Last year on this day traditionally reserved for national celebration, the headline of the post that occupied this space read: “While Jason Kenney promises the best summer ever, it’s hard to shake the feeling of apocalyptic foreboding this Canada Day.”
Once again, no one is now promising the “best summer ever.” Indeed, the sense of a looming apocalypse grows ever more distinct.
COVID-19 is still with us, thanks in part to feckless governments throughout the West unwilling or unable to deal effectively with the greatest public health challenge in a century.
The best summer ever Mr. Kenney promised us last year turned out to be so bad that it seems likely Mr. Kenney himself will not be with us here in Alberta much longer.
At any rate, one imagines that when his planned resignation finally takes effect in the not-too-distant future, he won’t stick around these parts for long, other than to pay the occasional visit to his elderly mom. (Say what you will about the man, he appears to be a devoted son, a rare mark in his favour.)
Last year’s commentary observed that “pickup trucks with their maple leaf flags may or may not be screeching around Edmonton’s Whyte Avenue tonight, laying rubber in celebration of the provincial government’s edict the masks must come off, Delta variant or not.”
The drivers of those ubiquitous gas-guzzlers should be happy now. The masks are all but gone. They probably aren’t, though. After all, there’s always the price of fuel to complain about.
Since then, though, other truck drivers have occupied our nation’s capital for weeks in a mid-winter attempt, thankfully not successful, to overthrow our country’s democratically elected government.
Several border crossings were blockaded by the same extremists, at a cost of billions of dollars, and yet Canada’s supposedly conservative parties, of all things, are engaged in an attempt to lionize these thugs and vandals and excoriate the Trudeau Government for using the Emergencies Act to restore order and reopen the country’s borders.
Last year, the leader of the federal Conservative Party told us that he wanted to “take back Canada,” although he never specified from whom. The dog-whistle was clear enough just the same.
Since then, Erin O’Toole has been deposed by his own caucus, supposedly for his lack of electoral success in the September 2021 federal election, but just as much for his apparent moderation in comparison to fellow Conservatives who have drunk their fill of Trumpist Kool-Aid.
The Ottawa Occupation may not have seen violence on quite the scale of Donald Trump’s attempted coup the previous Jan. 6, but our home-grown Trumpists nevertheless deny the reality of the convoy crisis’s outpouring of anti-democratic sentiment just as their Republican counterparts do south of the 49th Parallel.
Yesterday, the frontrunning candidate to take over the Conservative Party of Canada, a young man associated with economic conspiracy theories and bizarre cryptocurrency enthusiasms, paraded through the streets of Ottawa with an anti-vaccine leader of the so-called “Freedom Convoy” and a phalanx of his far-right supporters wearing bits and pieces of military uniforms. A whiff of neo-Confederate extremism lingered in the air.
Here in Alberta, the race to replace Mr. Kenney as premier and leader of the United Conservative Party seems to be focused on the nihilistic separatist sentiments of some leading candidates, instead of the problems that confront the province, among them the collapse of our health care system after two years of COVID and three years on UCP mismanagement.
And whereas last year I commented in concerned tones that you might have to wait an hour for an ambulance in Alberta, today much longer waits or common and you may not get one at all if the 911 operator hangs up on you to process more emergencies. No matter how grave your condition, you’d better be prepared to find your own way to a hospital!
In the United States, Mr. Trump’s attempted coup may have failed on Jan. 6 to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, but the constitutional coup he successfully conducted while in office, packing the U.S. Supreme Court with militant social conservative extremists, is now bearing strange fruit that bodes ill for the future of the American Republic and its 350 million citizens.
And – of yes – there is a full-blown war in Europe, which seems to grow worse by the day.
Partly as a result, a global collapse of the markets is said to have wiped $13 trillion from the value of world stocks, the worst rout on record. Inflation is soaring.
Not all the auguries are bad. The weather’s been a little cooler – though that may not last. The Pope will visit Edmonton later this month, bearing a message of reconciliation to Indigenous Canadians for the disgrace of our national residential school policy that cast such a pall last summer.
Still, as we wait nervously to see what happens in the streets of Ottawa today, forget foreboding, it’s hard to shake the feeling that this Canada Day, the apocalypse may be upon us!