Tag Archives: Canadian

10 remarkable facts on Canada

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  1. “Canada” is an Iroquoian language word meaning “village”.
  2. Canada has the largest coastline in the world and has more lakes than the rest of the world’s lakes combined.
  3. Canada has the third largest oil reserves of any country in the world after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
  4. Canada’s lowest recorded temperature was -81.4 degrees fahrenheit (-63 celsius) in 1947.
  5. Canada has fewer people than Tokyo’s metropolitan area.
  6. Canada is the world’s most educated country by percentage: over half its residents have college degrees.
  7. Canada consumes more macaroni and cheese than any other nation in the world.
  8. Sometimes in Newfoundland the Atlantic Ocean freezes so people play hockey on it.
  9. Residents of Churchill, Manitoba leave their cars unlocked to offer escape for pedestrians who might encounter polar bears.
  10. Until 1999, the Guinness Book of World Records considered Yonge Street in Ontario as the longest street in the world at 1,896 km (1,178 mi).

(ed. – A selection of these facts were collected by content writer Laura McCallum for the website Knowable – and originally found on RidiculousWeb.)


Canada’s Most Influential Brands

In a survey conducted by ICA Canada and Ipsos, Canadians selected Internet-related firms for 7 of the 10 most influential brands in the country. The survey looked at more than 100 companies with the largest ad budgets in Canada, and ranked them according to an influence index. It asked Canadians to rate brands on categories like trustworthiness, presence, corporate citizenship, engagement and “leading edge.”

Of the most influential brands in Canada, 7 of 10 were Internet related. Only one of the top ten was Canadian.

The survey found some notable demographic differences. Millennials scored tech brands highest: Netflix, PayPal and Instagram made their top 10 list. Gen-Xers are big fans of Walmart, while Baby Boomers consider Microsoft more influential than Apple. Baby Boomers also included two iconic Canadian brands among their top selections; yet, CBC and Canadian Tire did not make the overall top ten in the survey.

The top 10 brands in Canada for 2016 are:

  1. Google
  2. Apple
  3. Microsoft
  4. Facebook
  5. YouTube
  6. Visa
  7. Walmart
  8. Tim Hortons
  9. Amazon
  10. Samsung

This Ipsos poll surveyed 6,006 Canadians, and is considered accurate to within 1.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The poll was published by Huffington Post.


25 Most Influence Canadian Companies

In a related survey, Canadian Business (with Rogers) identified the 25 most influential brands in the country, ranked by “respect” of average Canadians. This is a list of the companies that best connect with their customers. The poll seeks opinions on five key aspects of a company’s reputation (the quality of its products and/or services; its customer service; its commitment to innovation; community involvement; and also, the person’s overall view of the brand).
The results of this Canadian-centric survey have a number of surprises in the top 25…

1 MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op)
2 Cirque du Soleil
3 West Jet
4 Tim Hortons
5 Roots
6 Shoppers Drug Mart
7 Videotron
8 BRP (Bombardier)
9 Loblaws
10 Canada Goose
11 Gildan Activeware
12 Home Hardware
13 Canadian Tire
14 Lululemon Athletics
15 Saputo
16 Metro
17 TD Bank
18 Rona
19 McCains Food
20 Jean Coutu
21 Telus
22 Sun Life Financial
23 RBC
24 Molson Coors

So, where is Rogers (ed. – this exercise must have been embarrassing for the company’s market research team)? Where’s the beloved CBC – or any other news media companies in this list? Is it any surprise Air Canada or more banks didn’t make the list? No gas companies? This list of most “respected” Canadian brands is insightful indeed. Read all the background and commentary in the Canadian Business article.



Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need an experienced communicator or a go-to-scribe? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Happy Birthday Sir John A. Macdonald!


“If I had influence over the minds of the people of Canada, any power over their intellect, I would leave them this legacy: ‘Whatever you do, adhere to the Union. We are a great country, and shall become one of the greatest in the universe if we preserve it; we shall sink into insignificance and adversity if we suffer it to be broken.”

Happy Birthday Sir John A.! We certainly miss your national vision and your leadership today. For more, click here to see the By George archived articles on this great man.



Canada’s stellar rep around the world


Canada has just been recognized as the “most admired” country with the “best reputation” in the world. This enviable title was awarded by The Reputation Institute.

Acording to an annual survey ranking the reputations of developed nations across the globe, Canada ranked as the most reputable country in the world, based on a variety of cultural, political, environmental and economic factors.

The full results of the 2015 Country Reptrak® Survey have been published and can be found here:
The Reputation Institute – 2015 Report

The Reputation Institute surveyed approximately 48,000 residents of G8 countries to gather the data for its rankings. Survey respondents were asked to rank the reputations of the world’s 55 wealthiest nations (based on GDP) in a variety of categories.

