REFLECT UPON THIS: What The World Needs Now… Respect @RRBC_Org @RRBC_RWISA @Tweets4RWISA @JohnJFioravanti @NonnieJules #Quotes

Our friend John Fioravanti hasn’t posted for quite a while, but when he did yesterday, it was a post worthy of being shared far and wide. John is kinder than I am, but his words resonate with me, as I believe they will with you. His post is moving and thought-provoking, worthy of some deep thought about how we, as humans, can do better. Thank you, John!

Fiora Books by John Fioravanti

“We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith.”

~ Barack Obama

Barak Obama head shot

As a retired secondary school educator, I am a firm believer in lifelong learning, and it need not take place in a formal classroom. Today, the Internet allows anyone who is curious to discover information and analysis about any topic they can imagine. It is in the context of the lifelong learner that I wish to reflect on President Barack Obama’s words quoted above from his final State of the Union Address on January 12, 2016.

In my study of history, I realize that human progress does not occur in a linear pattern…

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The Results Are In — And So Is Trudeau!

A couple of weeks ago, John Fioravanti wrote a guest post about what was then the upcoming elections in Canada.  At the time, the race between incumbent Justin Trudeau and newcomer (Trump clone) Andrew Scheer was neck-in-neck.  Last Sunday, the much-awaited election took place and John has graciously written a new guest post to explain and help us understand the results …


john fioravantiOn Monday, October 21st, voters in Canada returned Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party to power in Ottawa with a strong minority government. The party standings in our 338 seat House of Commons at the time of this writing is:



For readers who are unfamiliar with the Parliamentary democratic system, here is a brief explanation. We have two legislative bodies that make laws. The House of Commons is elected and electoral ridings are drawn by the principle of representation by population. Members serve 4-year terms and all stand for election at the same time. The Senate is a body appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister. All bills must pass both houses to become law, but only the House of Commons can force a new election before the mandatory 4-year term has expired.


Left to right … Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau

We do not have a separate election to choose the Prime Minister. The PM and the Cabinet are selected from elected members of the largest party in the Commons.

Canada’s Prime Minister is the leader of the party that wins the most seats in the Commons in an election. He/she is appointed by the Governor General who represents the Queen. The PM and Cabinet must maintain the support of a majority of elected members in the Commons or resign their appointed positions in the executive branch. In a Parliamentary system, the members of the executive branch are first elected to the legislative branch – the House of Commons.

In 2015, Trudeau’s Liberals won a clear majority of the seats in the House of Commons. But Trudeau lost ground in 2019 and was left with a strong minority. He needed 170 seats to win a majority and fell 13 short.Electoral Map 2019A look at the electoral map of Canada makes it clear that the country is fractured along regional lines. The greatest number of Liberal seats came from eastern Canada – the Maritime Provinces, Quebec, and Ontario. The Conservative’s stronghold was west of Ontario – especially in the prairie provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Third place Bloc Quebecois support came exclusively from Quebec as its party platform is Quebec nationalist – to protect and nurture the French language and culture in Quebec. The BQ cares not about the rest of Canada.

I was very disappointed that Elections Canada pegged voter turnout at 66% of eligible voters. That bodes ill for democracy in Canada and it also speaks to voter disapproval of all the parties. Another interesting fact is that the Conservatives won the popular vote netting 35% while the Liberals trailed with just 33%. The Liberals had concentrated support in the large urban areas – especially Montreal and Toronto, while Conservative support was concentrated in the less populous rural areas.

Trudeau Family

Justin Trudeau & family — election night

It is fair to say that Trudeau was spanked by the voters for his transgressions in the SNC Lavalin affair and the blackface pictures. His party won 20 fewer seats than in 2015. On the other hand, it is clear that Scheer was not embraced by voters and was criticized for his attack-style campaign. One commentator said that Trudeau’s political problems should have been enough to turf the Liberals out of power altogether. Scheer failed to capitalize.


Andrew Scheer & family — election night

To me, the big message of this election was that the voters are fed up with partisan politics determining how Parliament will tackle or ignore the serious problems facing the country. The only party that put forward a comprehensive platform on the environment was the Green Party. They finished with 3 seats, just one more than in 2015. Our Indigenous Peoples are suffering throughout the country with excessively high poverty rates and many reserves have filthy drinking water. This is a terrible travesty. The only party that has addressed these issues to any degree is the Liberal Party – yet they have accomplished very little in this regard.

Politicians need to wake up to the reality that they must work together as leaders, not partisan plotters, for the benefit of ALL the people. This is why the voters inflicted a minority government on the country. It is true that minority governments are unstable because the opposition members outnumber the government members in any and all votes in the Commons. It is also true that this built-in threat forces politicians on all sides to work together and exercise compromise for the benefit of all.

