It is, after all, 2016 so where better to begin than with the fascinating juxtaposition of cultures the news has brought us early in the new year.
First to the Middle East where the beheadings of western journalists, crucifixions of Christians, massacre of Yazidis etc tend to pass without significant disruption of daily life but gosh lop the head off just one Shia cleric and all hell breaks loose.
No matter one’s view concerning the demise of Nimr al-Nimr and 46 others put to the sword on the weekend, it’s impossible to wonder if young Saad Gaya might not be having occasional second thoughts about the eternal value of Sharia Law. For while al-Nimr’s head was bouncing around a Saudi courtyard for the crimes of “seeking foreign meddling” and “disobeying” its rulers (his brother Mohammed was jailed for tweeting about the death sentence when it was imposed in 2014), Mr. Gaya was walking out of jail
on day parole five years into his 18-year sentence for plotting to bomb three locations in downtown Toronto, including the Stock Exchange, maiming and murdering hundreds – or so he hoped. Some will recall that Gaya and his pals had also talked about beheading Stephen Harper when he was Prime Minister. No doubt the Gaya gang voted Liberal this past October to ensure that they weren’t deported but, hey, who’s to say? One thing’s for sure, there are few better places in the world to be convicted of terrorism than Canada, a country in which most folks would rather buy oil shipped in tankers from a medieval monarchy that conducts mass beheadings than let a pipeline be built from one of its own provinces. You can’t make this stuff up.
Over in Germany, where more than a million refugees from a world not too dissimilar from the above mentioned medieval monarchy, the police were busy lying to the citizens of Cologne after a mob of about 1,000 guys who looked like they were probably named Mohammed celebrated new years (because it’s 2016) with a mass sexual assault of more than 100 local women. Once the coppers were forced to come clean thanks to social media calling bullshit on the original rainbows and unicorns version of events, Cologne’s fervently pro-refugee Mayor Henriette Reker stirred the pot by inferring that, well, if women were to just keep their distance and avoid arousing male passions, we could maybe avoid future awkward moments. This inspired The Daily Mail’s Katie Hopkins to wonder, in a spirited rant well worth reading: “Shall I just buy a burka and get it over with?”
So far, we haven’t heard from the usual suspects about dog whistles. But we will.
Speaking of burkas, we got bored over the holidays and wondered, because it’s 2016, what Canada might look like in another 15 or so years, because then it will be 2031. We assumed that while culture informs race, race doesn’t inform culture but religion does. Stats Canada, alas, got bored with religion and didn’t survey it fully in the 2011 census apart from a dip the toe in the pool subset survey. Still, if (and ifs are always iffy) the trends between 1991, 2001 and 2011 continue onward for 20 years to 2031:
– The percentage of the population claiming to be Christian will fall to 47.3%, the largest group of which will be about 11 million Catholics.
– Of those, there will be fewer than 1 million Anglicans and membership in the United Church of Canada, which dropped from 2.8 million in 2001 to 2 million in 2011 will consist of about 400,000 socialists at prayer.
– Compared to about 20 million Canadian Christians, there will be more than 18 million who have no religious affiliation at all. The latter will likely be more than 50% of the population by 2035.
– The Jewish population will stay relatively stagnant at about 330,000.
– Notably the Jews were overtaken between 2001 and 2011 by the Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus, the latter two of whom will definitely overtake the United Church, the Presbyterians and probably the Anglicans as well (if you had told someone this 40 years ago, who would have believed you?)
– And then there’s Canada’s fastest growing religion – Islam. That population has been doubling every 10 years which means there will be about 4.5 million Muslims in 15 more years. Extrapolate another 10 years (based on a continuation of declines and the Muslim pattern of doubling every decade) and there will be more Muslims in Canada than Catholics.
This is going to be interesting. The cultural climate is changing a heck of a lot faster than the temperature.
Finally, and because it’s 2016, we did notice retroactively that the new era of transparency was not only launched with an announcement that First Nations leaders need no longer be transparent with their people about their spending, Big Labour also got a free ride. Another debt paid in full?