The question isn’t, ‘Why don’t Ontarians want to go to university in French in downtown Toronto?’ It’s, ‘Why would they?’ The latest enrolment figures are out for the Université de l’Ontario Français, established 2019 on the Toronto waterfront, and they are grim: Exactly 14 Ontario high-school students have applied to attend this coming autumn. That’s five grimmer than last year, when only two of the 19 applicants had UOF as their first choice on the common Ontario application form. (Choice data isn’t yet available for next year.) The vast majority of students at UOF are therefore, of necessity, international students — many of whom, Le Devoir reports, are benefiting from very generous scholarships. Think of that what you will, it’s emphatically not what the UOF was supposed to be. The 2017 proposal from Ontario’s French-Language University Planning Board projected the undergraduate student body for the 2022–23 academic year would be almost 90-percent domestic. OUF was supposed to be, in the board’s phrase, “a unifying force for Ontario’s Francophonie.” It isn’t. It probably can’t be. This almost certainly doomed institution is the result of a dozen misconceptions, myths and delusions about Canada’s linguistic realities coming home to roost on an ultra-prime piece of Toronto real estate.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino is calling on Twitter to remove a tweet from an Ontario politician who labelled federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra a “terrorist.” Mendicino says the tweet from Independent MPP Randy Hillier is “flagrantly abusive, offensive and Islamophobic” and amounts to “hate speech” that should have no place on Twitter or other social media platforms. In a tweet today supporting truckers opposed to mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 in order to cross the Canada-U.S. border, Hillier refers to Alghabra as a terrorist who has condemned Canadians to starvation in the name of public safety. In a separate statement, Hillier calls on the RCMP to open a criminal investigation into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whom he accuses of engaging in an “act of domestic terrorism” by depriving Canadians of food and other basic necessities in the middle of winter. A convoy of truckers and other vaccine opponents is on its way to Ottawa for a rally against vaccine mandates, which Hillier says he intends to attend. Last month, Mendicino called on Twitter to act on a tweet from another vaccination opponent that the minister said was aimed at intimidating and threatening Canadian Medical Association president Katharine Smart for championing inoculations.
Just one year into his first term, U.S. President Joe Biden is experiencing approval ratings so low that even close supporters are calling it a portent of electoral doom. Which might explain why the president was testy enough on Monday to refer to a Fox News reporter as a “stupid son of a bitch.” And yet, Biden is still more popular than Justin Trudeau, a prime minister only three months out from his last election win. The latest numbers from Gallup have Biden’s approval rating at 40 percent — one of the lowest ever for a U.S. president at the end of his first year in office. Meanwhile, Trudeau’s latest approval rating stands at 38 percent, according to the Angus Reid Institute. That’s actually a couple points higher than the 36 percent approval that Trudeau was enjoying in the days after his victory in the Sept. 20 federal election (and seven points higher than his career low of 31 posted in August 2019). “In Canada if you’re a politician in the low to mid 30s, that’s actually not fatal,” said Shachi Kurl, president of the Angus Reid Institute. And it’s not just the prime minister. Across the board, Canadian premiers are also experiencing rock-bottom popularity compared to U.S. governors.
When Barack Obama was elected it was truly historic. Plus after eight years people were fed up with George Bush failing as “a uniter, not a divider.” But after eight years of “Hope and change,” Americans elected Donald Trump, and we’ve never had a mea culpa that just possibly Obama’s condescending attitude had a polarizing effect. Then there’s Justin Trudeau. Ostensibly he’s all about sunny ways, sexy smiles and bringing us together. But watch him in action and something’s not right. Lyndon Johnson, no stranger to hardball politics, was fond of saying “Come now, and let us reason together” and sometimes he even meant it. Whereas Trudeau recently declared the vaccine-hesitant racist and misogynist without even checking whether they were angry old white men. He just reflexively invoked a mean-spirited stereotype. It turns out vaccine skepticism is more common among non-whites. Of course they could still be racist, but there’s a subject for another day. Or maybe not, because Monday I got one of those vapid PMO statements about commemorating something nobody heard of, “World Day for African and Afrodescendant Culture”. Only a few avant-garde activists know “Afrodescendant” is the new black.
More Canadians are showing a willingness to push back against politicians, and speak their minds rather than meekly going along with authority. Not long ago, Canada appeared headed towards a situation in which all the major parties were going to support ever-increasing draconian measures. The Liberals, NDP, and Bloc were all onboard with vaccine mandates and restrictions, while the CPC seemed afraid to push back. The PPC was the only party that was consistently standing up for the principles of limited government and individual freedom. Unfortunately, this meant that Canada could have been left without any party in Parliament that was pushing back. The Conservative Party was clearly divided internally, with individual MPs wanting to speak out, while the party leadership held them back and tried to play it as safe as possible. You got the sense that the CPC leadership desperately wanted the issue of civil liberties and government power to just ‘go away.’ Well, it hasn’t. Instead, Justin Trudeau and the Liberals — along with the government of Quebec — have continued to double down on using state power to take away rights and freedoms and cause more division.
U.S. President Joe Biden did not invite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to a video call with world leaders on Monday about Russia’s military buildup on Ukraine’s borders. The invitation shows that European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, European Council president Charles Michel and NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg were included on the call. The world leaders invited were French President Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian president Mario Draghi, Polish president Andrzej Duda and British prime minister Boris Johnson. The call took place in the Situation Room in the White House and was closed to the press. Conservative MP James Bezan raised concerns about the snub in a tweet. “This is what happens when you fail to stand up for Ukraine,” he said. The U.S. State Department and the British government have reported that some embassy staff and their families were advised to start to leave Ukraine because of Russia’s increasing aggression. Trudeau has not said whether Canada would follow suit by withdrawing its diplomats and their employees from the eastern European country. “We are following the situation in Ukraine extremely closely,” he said.