Press Feed
Pages Menu

Jackson Doughart

Jackson Doughart joined the Prince Arthur Herald staff in June 2013, and now serves as Editor of the English section. He holds a master's degree in political studies from Queen's University and formerly interned at the National Post. By day, he is Research Coordinator at the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, a public policy think tank in Halifax.

Conservatism and the civic virtue of temperance

Undergraduate students of political science are required to study the rudiments of great works in political philosophy, even if they do not intend to pursue political theory as the concentration in their degrees. Since the political science discipline helps to feed the upcoming generation of pundits, advisers, speech writers, lawmakers, academics, and judges, society has a considerable interest in the exposure of such people to a reading regime that adequately reflects the diverse history of political thought. Accordingly, decent programs mandate that students read not only the Ancients (Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Augustine), the Moderns (Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau), Karl Marx and his acolytes, and contemporary liberal thinkers (Isaiah Berlin, Robert Nozick, John Rawls), but also the great conservative thinkers, such as Edmund Burke and Joseph de Maistre. Yet in our postmodern age, replete with ahistorical and "pragmatic" approaches to the resolution of political disputes, the utility of this conservative tradition cannot simply be assumed. Nor should it be included in curricula for the mere appearance of fairness and balance. Rather, it needs to be defended as intrinsically valuable to contemporary thinking about politics. The word conservative here might elicit some confusion, as I am using it differently than most people do when describing partisan competition between "liberals" and "conservatives", where the latter refers to economic, social, or religious views about either general or specific policies. In the United States, these labels correspond nearly perfectly, for the moment at least, with the Democratic and Republican parties, to give a frame of reference. But there is an appreciable conceptual distinction between conservatism as a political program and conservatism as an attitude or disposition. And while there is considerable overlap between the two in practice, separating them analytically should help to show that attitudinal conservatism, to coin an expression, is needed not only… Read More

Canada and the Responsibility to Protect

In the spirit of the Herald’s theme of this week to examine moments and themes of Canadian history that are worthy of attention and admiration, I would submit a contribution of our country to the affairs of global politics.  As a so-called middle or even lower-middle power, Canadian influence on international politics is rarely of significance, apart from its association with larger-power allies, such as Britain and France, and especially the United States. Yet on the issue of what is often termed humanitarian intervention, Canada proved itself during the 1990s to be one of the rhetorical and active leaders in advocating the moral case for what remain two controversial concepts — the possibility of non-defensive aggression for humanitarian purposes and the existence of an “international jurisdiction”, both of which carry substantial implications for international political system, including the status of absolute Westphalian sovereignty.Though that decade was bereft with examples of humanitarian crisis — from the tribal extermination of Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda and Burundi to the collapse into failed statehood of Somalia — the most important such crisis in combined humanitarian and geopolitical terms was the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, an event that saw the carving apart of the former Yugoslav republics and autonomous regions along the lines of religion and ethnicity. The heart of the contested territory in the early ‘90s was Bosnia and Herzegovina, the most ethnically and religiously diverse of the former Yugoslav republics which was also home to the largest native population of Muslims in Europe. Though no side in the multi-faceted conflict was free from culpability, this Bosnian Muslim faction was notable for the commitment of its nominally-Islamist leader Alija Izetbegovic to maintaining a unified country inclusive of both Muslims and Christians.This commitment differed sharply from that of both the Croatian and Serbian forces… Read More

Are we all Israelis now?

