50 years of a multicultural Canada

After 50 years since its first official recognition, does Canadian multiculturalism conserve its relevance in the 21st century?

The Multiculturalism Policy was first announced to be an official policy of Canada at the House of Commons in 1971 by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. In his speech, Trudeau stated that no official culture would define the Canadian identity but its cultural diversity that makes the country whole.

Since then, this policy has been contributing to the recognition of cultural and ethnic diversity in Canadian society. It also preserves all civil rights for Canadians of all origins. Canadians from different backgrounds have since been able to share and enhance their cultural heritage while enjoying a guarantee of equal treatment, respect and protection under the Canadian Multiculturalism Act.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of this policy. What does multiculturalism represent to Canadians with immigrant backgrounds nowadays? Does the Multiculturalism Policy still play an important role in 21st century society?

In the documentary Multiculturalism in Canada debated, broadcasted in 2004 by the CBC, host Adrian Harewood had discussions with guests directly related to multiculturalism.

Harewood spoke with the Tandava, a band from Vancouver, whose members include people from various ethnic backgrounds. Prashant Michael John, the Bangladeshi-Canadian guitarist of the band, was asked to share his thoughts about the word “multiculturalism.” He said, “To me it means going beyond traditions, beyond conditioning; in fact, it means not narrowing itself to a peer group but having the whole world as a huge thing that you can draw from.”

Lan Tung, a Taiwanese-Canadian member of the band, mentioned that living in Canada gave her an opportunity to play a multicultural kind of music that she could not play elsewhere.

Harewood emphasized in the documentary: “The Canada of the 21st century is a dynamic meeting place of people of diverse cultures and traditions.”

This perception seems to remain the same in the present time, especially since Justin Trudeau, the incumbent Canadian Prime Minister, is often seen as a pioneer in Canadian advocacy for multiculturalism.

“Multiculturalism is one of Canada’s greatest strengths and a vital component of our national fabric,” said Trudeau in a statement published on last year’s Canadian Multiculturalism Day. “All Canadians — regardless of ethnicity, religion, culture, or language — have the right to be true to who they are, and to live peacefully as friends, neighbours, and colleagues.”

However, shortcomings are completely unavoidable. The desire to preserve and respect cultural diversity can be stated in words but the question of how to do it by action has never been easy to be answered. Racism is the case. As stated by StatCan, 21 per cent of the non-Caucasian population in Canada has reported that harassment and attacks are often based on race, ethnicity, and skin colour. The discrimination is even terribly increased since COVID-19, which mainly targets Asians and Canadians of Asian descent. Thus, this situation clearly indicates the inequality when it comes to the safety of different groups of ethnicities. While dealing with such an incident, the government’s anti-racism strategies seem to be unthorough and slow-effectuated.

As for Canadian youth, the topic of multiculturalism is also supported and of interest. Anthony Issa is a Canadian Concordia student with Lebanese family background. Since his grandfather and father are immigrants, Issa has a certain knowledge regarding this specific topic. He points out that multiculturalism nowadays is even included in the curriculum at the high school level; he learned that Canada is a nation formed by different groups of people, including immigrants and Indigenous people.

Although the Multiculturalism Policy seems to be symbolic to him in a sense that it does not have any influence on his family’s interests, Issa agrees that it still recognizes that all Canadians have the right to affirm their own cultures. He believes that the policy should be more applicable in society nowadays than it was before, since immigrants gradually occupy a larger percentage of Canada’s population in the 21st century. According to StatCan, the result of the 2016 Census shows that the number of immigrants accounted for more than one-fifth of Canada’s total population. This number is not only much higher than it was in the figures of previous years but also shows a growing sign over time. It is even expected to reach at least 24.5 per cent in 2036.

As a Canadian who tends to support global unity, Issa shows his concurrence towards the policy in terms of its equality: “We’re all from different backgrounds but everyone has the right to live in Canada and be treated fairly and equally.”


Feature graphic by Taylor Reddam


Genocide in Xinjiang with silence from Canada

The Canadian government’s silence about ongoing genocide speaks volumes

In a mountainous region thousands of miles from the glittering lights of Beijing, a people face cultural extinction. Within the remote and sparsely populated region of Xinjiang, a tremendous evil is at hand while the world watches with an indifferent gaze. The inhabitants of the region, the Uyghur people, with a history spanning thousands of years, face a genocide of epic proportions.

