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Marco Rubio a false dawn for the GOP

Andrew Steele

The 2012 elections in the United States saw demographics drive Barack Obama’s re-election victory, as Hispanic voters pushed must-win states for the Republicans like Florida and Colorado into the Democrat column.

The Republicans report that they “got the message” and are focused on ending the Democrat lock on Hispanic voters. But their leading strategy to win Hispanic voters is flimsy and potentially ineffective.

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Civil disobedience as protest tactic? That depends on public reaction

Bruce Anderson

I listened to a CBC radio interview a little while ago with John Bennett, the head of Canada’s Sierra Club. The topic was the decision by the U.S. Sierra Club to break with tradition and use civil disobedience to stop the construction of oil sands pipelines, and what can be expected in Canada.

The Canadian chapter has decided not to follow the lead of the U.S. organization, at least for now. There are good reasons for this prudence, even though many of the Club’s supporters appear not to see it that way.

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Canada needs the Senate like I need another cavity

Gerald Caplan

The world is full of surprises.

Everyone who ever knew Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin knew two things about them. They were inordinately proud of their roots back in PEI and Saskatchewan and were determined never to lose contact with them. Wadena and Charlottetown was in their souls. But, there was a very big “but.”

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Will teachers salvage or squander the political capital they have left?

Gerald Caplan

Demonstrating her political smarts from the get-go, Kathleen Wynne has lost no time in reaching out to Ontario’s rebellious teachers. As she well understood, she was not the only victor when Ontario Liberals selected their new leader. The other clear winner was the province’s public elementary and secondary teachers. By turning out at the Liberal convention to protest in the tens of thousands, and by being joined by many thousands more of their supporters, the teachers powerfully demonstrated their political muscle.

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France’s military objectives in Mali make no sense

Gerald Caplan

Do France’s objectives for Operation Serval, its military intervention in Mali, make sense? This question matters to everyone, not least to the countries from which France is seeking assistance. As the world learned in Afghanistan, to name just the most obvious recent example, if expectations are unrealistic foreign troops tend to remain long after any conceivable justification exists.

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Trudeau is the most exciting part of Liberal race (unless you want gravitas)

Gerald Caplan

A veritable orgy of Liberal leadership races have transfixed Canadians. Well, three, anyway. In Quebec, Dr. Phillippe Couillard will be the easy winner, which curbs the enthusiasm somewhat. But in Ontario and the Dominion at large, the thrill is palpable.

The Ontario Liberal Party is about to choose a woman as leader and, at least for a moment, the province’s premier. But far more remarkable than their sex, the two frontrunners, Kathleen Wynne and Sandra Pupatello, offer an unusually stark contrast in policy, personality and prospects.

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For Liberal debaters, it’s less about how they act and more about who they are

BRUCE ANDERSON

In my home, the Ravens-Patriots game will be the big event this Sunday. But the Liberal Leadership debate will draw a crowd too.

For the better part of 120 minutes, 9 candidates will discuss 14 different questions. The quick math says that this formula will produce a show short on energy and long on rehearsed lines.

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Gerald Caplan: Shadow of Rwanda is cast over France’s involvement in Mali

Gerald Caplan

France is knocking on Canada’s door seeking assistance for its intervention in Mali, and Canada’s door seems to be open a crack. Besides providing the French military, a military transport plane, at least temporarily, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says Canada wants to offer both humanitarian aid and ”support for the restoration of democracy”. This will come as a pleasant surprise to many Malians.

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The importance of paying politicians a fair wage

Andrew Steele

In Britain in 1840, Chartists were the equivalent of the Occupy movement: Their radical democratic demands were outrageous to the establishment and mocked as anarchism.

Consider the times:

  • The Reform Act of 1832 had given the vote to middle-class men but excluded the vast working class (as well as all women).
  • Elections were required only after six years, and were conducted publicly by yelling your support, leaving the voter open to bribery, intimidation and violence.
  • Parliament was the domain of the wealthy, with the poor lacking the property to qualify and the income to live while in London attending to the nation.
  • Gerrymandered rural constituencies dominated the electoral map, and their tiny size made them easy to buy for cash every seven years at general election time.

In response six MPs and six working men issued this revolutionary package of demands:

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There is still time for #IdleNoMore to learn the lessons of Occupy

Gerald Caplan

Is this finally the moment that Canada’s First Nations’ civil rights revolution has genuinely begun?

In the U.S., despite a series of failed uprisings, black Americans endured slavery and segregation for centuries until the great civil rights movement of the 1960s led to unprecedented progress, though the struggle for justice and equality is far from complete even now. The history of aboriginals in Canada is a similar chronicle of injustice and discrimination, and despite repeated attempts over the decades to fight back – think Oka or Caledonia or the Lubicon – inequality and humiliation remain the daily fare for most.

