My heart fell when I opened The Spec and saw Graeme Mackay's cartoon poking fun at Prime Minister Stephen Harper's apology to our aboriginal brothers and sisters for the crimes committed against so many in the residential schools scandal.
It was a good day to witness our elected leader state, publicly and without reservation, his regret for the harm caused. He stated loudly and clearly he was sorry. He spoke of the horrors and fear, the beatings and the abuse, and his revulsion that these horrid acts had been committed.
In a rare moment of truth, the opposition also spoke their apologies and from the floor of the Commons for the first time ever, aboriginal leaders and those representing the abused, accepted the apologies without condition.
I felt proud and yet still hopeful that many would see what happened, and though hurt and scarred for probably a lifetime, would know that this could and should be the first of many healing steps toward a peaceful and caring co-existence as true neighbours in this great country.
— Brenda Bianchi, Hamilton
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The same day your sister paper, the Toronto Star, runs an editorial entitled Why the Apology Matters to Us All, in relation to the apology to be delivered by the Prime Minister for residential schools, your newspaper runs an editorial cartoon. I could use various adjectives to describe the cartoon ranging from cynical to disgusting, but the worst of it for all Canadians, both aboriginal and nonaboriginal, is your effort to trivialize the apology even before it is given. Shame on you.
Michael Dingwall, Ancaster
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I agree, I was a bit harsh to Stephen Harper in that cartoon. (Actually, it was one of those days when I couldn't bear to look at the editorial page. ) My concern is that the Tories have been doing an awful lot of apologizing in the past couple of years for past sins and I have had some doubts about the sincerity. I suppose I assumed cynical Canadians would share my skepticism of a sincere apology from a Prime Minister who isn't one to exhibit compassion beyond Conservative policy statements and smacking down Opposition politicians. Yesterday's House of Commons ceremony proved to be above politics and may very well serve as a symbolic building block to reconciliation between native aboriginals and the rest of Canada.
I did an extra cartoon to mark the moment when Barack Obama secured enough delegates to claim the Democratic nomination:
Meanwhile Hillary's finally coming to terms with the reality that she won't be the nominee or President of the U.S. This is all very reminicent to when our own Sheila Copps ran against Paul Martin in 2003 and didn't know when to quit and bow out gracefully.
Scouring the Internet on Hillary Clinton images I came across this great montage of faces. It's too bad we won't have her to kick around as President:
I enjoyed the Citizen's editorial cartoon showing Stephen Harper tied up in plastic wrap and Mike Holmes saying that "vapour barrier sheeting helps in the removal of stubborn obstacles." I believe that it would make great sense to have the popular host of the TV show Holmes on Homes handle the needed renovations at the Prime Minister's residence, and film the work for his TV show. The house at 24 Sussex Drive is a national heritage building and the Canadians would appreciate a good look at it. I'm sure that a monthly review of the on-going work would be of interest to all Canadians.
I'm such a nerd. It seems I'm the only one in the editorial department who can compare the rowdy Flambrarians enraged over a recent hike in property taxes to a famous cartoon drawn in the lead up to the American Revolution:
Nobody seemed to know about the cartoon I was talking about, even though I've seen it replicated all over the place, in t-shirts, wood carvings and tacky tapestries - the kind you see being hawked at U.S. state fairs. A really great HBO miniseries on the life of John Adams just wrapped up opened each segment with panning closeups of this cartoon accompanied by stirring drumbeat. The above cartoon is based on one which appeared in Ben Franklin's newspaper The Pennsylvania Gazette on May 9, 1754, according to Early America.com. It appeared as part of an editorial by Franklin commenting on 'the present disunited state of the British Colonies.'
The woodcut drawing entitled 'Join or Die' pictures a divided snake in eight pieces representing as many colonial governments. The drawing was based on the popular superstition that a snake that had been cut in two would come to life if the pieces were joined before sunset. The drawing immediately caught the public's fancy and was reproduced in other newspapers.
In my strange view of the world it made for a natural application to the situation in Flamborough. It follows a gathering of a thousand or so angry citizens who packed a hockey arena to vent about the City's decision to take the revenues of a Flamborough casino. It didn't run. It appears as though the Join or Die part might only make matters worse. If people around this aren't going to know what I'm talking about then it's hardly going to prevent the Flam-bumpkis from wondering out loud.