In a CTV interview, Fernando Prado, Managing Partner of the Institute, states that Canada is loved most for it is:

  • an ethical country with absence of corruption
  • a safe place for living
  • has a high level of welfare
  • a country with an effective government
  • has friendly and welcoming people

In the interview he reiterates that Canada is the best country because it has “a government that is perceived to be efficient.”

So, this is how the rest of the world views Canada, our riches and lifestyle at home and our participation in world affairs. We’re “most admired”, have got “the best rep”. Can you see this prized designation being part of an election dialogue?


A view of America

US_Flag_BacklitNeil Macdonald is the senior Washington correspondent for CBC News and this week he announced he is leaving the American beat and “coming home.” Macdonald began his Washington post in 1988 and has served more than 25 years south of the border covering Congress and the affairs of the Nation.

In an editorial piece Macdonald produced for CBC News, he makes poignant observations about the differences between Canada and U.S., our politicians and bureaucracies. As he packs his bags, Neil Macdonald provides us with a glimpse of what he admires most in the United States. Here are excerpts from his editorial:

Accountability. It’s a favourite word for politicians everywhere these days, but in this country it actually means something.

Freedom of information in America is a defined public right, not a silly concept to be circumvented or ignored by smug officials and politicians.

Presidents and congressional leaders hold regular news conferences. They never stop answering questions.

Politicians here routinely disclose personal finances (imagine that?).

Call a U.S. government department, and you’ll probably find an official who’s liable to call back with real information.… Ottawa’s default setting is secret, as I’ve discovered on the odd occasion I’ve had to call across the border for information.

“Doing the right thing” – I have no other phrase to explain it, but it is a powerful motive in the American public mind.

Democracy – There is more of it in America. A lot more.

Americans work harder, give more to charity — far more — than Canadians, and there is a touching reverence here for public service.

To view his editorial in full (a recommended read!), click:
Farewell, America, Canada could learn a few things from you

A Monday Morning (Canadian) Smile

A man sits down in his center ice seat to watch game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs, noticing the seat beside his is empty, and stayed that way through the entire first period. Finally, he leans over and asks the man on the other side of it, “Is anyone sitting there?”

“Nope,” the man shook his head. “It’s going to stay empty.”

“That’s incredible! Who in their right mind would have a seat at center ice for the final game of the Cup finals and not use it?!”

“Well, actually, the seat belongs to my wife, but she passed away. This is the first Stanley Cup game we haven’t been to together since we got married in 1958.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry. That’s terrible! But couldn’t you find anyone else to come tonight… a relative, or friend?”

“Nah… they’re all at the funeral.”



The Canuck Temperature Conversion Guide

+15 degrees C : Vancouverites try to turn on the heat. Manitobans plant gardens.

+10 degrees C: Victorians shiver uncontrollably and dig out their longjohns. Winnipeggers sunbathe.

+5 degrees C: Italian and German cars won’t start. Winnipeggers drive with the windows down.

Zero C: Distilled water freezes. Winnipeg’s water gets thicker.

-5 degrees C: Torontonians wear coats, gloves and wool hats. Manitobans throw on a t-shirt.

-15 degrees C: Quebecers begin to evacuate the province. Manitobans go swimming.

-20 degrees C: Toronto landlords finally turn up the heat. Manitobans have the last cookout before it gets cold.

-25 degrees C: People in Vancouver cease to exist. Manitobans lick flagpoles.

-30 degrees C: Calgarians fly away to Mexico. Manitobans throw on a light jacket.

-40 degrees C: Hamilton disintegrates. Manitobans rent some videos.

-50 degrees C: Mt. St. Helen’s across the border freezes. Winnipeg Girl Scotts begin selling cookies door to door.

-60 degrees C: Polar bears begin to evacuate the Arctic. Manitoban Boy Scouts postpone “Winter Survival” classes until it gets cold enough.

-80 degrees¡ C: Santa Claus abandons the North Pole. Winnipeggers pull down their earflaps.

-100 degrees C: Ethyl alcohol freezes. Manitobans get frustrated when they can’t thaw the keg.

-200 degrees C: Microbial life survives on dairy products. Manitoba cows complain of farmers with cold hands.

-300 degrees C: ALL atomic motion stops. Manitobans start saying “Cold ’nuff for ya?”

-400 degrees C: Hell freezes over. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers win the Grey Cup



Canadian, eh?!

Is there any argument that Canuck humour begins and ends with ‘Eh?’

Often, foreigners have a difficult time understanding Canadians. Therefore, here’s a quick brief translation of the Canadian dialect.

