When the Muslim Canadian Congress called for an outright ban on the wearing of the niqab or the burka, they have gone too far. But that doesn't mean that we have to celebrate such restrictive clothing. Apart from the degrading and misogynistic aspects of burkas and niqabs, they offend against a fundamental implicit tenet of our society.
Stephen Harper is campaigning on fear, using the niqab as a wedge issue scapegoating Muslims. It is no coincidence that a senior adviser on the Conservative campaign is an Australian strategist known for dogwhistle politics against cultural minorities.
Each of the leaders would present a different face of Canada to the world. Mulcair clearly demonstrated a new NDP approach to the realm of foreign affairs for Canada. Trudeau worked hard to dig into his opponents, but didn't present himself as a possible world leader. Stephen Harper managed to stay out of any major trouble and reinforced his image as a "tough on terror" PM.
Despite the Black Lives Matter movement focusing media attention on how violence affects black communities, the experiences of women and girls have not received the same sustained media attention and outcry as the experiences of men. Our voices are routinely excluded from political and public discourse. It's critical for us to make an intervention.
On Monday night in Toronto three major party leaders showed their wares and clashed swords in front of a well-dressed crowd at the Roy Thomson Hall. While the leaders debated foreign policy, the viewers, in essence, looked to gauge who looked best to represent Canada on the world stage.
With the confirmation of the Canadian recession by Stats Canada earlier this month and the government's subsequent announcement of a $1.9 billion surplus, spending has become a particular point of interest in our upcoming election. Small business owners, who make up 98 per cent of employer businesses in Canada, will be looking to see which party's proposed spend will have a tangible effect on their bottom lines.
I was quite taken aback by Justin Trudeau's performance at the Globe and Mail debate. We have all seen how Stephen Harper's Conservatives fail to tell the truth and mislead the public, so it's hard to believe that anyone could do worse. My issue with Trudeau has nothing to do with his performance or speaking skill. It has everything to do with the substance and content of his speech, and this speaks to his integrity.
Demand for peace operations has never been greater, and the UN has never been busier, with more than 128,000 civilian and uniformed personnel serving in 39 missions across four continents. Canada has been absent from peace operations for many years. We currently have a risible total of 28 military personnel and 88 police officers on UN missions. Once we were number one in this field; now we are number 68 -- right behind Paraguay. Canada, and all our international partners, must provide the UN with the expertise and capabilities it needs to respond to this unprecedented challenge.
In Canada, arts and culture are at a crossroads. They can either move forward or backward, depending on the choices we make. For them to move forward, it will be more than ever necessary for the federal government to play a leading role. The Liberals, under Justin Trudeau's leadership, are determined to make Canada, more than ever, a place where cultural expression is created and enjoyed whatever its roots, foreign or domestic.
Thomas Mulcair, head of the NDP, has not been able to use any of the leaders' debates to stop his party's loss of momentum, making him the loser of this first meeting in French. Stephen Harper and Gilles Duceppe performed well, whereas Justin Trudeau stumbled on several occasions and had his worst debate performance since the beginning of the election campaign. The wearing of the niqab and the constitutional question sharply divided the federal party leaders and created some lively exchanges.
Both Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau are committed to ending our outmoded first-past-the-post (FPP) voting system. However, it's still unclear what they'd replace it with. The problem as I see it is that Canadians haven't been offered a good substitute for our outmoded FPP system. We should have a whole smorgasbord of truly Canadian electoral options.
A large percentage each of NDP and Liberal supporters (over 30 per cent) is prepared to vote for the other if it is seen as the better option to defeat the Conservatives. However, the current deadlock has not revealed who that is and any gains made by either are small -- The tipping point, if it in fact occurs, may come down to Canadians making a judgement similar to that expressed in folklore and widely known as the Judgement of Solomon.
With a low debt-ratio to start with and interest rates at rock bottom levels, this is the time to invest and grow. That will help lift the economy and create jobs. And that's what Canada needs now more than ever. The Harper/Mulcair fixation on a short-term balanced budget -- at the expense of growth and everything else -- is the wrong priority.
Not all political dynasties are created equal -- one key difference lies in the calibre of their descendants. Last year, the Liberal Party elected as its leader Justin Trudeau, son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Warren Bennis, a noted scholar on leadership, said, "The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born -- that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That's nonsense."
We are in the midst of the most closely contested (and lengthy) political campaign our country has seen in decades. The question every voter asks about any politician is: "Are they for real?" Many judge solely on each communication style and how they appear physically versus their beliefs on complex issues or even track record.
There has been some controversy about Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne warring with Stephen Harper in the battle for federal votes in Ontario -- The other parties' partisans have argued that it is unseemly for a premier to partake this way in a federal election. They doth protest too much, methinks.