National Newswatch

Recovering from COVID with a green transition

Aug 7 2020 — Rick Smith — Trying to find a silver lining in the current COVID crisis is not easy, but there is a growing realization around the world that the place to look is in the transition to a greener economy. The European Union is well out in front on this issue, recently unveiling a 1 trillion euro ($1.57 trillion […]

Freeing Canada from the Trump millstone

Jul 28 2020 — Rick Smith — The impact of Donald Trump on Canada has been, it’s fair to say, negative. Much of this has been overt: A few examples include a botched pandemic response that is lengthening an economically damaging border closure, never-ending trade retaliations against Canadian industry, and a dismantling of the United States’ refugee policy such that it now […]

The rise of America’s NDP

Jul 7 2020 — Rick Smith — In this Trump-saturated time, one of the most underreported U.S. stories is that of the growing influence of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, an accelerating trend that is fundamentally re-shaping politics south of the border. Though Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez get a lot of attention, their relatively recent success is part of […]

COVID-19 results in historic rollbacks of Canadian environmental protections

Jun 17 2020 — Rick Smith — Though it’s difficult to measure these things, we may well be witnessing the most widespread rollbacks of environmental protections in Canadian history. If you don’t recall reading anything about this, that’s no accident. While provincial governments scrambled to respond to the COVID 19 crisis, many have also kept busy quietly stripping away vital environmental laws […]

The environmental lessons of COVID-19

Apr 8 2020 — Rick Smith — Given the bleakness of the news these days, it’s understandable that some people have been searching for a silver lining in the current COVID outbreak.  From clearer waters in Venetian canals and coyotes roaming empty city streets, to better air quality in Italy and China and record low global GHG emissions, there have been a […]

Reasons for hope in 2020

Jan 1 2020 — Rick Smith — From a progressive point of view, the last days of the year were…less than ideal.  Between Conservative re-election and Brexit in the UK, climate change-linked fires in Australia and a failure of global leadership at the Madrid climate change conference, Jason Kenney and his minions on a rampage and Trump and more Trump, I’m not […]

The solution to Conservative vandalism

Nov 6 2019 — Rick Smith — At a certain point, progressives really need to come to terms with the core truth of modern conservatism:  they just aren’t that conservative anymore. Far from being “cautious of change”, as my on-line dictionary defines them, today’s conservatives revel in their role as disruptors. Wherever you look around the world — from Brexit to border […]

Defending democracy: the new political battleground

Aug 30 2018 — Rick Smith — There was a time when all participants in the political process – whether from the left or right – disagreed about the best approach to issues, but did so with a respect for their opponents and our democratic process. This is not one of those times. While most Canadians were focused on their barbeques and […]

The aimlessness of federal environmental leadership

Jun 5 2018 — Rick Smith — Federal environmental policy under the Liberal Party often reminds me of Sunday drives with my grandparents as a child. The conversation is pleasant enough.  But it proceeds at a snail’s pace.  Never arrives at a particular destination.  And any criticism of the driver is met with a wounded expression. On World Environment Day, it’s appropriate […]

Gig Economy Demands Social Policy Re-think

Dec 1 2017 — Rick Smith — The November 30 release of labour data from the 2015 Census confirmed that jobs have become much more unstable and precarious as many workers find it very hard to find stable, full-time employment. Less than one half of even so-called core age Canadians age 25 to 54 (49.8%) now work full time, on a full […]

Trudeau’s Electoral Reform Mess: An International View

Feb 21 2017 — Rick Smith — I had to watch Prime Minister Trudeau’s epic electoral reform meltdown from a distance over the past couple of weeks given my attendance at an international meeting of progressive policy leaders in South Africa.  Being surrounded by politically attuned people from countries that have long used a proportional representation (PR) voting system provided some useful […]

Why a proportional voting system will bring us better governance

Dec 21 2016 — Rick Smith — As we inch closer to the Liberal government’s spring deadline to table legislation to scrap our majoritarian first-past-the-post voting system, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that defenders of our “archatic” system, as Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef describes it, are coming out of the woodwork. The clarity about the option now before us -- keeping our majoritarian system or moving to a proportional voting one -- must by very worrying to some. That’s because proportional representation is about taking power away from the elites and putting it in the hands of regular people.