What was initially expected to be a diverse and dynamic race for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada is proving anything but. The number of interested candidates seems to be shrinking by the day.
As I’ve discussed previously, structural barriers play a significant role in keeping the Conservative bench so spare. The de facto rule that any person seeking the leadership of a Canadian political party — and thus the prime ministership — must be fluent in English and French is proving a particularly visible glass ceiling this time around. Some rare but useful public pushback on the role of bilingualism in Canadian politics has been the result.… Seguir leyendo »
Canada’s long-awaited report on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) was released last week. Its central finding, that Canada is engaged in a “deliberate race, identity and gender-based genocide,” has received cool reception from press and politician alike.
Reporters were initially quick to credulously repeat the study’s accusation, but more skeptical coverage now dominates, and editorial pages are filled with dissent. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau initially sought to avoid stating whether he believed the genocide charge was true, only to finally concede, with lawyerly carefulness, that “we accept their findings, including that what happened amounts to genocide” — though the report was speaking in the present tense.… Seguir leyendo »
According to Canada’s most recent census, only 17.9 percent of Canadians claim to speak both French and English, which means 82.1 percent of Canadians are ineligible to occupy the multitude of government positions reserved by law or custom for those fluent in Canada’s “two official languages.” This includes not only flashy jobs such as prime minister or Supreme Court justice, but 43 percent of all positions in the Canadian federal bureaucracy, according to a 2017 report by the Clerk of the Privy Council.
Ottawa is aware that this imbalance is not warmly received by all. As the Clerk’s report delicately noted, “for some public servants, mostly employees who did not learn French prior to entering the labor market, they expressed concern that this makes it difficult to acquire the language skills needed to advance in their careers, and could limit access to bilingual positions to individuals who entered the Public Service bilingual.”… Seguir leyendo »
Canada’s politicians seem determined to give their country more democracy — whether the people want it or not.
Getting rid of so-called first-past-the-post-style (FPTP) elections, in which parliamentarians are elected based on whoever gets the most votes, even if that’s not an absolute majority, has been one of the great failed crusades of modern Canadian politics. Since 2005, there have been at least four province-level referendums on adopting a European-style “proportional representation” electoral system, as well as numerous recommendations from advisory councils and a definitive campaign promise from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Yet despite it all, no change has occurred — the referendums were voted down, the committees ignored, Trudeau’s promise brazenly broken.… Seguir leyendo »
During the lead-up to the 2003 Iraq War, back when invading that country was a more popular idea among Canadians than many care to remember, I recall observing an encounter at the bus stop near my house between a group of middle-aged white folks, perhaps three or four of them, and a hijab-wearing Muslim woman. I didn’t see how it began, but everyone was arguing about the war, with the Muslim woman against and everyone else for. No one was making particularly good points, but it was nevertheless obvious, through the white folks’ sneering, dismissive tone, that they regarded the logic of the Muslim woman with far more suspicion than was warranted simply because of who she was.… Seguir leyendo »
Looking for a fresh Trump-basher to fill your Twitter feed? Why not try the former prime minister of Canada?
Kim Campbell ran Canada only briefly (specifically, four months in 1993) and has retained some credibility as a senior stateswoman despite it. Last summer, the current prime minister, Justin Trudeau, tapped her to oversee his Supreme Court appointment process, for instance.
Yet Campbell’s most active interest in politics has little to do with the country she once ruled. Browse Campbell’s Twitter timeline and you’ll find posts almost exclusively about the doings of the Trump administration, shared with all the incredulous horror of Rosie O’Donnell or Michael Moore.… Seguir leyendo »
The great challenge of Canadian journalism in the age of Trump is resisting the temptation to cram all bilateral news into a flattering narrative that contrasts crazed, bigoted America with righteous, inclusive Canada.
Canadian papers have been brimming lately with sensationalistic stories of U.S. Muslim refugees “pouring” into Canada to escape President Trump and his “Muslim ban,” risking life and limb to cross unmanned portions of the border in weather icy enough to literally freeze off fingers. Things reached a social media peak when a maudlin photo of a jolly Mountie escorting a young family over the snowy 49th parallel went viral.… Seguir leyendo »
As Canadian politicians and journalists scramble for tidy, ideologically pleasing narratives in the wake of this week’s senseless slaughter at a Quebec City mosque, one disturbing fact has gone conspicuously unmentioned: A disproportionate share of the country’s massacres occur in the province of Quebec.
I was born in 1984. Since then, Quebec has experienced at least six high-profile episodes of attempted public mass murder.
On the morning of May 8, 1984, Denis Lortie walked into the Quebec provincial legislature carrying multiple weapons and opened fire, shooting 16 people, three fatally. Only his ignorance of the parliamentary timetable (few politicians were sitting at that hour) and the heroism of René Marc Jalbert, the sergeant-at-arms, prevented greater slaughter.… Seguir leyendo »
As populist conservatives the world over draw inspiration from the rise of Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders and others, Canada’s fresh-faced prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is offered as a progressive counterweight.
At a state visit to Ottawa last month, Vice President Biden called out Trudeau (and Germany’s Angela Merkel) as lonely defenders of the “liberal international order” on a planet increasingly hostile to it. Glowing tributes to Canada as an island of liberal sanity in a world gone mad, which have appeared everywhere from the Guardian to the Economist, invariably cast Trudeau in a starring role.
It’s an awkward fit, given Trudeau has never had much allegiance to anything resembling a coherent, transnational philosophy.… Seguir leyendo »
Canadians are privileged to live in a world where their overseas stereotypes are mostly flattering. A video went viral the other day showing shoppers calmly walking into a Halifax, Nova Scotia, Best Buy. “The most Canadian Black Friday ever,” they called it. Canadians eat this sort of thing up. It’s particularly delightful to the disproportionately center-left personalities who dominate the country’s media, political and academic establishments as it helps validate their rule.
Yet an endless cycle of foreign compliments and ballooning self-regard has also prevented Canada’s elite from offering an honest answer to a pressing question: Is Canada poised to experience a nationalist-populist movement of the sort sweeping the rest of the democratic world?… Seguir leyendo »