How alcohol is killing Aboriginal Canadians

In his important book Firewater, Harold Johnson talks about the enormous problem of alcohol abuse that plagues so many Indigenous communities

How alcohol is killing Aboriginal CanadiansWhat is the ’60s Scoop and why should a conversation about it still matter to Canadians today? The ’60s Scoop has been much in the news recently, and I expect we’ll hear much more about it in the coming weeks and years. I’m guessing there are already plans to make it the subject of the…

Down with textbooks, the pre-digested meal of the academic world

To read a textbook is to receive a second- or third-rate experience, and third- and fourth-hand knowledge

Down with textbooks, the pre-digested meal of the academic worldI’m reminded of that old game Telephone we played in grade school. The teacher whispered in the ear of the child beside her and that child passed the message to the next person. By the time the message came back to the teacher, it had been hopelessly, hilariously mangled, either by passing clumsily through so…

Social recipe brews up a life that imitates a new work of fiction

Warren Kinsella's new novel Recipe for Hate chronicles fanatics insinuating their way into positions of power

Social recipe brews up a life that imitates a new work of fictionLife sometimes imitates fiction – and not in ways you’d expect. For example, I’ve just published a book called Recipe For Hate. It’s a novel. Without giving away the plot, I can reveal that Recipe For Hate is about fanatics insinuating themselves into positions of power and influence. It’s about zealots, on the right and the…

America’s first ethnic working-class hero

An Irish-American Catholic, champion boxer John L. Sullivan rose to popularity from modest roots

America’s first ethnic working-class heroBefore inclusiveness became a social mantra, newly arrived immigrant groups invariably went through a period of being viewed warily by society’s established mainstream. Irish-American Catholics were no exception to this probationary process. Indeed, it wasn’t until John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential victory that acceptance was fully sealed. Along the way, the process got a boost…

The ever-growing burden of technology on our lives

Increasingly, cities are complicated systems. The thought of traffic lights, 911 calls, transit and hospitals all going haywire at once is really scary

The ever-growing burden of technology on our livesIt you think red tape is slowing progress, you’re right. If you think some complex technical gadgets in your home, office and car aren’t really saving time, you’re right again. But have you thought about how costly and dangerous this technology can be? Author Samuel Arbesman has in his book Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits…

Is the pursuit of policy actually the absence of action?

Academic author Michael Howlett's book Canadian Public Policy: Selected Studies in Process and Style leaves too many questions unanswered

Is the pursuit of policy actually the absence of action?I’m thinking of writing a book called Public Policy Isn’t. What’s a policy? Is it the policy of a government to pass a law to achieve a goal? Or does a law require those implementing the law to adhere to certain policies? It’s perhaps both. How about the members of the public in public policy?…

The lasting – and troubling – legacy of Martin Luther

It’s now 500 years since Luther threw down the gauntlet, taking on the power of the papacy in an era predating the separation of church and state

The lasting – and troubling – legacy of Martin LutherWhen I was a child in 1950s Catholic Ireland, Martin Luther had a nasty reputation. If not viewed as the devil incarnate, he was certainly seen as a deeply dodgy fellow. And it wasn’t uncommon to hear the tale of his alleged “bad death” put forward as proof of his iniquity. The whole story, of…

How compassion makes businesses money

Companies organized around values such as love, generosity and endearment have significantly greater stock market returns

How compassion makes businesses moneyMichael was my mentor when it comes to compassion. His heart always went out to anyone who was in a tough spot. As a roommate of Michael’s, I saw him reach out to people in the community who were down on their luck and in pain. He would help to mend hearts even after his…

Democratic angst and independence turmoil

In Hillary Clinton’s mind, it’s everyone else’s fault. So she’ll continue to hog centre stage and suck up the political oxygen

Democratic angst and independence turmoilTwo topics jump out from the current news. One is the continuing Democratic Party angst over the 2016 U.S. election. The other is the recurrent propensity for independence movements to stir things up. On the Democratic front, Hillary Clinton’s promotion of her new book What Happened is Exhibit A. There’s nothing wrong with authors promoting…

John F. Kennedy: an anglophile for all seasons

The storied president was more English than Irish, despite being seen as the ultimate symbol of Irish-American success and social acceptance

John F. Kennedy: an anglophile for all seasonsJohn F. Kennedy is often seen as the ultimate symbol of Irish-American success and social acceptance. And there’s much truth to that. Irish by ancestry and Roman Catholic by religion, Kennedy’s election to the U.S. presidency represented a breakthrough in status and prestige for an ethnic group that had once been viewed with suspicion. But…