Archive

Essays

By: Jared Milne

In Part I of this essay, we discussed the origins of Quebec nationalism and how it developed into a desire by Francophone Quebecers to have their province recognized as a distinct society within Canada. In Part II, we saw how Pierre Trudeau sought to counter this as Prime Minister of Canada, how he fought subsequent attempts to recognize Quebec’s distinctiveness, and how the Trudeau Paradox emerged from it. In Part III, we’ll see a possible way around the Trudeau Paradox, as well as the fact that there’s a lot more common ground between Francophone Quebecers and their fellow Canadians than most people realize.

trudeau

Is there a solution to the problems raised by the Trudeau Paradox? Currently, we’re stuck in a polarized situation. Either one supports Trudeau’s vision and the reforms associated with it, or one supports the separation of Quebec. There doesn’t seem to be any room for the middleground anymore, one that recognizes the unique challenges Quebec faces and supports the recognition of that province as a distinct society, while also recognizing that the province is part of Canada and shares common values and challenges with the rest of us.

Read More

By: Jared Milne

Part I of this essay discussed the origins of Quebec nationalism and the desire of Francophone Quebecers to have their province recognized as a “distinct society” within Canada. This desire was fiercely opposed by Quebec political thinker Pierre Trudeau, who became Prime Minister of Canada in 1968. Trudeau was seen as speaking for Francophone Quebecers, and his critics would claim that he was just the first Prime Minister from Quebec to impose that province’s agenda on the rest of Canada. However, in this part we’ll see that Trudeau’s agenda was quite different from what most Francophone Quebec thinkers were advocating.

repatriation

Trudeau’s reforms, including the way he implemented bilingualism across Canada and advocated for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, were meant to undercut any sort of claim by Quebec to its distinctiveness. He supported bilingualism on a strictly individual basis, believing that if French was further reinforced across Canada it would undermine Quebec’s claim to be a distinctly Francophone majority province. Similarly, multiculturalism would make Francophone Canadians just one of many communities of many different backgrounds that exist in Canada. Enshrining the rights of all Canadians in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would further cement an overall Canadian identity, over and above any provincial identity.[1] He justified his support for government intervention such as social programs as being a way to help everyone get an equal chance to make the best use of their talents, as their circumstances were not all the same.[2]

Read More

By: Jared Milne

The results of last year’s provincial election in Quebec, which returned the Parti Quebecois to power, only reconfirmed the perceptions many Canadians in other parts of the country had of Quebec. The rest of Canada continues to consider the province as spoiled and entitled; still musing about separating from Canada despite having dominated the political agenda for nearly four decades and having received billions of dollars in transfer payments. Separation is seen simply as a way for Quebec to blackmail more power and money from the rest of the country.

Quebec_city

 

The province is also seen as intolerant because of language legislation like Bill 101 which other Canadians believe restricts individual rights and freedom of choice, particularly the rights of its Anglo-Quebec minority. Past Prime Ministers like Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney and Jean Chretien are seen as having only cared about their own province, blowing off many of the concerns of other parts of Canada. These attitudes prevail despite the rest of Canada’s efforts to accommodate Quebec by accepting bilingualism and the growing enrolment of children in French immersion schools, which is what they thought Francophone Quebecers were looking for.

Read More

By: Alexandra Savilo

Located in the Kenora district of Northern Ontario, the aboriginal reserve of Attawapiskat has received a great deal of press attention since 2011. For on October 28th of that year, the First Nations leadership declared a state of emergency in response to health and safety concerns that would result from dropping temperatures as winter was approaching and the reserve suffered from inadequate housing.[1] Additionally, Attawapiskat residents also endured an evacuation during flood conditions in May 2009 as well as the closing of their sole elementary school due to toxic fumes that had seeped into the ground underneath the school from a 1978 diesel spill.[2] Yet the main topic that was and is billeted in the Canadian media is the housing crisis in Attawapiskat. Of the hundreds of articles that have been written on the subject, many writers beg the question: why did this happen? While some potential theses have proposed underfunding, others posit mismanagement of funds. Yet, the common thread that connects most articles is a general lack of knowledge of how First Nations reserves operate in a budgetary way.

