Tag Archives: Alex Ripley

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: Alex Ripley

My good friend and fellow pundit Chris Burke recently published in this space a passionate critique of the policies and legacy of the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. While Thatcher and I would certainly not have seen eye-to-eye on many things, I feel compelled to respectfully disagree with Mr. Burke’s analysis. As such, I am offering up my own fleeting assessment of the career, accomplishments, and memory of Margaret Thatcher. The 1837 Society, of course, has no views of its own – it is merely a forum for thoughtful discussion – and it is in times like these that the Society becomes a most effective vehicle for picking apart controversial issues.


Margaret Thatcher was, of course, the consummate neo-liberal. She was an unabashed defender of the free market, and a fierce enemy of the encroaching state. Whether or not her policies have left a positive legacy three decades out is not what I’m discussing here. Rather, I’ll argue that a capitalist warrior such as Thatcher was exactly the savior Britain needed in 1979.

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By: Alex Ripley

Full disclosure: I have been working with Joyce Murray’s campaign for several months, and presently serve as the Toronto Youth Chair. I have sought to keep this analysis as objective as possible, and apologize for any bias which has shone through.

trudeau up garneau down

The recent departure of Marc Garneau from the race for the leadership of the Liberal Party has kept the pundits busy. Mr. Garneau’s bowing-out has left Joyce Murray as the sole remaining serious challenger to the dauphin, Justin Trudeau. Trudeau is unbeatable, says the media (and Mr. Garneau).  I disagree. The race has lots of life in its yet. Let me tell you why.

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By: Alex Ripley

The Ontario Liberal Party meets this weekend for its first leadership convention since 1996; the outcome of the contest, which will doubtless stretch out over many ballots, is really anyone’s guess.

The six candidates vying for the title of leader are all well qualified and essentially likeable. And while Kathleen Wynne and ex-MPP Sandra Pupatello are both significantly ahead of their male counterparts (Dr. Eric Hoskins, Gerard Kennedy, Charles Sousa, and Harinder Tahkar) in terms of support, neither has the immediate confidence of anywhere close to a majority of the nearly 2,300 delegates meeting this weekend at Maple Leaf Gardens.


Should Pupatello or Wynne gain the crucial 50% plus one level of support, Ontario will have its first female Premier. It has been suggested, however, that none of the candidates are offering any particularly fresh or new policy proposals. The suggestion has been that all six are offering up essentially the same vision: that of a continuation of the prudent but progressive policies espoused by outgoing Premier Dalton McGuinty since his election in 2003.

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By: Alex Ripley

It’s not an easy time to be a Liberal in Canada. The party that for so long enjoyed support in all corners of the land now counts in its caucus lots of Maritimers, a few Montrealers and Torontonians, and only four MPs from ridings west of Guelph, Ontario. How the mighty have fallen.

Last week, MP Justin Trudeau (Papineau) announced his intention to seek the Party leadership. Trudeau has an enviable surname (if you’re a Liberal). At forty, he looks good, sounds good, and can work a crowd like a master. Is he the man to breathe new life into a downtrodden organization? I don’t think so.

For starters, there’s the fact that Trudeau doesn’t seem to bring anything new to the Liberal policy front. His nomination speech in Montreal contained lots of references to how much he loved Canada, how passionate he was about the middle class, and so on. The Liberals can’t survive on vague platitudes alone. They need, in the style of Stephen Harper, substantive, meaningful policies that can then be translated into vague platitudes for the benefit of the politically disengaged.

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By: Chris Burke

The long-awaited provincial election is finally underway in Quebec.  Taking place against a backdrop of student protests and government/mafia corruption, if there’s one election you follow this year: Make it this one.  My co-editor, Alex Ripley, has taken to opining on the election in his recent piece for the 1837 Society.  His opinions are evidence of his, I say this with good-spirits, terminal foot-in-mouth disease that do not give fair consideration to where the people of Quebec are coming from.

Bill 101, a controversial bill designed to preserve the French language, has been the centre of attention in Quebec for decades.  The Parti Quebecois promises to take the spirit of the bill further by barring students in Quebec from attending English language junior colleges.  While I am onside with Ripley in agreeing that the constitutionality of the bill may be questionable, I do not lament over its effects to the same degree.  Ripley gives the example of Anglo families having their “Merry Christmas” signs torn down and being told to put up “Joyeux Noel”.  That this example reminds me of those who cry out about a War on Christmas whenever someone says “Happy Holidays” only adds to my annoyance towards this petty argument.

