Media Bites

CP

Wanting a Perfect Education Act Will Leave First Nations Waiting Forever

It is exceedingly difficult to find much fault with the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act, particularly if one views it for what it is -- a negotiated deal. But it's becoming increasingly clear that a growing faction of what Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard so accurately dubbed Canada's "aboriginal industry" value practical improvements to the lives of native youth a great deal less than dogmatic adherence to some fantastical, idealized, and utterly impossible conception of how aboriginal-Canadian diplomacy is supposed to work.
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Why It's OK to Criticize the Supreme Court

At a time when the Prime Minister's public feud with the Chief Justice is prompting Harper-haters in both press and parliament alike to offer blind, slavish adulation to some mythical idea of a Supreme Court that is both never wrong and beyond criticism, it's worth recalling just how arbitrary and disputable many of that court's recent rulings have been.
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Having the Richest Middle Class Isn't a Good Thing For Canada

For years, Canada's politicians have wondered who the middle class are and what do they want. This week, we add a fresh question -- are they satisfied with being number one? So now it's our middle class that "appears to be the richest," in the satisfied words of the Globe and Mail. Yet regardless of how sustainable it may be in the long term, having the richest middle class in the world could still prove deeply disruptive for Canada's increasingly middle class-centric political debate -- which exists in no term but the short.
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"Let Them Learn French": Canada's Bilingual Elite Hold All the Power

To be prime minister of Canada you have to know French. To be governor general of Canada you have to know French. To be chief justice of the Supreme Court you have to know French. This is an awful lot of power to concentrate in just 17 per cent of the population. There is a Marie Antoinette-like bit of victim-blaming ("Let them learn French!") popular with segments of the Canadian elite who simply can't fathom why more peasants can't find the time to study an exotic dying language utterly irrelevant to their daily lives.
CP

Blurred (Party) Lines Are Ruining Canadian Politics

In the fight against Quebec separatists, its often insisted that Canadian politicians need to "speak with one voice." And that might be true. Everywhere else, however, politics would improve immensely if we could choose between two clear ones. Canada is long overdue for a fundamental re-calibration of provincial politics. Perhaps at the next Manning Centre Conference, all of Canada's supposedly "right-of-centre" politicians   can get together and agree to forge a new provincial political brand (say, the "Conservative Party") that's present in all provinces. And then maybe all the left-wing people can meet at, I don't know, David Suzuki's next garden party or something.
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Media Bites: Canadians Might Not Ask Quebec to Stay This Time

With Quebec now facing an election where it looks increasingly likely that the separatist party will not only win a second term, but a majority government to boot, Anglo and Franco relations are being strained like never before. Separatism is poised to make its third great comeback. The question is whether any Canadians will be willing to carry the flag this time.
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Why Putin's Attempts to Annex Crimea Would Never Fly in Canada

You can argue -- as I do -- that Canada's too immigrant-friendly and too multicultural, but the reality remains that ethnic diversity is now a basic Canadian fact of life. Upholding this nation's territorial and political integrity therefore requires a staunch commitment to the principle that national governments have a right to govern multicultural populations, and even stauncher opposition to any notion that foreign nation-states possess a right to infringe the sovereignty of others in order to protect "their" people living abroad. Canada is a country that worries about foreigners. But it's also a country that has a right to worry about itself.
CP

Media Bites: Watch Out Liberal Party, Voters Don't Like Elites

Canadians do not want to be ruled by rich snobs. Such was the conclusion of a big survey commissioned by the Tory government last summer, but only revealed last week. The results exposed a Canadian public deeply critical of what they perceive to be an out-of-touch Ottawa elite comprised of "rich politicians" feathering their nests with perks and privileges "while taxpayers personally struggled to make a decent living." Unfortunately for the Liberals, Canada's got an awful lot more suburbanites than bigshots, and the polls suggest the two tribes aren't exactly on good terms.
CP

Media Bites: Justin Just Reformed the Senate in the Wrong Direction

Justin Trudeau thinks Canada's Senate has become irreparably corrupted through "extreme patronage and partisanship," and is trying to set a good example by opting-out of at least half of that equation. It's an exceedingly open question if Canadians even want the sort of reformed, "effective" Senate Trudeau's promising amid such great fanfare. The closer you look at the whole plan, in fact, the closer Trudeau's fix begins to resemble the classic solution in search of a problem.
CP

