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.
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.
In the 25 years I have called Canada home, I have seen a steady rise of Muslim women being strangled in the pernicious black tent that is passed off to naïve and guilt-ridden white, mainstream Canadians as an essential Islamic practice. The niqab and burka have nothing to do with Islam. They're the political flags of the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, the Taliban, al-Qaida and Saudi Arabia. Now I learn I have not only to fight the medieval, theocratic adherents of my faith for a safe space for myself, I have to battle the Federal Court of Canada as well.
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.
As Canadians are becoming all too aware, the spectre of a recession, no matter the definition, looms large during an election campaign.
For some time, I've been thinking of coining the word modefolkers for inclusion into political vocabulary. Modefolker is a compound word that joins two existing words, mode and folk. The transitive verb is modefolk and the noun is modefolker. As explained below, modefolker means a person who belligerently defends the mainstream values of a culture or community.
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.
Canada does not follow the U.S. in spending astronomical amounts of funds to develop and purchase weapons and use them in wars. Our health care expense is way lower than that of the U.S. The U.S. spends about 17 per cent of its GDP on health care, whereas the Canada medical share is around 11 per cent. So where has the Canadian government's money gone?
The timing for the image of Muslims to change from fire-breathing jihadi terrorists, frothing at the mouth to actual human beings could not have been worse. This election was supposed to be about economic renewal and getting tough on crime and instead we are in a recession and the papers are full of stories about Muslims drowning in the sea.
Despite cries for justice and humanitarianism, public reactions have been, in some cases, heinous. Comments sections of online news stories can be telling. In forums where readers give anonymous feedback, commenters have free rein to speak their minds.
Attention needs to be paid to the cause of this mass movement of people. We need to consider all precipitating factors, including climate change. What happened in Syria is going to happen elsewhere, and it's likely to get worse as weather alters more. Climate change causes human cruelties.
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.
The primary objective of Stephen Harper's absurdly-named Fair Elections Act is to prevent hundreds of thousands of Canadians from voting for the NDP, Liberals, Greens, etc. They know that a large number of people -- students, marginalized people and First Nations -- will have a hard time voting. There needs to be close co-operation among groups to make sure that as many people as possible -- particularly people in some 70 ridings where the Conservatives are vulnerable -- have the identification they need to vote.
We have seen how "Islamicism" has become a convenient tool for the government to employ a more aggressive foreign policy. Although it's easy for Canadian Muslims to lay blame on the Conservatives and Stephen Harper for such discriminatory and exploitative tactics (and doing so would be justifiable), it would also be disingenuous. The current situation is simply a culmination of years of political apathy from the Muslim community whose voter turnout is consistently below the national average.
By ensuring funding for the next election and limiting the campaign abilities of the other parties, the Conservatives will surely win Election 43. Donation limits only refresh annually, not per election, so if another snap election is triggered in 2015, parties would be scrambling to find new donors who had not already contributed the maximum to the current election.