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Dennis Pilon

  • Avi Lewis and the NDP: Why stars don’t point the way forward for the left

    The real challenges for the left today are not about big names and bold ideas. They’re about identity and mobilization. We’ve been led to believe that elections are about individual voters examining parties and their policies like consumers looking for the best deal while parties are policy entrepreneurs just trying to meet consumer demands. But research on voters and party behaviour doesn’t support such a view.

  • Can the NDP be relevant?

    Now, with a Quebec leader who could hardly be accused of being a radical, the party was everything the national media had said it should be: cautious, pragmatic, and eminently reasonable, particularly on the economy. Throughout the 2015 campaign Mulcair sent all the right signals to Bay Street about balanced budgets and restrained spending. How could they lose?

  • Politics and the Personal Dimension

    There is a line between our fully public selves and whatever we might not wish to divulge to just anyone. Just where that line is, or what might constitute “personal” for any given person or time, is not fixed.

  • The Literature of Progress

    The second in a series of interviews with science-fiction writers about the politics of their work and what “speculative fiction” offers us about doing progressive politics in different ways. This interview features Ken MacLeod.

  • Taking Politics to Another World

    For many people, science fiction conjures up images of obsessive, geeky fans dressed up as starship officers of television programs set in space. This negative association is not entirely undeserved. Most of what passes for sci-fi, these days, amounts to thinly veiled cowboy stories in space, with all the problematic colonial, racist and gendered distinctions that also accompany westerns. But there is, and has always been, a decidedly political side to science fiction.

  • A Vote That Might Really Change Something

    On October 10, Ontarians will go the polls in their first fixed-date election, just one of a host of allegedly modernizing innovations introduced by the McGuinty Liberal government. But election day will also offer voters a chance to comment on a much more radical and far-reaching proposal to alter Ontario’s electoral process; for there will also be a referendum on the provincial voting system.

  • Revisiting a forgotten high-seas struggle

    As filmmaker Elaine Brière tells it, the merchant seamen emerged from the Second World War with a strong, progressive union, publicly lauded for their war effort, straddling a hugely profitable public enterprise that gave Canada the fourth-largest shipping fleet in the world. Yet just five years later, the ships were sold, the union was broken and most of the seamen were blacklisted as “Communists.”

  • Election 2006

    Despite the high spirits at the NDP victory party in Toronto on election night, it’s hard to fathom what there was to celebrate. Their popular vote increased only marginally, their seat total fell shy of affecting the balance of power and they failed to make a breakthrough in Quebec. Before an adoring, T.V.-friendly crowd on election night, Jack Layton claimed his party had earned the trust of millions of “ordinary Canadians.” Yet a more sober assessment might give cause to wonder why the party accomplished so little.

  • 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.

  • The Freedom to Choose

    Two major claims are made among gay and lesbian critics of the idea of gay marriage. The first is that the support of gay marriage represents a kind of assimilation to straight values and ideals. The second is that the widespread acceptance of gay marriage would threaten the existence of a separate gay and lesbian community. While there is some truth in the criticisms made from these two perspectives, they fail to come to terms with the reasons why some gay people might want to get married. What is more, they narrow the lived reality of marriage, failing to recognize that the practice has been multiple and varied.

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