People Need to Feel Heard

People Need to Be Heard IMG

I’ve heard a lot of different predictions about what will happen in this year’s St. Albert election. One person suggested to me that either the people who support the ‘status quo’ of spending on City projects or the people who support cutting back on different kinds of spending, will win a majority on Council. Another person predicted that all the incumbent members of Council would be removed. Meanwhile, social movements like Idle No More and Black Lives Matter speak on behalf of people of colour who feel as though the rest of society doesn’t listen to them or care about their concerns. Politicians like Rob Ford and Kellie Leitch portray themselves as getting a lot of their support from ‘ordinary’ citizens who

The Question of Canadian Values

Canada Map Canadian Values

During the federal Conservative leadership race, Kellie Leitch has gotten more attention than most candidates, due in large part to her proposal to screen new immigrants for “Canadian values”. The proposal has gotten Leitch a lot of support, but it’s also gotten her a lot of criticism from people who say that the proposal is racist. White ethnic nationalists have even latched onto Leitch’s campaign, in much the same way as their American counterparts have to President Donald Trump. Since then, Leitch has denied that her campaign is based on ethnic nationalism. Instead, she says, it is based on civic values. Her campaign website indicates that the “Canadian values” she promotes include gender equality, freedom of religion, freedom and tolerance. The

There is No Single Elite


The election of Donald Trump as the next US President is said to be a backlash by Americans, many of whom live in the “flyover country” of the central states, against an elite that lives in the coastal states. This elite, who supported Hillary Clinton, supposedly sees Americans in flyover country as stupid and bigoted and doesn’t care about their problems. Voting for Trump was flyover country’s retaliation against the elite. In Canada, political voices like Kellie Leitch and Ezra Levant have also portrayed themselves as striking back against an elite, often based in places like Toronto and Vancouver, that supposedly looks down on Canadians who live in other communities the same way the American elite does to flyover country. On the

Trump & Ford: An Appeal to the Disenfranchised

Ford Trump Compilation

Donald Trump’s candidacy for the US presidency has attracted a lot of scorn for many of Trump’s supporters. Kevin Williamson and David French wrote contemptuously in the National Review about how the working-class Americans supporting Trump had no one to blame but themselves for their problems. They failed themselves, and they should have known better. A similar contempt emerged in some circles towards ‘Ford Nation’, the supporters of Toronto’s former Mayor, the late Rob Ford. Michael Bolen shared Williamson’s and French’s contempt when he wrote in the Huffington Post about the supposed bigotry and disdain for the intelligence of Ford’s supporters. Apparently, it’s never occurred to Bolen or anyone else that this kind of contempt is what’s driven so many people to support

Two Sides to the Anti-Terror Coin

The wave of attacks that have occurred this summer have made the debate over how to respond to terrorism more heated than ever, with calls for Canada and its allies to step up the fight against ISIS and other organizations. Other voices decry what they see as the tarring of all Muslims and people of Arab and Middle Eastern background as potential terrorists, arguing that it amounts to racism and judging people guilty until proven innocent. Many of the people calling for Canada to step up the fight against terror organizations are often conservatives. However, I haven’t seen nearly as much commentary from progressives on how to actually respond to the ghoulish actions of ISIS, or related groups like Boko Haram

Plenty to Criticize, Plenty to Celebrate

Every year in July, we celebrate Canada Day. For most people, Canada Day is a day to take pride in, to celebrate who we are as a country. However, more recently there have been harsh criticisms levied against past figures in Canadian history, particularly Prime Ministers like John A. Macdonald and Wilfrid Laurier. Critics have pointed out the way past historians often ignored or downplayed the negative aspects of their legacies, such as the “head tax” on Chinese immigrants, the discrimination against Indigenous peoples, or the racist immigration hierarchy that favoured people from Western and Northern Europe over people from other parts of Europe or the world. These critics have a point — men like Macdonald and Laurier, and the

Non-Native Actions Have an Impact Too


Indigenous issues have been all over the news, from the Attawapiskat crisis to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. There’s also the familiar calls for Indigenous people to “just get over it”, abandon their reserves and move to the cities. This is just the latest example of a trend that repeats itself in Canadian history, of Indigenous Canadians expected to be the only ones to take any responsibility for change, and accept all the responsibility for the problems that have come up. Apparently, it’s never the fault of the government or non-Native Canadians. One of the most notable examples was in the Northwest Resistance of 1885. Leaders like Louis Riel, Big Bear, and Poundmaker were tried and convicted for all the violence that

What is the Right Amount of Tax?


Tax time has come and gone again in Canada, which can remind us of politicians’ comments on taxes. Many politicians, especially conservative ones, have talked about tax relief, offering all kinds of tax cuts and rebates for everything from fitness to children’s art programs. Oftentimes, they also guarantee that these tax cuts can be paid for without reducing frontline services or major programs. If anything, they also talk about other kinds of spending, whether taking the fight to ISIS in the Middle East, getting tougher on crime, and upgrading the military’s equipment. In all the talk about taxes, though, nobody seems to ever want to discuss what an acceptable minimum for taxes might be. If conservative politicians think that taxes are

Different Personas for Different Politicians


With the passing of Rob Ford in March 2016, many people commented on the powerful support he got from many Torontonians, which he dubbed “Ford Nation.” Over the seven months since Justin Trudeau was elected Prime Minister, people have also commented on the strong support he continues to get from many Canadians, even with the challenges his government has faced. The support that Ford and Trudeau received makes for a very interesting comparison. Both men have enjoyed devoted support from many voters, but for different reasons. Justin Trudeau, much like his father Pierre was during Trudeaumania, is admired by many people for his youth (by political standards), wealth and glamour, including his photogenic wife and loving family. Pierre was also known

Hopeful Signs for Pipelines


At first glance, pipelines to get Alberta’s oil to market seem as stalled as ever. Many people across Canada don’t seem to think the advantages of pipelines are worth the environmental risks they’re worried about. As I’ve pointed out before, Stephen Harper deserves a lot of the blame for opposition to pipelines becoming as strong as it has. Many of his actions created the perception that he didn’t care about peoples’ concerns about pipelines, and that he would force the pipelines on people whether they wanted them or not. That only gave critics more ammunition, and didn’t exactly make people in other provinces more likely to support pipeline construction. There are signs, however, that things are starting to change. Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre