Trump right again: telephone is ‘American achievement’
Canadians are pissed at U.S. President Donald Trump, again. The reason: Trump laid claim to Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone as an American achievement during his July 4th speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.
“Our quest for greatness unleashed a culture of discovery that led Thomas Edison to imagine his lightbulb, Alexander Graham Bell to create the telephone, the Wright Brothers to look to the sky and see the next great frontier,” Trump said Thursday.
And the president’s remarks proved the slow news day-fodder of choice for a summertime Friday, as articles about this perceived sleight against Canada filled up social media feeds, exciting the usual peanut gallery participants.
The good news is that because of MSM’s penchant for crudely dissecting everything Trump says, we’re all learning a little more about Bell and our own Canadian history.
Yes, Bell lived in Brantford, Ontario (and died in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia) but he showcased his telephone invention at the first World’s Fair in Philadelphia – the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876 – had the invention patented in the U.S., but did not become an America citizen until 1882.
Born in Scotland, Bell did some of his exploratory work in Canada as a British subject and ultimately tested a working prototype of his telephone in Brantford, shortly before its big World Fair reveal.
Previous to his Brantford demonstration, Bell had also done significant research on transmitting simultaneous telegraph messages over a single line – work done in Massachusetts and Connecticut, between his teaching duties at schools for the deaf in those states.
Credited with founding The Bell Telephone Company, or Ma Bell as she’s affectionately referred to North of the 49th, it was Bell’s American father-in-law who shored up investors in Boston to start the firm in 1877, as well as a sister corporation, AT&T in 1885.
So in the final analysis, Trump is more or less correct: America created the free market environment for amazing technological breakthroughs like the telephone, not just to be realized, but scaled up in a manner that would benefit the masses.
Parallels can be found with the sport of basketball; invented by a Canadian but embraced by sporty American students at a YMCA training school in Springfield, Massachusetts where Dr. James Naismith unveiled his new game.
Few would dispute that basketball is a Canadian invention because of Naismith’s nationality, despite where his phenom took hold, but if citizenship be the determining metric for ownership, then telephone bragging rights must belong to the Scots.
Given all of this grey area that history abounds in creating, it’s rather amusing to watch people get so worked up by Trump’s purported telephone tale, much as they did when Trump suggested Canada burned down the White House during the War of 1812.
Throughout my elementary, middle and high schooling in Canada, the War of 1812 was taught as a defining moment in our country’s nascent history. Maps of the late-18th and early-19th centuries very clearly label Quebec as Lower Canada and Ontario, Upper Canada. ‘Canadian’ heroes from the war, like General Isaac Brock and Laura Secord are even lionized in bronze at the Valiants Memorial in Ottawa.
So before Trump came along with his blunt insight, few in the entire country disputed any of our War of 1812 history. In fact, we celebrate it as part of our larger Canadian story, much as we celebrate Alexander Graham Bell and his telephone, which is why reaction to Trump’s pronouncements on either are understandable, yet somewhat at odds with one another.
To prove Trump ‘incorrect’ in his War of 1812 analysis, we must ignore geography and our own protagonists and point to the date of Canada’s officialdom, sealed by our Confederation of 1867.
Conversely, to prove Trump ‘incorrect’ in his telephone tale, simply disregard Bell’s citizenship, his gadget’s development period, the American patent he obtained, his stateside backers and rely solely on geography: Brantford.
Indeed, Bell got his idea for harnessing sound waves from pondering Grand River’s current in Brantford and tested his prototype there, but it would take the World Fair’s publicity power and America’s free market to promote, commercialize and then proliferate the technology.
As for the occupation of Washington D.C. during the War of 1812, and the acts of arson that occurred, it was a British force responsible for torching several buildings there in August of 1814, including the White House, or ‘presidential mansion’ as it was called. But the attack was retaliation for the destruction of Port Dover in Ontario, or as it was then referred: Port Dover, Upper Canada.
Adding to ownership ambiguity for Upper and Lower Canada’s victory in this continental conflagration, is that most Canadians who would claim the win today, seem quite content to blame somebody else for incinerating U.S. President James Madison’s residence in its cause.
Regardless, or as U.S. President George Bush Jr. once uttered, irregardless, some-200 years later, Canada and the United States are the best of friends, even if our respective current governments don’t always show it.
Thankfully, our biggest conflicts circa 2019 revolve around trade surpluses and deficits, dumped Asian steel, National Basketball Association title bragging rights, and this latest petty squabble: birthright of a device that has benefited the whole of humanity.
Canada has much worse problems to contend with.
The Oakville and Milton Humane Society has rescued a coyote this weekend from a bucket that animal experts believe had been on its head for well over a week.
