There was probably a time it made sense to erect statues of Winston Churchill in Canada.

Lame duck premier Jason Kenney and Mark Milke, a former political aide who is now president of the Winnie Dinnie Society of Calgary, show off the spot in downtown Cowtown where the hulking eight-foot-something tribute to Churchill is to be planted next year (Photo: Screenshot of Alberta Government video).

Say, about 1946.

Britain’s prime minister through most of World War II certainly played a significant role in the victory over Nazi Germany and for that we must be grateful, even though we recognize that Churchill is a historical figure who deserves to be painted warts and all. 

Until recently at least we were also able to do this with other leaders in the great anti-Hitler coalition that defeated Germany and its allies in 1945, ending the threat to humanity of Hitlerism, if not of fascism, more broadly defined. 

For example, we are capable of recognizing that the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin played a significant role in the defeat of Hitler and the Third Reich, even if he did sign a non-aggression pact with the fellow once upon a time, but also that he was no democrat and a paranoid, murderous leader in his own right.

Considering what happened in Europe in the months after the defeat of the German army at Stalingrad in February 1943, I suppose, one could take issue with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s claim yesterday that “there is no single person more responsible for the defeat of fascism and the evils of the Nazi regime in the Second World War than Sir Winston Churchill.”

Churchill with his children Randolph and Diana in the late Twenties – today, Randolph would be an enemy of Alberta’s oil industry subject to abuse by the War Room (Photo: Public Domain).

But just as there was a time when it made sense to erect statues of Churchill in Canada, there is a time when it makes sense not to – for example, in 2023. 

In his encomium to the wartime British leader yesterday, even Mr. Kenney admitted, albeit half-heartedly, that Churchill was “not perfect.” 

Indeed. Churchill’s legacy is, to say the least, controversial. He may have been, as Premier Kenney insisted in his verbose announcement that a statue will be erected to Churchill next year in the centre of downtown Calgary, “the century’s single greatest leader.” 

Or he may have been, as others have argued, “a grotesque racist and a stubborn imperialist, forever on the wrong side of history.”

I suppose it’s possible to have even been both of those things at once. But, be that as it may, the zeitgeist of the first part of the 21st Century is certainly to acknowledge such profound flaws and not to whitewash them or glorify them with statuary. 

The famous Ottawa portrait of Churchill by Yousuf Karsh – if you happen to see this hanging in a hallway at the Alberta Legislature, you might want to give the front desk at the Château Laurier Hotel in Ottawa a call (Photo: Yousuf Karsh).

Mr. Kenney, though, is not one for turning from his obsessions, among which are a couple of leaders of what we nowadays call the Anglosphere whose accomplishments are acknowledged but whose deep flaws Alberta’s soon-to-depart leader desperately wants us to forget.

If Mr. Kenney thinks Churchill was the greatest leader of the 20th Century and wants to erect a redundant and doubtless unpopular statue of the man in Calgary, he has also made it clear he attributes similar stature in the 19th Century to John A. Macdonald and is prepared to move an unwanted statue of Canada’s first prime minister and one of the architects of the residential school horror to Alberta from Victoria, B.C. 

Victoria, named for another colonial personage, has relegated Macdonald’s statue, in disgrace, to a warehouse somewhere. 

The city will be harder to rename, as Victoria has a different sort of modern currency. Still, as a native of that place, my vote would be to rename the city too. I would suggest Tillicum, which means “friend” in the pre-colonial lingua franca of the Pacific Northwest. But je digresse.

Edmonton Sculptor Danek Mozdzenski’s rather derivative go at the same subject (Photo: Screenshot of Alberta Government video).

Mr. Kenney is not only obsessive about history – to the point of being a crank, it would be fair to say – he is determined to ram his obsessions up our noses, as is the case with his bizarre fixation with Alberta Education’s appallingly ideological social studies curriculum, and now his enthusiasm for this statue of Churchill in front of the former MacDougall School in Calgary’s downtown, which nowadays serves as the Alberta government’s alternate Southern Alberta premier’s office. 

