National Newswatch

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.

Turning the carbon corner

Oct 8 2016 — Rick Smith — Well, that was quite something.  Even those most dedicated cynics have to admit that an unexpectedly large amount of progress was made on the climate change issue in the past few days. What’s that?  Yes.  Yes, it is.  The first inkling of some light at the end of the carbon tunnel. Here are 5 takeaways […]

Alberta continues to lead the way on climate

May 29 2016 — Rick Smith — “Notley NDP makes pigs fly” That’s how one media commentator reacted to the broad and unlikely assortment of corporate CEOs, union leaders, doctors, small and big city mayors, and environmentalists who stood with Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips as she unveiled the province’s signature climate legislation last week. We’ve long heard how important Alberta’s economic […]

Canada’s charity chill continues

Mar 20 2016 — Rick Smith — Our prime minister’s “sunny ways” have failed to reach one of the darkest corners left behind by the previous government’s obsession with striking out at its enemies (real and perceived) — Ottawa’s war on charities. Instead of making good on its campaign promise to “allow charities to do their work on behalf of Canadians free […]

Rachel Notley leads the way on climate

Nov 24 2015 — Rick Smith — The renowned Canadian-born economist John Kenneth Galbraith once said that “all of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.”

Making molehills out of mountains

Sep 23 2015 — Rick Smith — Pity the poor pundits this ridiculously long election season. The election-industrial complex has never revved this hot for so long, and some of its practitioners are starting to show the strain from feeding the 24-hour news beast. As time wears on two conflicting and equally erroneous themes are front and centre, each making their own […]