Canada has elected minority governments in the past and some worked well, while others did not. On average, statistics point out that minority governments last less than two years! What happens then? We have another very expensive election. As I see it, we need to commit financial resources and energy to bring carbon emissions under control so that one day soon our country will no longer depend on fossil fuels. We also need political parties to operate respectfully and cooperatively and serve the nation instead of themselves.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Scandals — A Guest Post By John Fioravanti

Today is a good day to step away from the Trump circus here in the U.S. and see what’s happening in the rest of the world.  A few days ago, I asked if any of my friends in the UK or Canada would be interested in writing a guest post about the situation in their own country, perhaps help us all understand a bit better.  John jumped right in and provided his take on the issues that have injected a bit of chaos into Canada’s upcoming elections (21 October).  His post led me to ask some questions, which he happily answered, so there is a Q&A at the end of the post.   Thank you, John, for taking the time to do this for us! 

john fioravantiI will preface my remarks with the admission of bias. I have been a supporter of the Liberal Party of Canada my entire adult life. While I do not think that the party or its leaders have always been right in their decisions, I do believe that this party has done more to advance the interests of all Canadians than the other major party, the Conservatives. As well, I do not present myself as a legal expert.

The SNC Lavalin affair was an internal Liberal Party squabble that the Conservatives twisted into a full-blown scandal. Jody Wilson-Raybould was Trudeau’s Justice Minister and she was asked to intervene in a criminal case involving the Quebec engineering giant, SNC Lavalin. Trudeau and his office repeatedly asked her to use a new legal tool to reduce the impact of the criminal outcome of the case to protect 10,000 jobs in Canada. She refused to budge. When Trudeau made Cabinet changes, she lost her plum position and was moved to a less prestigious portfolio. As far as I’m concerned, this was a huge mistake on Trudeau’s part. She then, quit the Cabinet in a huff. Another senior Cabinet minister, Jane Philpott, supported Wilson-Raybould and resigned her portfolio as President of the Treasury Board.

Both women went to the press citing wrongdoing on the part of Trudeau and his office. The Conservatives jumped all over the squabble claiming it was a terrible scandal. Trudeau tried to keep things civil within the party, but both women kept criticizing him and his office in the press. Their behaviour was a total violation of party solidarity, so the Liberal Caucus (elected Liberals in the Commons) voted to expel both women from the party. In the upcoming election they are both running for re-election as Independents.

In August, the Ethics Commissioner filed a report claiming that Trudeau actions were a violation of ethics in government. Believing he did nothing wrong, Trudeau refused to submit his resignation.

A couple of weeks ago, someone (a Conservative muck raker no doubt) found pictures of Trudeau taken in 2001. He had attended a masquerade party and wore black face as part of his costume. For this he has been branded a racist. Good grief! It may have been a stupid thing to do, but racist? He’s not done anything like that since, and he has worked hard to advance the cause of refugees in this country (most are people of colour). The charges of racism are the opposition parties’ pathetic attempt to bring him down in this election.

I don’t buy any of it. And it looks like most people here in Canada don’t either. Recent polls are showing the Liberals and Conservatives in a virtual tie with the Conservatives ahead by 1%. It will be a very interesting evening on election night as we watch the results pour in from across the country on Monday, October 21st.


  1. In this country, politicians (including the president) are often bought and paid for by large corporations, notably the fossil fuel and firearms industries. Do you think that Trudeau’s motivation in asking Ms. Wilson-Raybould was at the behest of SNC Lavalin, or was it genuinely, as Trudeau said, in order to save jobs?
    • Yes, large corporations and interest groups donate to politicians and political parties up here too. The Conservatives always have the biggest war chest at election time because their policies align best with Big Business. In the SNC Lavalin affair, Trudeau asked then Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to offer the engineering giant a type of plea deal. Trudeau told the press that SNC Lavalin communicated that if they were successfully prosecuted, they would move up to 10,000 jobs out of Canada. The CEO of the company subsequently denied this on national TV. His denial was later repudiated by written proof provided to the news media of his letter to the Trudeau government. According to my research, SNC-Lavalin employees donated $110,000 to the Liberals between 2004 and 2009. The company later reimbursed these individual contributions – in violation of Canadian election laws. The company also donated to the Conservatives on a smaller scale.

  2. Your system, being somewhat different than our own, leaves me with another question: You say that both Philpot and Wilson-Raybould are running for re-election as independents this month.  Would that be re-election to the Cabinet positions they previously held, but left?  What do you think their chances are?
    • Our system is very different from yours, Jill. Your president selects cabinet members from a pool of experts belonging to his/her own party and then the Senate confirms most of those appointments. Our Prime Minister selects his/her cabinet from the elected members of his own party in the House of Commons. Often, the PM doesn’t have the expertise among these people, so each government department has an expert civil servant, the Deputy Minister, who will instruct and advise the actual cabinet minister – who makes the final decisions. Jody Wilson-Raybault and Jane Philpott are running for re-election to their seats in the House of Commons – as is Trudeau and the other party leaders. Cabinet ministers are not elected to Cabinet. If your party wins the most seats in the general election, that leader is appointed Prime Minister by the Governor General (represents the Queen) and the PM, in turn, will select the Cabinet from his own elected members. So our Executive Branch is not separated from our Legislative Branch. Cabinet Ministers are answerable to the entire House of Commons during the daily Question Period. Most often, Independent candidates are not elected. However, these are different circumstances, so the Media is watching their ridings closely. Will they get back into Cabinet? Not a chance! It is interesting to note that Conservative leader Andrew Scheer invited both women to join his party. They turned him down flat.

