April 28, 2003



The real story of SARS in Toronto. Why is it Mark Steyn, who doesn't even live here, can explain the outbreak better than a large and growing number of Toronto journalists?

UPDATE: Colby Cosh on the same essay. I should add that, as I said previously in Flitters, that I'd also quibble with the "public health care is to blame" thesis that Steyn overextends his argument to... if only because Vancouver, which also has public health, and also admitted its first SARS case on the same DAY as Toronto's, yet didn't have an outbreak, proves the system can work if the right people are in the right positions of authority... what I was lauding Steyn for, in fact, for the best blow-by-blow treatment of the origins of the Toronto outbreak I have yet read, and his entirely accurate conclusion that the Toronto health system shouldn't actually be patting itself on the back for what was clearly a pretty poor performance... a judgment apparently too gutsy for most journos.

Posted by BruceR at 02:24 PM

SPEAKING OF WHICH Damian reports


Damian reports on a situation where the police apparatus is basically oppressing the rights of war veterans (Blogger link broken, last item April 25).

Penny doesn't mention the unmentioned (but obvious) fact, that this other "anti-war" protest in Ottawa that's prompting the police to kick the war vets off the streets for the day is obviously a holdover effect from the planned but cancelled George Bush state visit to Ottawa that day, and the massive protests in Ottawa that were going to accompany it, with protesters coming from all over Canada. Guess the bus companies wouldn't give back the deposits...

Posted by BruceR at 11:03 AM


Addendum: as contemptuous as I am of protesters in general, Sullivan's right... all America (and Canada) should be a "free speech zone," and any police apparatus that dictates otherwise is a threat to human liberty. Our PM did this at UBC to protect Suharto from feeling uncomfortable, and it was just as wrong then, too. Even if you disagree with the protesters, or fear their capability for violence, as I do, and have witnessed here in Toronto, you always have to remember that once institutionalized, these same methods will be sooner or later used by a political leadership with which you disagree, against your side. This is not Leiningen vs. the f*cking Ants, people.

Posted by BruceR at 10:54 AM



Well, the basic officer course I was running wrapped up on Sunday with 13 new Canadian Forces reserve officers packed on a bus and headed to their next stage of the cross. I wish them well. I'd say it's always great working with young people (it is) but the median age of this group was 30... they're leaving wives, kids, and well-paying downtown jobs to spend a summer with the army... more evidence perhaps that there's a lot of people for whom events of the last two years were a call to arms of sorts. I know how that feels... if I'd been out on Sept. 11, I think I'd have come back somehow, too. Not sure how I can explain why.

The other notable thing about the course was how in the exit interviews a common theme in the area of course improvements is that more time needs to be spent on things like unit pride, military tradition, and patriotism. Since a year-and-a-half ago, Canadians, more than ever in recent years, have wanted being Canadian to stand for something, for us to take our rightful place on the international stage. We disagree wildly on what that place should be, but it's an honest disagreement. The political leader who could sense that vein and tap into it in a constructive way could really shake things up, as long as it lasts. Certainly in the CF we need to rethink some of our plans and policies, as well. Fortunately, I know some of the people doing just that, and they're far-thinking people.

Someone also needs to think about how to apply the wisdom of Niall Ferguson's latest piece to the Canadian setting. No, we'll never be imperialists, (we are living in an imperial world and we are non-imperial girls?), but we need to rethink how Canada and Canadians can best help people less fortunate. Giving money and resources hands the reins of power to the incompetents and the grifters. Neither blind pro-Americanism or blind anti-Americanism is constructive. The old institutions of power projection are largely failing, even as they continue to need our support in the absence of something better.

I have nothing but respect for those who joined the Canadian Forces in the last year-and-a-half, out of this unfocused and honest desire to try to help out however they could. The Bosnian and Afghan missions will stretch our military resources to the limit... and even if they're just, as I am in a way, filling a blank file at home to free up one more soldier for those kinds of missions, they are still helping. (God forbid that we have a disaster at home that requires more from them.) But I would have an equal measure of respect for someone who honestly opposed militarism and American imperialism, but was still headed overseas with an NGO to try to help in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or anywhere else. To me, that's just the modern version of the conscientious objector's route, and I wish Godspeed to anyone who takes it. My contempt has always been saved exclusively for those who fit in an anti-war protest in between their weekend runs to the Eaton Centre, and feel they've done something noble by doing so.

EDIT: Here's a cause anyone should want to support. Wheels up, people.

Posted by BruceR at 10:48 AM