Articles

  • Progressives must rally behind the STV-PR referendum in BC

    On election day this May, B.C. voters will decide whether to adopt a form of proportional representation. B.C.’s right-wing Liberal government did the unthinkable and created a Citizens’ Assembly, a randomly chosen body with participants from across the province that would look critically at the voting system and make a recommendation about possibly changing it.

    The CA was a pretty good model of deliberative democracy. Participants had a chance to study different voting systems, discuss and debate their effects amongst themselves, and hear from experts, activists and average citizens in public hearings held across the province. In the end, they did recommend a change to a form of PR called the Single Transferable Vote (STV). Given the recent groundswell of support for PR from the B.C. NDP, the labour movement, the Greens, the women’s movements and many others, the recommendation should have a lot of support.

  • Senate Sleeps While Media Concentrates

    The Senate Committee Studying Media held a public hearing in Winnipeg in February, and it had all the excitement of any party that nobody wants to give and nobody wants to attend.

    In fact, hardly anybody did attend. Among those absent were the committee’s two senators representing Manitoba, anyone from the Manitoba Press Council and anyone from the province’s two schools of journalism and three universities. And, of the several hundred thousand Manitobans who read newspapers, listen to radio and watch television in Manitoba two, count ‘em: two people showed up with opinions about media, and both were given the bum’s rush. I have the honour of being one of them.

  • Quebec Schools Must Be Secular and Public

    Quebec premier Jean Charest put his foot in his mouth in January when he announced – and one week later, after public outcry, retracted – that the government would give full public financing to private Jewish schools. This mini-crisis around a decision taken on the sly demonstrated once more that Charest scorns democratic process and also shows a disturbing lack of understanding of Quebec society. Hoping to slip this past the population, Charest instead revived a fundamental debate. In the next few months, Quebeckers may finally show their readiness to remove the last obstacle to the complete secularization of public schools.

  • A Tent Without Poles

    In Winnipeg, a city divided along race and class lines like so many others, the two solitudes of white and Aboriginal were recently forced to confront one another after a police officer shot and killed an Aboriginal teenager named Matthew Dumas. The 18-year-old robbery suspect was waving a screwdriver at three heavily armed police officers. By some accounts, he had already been pepper-sprayed.

    The incident re-ignited simmering tensions among the Aboriginal community. Native leaders accused the police force of racism, demanded a role in the investigation and called for more progress on a separate justice system for their people. Unfortunately, those charged with administering the “system,” including the Mayor of Winnipeg, dismissed the complaints, especially after learning that the officer who fired the gun was also Aboriginal. This simplistic caveat, however, ignores the the complicated reality of Native/police relations in this city and, indeed, in the country as a whole.

  • “Education” for Indians: The Colonial Experiment on Piapot’s Kids

    Recently, members of my band, Piapot, occupied the local school in protest against Indian Affairs policies that blatantly ignore the needs of Indian children as human beings within a democratic and equal society. I felt hopeful when the parents on the reserve began to protest the substandard education offered at the band school. But in the end the protest was less successful than I had hoped.

  • Newfoundland Women Want Pay Equity Too

    More than 25 years after the adoption of the Charter, the obligation to implement pay equity is still unmet. A test case for why the legal obligation to implement pay equity remains unfulfilled has recently been played out in Canada’s courts and federal/provincial system involving unionized female health-care workers in Newfoundland.

  • The Heart of the Taku

    Today the Taku is best known as a salmon stream, with commercial and sport fisheries in both B.C. and Alaska, and also as an endangered river, popular with eco-tourists and adventurers. But before it was any of these things, the Taku was the traditional hunting grounds of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN).

  • The Empire in the Year 2005

    2004 demonstrated in the most dramatic and definitive manner that the U.S. imperial military machine could be defeated. The Iraqi resistance has proven that the U.S. Empire is not invincible.

  • Honour Killings

    When a young female reporter joined the staff of The Jordan Times in 1993, “honour” killings were a dirty secret. For Rana Husseini, however, then newly assigned to the paper’s crime beat, “honour” killings provided a suspiciously uncomfortable amount of copy. She took on the mantle of uncovering this silent-but-deadly aspect of Jordanian life.

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