Indigenous affairs portfolio is democratically flawed

The department holds inordinate power over First Nations people, yet the citizens have no say in how it operates

Indigenous affairs portfolio is democratically flawedIt isn’t easy to grasp just how vast and complex Canada’s federal Indigenous affairs portfolio has become over the past 50 years. Now divided into Indigenous Services and Crown-Indigenous Relations, it’s unlike any other federal government department. The portfolio is more accurately described as a federally-run province. This makes sense because, according to the department,…

Invest in education to ensure a strong democracy

The correlation between an educated populace and a vibrant society is clear. But B.C.’s education system is losing ground

Invest in education to ensure a strong democracyFormer American president Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard for democracy, therefore, is education.” I cherish democracy and the democratic process. I value the opinions of others, even when I disagree with them, and see respectful dialogue as vital to…

The fundamental flaw of populist politics

The populist trinity of direct democracy – initiative, referendum and recall – is incompatible with the Canadian political system

The fundamental flaw of populist politicsThe recent Robyn Luff controversy in Alberta illustrates two much broader issues. One is that this MLA, like many Canadians, doesn’t understand how the Westminster-style parliamentary system works. The other is the remarkable persistence of the notion that MLAs are merely delegates of their constituents. Luff, the Calgary-East MLA, complained about being forced to toe…

Electoral reform actually enhances local representation

In all three models being considered in the B.C. referendum, every MLA will be accountable to either a local riding or region

Electoral reform actually enhances local representationLocal representation in our democracy matters to most of us, and rightly so. While our current first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system has many faults, one of its most popular features is that every member of the legislative assembly represents – and, in theory, is accountable to – a local constituency. To speak with a political representative…

The compelling arguments against electoral reform in B.C.

Former NDP Premiers Glen Clark and Ujjal Dosanjh may be against electoral reform, but retired lawyer Ian MacLeod expresses his opposition best

The compelling arguments against electoral reform in B.C.We’re in the midst of a mail-in referendum in British Columbia that could dramatically change – and not for the better – how democracy does or doesn’t work in the province. We should really suspect that something is wrong with the proposed changes when people from both major political parties are opposed to the initiative,…

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…