In his 2013 address to the National Jewish Fund, Prime Minister Harper vocally embraced Israel as “a light of freedom and democracy in what is otherwise a region of darkness,” insulting outright all other nations in the Middle East. When asked about settlements during his visit to Israel earlier this year, Harper refused to “single out the state of Israel” by offering any criticism, and was again quick to paint the region with the same orientalist brush, alluding to forces of terrorism and darkness.
Nary a Supreme Court decision nor a woman desperately yelling her pleas in a committee room can stop this government from barreling through. Soldiering on. All of the clichés that come to mind seem to be violent in some way. Perhaps that’s worth noting and chewing on, given the circumstances.
As much as it pains me to say this, I think David Moscrop touches on a fair point in his latest column. His tone may tend toward academic condescension (that’s kind of his thing), but I agree that, if democracy is to be an exercise of informed consent, the degree to which we are informed merits reflection.
Voter turnout across the country is hitting all-time lows, polling shows Canadians lack confidence in their political institutions and our Prime Minister is among the least trusted leaders in the Western hemisphere. The past year’s numerous spending scandals and a third prorogation of Parliament only add fuel to the fire of public discontent many Canadians expressed by mobilizing en masse like never before — Occupy, Québec’s Printemps Érable and Idle No More saw thousands hit the streets. In this age of rapid communication, some believe Canadians are losing patience with traditional institutional channels of political engagement, turning to more individualized and informal activities instead.
Science is supposed to be the objective arbitrator between ideological extremes in our democracy.
Some people readily consume information at face value. Others regard anything disseminated from what may appear to be an authority figure with such a high degree of skepticism (contempt, even) that they trust nothing.
The best bridge between these two camps is science — quantifiable or qualifiable facts.
I’m a huge fan of the wisdom of crowds. You never know what you might learn from someone outside your ‘bubble’ that could help you improve your project or initiative.
Whether it’s a community group seeking feedback on its new website, a bunch of friends starting a topical chat around a hashtag on Twitter, or a local government seeking public input on the policy-making process, public engagement is ubiquitous and can take many forms. That said, there are some common principles that are too often overlooked. I was asked to pick my top five, which was tough, but after careful consideration, here they are. Continue reading
“Put the argument into a concrete shape, into an image, some hard phrase, round and solid as a ball, which they can see and handle and carry home with them, and the cause is half won.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
No one had ever heard of a Senate page gone rogue before Brigette DePape unexpectedly stepped into the public eye. This young woman, then 21 years old and gainfully employed by the Senate of Canada, dared to interrupt the Governor General’s reading of the Speech from the Throne on June 3, 2011 by solemnly walking across the floor of the Senate chamber, in full uniform, completely silent, stopping to stand just behind the Supreme Court justices and before observers in the gallery, her white-gloved hands holding up a handmade red stop sign that read “Stop Harper!” in bold white painted letters. This lasted for just under a minute, until she was quietly escorted away by the Sergeant-at-Arms. The Governor kept reading and hardly flinched, but news of the young woman’s actions quickly rippled throughout the political sphere, regardless. According to a piece in the Winnipeg Free Press the following day, “within 20 minutes of her holding the sign in the Senate, she was one of the top 10 trending topics on Twitter in Canada and, within an hour, she had her own fan page on Facebook.”