Reckless rhetoric is no way to debate public policy

The basic presumption of democracy requires us to try to understand one another rather than calling opponents murderers

Reckless rhetoric is no way to debate public policyDennis Raphael, a professor of health policy and management at York University in Toronto, recently penned an opinion piece that represents a low point for discourse about public policy in Canada. Raphael describes the policies of the new Conservative government in Ontario, and specifically the decision not to increase the minimum wage next year, as “social…

How much does your vote really count?

Ontario’s recent election results signal Canada’s wider democratic dilemma 

How much does your vote really count?Ontario’s June election was one for change and Doug Ford's Progressive Conservatives emerged the victors. Unfortunately, many voters believe their vote didn’t count. Thanks to our first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system, they’re right. Once again, there’s an overwhelming majority provincial government in Canada elected by a minority of voters. Just over 40 per cent of voters supported Ford's Progressive Conservatives.…

Fairness should be at the heart of electoral reform

Every argument in favour of our current flawed system is either easily rebutted or simply untrue

Fairness should be at the heart of electoral reformIn a recent address on proportional representation (PR), Guy Giorno, one of Stephen Harper’s former strategists, said, “The unassailable moral high ground we (supporters of PR) hold is the people and a result that fairly reflects their will.” This caused me to pause and reflect. I’ve long been a supporter of PR and now I…

Whitewashing history fails to serve the common good

Beware the arrogance of the new age. Attempting to cleanse history is a fool’s or, worse, a tyrant’s errand

Whitewashing history fails to serve the common goodIn the interest of righting a genuine and grave historic wrong – the suffering of our Indigenous peoples – the historical hubris of our present Canadian age is distorting history yet again. Enter the City of Victoria and Sir John A. Macdonald. In removing his statue from in front of Victoria City Hall, the denizens…

We need breathalyzer testing on demand

Bill C-46 would contribute to public safety, help address the serious court backlog problem and save taxpayers a lot of money

We need breathalyzer testing on demandMarjory LeBreton, a former leader of the Conservatives in the Senate, has a family tragedy in her past: her daughter and grandson were killed by a drunk driver. LeBreton is unhappy that her former Senate colleagues have voted to gut Bill C-46, which gives police the right to stop a vehicle and demand that the…

B.C. moves to embrace the essence of good government

As our country has evolved, dialogue is encouraged in education and the media, but is stymied in our highest law-making institutions

B.C. moves to embrace the essence of good government“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Though the origin of this statement is debated, its essence beautifully summarizes the ideals of our democracy and the importance of freedom of speech. While I have my opinions on certain issues, I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate…

B.C. democratic reform neither simple nor straightforward

Referendum may grant more power to B.C. politicians and bureaucrats, at democracy’s expense

B.C. democratic reform neither simple nor straightforwardThis fall, British Columbians will vote on what system they prefer for provincial elections. But far too much uncertainty surrounds all the potential choices. The mail-in referendum ballot will give voters two choices: B.C.’s current first-past-the-post system or proportional representation. A secondary question will ask: If adopted, what type of proportional representation system would you…

The Liberal’s lukewarm shift toward electoral reform

The Trudeau government’s belated commitment to election law revisions is welcome, if far short of earlier promises

The Liberal’s lukewarm shift toward electoral reformThe recent introduction by the federal government of Bill C 76, meant to overhaul Canada’s Election Act, raises the question: Is a belated commitment to improving electoral democracy better than no commitment at all? The answer has to be yes. However, the Liberals have been conspicuously ambivalent and lukewarm on electoral reform during their time…

Dissent can cross a dangerous line, even when Trump is the target

Raised voices in opposition are an expected and acceptable part of any political fight – raised fists are not

Dissent can cross a dangerous line, even when Trump is the targetNot even a year and a half since Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, observers in the U.S. and abroad have begun to worry that the man could change America forever. But to believe that one man could inflict permanent and lasting damage on a country that fought…

Is western civilization worth defending?

The science, culture and philosophy of the West have been embraced around the world. And millions still flock to our shores

Is western civilization worth defending?“An anthropologist is someone who respects the distinctive values of every culture but his own. We in the West are all anthropologists now.” – Roger Kimball, The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of America Soon after arriving at McGill University in 1968 from a year of ethnographic field research in Iran,…

Leave our electoral system alone

British Columbians are being asked, for the third time, to vote on drastic electoral changes. It would be a mistake

Leave our electoral system aloneAmericans look upon their government to ensure them life, liberty and the chance to pursue happiness. In Canada, peace, order and good government are what we expect from our leaders. For the last 150 years that is what we have received. Canada is one of the best countries in the world to live because we…

The perverted logic that leads Donald Trump to believe he’s king

Trump's delusion is not trivial. His assault on the U.S. constitution and its founding principles could unravel centuries of progress

The perverted logic that leads Donald Trump to believe he’s kingAccording to the Washington Post, Donald Trump's lawyers argue that the American president should not be investigated (and cannot be prosecuted) for obstruction of justice because he holds complete control over federal investigations. As the nation's chief law enforcement officer, the lawyers argue, Trump could “even exercise his power to pardon if so desired,” including,…

Ireland’s abortion referendum puts it all on the table

If you probe the granular views of most people, I suspect you’ll find they’re somewhere between the two extremes

Ireland’s abortion referendum puts it all on the tableThere is no abortion law in Canada. Canadians uneasy about that can look across the Atlantic for an alternative way of doing things. On May 25, the Republic of Ireland goes to the polls in an abortion-related constitutional referendum. Abortion was outlawed in Ireland by the Offences Against the Person Act passed by the United…

Public library is where democracy, learning and inspiration meet

A good public library provides an easy access point for any journey of discovery and a place to find directions when one feels lost

Public library is where democracy, learning and inspiration meetBritish writer Doris Lessing said, “A public library is the most democratic thing in the world. What can be found there has undone dictators and tyrants.” I have to admit I had forgotten what a wonderful and amazing place a public library is until I brought a group of students to my local library for…

Lithuania works to break from the past, set a new course

Transitioning from a communist economy to a free-market system is no simple task

Lithuania works to break from the past, set a new courseTransition economies describes those eastern European countries that were under the grip of the Soviet Union until 1991 and subsequently moved away from a centrally-planned communist economic system toward a free-enterprise market economy. An invitation from the LCC International University in Lithuania to spend three months there as a visiting professor gave me the opportunity…
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