Tag: Politics

2018, Politics, Society

Ontario and the Notwithstanding Clause

There are many things to like about Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a more inclusive bill of rights than, say, the American one. But there’s always been a crucial flaw, the “Notwithstanding Clause.” This clause grants any provincial government the right to override the Charter in a specific instance for a specific period of …

1968, Books, Non-Fiction

The Revolution of the Saints (19968) by Michael Walzer

Many years ago, I read a history of ideas about radical/left-wing politics, Main Currents of Marxism by Leszek Kolakowski, which felt to me like the definitive statement on the religious origins and nature of ideologies. The only thing lacking with that book, to my mind, was its scope was limited to the left; whereas liberalism …

2011, Movies

Bhutto (2010, Duane Baughman, Johnny O’Hara)

One of the defining characteristics of human beings that is that we are flawed, imperfect creatures. All the “Great Men” of history were actually just human beings; sometimes they did things we might view as great, but they had their problems. There isn’t a single major political leader in history who hasn’t done something awful.

2015, Politics, Society

It’s not just C-51 that’s the problem, it’s the System

I haven’t posted anything original in this space since February, in part because I am writing a new book, but in part because I have been a little depressed about the seeming inevitably of the government passing the worst piece of Federal legislation I have seen in my lifetime. (If you don’t know what C-51 …

2012, Movies

El Alcalde [The Mayor] (2012, Emiliano Altuna, Diego Enrique Osorno, Carlos Rossini)

This a challenging but confused film that begs the question, ‘what is more important to you, peace and security or freedom, transparency and accountability?’ This is an especially poignant question in Mexico, which experiences its share of violence.

2013, Movies

Dangerous Acts Starring the Unstable Elements of Belarus (2013, Madeleine Sackler)

This is an important and emotionally compelling film about theatre under repressive regimes.

2008, Books, Non-Fiction

The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder (2008) by Vincent Bugliosi

I have “read” one book by Vincent Bugliosi before (I say “read” because it was an audio book) and in that book Bugliosi impressed me with his rather ruthless rigor of thought about an issue that was clouded by too many books and opinions.

2012, Movies

The House I Live in (2012, directed by Eugene Jarecki)

This documentary has a number of major problems but I think I can put them aside given not only the emotional pull of the content but also specifically because this film made me think about the “Drug War” – a policy I have viewed as a failure my whole adult life – in a new …

Politics, Psychology, Society

Proposal for Improved Voter Turnout

The Proposal A number of years ago, a friend of mine proposed an interesting idea for promoting voter turnout in Canada during one of our writer’s group meetings: turn voting into a lottery. The idea is relatively simple: each ballot cast is also a ticket for Canada’s largest lottery. Every voter is only allowed one …

2013, Politics, Religion, Society

Timing is Everything

When the RCMP announced they arrested two suspected train bomber the other day, many people questioned the timing. They claimed they had been following them for a year, and yet there was no immediate danger to public safety. Announced in the week following the Boston Marathon bombing, many suspected the RCMP were either just trying …

Politics, Science, Society

The Conservative Party of Canada is now officially the Party of Willful Ignorance.

Last week, the Government of Canada voted against “Science.” Quite literally, it turns out. Here is the text of the motion the Conservatives voted down: That, in the opinion of the House, a) public science, basic research, and the free and open exchange of scientific information are essential to evidence-based policy-making; b) federal government scientists must …

Politics, Society

Armchair Governing

For decades we have known about the phenomenon of “Armchair Quarterbacks”: fans who watch so much football that they decide – probably subconsciously at first – that they would be better at the offensive coordinator job than the experienced professional currently holding that position. And it extends to other football decisions and other sports decisions. …

2012, Economics, Politics

The Fiscal Cliff: Another triumph of rhetoric over policy

I am not economist and perhaps that’s why I have trouble understanding the panic and the political stubbornness around the non-crisis of the so-called “fiscal cliff. (On the other hand, it is perhaps because of the fact that I am a not an economist that I have perspective, something that seems to be sadly lacking in most …

2003, Books, Non-Fiction

Democracy’s Dilemma (2003 MIT) by Robert C. Paehlke

This is a pretty excellent summary of the issues facing us human beings when globalization is only thought of in economic terms. Paehlke’s strength is that he is moderate; too often we hear either “Globalization is evil” or “Globalization is great” and obviously neither is true. Paehlke approaches the subject from a perspective that is …

2012, Movies, Politics, Psychology, Religion, Society

You pissed me off, it’s your fault!