  3. I’m torn on the blackface issue.  Recently, similar pictures surfaced showing Virginia Governor Ralph Northam in blackface back in his college days.  For me, that was a deal-breaker, and I did see it as racism.  Still do.  But yet, I find that I would not wish Trudeau to be replaced, or voted out because of it.  Which, of course, leaves me questioning my own values.  I think the reason I am more tolerant in Trudeau’s case is because he has taken a very accepting and welcoming stance regarding Middle-Eastern immigrants that puts the U.S. to shame, so I really don’t see Trudeau as a racist.  How has he responded to this … has he explained or apologized?  Do you think there is any way he could negate the effects of this?
    • Trudeau has apologized many times for the blackface pictures. Although people may take offence, by itself, it does not constitute racism. If you combine that instance with racist, anti-immigration remarks since then perhaps the moniker fits. As you point out, Trudeau has done more to help Middle Eastern refugees get into Canada than the US has done. He also met the first planeload of refugees when it landed at Pearson Airport in Toronto and helped in the distribution of winter coats and other winter clothing. He shook their hands and welcomed them warmly. I saw that on TV. That’s a racist? I think not! He apologized saying that it was a big mistake on his part and there is no excuse. So he has not tried to justify it in any way. Sometimes, I think we have become hyper-sensitive about racism. It is ugly and it exists here in Canada – always has – but this man is not a racist.

  4. I don’t know much about Scheer, other than I do not like his opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion. What’s your take on him?
    • Andrew Scheer is an acolyte of the previous Conservative leader, Stephen Harper. I despised Harper because he was an autocrat within his own party. No elected Conservative in the House of Commons was allowed to make ANY statements in public without approval from his office. That Conservative caucus was muzzled the entire time Harper was Prime Minister. As well, like Donald Trump, Harper would never appear at an open Town Hall Meeting to field questions from We the People. He appeared only at Conservative rallies that could be controlled. I have no doubt that Scheer will behave similarly. He talks about putting more money in the pockets of the middle class, but I don’t believe it. The Conservatives have ALWAYS cow-towed to the rich 1% and why would that change by this Harper acolyte? Yesterday, Scheer announced that he would reduce Canadian foreign aid by 25% in order to fund his promises to the middle class. That is not playing well in the Media. Canada has only 33 million people – 10% of your population and we have never been able to afford a large foreign aid package or a large military budget, but Canadians are sensitive to their reputation in the UN and the world. Scheer is slapping that sentiment in the face. Like Doug “the Thug” Ford elected Premier in Ontario a year ago, we have no idea exactly what Scheer would do if he was elected. I don’t trust him and he is not an impressive speaker.

Thanks again, John, for this enlightening post and conversation!  

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We Are All One

Good friend and blogging buddy John Fioravanti has been on hiatus from blogging for a while, took some time off to do a bit of soul-searching. Yesterday he made a comeback with a beautiful post based on the words and wisdom of Maya Angelou. The world is so divided today, filled with hatred and intolerance more than at any time in our lifetimes, but Maya’s words should serve as an inspiration to all of us – a message that love and caring for others can overcome the hatred. A reminder that we are all the same – human beings – and that what we have in common is far greater than the superficial differences. Please take a moment to read John’s beautiful post, and to welcome him back to ‘blogger-dom’! Thanks John, for this lovely post and we’re happy to have you back!

U.S. Isolationism: Then and Now — A Guest Post by John Fioravanti

Earlier this week, after Trump spoke to the United Nations General Assembly, and later the Security Council, I asked our Canadian friend, John Fioravanti, if he would be interested in doing a guest post from the perspective of how Trump’s “America First” isolationist policy will affect the rest of the world.  He did me the honour of accepting my request, and so, without further ado, I turn this stage over to John …

U.S. Isolationism: Then and Now

john fioravantiI thank Jill Dennison for her generous invitation to host me on her amazing blog site. Every day I read and enjoy Jill’s posts because she always gives her readers food for thought. I hope my offering below will do the same.
Those of us living outside the USA know how dangerous American isolationism is to world peace and prosperity. The current Trump administration is determined to turn the clock back more than a century in the realms of both domestic and foreign policy. The President emphatically denounced ‘globalism’ in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 25th this year. As a retired high school history teacher in Canada, I’d like to enlarge on my first statement that U.S. isolationism is a very dangerous path to follow.

Tuesday, President Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly.