About $300,000 for the statue by Edmonton sculptor Danek Mozdzenski has been raised by the Sir Winston Churchill Society of Calgary, an organization famed in the now mostly forgotten annals of the Calgary Herald for its annual “Winnie Dinnie,” an annual dinner featuring a speaker who actually knew the late PM.

In my formative years as a journalist, I was threatened with discipline for writing in a story advancing this black-tie affair that mentioned that the evening’s speaker, Sir Colin Coote, had been “badly gassed at Ypres in 1915.”

I stoutly denied the pun had been intended. (It was.) I was never accorded the honour of covering the dinner, my bad attitude no doubt compounded by a faintly Teutonic surname. 

Sir Colin Coote, who was badly gassed at Ypres in 1915 (Photo: Public Domain).

The Winnie Dinnie’s sponsors in those days were all sincere admirers of Churchill and mostly Conservatives of a type no longer found in North America, that is to say, Tories

Now, I see from Mr. Kenney’s press release, that the president of the society is Mark Milke, a former apparatchik of the Fraser Institute and now chief honcho of a new neoliberal entity called the Aristotle Foundation, presumably dedicated to polishing the tarnished reputations of such figures as Winston Churchill. 

In the cheerful little video that accompanied the press release on the government’s website, Dr. Milke, also a former political advisor to Mr. Kenney and one-time functionary of the notorious Energy War Room, enthused of Churchill: “He loved Alberta.” 

The historical record of Churchill’s love for Alberta is thin enough for a Fraser Institute press release, a few press clippings about an oh-so-brief visit in 1929, a few weeks after the British election that brought Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour government to power and marked the beginning of the “Wilderness Years” for Churchill, then a mere MP and one reduced to Opposition at that. 

That said, Churchill’s son Randolph, who accompanied him to North America, is said to have accused Alberta oilmen of “pigging up a beautiful valley to make their fortunes” when they visited Turner Valley, a remark that had it been made in 2019 doubtless would have incurred the wrath of Dr. Milke’s War Room. 

American President Lyndon B. Johnson (Photo: Pinterest, originator not stated).

Regardless of the involvement of the modern incarnation of the Winnie Dinnie society, no good will come from erecting a statue of Churchill in Calgary. 

Indeed, one suspects that mischief is the goal. 

It will be a constant affront to many Albertans and a rallying point for others, many of whom hold repugnant views of the sort for which Churchill is nowadays widely condemned. 

Security costs will have to be borne by Calgary taxpayers. 

Every time someone dumps a can of red paint over Churchill’s head, or some neo-Nazi group rallies at his feet, we will be reminded of the unhappy days we were led by Mr. Kenney and Alberta policy was directed by his weird obsessions. 

Perhaps that is the outgoing premier’s intention. 

I am reminded of the story about the late American president Lyndon Baines Johnson, who was said to frequently give toothbrushes as gifts to White House visitors.

He chose toothbrushes, LBJ is said to have explained, “because I want people to think of me when they get up in the morning and when they go to bed at night.”

If Mr. Kenney wants us all to think of him every morning and every night, it would be less expensive in every way if he’d just offer us all a free toothbrush and a roll of floss!

CORRECTION: The cost will be borne by Calgary, taxpayers, of course, not those in Edmonton as instinctively suggested in an earlier version of this post.

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33 Comments

  1. One would wonder what old “Winnie Dinnie” would think of the Alberta of today. It would likely be very amused that the UCP cannot stop shooting themselves, and each other, in the face.

