While I have been buried in the grading of exams and essays a number of key stories on the economic political and social fronts have taken place. First of all there has been the tragic premature death of Jim Flaherty, Canada’s former Minister of Finance. Despite being a fiscal conservative he proved himself to be a pragmatic and generally effective Minister of Finance who was open to constructive intelligent dialogue with critics. It is a tragic loss to the country and most of all to his family and friends to whom we send our condolences.
We have also recently lost a great Canadian Liberal politician Herb Gray who served for 4 decades in the House of Commons during the many years of the Pearson,Trudeau and Chretien governments. Gray was along with Walter Gordon,Eric Kierans,James Laxer,Stephen Hymer, Mel Watkins, Abe Rotstein and C.W.Gonick and others,one of the the principal backers of a more nationalist economic policy for Canada. Although they largely lost the battle they had a lasting impact on politics and public policy in the country. Gray deserves to be honoured for his long and successful parliamentary career where he always championed progressive politics, social justice and independence for Canada.Again our condolences to his family and friends.
In addition, we have the on going crisis in the Ukraine where the clash between the Ukrainian nationalists who control the Government in Kiev and the largely Russian speaking but Ukrainian pro Russian forces in the eastern cities has resulted in loss of life and threatens to unleash a new cold war between Russia and the West coming after Moscow’s absorption of Crimea after a hasty referendum. Fortunately all sides in the dispute have been talking and trying to reach an acceptable compromise over the May 25 Ukrainian presidential election, some sort of guarantee for a degree of Eastern Ukraine autonomy and the de-escalation of the violence and instability in the region since the Maidan square events. Hopefully this will proceed and peace with justice for both sides can be restored.
Finally, American unemployment has dropped to 6.3 % from 6.7 % and the broader measure U6 to 12.3 % from 12.7% . However, the participation rate also fell to 62.6%. So slowly but surely the unemployment situation in the US is improving, although progress is still slow and fragile. Just today Janet Yellen head of the Federal Reserve appeared before the Joint economic Committee of Congress and stressed that the Fed would remain vigilant and intervene if there were too many signs of employment growth slowing down.