Bill 101 is an attempt, however flawed, to preserve a language and culture that appears to be threatened.  Ripley’s response to this is that it does a disservice to the youth of Quebec.  English is the dominate language it is needed to conduct business in the global market place.  While true, this is a very neoliberal attitude to take towards the Quebec identity.  For some, like Quebec Solidaire, protecting that language and culture is more important than engaging in international business and we should note the “ought vs. is” dilemma.

Ripley suggests that cutting ties with the province would make life a fair bit easier for the rest of us.  As I was reading Ripley’s statement, I could not help but think of Canada’s most useless contribution to political discourse: Ezra Levant.  Who has supported Quebec separation on the basis that it would decrease the level of multi-culturalism in this nation.  Both Ripley and Levant take on a, “it would make the rest of us happy” attitude towards separation that is aimed more towards pleasing Anglo interests than it is Franco ones.  We must distinguish between outright separation and a push for more sovereignty.  More power in the hands of the province is not the same as Quebec going off to form its own nation, a difference that I think is lost in this discussion.  Further, Ripley conveniently ignores public opinion in Quebec.  A 2009 Angus Reid poll showed that a majority of Quebecers (79%) desired more autonomy, but only 28% supported separation.  Additionally, 54% of those polled answered “No”, to the question “Do you believe Quebec should become a separate country from Canada”, and only 20% believed a separation would ever happen. (Separation From Canada Unlikely for a Majority of Quebecers).  May I then suggest, to Ripley and like-minded thinkers, that rather than dreaming about how life would be easier if Quebec separated and creating this false image of a people that cannot stand their English counterparts, we actually listen to what the people of Quebec are saying and work towards a reasonable compromise.  It may reduce the number of reported foot-in-mouth cases.

By: Alex Ripley

I don’t talk about Quebec very often. Maybe I’m just all too aware of my terminal case of foot-in-mouth disease. Whatever the excuse, the fact remains: I can’t remember the last time I wrote about or discussed, however casually, the politics of Quebec and of the French language in Canada.

I’m going to make up for that prolonged radio silence. For starters, the facts: Quebec is having a provincial election this fall, and the governing Liberals (in power since 2003 under the leadership of lapsed federal Tory Jean Charest) are, according to Leger Marketing, trailing in the polls.[i] Enter Pauline Marois, the sixty-three year old leader of the Parti Quebecois. Madame Marois doesn’t just want to be Premier. She wants to be the Premier who spearheads a successful campaign for secession.

The PQ has long relished tough talk; seldom have their deeds lived up to their words and rhetorical plays. Their stints in office have left a mark on Quebec though. Take, for example, the “Charter of the French Language”, or Bill 101. Introduced by the first Parti Quebecois administration in the mid-1970s, this now-infamous piece of legislation put severe limits on where and when one could employ the English language in Quebec’s public spaces. Signage in the language spoken by the rest of Canada was torn down; Anglo families who simply tried to put “Merry Christmas” signs in their windows were instructed to play by the rules and bid their neighbors “Joyeux Noel.”

The constitutionality of Bill 101 is been debated over the years, but its supporters have argued that the legislation is but a necessary tool for the preservation of the French language amid a continent of English speakers. Pauline Marois wants to revisit Bill 101.[ii] Marois’ plan would block most francophone and allophone students from attending English language CEGEPs (junior colleges.)

Quebec may not be an officially bilingual province, but it is – for now, at least – a component of an officially bilingual federation. In English Canada, students are free to study in French, if French immersion education is available. The government isn’t blocking access. I understand and respect those who desire to protect and preserve the French language and Quebecois culture. By limiting access to English-speaking CEGEPs, however, the PQ would ultimately be doing a disservice to the youth of Quebec. English is the language of the rest of Canada, and of business and science internationally. There most be other ways to protect Quebecois culture than to deny young Francophones the opportunity to complete their schooling in the lingua franca of the modern age.

The Parti Quebecois would likely disagree with what I’ve said here. However, I am a strong believer in what in the United States would be called “states rights”, and I’m not about to suggest that Ottawa or the rest of Canada should limit the ability of Quebec to legislate on education or cultural policy. So let me leave you with this question: is it time to let Quebec go? If preserving the French language must be done in such a way that the priorities and sensibilities of the rest of Canada are offended, then perhaps it’s time cut the ties and let the province go its own way. It would make life a fair bit easier for the rest of us. I don’t want it to come to that, and as such I hope Madame Marois and the PQ are defeated on September 4th. But if the separatists do eke out a victory, I might, deep down, let out a little cheer.