    As best as can be known, Churchill was something of an enormous failure in public life. Born of nobility, by an American mother, Churchill was something of a notable failure. He managed by hook or crook to gain a military commission and served in India and Africa. It was during the Boer War were is gained public interest in his exploits and it was considered that the whole point of his life was to gain higher political office. Along the way, he got himself into a number of disasters, particularly the catastrophe at Gallipoli, where as the Lord Admiral he got tens of thousands of Commonwealth soldiers killed and made the Turks look fantastic. It could be said that his political career was tainted and all his hopes and dreams were smashed. That is until and even greater idiot named Neville Chamberlain though he got a sure promise for peace out of Adolf Hitler, seemingly written on the back of a napkin. With Hitler rampaging around Europe, it appeared at in the middle of all the chaos, in desperation they turned to Churchill, because they couldn’t leave Chamberlain to run things. As a wartime prime minister, Churchill rose to the occasion and made those stirring speeches that he was known for, all the while hoping that he wouldn’t f*ck it up. Thanks to a string of successes, some amazing good luck, and Stalin having an enormous falling out with Hitler, WW2 was finally won. Churchill went to the polls and was run from office. He had the good sense to go away and wait for another moment, which came at last with his ‘Iron Curtain Speech’, another stirring oratory that kept him from fading into obscurity.

    So, why do guys like Jason Kenney go all fanboy for Churchill? For one thing, like Churchill, Kenney was pretty much a failure in life, until circumstances gave him something to call himself a genius over. Unlike Churchill, Kenney just can’t get the universal mojo going with his oratory. At the very least, Churchill, in especially tough moments, kept it honest and leveled with everyone. (Yes, Hitler really is coming for us.) Kenney, if in the same position, would likely tell everyone to charge into the Nazi onslaught because it sounds awesome, not mentioning that it will get everyone killed. At the very least, Churchill would have told everyone that they were probably going to get killed, but only if they do not stand against this infection that Hitler has brought to the world, by his rotten hand and lying word!!!

    Putting it simply, guys who admire Churchill just don’t have his brass or his capability for being bluntly honest. Kenney would rather play distraction games, put one group against the other, live in a world of his fantastic inventions.

    As for Kenney’s weird admiration for John A. MacDonald, I guess he has sympathies for habitual day drinkers.

  2. The head honcho of the UCP is someone that doesn’t seem to want to go away. This isn’t helping Albertans at all, yet people are still duped by whatever lies the UCP is spreading. Anyone that is against the UCP, because they know how bad of a government they are, gets called nasty names. None of this makes sense.

    1. ‘The head honcho of the UCP is someone that doesn’t seem to want to go away.’

      I concur.
      Jason Kenney, Donald Trump, Boris Johnson: failed ‘Leaders’ who Just Won’t Go Away.

      Strange world.
      Have a good day, Anon.

  3. $300,000 is far too low for a brass statue, which in addition to being cast must be mounted on a pedestal, secured and maintained, in addition to being, as our host has pointed out, guarded. At current prices, I wouldn’t be surprised if the cost of the base and plaque alone are the equivalent of the $300,000. This white (and I do mean white) elephant will end up costing a million dollars, mark my words.

  4. Well the Premier who still isn’t gone quite yet continues to surprise by doing something next to nothing, but different than the day before, as the late purple Prince would put it. Maybe he has a seemingly eclectic checklist he is going through.

    I can understand the personal resonance of Churchill to Kenney, who has always seemed to be someone at least a few decades behind the times. However, I’m not sure contemporary Calgary will appreciate it as much.

    We do already have statues of Churchill in Alberta and even a prominent square in Edmonton named after him at a time it seemed more fitting to do so. I think he had many good qualities and likely some shortcomings too, but I don’t see Alberta taxpayers greatly yearning for another Churchill statue now.

    Maybe its just me, but the statue pictured seems a bit Pearsonian with the bow tie. Speaking of, the Liberals honored him by naming a prominent airport after Pearson. What great UCP predecessor could Kenney honor? Well, none. I suppose it would be too gauche even for him to put up a statue of himself, so perhaps Churchill in his mind was a reasonable substitute.

