• Eight hundred years later, Magna Carta is worth celebrating

    The document – about 3,550 words in the original Latin – has had a tumultuous history… by 1300 had been translated into English and was widely known. In the centuries that followed, though, it was mostly ignored… It was only in the mid-17th century that Parliament seized on the charter in its struggle with the despotic Stuarts… The history of the Great Charter is tangled and messy. It began as an assertion of rights by a few hundred noblemen, and has become a world-wide symbol of freedom for all.

  • Alan Borovoy was a fighter for civil liberties to the end

    Borovoy was best-known as the outspoken general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association for 41 years, until his retirement in 2009… He took his inspiration from the progressive movements of the 1930s and 1940s, which made him a civil libertarian and liberal of the old school. In the shadow of the Holocaust, he came to believe that “the best way to protect the Jewish people was to promote greater justice for all people.”

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    Barbara Turnbull set an inspiring example

    … after the 1983 convenience store shooting that left her paralyzed below the neck and confined to a wheelchair. Simply by living as she did, she set an example for people living with disabilities, and for everyone else… She lent her name, her story and her energy to raising money for research into spinal cord injuries. And she campaigned publicly, often in the face of misunderstanding and even hostility, in favour of equal access for all.

  • Inequality and Canadian politics

    Economic inequalities have grown over the last 10 years… Declining marginal tax rates have certainly had some role… but this is not the principal place where government has allowed inequality to increase. Instead, post-transfer inequality has increased principally because government is transferring less to poor citizens. The problem is then not too little government spending or even too little taxing, but the wrong spending.

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    Robert Reich and the fight against inequality

    … the three-decade span between the late 1940s and the late 1970s — was characterized by high rates of taxation on the wealthy; heavy government investment in the people; and the peak level of unionization in America’s private-sector workforce.
    In… Inequality for All , Reich offers a personal narrative of the causes and ills of income inequality. The film is a blueprint of the practical steps by which North America can correct the economically and socially debilitating tilt toward the wealthy.

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    Canadian pay inequality gap getting harder to close

    Canada lacks good, regular data, but the best available evidence… shows that wealth is not only distributed very unequally among individuals and families, but also that wealth inequality has been rising since the 1970s… Over the past decade or so, much of the broad middle class have seen their wealth boosted by rising housing prices, while the value of financial assets held mainly by the very affluent has fluctuated much more… their share is likely to rise even higher if the housing market begins to falter.

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    Thomas Piketty’s body blow to conventional economic wisdom

    He does not begin by enunciating an abstract theory and then testing it. Rather, he collects a mass of information – the megadata of history of many countries from many sources – graphs it, and looks for patterns. In fact, they virtually leap off the page… in a world where economics has become a veritable servant of power, this could be his greatest contribution.

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    Alan Borovoy: a troublemaker who made history

    … as general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association… [At the Barricades] sums up the lessons he has learned, tots up the costs and rewards of speaking out against authority and examines the hurt he caused — and felt — when his principles compelled him to defend widely reviled figures such as neo-Nazi Ernst Zundel and anti-Semite schoolteacher Jim Keegstra in their fights against censorship.

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    America’s Taxation Tradition

    … in the early 20th century, many leading Americans warned about the dangers of extreme wealth concentration, and urged that tax policy be used to limit the growth of great fortunes… America was in danger of turning into a society dominated by hereditary wealth… the New World was at risk of turning into Old Europe… public policy should seek to limit inequality for political as well as economic reasons, that great wealth posed a danger to democracy.

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    Searing stories at residential-school hearings come to a close

    The heart-breaking accounts – almost all videotaped – will now form part of a lasting record of one of the darkest chapters in the country’s history… For many, being able to tell their stories was at once cathartic and a validation… The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, under Justice Murray Sinclair, visited more than 300 communities after it began hearings in Winnipeg in June 2010.