• Voters delivered a moral judgment on Stephen Harper

    In electing Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, the voters were saying they’d had enough of mean-spiritedness in politics… But by this election, that non-Conservative majority was determined to see them gone… faced with a choice between the Liberals and a social democratic party posing as Liberals, voters opted for the real thing… The Liberal leader is hardly a radical. His father, Pierre, wasn’t either… But the Liberal leader is different in style. He is sunnier; he exudes optimism; he seems more open.

  • The rise of a Machiavellian PMO

    Political leaders like Harper have innately understood that power and continued electoral success are dependent on firmly controlling all aspects of a government’s day-to-day life, no matter how trivial or insignificant the issue may be. Based on past precedent, the thinking is that if you permit the media to dictate your agenda, attack or mock any inconsistencies in your policies or focus on a hasty remark made in a weak moment, then the journalistic knives will be out.

  • Our health needs a healthy civil service

    We have a public service that is muzzled, emasculated, derided and decimated. There are about a quarter-million federal public servants in Canada, a considerably lower figure than from a decade ago… mired in red tape and frustrated by cumbersome processes that leave them unable to do their jobs… While it is fashionable to bad-mouth the bureaucracy and sing the praises of free market, public regulation plays an essential role as a ballast to corporate excesses driven by self-interest.

  • Hot!

    ‘Government by photo op’

    Harper tended to put himself in fewer and fewer situations where he had to deal with open-ended questioning by any reporters. One often-used alternative was to engage in question and answer sessions with business types. By 2014, as far as television was concerned, Harper sometimes gave interviews only on the condition that the questions were restricted to one topic, such as the historic importance of D-Day.

  • What does Alberta’s election have to do with socialism?

    If resistance to this renewed barbaric capitalism must be collective… and if collectivity is embodied in nations and nationalism, and if nations must express their aspirations through governments… The end [of a political dynasty] was never particular policies or nationalism, it was always actual people and their needs. It was humanism, really. So if Alberta’s election provides some impetus for people to act together politically to create a nobler future, then maybe it’s somehow socialist, too.

  • Hot!

    How Harper created a more conservative Canada

    Nine years after Stephen Harper was sworn in as prime minister, we are a more conservative land… Absolutely not, you say? Then would you support increasing the GST by two percentage points? Do you want to relax parole eligibility for sex offenders? Would you get behind some big new national program, even if it infuriated Quebec and Alberta? … If a ship filled with refugee claimants appears, should we just let them in? And how do you think your neighbours would answer these questions?

  • Hot!

    Is there a despot in the House?

    … chronicling the Harper government’s bullying, abuse, duplicity, betrayal, affinity for crooks, public shaming of individuals, diminishment of democratic institutions… “Parliament can hardly be weakened any more than it already is. Harper can’t go much further without making the institution dysfunctional. He is trying to control every aspect of House business. In fact, it will have to be returned to its former state by someone if we are to have a democracy.”

  • Hot!

    When you were born affects who you vote for

    Voter choice is a complex process that takes into account many factors ranging from your ideology to your parents’ party affiliation, from your religion to your evaluations of government performance. However… age… can help to explain not only the small stories of politics about how voters’ politics change with their life cycles, but also the big political narratives of how important events and historical context can influence whole generations of electors.

  • Hot!

    How Canada’s creation changed the world

    What was needed was a compromise, and this came in June 1864 when a Canadian coalition government adopted the principle of federalism as a way out, with rep by pop for the central government in Ottawa and provincial rights for a francophone Quebec. Federalism also offered a basis for a grand union of the British North American colonies… Nothing could be more dissimilar than the way in which the Americans and Canadians made their constitutions.

  • Hot!

    Jean Chretien and the paradox of the Liberals

    He was lauded for being part of the Liberal government that, 50 years ago, worked to build and expand the great social programs of the 20th century. These included federally funded welfare, medicare and what is now called employment insurance. Then he was lauded for decimating these same social programs when, as prime minister during the 1990s, he slashed spending in order to eliminate the federal deficit… As current party leader Justin Trudeau joked — quoting Chrétien — Liberals keep their wallets in their right-hand pockets and their hearts on the left.