Where the rule of law weakens, freedom wanes

Freedom and democracy are not stand-alone structures. For stability, they require institutional infrastructure, in particular, the rule of law and tolerance

Where the rule of law weakens, freedom wanesFor the first time in decades, basic human freedom is under attack globally. Journalists and opposition leaders are killed in Russia. China’s Communist Party stifles dissent on the mainland while threatening the rule of law in Hong Kong. Tens of thousands are arrested in Turkey on dubious grounds after a failed coup. Venezuela descends into…

Using student job funding to silence critics

The Liberals’ latest decision means summer employment is now a testing ground for ideological adhesion, obedience and purity

Using student job funding to silence criticsIt’s tough work to imagine two groups more radically different than the Canadian Council of Christian Charities and the gays rights network LGBTory. So when both join the rising chorus opposing changes to what should be among Ottawa’s most innocuous programs, it’s a signal something significant is going on. The Four Cs, as the council…

Free speech: Be open to debate or become irrelevant

The danger arises when we become too attached to ideas and are no longer open to healthy discourse

Free speech: Be open to debate or become irrelevantHanna Holborn Gray, former president of the University of Chicago, said, “Universities should be expected to provide the conditions within which hard thought, and therefore strong disagreement, independent judgment, and the questioning of stubborn assumptions, can flourish in an environment of the greatest freedom.” So it’s quite ironic that issues of free speech have taken…

Stop treating universities like they’re retail outlets

Universities should bring young people into the disciplines and rigours of an examined life, into the habits of careful thinking

Stop treating universities like they’re retail outletsWhile at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), I got to know a history teacher who was a passionate and self-proclaimed Marxist. She loved to talk about the inequality and injustices that plagued the city, the province, the country and, well, the cosmos. I asked her one morning if she wouldn’t mind splitting…

When speech isn’t free, society pays a high price

A recent incident at the University provides a glimpse of what the future may hold for Canadian post-secondary education – and it ain’t pretty

When speech isn’t free, society pays a high priceAt one time, universities respected free speech and the exchange of different ideas. Intellectual discourse and thought-provoking debates were viewed as healthy, vibrant and treasured. Unfortunately, speech isn’t nearly as free on today’s university campuses. Intolerance of opposing philosophies, and hurt feelings among the hordes of special interest groups, have come to define modern institutions…

Protect the integrity of the Internet, protect free thought

The disruption initiated by the web was always going to result in some chaos. But now the barbarians may be the gatekeepers

Protect the integrity of the Internet, protect free thoughtMany of my generation wring their hands, dab the sweat off their upper lips and otherwise fuss – in the manner older generations do – about millennials. They live at home until 30, ooze entitlement, have the attention span of a housefly and, because their parents’ generation mortgaged their future, are more focused on fun…

Why Payette was right – and dead wrong

At the core of both science and religion is the human desire to understand that which eludes us, and to make sense of life

Why Payette was right – and dead wrongCanadian Gov. Gen. Julie Payette recently pitted science and religion against each other when she implied that science is rational and religion irrational. While many share this view, I find it narrow and simplistic. Both science and religion shed meaning on human experience, and both play a role in shaping the world. Both are tools…

Julie Payette crossed the line

Payette’s disrespectful comments tarnish her position as Queen Elizabeth II’s federal viceregal representative

Julie Payette crossed the lineIt only took one speech for new Canadian Gov. Gen. Julie Payette to confirm why some columnists and pundits (including me) were lukewarm about her nomination in the first place. “Oh, but she’s an astronaut and a scientist,” crowed her enthusiastic support base during the dog days of summer. “She’ll bring a fresh new outlook…

The Halloween costume conundrum

With a whole industry made up of people ready to points fingers, it is getting harder and harder to pick one

The Halloween costume conundrumHalloween is fast approaching and it’s time for parents to ask themselves an important question: How offensive do I want my child’s costume to be? As children prepare to take to the streets to beg for obesity-producing and tooth-decaying treats, they should also be prepared to be judged on their political correctness. There’s a whole…

Denying DeVos a welcome simply punishes American children

Petty Ontario politicians were outraged that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos planned a visit to Ontario to meet with educators

Denying DeVos a welcome simply punishes American childrenPolitics shouldn't interfere with efforts to improve the education of countless children. But don't try to explain that to a large group of politicians and educators in Ontario. The Program for International  Student Assessment (PISA) gathers data highlighting worldwide test scores of 15-year-old students in math, science and reading. It's a useful tool in assessing…