The Uyghurs sit at the eastern edge of the Turkic world. Unlike other Turkic groups, the Uyghurs’ national aspirations suffered following the Qing Dynasty’s 18th-century conquest. Subjugated and deprived of a nation, the Uyghurs were left powerless over their collective future. In the subsequent decades, a series of clashes between various political groups culminated in the 1949 absorption of the Uyghurs into the People’s Republic of China.

Under the new regime, Beijing began a rapid assimilation program bent on enacting conformity across the budding communist nation. The Uyghur language, religion, and culture faced a ferocious onslaught as the Chinese government fought to maintain control over the northwestern region. In the 1950s, the Chinese government ordered the migration of thousands of Han Chinese — China’s largest ethnic group — in the first of many policies promoting assimilation. Consider a report released from Arizona State University indicating the Han population rose from 220,000 (6.9 per cent) in 1949 to 8.4 million (40 per cent) in 2008.

The demographic shift is no coincidence or product of the natural migration of peoples between areas. Instead, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sought to actively dilute the Uyghurs into a subservient people deprived of their national identity. Under the guise of economic development, Chinese organizations such as the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), moved at least hundreds of thousands of Han Chinese into Xinjiang, dramatically shifting the region’s demographics.

In 2014, Xi Jinping, the CCP general secretary and president of China began interning Uyghurs in concentration camps with the “Strike Hard Against Violent Terrorism” campaign. Under the guise of “vocational training” and “re-education,” the Chinese government began the largest internment of people since the Second World War with as many as three million Uyghurs detained.

Today, the campaign is worsening with reports of torture, compulsory sterilization, rape and brainwashing. Forced to recite slogans in Mandarin pledging loyalty to the CCP, beaten for praying, and tortured at the whim of the Chinese authorities, the Uyghurs face individual bodily harm and collective cultural annihilation.

Concurrently, the world continues to grovel to the Chinese government. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent Canadian troops to a military parade where they saluted Xi Jinping. Furthermore, the Trudeau government, unlike the other Five Eyes, welcomed Huawei to build a 5G network, despite the company’s role in surveilling Uyghurs.

In the fading days of the Trump administration, American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rightfully declared the situation in Xinjiang a genocide. Last week, Parliament unanimously passed a Conservative motion calling on the Liberal Government to recognize China’s atrocities against the Uyghurs as a genocide. Additionally, MPs also passed an amendment introduced by the Bloc Quebecois calling on a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games should the genocide continue.

However, hope of Canada following the United States in holding China accountable collapsed when Liberal Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau abstained on behalf of the “Government of Canada.” The abstention ought to shock Canadians as their government chose to ignore the will of Parliament. In doing so, Garneau revealed the dark underbelly of the Trudeau administration — one that claims to cherish and protect minorities while remaining silent in the face of their cultural destruction.

Regardless of the genocide’s progression, the Olympics and all economic activities benefiting China ought to cease. Doing business with a country that utilizes de facto slavery against its own people, imprisons political dissidents, and executes thousands annually is not only an act of complicity, but support.

The lights of the internment camps only remain illuminated because of the world’s economic relations with Beijing. However, concerned Canadians, organizations, universities, and governments can take action through reevaluating engagements with complicit Chinese institutions. In doing so, Canada can proudly defend human rights and perhaps change history. The alternative is a red Maple Leaf affixed to the death certificate of the Uyghur people.


 Graphic by Chloë Lalonde  @ihooqstudios


The kids are not alright: why we need existential crises

How spirituality and mental health intertwine

We’ve heard Premier François Legault say it enough times: implementing secularism in our province’s legal framework was an “important moment” that “doesn’t go against the freedom of religion.”

Whether a state’s democracy rests on its relationship with religion is a debate as old as time. Throughout history, people have gone to war because of the power of religion over the state and over other religions.

This is a contentious issue that no one has an answer to, but one of the expected consequences of secularizing a state is that of having a society that doesn’t think of religion as having an integral role to play in the way our country is run.

Our secular society tells us that it’s unbecoming to talk and think of religion as anything other than a private, individual matter, and that other social aspects of politics should take precedence over it. Legault wasn’t wrong in saying his Bill 21, which banned religious symbols for public workers and mandated that one’s face must not be covered in order to receive some public services, was an “important moment” in Quebec.

Instead of making it a norm to see people practice their religions, we’re pushing people to foster their own religious beliefs within their own homes, on their own, away from their community, which is the complete opposite perspective to how most religions have been structured.

Young people are raised not to think about questions central to religion with as much seriousness as past generations. For some time now, the percentage of the population who are religiously committed has been declining, while the proportion of Canadians who are “spiritually uncertain” or who simply reject spirituality have been escalating. Even those who have faith in religion don’t practice it nearly as much anymore.

On the other hand, our country is going through a mental health crisis, and one which disproportionately affects young people.

We can’t dismiss the downward trend in adherence to faith as being completely disconnected from the rise in mental health issues in the country. The cosmogonic theories and ideologies that religion is so good at starting conversations about, and that science so often leaves open-ended, are quintessential to the human experience.

It’s not a coincidence that every single civilization that has existed has created a system of beliefs to explain where things come from and what the universe is. Since we’ve become sentient and self-aware beings, it’s been a natural instinct of ours to look for answers and to rationalize the world we live in beyond sensory perception.

It’s also no coincidence that all religions have traditions and habits that centre around bringing people together: we know that community is a basic human need. Living beings don’t do well with loneliness; it’s instinctual to want to build relationships with those around us.

It’s not surprising to see the attempts by a government to reduce religions down to something we can leave at home ends up making its population more depressed and less grounded. Our leaders have such a key role to play on culture, and they’re now building one where fraternity and existentialism are considered peripheral to self-reliance and science.

Maybe what we need isn’t a more secularized state but a more spiritual and inclusive one. Human beings weren’t made to let go of their desire to understand the unknowns of the universe.


Graphic by @the.beta.lab


100 seconds to midnight

What does the Capitol Hill siege mean for us?

It’s 100 seconds to midnight. Last year, the symbolic Doomsday Clock assessed that we are closer to a global man-made catastrophe than ever since the clock’s creation in 1947. The decision was made on account of the climate emergency, rising nuclear tensions, growing distrust in governments all around the world, weaponization of technology… and all this before the whirlwind that was 2020.

The evening of Jan. 6 saw “As a Canadian” trending on Twitter, as so many of us bemocked America’s fate, yet again turning a blind eye to our own run-ins with white supremacy in favour of our ‘it’s not as bad here’ façade. All of a sudden, we forgot that the founder of the Proud Boys is a Canadian man, or that there was a group of Montrealers who organized to participate in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017.

So let’s get this straight: the civil unrest in the US is especially concerning to us as Canadians.

Civil wars are started when a population loses trust in its government, and feels strongly enough that their issues can’t be solved by other means than organizing and taking arms. Statistically, poorer countries are more at risk of entering wars because of their inability to improve the economy, and financial and political inequality also often spark conflict.

Far-right groups have invented all kinds of conspiracies to discredit the media, Democrats, and basically anyone who doesn’t worship Donald Trump. They believe he’s the only one who can properly handle the American economy and save them from the looming threat that is socialism. They have expressed their anger at the dilution of (white) American culture through the apparent invasion of immigrants.

From what we’ve witnessed through their behaviour in recent years, which culminated with the attack on the Capitol, these far-right groups have shown that they aren’t scared — and are in fact proud — to take arms and uphold their views through violence.

On the left, the increasingly vocal contenders for the Black Lives Matter movement have shown their persistence to take to the streets and protest — rain or shine, through tear gas and pandemic. Left-wing groups have also demanded universal healthcare, erasure of student debt, more money towards climate action, and defunding the police and the army in the last few months.

Though I don’t mean to sound like an alarmist, this seems to me a clear recipe for civil war.

Our economy, national security, military strength, foreign relations, everything down to the results of our elections depend on how the United States is feeling. There’s a reason people say “When America sneezes, Canada catches cold.” Nine days after Trump was sworn in as president, six Quebecers were killed in a Sainte-Foy mosque, a clear message that we haven’t been able to escape Trump’s anti-Islam rhetoric.

Many have also wondered how Justin Trudeau will be expected to handle this. Will officially recognizing the Proud Boys as a terrorist group give the federal government reason to increase our military budget? As political unrest becomes inevitably more violent in the US, will it allow our federal government to take preventive, but invasive measures like increased surveillance and armed law enforcement?

