Strange Brew was the name of a 1983 movie starring the McKenzie Brothers, in which they try to stop a brewery scientist from adding a mind control drug to beer as a means of taking over the world. Presumably any sequel will be named Home Brew in recognition of the fact that beer is not supposed to venture forth in Canada, at least not across provincial boundaries. So ruled the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously.
This is apparently the age of populism. It is offered as the explanation for numerous dramatic events, ranging from Brexit to the election of Donald Trump. Closer to home, it is now cited as a major reason why Doug Ford may become Premier of Ontario. But what is populism and what does it offer to those who support it?
Disclaimer: There are no profound insights in what follows. It is nothing more than a nostalgic and frivolous escape from overexposure to Trump tirades, pipeline posturing, Facebook foibles, and other news of the day. It amused me to recall these stories and I hope reading them will amuse you. Most of the events depicted occurred at least 30 or 40 years ago.
When I was studying political science more than 50 years ago, we talked about “wicked problems,” so named because they were difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements and constraints. It is hard to imagine a more wicked problem than that of what to do with the Trans Mountain pipeline. This pipeline would carry oil from Alberta to the B.C. coast where it would be transported by ship. It has been subjected to an intensive review process and approved by the National Energy Board.
According to Doug Ford, his first act will be to fire the “$6 million dollar man,” the current CEO of Hydro One.
If we depart from the Trump-style simple-mindedness and contemplate reality for a moment, that first act will actually require several steps to complete. As a minimum, these will involve:
C. Richard Tindal, Ph.D is a retired Professor of Government. He taught for 30 years at St. Lawrence College, Kingston and was an occasional Visiting Professor at Queen's University. He has also written and consulted extensively about government.