  • EH= pronounced AY (similar but not the same as huh)
  • Eh is a useful word that is very important and is the basis of all Canadian communications. It is used in conjunction with other words, or simply by itself. The tone or the slight difference in exclamations also changes the meaning.
  • Eh = what did you say?
  • Eh? = what do you think
  • EH? = something to say just to end a sentence
  • Eh!! = WOW!!
  • EH!? = what do you mean?
  • Eh?? = your joking!!!??
  • EH!! = Hello.. you off in the distance!!!
  • Eh? = want a donut?
  • Eh! = sure!!
  • Eh!Eh! = coffee – double cream too please!
  • Eh? = what you say when you realize you have no money to pay for it
  • Eh… c’mon eh? = asking them to let you pay for it next time.
  • hey… eh! = want to go to the drive in movie??
  • Eh… uhuh = yes sure!
  • Eh…y’know = Ill pick you up at 8
  • Eh… c’mon!! = well that’s early… but ok
  • Eh…wanna? eh? = lets fool around
  • EHHHHHHH = sound coming from the car
  • hey… um… er eh… = I’m pregnant
  • EH????????? = how did that happen?
  • EHHH ehh EHHH ehh = baby’s first cry
  • Ehh…whad ya think eh? = marry me


Canadian Mottos

Is it possible to sum up our country in an all-encompassing motto? A few years ago the National Post editorial board conducted a contest to define ‘Canada’ in six words or less.

Here are the top ten finalists:

  • Medicare, we’re dying to keep it – C.N. Johannesson, Calgary
  • If countries are clothes, we’re cardigans – Paul Meyer and Jane Power, Montrose, BC
  • Life, liberty and pursuit of hockey-ness – Lawrence JHickman, Victoria
  • Proud to be humble – Nesta Morrise, Unionville, Ontario
  • Double, Double, from Sea to Sea – Pat Harrise, Toronto
  • Canada: Mostly OK – Sandy Baillie, Munster, Ontario
  • From inquiry to inquiry – Gord Nixon – Barrie, Ontario
  • Endless possibilities squandered in political correctness – Gary Valcour, Oshawa, Ontario
  • Canada – a home for the world – Deborah Torenvliet, Ottawa, Ontario
  • Canada: Nobody gives a puck – Charles Cook, Toronto, Ontario

From the hundreds of entries published by the paper, here are a dozen favourites selected by the By George scribes:

  • Mediocre, and reasonably proud of it
  • Bad weather, punishing taxes, cold beer
  • Canada: scenery, greenery, political chicanery
  • Canada: United in diversity
  • Lest ever should we understand ourselves
  • Rights without responsibilities
  • Universal health care or die waiting
  • Land of inferiority complexes
  • We’ll tolerate anything, except intolerance
  • Canada, a play by Paul Henderson
  • Canada, nine equal provinces and Quebec
  • Beauty, eh?

BTW – the winner of the paper’s contest was…

Canada – a home for the world

CANADIAN, eh! So, What Do Canadians Have To Be Proud Of ?

What Do Canadians Have To Be Proud Of ?

Well, look at this list to start…

Crispy Crunch, Coffee Crisp, Mars Bars
The size of our football fields, and a game played with one less down and bigger balls
Baseball is Canadian – First game June 4, 1838 – Ingersoll , ON
Lacrosse is Canadian
Hockey is Canadian
Basketball is Canadian
Apple pie is Canadian
Mr. Dress-up beats Mr. Rogers (and Rusty beats Casey anyday)
Tim Hortons beats Dunkin’ Donuts
In the war of 1812, started by Americans, Canadians pushed the Americans back, past their ‘White House’. Then we burned it and most of Washington.
Canada has the largest French population that never surrendered to Germany.
We have the largest English population that never ever surrendered or withdrew during any war to anyone, anywhere. EVER.
Our civil war was fought in a bar and it lasted a little over an hour.
The only person who was arrested in our civil war was an American mercenary, who slept in and missed the whole thing…but showed up just in time to get caught.
A Canadian invented Standard Time.
The Hudson Bay Company once owned over 10% of the earth’s surface and is still around as the world’s oldest company.
The average dog sled team can kill and devour a full grown human in under 3 minutes.
We still know what to do with all the parts of a buffalo.
We don’t marry our kin-folk.
We invented ski-doos, jet-skis, Velcro, zippers, insulin, penicillin, zambonis, and telephones. And, short wave radios that save countless lives each year.
We ALL have frozen our tongues to something metal and lived to tell about it.
A Canadian invented Superman.
We have coloured money.
The handles on our beer cases are big enough to fit your hands with mitts on.

