Appeared in the North Shore News – April 26, 2013
SO I sat down, sucked a thumb, and wrote an ingenious screed that could have been titled The Hinge of Western Democracy: British Columbia’s Provincial Election…
Which I’ve scrapped. Important though our election is to us, it shrinks to a local play on a small stage in light of the events of the last couple of weeks.
If you’ve been a long way out of town, they are: First, the let’s-blow-up-something-big amateur terrorist bombing of the Boston Marathon by two young Muslims apparently acting on their own but driven by hatred’s borderless handbook.
Second, the stymied plan by harder-nosed suspects with al-Qaida connections to derail the VIA Rail-Amtrak passenger train between Toronto and New York City, which likely would have murdered more people than the Boston bombs.
It was not a good week for critics of the RCMP, the FBI, the close embrace of the U.S. and Canada when the going gets tough, and the surveillance cameras and airport security checks that are the gloomily necessary price for protecting our lives and freedom in a dangerous age.
It was also not a good week for the fresh, youngish leader of the federal Liberal party (how did he get to be 41 so fast?).
Asked about the Boston murders, Justin Trudeau gave the off-the-shelf response of armchair academics and their lesser, usually leftish acolytes: You’d have to look at the “root causes,” an intellectual odyssey that makes for interesting seminars and dispassionate histories of events like the French, Russian and other revolutions long after the human flesh ingredient of them has been torn apart and the blood washed away.
For my part, I abandoned the grade-school sympathetic take on the French variety years later, partly upon learning that after Marie Antoinette went to the guillotine a doubtlessly poor “root-cause” workman rolled her head between his legs and ate lunch. Further muddying the good-guys-bad guys theory, the kindly revolutionaries handed over the young lad in line to be Louis XVII to the mercies of a terrifying monster who would have been a model for today’s child killers.
The crazed belief, motivating all terrorists, is that if you can just murder certain individuals or classes of people and bully the rest, you will release the poor from the chains of “root causes” and enthrone them in the seats of power. This is one of those delusions that the great George Orwell had in mind when he scorned some idea with the phrase “you’d have to be an intellectual to believe that: no ordinary person would be so stupid.”
The poor very rarely foment revolution. Genuinely poor people don’t lead it. The suspects in the Boston and VIA Rail cases evidently didn’t come from the ranks of the abject poor. They’re privileged, living in the West, able to travel, one a Tunisian doctoral student in Canada on a student visa and reportedly credited with academic publications.
As for the good news, apart from the news that would have been much, much bigger without the sharp work of the oft-criticized police, it’s heartening that important information about the VIA Rail plans came from within the Muslim community itself. No one knows the value of freedom and the rule of law – flawed and disputed as they are in grumbling Canada – better than the immigrants from many countries where those qualities are conspicuous by their absence.
. . .
Get angry, West Vancouverites, if you want to preserve the Ambleside Beach strip from 13th to 18th as a park.
What devious council and busy town hall bureaucrats want for the strip is nothing more than crude commercial exploitation. And, as flagged by Rob Morris in his April 21 letter to the editor, not just the thin edge of a wedge – a fat edge, with more certain to come. Californication.
Restaurant. Bar. Equipment rental (cabanas, beach chairs, swimsuits?) and food concessions. Child care centre. Arts facilities. And “a ferry dock and terminal” (shades of the shot-down scheme for a marina proposed years ago by George Walker). Some “preservation” of the beach.
. . .
B.C.’s almost pietistic Conservative party isn’t immune from the erring-candidate disease. Jeff Sprague resigned from the race in Liberal Naomi Yamamoto’s North Vancouver-Lonsdale riding after what the party called “an unfortunate personal incident,” at this writing unidentified but, according to News 1130, involving an alleged drinking-driving incident.
. . .
Reader Judith Berg drew my attention to the all-party standing ovation Joan McIntyre, retiring Liberal MLA for West Vancouver-Sea to Sky, received in the last sitting of the legislature. I note it here for my sins, having chided McIntyre for lacking the visceral political gene that more combative types have – and, many would say, a good thing too.
© Trevor Lautens, 2013