Introducing The Hub

A new digital home for serious and visionary Canadian thinking

I’m excited to finally be able to share with you something I’ve hinted at more than a few times, both in the newsletter and in direct correspondence with some of you. This week saw the launch of The Hub, a new online Canadian platform for serious online commentary and thinking.

I should make clear, as some have asked, that I am not one of the people directly behind it. I’ll be involved with and contributing to The Hub, but the credit for this project should be going to Sean Speer, Rudyard Griffiths, Stuart Thomson, Ken Whyte, and Luke Smith. It’s a talented and visionary group, and they’ve done a great job putting this together.

The Hub’s mission “is to create and curate news, analysis and debate about a dynamic and better future for Canada in a single online information source.” The founding essay sets out a statement of intent outlining The Hub’s mission. Read the whole thing for yourself, but this captures the core of the challenge that The Hub seeks to address:

“Our politics and governance are regularly disappointing. Much of our culture, especially online, is both atomized and polarized. We seem to have lost a collective sense of aspiration and confidence.

The Hub is a conscious effort to push back against this post-modern malaise

The essay makes reference to the spirit and fervour of John Diefenbaker, and it’s this spirit that The Hub seeks to channel:

Sixty-three years ago this month, then-opposition party leader John Diefenbaker kicked off the 1957 federal election campaign with a big-picture speech at the historic Massey Hall in Toronto. His remarks conveyed an ambition and boldness about the future that would have been familiar in the period of dynamism and progress between the end of World War II and the Canadian centennial but discordant with our national mood in 2021.

Quoting the Chief himself:

“My friends, this is a time for greatness in planning for Canada’s future. Unity demands it; freedom requires it; vision will ensure it.”

You should read Diefenbaker’s entire speech yourself. It’s an all time great Canadian speech that’s largely forgotten and neglected. Channeling the spirit of Diefenbaker and drawing inspiration from his call to arms:

…If vision is the path to future greatness, then The Hub dedicates itself as a place for thinkers and writers from different backgrounds and perspectives to come and shape such a vision for Canada in the twenty-first century. It is time to get back to the future. 

I’m sure many of you are regular readers of Ross Douthat. If you are, you can’t miss the Douthatian themes and framing of this project. The Hub is absolutely not just a Douthat imitation project. But the “malaise” that The Hub seeks to challenge is very much the decadence that Douthat describes in his book The Decadent Society, even if the founding essay never uses the word.

Decadence is not just an American problem. Canadian decadence has plenty of overlaps with American and liberal-democratic-capitalist decadence, but part of why we need Canada-focused platforms and forums is precisely because we have to identify our own problems and think for ourselves about what they are and what, if anything, can be done about it.

This sets the stage for what kind of writing and thinking you can expect from The Hub. It’s not just going to be punditry (not that there’s anything wrong with punditry), the writing will have a purpose and an intent.

You can visit the site directly and explore all the content yourself. But I’ve put together a brief curated list of some of my favourite pieces from this week:

  • Janet Bufton led the opening day lineup with an interesting essay about political realignments and what this might mean for Canada.

  • Rudyard Griffiths wrote a blistering essay about how the pandemic is really testing and fraying at our social contract. After the events of the last few days in Ontario where I live this one feels especially potent to me, and the anger he captures is exactly how I’m feeling right now.

  • Howard Anglin wrote a lucid and sobering essay about Canada’s place in history and the world, and our status as “Cisalpine Gaul,” the most important but in the grand scheme of history insignificant province of first the British and then the American empire. The tonic Howard offers us is a cheerful pessimism. It’ll get you thinking, and Howard’s prose and mastery of the english language are second to none.

  • Ginny Roth wrote a really sharp and much needed essay on conservative feminism, which should go beyond seeing workforce participation as a measure for gender equality. She challenges so many of the shibboleths and unquestioned assumptions that dominate public discourse on this, and Ginny’s voice is a desperately needed and refreshing one.

  • Joanna Baron has a good essay on polarization and how the digitalization of the public square, and a year of people being forced to largely interact and interpret the world through the digital lens is incredibly toxic and corrosive to discourse and feeding some of our worst natural impulses.

  • Sean Speer has a provocative and powerful essay on elite failures in the last two decades that have gotten us to where we are. Read Sean’s piece after having read the founding essay. Together they really do make a compelling case for why The Hub is needed and why its mission is important.

  • Now please indulge a bit of shameless self-promotion. My essay focuses on the Crown as an institution, and what ails it, channelling Yuval Levin. We live in an age where authenticity and self-expression are treated as cardinal virtues, but these modern values undermine institutions and the formative role they are supposed to play. Unfortunate timing means that this piece, on royals behaving badly, pairs well with my column in the National Post last week paying tribute to the late Duke of Edinburgh, and the life of service and duty he led.

And there’s plenty more, I tried to limit myself to just a few pieces but all the content thus far has been fantastic. Give it a try and explore it for yourself. I’m excited for it and I think you should be as well.

One final note. The Dominion isn’t going anywhere, I’ll still be publishing stuff here as well as at The Hub. Stay tuned in the coming months for updates as well related to all this. This roundup newsletter is a one off, for now, but I might consider doing a regular Hub roundup in addition to the essays I publish on The Dominion. Anyways, stay tuned.