The Tale of Two Budgets

This past week, taxpayers in Ontario were treated to the news of how both their federal and provincial governments will spend their money. On the surface the two budget documents were very different. The federal government document spoke of fiscal responsibility and a balanced bottom line. The provincial government document included a storyline that excused its increased spending and its deficit, and argued the need for greater transportation spending. Two very different narratives…

However, stripping away the political rhetoric of the two governments, it is remarkable how both budgets make the case for “interventionist governing” – taxpayers paying public servants (more) to manage their lives (to an even greater extent). The real bottom line is Canadians pay taxes to support government programs and services – and we have come to accept our governments to spend our money on cradle to grave institutions and bureaucratic paperwork.

Let’s look at these two budgets through the prism of us bankrolling big government.


The Federal Purse

Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver’s performance won headlines that heralded a Conservative balanced budget. In reality, to achieve this desired equation, the federal government had to take $3.4 billion from the Employment Insurance operating surplus and another $2 billion from its Contingency Fund, set aside for a rainy day.

This financial wizardry was done because the federal Conservatives have had a hard time cutting programs and services and would not cut anything in an election year. Instead, the Conservatives sprayed dollars to a choice number of causes, and attempted to hood-winked Canadians with their creative math. Perhaps the most observant comment on the federal budget was that of Andrew Coyne:

After 10 years of Conservative rule, the federal government does virtually everything it ever did, pokes its nose into just as many areas of national life, taxes, subsidizes, and regulates very nearly as much, and at considerably greater expense (even after six years of restraint, spending is still 12% higher, after inflation and population growth, than it was when the Tories took power).

(ed. – Andrew Coyne’s article is worth the time to read – click here.)

In the end, this federal budget simply tore another page from Stephen Harper’s Conservatives playbook to pay lip service to curbing government costs while finding ways to support a bulging, interventionist government.


The Provincial Purse

Ontarians get a double dose of “big government” when looking at Queen’s Park, as the Ontario Liberals operate an unapologetic tax-and-spend-and tax-some-more government. Here’s a Provincial Government that has increased the Province’s public debt to almost $300 billion, or by 115% since taking power in 2003. This year’s budget delivered yet another deficit of $10.5 billion and upped its spending up $2.4 billion. This is the ninth consecutive deficit delivered by the Ontario Liberals.

Ontarians now pay $11 billion per year for interest on their government’s debt – and that’s money that can’t be spent on health care, education or transportation. No where is there a sign that the Ontario Liberals understand the fundamental realities of carrying this debt load. Instead, we have a Premier who talks of increasing spending and papering-over the annual deficits. Thanks to Premiers McGuinty and Wynne, the province’s debt is on track to balloon to $325 billion by 2018, or $23,000 per person in Ontario.

To help pay for the government’s spending increases and new spending on transportation (and the almost $1 billion per month debt payment), the Ontario Liberals are introducing new tax measures: the cap-and-trade carbon tax, a new pension payroll tax, a new beer tax and the additional monies collected from Ontarians’ skyrocketing hydro bills (that’s before the Liberals have to sell off 60% of Ontario Hydro to help with servicing the debt through the next election cycle.)

Here’s an alarming fact: The combined federal, provincial and territorial deficits for 2014-2015 add up to $6.47 billion, compared to Ontario’s $10.9 billion.

So, whereas the federal government is finding creative ways to move money around to support the continuation of its programs and services, the provincial government is spending its way into what will be a severe fiscal hangover once the bills come due. And neither of these governments will change their taxing ways until Canadians demand an honest, public discussion about “big government” and its costs. (ed. – In writing this, I can’t help but think of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s slogan: “Tax me, I’m Canadian.”)

Unfortunately, in Ontario this week, we had two budgets string up one taxpayer.


Fact check on our national debt

Amongst the political parties, there is always much said and written about fiscal competency and who is to blame or to be credited for the Nation’s economic health. This is particularly true during budget time.

This week there was a great deal of banter about deficits and debt. The Conservatives wanted to crow about their efforts to balance the budget. The Liberals screamed foul and recounted that their Party’s recent history with tackling deficits is proof that they are better money managers.

Thankfully, we have financial-minded, media columnists like Terence Corcoran who is doing fact checks and setting the record straight. In a Financial Post article entitled “Oliver has it right”, Corcoran does the math.

   Between 1968 and 1984 – the first and last years of Pierre Trudeau’s almost uninterrupted Liberal government – Ottawa ran $140 million in accumulated deficits, or about $6,000 for every man, woman and child. But those are old pre-inflation dollars. In today’s currency, Trudeau Liberals deficits per capita exceeded approximately $14,000. Compare that with the Harper Conservative record of $4,400.