Hamilton's problem? Maybe The Spectator should look in the mirror.
On May 1, a Hamilton Economic Summit was held with the purported intent of kick-starting the revitalization of Hamilton. Speaker after speaker, including outside experts and local leaders, advocated a new spirit of creativity and positive thinking. The Spectator's headline said Hamilton is "poised for global greatness".
Urban studies expert Richard Florida, however, noted that while all the basics are theoretically in place for Hamilton, the factor that might stand in the way would be local "squelchers". Richard may not be a local, but he seems to know Hamilton.
I moved to Hamilton because I was excited by the opportunity to rejuvenate and redevelop historic downtown buildings. I attended this conference, and felt encouraged. The next morning, the day on which we were all supposed to go forth and be positive, I opened The Spectator and find a snarky editorial cartoon portraying me as an evil snake oil salesman.
Whether it is ironic or just puts the reality into focus, the Spectator was a sponsor of the summit. May I suggest that the emperor has no clothes.
Since moving here, my family and I have generally been impressed with the spirit and warmth of the people of Hamilton. The one sour note has been the mean-spirited, superficial personal ridiculing of the Spectator's editorial cartoons. Notwithstanding, I remain committed to restoring the Connaught and creating other buildings that will enhance the city.
Harry Stinson, Hamilton
Suck it up, Harry Stinson, you're supposedly one of us now.
Most Hamiltonians know that if they throw their name around and attract the glare of the spotlight they run a good chance of being subjected to the ridicule of local "squelchers". It's a common occurance in most cities, unless you're in a town like Havana, Beijing, or Harare. Fortunately, in this part of the world, freedom of the press allows expression in the form of editorial cartoons. Some examples where my work has received the praise of locals being poked at include the people in this cartoon, this cartoon, and in this cartoon.
In Harry Stinson's mind, The Spectator, having been a sponsor of the Hamilton Economic Summit, should've spiked a cartoon because it happened to make fun of an inflated developer who has so far been a lot of talk throwing a little money around. This doesn't sound out of the ordinary if you buy the into the myth that corporate interests of a newspaper dictates editorial policies.
If a couple editorial cartoons are enough to motivate a recently arrived developer into writing a letter to the editor to convey hurt feelings just wait until confronted by the legions of activists who'll roadblock every move to stick a dreamy 50-80-100 (or whatever storied) skyscraper behind the grand old Royal Connaught. Just wait for the wild criticism to be unleashed once the promise of a beautiful photoshopped downtown megadevelopment tickles our imagination only to be dashed once huge demands for public money are required to get things going. We've been down this road many times.
Harry Stinson has proven to be successful in building and restoring several handsome properties in downtown Toronto. It sure would be nice to witness his optimistic sounding visions and ideas translate into real action -- but this is Hamilton, not Toronto. Here, development faces much more caution and public scrutiny. It's a frustrating and exhaustive reality which has led many desperately longing for the coming of some messiah figure to solve our problems. The sycophantic antics of a few putting all their eggs into the Stinson basket makes me worry. Pardon my skepticism, but somebody has come to town talking about building a 90 story skyscraper and looking for occupancy by 2010. Some call that ambition - I call it pure fantasy. Now there's news of some property purchasing on the central mountain brow. Is this guy serious? Or, is this all about blowin' smoke? Yeah, it's obvious what I think about him, but I'd love to be proven wrong.
Some feedback about this cartoon posted on a local blog:
I actually saw that cartoon and almost called the Spectator. I get angry sometimes when I talk about the Core and where it can go and all I hear is "that's not going to happen" or "we can't afford that". Who says? I guess if there was less for the squelchers to complain about, they'd have to find something else to whine about since it's usually the people who put down Hamilton's core who squelch any plans for ambitious development as well.
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The Spectator is disgusting in its willingness to lionize people one day and vilify them the next. I think Stinson should be given a chance to see what he can produce.
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Anyone been to Toronto lately and seen the construction towers? There's been a boom going on that Hamilton has largely missed out on... and the boom appears to be slowing. We should be welcoming people who see opportunity... They will lead the way before opportunity is lost.