Opinion Blog

By: Chris Burke

Time for the politicians, people, and business leaders of Alberta to start accepting the obvious fact: The floods experienced in Calgary are going to turn into a more frequent occurrence unless serious action is taken on climate change.  Serious action means decreasing, and eventually ending, production of the tar sands which are a serious contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.


In a more ideal world it wouldn’t take a disaster to get people to realize they need to do something to prevent more disasters from happening in the future, sadly that’s the way the wind blows.  The destruction brought upon New York by Hurricane Sandy was necessary for officials there to start paying attention to the reality that New York is vulnerable to extreme weather events.  Whether this will turn into a commitment to mitigate and adapt to climate change is another matter.

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By: Alex Ripley

This is the time of year for big, national celebrations. July 1st marks Canada Day, and today, on July 4th, our neighbors to the south celebrate the 237th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The trend continues internationally: France celebrates Bastille Day on July 14th, and observances on July 28th traditionally mark Peru’s 1821 independence from Spain. Summer, it seems, is a time for patriotism.


I’m not a zealous patriot, to be honest. So much of my academic work has focused on the decline of the nation state that I now find it somewhat difficult to get excited about or proud of an entity which has lost much its relevance to the global system. But when patriotism offers an opportunity for people to come together to set and celebrate common goals, achievements, and histories, I can get on board. The problem is, you need to know exactly what you’re celebrating.

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By: Evan Engering

The plaintiffs contend that segregated public schools are not “equal” and cannot be made “equal,” and that hence they are deprived of the equal protection of the laws. [1]

These words, first argued by the legal team of Oliver L. Brown sixty years ago last December and reargued sixty years ago this December, were the central argument in the consolidated landmark US Supreme Court case, Brown v. Education Board of Topeka. The court case, a constitutional challenge to the concept of “separate but equal” established in the 1896 Supreme Court decision Plessy v. Ferguson, was a major victory for the civil rights movement in America, as it spelled out the end of segregated school systems, allowing children of all races the chance to integrate and learn together in the same public school system.

elem school
As the sixtieth anniversary of the arguing of the case passes by without much reverence, I am reminded of our own segregated public school system in Ontario. In a meeting of the Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation, participating delegates voted to adopt a policy resolution calling for a single, secular public school system in the province.[2]

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By: Martin Pharand

 The 2013 Conference on Responsible Investing is taking place in Vancouver, and all the promotional material has got me thinking… Ever since I wrote my first blog for 1837, about social impact bonds and their potential to bridge the gap between the public and private sectors; I’ve asked myself, why is it that we will do anything to see government virtually disappear?

soc fin

I do believe that the potential for social finance and the social sector to create positive change is undeniable. I think it is a lovely thing, to reduce the size of government and replace that void with socially conscious and entrepreneurial organizations dedicated to creating public value in a fiscally sustainable way.

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By: Martin Pharand

Ontario’s 2013 budget “A Prosperous and Fair Ontario” maintains the provincial government’s commitment to solid infrastructure funding. However, behind this seemingly positive announcement lies the instructive history of how Metrolinx came to be and why, today, we need to begin loudly supporting Metrolinx’s proposed revenue tools to build modern transit.


Ontario’s 2013 budget outlines a number of important promissory statements and commitments to infrastructure. Of particular note, if you haven’t already heard, are the High-Occupancy-Toll (HOT) lanes. These lanes will replace select HOV lanes on major thoroughfares, and charge a toll for single passenger vehicles. The idea being that single passenger vehicle commuters are big contributor to traffic congestion and so, by increasing the cost of travel, the right sample of commuters will begin to take transit or carpool; reducing gridlock, and emissions.

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By: Chris Burke

Anger is brewing over a recent decision by the administration at the University of Waterloo to raise tuition fees in the middle of the Summer term.  Students have expressed frustration over the decision to raise the fees as there was little consultation with the students prior to the decision.  Further, the increase comes at a time when the Ontario government is moving to put a cap on tuition increases at 3%, down from the original 5%.  The timing of the increase comes off as a cash grab.  An effort to increase tuition before the 3% cap comes into effect.

student protest

The administration has responded pointing out that an e-mail back at the start of the term indicating this increase would occur was sent.  Reactions to this have been mixed as some students I’ve talked to say they recall the e-mails while others have no recollection.  I can’t say I remember the e-mail though I don’t always read everything UW sends me.  Students will gloss over those e-mails before deleting them, a fact the administration should’ve considered.  Increasing the fees the way they did, the administration has argued, was necessary due to the way the budgeting process works and the uncertainty that surrounded the Ontario 2013 budget.

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By: Chris Burke

Words alone cannot describe the anger I hold towards Bill-C54 and its supporters.   The 1837 Society is intended to be a place of civilized discussion.  Well today civility is dead: This bill is damn awful.  Those who support it are awful.


Bill C-54, the latest travesty of a crime bill put forward by the lets-ignore-all-evidence-about-how-to-handle-those-who-commit-crimes Conservative Party would change the process of how an individual is deemed “Not Criminally Responsible” in a manner that would likely see them thrown in prison rather than receiving much needed medical help.  This vile piece of legislation ensures that the stigma towards mental illness will remain in Canadian society for a long time.

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