     The Harper deficit of 2010 was 3.5 per cent of GDP – for one year. Then it tapered off to 2 per cent of GDP, then 1 per cent and now zero. Compare that to the Trudeau Liberals, which started deficits at 1.5 per cent of GDP in 1969 and lunched a continuous escalation up to 7.7% of GDP in 1983-84.

Corcoran recounts that the Trudeau Liberals launched a steep fiscal slide and a debt build-up that escalated into a national debt crisis.

And, so, thank you Terence Corcoran for cutting through the political rhetoric and making the numbers add up.

(ed. – Check comments below over the next few weeks for links to articles about the debt and the arguments re balancing the budget.)

A look at balancing the fed budget

From that clever Canadian rag The Beaverton, editors have given us “10 ways to balance the federal budget”

Akin to the Letterman Top-10 countdown, here are the Beaverton’s suggestions:

1. Retrofit Royal Canadian Navy to use more fuel efficient sail technology

2. Reduce House of Commons expenses by putting all legislation for next century into single omnibus bill

3. Create a maximum living age to reduce health care costs

4. Reduce bridge spans by 20% to save on infrastructure expenditures

5. Ask single mothers to get a fourth job to increase tax revenue

6. Ask everyone to chip in

7. Release the Territories back into the wild

8. Start offering Tory MPs lower-grade feed, made out of other Tory MPs

9. Give veterans a shiny new medal instead of their pensions

10. Start producing attack ads against the deficit



Insightful lyrics of David Myles

David-Myles2Here’s a Canadian song writer and performer that will set you back on your heels and force you to sit and listen to his insightful lyrics.

David Myles hails from New Brunswick and now lives in Halifax. He has a total of eight albums to his credit and is busy these days on a tour with the New Brunswick Symphony Orchestra. Learn more about this amazing Maritime talent: davidmyles.com

To provide you a hint of Myles’ genius, here are the chorus from two of our favourite songs that demand special attention. (Click on the title and enjoy the YouTube video)

When It Comes My Turn

I’m getting old but I’m not old yet
I’m already worried that I might forget
How to laugh, how to love
How to live, how to learn
I want to die with a smile when it comes my turn

Pair of Shoes

Cause we all walk in a pair of shoes
We all hope that we bounce more than we bruise
And it don’t matter how much you spend
It only matters in the end
That your soul don’t wear right through


You can follow David Myles on Twitter here: @mylesdavid

(Photo credit: Bob Magee – taken November 17, 2011 in Sean O’Sullivan Theatre of Brock University)

Canada and ISIS

This week we have Parliamentarians convulsing over Canada’s future role in the war against Islamic extremists. On one hand we have Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives willing to commit to a military engagement that has no clear objectives (at least publicly stated) and no clear end-game strategy. For the PM, it is a moral imperative that Canadians stand up for our values and against the savagery of ISIS.

On the other hand, we have the NDP and Liberals who are against Canadian military intervention and instead support a robust humanitarian intervention. The Opposition are dead set against Canadian involvement in the war against ISIS. (On this issue there is a clear political split between the country’s conservatives and progressive socialists – one that just might play an important sub-text in the federal election.)

On the eve of this significant debate, By George Journal is providing a few links to draw this ISIS conflict and Canadians’ choice to enter the fray or not into clearer focus. Shall we start with the springboard used in an Ottawa Citizen weekend opinion column from Andrew MacDougall: Trudeau taking punches from all corners

     To which I say: Alan Henning.

     Henning was a taxi driver from Manchester who was so moved by the plight of suffering Syrian children that he went to the region to drive aid convoys. He came back in a pine box after fellow Brit Mohammed Emwazi – a.k.a. Jihadi John – cleaved off his head in a snuff video. Given that others have also lost their heads for these same “sins”, I’ll wager ISIL isn’t interested in our charity.

Remember Alan Henning? Here is a BBC news report and video purporting to show 47-year old Alan Henning, loving family man and father of two, being beheaded by Islamic State militants.

Time Magazine did a feature on Henning’s killer – “From S Club 7 and Manchester United to Islamic fundamentalism and murder”: Everything We Know About ‘Jihadi John’

Still wondering what all this ISIS madness is all about? By George suggests you take 30 minutes and read a gripping and informative cover feature story from The Atlantic: What ISIS Really Wants

In this article, Graeme Wood explains that the Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse.

So, what choices do Canadians have when these atrocities are occurring each day, at an increasing rate?  Wire news out of Ottawa tonight is that our Parliament voted in favour of armed conflict in Syria.

     Canadian legislators on Monday voted to back the government’s plans to bomb Islamic State positions in Syria, a move that opposition parties say threatens to drag Canada into a long war.

     The House of Commons approved the plan 142-129. The result was never in doubt, since the ruling Conservatives have a majority in the chamber. The vote also approved the extension of Canada’s six-month mission by a year to the end of March 2016.