Some historians would argue that the United States was the most powerful nation on the planet in 1900 but no one knew that yet – not even the Americans themselves. While the great European powers of the day were engaged in a struggle for supremacy and jockeying for the most advantageous position by way of formal alliances, America remained entrenched in her isolationism. Her only concern with the looming European conflict was how it would impact trade and her own economy. Attacks on American shipping by German U-boats in European coastal waters roused the U.S. Congress to declare war in 1917. President Wilson understood that America needed to adopt a global perspective in foreign policy and suggested the creation of the League of Nations at the end of World War I. The idea was embraced by the Allies but the U.S. Congress turned their backs on the world by refusing to ratify the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Without American participation, the League was doomed to failure. The rise of Hitler, the fall of France, and near-defeat of Britain were not enough to compel Congress to emerge from the comfortable cocoon of isolationism. No, it took a direct attack on U.S. territory in Hawaii by Japan to trigger American entry into World War II in 1941. The costs of that war in blood and money were monumental – not to mention the unleashing of two atomic bombs in 1945 that brought Japan to its knees and ushered in the age of nuclear deterrence. I do not blame the American people for the horrors of these wars – that would be preposterous. However, I do blame the idea of isolationism. The United Nations was established at the end of World War II and survives to this day. It’s main mandate was and is still to prevent a third world war. If America had turned its back on the idea of isolationism in 1919, or America First as it is styled today, would the League of Nations have failed to maintain peace in Europe? We’ll never know, of course, but it is a chilling question nonetheless. For the next seventy-one years after World War II, America turned her back on isolationism and took on the mantle of the global policeman. Her newly-minted atomic weapons gave her the military authority. In 1945 American military power was awe-inspiring and unprecedented in world history. American wealth rebuilt western Europe from the shambles of warfare in order to shore up her Allies. The United Nations, headquartered in New York, became the embodiment of the ascendance of globalism in human affairs. Over the next several decades, the UN established World Courts to bring war criminals to justice all over the globe. The Security Council embraced a Canadian suggestion to create Peacekeepers in order to keep opposing military forces separated in areas of crisis until diplomacy could establish solutions. UN agencies were created to address human suffering from natural disasters as well as from the devastation of local wars. The UN took the lead in supporting policies of freedom and equality throughout the world by taking strong stands against discrimination suffered by women and the LGBT communities. The UN evolved from just a tool to avert another world war to a force for fairness and justice in every aspect of living in the modern world. Isolationism is an ugly policy. It turns a blind eye to the evil that is perpetrated outside of its national borders. In other words, your suffering is none of my business. I am not my brother’s keeper. This is not to say that the American people are ugly. They are not. I have lived beside the United States all of my life and consider us to be like brothers and sisters. Like all siblings, we have our differences, arguments, even fights. Unfortunately, Trump has allowed his distaste for Justin Trudeau to play itself out in the worst way. That is ugly. In a little under two years, the Trump administration has bullied and alienated America’s allies. Trump berated NATO leaders about their levels of contributions to the alliance after President Obama had negotiated a process for those contributions to be increased over time. Many of these same allies are also America’s best trading partners. Trump decided that these partners were treating America unfairly and hammered them with tariffs. He used the same bullying tactics with Mexico and Canada in the talks to update the NAFTA treaty. When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would not be bullied by American tariffs, Trump retorted with rhetoric normally reserved for enemy countries. American policies in the Middle East have served to further destabilize an already dangerous part of the world.

Trudeau makes a point while talking to Trump at G7 Summit.

As America withdraws from her traditional role as leader of the free world and alienates her allies, one doesn’t have to look too far into the past to see a likely outcome. America First is driving anti-immigration policy in the Trump administration as well. The people who are being barred from entering the land of freedom and opportunity are refugees from the Middle East, Central America, and South American countries where life has become unbearably dangerous. Trump’s policies are hurting a lot of good people around the world. History has also proved that restricting immigration is self-defeating since many immigrants and children of immigrants have made significant contributions to the growth of technological innovation and the overall economy in the United States.

Steve Jobs, co-founder of the Apple computer, son of a Syrian political science professor.

Many thanks, John, for your words of wisdom … keep that pencil handy, for I may want another soon!  Meanwhile, I have an open stage here and would love to hear from some of my other friends outside the U.S.: Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany … please let me know if you’re interested in contributing a post from your perspective!

A Canadian Perspective – A Guest Post by John Fioravanti

After I opined strongly about Trump’s abominable behaviour toward Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, I began to wonder how the people of Canada viewed the incident.  I asked Canadian friend John if he would write a guest post for me, and he graciously agreed.  Thank you, John!

Trump’s Treatment of Trudeau – A Canadian Perspective

By John Fioravanti


For many months since the inauguration of Donald Trump, I have watched him behave poorly as he played to his base of supporters. I am dismayed that his enablers in the GOP party in Congress refuse to exercise their constitutional duty to oversee his decisions that are often based on ignorance of the facts and outright lies. I don’t think Donald Trump has many supporters or admirers in Canada.

