The Toronto skyline is silhouetted in 2015. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

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.”

“Employees who did not learn French prior to entering the labor market” euphemistically alludes to the fact that bilingualism requirements do not discriminate equally but are heavily biased to the benefit of native French speakers in Quebec.…  Seguir leyendo »

Canada’s Grand Cannabis Experiment

When Canada fully legalized recreational cannabis on Oct. 17, the internet giddily reimagined the CN Tower in Toronto peeking out from a thick haze and swapped the flag’s red maple leaf for its jagged-edged green cousin. Outsiders might titter about an entire populace turning into potheads, but legalization means some of the country’s brightest can now turn their minds to pot.

As the first G-7 nation to slacken cannabis laws, Canada has bolted to the front lines of the plant’s methodical scrutiny and investigation. No longer at risk of censure or lacking access to specimens, researchers can transcend the narrow parameters of scientific study once considered acceptable, namely, clinical research, to explore social, biological, genetic and agricultural questions.…  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 »

Mi año como embajadora de Trump en México

El presidente estadounidense, Donald Trump, declaró triunfante que su remplazo del Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte es una mejora importante respecto al original. Tengo mis dudas, al igual que muchos expertos, incluidos algunos republicanos. Sin embargo, hasta los escépticos se sienten aliviados de que siga intacta la esencia del pacto, de veinticinco años de antigüedad.

Detrás de la campaña de Trump para desmantelar el TLCAN no solo está su obsesión con un solo tratado comercial; también deja entrever un estilo caótico de toma de decisiones que ha socavado la diplomacia estadounidense y los intereses de ese país en todo el mundo.…  Seguir leyendo »

Back in July, it would have been impossible to predict that the talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would end as they did, first with a deal with Mexico on Aug. 27 and then with Canada on Sept. 30. Practically up until those dates, the United States had made outlandish demands, and while we will probably never know what motivated it to move away from its most recalcitrant positions, the important fact is that it did. Mexico and Canada did not cave to the U.S. government’s pretensions and preserved most of the important features of the old deal while the United States backed down.…  Seguir leyendo »

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.CreditYves Herman/Rueters

Last week, the Saudi government expelled the Canadian ambassador from Riyadh, and canceled flights, educational exchanges, and trade and investment activities between the two countries.

This crisis was precipitated by a tweet — published both in English and, crucially, in Arabic — on Aug. 3 from the Canadian foreign ministry saying it was “gravely concerned” about the arrest of women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia and urging the Saudi government to “immediately release them.”

To many observers, especially in the West, this incident is proof that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is not the reformer he claims to be, but rather an impulsive authoritarian.…  Seguir leyendo »

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, center, paying his respects on Monday in Toronto where two people were killed and at least 13 injured in a shooting last month.CreditNathan Denette/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

Last summer I taught a course at the University of Toronto called “American Tragedy: Guns and Mass Shootings in U.S. History.” One memorable day, my 20 mostly Canadian students reflected on the frequency of mass shootings in America and how these calamities don’t receive much public interest unless the gunman claims several lives. One student remarked: “Reading about this stuff makes me so sad. It also makes me happy to live in Canada, where we don’t have to worry about this kind of thing.”

As an expatriate from California, I have felt this same sense of gratitude many times. Watching news reels and Twitter feeds about the next mass shooting back home, I would reflect that Toronto seemed immune to the kind of gun violence that I had witnessed and written about in Los Angeles and Philadelphia.…  Seguir leyendo »

A group gathered to celebrate National Marijuana Day in Ottawa in 2016. (Chris Roussakis/AFP/Getty Images)

Following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent rebuke of President Trump over a trade dispute, Canada has once again become the poster child for decency — a pastoral, brave, beautiful and welcoming land just close enough that if you reach out and hope, you might just grasp it.

Writing in the New Yorker, Adam Gopnik produced a hagiography enumerating the charms of the Great White North: polite but willing to stand up to bullies, trusting and brimming with social capital, the quiet guy at the bar minding his own business who you just know has your back if things get dodgy.

As flattering as the depiction is, the pet unicorn takes don’t resonate with everyone who lives there because they’re simply not accurate.…  Seguir leyendo »

Alors que l’actualité récente montre l’installation durable des partis dits « populistes » dans le paysage politique en Europe et aux Etats-Unis, un pays semble résolument aller à contre-courant de cette tendance : le Canada.