Given the chaos in Syria and inhumane killings throughout northern Africa, is it not surprising this vote by Canadian legislators was not unanimous? Horrifically, the evidence is mounting with every day we sit back and watch…

SDPB: State of Terror

Time: Tunisia reels from a terror attack possibility linked to ISIS

CBC: How ISIS is different from Al Qaeda

UK Daily Mail: Chilling images of new generation of black balaclava wearing ISIS fanatics graduating from school of terror in Syria

NY Post: ISIS uses child soldiers to lead prisoners to beheadings

Stealth Democracy

Here are some contrarian thoughts from a provocative book: Stealth Democracy: Americans’ Beliefs about How Government Should Work by John R. Hibbing and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse.

The thesis explored in Stealth Democracy explains a lot about our society and the average guy’s lack of concern for what is and isn’t happening in our own country’s Parliaments. Even though we often say we want to have more say in the direction our country is heading, the reality is most of the population wants nothing to do with policy decision making and the politics of the nation. The only time politics registers with the general public is when there is a commonly held belief that some mischief is at play and the politician has his hand too far into the public purse – or has become gluttonous at the public trough. So, we can tolerate an average government, run by weak, visionless leaders, as long as we don’t feel that we are being taken advantage of or taken for granted.

Here are a few telling excerpts from this insightful book, Stealth Democracy.

“Contrary to the prevailing view that people want greater involvement in politics, most citizens do not care about most policies and therefore are content to turn over decision-making authority to someone else. People’s most intense desire for the political system is that decisions makers be empathetic and, especially, non-self-interested, not that they be responsive and accountable to the people’s largely nonexistent policy preferences or, even worse, that the people be obligated to participate directly in decision-making.” (preface)

“…the kind of government people want is one in which ordinary people do not have to get involved. People want to distance themselves from government not because of a system defect but because many people are simply averse to political conflict and many others believe political conflict is unnecessary and an indication that something is wrong with governmental procedures. People believe that Americans all have the same basic goals, and they are consequently turned off by political debate and deal making that presuppose an absence of consensus. People believe these activities would be unnecessary if decision makers were in tune with the (consensual) public interest rather than with cacophonous special interests. Add to this the perceived lack of importance of most policies and people tend to view political procedures as a complete waste of time. The processes people really want would not be provided by the populist reform agenda they often embrace; it would be provided by a stealth democratic arrangement in which decisions are made by neutral decision makers who do not require sustained input from the people in order to function.” (p 7)

“…. The people are not always sure what decisions they want, but they are sure they want those decisions to be made for something other than self-serving reasons. Ironically, the more the public trusts elected officials to make unbiased decisions, the less the public participates in politics. The ideal form of government, in the opinion of many people, is one in which they can defer virtually all political decisions to government officials but at the same time trust those officials to be in touch with the American people and to act in the interest of those people and not themselves.” (p 159)


Happy Sir John A. Day!

John_A_MacdonaldThis January 11, 2015 marks a special anniversary for our country: the 200th birthday of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister.

Since 2002, this day is set aside for Canadians to remember their first Prime Minister, one of the Fathers of Confederation. So it is fitting to that we take this occasion to highlight a few interesting facts and celebrate the man.

Through the years, By George has lamented the ignored legacy of Sir John A in many of our posts (and we have tagged “John A. Macdonald“). We have compiled lists of his quotes and a few years back featured our 10 favourite quotes.

To mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Sir John A., Prime Minister Stephen Harper wrote a stirring piece that commemorates our first PM. PM Harper writes:

Others had ruminated about Confederation but only he saw how to get it done — how to make the case for unity, how to rally common hopes and fears, how to overcome different perspectives and interests.

But Macdonald did more than achieve it; he made it work…. Of the greatest importance for all of us, perhaps, was that Macdonald appropriated from the British constitution its conception of freedom, of “ordered liberty,” of the balancing of popular rule and minority rights, of (in the terms of the era) equality before the law and governments responsible through the legislature to the voters.

Richard Gwyn, the celebrated biographer of John Macdonald wrote in the Toronto Star a column trumpeting: “Sir John A. Macdonald, the greatest PM of all”

Gwyn makes the point that “had there been no Macdonald, there would be no Canada for anyone to be a citizen of.”

Under Macdonald’s leadership as prime minister (1867-1873 and 1878-1891), the country was extended from sea to sea, giving — at last — it a certain geographical coherence. Macdonald also led Canada to achieve the National Dream, a railway the entire way from eastern Canada to the West Coast. The railway, together with Macdonald’s policy of high tariffs to protect Canadian companies from their far more efficient American rivals, made it possible for Canadians to do business with and get to know each other despite all their differences (French vs. English, Catholic vs. Protestant, Aboriginal vs. European) and the immense distances between them.