The humane society became aware of the bucket-headed animal sometime last Tuesday after it was spotted near Bronte Creek Provincial Park.
Members of the OMHS Animal Services team were able to track down the coyote, eventually removing the plastic object, while recording their noble actions.
The video, posted to the OMHS’ Facebook, has been viewed thousands of times since being uploaded.
The video shows staff approaching the coyote, which appeared afraid and under a tree. The team then placed a towel over the coyote, and moved it to a nearby vehicle.
Rescuers say the animal was malnourished and dehydrated.
The humane society says the object was a large potato chip or candy container, posting a full statement under the video.
“OMHS Animal Protective Services successfully rescued the coyote with a plastic container stuck to its head Monday evening near Bronte Road, north of Speers Road and south of Wyecroft Road. The animal was first reported to the Oakville & Milton Human Society last Tuesday and had been seen in Bronte Creek Provincial Park.”
The OMHS went on to thank the public for their tips that that led to the coyote’s rescue.
A former national security adviser to the prime minister told military officials that Canada’s perception of the threats posed by Russia and China need to be clearly recognized, especially as the United States shifts towards a more isolationist economy, reports the CBC.
“The risks posed by these two countries are certainly different, but they are generally based on advancing all their interests to the detriment of the West,” said Richard Fadden, former national security adviser to Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau and Stephen Harper.
“Their activities span the political, military and economic spheres.”
Fadden, who also served as head of CSIS and as deputy defence minister, made the comments at the annual Vimy Ridge Dinner in Ottawa.
Russia and China have both shown a willingness to “use virtually any means to attain their goals,” while the U.S. has shown at various instances that it’s willing to withdraw from global trade.
The rise of American isolationism, Fadden says, means Canada will need to seek new avenues in addressing global crises without the United States, and instead, with other allies.
But in order to do so, Fadden says, Canada needs to recognize drastic changes that have occurred on the world stage over the last decade.
Canada should “recognize our adversaries for what they are, recognize we have to deal with them, but draw clear limits to what we will accept,” he said.
According to Fadden, Ottawa and our federal leaders need to recognize that the post-Cold War world order “with comprehensive U.S. leadership is gone, and is not coming back in the form we knew.”
While serving as CSIS director years ago, Fadden noted the rise of Chinese influence throughout Canadian municipal and provincial politics.
“The West does not have its act together as much as it could and should,” said Fadden.
Fadden echoed similar sentiment as former U.S. national security advisor Susan Rice, who recently told the CBC that she believed Huawei phones, made by a company who American officials believe is puppeteered by the Chinese communist party, posed a major threat to national security.
“It’s hard for me to emphasize adequately, without getting into classified terrain, how serious it is, particularly for countries involved in the Five Eyes,” said Rice explaining the severity of the threat, while suggested the signals intelligence alliance (Five Eyes) between U.S., Canada, UK, New Zealand and Australia would be put into serious jeopardy if Canada went ahead with Huawei 5G.
Fadden also pointed out that radicalization was occurring beyond the confines of Islam and violent right-wing terrorism has become a growing concern.
“Right-wing terrorism is growing and, like its cousin jihadist terrorism, it is a globalized threat,” he said. “We will ignore it at our peril.”
On Remembrance Day, Don Cherry was fired from Sportsnet for a comment he made on Coach’s Corner regarding poppies. He complained that not enough immigrants were wearing them and suggested that it represented a general ingratitude by immigrants of the benefits they enjoy by living in Canada.
His comment, now dubbed the “‘you people’ comment”, caused predictable outrage. The state broadcaster pointed out that Cherry’s remarks could not possibly have merit because of the fact that there are visible minorities who fought for this country. Try not to think too hard about the fact that they conflated visible minorities with immigrants. I happen to be both, but many Canadians happen to be one or the other.
Many in the media interpreted (some in bad faith) it as an attack on all minorities through Canadian history. While there is a general stereotype that people of colour were not born in Canada, I dare claim that it is a fast disappearing one, at least from personal experience having lived most of my life in Ontario.
Unfortunately, while that stereotype is on the decline, another is on the rise. Even more unfortunately, the one that is on the rise has an uncomfortably high level of merit. After all, Don Cherry did not come up with an original idea, he merely expressed the “wrong” opinion in the “wrong” forum.
I know many fellow immigrant-minorities who find it quite puzzling that the mainstream media and a large section of society simply cannot fathom why racist attitudes are apparently becoming more prevalent and acceptable by progressives who hurl racist abuse against anyone who does not accept the “woke” dogma of the day and by the sentiment sometimes called “whitelash”. Did the white people of Canada spontaneously develop previously a non-existent or hidden collective race consciousness?
