A respectful Canada has room for disagreement

Closing politics and public life to those who are religious leaves us with a less tolerant society that brings fundamental freedoms into question

A respectful Canada has room for disagreementDisagreement is normal, if not necessary, in a healthy democracy. Being intolerant and disrespectful toward those with whom we disagree, however, is fatal to that democracy. Historically, Canadians have had the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (and the Bill of Rights before it) for protection. That’s especially important for racial, religious, political or sexual minorities,…

The invaluable power of healthy skepticism

Usain Bolt became the fastest human being ever by eating – wait for it – Chicken McNuggets, not following the latest health care fad

The invaluable power of healthy skepticismKicking off her wonderful book from earlier this year, Christie Aschwanden asks a seven-word question that might help us recover some sanity for our hyper-affluent, marketing-mad society. “Do any of these products actually work?” Aschwanden asks in the introduction of Good to Go: What the Athlete in All of Us Can Learn From the Strange…

Religion should have a place in the political realm

It would be a gross violation of religious freedom if we allowed beliefs to become a test for fitness for office. Yet Andrew Scheer faced a barrage of criticism

Religion should have a place in the political realmCanada’s public square is an increasingly closed space, at least for voices of faith. This is dangerous – and not just for the faithful. The 2019 federal election campaign and its aftermath make clear that there are new boundaries to what can and can’t be said publicly. Moreover, the boundaries now cover what can and…

An election result that reflects the country and its mood

An election result that reflects the country and its moodFittingly, it fell to one of Canada’s finest expatriate essayists to succinctly describe with characteristic understatement the 2019 federal election. “There is no place in a democracy for gangster government,” Adam Gopnik wrote in The New Yorker the morning after Canadians went to the polls. “That reminder made Monday night a truly worthwhile Canadian initiative.”…

Canadians among the few privileged to vote

Be grateful you live in a nation in which you are free to raise your voice without fear of retribution or persecution

Canadians among the few privileged to voteWhen an election rolls around, I get emails, Facebook messages, phone calls, and the occasional text message or two. Questions range from a forthright “Who should I vote for?” to “Where can I even go to get information?” My personal favourite communiques are ones like a four-letter, “HELP!” We live in an age of information…

Which unprincipled party will you be voting for?

Even overlooking the personal smears, record fudging, or repressing the truth, the parties are filled with contradictions of the things they stand for

Which unprincipled party will you be voting for?If there were any idealism left regarding the virtues of Canadian politics, the current federal election campaign is almost certain to have smashed it. Good governance and the common good were not the winners in last week’s English language debate. Thursday's French language debate was a slight improvement, but a one-off exception hardly undoes the…

School board attaches non-compete clause to building sale

Public board in Ontario refused to sell a school it closed to a private school to curtail competition for students

School board attaches non-compete clause to building saleWho does the government compete with? Is a public school a sacred building? A recent surplus building sale raises those questions. Near Brockville, Ont., the local public school board has sold the Wolford elementary school that it closed in 2018. The building was surplus, no other government had a use for it, so the school…

Public school monopoly is a disservice to education

A modern, diverse system that meets the needs of a pluralistic society can deliver education in different ways

Public school monopoly is a disservice to educationThe Liberals are making support for public education a litmus test in the federal election campaign. The Liberals aren’t satisfied that Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has dropped the promised he made during the Tory leadership race in 2017 to provide tax credits to parents for costs of non-government-provided education. Various Liberals have spoken out. Katie…

China’s crackdown in Hong Kong an ominous sign of the times

Populism some call it, but the consequence in many regions around the world has been a slippage into autocracy

China’s crackdown in Hong Kong an ominous sign of the timesIn 1972, Mitchell Sharp, Canadian secretary of state for external affairs, famously penned his Third Option doctrine. It was not exactly anti-American but it was American-anxious. The idea was to reduce Canada’s vulnerability to swings in mood and trade from the United States by diversifying our economic, cultural and political relations, especially toward rising powers…

Child benefit program pays dividends but presents hurdles

Governments need to be careful that benefits don’t discourage social institutions that strengthen families and communities

Child benefit program pays dividends but presents hurdlesParents will receive an increase in the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) this month. The program has been widely credited with reducing child poverty, yet the benefit is not without challenges. The cost-of-living adjustment boosts the maximum compensation for a child under age six to $6,639 annually and maximum compensation for children between the ages of…
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