Figure 1: President Donald Trump at the G7 Summit 2018

Figure 1: President Donald Trump at the G7 Summit 2018

To be honest, I am a supporter of Canada’s Liberal Party, which is ideologically in line with American Democrats. I voted for our local Liberal candidate and was overjoyed to see Justin Trudeau win a majority government in the House of Commons in October of 2015 – despite the smear campaign launched by the Conservative Party (like the American GOP) that featured many attack ads that belittled Trudeau personally. Trudeau ignored those attacks and ran his campaign on the issues.

Figure 2: Trudeau & Trump at the G7 Summit 2018

Figure 2: Trudeau & Trump at the G7 Summit 2018

It is fair to say that many Canadians were in shock and somewhat uneasy when Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016. His campaign attacks on the NAFTA accord have been unsettling. Free trade has been an economic boon to all three countries involved. Two facts that are irrefutable about our bilateral trade history: one, the USA buys more goods from Canada than from any other country in the world; and two, Canada buys more American goods than from any other country in the world. To say that the collapse of NAFTA would not hurt the US economy is preposterous. However, it would hurt Canada more.

Thinking about our historical relationship with America, I’m reminded of a quote by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who was Prime Minister from 1968 to 1984.

“Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

Figure 3: Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau 1968-1984

Figure 3: Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau 1968-1984

No country in the world has impacted Canada more than the United States. In the late 18th and 19th Centuries, annexationist American troops invaded Canadian territory during the Revolutionary War and then three times during the War of 1812. After the Civil War, American negotiators demanded that Britain hand over the Canadian colonies in compensation for damages incurred when the British helped the Confederate government. These occurrences bred feelings of unease, suspicion, and outright fear of the United States among Canadians.

In the 20th and 21st Centuries, the relationship changed to a close friendship as we became more than business partners, but also military allies through two world wars, the Cold War, the Korean War, and the War on Terrorism. On 9/11, Canadian airports accepted flights unable to land in the United States. Gander, Newfoundland, a town of just 10,000, residents took almost 7,000 passengers into their homes for five days and treated them like family. The Broadway play “Come From Away” immortalizes this extraordinary act of kindness to total strangers. Canadians and Americans have a shared history in North America and now we have a shared popular culture – it is no wonder that Europeans cannot distinguish us from each other.

I have been a student of history my entire life and in my adult years, my focus has been on Canadian and American history. My second academic passion is the study of politics, so I am fairly familiar with the constitutions of both of our countries. In my lifetime, I witnessed nothing but deference and respect between our Prime Ministers and Presidents. Sometimes friendships sprang up between our leaders when they were ideologically in tune – like Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan, and Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama. On the international stage, we have always had each other’s backs.

It is for these reasons that I am shocked and dismayed by Donald Trump’s abysmal behavior towards Justin Trudeau. Yes, I felt personally offended by Trump’s outright lies and insults. At the same time, I felt extremely proud that Trudeau did not respond, in kind, to Trump’s remarks nor to the vile remarks made by Trump’s minions in the aftermath.

Figure 4: Trump warning Trudeau about the PM's remarks at the G7 Summit

Figure 4: Trump warning Trudeau about the PM’s remarks at the G7 Summit

As an aside, my wife, Anne, and I had the good fortune to meet and chat briefly with our former Prime Minister, Paul Martin. He was PM for three brief years before being defeated by Conservative Stephen Harper. Since then, Martin has remained active within the Liberal Party and was a guest advisor at the G7 Summit. When I shared my views about Trudeau’s handling of the G7 fallout from Trump, he nodded sagely and assured me that he would pass that along to Justin Trudeau. It was such a thrill to spend a few moments alone with this kind and generous former prime minister!

Figure 5: Former Prime Minister Paul Martin 2003-2006

Figure 5: Former Prime Minister Paul Martin 2003-2006

My anger and disgust are not aimed at the American people. I understand how Trump operates. I followed the presidential election campaign very closely and I’ve seen how many Americans are also angry and disgusted with him and his abominable tactics. I also understand that Trump was defeated in the popular vote and that he has the approval of a scant 40% according to polls. By the way, Trudeau has the approval of 80% of Canadians according to recent polls for his stand against Trump’s tariffs. I can’t remember the last time a Canadian PM got an 80% approval rating for anything!

Many of my American friends have apologized and are concerned that this trade debacle will do irreparable damage to Canada/US relations. My response is that no apology is necessary – most of the American people did not behave badly. Trudeau and our Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland, have continued to work towards a resolution of the tariffs and the NAFTA accord. It is our hope that our American cousins will lobby their Representatives and Senators to dissuade Trump from the path of a trade war with Canada and the other G7 countries.

Figure 6: Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland speaking to reporters in Washington after meeting with members of the Senate after the G7 Summit.

Figure 6: Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland speaking to reporters in Washington after meeting with members of the Senate after the G7 Summit.