For the past two years, I’ve been saying that I predict a civil war in the United States by 2025, and that I’d be surprised if it didn’t happen in the next three years. I think this is the most sinister ‘I told you so’ moment I’ll ever have.


Feature graphic by James Fay @jamesfaydraws

The government’s well-kept secret on letter writing

One of the few ways citizens can preserve democracy is to write to the government

Communicating with our political leaders is an essential part of our political system. This is what makes a system a democracy — politicians act on the voice of the people, and they need to hear those voices to accurately reflect them.

Politicians are more accessible than ever, with email addresses, phone numbers, and office locations readily available at the end of a quick internet search. So why aren’t we reaching them?

It may feel overly complicated, futile, or just plain intimidating, and that’s a failure of our political structure. It should be as easy and inviting as possible to communicate to our representatives, but it’s not. So, in lieu of a functioning education system that incorporates Civics 101, let’s go through the basics of our political structure.

There are three levels of government — federal, provincial, and municipal. We elect representatives at each level, and each level is in charge of different matters of governance. For example, did you know that provinces are entirely in charge of all levels of education? There is actually no education branch of government at the federal level.

To communicate to our representatives, we need to know who is representing us. When we elect someone to any of the three levels of government, we are their constituent, and in that relationship, they are obliged to hear our voices.

Even if you didn’t vote for the person representing you, if they were elected by your district at any of the three levels of government, you are entitled to communicate to them, and they are obliged to take your feedback.

If you feel strongly about a certain incident, decision, or plan made, you need to do a little research to find your elected representative, and reach out to the appropriate branch of government, and the appropriate representative.

Writing to the government is instrumental to our democracy. It’s one thing to talk to friends over coffee or rant on Twitter — and it’s definitely relieving — however, contacting our representatives serves a specific structural function.

If people don’t communicate their opinions directly to officials through official channels, then there is no official record of these opinions. This means that when journalists or researchers look for information on, say, how favourable the population is of decriminalizing cannabis, there will be data for them to gather.

Essentially, this allows watchdogs to hold governments accountable for their actions.

Once you find the person you wish to reach, and their contact information, the next step is to construct your argument.

When writing to officials, it’s important to be firm, and to show them you know the law, their role and duty, and the details of the issue you care about. Communicate your argument in concrete terms. Tell them what you want to see them do. Cite your sources, give examples, and quote from past legal cases. You can find the contents of many Canadian legal cases here.

Here are some examples to get started:

It is your duty to represent my best interest as I convey it to you.

I need to know in concrete terms what you plan to do about __. 

In order to represent my best interest and voice, it is imperative that you immediately issue a public statement denouncing __, supporting __, funding __, defunding __.

Talk in real terms. Be literal, be clear, and explain the solution you want to see in practical steps, and if you don’t see it happening, follow up. Write again. Call and leave messages. Tell them you expect a response to questions you have.

Hold these cozy politicians accountable, and make it hard for them to get around corners! Keep it polite and stay firm, and remind them of their duties.

Here’s a few examples:

In order to preserve a legacy of honour, you must conduct yourself honourably when yielding the power that you have. These are the moments that dictate whether an honourable political representative sits in your seat. Please do the right thing and__.

“In order to honourably represent my values, it is imperative that __. By law, you are charged with the task of representing me, and I believe you are capable of it.

The stakes are high, and we have an obligation to take the debates going on in our society seriously. They don’t impact everyone firsthand, but that only means that our system needs reform. While the system we operate in is highly flawed, it is the one we have. We need to operate within these parameters, and make it as inconvenient, difficult, and exposing as possible for politicians to bend to corruption, manipulation, and deceit.

It can be confusing and complicated, but don’t let that discourage you. To help you get started, here are some links to our sitting members of government. You can find the federal liberal cabinet here. You can find Quebec’s CAQ cabinet here. You can find Montreal’s city council here. With their name and position, you can find contact information of the relevant representative with a quick internet search.

If you’ve never been much involved in politics, right now is the best time to start. If you’re a seasoned petition signer, but haven’t taken a crack at writing letters or making calls, right now is the best time to start. It’s about creating momentum and keeping it going.

It’s 2020. Let’s do this.


Feature graphic by @the.beta.lab

En français, s’il vous plaît!

The Charter of the French Language, revisited

A recent Journal de Montréal report has reignited the evergreen debate about the use of English in Quebec’s businesses. Even more than that, it has reignited the flood of articles crying shame upon those whose primary language isn’t French, and has even initiated talks in the provincial parliament to bring reforms to the controversial Bill 101.