By other initiatives, Macdonald fashioned a distinctive Canadian way of getting things done that has stayed with us ever since.

In a National Post article noting the significance of this day, Bob Plamondon, respected political observer and author, makes the perceptive comment:
Macdonald’s greatest gift to us, then as now, was to show us how we can be stronger as a nation when we celebrate and respect our diversity.

All of this is by way of hanging our collective heads with the discouraging fact that Canadians really do not know enough about Macdonald and his legacy. On Canada.com, there is a telling release this week: Poll conducted ahead of the 200th anniversary of Macdonald’s birth

One in four Canadians can’t identify Sir John A. Macdonald as the first prime minister of Canada, according to a new poll commissioned by Historica Canada.

The poll, conducted by Ipsos Reid, shows Canadians don’t know their history as well as Historica would hope. Twenty-eight per cent of Canadians don’t know the year of confederation, and 44 per cent don’t know Canada turns 150 years old in 2017.

So, today, take a moment and share a story or two about our first Prime Minister. Talk about him. Toast his legacy. Canada is very much a living testament to Sir John A. Macdonald’s vision and efforts. It is so important that more Canadians appreciate this fact.

Jean Beliveau – R.I.P.

jean beliveauJean Béliveau, the legendary Montreal Canadiens hockey centreman, died Tuesday night at the age of 83.

Jean Béliveau captained the Canadiens from 1961 until his retirement in 1971, making him the longest-serving captain in franchise history.

His No. 4 jersey was retired by the Canadiens on October 9, 1971 (also Guy Lafleur’s first NHL game)

He was signed on Oct. 3, 1953 to a five-year, $105,000 contract, at the time the most generous pact in the National Hockey League.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound centreman missed the playoffs just once in his 18 seasons, his second-last year in the NHL, and appeared in 13 All-Star Games.

His name appears on the Stanley Cup a record 17 times, having won seven championships during 22 post-playing years as the Canadiens’ senior vice-president of corporate affairs.

Current NHL records:

  • Most Stanley Cups, combined player or non-player: 17 (10 as player [1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1971], 7 as executive [1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1986, 1993] and the next-closest is Scotty Bowman, who has 13)
  • Most Stanley Cups as team captain: 5 (1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1971)
  • Fastest game-winning goal in regulation time of a playoff game: 14 seconds (May 1, 1965)
  • Tied for most assists in one period of a playoff game: 3 (he did it twice, has happened 86 times in history)

Achievements & Honours:

  • 13 All-Star games: 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1963, 1964 (MVP), 1965, 1968, 1969 (Note: Did not play in 1967 all-star game due to injury)
  • Led league in goals twice: 1955-56, 1958-89
  • Led league (or tied for league lead) in assists twice: 1960-61, 1965-66
  • Led playoffs in points once: 1955-56
  • Now 39th in goals: 507
  • Now Tied for 49th in assists: 712
  • Now 39th in points: 1,219
  • Now 10th in playoff goals: 79
  • Became 2nd player to record 1,000th career point (Gordie Howe was the only one to do it before him)
  • Became 4th player to record 500th career goal (Maurice Richard, Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull were the only ones to do it before him)

Notable Canadiens team records/ranks:

  • Tied for most seasons: 20 (Henri Richard tied him in 1974-75)
  • Tied for most seasons as captain: 10 (Saku Koivu tied him in 1999-00)
  • Most power-play goals: 171
  • Most playoff points: 176
  • Most goals by a centre: 507
  • Most assists by a centre: 712
  • Most points by a centre: 1,219
  • Became 1st in team history to record 1,000th career point
  • Became 1st player in history to play 1,000th career game with team
  • Became 2nd player in team history to record 500th career goals (Maurice Richard was the only Canadien to do it before him)