Donald Trump will not change. He will continue to behave as he sees fit until the American electorate takes away his majorities in Congress and then removes him as President. I’m losing faith that the Mueller investigation will bring Trump down. I do not think Congress would impeach Trump no matter what Mueller reports. The remedy to the problem of Trump is to be found with the voters of America.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – 50 Years Later

In February, in honour of Black History Month, friend and fellow-blogger John Fioravanti of Words To Captivate, graciously accepted my offer to do a series of guest posts on Filosofa’s Word. Last month, John honoured me by asking me to write a guest post – any topic of my choosing – for his blog. I was thrilled, and readily accepted, but with my eye surgeries and subsequent chronic exhaustion, I was forced to delay. A few nights ago, however, I realized that we were fast approaching the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, and I thought it might make a perfect topic for my guest post. Long story short, John agreed and has honoured me by presenting my post and prefacing it with a very gracious and kind introduction. He has also given me permission to re-blog it on my own blog. I must admit it feels rather strange to be re-blogging my own work! Many thanks to you, John, for your many kindnesses and for sharing my work!

Black History In Ontario – The 19th Century – A Guest Post by John Fioravanti

Today is 28 February … the last day of February and the final day of Black History Month in both the U.S. and Canada.  I have let the ball drop this month, for reasons at least partly beyond my control, but our friend John Fioravanti has helped by sharing with us so much of Canada’s black history!  Last week, I published Part I of John’s guest post, and we thought it fitting to save Part II for the final day of February, to wrap up the month.  I would like to thank John for all the hard work he put into these wonderfully informative posts!  Hey John … what say we do it again next year?

Text dividersPrologue

Upper Canada did not flourish, and Loyalist settlements remained scattered and isolated. Simcoe’s vision of a prosperous, English-speaking province was not shared in London. Britain viewed the fledgling colony as a mere appendage of Lower Canada (Quebec). Simcoe was succeeded by several ineffective British governors in the ensuing years who did little to foster growth in Upper Canada.

In 1812, America declared war on Britain while she was embroiled in a life and death struggle against Napoleon in Europe. For President Madison, Canada looked like easy pickings. Most of the settlers of Upper Canada were former American citizens, and the French in Lower Canada had no great love for their British rulers. America underestimated the determination of the Loyalists and Indigenous Loyalists led by Joseph Brant, and most of the French decided to remain neutral.

The War of 1812-1814 featured many cross-border skirmishes between U.S. Regulars & Militia and British Regulars and Loyalist militia. It eventually ended in a stalemate punctuated by the burning of the government buildings in Toronto by American invaders and the retaliatory burning of the White House in Washington by the British.

Black Volunteers Fight For Britain

In the summer of 1812, Black Loyalist Richard Pierpoint petitioned the government of Upper Canada to raise a company of Black troops to help protect the Niagara frontier. After some debate, the government agreed. A company of Blacks was formed under the command of a White officer, Captain Robert Runchey Sr.

Thousands of Black volunteers fought for the British during the War of 1812. Fearing American conquest (and the return to slavery), many Blacks in Upper Canada served heroically in colored and regular regiments. The British promise of freedom and land united many escaped slaves under the British flag. (See the story of Richard Pierpoint)

In 1813, British Vice-Admiral Alexander Cochrane’s offer of transportation for anyone wanting to leave the United States was widely circulated among the Black population. Four thousand former slaves deserted to the British side and were transported to the British colonies. About 2000 refugees set sail for Nova Scotia from September 1813- August 1816. Canada’s reputation as a haven for Blacks grew substantially during and after the War of 1812. 

Post-War Upper Canada

Between 1815 and 1865, tens of thousands of Blacks in America sought safety and freedom in Upper Canada by way of the Underground Railway. It isn’t easy to find documentation about the Underground Railway because out of necessity it operated under strict secrecy in America – and even in Canada where they wished to avoid border incidents. One notable exception to this in Canada was a contemporary newspaper, the Voice of the Fugitive, which was the first black-owned and -operated newspaper in Upper Canada. It was founded and published in Sandwich / Windsor by Henry Bibb, who escaped, first to Detroit and then to Canada after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act. The newspaper first appeared on January 1, 1851, and ceased publication in 1854.

Underground RailroadThis excerpt from Daniel Hill’s publication, The Freedom Seekers, outlines the main areas of settlement of Black refugees in Upper Canada (renamed Canada West in 1841).

Daniel Hill, in the “Freedom Seekers,” wrote:

“Before the middle of 19th Century small Black communities were firmly rooted in six areas of Canada West: along the Detroit frontier, that is at Windsor, Sandwich, Amherstburg and their environs; in Chatham and its surrounding area, where the all- Black settlements of Dawn and Elgin were established; in what was then the central section of the province particularly London, the Queen’s Bush, Brantford, and the Black settlement of Wilberforce (now Lucan); along the Niagara Peninsula at St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Newark (Niagara on the Lake)and Fort Erie; in the larger urban centres on Lake Ontario, that is Hamilton and Toronto; at the northern perimeter of Simcoe and Grey Counties, especially in Oro, Collingwood and Owen Sound. Besides these centres of Black population, small clusters of Blacks, as well as individual Black Families, were settled throughout Canada West.”

