The Canadian press has been offering no shortage of year-in-review columns as of late. What's my pick for top story of 2013, you ask? I don't know if I have a headline per se, but I do have a theme: the decline of Brand Canada. If there's one thing Justin Trudeau, Rob Ford, and the Senate scandal have in common, after all, it's that they all prove, in different ways, that Canada is not nearly as serious, respectable, and mature of a country as we often like to believe.
Imagine that I took all the e-mails and messages that I have ever written, as well as recordings of all Skype calls that I have ever made, and gave them to a group of strangers. Should we trust the priorities these strangers will have in 10 years, or 20 or 50? Should we trust that this immense cache of data will not become a commodity, traded to other governments that exist now, or will exist in the future?
The National Energy Board's Joint Review Panel (JRP) has now released its final report on the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project. The project would see 525,000 barrels of the heavy oil diluted bitumen (dilbit) transported across British Columbia each day and loaded onto super tankers for shipment to international refineries. This puts British Columbia at significant economic and environmental risk.
Netflix's House of Cards was nominated for four Golden Globes just hours before they launched their Season 2 trailer. Unfortunately, Season 2 will be the final season for House of Cards, citing the actors' and producers' preferences to do movies over a television series. Here are 11 questions to be answered in House of Cards Season two.
If being sick doesn't kill you, the medical bills might. Imagine getting better and being bankrupted for it. Facing the prospect of financially devastating medical bills is a reality many Americans know isn't going away. But a newly announced partnership between B.C. startup FundRazr and leading US provider of healthcare information Healthline.com may just save them from financial ruin.
All the pundits basically agree Canada's public-sector post office is an increasingly useless anachronism in the digital age. Many would say its costs, services, and employees are downright terrible, in fact -- and have been for ages. Yet any government that fails to reverse this decades-long status quo of irrelevant mediocrity is also said to be running the risk of triggering a massive public backlash, capable of leaving its re-election odds, at best, in doubt.
There are a few conclusions you could draw from the recent revelation that Justin Trudeau has the worst Question Period attendance record of any federal party leader. We're supposed to either swoon with refreshed delight that he doesn't take the Ottawa rat race as seriously as it takes itself, or furrow our brows in anger that he's not taking it nearly seriously enough. I would imagine most of us can find speckles of truth in both perspectives.
As the tributes continue to pour in, I wonder whether Mandela would want us to spend our time mourning him rather than working our differences towards a common goal. Mandela, known for his ability to unite quite diametrically opposed parties, leaves the planet at time where partisan behaviour seems to be only getting worse.
The last couple months have taught me a lot about youth, bullying and the politics of it all. As I tell the youth, I am "just a guy named Tad" and I am not an expert or professional on this topic at all. Having reflected on this recently, I believe it is safe to say that I do know a lot about bullying however, directly from the source ... the youth.
When I read that Romeo Dallaire had been in a car accident on Parliament Hill just outside of East Block, I wondered if it was due to fatigue. I have never known him to be other than fully occupied and frequently exhausted in the course of his heavy schedule. Romeo has a lot more than just memories to fight. As he explained this week, he fights depression and remains medicated for PTSD. But he has turned his pain into a purpose, and in so doing he can get up every day.
There is an ongoing trend by our federal government to marginalize people living with HIV and AIDS. Ottawa will rightly pride itself about their investments in research aimed to develop a cure or possibly a vaccine. However, what good would it make to support research if we are not going to implement their results? InSite and HIV "Treatment as Prevention" are just two examples of Canadian successes that are simply not palatable to the federal government. And now globally, Canada has failed to match the contributions of key donors in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
There's something about Justin Trudeau with his sideways smiles, V-necks and ladies' night that reminds me of smarmy men from my past. That connection is hard to break, even though as a friend recently pointed out, he's probably the politician who best reflects my views. As with our personal relationships, we are often blind to our favourite politicians' faults. We defend them when others bring up their shortcomings -- "You don't know the real Barack!" -- rather than accept the facts. That's why it stung so much when I recently read a piece in the Globe and Mail titled "From messiah to lame duck: How Barack Obama fell to earth."
We now know the Conservatives' refusal to fund First Nations students attending school on reserves at the same level as their provincial counterparts is coming straight from the top. This is not just a shocking example of Stephen Harper's anti-democratic command and control style of government, but clearly demonstrates that the Prime Minister callously refuses to provide First Nations students with the equality of opportunity they deserve.
With the news programs blaring the most recent political scandals, it's hard to remember that there are positive things happening in the world and leaders who are inspiring heart-centred change. It's integral that we maintain a healthy, higher perspective about what really matters and share it with our communities.
Where were you on November 22, 1963? For some of you this may be before you time, but for me, I was a 12-year-old living in Edinburgh, Scotland and it is a day I will never forget. And for those of you who have no recall of what happened 50 years ago, it was the day that John F. Kennedy was shot and assassinated.
Last year the Conservative government spent more fighting Indigenous people in the courts than it spent going after tax frauds. From First Nations' child welfare to resource development, the government's response has been "see you in court." Who knew in 2011, when a government document listed Indigenous peoples as "adversaries" in terms of resource development, that this attitude would permeate every aspect of the Conservatives' approach when dealing with Aboriginal people? Prime Minister Harper's decision to abandon consultation and negotiation to drag Aboriginal issues through the courts is failing, costly, time consuming and undermines the honour of the Crown.
Our constitutional amendment rules are so terrible, so poorly-written and caked with complex regulations designed to eliminate any hope of ever achieving any meaningful improvement to anything, we barely even know how to read some of them. And we're not talking about 18th century legalese here -- this stuff was written all of 30 years ago.
As Ford continues to bumble forward, few people in Toronto actually want it to stop -- gleefully salivating over the impending destruction of Canada's most famous man. That's the real embarrassment; Ford opponents can't stop watching and gloating even though it might be the only way to avoid "Ford more years."