Human beings are sensitive creatures. It’s interesting that this is so because, as a species, we have survived for an unimaginable length of time and more threats to our existence than we could count (none worse than ourselves). So it is always somewhat entertaining (or sad, depending on your point of view) to see how …

Philosophy, Politics

What socialism actually means

Though I should know better, I find myself reading comments on the internet all too often. In these sections I am exposed to one of my biggest pet peeves: the complete re-creation of meaning for the major political theory isms: conservatism, liberalism and socialism. In the United States, conservatism is Republicanism (whatever Republicanism means, since …

2011, Movies

Squat, la ville est a nous! (2011 Christophe Coello)

This documentary is a fly-on-the-wall style exploration of the origins of the Occupy movement in the squats of Barcelona (only in this case it isn’t quite a true fly-on-the-wall, since the filmmaker was actually one of the squatters).

Politics, Society

Jason Kenney Asshole

I would just like to express my dissatisfaction with the grandstanding politicians and the national media outlets (who, of course, reinforce each other and perpetuate each other’s nonsense) over the “asshole” email from Jason Kenney. I don’t like Kenney – though I do think he is sincere in his desire to reform – and I …

2011, 2012, Economics, Politics, Society

The Conservative Majority: One Year Later

CBC had a very helpful little piece about what the Conservatives have and haven’t done in their first year. Here are my thoughts: What they have done so far: “Hiring credit for small business — offering a short-term break from EI payments for those who increase payrolls.” Nothing wrong with this measure provided EI isn’t …

2012, Journalism, Society

Accuracy in the media

During the hullabaloo about the SOPA boycott various members of the US Congress and Senate were quoted saying utterly ridiculous things about how wikipedia – a free site – was punishing its consumers (and other such idiotic things: apparently Congressmen and Senators only approve of grandstanding when they do it themselves). But the worst comments …

2010, Books, Non-Fiction

The Mendacity of Hope (2010) by Roger D. Hodge

I was extremely skeptical of this book when I was lent it by my father. I don’t particularly like polemics and I figured, despite the claims on the back cover, that I would react the usual way to such things: which is that I would dismiss outright after 25-50 pages. Sure enough that was my …

2011, Politics, Society

Oh Stephen, you’ve done it again

Today it was announced that there would be a significant number of extra seats added to parliament, in BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. It is estimated that these seats will add $11 million to the cost of a single election, not to mention that added cost of MP and staff salaries, which will probably be …

2011, Books, Non-Fiction

Empire of Illusion by Chris Hedges

I agree with much of what Hedges has to say (excepting his chapter on Porn, see below) but I don’t agree with the way he says it or many of his claims about the “what” that he has identified as destroying the US. Yes, the US is clearly headed for worse times, and this is …

2008, Books, Non-Fiction

American Fascists by Chris Hedges (Free Press 2008)

I agree with Hedges just about 100% in regard to the similarities between the Christian Right in the United States and Nazis, Fascists and the like. So he was preaching to the converted with me. I think his relatively cogent assessment of fascism is definitely helped by the investigative journalist parts which add a human …

2011, Politics, Society

The Bargain of a Lifetime

For only 39.6% of the popular vote, you get… Tax cuts and increased government spending on things you don’t need! (jet planes, assault vehicles, riot cops in the country’s most populous city) But wait! There’s more! For calling while the population believed that elections were expensive relative to the annual government budget and while politicians …

Philosophy, Politics, Society

Why is metaphysics dangerous in the hands of those who govern us?

Metaphysics, i.e the study of “things” outside of physical reality, is incredibly dangerous for politics. But first, why do we use metaphysics? For some reason or other, human beings need to use abstracts to express themselves. We cannot always refer our ideas to concrete things. There is a whole field of philosophy that studies this …

Politics, Society

A Brief Attempt at Elucidating my Political Views

A liberal form of government – i.e. a government which is restrained by an enforceable bill of individual rights and complementary “checks and balances” – is necessary to protect individuals from the great power of the state. This is true and will continue to be true as long as the “state” has more power than …