Underground RR MapIn Upper Canada, the Underground Railroad fugitives tended to concentrate in settlements, not because of government policy but for the sake of mutual support and protection against white Canadian prejudice and discrimination and American kidnappers – looking for rewards for returning fugitive slaves to their American owners. The fugitive blacks who had arrived in Upper Canada via the Underground Railroad typically arrived destitute, and without government land grants were usually forced to become laborers on the lands of others, although some farmed their own land successfully, and some worked for the Great Western Railway.

In their concentrated settlements, the early Blacks had the opportunity to retain cultural characteristics and create a distinct community. Styles of worship, music and speech, family structures and group traditions developed in response to the conditions of life in Canada. The chief institutional support was the separate church, usually Baptist or Methodist, created when white congregations refused to admit blacks as equal members.

The churches’ spiritual influence pervaded daily life and affected the vocabulary, routines, and ambitions of their members. Inevitably, they assumed a major social and political role and the clergy became the natural community leaders. The many fraternal organizations, mutual-assistance bands, temperance societies and antislavery groups formed by 19th-century Blacks were almost always associated with one of the churches. In the 20th century, the churches led the movement for greater educational opportunity and civil rights.

In slavery, Black women were forced to work to support themselves, and economic circumstances perpetuated this tradition in Canada. Black women have always played an important economic role in family life and have experienced considerable independence as a result. Raised in a communal fashion, frequently by their grandparents or older neighbors, Black children developed family-like relationships throughout the local community. A strong sense of group identity and mutual reliance, combined with the unique identity provided by the churches, produced an intimate community life and a refuge against white discrimination.

Buxton School.jpg

Buxton School

During the 19th century, British and American societies established schools for blacks throughout Ontario. In addition, the governments of both Nova Scotia and Ontario created legally segregated public schools. Although almost every black community had access to either a charity or a public school, funding was inadequate, and education tended to be inferior. When combined with residential isolation and economic deprivation, poor schooling helped to perpetuate a situation of limited opportunity and restricted mobility. In 1965 the last segregated school in Ontario closed.

My hope is that this overview of Black history in Upper Canada during the late 18th and early 19th Centuries will serve to illustrate that this has been a story of desperate circumstances punctuated by great accomplishments by heroes who bravely struggled to survive and thrive in an often, less than hospitable environment. I’ve heard it said by a Black Canadian who has lived both in Canada and the United States that Black Canadians and Black Americans are quite different. They live in their respective countries for different reasons. As well, American Blacks are approximately 13% of their country’s population, but Canadian Blacks are just 4% of Canada’s population – a visible minority and an almost invisible minority.

The plight of Black Canadians was aided by urbanization – which led to desegregated opportunities – and the influx of thousands of immigrants from the Caribbean. I wish I could report that racism and discrimination aimed at Black Canadians is a thing of the past but that is simply not true. Happily, segregation of the races was not entrenched in Canadian law as it was in America. Tragically, many Caucasian Canadians suffer from the same cultural White supremacy tendencies that presently exist in other predominantly White countries.

A  million thanks, John, for these guest posts, and for the ones you have so generously allowed me to share throughout the month!  


Black History in Ontario – Part I – A Guest Post by John Fioravanti

Friend, author and fellow-blogger John Fioravanti  graciously accepted my request to do a guest post to wrap up Black History Month! It quickly became apparent that one post was inadequate, so John has agreed to do a series of two posts about the history of African-Canadians.  Today I share with you John’s excellent and informative Part I.  I hope you enjoy and I know you will learn something new, for I certainly did!Text dividers

Black History In Ontario – Early Years


This series of articles is inspired by the revelations of my research into Black history in Canada for Black History Month. I am impressed beyond words by the courage and resourcefulness of so many people of African ancestry that escaped to Canada as slaves or freely chose Canada as their new home. Ontario is my home province, hence the focus of this series. It is my hope that this effort to summarize the early history of Black Canadians in Ontario will give readers a helpful perspective for today’s realities.

In another post, we will turn our attention to the people who escaped slavery from the American South in the 19th Century by way of the Underground Railway. Four of the five ‘stations’ or destinations were in Ontario, and the fifth was in Nova Scotia. I will explore their life experiences as they struggled to create meaningful and happy lives among an often-hostile White majority.NewFrance1750From 1608-1763, today’s Ontario was part of the colony of New France. After the British conquered New France in 1763, it was renamed Quebec. Ontario finally emerged as a separate territory called Upper Canada in 1791. The French part of the old Quebec colony was renamed Lower Canada. The two Canadas were politically reunited into a single colony, the Province of Canada in 1841. The part that used to be Upper Canada was referred to as Canada West. In 1867 the separate Canadian colonies united into a political federation called The Dominion of Canada. The former Province of Canada divided again at the Ottawa River into the modern provinces of Ontario and Quebec.UpperCanada1791Although slavery was abolished in the Canadian colonies well before this was accomplished in the United States, make no mistake, the attitude of white superiority was just as prevalent in Canada as it was anywhere in America or the white nations of Europe at that time. This attitude was not born in North America, it was transplanted here from Europe. So the Blacks who escaped or freely migrated north from the States beginning in the late 18th Century were not welcomed warmly with open arms by the Whites in Canada. They were not considered equal citizens and most often faced disdain and discrimination at the hands of white Canadians.

