NICHOLS: Oh, Canada, excuse me

When I look across this wide and wonderful country we call our home and native land I see a lot of things that encourage, a few that make me proud, and many that give me pause to wonder, “What were (are) we thinking?” When I extend my focus to the planet we share with billions of fellow human beings, so many hungry, hopeless, fearful, mired in misery, it puts our present challenges with a couple of our trading partners in perspective.

There are two or three billion souls scattered about this unhappy sod who would love to have our challenges if they came with our wealth and opportunities. Instead they have political, military, and social turmoil, confusion, upheaval, mayhem, and destruction. Their homelands are hemorrhaging blood, talent, tears, souls. All of it rooted in bloody, lubricious greed. Which is not to assert that everyone caught up in the wretchedness is culpable. Most are just caught up in someone else’s ambition.

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Can we righteously ask the refugees at our door to go home and rebuild their broken countries? That would be the logical solution if they could go and rebuild. But the conditions that drove them to desperate measures still exist and will not be eradicated as long as human greed continues to drive the powerful to criminal behaviour.

I will play the prophet for a few sentences. Mr. Trump has given notice that he intends to bring the US troops home from Syria very soon. Good for the boys and girls in uniform who get to come home before they take a bullet; also probably good for Mr. Trump’s political ambitions. But their exodus from Syria will expose an opportunity for Turkey to expand its war against the Kurds (presently allied with the US against ISIS) into Syria – a recipe for prolonged and unmitigated disaster in the area. And another wave of refugees.

How much can this old world take without destroying itself?

And how we treat the desperate will ultimately shape our own destiny.

Once upon a time we could look at the nation just south of 49 with a degree of confidence in its stability, predictability, even its integrity. Things are changing in the land of the brave and the home of the free and it does not bode well for O Canada.

Frankly, in the short term the intense polarity developing between the Republicans and the Democrats is building up such a charge that a controlled discharge will be a miracle. That said, I do believe in miracles (after all, we are living on the earth) so let’s watch and be ready for whatever is coming down the pipe.

And speaking of pipe, there are two kinds of pipe that can or will have enormous impact on our Canadian lifestyle and psyche. One of them is the unbuilt pipeline that potentially could carry western energy to Canadian markets and relieve us of undue dependence on foreign energy brought to our shores in foreign hulls. The other is the pipe that carries pot fumes to the Canadian brain. One we now have (I refer to the pipe, not the brain). Acquiring the other seems more problematic. What are we thinking, Canada? Can we still think?

Oh yes, that other trading partner. I can’t remember how long it has been since I started noticing that it was manufactured you know where – and it wasn’t in O Canada. But now we are caught between a hungry, impulsive, arbitrary eagle with thick blond hair and a great red dragon, also unpredictable; we are collateral damage in a trade war that is not ours. In trying to follow the rule of law we came up against an eagle that is, apparently, a law unto itself and a dragon that doesn’t recognize the rule of law. It’s a precarious position to occupy.

If we didn’t already have compelling arguments to become energy self-sufficient as rapidly as we can, we certainly do now. Oh, Canada, has our brain gone to pot?

But there is one thing that makes me proud to be Canadian just now: to see Calgarians expressing their displeasure with government policies of inaction and appeasement without burning tires and breaking glass. Keep it up Calgary. We do try to live under law in this good country.

By the way, here’s a parting shot from the ancients: “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; And there is one who withholds more than is right, But it leads to poverty.”

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