A l’image du premier ministre Justin Trudeau élu en 2015, le pays cultive une image de tolérance et d’ouverture, notamment vis-à-vis de l’immigration, ce qui contraste avec les tensions observables dans les autres démocraties occidentales. Il est vrai que, proportionnellement à la taille de sa population, le Canada est l’un des pays du monde qui accueille le plus d’immigrés : 296 000 résidents permanents ont ainsi été acceptés en 2016, soit environ 1 % de la population du pays.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Trump with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada at the Group of 7 meeting last Friday.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

The worst thing you could say about previous American presidents and their sleepy approach to Canada was that they took their polite northern neighbors for granted.

But as President Trump jetted away from the wreckage of the Group of 7 summit meeting in Quebec this weekend, he plunged American-Canadian relations into a dive so steep it provoked nosebleeds on both sides of the border.

He called the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, dishonest and weak. His advisers accused the Canadians of stabbing Mr. Trump in the back as he winged his way to a meeting with his new best friend, Kim Jong-un of North Korea.…  Seguir leyendo »

Steel pipe to be used for the oil pipeline construction of Kinder Morgan Canada’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project sitting on rail cars in Kamloops, British Columbia.CreditDennis Owen/Reuters

While living in Calgary, the headquarters of Canada’s oil and gas industry, I occasionally heard people in the business say their pipelines were cursed. The country was brimming with oil and gas, and yet battles over proposed pipelines had limited the ability of producers to get those resources to market.

The story of the latest controversy, an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, took a significant turn on Tuesday when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government announced it would nationalize it. The government’s purchase of Trans Mountain from the Houston-based energy infrastructure company Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion in Canadian dollars underscores just how difficult it has become to build fossil fuel projects, at least in wealthy, democratic countries, long thought to pose fewer political and social risks than developing countries.…  Seguir leyendo »

A caricature of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada at a protest against Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion near Vancouver, Canada, in March. The company is threatening to quit the project under sustained pressure by environmentalists.CreditDarryl Dyck/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

At the Paris climate summit meeting in December 2015, Canada’s freshly elected prime minister, Justin Trudeau, took the podium before his new international fan club and declared, “Canada is back, my friends!”

The young, charismatic Mr. Trudeau promised “sunny ways.” He was ideally positioned to shift the country to a greener future, away from its reliance on resource industries and toward improved relations with Indigenous peoples whose territories are imperiled by energy projects. Yet more than halfway through his mandate, he has adopted the backward energy and economic policies of his predecessor Stephen Harper, an ardent fossil-fuel promoter. Mr. Trudeau has revealed himself to be not a climate crusader, but a pipeline pitchman who tells the world one thing while doing the opposite at home.…  Seguir leyendo »

En la lucha contra el cambio climático, el dióxido de carbono atrae la mayor parte de la atención de los reguladores. Pero, si bien el CO2, con su larga vida, es un factor clave para el aumento de las temperaturas, no es el único culpable. Otros súper contaminantes de corta vida también calientan el planeta, y ninguno tiene una mayor necesidad de ser reglamentado que el metano.

Según el Grupo Intergubernamental de Expertos sobre el Cambio Climático (IPCC), el metano es 86 veces más potente que el CO2 en su calidad de gas que atrapa el calor a lo largo de un período de 20 años, y es responsable de aproximadamente una quinta parte del calentamiento causado por los humanos.…  Seguir leyendo »

After Justin Trudeau was elected prime minister in 2015, Canada found itself praised for being an island of progressivism in a world increasingly plagued by ugly nationalisms. The millennial-friendly leader, who filled his cabinet with people of color and women, and knew his way around a yoga mat, seemed to be the West’s most conspicuous practitioner of woke politics.

“The North Star,” gushed Rolling Stone, whose editors put him on its cover.