Early Upper Canada History

Originally part of the colony of New France, Upper Canada was home to French fur traders and Jesuit Missionaries who came to the area east and south of Georgian Bay to convert the Indigenous people they named as Huron. The French did not focus on the Upper Canada area to create large settlements – that came after the British took over.

As a result of the Seven Years War (The French and Indian War), New France passed into British Possession in 1763. There are records about the existence of Black slaves in the settled areas of New France around Montreal and Quebec City. Many of them were brought by transient officials from France and often resold in the colony. Most of the slaves were used as domestic servants and as farm laborers.

After 1763, Upper Canada became home to Loyalists and newly freed slaves from the Thirteen Colonies as a direct result of the American Revolution. Some British officials in the American colonies from 1775 onwards promised freedom to any Black slaves willing to escape and join the British army. Over 300 Blacks responded to this offer by British Governor Lord John Dunsmore of Virginia in 1775. In 1779 Sir Henry Clinton, commander-in-chief of all British forces in the Thirteen Colonies promised slaves who escaped protection in territory under their control.

Approximately 5,000 to 6,000 Loyalists left the United States for Upper Canada during and after the war ended in 1783. About 10 percent of this number were Black Loyalists – and most of them went on to settle in Nova Scotia. Some arrived as freed men while most came as slaves with their Loyalist owners. Blacks who had escaped from their owners to fight in the British army and arrived as free men were called Black Loyalists. According to records, only a few dozen Black Loyalists settled in Upper Canada between Cornwall and Windsor.

Under British law, the slaves of White Loyalists were to remain slaves. There were slaves in most if not all the Loyalist settlements in Upper Canada. By 1791 the veterans of Butler’s Rangers had 300 slaves in the Niagara area – designated as domestic servants.

Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves SimcoeSimcoeSlavery-600x331

Before the American Revolution, the abolitionist movement was making inroads in the Canadas as Britain had outlawed the slave trade in the British Isles in 1772. By 1791 Loyalist slave owners in Upper Canada began to worry about losing their property and began to sell their slaves to Americans across the border. One such incident, involving a slave named Chloe Cooley was so brutal that Simcoe decided to free all the province’s slaves.

In 1793, Adam Vrooman, a former sergeant with Butler’s Rangers, owned Chloe Cooley and decided to sell her to an American across the Niagara River in March. Chloe was upset by the impending sale, so Vrooman beat her, tied her up and forced her into a boat with the help of two other men. She screamed as they rowed her across the river.Chloe CooleyThe entire incident was witnessed by another Butler’s Rangers veteran, Black Loyalist Peter Martin. Along with another witness, he reported the incident to Simcoe’s Executive Council (Cabinet) who decided to charge Vrooman with disturbing the peace. Eventually, the charge was dropped because Cooley was considered property under the law.

Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe was outraged by the incident and moved swiftly to bring in the Act Against Slavery by July of 1793. It provided for the eventual abolition of slavery in Upper Canada by prohibiting the importation of slaves and freeing the children of slaves when they turned 21. By 1819 there were no more slaves in Upper Canada.

Thank you, John!  We are looking forward to Part II!

Black History Month In Canada… Richard Pierpoint – by John Fioravanti

I have fallen behind in my goal to share as many of John Fioravanti’s Black History in Canada series as possible this month.  In part that is because I was hoping for a return of the missing ‘re-blog’ button, and in part it is simply because it is my nature to fall behind.  It isn’t that I am inept or inefficient, simply that I sometimes bite off more than I can chew.  But a look at the calendar shows me that Black History Month is winding down and will soon be over, so I want to share at least one of John’s fascinating posts today.  This one highlights Richard Pierpoint, a former African slave who fought in the Revolutionary War and later, at age 68, fought in the War of 1812.  His story is one of courage in the face of the evils of slavery and bigotry, of hard work and storytelling.  Please read about this persona from Canada’s Black History archives.  Thank you, John, for this post and permission to share with my friends.Text dividers

Richard Pierpoint – Former Slave, Loyalist, Soldier, Community Leader, and Storyteller

Richard Pierpoint (also Pawpine, Parepoint; Captain Pierpoint, Captain Dick; Black Dick), loyalist, soldier, community leader, storyteller (born c. 1744 in Bondu [now Senegal]; died c. 1838, near present-day Fergus, ON). Pierpoint was an early leader in Canada’s Black community. Taken from West Africa as a teenager and sold into slavery, Pierpoint regained his freedom during the American Revolution. He settled in Niagara, Upper Canada, and attempted to live communally with other Black Canadians. In the War of 1812, he petitioned for an all-Black unit to fight for the British and fought with the Coloured Corps.

Finish reading the story …