Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

No Cape Bretoners, please

Governor McGovernorface by Sir Joshua Reynolds. (Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Governor McGovernorface by Sir Joshua Reynolds. (Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Halifax regional council has created an eight-member committee to consider the commemoration of Edward Cornwallis in the municipality. I can’t tell you who the members are because council has yet to make the names public, but if it heeded the advice of Councilor David Hendsbee of Preston, Chezzetcook and Eastern Shore, I can tell you who won’t be on it — any meddling Cape Bretoners!

Tim Bousquet of the Halifax Examiner, who live-blogged the meeting, noted Hendsbee’s concerns:

It wasn’t Hendsbee’s only contribution to the debate; according to Bousquet, he also “had a hypothetical,” suggested relocating the statue to the Halifax waterfront, called for the meetings to be recorded, went on “about stuff” and had “a pointless objection about language.” But the move to bar indigenous Cape Bretoners from the Cornwallis committee is obviously the one that most struck the Spectator.

The staff report on the issue acknowledges that concern about Cornwallis does not end at the “current day” borders of the Halifax Regional Municipality:

Discussions with Mi’kmaq leaders raised a serious question of geography and impact. Many Mi’kmaq persons, in particul ar, in the province move in and out of Halifax and current day borders of the Halifax Regional Municipality align to neither the population impacted by municipal assets commemorating Cornwallis nor to historical areas of relevance.

It will be interesting to see if any indigenous Cape Bretoners make their way onto the committee.

As for the issue of commemorating Cornwallis, I am not sure what the best solution is, although I’m leaning toward an online contest to simply rename the statue. You know that would end in it being called “Statue McStatueface” which, on some level, would kind of work…


Lucky to be alive?

Click to enlarge.

I have always found it problematic that when disaster strikes anywhere outside our borders, the first response of Canadian mainstream media outlets is to find out whether any Canadians were involved.

The implication seems to be either that Canadian lives matter more than those of other nationalities or that Canadians can relate only to the traumas of their fellow Canadians or that the involvement of a Canadian gives the event the necessary “Canadian angle.”

The mass shooting in Las Vegas is a case in point, with Canadian media going out of its way to tell us about the four Canadians among the 58 victims. Personally, I feel equally sorry for all the victims and their friends and families. Sympathy (like concern about the Cornwallis statue, in fact) is no respecter of borders.

Which brings me to the Cape Breton Post‘s coverage of the event: an entire front-page dedicated to the story of four Cape Bretoners who were, according to the headline in the print paper, “just lucky to be alive” after Stephen Paddock’s rampage.

“At least four Cape Bretoners are feeling pretty lucky after managing to avoid a shooter’s bullet in Sunday night’s deadly massacre on the Las Vegas strip,” begins the story, making it sound as though all four were directly in the line of fire when Paddock took aim at the crowd at the Route 91 Harvest music festival.

In reality, one of the Cape Bretoners interviewed was attending a Cirque de Soleil performance at the time of the shooting and another was on her way into town from the airport. A third heard the shots on his way home from a hockey game and the next morning “shared an elevator with a couple who was in the middle of the concert.”

None of these people could realistically be said to have been in danger and to me, it’s disrespectful to the 58 people who died and the 500 who were injured to suggest they were.

The Post actually seemed to recognize this: in the online version of the story, the head and subhead were flipped so the headline was the much duller but more accurate: “Cape Bretoners remain safe during Las Vegas shooting.”

I get that there’s real pressure on reporters to come up with these “local angles” on big international stories but sometimes there is no real local angle, or sometimes that local angle is obtuse (see what I did there?) and reporters should be allowed to say so.

(Interestingly, the paper later followed up with a story about two Cape Bretoners who actually were at the Route 91 Harvest music festival the night of the shooting — and who actually are lucky to be alive and uninjured.)



I was both pleased and relieved to hear that this year’s Nobel Peace Prize had been awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a group I am familiar with thanks to the Spectator‘s own Sean Howard, who has been a faithful chronicler of ICAN’s efforts.

I’m pleased because reading Howard’s regular monthly dispatches has forced me to think about the threat posed by nuclear weapons more than I ever would have left to my own devices. (Left to my own devices I tend to read murder mysteries and watch home renovation shows.) Thinking about this threat leads to thinking about the people who have dedicated themselves to ending it, which leads to feeling grateful to such people, which leads to being glad they’ve been recognized so publicly for their efforts.

I’m relieved because I don’t think ICAN will embarrass the Nobel committee the way the previous winner, Aung Sun Suu Kyi has, what with her refusal to do anything in the face of crimes against humanity in the country she now leads. (Even as I type those words, I marvel at them. How did it come to this?)

I trust Sean Howard will have something more insightful to say about this win in his next column, but I didn’t want the event to slip by un-remarked, so consider it remarked.





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