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Tag Archives: Martin Pharand

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.

metrolinx

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: Martin Pharand

When you vote, who do you vote for, your constituency rep, the party they belong to, or the leader of that party? If you consider your answer carefully, I think you will find that your answer quite clearly communicates a set political perspective or set of values. If you found yourself not caring too much about a party leader I applaud your originality; because I am inclined to think, especially in light of recent events, that Canadian overvaluation of party leaders happens much to the detriment of our democracy and to the freedom of speech of our MPs. I have discussed political culture and the trouble of determining whether institutions influence behaviour or vice versa (link of previous article). Bearing the above question, your answer and that difficulty in mind; and as a matter of retribution, come along with me, and consider the recent ‘Warawa Affair’ and the state of big ‘L’ Liberal-ism, in Canada.

spring cleaning

Last month Conservative backbenchers attempted to raise the issue of abortion in the House and were silenced by our mighty PM. These MPs, led by one Mark Warawa, then tried and failed to argue that this was a contravention of their right to deliver member’s statements.

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By: Martin Pharand

Liberal leadership hopeful Marc Garneau announced recently that he would reverse the Federal Government’s restrictive Arctic research information regulations. These regulations have come under attack by both Canadian and American researchers who say the regulations limit the freedom with which scientific information is made available.

break the ice

Although this issue may seem black and white for some, the central reason why the government maintains the right to impose confidentiality agreements is because of its extensive involvement in Arctic research projects. Assistant Deputy Minister from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Ecosystems and Ocean Science Sector (a classic mouthful!) defended the regulations by saying they streamline departmental publication procedures, focusing specifically on matters of intellectual property.

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By: Martin Pharand

There are a number of ways of thinking about Senate reform or parliamentary reform in general. At 1837 we’ve been compelled, by recent events (google ‘Brazeau’) to write about the former as a means of reinvigorating Canadian political life. Some have decided to argue the case of inaction, suggesting a number of reasons why a reformed Senate may not be in our best interest. They state that Canadians have little faith in political parties or ‘whipped’ politicians (things, he believes, would be present in a reformed Senate), that today’s Senate serves an important role by making the long-term decisions the House cannot (something that may be lost if the Senate is elected) and that merely reforming the Senate is meaningless compared to a fresh start with an entirely new political system.

stacked senate

Chris Burke is contributing to the Senate reform discussion when he states that a reformed Senate may be infected by partisanship, and that electing the Senate alone, could destroy its ability to provide long term consideration of issues. I get these criticisms and I think they can be laid squarely in opposition to Clement Nocos’ suggestion, that the Senate should be replaced with the Council of the Federation. But as an approach to institutional reform, one cannot withhold reform measures because of a lingering desire to get rid of our system of governance entirely. This not only compounds the apathy already felt by Canadians, it contradicts the realities of policymaking, of our system of government and I think there is a way of bridging the gap with different reform options, that would be amenable to Chris’ perspective.

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By: Martin Pharand

In front of the Supreme Court of Canada as of February 1st are 6 questions regarding the legality of proposed reform measures for the Senate. These 6 questions address term limits, methods of electing senators (either nationally or provincially) and complete abolition. Despite the potential reasons for delaying senate reform, it is high time this Government open and shut the Senate reform case for good.

CAsenate

It is no secret that Canadian voter apathy and negative feelings toward Canada’s democracy are on the rise. A recent study conducted by Samara Canada (another good source is the Reinventing Parliament series in the Globe and Mail) states that although MPs in the Commons cover what Canadians care about, they still do not feel that confident in their legislature’s ability to affect change in those areas. The study then goes on to suggest several potential avenues for changing Parliament and then appeals to Canadians for more suggestions. The following are my thoughts and suggestions; the central thrust of which is reforming the Senate. (as a first step before getting to the Commons)

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By: Martin Pharand

Not in an attempt to have the last word, I would like to make a brief comment about Chris and I’s discussion regarding socialism and capitalism (all of which can be viewed in older blog posts).

I find it an interesting and eerie coincidence that Chris shares the first name of one of my favourite intellectuals, the late great Christopher Hitchens. In Hitchens’ early life as an active member of the left, Christopher demanded that he be called Chris rather than Christopher. I can only assume that this stemmed from his desire to be regarded as an ‘everyman’ or your average ‘Joe Proletariat’, this fitting well with his ideological inclinations at the time. Over the course of his career however, he went from a staunch radical to a much more complex conservative. And although not as simple a transition as I have just described, it was at this time that Chris became Christopher.

gropper_dam_1

I have seen and heard of this transformation, from the left to the right, in people so many times that I always ask myself the following question. Are these micro-level transformations analogous to the macro-level swing from the left to the right?

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