It's been one year. Saturday marked exactly 365 days since the former Conservative government introduced Bill C-51, with its controversial spy powers that experts warn are shredding our basic constitutional rights. So, where do things stand now? After intense debate, C-51 was pushed through Parliament and is now law, but its many opponents are making progress. Over the past few weeks, we have seen positive signs from the new federal government, as it has finally promised to meet calls for public consultation from Canadians, civil society and experts.
No matter how quickly information can now travel, or how many people are able to share it, when the next terrorist attack is developing at home or abroad, or the next time a public figure's lies need exposing, or even when your own community or job is facing down corporate interests, it won't be a stranger with a Twitter account sticking out their necks for you.
An interview with Clive Weighill - Saskatoon Police Chief and President of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police: Some politicians talk about getting tough on crime. I'm saying you don't just want to get tough on crime, you have to get tough on the issues of poverty, poor housing, disadvantage. People are products of their environment, and if we can't solve those social issues, we're not going to solve the big picture in the end. I firmly believe that we have to work on poverty.
How many times did we hear the media complain that the Conservatives used talk points all the time, often reading them from prepared scripts? We are now starting to see the Liberals doing the same thing. When asked about the need to get our downward spiraling economy moving, Trudeau's stock answer was, "We are going to do this right. We are going to do this responsibly." The only thing lacking was a piece of paper while he read the answer. For the party that promised to do things differently, it is much of the same. We haven't seen anything concrete to address the sinking dollar or get the economy moving.
First it was the Liberals' failed promise to receive 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year. Thanks to Tory pit bulls on the Hill, Justin Trudeau has had to admit a delay of 60 long days in meeting his government's target. Who knows? The goal may now not even be reached until the end of March!
Most Canadians believe that religious discrimination is no longer a problem in contemporary society. Yet, after the terrorist attacks in Paris last month, we have seen a marked spike in hate crimes against Muslims. Less extreme, but likely more pervasive than overt attacks are new stereotypes that view all religious people as inherently backward, less tolerant, less informed, or closed-minded. This is a different form of prejudice that appears to be socially acceptable in our more secular society, and among many otherwise "progressive" or "liberal" individuals.
Oliver, a British national, took to the CBC radio program The Q to say that both the UK and Canada need a national tax on sugary beverages. He says kids, particularly those who come from underprivileged backgrounds, are growing up living a far too unhealthy lifestyle. Would a tax change that behaviour?
A window of opportunity has opened where several provincial governments and Ottawa are enlightened and willing to partner to deal with problems. Eleven Muslim MPs were elected to Ottawa alone in 2015, and one is a cabinet minister. If the stars are aligned, what then are the key challenges that the community should take on?
I acknowledge that good, well-meaning people who genuinely care about Syrian refugees can have perfectly valid concerns about the security risk of bringing in tens of thousands of people from a war zone. It is as large an undertaking as it sounds. So, in light of Canadian political leaders playing on Canadians' concerns to spread fear and disinformation, I decided to research how Canada screens, accepts and settles Syrian refugees. It is my hope we can dispel fear and confusion with facts, reason and compassion.
Just as the Conservative government committed, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should commit to passing the Victims Rights in the Military Justice System Act as soon as Parliament resumes. There is no reason not to do so. Equality before the law is good, common-sense policy, and supporting our troops is always the right thing to do morally and politically.
To some people, this may not be particularly mind-boggling. Women have moved up a lot in the world in terms of social, economic, and political influence. It wasn't so long ago that women were expected to adhere to the barefoot and pregnant "laws" that were governed by the patriarchal political climate. But here we are, 2015, and cheering wildly because we have more women in government. Apologies for raining on the parade, but I have to question this. In a truly gender equal society, we would all look at this cabinet and say, "Huh."
The Liberal Party of Canada changed the way that it chose its leader by introducing the free, "supporter" category for new members. The move was viewed by some as dangerous. What the party faithful may not have realized was that the Liberals were kicking off a grassroots strategy that would strengthen the party.
Early in my career, employment equity took hold. It caused much bitter complaining that such human resource department meddling had no place in the meritocracy we called our workplace. The latest resurrection of these arguments is fuelled by Justin Trudeau's promise to have equal gender representation in Cabinet.
The election of Justin Trudeau has been variously described as historic. And it was. Another less talked about historic moment was the election of 10 First Nations MPs. Add to this that a record-breaking 54 Aboriginal candidates put their names forward during the election. Each of these candidates ran in one of the 51 swing ridings identified by Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Chief Perry Bellegarde. Bellegrade was blunt and clear that the Aboriginal vote could make a difference between a majority and minority government.
The human rights landscape has changed dramatically since 1962, when the Ontario Human Rights Commission was created. There are now parallel human right institutions federally and in every province and territory, and numerous international human rights treaties to which Canada is a party. In Ontario, most people are ambivalent or simply don't know about the OHRC, its role, and its work. This is ironic because some of the issues that have captivated Ontarians in recent years clearly fall within the OHRC's jurisdiction and are issues on which the Commission has been actively engaged.
When overhauling Bill C-51 in the coming months, the new Trudeau government should give serious consideration to revamping Canada's national security policy-making apparatus to ensure the adoption of well-informed and objective national security and foreign policies. In doing so, the process should include an executive-level whole-of-government approach for maximum policy effectiveness. Given the dynamic and complex issues faced with abroad, there is no time better than the present to rethink how Canada approaches national security and foreign policy.
Elementary teachers in Ontario have now escalated what they are calling "work-to-rule" job action by withdrawing from extracurricular activities for students. Parents, students and now even the Premier are getting frustrated with the hold-out union. The Premier has stated that if an agreement is not reached with Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) by November 1st, she may approve docking teachers' pay.