Quotes re Jean Beliveau

  • “It is hard, but I will play no more. I only hope I have made a contribution to a great game.” – Jean Beliveau on April 9, 1971, announcing his retirement after having led his team to the Stanley Cup
  • “Everything I achieved throughout my career, and all the rewards that followed, came as the results of team effort. If they say anything about me when I’m gone, let them say that I was a team man. To me, there is no higher compliment.” – Jean Beliveau
  • “Loyalty is another form of responsibility… Your good name is your greatest asset.” – Arthur Béliveau, Jean’s father
  • “There ought to be two leagues: one for the pros and one for Jean.” – Dollard St. Laurent, 1950’s teammate
  • “I admire John not just because of his great, great ability as a hockey player, but for his demeanour in public. He’s a complete gentleman.” – Gordie Howe
  • “I don’t think there can be any other figure in the history of professional team sports who better exemplifies the word ‘winner.'” – Wayne Gretzky
  • “Jean led our team with his presence. That’s all he needed. Jean was a great, great leader.” – Dickie Moore, teammate
  • “Jean Beliveau played on instinct, incredible instinct. He would control the centre of the ice and knew how to create space for himself. If you cut and were open, he’d get you the puck. He had size, strength, reach. He could really shoot the puck and he was tougher than you might remember. If you got close to him, you got a crosscheck. It was a treat to play with him, a treat to watch him play. And he had time for everybody. No matter who it was. No matter what the situation was.” – Dick Duff, teammate
  • “The Rocket and Mr. Béliveau come to my mind as the faces of the Canadiens and their Stanley Cups. Mr. Béliveau was a legend as a player and he was such a class act as a human being, an ambassador for the game and the Canadiens. The players felt, and I know the fans felt the same way, that when he walked in the room or into the building, the whole place went quiet just because of his presence.” – Saku Koivu, Canadiens long serving captain
  • “In old clips, most of us look dated. Jean, so big, so graceful and forceful, looks timeless, as at home in today’s game as he was in his prime — a bigger, more forceful Jonathan Toews, perhaps.” – Ken Dryden, Canadiens star goalie
  • “For all the accomplishments he achieved and all the accolades he received, Jean Béliveau was always the epitome of the boy whose only dream was to play for the Montreal Canadiens. Hockey is better because that dream was realized.” – Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner
  • “Even today, nearly 40 years after his retirement, Jean Beliveau is greeted with the same reverence wherever he goes. He inspires in others the same love for hockey that always has been his trademark — and always will be.” – Gary Bettman
  • “John was an entertaining, unselfish, tremendous player with the ability to set up goals at will. As much as I’ve talked about him through the years, I’ve never had anyone say a darned thing bad about him. We didn’t play on the same team but I consider John my friend. And that makes me a better man.” – Gordie Howe

SOURCES and great reads on the legend:
National Post
Sun News
NHL Obituary
Ken Dryden, special to the Toronto Star
SportsNet statistics

Jean Beliveau_credit Michael Barera


QUIZ re Maclean’s Most Influential Canadians

Maclean’s produced their annual list of the top 50 most influential Canadians. By George Journal has reproduced the list of the top 10 below.

THE QUIZ: We challenge you to name the occupation of the following 10 Canucks (1 point) and relate why there are so important to our country (1 point).

In the comments section below, you can find the answers to our questions.

How informed are you?

  1. Stephen Harper
  2. Joanne Liu
  3. Mark Wiseman
  4. Beverley McLachlin
  5. Janice Charette
  6. Guy A. Lepage
  7. Bharat Masrani
  8. Bob Paulson
  9. Jenni Byrne
  10. Philippe Couillard

How many points out of the 20 can you get?

To see the full list of the 50 most influential Canadians, go to the Maclean’s article here.


Thinking about Canada’s Future


Every now and then, it is helpful to contemplate where a country may be heading and, in doing so, create an opportunity to make things better for its citizenry.

Recently McGill University brought together some of Canada’s leading thinkers for a Canada Remix symposium, an event that delved into the country’s current state of affairs and what today’s realities may mean for the future of Canada. Addressing the Remix audience was the likes of Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, G&M chief political writer John Ibbitson, renowned artist Ken Lum, former Ontario Premier Bob Rae and Inuit leader Mary Simon

Canadian business magnate, Charles Bronfman, set the stage for the discussion of Canada this way:

It is a tribute to Canadians past and present that the challenges we face are those of a democratic and prosperous society. It is important that we understand our history. (I hope that the Heritage Minutes have helped do that.) And it is important that we continually challenge ourselves to do better. We need to be constructive and critical in the examination of Canada and Canadians.

Countries need stories and myths — about heroes and rebels, decisions and developments, missteps and accomplishments. We have lots of these, some well-known and others obscure. But we also need access to knowledge, and information with which to test our beliefs and assumptions about our past, present and future.

In a special column for the Montreal Gazette, “Does Quebec still matter?”, Celine Cooper summarizes the symposium’s key points and makes the observation: “Quebec’s place in Canada wasn’t a talking point at the Canada Remix symposium at McGill, raising an interesting question.” She writes:

First, Canada matters. Being Canadian — as artist Ken Lum said that day — is still something worth pursuing.

Second, Canada lacks dynamic leadership and big ideas. I couldn’t agree more.

But the theme that I found curiously absent, an omission that I found particularly puzzling given that we were all seated in the heart of downtown Montreal, was the issue of Quebec.

Cooper’s comments are worth a read:

While contemplating Canada’s future prospects, here are a few more interesting links:

Oh, Canada….