National Newswatch

NAFTA and Canada’s strategic patience

Jan 18 2018 — Maryscott (Scotty) Greenwood — A chess game is unfolding in the world’s most prosperous trade relationship, one that appears for the time being to be stopping US President Donald Trump from pulling the trigger on NAFTA. Some of the moves this week include a meeting between US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Canadian counterpart in Vancouver to […]

Jean Chrétien, the good kind of populist

Jan 17 2018 — Bob Plamondon — Populism is getting a rough ride these days. Around the world, angry voices — sometimes intolerant and conspiratorial — are occupying political space and power. The underlying ideology, if there is one, rests on a bed of grievance and mistrust. Donald Trump comes to mind. But he is not alone. The least of the problems […]

Canada Summer Jobs and the Charter problem

Jan 16 2018 — Brian Bird — It is troubling when the state coerces citizens to think as it does on controversial moral issues. This tactic is expected in undemocratic states. It is concerning to witness it in a liberal democracy like Canada. The Trudeau government is using this tactic in a peculiar context: the Canada Summer Jobs program. The program helps […]

The pitfalls of short-circuited project reviews

Jan 10 2018 — — Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball announced in late November a public inquiry into how the economically disastrous Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project was approved. In reality, there is little mystery. The project was strongly supported by the governments of former premiers Danny Williams and Kathy Dunderdale. A very limited economic review was permitted by the […]

The populism risk in English Canada

Jan 8 2018 — — The Quebec government’s Bill 62 — “An Act to foster adherence to State religious neutrality and, in particular, to provide a framework for requests for accommodations on religious grounds in certain bodies” — is a response to a lingering collective concern among Quebecers regarding religious diversity and the integration of immigrants. The law, which came […]

How the oil sands make our GHG targets unachievable

Jan 2 2018 — — At the Paris climate conference in December 2015, Canada reaffirmed its target of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30 percent from the 2005 level by 2030. The Liberal government was roundly criticized by environmental groups and some opposition politicians for not going beyond the “weak” target of the previous Conservative government, but even today […]

The coolest government org you’ve never heard of

Dec 28 2017 — Jennifer Ditchburn — Fart jokes are not quite the same when you hang out with the crowd at Policy Horizons, the federal government’s in-house strategic foresight think tank. It took me a while to figure out the lingo when I stopped by for a visit at its downtown Ottawa offices. (It turns out that “fart” — or rather […]

How governments get stuff done

Dec 26 2017 — Rachel Curran — Last month, at the midpoint of its term in office, the Liberal government launched a website to help chronicle and report progress in keeping the promises it had laid out in various ministerial mandate letters. While the attempt at transparency was admirable, as was the public release of the mandate letters themselves, the tracker showed […]

A role for Indigenous peoples in Canada’s trade talks

Dec 21 2017 — — International trade has long had an impact on the livelihoods of Indigenous peoples in Canada – whether historically through the fur trade or more recently as a result of the current and projected exploitation of natural resources on their territories. They have much at stake in any free trade agreement (FTA) to which Canada is […]

The NWT’s federation within a federation

Dec 20 2017 — — Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod issued a “red alert” in November, calling for a national debate on the NWT’s future. “The promise of the North is fading,” he wrote, “and the dreams of northerners are dying as we see the re-emergence of colonialism.”

Why the provinces need proportional representation

Dec 19 2017 — — In one of his final pieces for Policy Options, the late Canadian political scientist Christopher Dunn wrote that “proportional representation (PR) at the federal level in Canada is doomed.” He was clearly right. But with referendums on the horizon in Prince Edward Island and British Columbia, it looks like proportional representation at the provincial level […]

The false francophone-Indigenous conflict over SCC judges

Dec 18 2017 — — Late in November, Sheilah L. Martin, a bilingual Anglo-Montrealer, who has had a prestigious career in Alberta, was nominated as a Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) justice, filling the vacancy left by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin’s retirement. This appointment has fuelled the debate over the requirement that SCC justices be bilingual and over whether this […]