When Pope Francis tells the world that it is better to be an atheist than a hypocritical Catholic, he is using the incredulous folks as the bar for what is usually seen as immoral or sinful. But here we are, post-backhanded compliment, and the world seems to be rushing to give him more progressive legitimacy.
A strange phenomenon has been happening over the past decade or so that has stifled great debates, great conversation. I did not truly understand the magnitude of the problem until I began receiving messages from people on Facebook after getting into debates with strangers about one of those hot-button topics. The messages are almost always identical; 'Hey James, just wanted to let you know that I agree with a lot of the points you made today. But I can't jump in because I don't want to get fired from my job.'
It is unbelievable to me that such a man can be elected president, but it serves as a warning that the politics of sexism, racism and fear still have great currency. It shows that the progress we thought we had made on the equality of women was as fragile as many in the women's movement had been warning all along. We still have a very long way to go.
My life's story has always been about working with people, finding common ground, and delivering real results. I have the political experience we need to proudly bring our Scarborough-Rouge River voice to Kathleen Wynne's Liberal government and deliver on the transit, health care, education and opportunities that will make us stronger. I'm standing up for the progress we've made in Ontario, and the progress we need to make for a brighter future. I look forward to the opportunity to fight with, not against, Kathleen Wynne on her progressive agenda as part of her activist government. Together, we will continue to make progress.
The Liberal platform is a grab bag of fine, progressive ideas. I like it. The deficit financing pledge, designed to stimulate a sluggish (if not recessionary) economy, is smart fiscal policy. But Justin Trudeau's attempts to make income inequality the cause célèbre have seemingly fallen flat, perhaps for the simple reason that Canada isn't the United States: we don't have what Bernie Sanders calls "the billionaire class," or at least we don't have as obvious and obnoxious a class. And, to put it mildly, Chyrstia Freeland is no Elizabeth Warren. But it's the lack of any clear policy from any party on healthcare that truly perplexes me. Why is the Liberal Party not aggressively campaigning on a cure for healthcare?
Progressives, in Western Europe and North America, need to build a winning 21st century coalition. Ed Miliband and the British Labour platform seemed to strike the right tones in this regard, a platform that was true to the progressive base while expanding the tent and recognizing the economic and social changes of the 21st century.
The values we used to be most proud of as Canadians are slipping away. We used to differentiate ourselves from the States because of our kindness. Our compassion. Our politeness. Our open-mindedness. Socialized medicine. These are progressive values. These are Canadian values. Or so I thought. Our heros have been fighters for the underdog. Tommy Douglas. David Suzuki. Jack Layton. Nellie McClung. Terry Fox. Yet somehow, most Canadians seem to be saying that progressive values don't speak to them anymore.
If the world was like The Walking Dead then it would be a world where nearly everyone alive speaks English, nearly everyone is white, and male. The biggest failure of the show is to have the audience rooting for a society that preaches tired principles of violence, lack of community, selfishness, capitalism, patriarchy, and shoot-first mentality.
Instead of a person's values coming to carefully inform one's opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, what I'm seeing is the reflexive taking of sides. What could be a very fruitful discussion about values, ethics and policy instead comes to resemble a boxing ring, with everyone in their corners primed to fight.