    After all, Churchill did have a great political comeback some time following that Alberta visit. Is our Premier trying to tell us something or hopefully project with what is obviously a very personal statement?

    I feel Kenney should have went with a statue of Napoleon. Either the French leader or maybe even more fittingly the character from Animal Farm. However, that might be a more accurate representation of how some Albertans see Kenney and not how he sees himself.

    As for the missing famous Churchill picture from the Ottawa hotel, perhaps one should look for it in the basement of his mom’s house in Calgary, if such a place exists.

    1. Dave, there already is a statue of Jason Kenney. Just northwest of 97 St and 137 Ave in Edmonton, there is a small street called Griesbach Parade. Along the street there is a traffic circle with a statue of Major General William Griesbach astride a horse, riding northwest.

      The image of Jason Kenney is on the southeast side of the statue.

      1. Interesting – he is perhaps even less modest that I thought, but not quite the prominent location he would probably like though. However, here’s an idea to solve some of our problems – raise funds to move this existing statue to Calgary!

        While I suspect Calgarians would really not want it to replace or be next to Churchill, perhaps they would be ok with it in front of his mothers house. He could have the pleasure of seeing it every time he emerges from the supposed basement. Win-win?

  5. What a fine diversion from the river of blood caused by the UCP’s incompetence. 600,000 Covid infections of whom it is feared one-third will suffer from long term effects. Doctors and nurses abandoning this plague-province after being attacked by the UCP. Since the UCP have instituted their religious based drug treatment programs, it looks like around 40 people a month are dead from contaminated drug supplies. Ain’t free enterprise grand?
    https://healthanalytics.alberta.ca/SASVisualAnalytics/?reportUri=%2Freports%2Freports%2F1bbb695d-14b1-4346-b66e-d401a40f53e6&sectionIndex=0&sso_guest=true&reportViewOnly=true&reportContextBar=false&sas-welcome=false

    1. If you open the above link and page down on the tab “Acute Substance Deaths Overview” you can see the 40 per 100,000 rate and then below that the absolute numbers per month which look to average about 150 dead people each month thanks to the UCP’s religious based programs up from around 50 people a month before. Most of those deaths are in the highly productive 35 to 50 age group. I should have made the distinction between absolute numbers (which are dead individuals on stretcher) and the rate per 100,000 population clear.

  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agalmatophilia

    I’m sure the erection of this statue will bring Jason Kenney some satisfaction.

    For the rest of us, it will be the backdrop for protests at the closest thing southern Alberta has for a legislature, until it ends up like its sister statue in Edmonton, splattered in red paint or carted away to a warehouse somewhere. Let the poor eat statues!

  7. A grotesque racist and a stubborn imperialist? I’ll say. In a secret memorandum, Sir Winston declared, “I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes.”

    Those uncivilized tribes were in India rebelling against British rule. Sir Winston had already planned and executed a chemical attack in Russia in 1919 and let’s just say he was a big fan of it. Modern day imperialists currently operating under the woke/progressive politics banner (we’re the good guys now doncha know) are always quoting Saint Churchill every chance they get. For them it’ll always be 1939.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2013/sep/01/winston-churchill-shocking-use-chemical-weapons

    1. Did you read the article which was about how the current premier of Alberta, a noted lifelong conservative & former conservative cabinet minister is obsessed with Churchill and is commissioning a statue of him ?

      Woke imperialism, what are you even talking about ?

      1. I shared your chuckle at the idea of “woke imperialism,” but it actually parses just fine if you understand that “woke” is not just a negative evaluative term for “progressive,” (in the same way “murder” is a negative evaluative term for “killing”) it also means “stupid/bad,” as in: “This woke alarm clock doesn’t wake me up!” “This woke candy bar tastes bad!” “That woke dog won’t hunt!” “These woke taxes are killing my bottom line!” “I barked my shin on that woke coffee table!”

