Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/1/2020 (322 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Roots, and consequences, of Iran tragedy
Re: War with Iran: Trump, Trudeau and trouble (Jan. 11).
In May 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal.
This foolish act (another of Trump’s attempted repudiations of former president Barack Obama) resulted in an escalating plethora of unintended consequences: further deterioration of relationships with allies; reversal of Iran’s nuclear policies; the attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad; the assassination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani; Iran’s missile launches on U.S. targets in Iraq; the proposed ousting of the U.S. military from Iraq; and most tragically, Iran’s strike on the Ukrainian plane.
Donald Trump has much blood on his hands.
It is true that 57 Canadian citizens were on Flight 752. It is also true that dozens more were likely on a path to becoming Canadians one day. But let’s be clear. While we in Canada rightfully mourn the loss of the majority of individuals on that doomed plane as our own, how do the government and people of Iran view this tragedy?
Freelance journalist Zahra Kazemi was a Canadian, and she was jailed, raped and tortured when she returned to Iran in the early 2000s. When Canadian authorities tried to advocate for her, they were told that Iran does not recognize dual citizenship. Kazemi eventually died at the hands of the nation where she was born.
With the exception of the flight crew, almost every other person on Flight 752 was born in Iran, and the Iranian government and its people think of those persons solely as Iranian. In their view, the Iranian military shot down a plane filled almost exclusively with its own people.
Blaming the United States for this catastrophic blunder may not save this authoritarian and terrorist-supporting regime. The revolution of 1979 is perhaps now about to face its equal.
There are many questions to be answered regarding the recent air tragedy in Iran.
I believe, however, that the answer as to why this plane was shot down is deceptively simple: the fear that the military has in authoritarian or totalitarian countries of retribution from their own government.
In 2008, a South Korean tourist visiting a resort in North Korea was shot when she wandered beyond the boundary of the tourist zone. This one individual posed no danger to North Korea, but the border guard was so terrified that he would be found in dereliction of his duty that he carried out his literal mandate not to allow anyone to stray beyond the boundary.
Similarly, in 1983 a Soviet military jet shot down a South Korean 747 when it strayed into Soviet airspace. The pilot of the Soviet jet mistakenly confused the 747 configuration with that of an American military aircraft used to gather intelligence information.
His superiors were so concerned about being found derelict in their duty that they ordered the plane shot down.
I strongly suspect that the same factor was operative in Iran. The military authorities would rather shoot and ask questions later rather than risk severe punishment if that blip on the screen turned out to be an American military aircraft or cruise missile.
Unfortunately there is no protocol that will change a mindset focused on fear rather than calm consideration of the incoming data.
Manitoba’s flag stuck in the past
Our provincial flag, approved by the Manitoba Legislative Assembly in 1965 and officially proclaimed on May 12, 1966, has been a constant eyesore flying over government buildings. Businesses and households don’t often fly our unattractive Manitoban flag; instead they go for the clean and elegantly designed Maple Leaf.
Not too many people realize that our provincial flag was actually designed in protest to the Canadian Maple Leaf. Our amazing Canadian flag has become synonymous with Canada and its gorgeous design reflects our nation’s beauty. The switch from an Anglo-centric Red Ensign to a flag that is distinctly Canadian represented our country growing up and becoming independent from Britain. Manitoba’s flag is still stuck in the past.
Manitoba’s take on the Red Ensign has three major problems. First, it looks far too similar to the flag of Ontario and other Red Ensign-style flags. Second, it’s Anglo-centric (the flag has two St. George’s crosses and an entire Union Jack in the canton) and ignores the important roles that the French, Métis and Indigenous people play in the province. Third, its ugly. In 2001, the North American Vexillological (study of flags) Association (NAVA) placed our provincial flag last out of all Canadian flags and and 44th out of 72 Canadian provincial, U.S. state and U.S. territory flags. Are you aware of how many sloppily designed and revolting flags ranked higher than ours? Infamously terrible flags such as Oklahoma’s and Louisiana’s ranked higher than Manitoba’s.
NAVA recognizes five basic principles of good flag design in its manual, Good Flag, Bad Flag. One, keep it simple — a child should be able to draw it from memory. Manitoba’s flag is not simple; it includes a Union Jack and an overly-detailed bison. Two, use meaningful symbolism. Our flag has more than enough meaningful Anglo-symbolism, not too much of anything else. Three, use two or three basic colours. Our flag actually does this right.
Four, no lettering or seals. Thankfully we don’t have any writing on our flag and the simplified coat of arms looks OK (the bison could be more stylized, though). Finally, be distinctive or be related. If by "be distinctive" one means ripping off the Canadian Red Ensign and having a flag that looks so similar to Ontario’s most people can’t tell them apart, then we’re doing pretty good in this category.
I contacted the provincial government to ask their opinion on the flag and they are not keen on changing it. I don’t think they realize just how much changing our flag will mean to so many Manitobans.
This year is the 150th anniversary of our amazing province. It’s time that our flag reflects all Manitobans.
Re: Queen agrees to let Meghan and Harry live in Canada (Jan. 13)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan, want to live in Canada, and be "everyday" residents of the Great White North, work and earn their living like others (albeit in the upper echelons).
It’s a wonderful plan and sentiment, but please treat them like the royals they are!
This is already beginning to echo in many corners of the country. For that matter, we are "kind of giddy" already, in anticipation of this royal transition.
Here in Canada, are we going to get carried away with the giddiness and lose sight of why Meghan and Harry are resorting to this laid-back plan for their lives? Are we going to forget that we are known for our principles of equality regarding diversity in this country and create our own pedestals and paparazzi of different kinds?
Are we ready to welcome this couple and allow them to pattern their Canadian way of life as they see fit and not have to hide and live in seclusion?