for persons to be partially reimbursed for the services of naturopathic services and meditation sessions that seem to be helping a person with mental illness. This can be done with financial assistance programs and tax provisions.

The federal government through its grants to universities and university faculty should encourage and support research on the causes and treatment of various types of mental health. Research should be funded on brain chemistry and functions, and on the relationship between mental illness and such factors as diet, exercise, and gut bacteria.

Please pray for those suffering from mental illness and those helping with their care. Pray for governmental and personal wisdom in dealing with people with mental health issues.

#mental illness

How to Vote

When casting your vote in the forthcoming provincial election or a future federal election, you should consider several factors including:

  • the party platform (what the political party says it will do),
  • the party history (what the party has done in the past; its track record),
  • the integrity, experience, and talents of the candidates in your riding,
  • the stated intentions of the candidates with respect to local issues and effective representation of local concerns within the party and legislative body,
  • the honesty, experience, and talents of the party leaders and their commitments to parliamentary democracy.

Therefore, you should consider PARTY – CANDIDATE – LEADER before voting.  It may be the best candidate is standing for a party with the worst leader or the best party has the worst candidate.  In such cases, you must weigh the merits of the party, local candidate, and leader.

As citizens, you should vote for party who has demonstrated (in its history and platform) that it:

  • cares for the country and its citizens,
  • is loyal to and honours the monarchy and legitimate branches of government,
  • believes in an independent judiciary and the rule of law,
  • would restore/ safeguard parliamentary democracy.

You should not vote for a political party because you voted that way in the past or because your parents or friends voted that way in the past.  You do not live in the world that may have affected the voting preferences of your grandparents and parents.  Furthermore, issues change with time and new circumstances must be considered each time you vote.   You owe yourself and your family, and your community and country, to be a thoughtful participant in the electoral process.

You want a candidate to be elected who:

  • is honest and who would represent your area to the best of his or her ability,
  • votes with integrity on issues considering the wishes of his constituents and personal conscience, and
  • who does not blindly follow political doctrine or the pollical leader of the party.

When considering the party leader, please consider the leadership style.  You may wish to avoid voting for a party with a leader who does not listen to ordinary citizens and who dominates his or her party members.  You should avoid electing a local candidate based on media image of a party leader; politics should be taken more seriously than a beauty pageant.

Remember that in our system of government you are voting for the local candidate, who is usually someone representing a political party.  In a general election, you will not be voting for the leader of the party which is chosen by party members.

In summary, consider what a party has done and says it will do, and the qualities of the local riding candidate and the party leader.  Think carefully each time you vote.  Pray for guidance and vote!!!

Canada Could Have Handled the COVID-19 Pandemic Better

Canada could have handled the COVID-19 pandemic better. Initially, it seems that Canadian political leaders saw the outbreak of the coronavirus in China as regional epidemic and failed to realize the threat to Canada. When it became clear that the epidemic was spreading and becoming more widespread, the Canadian government began flying Canadians home. During the initial period, the majority of returning Canadians were not tested, asked some general questions, and simply told to stay home if they felt unwell. Contrast this to Asian airports where passengers regularly undergo temperature checks to ascertain if they have a fever. It was late in the process that returning Canadians were told to stay at home and self-isolate for two weeks, and the land border between Canada and the United States closed. Hindsight has the benefit of recent experience, but some warning signs could have been heeded earlier. It would have been better for our country if our political leaders had acted sooner.

Canada should have the resources to sustain itself during a crisis. A benefit of the COVID-19 pandemic should be a recognition by our political leaders that Canada should manufacture its own prescription drugs, medical gowns, facemasks, and medical equipment. Canadian governments, at the federal and provincial levels, should ensure national and regional food self-sufficiency, and do more to promote the agricultural, aquaculture, and food processing industries in Canada. Hopefully, a future Canada will be more self-sufficient, and less willing to have many of its goods produced offshore.

Many Canadians will die from the virus. Take care and protect yourself and others. Cover your mouth and nose with a mask or covering when in public. Practice social distancing.