It’s easy to forget that the last Canadian politician before Trudeau to garner global celebrity was Toronto’s brawling, crack-smoking mayor Rob Ford, who became the butt of late-night talk show jokes and yet revealed a heavyweight boxer’s capacity to remain standing in the face of one scandalous body blow after another.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jordan Peterson, the University of Toronto psychologist, at his home in Toronto.CreditCole Burston for The New York Times

There is a certain image that Canada projects to the world, one that is particularly compelling to Americans. It’s the image of Canada as a tolerant, progressive, kind and humanitarian nation, populated by mild-mannered and polite people. The idea of Canada the Good — a Scandinavian-style socialist democracy, with the added bonus of multicultural harmony — is an attractive one, helpful in providing Canadians with some kind of national identity, and left-leaning Americans with a handy rhetorical device for political arguments: Look at what’s possible, right next door!

But it’s worth remembering that this image of Canada, currently personified by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is a relatively recent construction, largely put forth by Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

Senator Bernie Sanders and Premier Kathleen Wynne of Ontario at Toronto General Hospital as part of a cross-border tour of the Canadian health care system in October 2017. Credit Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

Too many Canadians and Americans are negatively fixated on each other’s health systems — and the distortions that accompany so many conversations about health reform make it harder to improve care on both sides of the border.

Canadians staunchly support our universal health care system, according to polls over many years. We live longer, healthier lives than Americans, and our survival rates for cancer and other diseases are comparable. The father of universal health coverage in Canada, Tommy Douglas, is considered a national hero.

Like much of Europe, Canada considers access to health care a right on par with the right to food and shelter.…  Seguir leyendo »

Doug Ford, the brother of the deceased former mayor of Toronto Rob Ford, has a strong chance of becoming premier of Ontario. His rise to leader of the right-leaning Progressive Conservative Party represents a global crisis from which there seems to be no escape. Credit Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star, via Getty Images

Tell me if you’ve heard this before: The spoiled son of a sprawling business dynasty positions himself as an anti-elite populist. During a pivotal campaign, he brushes off a history of crude remarks as political incorrectness to the delight of his base. Then, running against the establishment of his own party and an evidently more qualified female candidate, he loses the popular vote but manages, by way of an arcane voting system, to take power.

No, I’m not rehashing the victory of President Trump. I’m describing the rise of Canadian politician Doug Ford, who this month was elected leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, the right-of-center opposition in the country’s most populous province.…  Seguir leyendo »

A once unimaginable scenario No more newspapers

Newspapers have been dying in slow motion for two decades now. In Canada, this talk has transcended the hypothetical; the government commissioned a report that speculates on what Canada’s democracy might look like in a post-newspaper world. In Britain, too, Prime Minister Theresa May has warned that the closure of newspaper after newspaper is a “danger to democracy;” Britain has nearly 200 fewer regional and local newspapers now than in 2005. The picture is similar in the U.S. A once unimaginable scenario has lately become grimly conceivable.

In the U.S., weekday print circulation has shrunk from a high of nearly 60 million in 1994 to 35 million for combined print and digital circulation today — 24 years of decline.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Trump has said he likes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada “very much.” The leaders met for a meeting about Nafta at the White House in October 2017. Credit Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

When Justin Trudeau first met Donald Trump face-to-face last February, the contrast between the Canadian prime minister and the American president couldn’t have been any sharper. Mr. Trudeau, worldly and dapper, can barely open his mouth without extolling Canada’s cheery multiculturalism or its open-border globalism. Mr. Trump lurches from thinly concealed xenophobia to America-first protectionism by way of insults and tirades.

Yet Mr. Trudeau survived their meeting and has remained in Mr. Trump’s good graces ever since. “I like the prime minister very much,” Mr. Trump told a gathering of his supporters last December. “Nice guy. Good guy.”

Mr. Trudeau’s smooth relationship with Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

A memorial near the site of a fatal shooting at a Quebec City mosque in January 2017. (Mathieu Belanger/Reuters)

To those who don’t reside here, Canada can seem like somewhat of an enigma. In a world where intolerance and hate seem to be spreading and are endorsed by those in power, Canada has served as the Western world’s city upon a hill. Seemingly immune to the forces of right-wing populism, the country boasts about its welcoming of Syrian refugees, and is led by a handsome prime minister, Justin Trudeau, who has openly called himself a feminist. When Donald Trump was elected, Americans flocked to Canada’s immigration website, causing it to crash within a few hours. Lately however, some Canadians have called into question the country’s image of tranquility; raising the alarm about the rising danger of Islamophobia.…  Seguir leyendo »