  8. A statue for Winnie in Calgary is, I might suggest, honoring a war criminal. In 2022, we don’t like to celebrate leaders who target civilians with horrific violence. (See Dresden, etc,)
    I do recall as a former Calgary Herald reporter the very real horror of being fingered to cover the the pompously silly annual dinners.
    Winnie-lover Kenney seems to be very active these days with his weird initiatives. My hunch is that he’s not going to go so quickly after the UCP leadership result.

  9. Dave: sputter laughing– my first thought when I saw the news about the “missing Churchill picture ” was, when was Just Kidding last in Ottawa..hmmm

    And DJC ,thanks for bringing up something that’s been niggling on the back burner for some time now— why is the Premier spending so much time in Calgary and not in the capital of the province, and your description just made me realize it’s the
    ” Cal gar la go ” ,those Edmontonians just don’t understand him, go where the fans are, (were ??) and how much are Albertan’s paying out for his second office ( with staff ??)

  10. What do Winnie lovers do for fun at the Winnie Dinnie?
    Harrumph? Get gassed? Blow cigar smoke in each others’ faces? Chortle at his tired old comebacks like “Sir Winston you are drunk.” “Yes, Madam, and you are ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober.”
    Sounds like a partay any dyed in the wool UCPer would love.

    1. Tom: Like I say, I was never invited, but this sounds about right from what I heard. As for whether a typical UCPer would love it, that’s an interesting question. A majority of the members in those days were World War II veterans, and some of them were genuine heroes of the violence, so I imagine they were considerably more realistic about the limits of war as foreign policy and considerably less belligerent than the current crowd of neoliberals, members of the Canadian Chairborne Regiment to a man and woman. The idea of a Conservative party that had no use for government would have been incomprehensible to them. They did like cigars and drink, though. The two Herald movers and shakers were Frank Swanson, the publisher, and Richard Sanburn, the editor. Both had been war correspondents, and the former covered the Nuremberg Trials after the war. I’m certain he wouldn’t be all that sympathetic to the idea those trials had anything to do with vaccine mandates. They were a Mutt ‘n’ Jeff pair, always referred to collectively by the Herald’s unruly reporters as “Frankie and Dickie.” (As we would sing in the bar, “Said Frankie to Dickie, I’d love you, but … I’ve found that you’re much too small!”) DJC

  11. Kenney and ucp are stuck in a time warp. They would love to go back to 1946. Things where in black and white then. None of this nonsense about worrying about what the non-white world cared about. Men were men and women where happy in the kitchen! This simple minded, self-centred way of thinking is what Kenney and gang prays for. Life is NOT that way and really never was. The conservative mind set is to keep things the way they think it was, not worry about such foolishness as fairness to those who didn’t have the good sense to be born in a well off society or born the right colour. None of this crazy talk of workers rights or saving the environment.It’s MONEY folks! MONEY makes the world go round. Kenny wants to leave a mark (or is it a stain) on Alberta, couldn’t do it with coal mines, not working privatizing medicine, changing what is taught in schools and finally trying to get a new police force that won’t be told what to do by those nasty Libs-Ndp in Ottawa. Gee a post about a statue David, and I go on a rant.

  12. You quote Kenney as claiming Churchill was the century’s greatest political leader. That got me thinking about who else could qualify for that title. My choice is F.D.R. , but I don’t see the need or the sense for a statue of him anywhere in Alberta, either. Will the nonsense ever end?

    1. Haha FDR enacted policies that helped people who weren’t rich… no Alberta politician, or conservative politician (including the presumably-extinct ‘big C Conservative”) is ever going to care about him. Also, from their perspective, what kind of wimp presides over WW2 and doesn’t commit any war crimes?

  13. Did he not get the memo? Has he seen the polls?

    Just wish he would go on vacation and never come back to Alberta. Back to whence he came….Ontario.