attawapiskat 3

What this essay aims to espouse, therefore, is an in-depth analysis of the housing crisis. Beginning with an examination of important government treaties and legislation, this essay will determine how much power rests within the government of Canada at either the federal or provincial level vis-à-vis how much power the Attawapiskat First Nations leadership has over its own territory. Afterwards, the essay will investigate the audit made by Deloitte for Attawapiskat in 2012 and determine its findings to understand how much onus was put onto the First Nations leadership, third party management and/or co-management. Finally, this essay will examine the media’s reaction to the housing crisis and audit to determine how founded the above theses are and how the media propels the crisis in Attawapiskat. After developing thoroughly the above arguments, the essay aims to conclude that Attawapiskat is located in a catch-22. While it is currently inconclusive to fully convict the First Nations band of mismanagement, it is equally as inconclusive to accuse the government of Canada of underfunding due to an inordinate lack of documentation that will likely remain hidden with reason.

Read More

Canada’s “first-past-the-post” (FPTP)  electoral system has historically led to long lasting majority governments in both federal and provincial level parliaments; where the lead party obtains a legislative majority of seats. The Canadian political experience with majorities under FPTP has entrenched a reactionary disdain for minority government in Canadian politics.[1] The governing party of a minority parliament normally sees itself in an unstable, temporary state that it must endure before obtaining majority status in the next election. Pundits declare a virtual loss for whichever party wins the most seats in a minority and assert that the new minority government is an inefficient lame-duck.[2] Majority government has become the “natural” way to govern Canada.

Nevertheless, minority governments are sometimes the products of close elections, but they do not necessarily need to be the unstable, lame-ducks that Canadians tend to think of. A coalition is just one of several solutions in managing a decidedly unstable minority parliament with responsible government. The idea of a coalition parliamentary government, however, has been relatively absent from Canadian politics save for its brief consideration after the federal election of 2008.[3] Though coalition governance is ubiquitous in parliamentary democracies throughout the world, it is a term still unfamiliar to Canadians. In other countries governed by parliamentary democracy, multi-party coalitions are the norm. Canadians, on the other hand, think of coalitions as formal party mergers such as the Canadian Alliance-Progressive Conservative merger of 2003 that formed the broad coalition that is today’s Conservative Party of Canada. [4] Coalitions in this paper will be defined as cooperative parliamentary government formed between distinctly separate political parties.

House-of-Commons

Coalitions should be seen as a means to effectively govern minority parliaments, yet its opponents in Canada have pre-emptively declared multi-party government to be undemocratic.[5] This assumption negates the merits of coalition governance and overlooks Canada’s lack of experience with it. By examining the Canadian experience with minority government, by providing foreign examples of coalition parliamentary governance, and by highlighting the implications of coalition governance such as the need for electoral reform, this article will argue for the application of multi-party coalition governance to Canadian parliamentary democracy.

Read More

To the average Westerner, the Syrian uprising appears uncontroversial and straightforward. For the most part, media outlets have unanimously portrayed the conflict as a courageous uprising suffering under the brutal assault of Assad’s repressive regime. While this narrative has some truth, it is merely an oversimplification that is stripped bare of context. For those who wish to appreciate the complexity of the conflict in Syria, the domestic and international forces surrounding the uprising must be understood within a wider framework of international relations. The purpose of this article is to provide a more illuminating political assessment of the powers and interests acting both within and upon Syria.

Observations from the media show that there are concerted efforts by the international community and the United Nations (UN) to intervene or mediate the protracted civil war within Syria. However, these portrayals of concerted international mediation are misleading as they do not acknowledge the competing interests of the individual actors involved in the conflict.

Read More

The repeal of Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act has been hailed by many as a victory for freedom of expression.[1] The section gave the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal the power to sanction individuals for speech deemed to promote hatred towards recognizable groups. The power to sanction such hate speech is now solely in the hands of the judiciary. However, this decision highlights fundamental tensions between individual and collective rights and interests which often emerge in human rights debates. Some commentators argue that repealing Section 13 does not go far enough in removing restrictions on free expression. For example, the noted columnist Andrew Coyne argues that Section 319.2 of the Criminal Code of Canada should be similarly appealed and free speech should only be limited where it causes an identifiable harm to a specific individual.[2] Is Andrew Coyne right to conclude that harm should be the singular impetus to override free expression? Or can a democratic society reasonably impose greater limitations on the civil discourse than those flowing solely from the harm principle? This article will argue that, greater limitations are not only legally permissible but may also be desirable.

Read More