Author: Peter Shawn Taylor

Does Cortés’ Conquest of Mexico Require an Apology, Or a Thank-You?

Official regret – often delivered with a perfectly moistened eye and quavering voice – has been expressed by our prime minister for a seemingly endless parade of old injustices. Native schoolchildren, gays and lesbians, Sikh immigrants, Jewish refugees, six British Columbia chiefs hanged following the Chilcotin War and Inuit populations suffering from tuberculosis have all received a mea culpa from Ottawa. But does such federal self-abasement correspond to what actually happened? Peter Shawn Taylor casts a gimlet eye at Mexico’s efforts to blame 16th century Spain for present-day complaints and finds that the truth sometimes comes down on the side of colonialism.

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Adam Smith Meets Big Bear

Tom Flanagan’s new book The Wealth of First Nations comes at a time when more and more Indigenous leaders and communities are embracing the market economy, resource development, and entrepreneurship. Across every social and economic metric, the Makers are outperforming the Takers, which points the way to less dependence, more integration, and even, perhaps, true reconciliation.

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The Teepee of Babel

Ottawa’s promise to rescue many dozens of dying Indigenous languages and effectively give them equivalent status with English and French has billion-dollar boondoggle written all over it. Peter Shawn Taylor makes a powerful case for letting lost tongues die a natural death.

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Whose land is it anyway?

The practice of opening public events with a statement acknowledging that the event is occurring on land covered by an Indian treaty really took off after the 2015 Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Among its 94 “calls to action” is a demand to “repudiate concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous peoples and lands”. The rite has become ubiquitous in Canadian public life, and now often refers to “unceded” land, even though treaty land was, in fact, ceded to Canada by the chiefs who signed the Treaties. Far from advancing “reconciliation”, writes Peter Shawn Taylor, this fiction is fueling division between those who are constantly told Canada is theirs, and everyone else.

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A crime against Sir Matthew Begbie’s humanity

Add 19th century liberal jurist Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie to the ever-growing list of Canadian historical figures whose reputations have been rubbished in the name of “Truth and Reconciliation”. Begbie presided over the trial of six Tsilhqot’in Indians who were executed for the mass murder of 18 white road builders and settlers during British Columbia’s so-called Chilcotin War of 1864. There were plenty of guilty parties on all sides in that fracas, writes Peter Shawn Taylor, but the mass scapegoating of Begbie – most recently in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s official apology to the Tsilhqot’in killers – is a crime in its own right.

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Canada’s Trumpian tipping point

If the oilsands stay in the ground and pipelines and LNG terminals don’t get built, and governments continue to suffocate other natural resource and infrastructure development with excessive taxation and regulation, a lot of Canadians could wind up like the unemployed masses in the U.S. Rust Belt states – and mad enough to vote for a populist demagogue promising to make their lives great again. We’re not there yet, writes Peter Shawn Taylor, but the current rout of capital from Canada’s oilsands represents foreclosure on thousands of high-paying blue collar jobs and raises the risk of a Trumpian political backlash.

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Not ‘just visiting’ this time

Former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff’s six-year foray into Canadian politics ended in ignominious defeat and was soon followed by his return to Harvard, which validated the lethal Conservative charge that he was “just visiting”. Now he’s in Budapest, running a liberal university. But this time he’s not just visiting, he’s fighting for freedom and democracy against Hungary’s authoritarian nationalist ruler Viktor Orban. And having far more success than he did during his quixotic misadventure in Canadian politics. Peter Shawn Taylor reports.

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The Feminist Mistake?

Women are under-represented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math faculties at universities across Canada. Men are under-represented in all other university subject areas, high school and post-secondary graduation rates, labour force participation trends, and in jobs with defined benefit pensions. The former is a “gender crisis” requiring affirmative action by university administrators and governments. The latter is, well, not on anybody’s radar. Peter Shawn Taylor reports.

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Next on the carbon hit list: Meat

People have been making ethical and health arguments against meat production and consumption for centuries. The vast majority of human omnivores ignore them and eat as much meat as they can afford. But now there’s a powerful new argument against meat – climate change. Cows, pigs and chickens are big contributors to greenhouse gases. As a result, writes Peter Shawn Taylor, the same folks who would wean us off carbon energy are now plotting a meat tax.

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The coming national carbon tax gap

Wonder why Quebec isn’t squawking about Prime Minister Trudeau’s plans to invade provincial jurisdiction with a new national carbon tax? The short answer is because residents in Quebec, as well as Ontario, may wind up paying half as much for carbon emissions as anyone in those provinces saddled with Ottawa’s looming tax. Will Trudeau insist on one carbon price for all Canadians? Don’t hold your CO2, writes Peter Shawn Taylor.

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