J.J. McCullough is a political cartoonist and pundit based out of Vancouver, British Columbia. His work has been published in Reader’s Digest, the Vancouver Metro, and the Western Standard, and he’s a regular commentator on CTV New's "Political Express" panel. For the last decade he’s run Filibuster, an editorial cartoon blog specializing in U.S. and Canadian politics as well as J.J.'s Complete Guide to Canada.
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The expectation that all politicians would be honourable gentlemen determined to avoid shame, in turn, was seen as providing a safeguard of integrity and accountability to the British style of parliamentary government, which tends to shun stricter rules. Seems almost quaint now. Take Mayor Ford. The only reason he's still in office is because he's deliberately turned off the shame sector of his brain. Ford has committed ghastly crimes against the dignity and integrity of his town and government, yet happily clings to office despite it. And he's far from the only one.
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.
05/15/2014 08:23 EDT
Couillard will only ban three types of Muslim headgear from all government employees -- including the chador, which doesn't even cover the face. The difference between a chador-style headscarf and its slightly shorter counterpart the hijab, can sometimes be hard to distinguish, so I guess in Couillard's Quebec Muslim civil servants can soon look forward to their bosses breaking out the measuring tape.
05/10/2014 04:53 EDT
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.
05/08/2014 12:43 EDT
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.
05/05/2014 01:08 EDT
If you want a glimpse of what it looks like when traditional partisan loyalties get scrambled beyond recognition, check out yesterday's epic Twitter dust-up between ex-Liberal boss Bob Rae and former immigration minister Jason Kenney over the issue of temporary foreign workers. It's getting increasingly impossible for any self-respecting partisan to take a coherent position on immigration without coming off as a heretic in the eyes of some of his ordinary allies. Immigration is the debate that exposes ideological hypocrisy and inconsistency like few others -- which is probably why we rarely have it.
05/01/2014 01:21 EDT
Today's Supreme Court ruling, which held it's illegal to hold Senate elections in this country without first amending the constitution. In making this ruling, however, the Supreme Court has offered the extraordinarily regressive declaration that the Senate has a permanent obligation to retain its "independence from the electoral process" and never become corrupted by something as vulgar as a "popular mandate" for the exercise of the chamber's legislative powers. The Senate must remain forever frozen in the elitist "sober second thought" mandate of its 19th century founding.
04/25/2014 05:12 EDT
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.
04/24/2014 12:01 EDT
No one should be surprised that the conspiratorial claims of the Fair Elections Act aren't really sticking. There's only so many times you can evoke the spectre of looming right-wing tyranny before folks start to tune out.
04/21/2014 01:03 EDT
State funerals are expensive -- Layton's cost taxpayers nearly $370 grand -- so it behooves us to set some ground rules. If our new standard is simply to honor the passing of any politician who's "important" according to the fancy of the prime minister of the day, the practice -- and price tag -- is in deep danger of ballooning out of control. A difficult decision to make? Perhaps. But establishing clear rules today will sure be a lot easier than turning down a grieving family tomorrow.
04/17/2014 08:37 EDT
It's funny. For all the squawking on the left about the need to preserve and strengthen democracy in this country, no one on the progressive side seems terribly interested in standing up for one of the key principles of the practice. Namely, the right of the elected part of our government to make law and the obligation of the unelected part -- the bureaucracy -- to respect and enforce it. we shouldn't tolerate the emergence of a political culture in which an elected government's ability to pass legislation is understood -- if not encouraged -- to be subject to the veto of unelected civil servants with the most to lose.
04/13/2014 03:13 EDT
Premier Marois sought to achieve her goals in spectacularly absurd fashion -- a separate country for French-Canadians and a ban on religious headgear for everyone else -- and on Monday, her extremism was rejected. Hardly definitively, however. The Parti Quebecois remains Quebec's official opposition, and the rise of new nationalist parties, coupled with a sharp split in the popular vote, suggests much of the Marois agenda has merely scattered elsewhere. More than a trace can even be found in Mr. Couillard.
04/08/2014 07:59 EDT
Should unpaid internships be illegal? Well, some time ago I recall society came to an agreement that unpaid labor was not something we were interested in, and I think it's not unreasonable to stick with that conclusion barring any persuasive new arguments to the contrary. CEO cries that they can't "afford" to pay even minimum wage to full-time employees helping run their businesses don't meet that criteria. Such logic merely puts internships in the dubious company of tipping -- a backdoor way to subsidize a flawed business model by inventing a social convention to make it someone else's problem.
04/07/2014 01:05 EDT
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.
04/03/2014 01:22 EDT
Under the 2007 rules, getting vouched requires finding a qualified voter living in your electoral riding, whose name appears on that riding's list of registered electors, who possesses Elections Canada-approved identification, and who agrees to testify in person, at your polling place, in your presence, that you are legally eligible to vote. A voucher can only vouch once per election, and vouchers can't vouch for other vouchers. And the poll clerk has to buy his story. I don't know about you, but that strikes me as a bit complicated.
03/31/2014 12:26 EDT
What makes the power plant cancellation scandal currently enveloping the Ontario government of Premier Kathleen Wynne so uniquely awful is that both crime and cover up are equally offensive. This isn't a case of a minor offense being overshadowed by a mighty cover-up, but instead an equal-opportunity outrage in which either offense or cover-up should provide ample justification for a decisive non-confidence vote in parliament followed by swift butt-kicking at the ballot box. Here's what we know
03/28/2014 06:20 EDT
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.
03/27/2014 12:20 EDT
As one of the key institutions of the federal government, it obviously makes sense for the Supreme Court to enjoy certain constitutional protections. But to decree that even modifying the resume criteria for the men and women who sit on it should require nothing short of a constitutional amendment is to cordon off yet another enormous realm of the broken Canadian political system from even the mildest tinkerings of common-sense improvement.
03/24/2014 12:36 EDT
In the aftermath of the publication of my most recent editorial -- "Let Them Learn French": Canada's Bilingual Elite Hold All the Power" -- I've been widely denounced by all manner of pundit, much of Quebec, and even our old pal Gilles Duceppe. On the other hand, I've also heard from numerous Canadians applauding me for finally confronting one of this country's most sacred taboos head-on.
03/20/2014 12:55 EDT
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.
03/17/2014 12:19 EDT
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