The freest and most polite English-speaking nation on earth turned 150 today, and, being Canadian, the country isn't sure what that means:
The year 2017 marks 150 years since Confederation. Or rather, what we've come to call Confederation.
Canada is actually a federation, but the term Confederation caught on in the in the 19th century and it stuck — we've named squares and bridges after it, we refer to the "Fathers of Confederation" (and the Mothers too!), and the word has come to represent the country and the events that created it.
"It" being "one Dominion under the crown," a.k.a. the Dominion of Canada, as per the British North America Act of 1867 that unified the colonies (Province of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick).
In 1982, Canada "patriated" the constitution, a political process that led to Canadian sovereignty, allowing Canadians to amend our Constitution without requiring Britain's approval. This, the Constitution Act of 1982, was a landmark event and enacted our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Yes, this declaration of independence took place in the '80s, and it was in 1982 that "Dominion Day," aka July 1, was renamed in Parliament to "Canada Day."
Oh Canada, you millennial, you.
In any event, and in honor of the day: O Canada, I stand on guard for thee.
Kamloops, B.C., 18 July 1991. Canon T-90, Kodachrome 64; exposure unrecorded.
A fossil found in a mine in Alberta six years ago is one of the best-preserved dinosaur specimens ever discovered:
On March 21, 2011, Shawn Funk was digging in Alberta’s Millennium Mine with a mechanical backhoe, when he hit “something much harder than the surrounding rock.” A closer look revealed something that looked like no rock Funk had ever seen, just “row after row of sandy brown disks, each ringed in gunmetal gray stone.”
What he had found was a 2,500-pound dinosaur fossil, which was soon shipped to the museum in Alberta, where technicians scraped extraneous rock from the fossilized bone and experts examined the specimen.
The fossil, which looks more like a statue than a skeleton, is 110 million years old, and will be at Canada's Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology.
A diver off the coast of British Columbia appears to have found a 66-year-old atomic bomb casing:
The Canadian navy will be heading to the coast of British Columbia to investigate claims that a diver may have come across “the lost nuke” – a Mark IV bomb that went missing after an American B-36 bomber crashed in the region during the cold war.
Smyrichinsky started asking around, curious if anyone else had ever come across the mysterious object. “Nobody had ever seen it before or heard of it. Nobody ever dives there,” he told the Vancouver Sun. “Then some old-timer said: ‘Oh, you might have found that bomb.’”
It was a reference to the Mark IV, a 10-foot, blimp-shaped nuclear bomb weighing some five tonnes and which went missing over the Pacific during a US air force B-36 training flight on 13 February 1950.
Government records indicate that the lost bomb was a dummy and poses little risk of nuclear detonation, said a spokesperson.
Gosh, I hope so. Because let's not forget the missing fully-armed hydrogen bomb in North Carolina. I wonder what will happen when someone finds that.
The CBC weighs in on one of this blog's perennial topics:
Going by the sun's position in the sky, Saskatchewan should be on mountain time, the same as Alberta. The border city of Lloydminster gets it right and uses mountain time but the rest of Saskatchewan is effectively on daylight time year round, while the province says it's on standard time.
Lots of places do the same, and some by more than an hour.
And Newfoundland, where the clocks are 30 minutes ahead of the ones in most of Labrador and the rest of the Atlantic time zone, can claim to be in minute-sync with all sorts of places.
The 30-minuters added another one to their list this year.
They also have a listicle of facts about daylight saving time, for those who are not already completely exhausted by this topic.
Last night, Canada tossed out its anti-climate, pro-business-owner Conservative party and elected the Liberals in a landslide. The Liberal party won an outright majority of 184 seats to the Conservatives' 99 (out of 338). Stephen Harper is stepping down, which Canada's system requires in order for Justin Trudeau to be elected Prime Minister by the next Parliament, which should resume November 9th.
The left-leaning Toronto Star is overjoyed:
Cheers broke out across the land as Canadian voters chased Stephen Harper’s arrogant Conservatives from office on Monday night, in a richly deserved rebuke after years of corrosive misgovernance.
Thus ends a dismal, divisive era in our political history.
Trudeau’s compelling vision of a Canada that is “open and confident and hopeful” caught the spirit of voters who believe this country can be more generous, more ambitious and more successful. Millions were repelled by Conservative efforts to scare people into voting for the status quo. And Trudeau’s call to “come together as a country” proved to be a stronger motivator than the Tories’ divisive tactics.
The largest newspaper chain in Canada, Postmedia, naturally endorsed Harper, and has had little to say about the election results. Most papers in the chain have published a glowing review of his administration that leaves out the bits about Rob Ford and climate-change denialism. (Harper is, after all, from Calgary.)
Of note, too, is the New Republic's view from before the election that U.S. Republicans should take note of their Canadian counterparts' mishandling of immigration:
[T]he Harper government has endangered its success in minority outreach by openly running a xenophobic campaign, making a special effort to stir up anxiety about Muslim immigrants. Along with the separatist Bloc Quebecois, the CPC has made an issue of the niqab, the face-covering clothing worn by some Muslim women. Going against court rulings on religious freedom, Harper has insisted that women take off the niqab during citizenship oaths. His party has also floated the idea that the niqab not be allowed in the civil service. On the issue of Syrian refugees, Harper has played up fears that some might be terrorists and used his powers as PM to admit Christian refugees while blocking Muslim ones. Finally, Harper promised to create a “barbaric cultural practices hotline” where Canadians could inform on neighbors adhering to supposedly uncivilized cultural traditions.
In truth, both Harper and Ford show the limits of conservative outreach to immigrant groups and people of color. While it’s true that the two politicians have been more successful in minority outreach than the Republican Party has been, this outreach has been built on fostering other lines of social division, whether against Muslim-Canadians or LGBT communities. Getting some immigrants and non-whites to vote for you by choosing a new scapegoat hardly seems like a promising basis for politics.
The longer term danger for the CPC is that the Canadian-born children of immigrants tend to be much less socially conservative, which means the basis for the outreach could have a one-generation shelf-life. In fact, the success of this Islamophobia-plus-homophobia strategy might even expire on Monday....
Yes, it might.
Congratulations to the Liberal Party, and to Justin Trudeau.