So far, the 2020s appear to be a decade of world-changing events, happening so quickly that they are hard to keep up with. First came the mushrooming of a local outbreak of disease into a global pandemic in March 2020. The attack on the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2021, called into question the future of what had been one of the world’s most stable democracies. One could add the transition of climate change from a frightening future prospect to a present reality, symbolized by the destruction of Lytton, B.C., in June 2021. And then on February 24 of this year, our eyes turned to Ukraine and its remarkable resistance to Russia’s brutal invasion.
A small publication like Inroads can’t match the war coverage of the major media, but we can bring to light aspects and implications of the conflict that might otherwise be ignored. One important implication for Canada concerns immigration: Canada has committed itself to welcoming an unspecified, but undoubtedly large, number of Ukrainians fleeing the war.
Anne Michèle Meggs casts her expert eye on Canada’s chaotic immigration system and asks whether it is up to the task of handling the coming influx, in Our Immigration Policy is Out of Control.
And in Crowdsourced Humanitarianism Julia Smith, who travelled to Poland after the war began to help Ukrainian refugees reach Canada, discusses the rise of “crowdsourced humanitarianism”: as she writes, “regular citizens funded by their friends and GoFundMe have been the backbone of the disaster response.” There are drawbacks, notably lack of training, but the citizen responders have the advantage of being able to bypass bureaucratic obstacles. In an accompanying article, Tatiana Kostenko describes how she woke up to the sound of explosions at her home in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on February 24 and how the events of that day were the beginning of a journey that eventually brought her to New Brunswick, in From Kharkiv to New Brunswick.
Geoff White, a former Canadian diplomat who served in our high commission in South Africa, examines why that country, often perceived as a moral leader, has not joined in the widespread condemnation of the Russian invasion, in Why Does South Africa Pluck its Russian String?
Reg Whitaker looks at the New Cold War that has emerged between the West on the one hand and Russia and China on the other, and sees both continuities and significant differences in relation to the Old Cold War that pitted the capitalist West against the Communist East, in All That is Old is New Again. And Philip Resnick’s muse focused on Ukraine even before the invasion began: his poetic journal guides us through the first couple of months of the conflict that he suggests “has now become our war” in Invasion Poems.
In the month before the invasion, Canadians’ attention was focused on Ottawa, where the “Freedom Convoy” of truckers and their allies opposed to COVID vaccination mandates took up noisy residence in downtown streets adjacent to Parliament Hill. On the Inroads website, you will find the highlights of a lively discussion on the Inroads listserv of the issues raised by the convoy and the government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act in response. In The End of Canada’s Holiday from History, an editorial looks at the longer-term implications of this episode and especially its impact on the Conservative leadership race.
The annual World Happiness Report was released in March, and for the fifth consecutive year Finland occupied top spot in the country rankings. Finnish economist Jan Otto Andersson describes the special characteristics of his homeland that make it the world’s happiest country in Why is Finland the Happiest Country in the World, while John Richards asks what is really being measured in international measures of happiness, in Happiness by the Numbers.
Also in this issue:
- Analyzing the background and results of the French presidential election, Pierre Martin focuses on the virtual disappearance of France’s democratic left in What’s Left of France’s Left?
- In light of ABBA’s return with a new album and – in virtual form – a new live show, Henry Milner takes a retrospective look at their body of work and finds it unequalled among the bands of their era, in Thank You for the Music.
- Arthur Milner reflects on the negative influence of the Palestinians’ supporters abroad and suggests that the Palestinians need a new and more pragmatic strategy, in Advice to Palestine: Forget the Radicals.
- John Richards profiles Nigerian Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, who at the age of 87 has written a new and noteworthy novel in Nigeria’s Voltaire or maybe Dostoyevsky, and in Love Letter to Quebec looks at the Quebec “miracle” as seen by Mario Polèse, who came to Quebec as a young academic and stayed.
- Gareth Morley asks whether Joseph Heath’s study of bureaucratic decision-making adequately takes account of the current populist context, in The Paradox of Technocracy.
- Henry Milner finds much to admire in Robert Putnam and Shaylyn Romney Garrett’s account of American history since the late 19th century, but is not persuaded by their optimistic view of the future in Is the United States Ripe for an Upswing?
- In Ministry of Truth, co-publishers Henry Milner and John Richards examine the ways both Russians and Americans have been lied to and the impact these lies have had.