The election of our discontent

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Jun. 07, 2011
… the survey found public confidence to be decreasing in governments’ ability to improve economic productivity, reform health care, deal with climate change and handle moral issues… these findings suggest it’s Canadians’ conception of the most appropriate role for government that’s changing – with more citizens now seeing government as an enabler, facilitator and security backstop rather than as a prime mover, “vision” achiever or provider of grand solutions to big problems.

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The hiss factor and the art of taxation

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Mar. 21, 2011
… what do finance ministers whose top priority is to stimulate economic growth but who need to get sufficient political support to implement their budget program do? They offer a tax-reduction package that combines the top items from Table A (cuts to capital and/or corporate income taxes) with the top items from Table B (cuts to sales taxes and/or income taxes on low- and middle-income earners). In other words, they try to secure the political capital required to implement stimulative tax cuts by also cutting those taxes with the highest hiss factor.

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One-on-one leaders debates would strengthen democratic discourse

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

March 3, 2011
The 2008 debate was also a chaotic fiasco – not so much the fault of the participants as that of the format… one-on-one debates will be more productive and satisfying from the standpoint of the public, the media and the participants themselves. The best brains among the networks, the communications industry and the parties should be applying themselves to this challenge – the sooner the better if the objective is to raise the quality of democratic discourse in Canada’s next federal election.

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The rise of the grassroots movements

Friday, February 25th, 2011

February 24, 2011
… movements… can mobilize public opinion and support in such a way as to raise specific issues higher on the public agenda – high enough that parties are obliged to respond… modern parties… have become primarily marketing mechanisms for fighting elections. They do very little development of their own intellectual capital; they’re dependent on others to do so – think tanks, academics, interest groups and the civil service, if they’re a governing party… despite the fact that “people” are really their only major asset besides money.

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2018: The new health care

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Dec. 30, 2010
It is December, 2018, and at long last Canadian health care has been reformed. Long waiting lines are a thing of the past. Universal coverage has been maintained and expanded. The numbers of doctors and treatment facilities available to serve Canadians has been significantly increased. Health care for the vast majority of Canadians has dramatically improved and at lower cost per capita. How did it happen? Let me list the major factors.

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Stop polarizing our discourse

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

October 21, 2010
Canadians are generally a moderate and tolerant people – thus the quickest way to publicly discredit a political opponent in debating an important issue is to characterize that opponent’s position as “extreme.”… No wonder Canadian voters – observing such phony debates time and time again – throw up their hands in disgust and conclude that it’s impossible to have an intelligent discussion on real health-care reform options in the political arena.

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The answer to our unruly Question Period?

Friday, May 21st, 2010

May 21, 2010
… a Question Period characterized by negative, antagonistic, exaggerated and emotional exchanges is much more newsworthy than one characterized by positive, co-operative, moderate and rational exchanges. Parliamentary and legislative committees addressing Question Period reform should therefore tackle this obstacle head-on… There must be some way of making Question Period more civil, productive and newsworthy, and the sooner we find it, the better it will be for Canadian democracy.

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