The day after winning the election, Prime Minister Trudeau proclaimed to the world that 35 million Canadians were now "back" and the team behind him seemed to revel in that line. Such a bold claim within hours of an election win deserves some scrutiny to find out where Canada had been if we were now back.
There are tax credits for putting your kids in sports or music lessons, for volunteer firefighting, for taking a bus, for fixing up your kitchen, and for joining a search and rescue team. All worthy things, sure, but expensive for taxpayers. Now we're talking about a leftovers tax credit. Where will this trend end?
It has become clear that climate change will disproportionately impact the world's most vulnerable because they are heavily dependent on resources that will be affected by climatic change. Whether by virtue of socio-economic status, conflict, gender or geography, certain groups are more liable than others to be negatively impacted by climate change, which directly implicates the question of human rights. How will this differentially influence people's lives, living conditions and livelihoods, and who are the most vulnerable?
Rachel Notley's challenge has been to reassure the fiercely skeptical Alberta business elites that were horrified to wake up last May to discover the NDP had risen to power. With the economy already hammered by plummeting oil prices, they feared that the New Democrats would inflict further damage through a climate change plan that would drive up costs and cripple the oil sands. But business leaders in the Alberta can read the financial press as well as the rest of us and now seem to be buying Rachel Notley's view that they better try to be part of the solution.
It's encouraging that our newly elected federal government has agreed to improve efforts to safeguard Canada's oceans. Ocean protection here is shamefully deficient, currently at around one per cent. Weak ocean protection hinders our coasts' ability to remain resilient in the face of many challenges.
In an attempt to increase transparency, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made "mandate letters" to his ministers publicly available. These letters are intended to clarify the focus of each minister's portfolio. When it comes to the mandate delineated for the minister of finance, the prime minister should seriously rethink some of the priorities.
I couldn't help but ache for the families that do not have a warm home to come home to. The families who have had to leave their entire lives behind to be shelled to oblivion while they risk their own lives to give their children a future. These people are human beings struggling to simply stay alive and are risking everything they have ever known in order to do so.
The current system has tremendous shortcomings -- it abandons victims, leaving them to heal alone, at times powerless, and without any meaningful answers. There is a better way to help victims heal and to hold offenders accountable for their acts while empowering them to improve their lives. That alternative is restorative justice.
For those of us with the luxury of not being consumed by grief, now is the best time to talk about issues related to terrorism, such as racism, Western exceptionalism, refugee policy and hate crimes. Post-tragedy, we're engaged enough to pay attention to the important issues we usually ignore.
Like all westerners, I watched in horror at the terror that was unleashed across Paris. But my horror quickly turned to frustration when, immediately in the aftermath, western leaders took advantage of the situation to reinforce a false narrative, and to justify the very policies that have brought us to such a crisis. Our governments do not want us to understand that wittingly or unwittingly (the jury is still out on what role they have really played) they created the conditions for the rise of ISIS, and they did so through exactly the same disastrous policies that they now claim are the only way to destroy it.
The cruelty of ISIL is matched only by its shrewd assessment of the West. The masterminds of the Paris attacks were keenly aware of the seething anti-Muslim bigotry that bubbles just below the surface of our society. ISIL's attack on Paris was intended to invoke psychological and emotional pain, intended to threaten the very ideals we presume to be fighting for. It was intended to confirm for these refugees that they cannot escape the long-reaching arm of ISIL; that even if their children have escaped the blades of ISIL's swords, they will not escape the West's leveraged hatred in what is becoming a two-front war against these victims.
Emissions targets were the kind of policy that we needed in the tar sands a decade ago, but today the measure of climate leadership isn't a target for what you won't put in the air -- it's legislation that listen to the science and keeps fossil fuels in the ground.
I acknowledge that good, well-meaning people who genuinely care about Syrian refugees can have perfectly valid concerns about the security risk of bringing in tens of thousands of people from a war zone. It is as large an undertaking as it sounds. So, in light of Canadian political leaders playing on Canadians' concerns to spread fear and disinformation, I decided to research how Canada screens, accepts and settles Syrian refugees. It is my hope we can dispel fear and confusion with facts, reason and compassion.
The larger fallacy in viewing the attacks in Paris and elsewhere as a shift in strategy is the premise that the ISIS state-building project and the notion of attacking the far enemy are mutually exclusive. ISIS hopes to instill terror in its enemies and reinforce Muslim versus non-Muslim divides in civilian populations. It hopes to sow division and discord on the enemies' home fronts.
If the inquiry itself starts in the summer, as recently indicated, because the government took the time to get the pre-consultation right, that would be a positive thing. If we don't consult properly now, we've sunk the inquiry before it begins. Let's all remember this.
I don't fault the New York Times liberal editorial pages celebrating a Liberal victory in Canada. It's their paper and they can print what they want. What got me were the Canadian journalists who rushed to their liberal friends down south with op-eds to complain how awful things were up here under Harper.
To attribute Justin Trudeau's ascendancy to a rock star phenomenon such as his father Pierre Trudeau experienced back in 1968 is to misread current Canadian politics. What happened, in fact, was less a cult of personality than a national plebiscite on the rule of the much-hated incumbent, Stephen Harper.
Those who are affected by sexual violence and harassment do not feel safe, they do not feel heard, and they do not feel they can come forward. But little by little, we are making a positive change. And we're doing this by educating, empowering and informing people that sexual violence and harassment is never okay. Because we can and must change -- change the way we talk about sexual violence and harassment, how we confront misogyny and sexism, how we teach young people what consent means.
As is usually the case in the rush to war, this chorus of angry voices ignores the messy and uncomfortable reality of the situation. They propose a course of action that would put Canada in greater danger, strengthen its geopolitical foes, involve a far greater sacrifice than Canadians are willing to make, and fail to improve the situation in Syria or Iraq.