Media Bites: Harper Defines the New Anti-Semitism

Stephen Harper's first-ever trip to the Holy Land wrapped up this weekend, and the reviews were basically worse than I, Frankenstein. But if one specific outrage loomed above all others, it was the PM's January 20 address to the Israeli parliament, during which, in the words of Warren Kinsella, "Harper, a Gentile, literally took it upon himself to redefine anti-Semitism."
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Media Bites: Want to Hear How Harper Hates Science? Watch CBC

Do Prime Minister Harper's science priorities reflect the best interests of Canada? It's certainly a question worth asking, but you won't find the answer by interviewing the folks guaranteed to have the most biased perspective: laid-off scientists and the left-wing union that represents them. Though that's the CBC's preferred approach. Considering we're supposed to be talking about a war on facts, it is a tad ironic, though.
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Media Bites: All the Many "Valuable" Lessons We Learned in 2013

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.
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The Top Five Most Outrageous Canadian Editorials of 2013

Calling an editorial "offensive" simply implies hurt feelings, which implies cruel motive, which demands censorship. Not a string of conclusions I'm eager to draw in a society with constitutionally-protected freedom of expression. No, the following five editorials are merely "outrageous," in the sense they got a great many folks riled up, shocked, annoyed, or befuddled. That's not always a bad thing.
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Media Bites: In Losing Hockey Night in Canada, CBC Might Have Scored

So no more hockey for the CBC. For 60 years the mother corp has been permitted to blow millions of tax dollars providing the nation with this redundant subsidized "service" anyway, a more-than-half-century absurdity whose bluff is only now being called. Far from being a stirring symbol of CBC success, Hockey Night in Canada has long been the single most wasteful monument to the network's fundamentally confused mandate.
CP

Media Bites: Trouble Sleeping? Try One Dose of Throne Speech

Well, so much for a "different kind" of throne speech. Though Minister Moore and his bored allies in the press had gone out of their way to hype the idea that yesterday's state-of-the-Tory-agenda address to Parliament would be laser-like in its focus on the plight of Canada's middle-class consumers, Stephen Harper's #SFT13 ended up sounding very much like all the others -- hashtag notwithstanding.
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Media Bites: Will EU Free Trade Put Harper in the History Books?

Prime Minister Harper finally has his very own tombstone-ready one-liner, too: "he got us free trade with the Europeans." That seems to be the consensus bouncing around the Canadian punditocracy at the moment, at least. Everyone agrees this trade deal rules. An estimated 80,000 new jobs, an annual $12 billion boost to GDP, cheaper vino from Italy, yadda yadda. But perhaps there's another story here, too.
CP

Media Bites: Canadian Media Love to Watch the Throne Speech

If you ever want an example of what it looks like when the media carries water for the government, just check out any Canadian news outlet in the run-up to a throne speech. Considering that throne speeches are basically just hour-long, ruling-party infomercials to begin with, there's something more than a little obnoxious about reporters and columnists falling over each other to endlessly "preview" the supposed "content" of the things. It's an overzealous style of journalism that regards the sharing every leak and scoop as a public good unto itself.
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Media Bites: Could Canada and America Ever Merge?

National Post columnist Diane Francis thinks Canada and America should merge. Into one country. Called the United States. As in, we Canadians should all become Americans. If your blood is starting to boil, congratulations! This is what it feels like to encounter an idea that actually threatens and scares you.
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Michael Ignatieff, We Hardly Knew Ye

I must confess that there was an awful lot about Canada's 2011 General Election I simply didn't "get." But I certainly didn't get why Michael Ignatieff, a perfectly ordinary if uninspired Canadian party boss, stirred such loathing his Liberals plunged to a historically unprecedented third-place standing. And neither, it seems, does he.
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Media Bites: And Quebec's Great Debate Rages On

While there's little serious debate in the Canadian press about the overall need for the Quebec charter and the headgear bans within, there's still much back-and-forth to be had regarding why the Quebeckers created the thing in the first place, and whether those motives are sympathetic or sinister. It's entirely possible for the Quebec charter to be a cynical vote-grab stemming from the dark side of Canadian politics, while also allowing that the "problem" the headgear ban seeks to solve is real and legitimate.
Government of Quebec

Quebec Is More Concerned With Separatism than Secularism

Actually, maybe Pauline Marois' motivation in pushing a religious headgear ban isn't that mysterious after all. If we presume Quebeckers vote separatist because they genuinely believe their province is getting a raw deal staying in Canada, with part of that raw deal being the fact that the mean ol' Canadian government won't let them have the things they want -- like, say, a religious headgear ban backed by 69 per cent of the public -- then a heavy-handed federal lawsuit reenforcing this storyline might actually be in the Parti Quebecois' long-term partisan self-interest.