I have been away from my web site for some time recovering from the toil of exam grading and a bad case of spring flu. In that period of several months much has transpired including the tragic passing of a prominent Canadian political figure Jean Lapierre and his family in a terrible plane accident, a number of terrible terrorist attacks and a horrible assassination in Britain of the brave humanitarian MP Jo Cox These were awful tragedies for those affected and one can only be saddened by these events and the state of the world in general.As well the outstanding Catholic peace activist Daniel Berrigan whom I had the pleasure of meeting and sharing a few minutes with when he visited the University of Manitoba when I was a student there, also passed away April 30th. He was a very courageous, ethical and deeply thoughtful person whom I wish to remember.
On the political front in the US despite a valiant and inspiring effort by Bernie Sanders and his millions of supporters it now seems clear that Hillary Clinton will be the Presidential nominee of the Democratic party. Although she is a person of considerable accomplishment she is much more of a conservative centrist on matters of fiscal orthodoxy than would have been Sanders. Her principal opponent Donald Trump is a very controversial figure with a populist appeal in the way that he addresses the concerns of the marginalized and often unemployed or under employed workers of the industrial rust belt states. With Sanders out of the race some of those voters who supported Sanders might gravitate toward Trump despite his awful nativist policy proposals on immigration and his attitude toward Mexicans. Tomorrow is also the British referendum on Brexit which will determine the fate of Great Britain and its involvement or withdrawal from the European Union. This is a complex question which the British people have to decide weighing the obvious benefits of close partnership with most of the rest of Europe and freedom to live and work through out the union against the disadvantages in terms of loss of sovereignty and weakening of Britain’s traditional ties with the Commonwealth and restrictions on its freedom to negotiate trade pacts with non European partners. The latest polls show the two sides neck and neck so it will be an exciting night of counting the result. It is , of course, up to Britain to decide what it wishes but some might consider the most recent decision of the German courts recognizing the constitutional right of the European Central Bank to buy state debt and hold it for a period of time as enhancing the flexible monetary powers of the central bank thereby improving and modernizing the union in a progressive way. This has been one of the problems in the past which has made it more difficult than it should be to treat the problem of unemployment in Europe. More needs to be done but it is a very good step in the right direction.