Literary Review of Canada November 2021

Where the country’s best writers, thinkers, and artists come to take a stand on the topics that matter most. An unrivalled source of long-form reviews and commentary.

Literary Review of Canada
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10 Issues

in this issue

2 min
a journal of ideas

Our contributors John Allemang is a thirty-year veteran of the Globe and Mail. Katherine Ashenburg has written many books, including Sofie & Cecilia and, most recently, Her Turn. Carol Bishop-Gwyn is the author of Art and Rivalry: The Marriage of Mary and Christopher Pratt. Andrew Benjamin Bricker wrote Libel and Lampoon: Satire in the Courts, 1670–1792, which is due out in January. Marlo Alexandra Burks is the magazine’s development coordinator. Murray Campbell was the California bureau chief for the Globe and Mail from 1990 to 1993. Barry Jordan Chong lives and writes in Toronto. Pamela Divinsky is the founder and CEO of InvisibleHand.Company. Brad Dunne is a freelance writer and editor in St. John’s. Patrice Dutil is a professor in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at Ryerson University. He edited the first fifty-five issues of the Literary Review…

4 min
waiting game

THE SEAPORT, HERMAN MELVILLE reminds us in Moby-Dick, offers “safety, comfort, hearthstone, supper, warm blankets, friends, all that’s kind to our mortalities.” The ships that come and go may change, but the appetite for those offerings never subsides. Perhaps that’s why the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is spending $4 billion (U.S.) to acquire full ownership of Ports America, the largest terminal operator in the United States, with critical infrastructure in cities like Los Angeles, Seattle, Houston, and New York. Collectively, we Canadians are now harbourmasters—watching as 2.5 million vehicles, 10 million tons of general cargo, and 1.7 million tourists pass through our facilities each year. And while “the port would fain give succour” during normal times, these remain anything but. Much of the world is living through a logistical nightmare…

5 min

Different Sides of the Same Coin EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE, I AM LURED INTO RESUBscribing to the Literary Review of Canada only to be disappointed again in its right-wing slant. The October issue was particularly silly. We have Dan Dunsky making light of corporate social responsibility, as he quotes Milton Friedman and his grandson. Yes, when I was in first-year law school, we were taught that the corporation has a fiduciary duty to maximize shareholder returns. But give me a break: thinking has come a long way since the ’70s. Would Dunsky excuse IG Farben and Siemens and other German corporations for “maximizing shareholder benefit” by supporting the Nazi war machine of the Second World War? The idea that corporations have no conscience or social responsibility is inane. Then we have…

16 min
the three pamphleteers

On Decline Andrew Potter Biblioasis 128 pages, softcover and ebook On Property Rinaldo Walcott Biblioasis 112 pages, softcover and ebook On Risk Mark Kingwell Biblioasis 128 pages, softcover and ebook Decline is relative. It took Edward Gibbon 3,180 pages in six volumes of my small-print Everyman edition to describe the Roman Empire’s slow and inevitable collapse over nearly one and a half millennia. Andrew Potter manages to dispatch our current screwed-up society in a mere 128. Because a short attention span is one of the most damnable characteristics of our particular decline—the simple answer: blame social media—we should be both grateful and unsurprised that Potter can take us down so rapidly. Granted, he doesn’t have nearly so many heresies and barbarian incursions to itemize as he traces our increasing inability and unwillingness to live up to the Enlightenment values that formed the…

5 min
devilish charm

The New Corporation: How “Good” Companies Are Bad for Democracy Joel Bakan Allen Lane 240 pages, softcover, ebook, and audiobook IN HIS 2004 BOOK, THE CORPORATION: THE Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, the law professor, writer, and filmmaker Joel Bakan painted corporations as psychopathic. There’s evidence that many of them took that indictment seriously. Over the past fifteen years, publicly traded companies have developed purpose-driven initiatives, built more sustainable supply chains, reduced their carbon footprints, engineered recycled products, championed the rights of women and minorities, pioneered new sources of energy, and embedded life-cycle assessments into all they do. These commitments, along with numerous certification regimes, have generated new devices, services, and investment products, including ESG funds and social impact bonds. But, Bakan warns in his latest book, The New Corporation, we should not be fooled.…

13 min
quandary quebec

La révolution racialiste et autres virus idéologiques Mathieu Bock-Côté Les Presses de la Cité 240 pages, hardcover and ebook Empreintes de résistance: Filiations et récits de femmes autochtones, noires, et racisées Alexandra Pierre Les éditions du remue-ménage 336 pages, softcover Kuei, je te salue: Conversation sur le racisme Deni Ellis Béchard and Natasha Kanapé Fontaine Écosociéte 208 pages, softcover and ebook Bande de colons: Une mauvaise conscience de classe Alain Deneault Lux Éditeur 216 pages, softcover and ebook THE 2021 ENGLISH-LANGUAGE LEADERS’ debate set off a familiar news cycle about race in Quebec: Someone from another part of Canada characterizes a development in the province as racist. The francophone media responds with allegations of “Quebec bashing.” The premier issues a statement. Commentators from elsewhere shake their heads and feel morally superior, while those here close ranks in indignation. Step away from the daily headlines, however, and any…