This report, aimed at exposing how prevalent English is in the city’s establishments, stated that one out of every two businesses don’t greet customers in French, and some even have workers who are unable to speak it. This conclusion, of course, fails to note that the downtown area’s high concentration of immigrants, tourists, and international students have heavily skewed their results.

Don’t get me wrong — contrary to many who attend anglophone universities, I don’t disagree with the concept of imposing the teaching of French on those who grew up here. I’m not totally opposed to the idea of preserving a part of our culture that makes us stand out from the rest of the country. Learning French is incredibly useful, and I find myself lucky that I was raised in a country that promotes multilingualism in this way.

Further than that, I don’t think English should become an official language of our province. We have built a culture around our language, which still represents a core part of our heritage — and I’m saying this even though both my parents are immigrants. To me, Quebec wouldn’t be Quebec without the dominance of French.

This being said, the war between languages can still be quite problematic in some aspects. I’ve conveniently compiled some definitions of commonly used terms to help you navigate all the articles you may come across when reading up on this debate.

Loi 101


Also known as Charte de la langue française, this legislation asserts French as Quebec’s sole official language. Its articles outline specific rules, such as:

  • the use of French on product labels, packaging, and instructions manuals (Article 51);
  • the use of French on advertisements, public signs, coupons, receipts, and job application forms (Articles 57 and 58);
  • the requirement of sending children to primarily francophone schools, with the exception of those who have at least one parent who is a Canadian citizen and who has received most of their education in English (Article 73).

Many articles of this bill have been challenged on grounds of xenophobia and racism. Not only has it been widely used to assimilate children from ethnic backgrounds and discourage them from speaking their parents’ mother tongue, some consider it to create a lot of division among newly arrived immigrants.

Office québécois de la langue française


Provincial organization that aims to enforce the use of French as the official language in Quebec. Over the past year, it has processed 3665 complaints relating to the observance of Bill 101, and whose inspectors ensure the proper punishment of offenders, such as a small bakery owner who used the word ‘espresso’ and a family restaurant named Kitchen 73, which contains an English word.



Greeting used by many service workers to ensure the representation of both languages in their workplace. Also the root of a continuous debate about the prioritization of French in businesses that has caused many to support making English greetings illegal in the province, a decision which was ruled out in favour of public awareness campaigns.

I hope these definitions will help as you scroll through the Journal’s home page and find yourself impressed with their pro-Charte rhetoric. Though important, Quebec nationalism isn’t as ideal as they make it out to be.


Graphic by Taylor Reddam


Putting the “Lib” in “Glib”: The modern portrait of Indigenous policing

The fight for Indigenous policing to be recognized as “essential”

On Sept. 23, in his Speech from the Throne, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau painted an optimistic and valiant picture of the country and how it is to be run in the next few years. He talked about a lot of things that Canadians love to hear: the government is supporting families, workers, small businesses, advancing scientific research for a vaccine, and saving orphaned kittens along the way.

This isn’t to say Canada isn’t doing well considering the circumstances. I can’t complain about the way the COVID-19 crisis has been handled, but one point many felt was majorly glossed over was that of racism and policing.

The polemical debate about the structure of our existing police system erupted over the summer, as the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis rekindled the Black Lives Matter movement. Despite the suggestion of sweeping reforms, many felt that the problem of discrimination in Canadian law enforcement could only be resolved by defunding it and focusing on local initiatives to prevent crime.

In fact, in late July, it was reported that 51 per cent of Canadians supported defunding, a figure that the Prime Minister was careful to omit as he proposed to “modernize training” and “move forward on RCMP reforms.”

Among the maelstrom of voices criticizing our current policing structure, I have heard few who took the time to be alarmed by the Prime Minister’s last point: “Accelerate work to co-develop a legislative framework for First Nations policing as an essential service.”

Ever since the 1991 approval of the First Nations Policing Program (FNPP), the legislation granting Indigenous people their own police forces, it has never been granted the status of essential service. This is ironic because non-Indigenous police forces, considered essential, are allocated between eight and 29 per cent of their cities’ annual budgets. Meanwhile, Indigenous police forces’ budgets are considered negotiable because of their status as simply a government program.