On the contrary, I cautiously claim that as each generation in society has its own cultural features, so do successive waves of immigrants. This is true regardless of the predominant country of origin or religion of any given wave of immigration. Not that immigrants are the same regardless of their origin, but that immigrants of the same origin will still tend to behave differently depending on when they came to Canada, and this is likely true even correcting for the amount of time spent in Canada.
In other words, an immigrant of “minority x” in 1990 who immigrated in 1975 will be systematically different from an immigrant of the same “minority x” in 2015 who immigrated in 2000. This is despite the fact that they are from essentially the same origin and have spent the same amount of time in Canada. This should not be a controversial statement.
This is because of two changing variables: the state of society in the country of origin, and the state of society in the destination country. Our society has definitely been changing, so it should not be a surprise if the way we integrate immigrants into our society changes as well. In fact, there may be a very strong case that our “immigration culture” has been changing mostly not because of changes in where our immigrants come from or their culture, but because of changes in our own culture and championing the “cultural mosaic”.
Not many people would argue with the fact that our society has become much more accommodating of social minorities, such as people in the LGBTQ community or people living with disabilities. Hopefully, not many people would argue with the claim that this is largely a positive thing for society as a whole.
Under Canadian Human Rights Law, individuals must be accommodated by society, including the government, employers, service providers, and other individuals. This accommodation must seek to prevent discrimination based on a “prohibited ground” to the point of “undue hardship”. Setting aside whether we as a society have enumerated the proper “prohibited grounds”, whether “undue hardship” is an appropriate threshold, or whether that threshold is interpreted as it should be, it is definitely reasonable for individuals to expect at least some accommodation from society because we do not all share the same characteristics, disadvantages, and capabilities, and a blanket allowance for all forms of discrimination will create discontent and will exclude too many people for society to function well.
For much of history, this accommodation was arguably too little, and we had been moving in the right direction for a long time. However, somewhere along the way, it became inappropriate to consider the extent to which individuals can be expected to accommodate society. Society is made up of individuals, and it is impossible for millions of idiosyncrasies to be accommodated perfectly. One individual’s right is necessarily another individual’s duty not to infringe upon that right. Where we create more rights, we create more duties for others.
I am not trying to argue that the poor white people of Canada are being victimized because they now have more duties not to infringe upon others’ rights not to be unfairly discriminated against. Rather, it is that rights must have a limit, or we create unlimited duties that can have negative consequences or even become impractical.
The phrase “Islam is right about women” is one illustration of this conflict. The phrase was coined to point out a popular contradiction in our modern outrage culture. The idea is that you can either be offended because you think the statement is discriminatory against either muslims or women, but thinking that it is discriminatory against muslims is sexist and thinking that it is discriminatory against women is Islamophobic. The phrase does not claim that Islam is worse for women than any other religion, and there is a good case that Christianity, as with most other religions, are sexist as well, at least by modern western standards. However, the illustration only works because muslims are considered, rightfully in my opinion, to face disproportionately high levels of unfair discrimination.
Other examples include: lessons promoting LGBTQ equality being pulled from classrooms because of complaints by immigrants that such ideas infringe upon freedom of thought or religion, claims by trans activists that lesbians are transphobic for refusing to sleep with people with penises, or labelling the term “bisexual” as exclusionary of non-binary individuals.
Excuse the cliche, but the point is this: we can’t only keep asking what our country can do for us, and not what we can do for our country. The country is nothing more than a collection of us, and we can’t expect all of us to do everything for each individual while making no attempt to fit into our society.
Canadians are bound together by what we have in common, but without the effort of individuals, the few remaining values that hold us together will only continue to weaken and we will become ever more divided into factions competing to score the biggest take for their particular team. Soon, there could be nothing we have in common with each other, other than our shared struggle to compete with each other for resources.
Diversity does not make balkanization inevitable, but our current societal trajectory probably does when “diversity is our strength” is zealously pushed without expecting some common values and customs to be upheld to keep us all together.
Don Cherry was merely pointing out one aspect of that fact.
While landlocked, Alberta could be seeing interest from as far as Spain.
According to a recent report by Bloomberg News, the Spanish oil company Repsol is considering purchasing as much as half-a-million barrels of heavy crude a month from the western province, and in turn, transporting it to Europe through rail and shipping through Montreal’s ports.
The company is currently considering multiple locations including New Jersey, as it struggles to make up the production lost in Venezuela and Mexico.
If a deal is made, it could be seen as a boon to the Kenney government in Alberta, as European deals involving Canadian oil are rare. For example, only 400,000 barrels of Alberta oil was sent in the last year to the U.K, one of Canada’s largest European trading partners.
The shipment could also revive moral in the overall industry which has recently seen former giants such as Encana move south, where the regulatory environment, as well as access to capital, is seen as more favourable.