On September 12, 2001, the French newspaper Le Monde wrote “We are all Americans”, a message of solidarity with the United States.  Apart from identifying the U.S. as the victim in the 9/11 (and not, as some would later say, an example of an imperial bully being served its just deserts), the formulation contained another message: that the rest of the West instinctively empathized and sided with America.Twelve years on, the committing of terrorist acts by anti-Western Muslims has not ceased, as evidenced by the Boston Marathon Bombing in April and the killing of British soldier Lee Rigby in South London in May. But unlike previous events, these acts have not rekindled public support for Anglo-American military operations overseas. To the contrary, President Obama’s declaration that the War on Terror, “like all wars, must end”, has been greeted with acclaim. So has his promise to remove 34,000 soldiers from Afghanistan by 2014.Of course, the broader conflict involving Islamist groups will continue with or without direct Western involvement, having expanded to such theatres as North Africa, Lebanon, and Syria — none of which exhibit promising signs for liberal democracy.  Yet the willingness of West to commit its blood and treasure on the fate of these battles appears to be fading, perhaps at the moment when its engagement is most needed.This development is not, I submit, a fruit borne of mere war weariness. Rather, we are reaching a tipping point in Western support for the Long War, which is related far more to the public’s changing understanding of the conflict than a waning disdain for the enemy.Though politicians and pundits often believe in a moral basis for the war on terrorism, the justifications that have animated public support over the last decade are based on simple conflict logic: the West was targeted by an… Read More

The moral case for a consumption tax

On the subject of taxation, there are two normative political theories which constitute the proverbial book-ends of the economic spectrum: Propertarians believe that taxation amounts to theft on behalf of the state, and that the protection of property is one of the sole responsibilities of civil authorities.  Egalitarians believe that irrespective of taxation’s practical utility, the redistribution of wealth is a moral imperative for the government.  Fortunately, there is much more room for argument here, especially among those who rightly see taxation as an unfortunate but necessary evil in light of the numerous legitimate responsibilities of the state.But this seemingly-pragmatic justification is not without its moral implications, which are the basis for many proposals by several conservatives to reform the tax code.  One suggestion is to replace the progressive bracket model with a broad-based flat tax, in which all taxpayers would pay the same rate on all income without the minutia of loopholes and exemptions that bog down the current system, and which allow many high earners to insulate parts of their income from taxation. A concrete Canadian example of this is the Hall-Rabushka flat tax model of 1981, which was redeveloped by the economists Alvin Rabushka and Niels Veldhuis for a Fraser Institute publication in 2007 entitled “A Flat Tax for Canada”.  That paper recommended that Canada adopt a flat income tax with a rate of 15 percent for all individuals and business.But whatever its pragmatic economic effect, support for a flat tax is also motivated by the ethical belief that the state cannot, by threat of coercion, take beyond a certain amount of anyone’s wealth (an oft-suggested figure is one-fifth), including wealthy persons with significant disposable income.  Predictably, egalitarians have an objection to this proposal that is distinct from their desire to redistribute wealth: such a tax, they… Read More

Secularism and the soccer pitch

In a guest column for the Globe and Mail on Tuesday, June 11, the journalist Patrick Lagacé discussed the recent banning of turbans from soccer pitches in Quebec. His thesis was that the Quebec Soccer Federation's decision was not only wrong for its own sake, but also suggestive of something perverse in Quebec's view of secularism. Underlying this attitude, he claims, is a xenophobic double standard, whereby the Catholic culture inherited by today's Québécois is allowed to slide by, while minority religious customs are confronted.  This is an interesting argument, and one that ought not be rashly dismissed.  But it is worth noting that in his rush to categorically denounce both the QSF ruling and the secularist justification thereof, Lagacé misses the nuance and room for debate on this question, which cannot be so easily answered with ordinary liberal zeal. The simplest, yet most important, point to counter is Lagacé comparison of Quebec society to the segregated southern United States during the 1950s. By stating that the turban-wearing “can play in their backyard, but not with official referees, not in the official rules of soccer”, the QSF has, in Lagacé’s judgment, committed an ethical betrayal of that variety. But even if one shares his contempt with the decision, the comparison is bunk.  Because of its voluntary nature, discrimination on the ground of religion — even at its most wrong and colossal — is never the same as discrimination on the ground of skin colour or race, which is completely involuntary and unrelated to the various disagreements about ethics and ideas that pervade interreligious discourse. And even if one interprets an air of sectarianism in the QSF statement, it remains that the wearing of a turban is an individual choice (takeable by any person, include a non-Sikh) which is not impinged by a… Read More
Page 19 of 19« First...10...1516171819