Year after year, demands for proper funding to procure equipment that follows basic legal safety requirements and to run an adequately-sized police force have fallen on deaf ears. Between 2006 and 2017, the FNPP’s allocated budget stagnated, even though inflation made the Canadian dollar grow by 18.85 per cent.

A 2015 Public Safety Canada report noted that, of the 58 police forces created in 1992, 20 have disbanded — a 34 per cent failure rate for this program, most of them within their first decade in service. On average, the failed police forces had only five officers overseeing about 1,700 people, with a budget of roughly $0.7 million each.

Because the FNPP isn’t an essential service, the federal government has never implemented a reliable way to provide local police forces with the funds they needed. A lack of oversight and monitoring of Indigenous police has manifested into inconsistent payments and absent support, particularly for urban Indigenous populations, who are still subjected to metropolitan police officers’ racial biases.

These factors have been able to thwart the operations of Indigenous police, exacerbating the persisting crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Despite their best efforts, officers are often overwhelmed and burnt out, and aren’t given the resources to suitably investigate serious cases like the rampant disappearances.

Many have denounced the FNPP as a structure that was “set up to fail”; the truth is, our antagonistic system of law enforcement has always neglected Indigenous issues, and the Canadian public’s nonchalance towards First Nations has also contributed to their continued deficiencies. And with Indigenous people being 10 times more likely to be killed by police than white Canadians, providing communities with a racially and culturally sensitive police force is a question of life or death.

What happened to the “Truth and Reconciliation” we were promised throughout the past electoral campaigns? Eloquence and prudent remarks can only do so much, Mr. Trudeau. It’s time to put your money where your mouth is.


Graphic by Lily Cowper


Poli SAVVY: Bill 40 passed under closure? So much for democracy, Legault!

Authoritarianism can have many faces.

We tend to depict it with extreme images such as slavery, dictatorship and oppression––but not all forms are as explicitly visible. And one of the worst kinds is silencing the opposition.

This rigid tactic is starting to be the trademark of Prime Minister François Legault and the Coalition Avenir––the current centre-right Quebec Government.

Last week, I wrote about Britain’s lack of urgency when it comes to dealing with Brexit—well, over here, we have a government that’s dangerously in a hurry. When it comes to passing bills, the CAQ is a bulldozer.

Late Friday night, it invoked closure for the fourth time in less than eight months, to pass Bill 40. The procedure allows the government in power to limit debates over legislation, even though some National Assembly members who wished to speak haven’t had the time to do so.

Despite severe critics coming from the educational system, 60 over 35 voted in favour of Bill 40, abolishing Quebec’s francophone and anglophone school boards. Additionally, in a last-minute decision, the original transition period of two weeks was eliminated, immediately kicking many commissioners out of their elected positions.

It was widely reported that school boards, teachers’ unions and English-language lobby groups, among the opposition parties condemned the government for rushing into an intense reform that needed more time and more consultation.

What was Legault’s response to evoking closure? “The opposition was ‘obstructing’ the passage of the law,” he said while speaking to reporters in Washington, D.C. on Saturday.

Yet, this is the entire purpose of the opposition: balancing powers and ensuring democratic debates over issues such as this one. Why was the CAQ quick to act so undemocratically?

Well, simply take a look at another controversial bill that was passed under closure; when Bill 21––the secularism law—was voted in last spring. The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) has since been one of the loudest opposition voices, in challenging Bill 21. If the board that’s challenging Legault’s precious laicity law doesn’t exist anymore, can the fight continue?

“Faire d’une pierre, deux coups,” they say—and the CAQ is striking hard.


Graphic by @sundaeghost


Poli SAVVY: Is pushing for traditional values in a modern world the way to leadership?

BREAKING NEWS: There are still entitled men in politics.

On one side, we have potential Conservative candidate for the leadership, Richard Décarie who, during an interview with CTVs Power Play on Wednesday, said “LGBTQ” “is a Liberal term” and that being gay “is a choice.” He then said Canadians must encourage traditional values that have served us in the past, encouraging the defunding of abortion services and reinforcing the idea that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Then, on Friday, not too far from us, Trump became the first U.S. President to walk in the largest annual anti-abortion rally, the 47th March for Life in Washington.

I’m sorry, I didn’t know this was the 18th century?