  14. Kenney wouldn’t be the first retiring politician to use cher last days of tax-spending authority to memorialize cher achievements in office—although Dave’s estimate that not even K-Boy is so gauche as to commission a statue of himself is, I think, very adroit. Rather, I think the UCP founder and soon-to-be ex-first-leader and premier is being clever in conjuring the very K that put the Kangaroo in Kenney’s career prospects. We just don’t know where he might jump to next, but surely a nice Winnie bronze has something to do with it.

    Kenney’s obstinance shows in the choices he’s making in this regard, particularly his reported plan to ‘rescue’ poor old John A.’s statue which had to be bundled, red-faced, into The Garden City’s cloister to protect it from Antifa-like protesters in BC’s fair capital (Macdonald was the elected MP in Victoria 1878-82 when his scandal-plagued party became unelectable in his old, longtime riding of Kingston where constituents knew him most): protesters in Vic objected, in paint, to our federation’s first Prime Minister and Founding Father: that’s a pretty plain Kenney-sop to tRumpublican rhetoricians’ who accuse the partisan left of imposing a policy of “cancel culture” to erase certain characters from national mythoi that supposed conservative traditionalists, or Tories, should, accusers say, hold in utmost patriotic respect, despite whatever insurrections (as in the case of rebel-Confederate General Robert E Lee’s statue, last seen riding off into the sunset of whitewashed history on the back of a flat deck while neo-Nazis, Tiki-fascist and their “Antifa” counter protesters clashed in deadly, Charlottesville fashion) or politico-ethical blemishes (as in Macdonald’s divisive execution of Métis leader Louis Riel, racist Indian Residential School policy, and rampant corruption in awarding railway-building contracts).

    Insofar as the K-Boy seems well-hitched to the radical tRumpublican/CPC/UCP/Freedumbite wagon, we naturally wonder where he thinks he’s going after exhausting his Alberta tax-spending authority in a little over a month from now. His “Alberta Advantage” Redux wouldn’t hint at a political future if it had stood alone, but girding the cajones enough to call Daniell-Boy’s Alberta Sovereignty Act “just nuts” and dragging The Old Leader out of reconciliatory seclusion appears to be casting his headlamp far across the Prairies in high beam. What is he searching for?

    But a statue of Winston Churchill? I remember watching the great leader’s coffin float through London, down the Thames (where I’m from, we Upper Canadians have to distinguish “UK”) back before Kenney was even a twinkle in his daddy’s eye. What on Earth does he owe the Winnie One? Something in lieu of military service, maybe? (Although K-Boy was briefly CPC defence minister, he never did any KP. Even Macdonald —who braved the rebellious Métis and militant Sioux refugees from behind his parliamentary desk —was enlisted in the Royal Militia of Upper Canada during the short-lived Upper Canada Rebellion in 1837: a government cannonball smashed the pub window where some of the rebels were hiding and they fled, ending the fight in short order). Or perhaps something in exchange for a bit of Churchill’s stature earned after a long and illustrious military career in the field and in government.

    I can see K-Boy’s admiration for both Macdonald’s and Churchill’s achievements as Tories—although he’s one in name only—, and I can really understand him emulating both Sir John A.’s and Winnie’s obstinance—especially the audacity of the comeback from political oblivion, even though either is a bad fit with Kenney’s own trajectory. True, all three flirted with being Liberals (although K-Boy was never an elected one), but on the achievement scale, nothing K-Boy did could ever hold a candle to defeating the free world’s greatest threat or confederating what would become the second-largest nation in the world and partner to the largest bilateral trade in history. As minister in Canada’s most unloved, default, two-minority/single-majority CPC government, Kenney went on to “unite the right” in Alberta and failed to serve out his creation’s first term of government before his own party gave him the boot. As much as his proclaimed, lame-duck Alberta Advantage suggests sweeping the spotlight away, the connection to political comeback is, I think the best explanation for his British Bulldog land mine.

