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Deus Indicat. Deo Ducente Nil Nocet

God is our leader. When God leads, nothing can harm

One hundred and thirty-six years after it was dissolved, the East India Company is being relaunched—this time with an Indian at the helm.  The EIC’s present business plan is a little less grandiose than its former mandate, but at least its present impresario has a certain respect for the brand and its history.

Mumbai-born Sanjiv Mehta is opening a luxury food shop this month in Mayfair, London, under the historic name – as he takes his first step towards restoring the company to its former glory.

With a nod to the past, the 2,000 sq ft premises will sell a range of teas and coffees, as well as other goods including chutneys, marmalades, mustards and chocolates.

Mr Mehta has been granted permission by the Treasury to use the name and original trademarks of the East India Company.

…The 48 year old, who has lived in London for 20 years, says the reasoning behind it all is that he could never hope to create such a recognisable brand from scratch.

‘I have not created this brand, history has created it,’ he said.

‘I am just the curator of it, a custodian.’

Mr Mehta added that he has suffered no criticism from compatriots for buying the company, saying: ‘People are rejoicing because an Indian has bought the EIC – it is a symbol of redemption.’

— Wilkes, David.  “The East India Company to resume trading – but this time under Indian control.” Daily Mail, 2 August 2010.

In Canada, the 340-year-old Hudson’s Bay Company occupies a similar iconic place in our commercial and historical landscape, but its myopic executives have been busy trying to bury that heritage, not capitalise on it.  Within my lifetime they have reduced the branding to merely “The Bay”, and now just “HBC”.  There is little connection between its rugged, pioneering past and its current bland retail housewares existence.

If (for example), HBC had maintained a significant hunting/camping/outdoor equipment line, would you be inclined to go down the street to Europe Bound or Mountain Equipment Co-Op?  Or would you rather buy the gear from the company that built its entire business around dotting the wild Canadian landscape with remote trading posts, keeping fur trappers and natives supplied with the necessities of life and commerce?

One cannot help but applaud the simple clarity and initiative of Mr. Mehta in resurrecting a well-known brand and wielding its 400-year history to keep moving the same sort of product it did so many years ago.  If only Canadian businessmen would take note.

On the census

I am a little torn about making the long-form census voluntary.  From a statistical perspective, it is always better to have accurate data with varying levels of granularity; making the long form voluntary would seem to make that less likely.

But then Statistics Canada has admitted in the past that it does not enforce the mandatory census provisions equally.  If you live on a First Nations reserve you can ignore the census with impunity and the authorities will not seek legal recourse.  If you live off a reserve, you roll the dice and you take your chances:

Thousands of natives across Canada refused to complete the 2006 census – including the Six Nations in Ontario – and will not face any legal consequences, despite the fact that 64 people not living on reserves were charged under the Statistics Act.

…The maximum penalty for not completing the census is a $500 fine and three months in prison. Of the 64 charged, nearly all decided to complete it rather than go to court.

Some 35,000 people living on reserves refused to complete the census, [director general of the census program Anil] Arora said. As a courtesy, Statistics Canada seeks permission from the band office before entering the reserve, although it isn’t legally obligated to do so. The census isn’t mailed out to reserves, because many still use a P.O. box system, which means census takers can’t verify addresses, Arora said.

— Doolittle, Robyn.  “No charges sought for 35,000 natives who ignore census.” Toronto Star, 15 January 2008.

Seems to me that if the supposedly mandatory census is not actually mandatory (the key variables being one’s ethnic background and place of residence), then Stats Can’s past practice has rendered it de facto voluntary.  You might even say that the government is merely seeking to extend the same courtesy to all Canadians.

I would be interested in finding out why Stats Can chooses to ignore 35,000 holdouts, but goes after a specific set of 64.  The reason given in the article is that native participation has always been poor, and they are worried about curbing the increasing First Nations compliance by charging offenders $500 bucks and throwing them in jail for 3 months.  One wonders why the agency doesn’t think these same kid gloves should apply to non-native Canadians.

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Diamond Jubilee of Confederation, 1927

Prime Minister of Canada, the Rt. Hon. W.L. Mackenzie King, speaking on Parliament Hill during a ceremony celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation. Ottawa, Ontario; July 1st, 1927. (The Hands Studio / Library and Archives Canada / PA-126949)

Rt. Hon. W.L. Mackenzie King and Charles Lindbergh at a ceremony celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation. Ottawa, Ontario; July 1st, 1927. (Library and Archives Canada / C-006256)

Rt. Hon. W.L. Mackenzie King with Lieutenant-Colonel H.J. Coghill and Rt. George P. Graham leaving a tree-planting ceremony celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation. Ottawa, Ontario; July 1st, 1927. (Library and Archives Canada / PA-027560)

A section of the Ottawa Centennary Choir on Parliament Hill. Ottawa, Ontario; July 1-3, 1927. (Library and Archives Canada/C-021933)

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Strange threshold

The director of CSIS claims that cabinet ministers and municipal officials in two provinces are under the influence of foreign govenrments.