While Trump’s decision might actually help him win the 2020 election, as a big part of his electoral voters are evangelical Christians who stand firmly against abortion, a Pew Research Centre survey conducted in the summer revealed that 61 per cent of Americans believe abortion should be legal and are concerned that some states are making it hard to access.

And over here, Décarie just gave a quick crash course on “how to lose an election in Canada.”

Federal elections have displayed over and over again that the Conservatives’ weak spots are their social values being out of tune with Canadian ones. More recently, Scheer’s stance on such topics hasn’t quite helped him win voters––au contraire.

A few Tories, such as frontrunner for leadership Peter Mackay, were quick to denounce the comments on Twitter. Still, Décarie’s reductive and ignorant remarks highlight exactly how replacing Scheer won’t necessarily erase the mentality that runs deep within the Conservative Party. Last October, in a post-election analysis, the co-founder of the anti-abortion group RightNow, Alissa Golob, proudly said they were able to elect at least 68 “pro-lifers” out of the 121 current members of the Conservative caucus.

What’s that expression again? Beware of who’s pulling the strings. 


Graphic by @sundaeghost


Poli SAVVY: Petty high school gossip or world leaders making fun of Trump?

Well, Christmas has come a bit early this year, thanks to Saturday Night Live!

Anything with Paul Rudd, really anything, feels like a gift from Santa. Over the weekend, the late-night comedy show produced a skit portraying the world leaders as cool kids teasing the black sheep of the gang, U.S. President Trump.

While Paul Rudd was impersonating a bad boy-version of French President Emmanuel Macron, Jimmy Fallon took the role of an over-apologetic Justin Trudeau and James Corden was U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The skit was a recollection of a conversation from the NATO summit that took place a week ago at Buckingham Palace, in London. Trudeau was caught on hot mic by a CBC producer venting to the other leaders about Trump’s lengthy 40-minute press conference from earlier that day.

As much as the skit was delicious to watch, some people were quick to point out that such comments could hurt the Canada-U.S. relationship. “At a time when Canada needs strong relationships more than ever, Justin Trudeau’s poor judgment, lack of professionalism and love of drama continues to weaken Canada’s position on the world stage. We saw this just yesterday at the NATO Summit,” said Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer on Parliament Hill.

You might wonder what all the fuss is if the entire world is already laughing at the guy…

Even the U.S. president’s leading political rival, Joe Biden, used the footage of Trudeau’s comments for one of his Democratic Party’s presidential nomination ads on Twitter. The post read “The world is laughing at President Trump.”

Does this give a free card for bullying? No. Will it affect Canada’s relationship with America? Well, I would hope that this precious relationship is strong enough to survive high school gossip, Andrew.


Graphic by Victoria Blair


Poli SAVVY: So….what is Wexit exactly?

What started as a social media trend shortly after the federal election in October seems to be well alive a month later. And for once, Quebec is not the misunderstood child behind this separation movement.

#Wexit is the result of Alberta and Saskatchewan standing strongly for Tories in a mixed sea of orange NDP and red Liberals.

According to change.org, a petition in favour of Alberta’s separation from the rest of Canada was created the very same night as the election’s results were unfolding. Now, it has more than 115,000 signatures. The VoteWexit Facebook group also reported as many as 40,000 new members only a few hours after the re-election of Trudeau’s government.

While the move comes as a Western alliance between Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, the latter is mostly the front leader. On Nov. 5, Wexit founder Peter Downing officially began the registration of becoming a federal political party with Election Canada. In a five-page, open letter to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Downing wrote that “we cannot remain passive spectators in the filming of our own economic and political destruction.[…] by separating from Canada, we will keep our $50 billion in taxes right here at home, making life better for the people who live here.”

“This is not about anger Mr. Kenney. It is about survival,” argued Downing.

But how much weight does this movement actually have? Historically, this is not the first time that Canada has been faced with western alienation. It is an ongoing pattern throughout the past decades. Both the Social Credit Party and the Reform Party were partly a result of western provinces feeling that Ottawa was not supporting their interests.

Yet, we have to be careful. The copious social media platforms that didn’t exist back then now allow for a quicker spread of social movements. In an interview with the CBC, political scientist Jared Wesley warned about the danger of taking this issue lightly.

“This is a different kind of movement,” Wesley said. “We’ve seen it generate success south of the border and in Europe. I think political elites ignore it at their peril but they have to be very careful when they provide legitimacy to what, right now, is a pretty fringe movement.”


