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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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.
Here's a fun fact you probably didn't know -- Canadian judicial appointments are among the most corrupt in the entire world. That's the opinion of the human rights watchdog group Global Integrity, at least, who gave the integrity of Canada's judicial appointments a pitiful 32 out of 100 in their 2010 survey on good governance around the globe.
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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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More and more, it's appearing the provincial New Democrats simply possess no real base beyond the narrow confines of what we might call "NDP World" -- militant union bosses, anti-everything eco-extremists, dogmatic staffers of the inner-city charity-industrial complex and out-of-touch professors in fringe faculties.
Alberta Premier Allison Redford was forced to resign last week following revelations that she had charged the treasury $45,000 to attend President Mandela's funeral. Redford's quick hand with the expense account chequebook, in turn, obviously brings to mind the shenanigans of our old pals in the Senate.
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.
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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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.
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.
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.
What legislation like the Fair Elections Act reminds us is that in the realm of electoral law, America and Canada are, in fact, noticeably different. Though the reasons why are more complicated and nuanced than the simplistic narratives we're usually given.
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.
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."