“We’re in fact a bit worried in a couple of provinces that we have an indication that there’s some political figures who have developed quite an attachment to foreign countries,” Fadden said.

“The individual becomes in a position to make decisions that affect the country or the province or a municipality. All of a sudden, decisions aren’t taken on the basis of the public good but on the basis of another country’s preoccupations.”

There are several municipal politicians in British Columbia and in at least two provinces there are ministers of the Crown who we think are under at least the general influence of a foreign government.

— “Some politicians under foreign sway: CSIS.”  CBC News, 23 June 2010. [Emphasis mine]

The director went on to say that he was in discussions with the Privy Council Office to determine what future action might be taken.

The wise will know that foreign influence of government officials is not a new phenomena; every country on the planet seeks to influence others—overtly or covertly—in order to advance its national interests.  No nation—and especially not a relatively wealthy Western one—is immune to such treatment.  Part of the role of any nation’s security intelligence apparatus is to monitor such activity and, if it seems like it may present a danger to the governance of the nation, to bring it to the attention of higher authorities (and eventually law enforcement) so that the damage may be contained and those responsible may be prosecuted.

It is odd, then, to see the director backpedal  two days later and reveal that he did not think the matter serious enough to bring to the attention of the federal government.

The statement by Richard Fadden, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, followed an uproar over comments he made in a CBC interview broadcast on Tuesday night.

I have not apprised the Privy Council Office of the cases I mentioned in the interview on CBC. At this point, CSIS has not deemed the cases to be of sufficient concern to bring them to the attention of provincial authorities,” the written statement says.

— Bell, Stewart.  “CSIS head did not warn Ottawa of spy infiltration.”  National Post, 24 June 2010. [Emphasis mine]

First, the director stated an untruth on national television—he had not, in fact, informed the PCO.  And that omission was because his agency did not consider the degree of influence to be great enough to be brought to the attention of federal authorities.  Which makes one wonder why it’s of sufficient interest to mention to a television audience.

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Unveiling the National War Memorial, May 21st, 1939

Their Majesties doubtless had a pretty fair notion that within a few months’ time, another devastating war would be underway.

H.M. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth unveiling the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Ontario. May 21st, 1939. (National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque / Library and Archives Canada / C-002179)

A veteran bows deeply while shaking hands with Queen Elizabeth after the official ceremonies of the unveiling of the War Memorial. May 21st, 1939. (Library and Archives Canada / PA-211006)

Detail of bronze figures during construction of the National War Memorial, Ottawa, Ontario. c1938. (Library and Archives Canada / C-010447)

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British North America Act, 1949

12, 13 & 14 Geo. VI, c. 22 (U.K.)

An Act to confirm and give effect to Terms of Union agreed between Canada and Newfoundland

[23rd March 1949]

Whereas by means of a referendum the people of Newfoundland have by a majority signified their wish to enter into confederation with Canada;

And whereas the Agreement containing Terms of Union between Canada and Newfoundland set out in the Schedule to this Act has been duly approved by the Parliament of Canada and by the Government of Newfoundland;

And whereas Canada has requested, and consented to, the enactment of an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to confirm and give effect to the said Agreement, and the Senate and House of Commons of Canada in Parliament assembled have submitted an address to His Majesty praying that His Majesty may graciously be pleased to cause a Bill to be laid before the Parliament of the United Kingdom for that purpose…

British North America Act, 1949 (12,13 & 14 Geo.6, c. 22)

Sixty-one years ago today, the Dominions of Canada and Newfoundland were formally united.

First-day cover commemorating Newfoundland's union with Canada. Cover autographed by Joseph R. Smallwood (1900 - 1991).

Delegation which negotiated the entry of Newfoundland into Confederation, Railway Committee Room, Centre Block, Parliament Buildings. June 25th, 1947. (Front, left to right): J.R. Smallwood, Hon. F. Gordon Bradley, Rt. Hons. W.L. Mackenzie King, Louis St. Laurent. (Rear, left to right): P.W. Crummey, Rev. Lester Burry, T.G.W. Ashbourne, Hon. D.C. Abbott, G.F. Higgins, J.J. McCann, C.H. Ballem, Hon. H.P.G. Bridges (George Hunter / National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque / Library and Archives Canada / PA-128073)

Rt. Hon. Louis St. Laurent speaking during the ceremony which admitted Newfoundland to Confederation. Ottawa, Ontario; April 1st, 1949. (National Film Board of Canada. Phototheque / Library and Archives Canada / C-050808)

Citizens of Corner Brook, Newfoundland, reading newspaper headlines concerning confederation with Canada. September 1949. (Chris Lund / NFB / Library and Archives Canada / PA-128007)

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