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Gerald Caplan: Don’t blame me for the bleak news

Gerald Caplan

I almost feel the need to apologize. Many faithful readers wrote to grumble that my pre-Christmas column, offering lumps of coal for some of the world’s crises, left them depressed and disconsolate. If misery reigned, my wife wondered, why bother putting those precious Purdy’s chocolate mallow bars in my stocking. One of my oldest and dearest friends now addresses me as the Coalman. The way they kvetched, you’d think I had done it maliciously, precisely to wreck their holiday.

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Bruce Anderson: In 2013, Tories need to shed the biker-gang attitude

Bruce Anderson

Enough on the year that was, let’s consider the things that will happen in Canadian politics in the year to come. With the epic fail of the Mayans still fresh, predictions seem foolhardy, so instead, here are three questions that bear watching.

Will the Liberal leadership show be a hit or a dud?

At the risk of sounding soft on democracy, this critical episode in the life of an important political institution is in danger of being ruined. There are too many candidates whose only claim to a piece of the stage is the $75,000 price of entry. In January the first debate will take place, with possibly up to 10 people scrunching together on stage. Unless new voting eligibility rules turn out to be a true disaster, only 3 of the 10 appear to have any chance to win: Justin Trudeau, Marc Garneau and Martha Hall Findlay.

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Fantino needs to learn more about international development

GERALD CAPLAN

Few jobs are more challenging than becoming a cabinet minister.

The learning curve is awesomely steep and must be carried out in the full glare of media and public attention. What’s worse, you can be 100 per cent certain there are hordes of people who know the issues better than you ever will. And it’s often the international ministries that are most intimidating for new ministers who typically may have little background in their new universe. Some – many – never make the grade.

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In Canadian politics, bullying is the new way to govern

Gerald Caplan

Earlier this year, Toronto’s medical officer of health, David McKeown, recommended that the city’s speed limits be lowered to improve road safety. Here is the entire response from the Mayor of Toronto: “Nuts, nuts, nuts, nuts. No.” The proposal, he declared without elaboration, was “absolutely ridiculous.” Verbal abuse – a form of bullying, as every school kid is taught – is what Rob Ford substitutes for debate. (See Barbara Coloroso, “The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander”.)

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Tory defeat of generic-drug bill is immoral

Gerald Caplan

The Canadian government had the opportunity this week to help hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of AIDS sufferers in poor countries and deliberately chose not to do so. What should we think about such a decision? When are citizens allowed to ask the unthinkable: If a government knowingly allows hundreds of thousands of people to die unnecessarily, what is its responsibility? How much less culpable is indirect guilt, or guilt by omission, than direct guilt or guilt by commission?

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Obama, Game Theory and the Fiscal Cliff

Andrew Steele

In Washington, everyone is talking about the Fiscal Cliff. If you aren’t mesmerized by foreign budgetary debates and this is new to you, read this quick explanation from the Economy Lab and then come back.

The standoff between President Obama and Republicans in the House of Representatives is often compared to a game of chicken.

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Bruce Anderson: NDP’s new ‘pro-trade’ stance is a major step towards the centre

Bruce Anderson

Other than news about leadership contests, it might have seemed an uneventful week in politics. But without huge fanfare, a major shift occurred, something that could have profound consequences.

The Thomas Mulcair-led NDP took another large step towards the centre of the Canadian political spectrum, when their international trade critic, Vancouver Kingsway MP Don Davies, declared that the NDP was “vigorously pro-trade.”

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For Canada’s veterans, government rhetoric and policies are at war with each other

Gerald Caplan

Remembrance Day has always sent ambiguous messages to Canadians – are we celebrating the glories or the horrors of war? – but the valour of those who fought has rarely been in doubt. To the dead we could only give thanks. To the survivors, we had a debt that must be paid in full.

Given the particular devotion of the Harper government to all things militaristic, especially the heroism of the troops it dispatched to Afghanistan, it was a given that when our boys and girls came home, their every need, material and psychological, would be cared for.

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All parties agree: Free speech is bad

Gerry Nicholls

Despite their partisan differences, the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP all seem to agree on one thing: free political speech is bad and should therefore be limited, regulated and strictly curtailed.

Indeed, three MPs – Conservative John Baird, New Democrat Pat Martin and Liberal John McKay – recently defended the need to squelch free expression.

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In Asia, Harper displays his better side

Bruce Anderson

For much of his career in politics, Stephen Harper has been accused of having a concealed plan to bend the country to his will. His worst critics cast him as Dr. Evil, complete with Mr. Bigglesworth, but without the laughs.

As over the top as some of the attacks are, he hasn’t always gone out of his way to blunt them. In the past, PMO strategy has been to treat the media with suspicion on a good day, hostility the rest of the time. Mr. Harper himself is not terribly loquacious, despite being in a business where talking is like breathing.

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Video »

Which car would you like to most see back in production?

20%

325
votes

2001 Honda Prelude

 

15%

245
votes

1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE Cabriolet

 

21%

351
votes

1982 DeLorean

 

26%

433
votes

1969 Pontiac GTO

 

18%

297
votes

1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme

 

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