Category Archives: Arts & culture

The old flag

File:Flag of New Zealand.svgIt’s great news that New Zealanders have voted to keep their flag instead of adopting an ugly empty substitute. And revealing news.

At first the traditional flag seemed doomed, partly because it was the traditional flag. Why, it even had the Union Jack, and the usual suspects were saying New Zealand couldn’t be all grown up until they dumped their heritage and… what? Got a new one?

Oddly, the incoherent answer there, as so often here in Canada, was implicitly if furtively yes. The other ugly options with ferns were somehow meant to represent the real New Zealand, which didn’t spring from the Anglosphere but by some strange coincidence had all its virtues while being trendily postmodern, inclusive and amorphous or something, And typically it was the “centre-right” party that was pushing the change.

Unsurprisingly it was veterans’ groups who spearheaded the opposition early on. And possibly people with taste. And in the end the politicians managed to make the whole thing sour and skewed, and in the aftermath people are going after PM John Key, claiming that by intruding his own preferences for a new flag he prevented the people from voting the old one out in favour of a blank space into which some false new traditional emblem could later have been easily inserted.

It’s one thing to be sensitive to failings in our past and determined not to repeat them. And, to be fair, to worry that your flag looks too much like Australia’s, as some New Zealanders did. It’s quite another to reject the past but deviously, substituting an ersatz one instead of owning up that you really don’t like the place as it actually evolved and want to get a new better one. And when consulted, people with a heritage worth keeping will reject the latter every time. As I very much imagine Canadians would have done if given a vote on whether to ditch our Red Ensign for a logo in the Liberal Party’s colours back in 1965.

I don’t think it’s coincidence that the traditional New Zealand flag is actually nice to look at and the various replacements were not. They had that focus-grouped-logo look, smooth, manipulative, contrived and off-putting. And in that they accurately reflected the deeper impulse behind the move to replace the traditional emblem and the tradition itself with something artificial and uninspiring.

Anyway, congratulations to New Zealanders for keeping the old flag flying. And not just, I hope, on the flag pole.


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College students interested in liberty can win money!

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, our fundraising partner on the True North and Free documentary project on fixing our Constitution, has just announced the 2016 version of its Essay Contest for Canadian college and university students.

Their website gives the full terms and conditions. But basically if you were a college or university student in Canada last year or will be one this year, you’re invited to write 2,500 words or less on:

Should the government and government bodies, through law and policy, force voluntary associations (charitable, political, cultural, ethnic, religious, social, recreational, educational, etc.) to be inclusive and welcoming of everyone?

Why or why not?

There are cash prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.



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Skirting the issue

A strange juxtaposition of stories on the front page of today’s National Post. One alleges “a growing outcry over ‘sexualized’ dress codes in the workplace” led by government apparatchiks talking to journalists interviewing sociology professors. The burning human rights issue is women wearing skirts and men wearing pants while working in restaurants. And the solution is men wearing skirts. No. Just kidding about the last part. The solution is of course women wearing pants because men are the template for human beings and “Why can’t a women be more like a man?” is the battle cry of feminism.

On the same page we read that Justin Trudeau is… hold me, I’m dizzy… visiting Washington where he will host a reception to which someone has invited the “Grammy-winning Toronto artist” The Weeknd whose “morose blend of profanity, sexism and proscribed behaviour will add to the impression that Canada has changed; that this is not the boring little brother in the attic bedroom Americans have grown complacent living alongside.” So suddenly profanity, sexism and proscribed behaviour make you cool instead of a threat to social justice?

Apparently so. If a woman wears a skirt it’s traumatic, patriarchal and oppressive. But when you sing about… OK. This is awkward. In order to explain the problem here I actually have to quote some of the incredibly obscene, disgusting lyrics that have made this person a star and secured him an invitation to meet with Canada’s Prime Minister. I’d rather not, and if you’re willing to take my word for it don’t read on. But the weirdness, even horror of the juxtaposition of the two stories is precisely that the usual suspects are having PC conniptions about skirts. Yet when this guy sings about… you are warned and here we go… “f**ing b**ches” and “she ride it like a f**ing pony” and “We don’t need no protection” and “Let me see that ***/ Look at all this cash/ And I emptied out my cards too/ Now I’m f**king leaning on that/ Bring your love baby I could bring my shame/ Bring the drugs baby I could bring my pain” (do not see the site for these and more, without the asterisks, if you have anything resembling good taste) he’s proof that Canada is cool and gets to hang with PM Selfie instead of facing the Ontario Human Rights Commission complaint that might loom if you said dresses look elegant on women but silly on men.

Oh well. I guess it’s all this progress we’ve been having lately.


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