Graphic by Victoria Blair 


Understanding the federal election: what happened?

On Oct. 24, Concordia organized a conference where six political analysts discussed the outcome of the 2019 election and how we got here. 

Three days after election night, six panelists took the D.B. Clarke theatre stage one after another to analyze and debate key aspects of the campaign. The panelists were Harold Clarke, Rachel Curran, Lawrence LeDuc, Kevin Page, Carole McNeil and Jean-Pierre Kingsley.

While most polls put Andrew Scheer ahead of Justin Trudeau, it might have come as a surprise that the Conservatives did not do as well as anticipated. To truly understand the outcome of the election, Clarke argued that people need to look at the three main drivers of electoral choice.

Firstly, social issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion usually get a lot of media attention. But, it is actually how the political party performs, in terms of what Clarke referred to as valence issues, that will drive the voter’s final decision.

“These are issues that everybody agrees on the goal,” said Clarke, a professor at the University of Texas in Dallas and veteran of Canadian elections studies. “Issues such as the economy, or healthcare, education, security, and now climate change as well. It’s hard to find people who want bad healthcare and so on.”

Accordingly, the fact that the vast majority of people want a healthy economy strongly played in favour of Trudeau, explained Clarke. Indeed, the latest Statistics Canada survey, released on Oct.11, showed that today’s economy held a steady 5.5 per cent unemployment rate, the lowest in 40 years.

“It’s a big plus. Prosperity is a big plus,” Clarke said.

The second driver in the electoral choice, which explains surprises such as the NDP losing seats, is partisanship. Partisanship in Canada tends to be quite fluid and people are more than willing to leave their favoured party. According to Clarke, this creates situations where there are always possibilities for last-minute, large scale change.

Last, the third electoral driver proposed by Clarke is the leader image, which he believes played a major part in this election.

“Scheer simply didn’t make the impression he needed to make to win,” Clarke said.

Theme of the election 

While affordability ended up being the main theme of this year’s election, issues put forward by the parties were somehow irrelevant, argued Curran, Former Director of Policy to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“The measures [the political parties] were offering were very cynical and very shallow vote line efforts, at best,” Curran said. “What the parties ignored was the much bigger issues that we need to grapple and resolve as a country.”

As a matter of fact, this can explain the low voter turnout of 65.95 per cent. None of the leaders actually addressed the true underlying causes of issues such as why some Indigenous communities still have no access to clean water or why cellphone charges are extortionate, Curran pointed out.

Curran also believes that the inability and, perhaps even more, unwillingness of the parties to take a clear stance on issues such as the climate crisis, led to a problematic outcome; deep, regional division.

Canada has actually been sending various, very divided messages which resulted in broken national cohesion on election night.

“How do we reconcile resource development with environmental protection if we are in the business of fossil fuel, how do we address climate change in a credible way?” asked Curran. “And if we are not in the business, how do we fill the revenue hole and replace the hundreds of thousands of high paying jobs linked in the energy sector, particularly in Western Canada?”

Accordingly, we saw how cacophonic broadcasted debates were. It was arguably more of a who-can-talk-the-loudest contest than discussions on meaningful issues. It led to questions raised by a lot of media outlets as to whether the broadcasted debates are to be changed and how much impact they really have.

Jagmeet Singh was almost unanimously declared the winner after the CBC debate on Oct. 7. Yet, the NDP only won 24 seats last Monday night.

“I think we should, when evaluating the debates in the electoral campaign, avoid separating them from all the other things that we talked about in the context of the election,” said Leduc, professor at the University of Toronto. “Because even if Singh benefited from the debates, he only benefited from them being one of the several elements in the campaign.”

Leduc and Clarke both argued that the current form of debates won’t be seen again. A single debate between the two leaders of the main parties remains the innovation argued as the best.

Going Forward

Historically, minority governments never lasted more than two years. And before the evening was over, the panelists all took turns, gambling the durability of this one.

Interestingly, Clarke pointed out that Scheer might not be around that long, and the process of replacing him is going to take a while. Curran gambled that it will last at least two years.

Therefore, Trudeau is actually in a good position to hold power for a little while. Yet, losing 27 seats showed that his government needs to do better with Canadian issues.

“Climate change, healthcare and going forward with affordability, these are going to be the defining issues going ahead,” concluded CBC journalist McNeil.


Feature photo by Cecilia Piga

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