    Of course accusers of “cancel culture” are typically hypocritical when, while heaping adulations upon historical heroes, they assiduously expunge inconvenient truths like corruption and racism (or, perhaps, that should be called “culture channeling”). K-Boy’s stab at it is reminiscent of his mentor’s 28 million-dollar mythologization of the War of 1812, a crude attempt at diverting attention away from the CPC’s appallingly unfair and, yes, unpatriotic treatment of Canadian military personnel and veterans, many wounded in action and disabled for life, in the CPC-contemporaneous Afghan War which coincided with disappearing portraits of the Queen in public institutions and unconstitutional aspects of CPC-negotiated trade deals which allowed foreign investors to undermine our sovereignty, and culminating in the outrageous bullying of the Queen’s Governor General in order to acquire a parliamentary prorogation so’s to avoid a confidence vote the CPC minority (at the time) would have lost to the proffered Liberal-NDP-Bloc Québécois alliance. Remember, Kenney has had almost no other vocation than politics, and the knee-to-groin tactics of the HarperCon’s sovereignty-busting, neoliberal globalization strategy was his main nursery and, apparently, still is his fundamental understanding of “movement conservatism.”

    As simple as it is, Kenney is clever enough to read the hyperpartisan winds ripping through the partisan right throughout Greater Anglo-Saxony. Whatever he has up his sleeve—perhaps a return to federal politics in something more than an advisory role—it looks like he intends to avail the rather more base sentiments of the very faction he openly courted, that elevated him upon a shield, then petulantly dumped him just as the hoppers-full of red-meat offal they demanded became increasingly impolitic to provide as generously whilst the whole world struggled with the Covid pandemic.

    Has Kenney had another epiphany like the ones which led him away from university without a degree, from working the Young Liberals and staffing for Saskatchewan Liberal leader Ralph Goodale, from passing on the first post-Harper CPC leadership race and, now, from the defeat snatched from the maskless jaws of partisan hegemony in the Wild Rose province?

    Who knows more than he? But I’ll tell ya, it sure is a suspicious coincidence that the local rag on our little Island, the weekly advertiser which our daughter-in-law once published—replete with “nice-weather-we’re-having” editorial content—and which, years later, has devolved into anti-vaxxer, Freedumbite pamphleteering (yes, the strange bedfellows of AntiPharma-Granola-Back-to-the-Landers with the worse-known convoy cranks do exist even here as a small but noisy and, unfortunately, well-published minority) came out today with the regular weekly missive from our notorious, F—K JT, organic farmer-gal who—surprise, surprise—promises to begin a special series on none other than (cue the kettledrum-roll) Winston Churchill himself. Starting next week. Oh, brother! I’m not imagining this, am I?

    It reminded me and my squeeze of how coordinated talking points of the radicalized, social-media-savvy right really are: very responsive and broad, yet equally shallow in history and in politics of the public-interest sort (as opposed to the get-power kind), and as base, tasteless, and tactless as hogs in mire.

    Meanwhile I hope neither we nor our friends in Calgary will have to suffer the controversy intended by resurrecting, by smirking erection, of a Winnie statue—or a plaque, or any tedious, tendentious far-right twaddle all wrapped in a Dutch flag—which just has to be at least one notch lower than the scoundrelism of more immediate patriotism.

    It also reminds that even if Kenney, Danielle, and Pierre were to lose their respective gambits over the next few years, we shall probably be as saddled with historical revisioning from the increasingly extreme partisan right as we have been since 2015, probably for some time to come.

    But at least now I can tell my dove why I keep that gawdawful amateur portrait of Churchill, curatorially, in the guest room closet: it is, as I’ve always thought, still relevant in its curious way—but, this time, in ways I never really would have believed until it happened. As I make my case for saving it from ‘she-who-must-declutter’ (in yet another ‘uncanny coincidence,’ she was about to send it to the Free Store—where, years ago, I got it—only just yesterday) I hope it will be my finest hour…

    … but I doubt she’ll quite see it that way.

