John Turner’s poisoned chalice

Succeeding Pierre Trudeau came with own baggage. As a result, Turner, a former golden boy of the Liberals who died Saturday, never fulfilled his promise

John Turner’s poisoned chaliceSeveral years ago, I found myself standing beside John Turner outside a Toronto church after a Christmas concert. He was alone and nobody was paying attention to him. It seemed strangely anonymous for a man who’d been prime minister, not to mention a one-time golden boy of Liberal politics. Then again, Turner was a guy…

The perpetual fascination with Robin Hood

The bawdy, brutal outlaw of the original ballads doesn’t fit with the noble figure of popular mid-20th-century presentations

The perpetual fascination with Robin HoodAs historical figures go, Robin Hood is a source of perpetual fascination. Mind you, I use the term “historical figure” very loosely because there’s no convincing evidence that he ever existed. Or at least not in anything resembling the legend we’re familiar with. While the earliest written stories date back to ballads printed in the…

Will the 2020 presidential election be a rerun of 1980?

Like Jimmy Carter in 1980, Donald Trump is an incumbent who needs to raise doubts about his rival

Will the 2020 presidential election be a rerun of 1980?William A. Galston writes a weekly column for the Wall Street Journal. He’s partisan – a liberal Democrat – but invariably worth reading. Once you know where he’s coming from, you can apply the appropriate filters. And there’s often a significant element of plausibility in his analysis. Galston’s first September column lays out his take…

The power life of a medieval heiress

The combination of Isabel de Clare’s inherited wealth and William Marshal’s earned status made for a fortuitous pairing

The power life of a medieval heiressThe teenage Isabel de Clare was a desirable prize in the late 12th century marriage market. As the heiress to substantial lands in Ireland, Wales, England and Normandy, she had much to offer. Both sides of her pedigree contributed to this inheritance. Isabel’s father was Richard de Clare, popularly known as Strongbow. He came from…

The 1960 Olympics were spectacular in more ways than one

Wilma Rudolph, Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), Peter Snell and Herb Elliott were the brightest stars in Rome

The 1960 Olympics were spectacular in more ways than oneSixty years ago this week, the Summer Olympics kicked off. From Aug. 25 to Sept. 11, Rome was the centre of international sporting attention as athletes from more than 80 countries competed for glory. And there was more happening than athletic competition. The Second World War had only concluded 15 years previously and the selection…

COVID-19 and scientific fallibility

The pandemic has underlined that we should neither disregard nor worship uncritically at the altar of science

COVID-19 and scientific fallibilityIn addition to upending 21st century normalcy, the COVID-19 pandemic has shone the light on science itself. Just how reliable is it? It’s an interesting question. First, though, let me be open about my default settings. I’m generally very big on medical science, believing that without it I mightn’t be alive today. Ireland, where I…

At 90, Thomas Sowell remains one of a kind

As a libertarian conservative, he’s a minority in the economics profession. Stir in the fact that he’s Black and you get a rare bird indeed

At 90, Thomas Sowell remains one of a kindThomas Sowell celebrated his 90th birthday this summer by publishing his 56th book. Entitled Charter Schools and Their Enemies, the book returns to one of his recurrent themes. He believes that the American public school system fails children from impoverished backgrounds by prioritizing the interests of teacher unions and their political sponsors. In Sowell’s reckoning,…

More than just a Spectator to world events

The long-running weekly publication offers depth, broad perspective on a variety of issues, and doesn’t shy away from controversy

More than just a Spectator to world eventsThe Spectator is a United Kingdom weekly first published in 1828. This purportedly makes it the longest-running magazine of its kind in the English-speaking world. And while the primary focus is current affairs, the Spectator’s subject matter ranges further than that. There’s lively coverage of books, music, film, TV, food and travel. From time to…

Olivia de Havilland was more than an actress

She played two off-screen roles that took courage and independence. She was, to put it simply, a woman of genuine substance.

Olivia de Havilland was more than an actressOlivia de Havilland died last weekend at the age of 104. She was often described as the last survivor of Hollywood’s golden age. Making theatrical movies from the mid-1930s to the late-1970s and continuing in television until 1988, de Havilland earned five Academy Award nominations and won Best Actress twice. Not bad going by anyone’s…

The Congo’s great liberation turned into abject failure

How great plans quickly descended into decades of dictatorship, corruption, kleptocracy and violence

The Congo’s great liberation turned into abject failureThe year 1960 was auspicious for European decolonization of Africa. In rapid succession, no fewer than 17 countries became independent. One of them was the Central African territory previously known as the Belgian Congo. June 30 was its magic date. And given its vast natural resources, some people had high hopes. Alas, things quickly turned…
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