News

September 14, 2021, The Globe and Mail
In his famous 14th-century work The Inferno, the Italian poet Dante Alighieri created a special abode in hell for wily flatterers. He considered sycophancy a wrongdoing against the entire community – a deceit with the potential to alter society for the worse.

Dante might have nodded knowingly had he observed Canada’s leader-courtiers line up to pay obeisance to Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet’s defense of the indefensible during last week’s federal election debates. The quid pro quo was each leader’s personal support for Bill 21, the Quebec legislation that prohibits the display of religious symbols by public-sector workers in the workplace, in return for potential electoral support in the province. [more]

Saturday June 11, 2021, The Globe and Mail

Two Solitudes. That was the title of Hugh MacLennan’s famous 1945 book about the chasm between Quebec and the “Rest of Canada” – a fault line that has been negotiated continuously since the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759. But what if there were three solitudes all along, the third being the Indigenous nations that were suffering cultural decimation far below the radar of most Canadians? I was born and raised in Ontario and never heard, or read, a word about residential schools during close to two decades of schooling. Textbooks referenced the original Indian wars, but what happened to the Indigenous populations as the entity known as Canada emerged was obscured. [more]

Monday, May 17, 2021, The Globe and Mail

There’s an elephant in the room we call Canada: our Charter’s notwithstanding clause.

Agreed to in 1981, the clause – which allows any Canadian government, federal or provincial, to override certain elements of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms – was a uniquely Canadian compromise. It was controversial from the start. We believe in civil and human rights for all, don’t we? On the other hand, in 1981, few of the nervous leaders who signed on thought it would be used often, if at all. They stressed the positive – in particular, the belief that it balanced the respective powers of Parliament and the judiciary. Furthermore, there were safeguards: It contained a five-year sunset clause, and a displeased electorate could throw out a government that sought to diminish basic freedoms. [more]

Derek Chauvin, not America, is on trial — and conflating the issue threatens our democracy

Monday, April 19, 2021, The Globe and Mail In full democracies, which are characterized by independent judiciaries, the foundation of a criminal prosecution is that an individual – not the environment in which he or she lives – is on trial. Yet it has become common to suggest, as in the George Floyd case, that […]

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Who decides what happened yesterday? Americans are in a fierce fight to control the national narrative

Friday, February 19, 2021, The Globe and Mail “He who controls the present controls the past. He who controls the past controls the future,” wrote George Orwell in his iconic work, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Or, put differently, as I asked in my book, Long Shadows: Truth, Lies and History, who gets to decide what happened yesterday? […]

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