    Be well, my Alberta friends, and enjoy the spotlight, for soon— a year or so from now—it will likely start panning toward the East where there are more statues than one can shake a paintbrush or a weenie Confederate or Nazi battle flag at.

    1. Scotty: Personally, I think my natal city lost the right to call itself “The Garden City” when it stopped allowing watering in the summer. That must be nigh on 20 years now. In the manner of California, it could call itself the Green and Gold City, but gardens? Not so much. DJC

      1. It’s still my favourite city. But you’re right: things have changed a lot there. The western communities have coalesced and oozed through the rocky Thetis Lake area; many neighbourhoods close to the downtown are now unrecognizable—yet Fernwood, Haultain and James Bay neighbourhoods are still familiar; homelessness is shockingly bad, but Beacon Hill Park has been cleared of tents (I think everybody there was moved up to Topaz Park and some old motels the government bought). I still have friends in Vic, and my dear old Ma and my sister’s family live there now (couldn’t take Upper Canada winters anymore).

        Perhaps it is a little more golden that green these days, but it’s still a beautiful city. After 37 years away (lived in Quebec and Montreal, Hogtown, Edmonton and Calgary, Vancouver and Lillooet during this time—before moving up here to the lee of the Big Island—where it’s more golden than green right now), I still entertain moving back to Vic. Our granddaughter lives there with her man now—renting, of course. It is a place for the rich; for most normal mortals: you buy a house there and you sure ain’t rich no more!

        1. Scotty: After my sister’s death in 2020, I spent a month in Victoria cleaning up her house. I came to the conclusion that if I ever were to return, I would never venture north of Oak Bay Avenue or Pandora except to travel to the airport. The sole exception might be the little enclave around Fernwood. The homeless population is threatening and disturbing, no doubt exacerbated by the opioid crisis. The smugness is suffocating, but still less offensive than the Alberta variety. DJC

  15. Ok, well, a number of things come to mind. First, Churchill did cross the floor 3x, was it? Second, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer he did sponsor some legislation to advance social welfare for the working poor (see Martin Gilbert bio for details.) It is also undeniable he was a racist – see his commentaries on Ghandi, South Africans, peoples of the sun-continent etc., but then he was also very much a Victorian, and a man of another century. Not an excuse, but a comment of the time, and his class. Note that his year of birth was 1874. Was he most responsible for winning WWII; in all likelihood, no. Churchill was a mix, as are most people. I don’t think he needs another statue, better to invest money in a better future. Even Sir Winston would see the value in that, of that I am sure. As to Kenney’s obsession, and for that matter rhymes with rump’s obsession with Winston Churchill strange, absurd, or laughable. I am not sure what. Let the past bury itself!

    1. Former: Twice. Conservative > Liberal > Conservative. As I recall, it was about two decades between the two crossings. As he said on the occasion of the second crossing: “Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain amount of ingenuity to re-rat.” DJC

  16. For all his flaws, you have to give credit to Churchill for one thing: the now-lost art of oratory in politics. His turns of phrase are legendary.

    In his 1986 book, ‘The Story of English’, former PBS journalist & Canadian Robert McNeil described William Shakespeare as having “ransacked the lexicon”. This was certainly Churchill’s approach to speeches, at a time when professional speechwriters were unusual.

    The last time Inheard a truly rousing speech from a current or former politician was former BC NDP Premier, the late Dave Barrett, at some conference earlier this century — it may have been a union meeting.

    I find today’s politicians stultifyingly boring. Justin Trudeau has his ‘ums’ & ‘uhs’, and his speaking style sounds like a podcast that’s been inadvertently set to ¾-speed playback. Chrystia Freeland sounds so robotic, she would fail a Turing Test https://www.techtarget.com/searchenterpriseai/definition/Turing-test. Harper, Scheer, O’Toole and Singh aren’t any better, and neither are any of Canada’s current crop or Premiers. Sadly, Poilièvre has some rhetorical skills — but then, so did Hitler.

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