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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.

For one last time, the case against Justin Trudeau

Perhaps the polls will be wrong in forecasting a big win for Justin Trudeau on Monday. But even if they are, the Liberal Party will have pulled off something astounding: to have markedly regressed in the quality of leadership and subsequently shot from the basement of parliamentary representation to contender for — if not holder of — government.   I’m not sure whether this says something more about the party or about the Canadian electorate. Say what you will about Michael Ignatieff. He was pedantic and intellectual and “just visiting.” But he was also immensely qualified to be the head of government, to no avail. Seeing him unable to bring the natural governing party back to power, the Liberal war room must have determined, in an exhaustive campaign post-mortem, “Smart is out.” And so they embarked upon the evident solution: to propel the Son of God, whatever his own bona fides, to the leadership. And the voters seem about to swallow the meal whole.   So for one last time, let us state the straightforward case against. Justin Trudeau has done nothing, absolutely nothing, in his life that is available for someone to discover which qualifies him to be the most powerful man in Canada. He may well be the least qualified person to have ever been considered.   The height of his employment was to teach drama, before he arrived in Parliament, where he was taken so unseriously by his party that he was given the lacklustre post of youth critic. He praised the communist dictatorship of China for its ability to make the trains run on time. His reaction to the pressing international calamity of the Islamic State was to make a puerile crack about the possible deployment of CF-18s, which he appraised as little more than boys "whipping… Read More

Questioning the niqab is legitimate politics

Let’s take it for granted that the niqab issue, such as it now exists, is overblown, and really has no business being anything like a central concern in the election. Let’s also assume that the politicians who’ve foisted this subject on the public at this stage — namely Gilles Duceppe and Stephen Harper — have done so cynically. Let’s recognize it as absurd that many of the vocalists against the niqab are Quebec nationalists, who care no more about the symbolism and integrity of Canadian citizenship ceremonies than someone willing to wear a niqab to one. Does anyone think the matter of covering one’s face, as a permanent habit of dress in public, is therefore an unreasonable topic to raise? Do the “gotcha” technicalities — only two women have tried to wear a niqab to citizenship ceremonies, I must have read 100 times — just dissolve the question? It has been asked, to some level of engagement and controversy, in every single Western country that houses Muslim immigrants. Is that all dog whistling too? The campaigners against the niqab should admit that their beef is not only with what happens at citizenship ceremonies. What matters to them is not the two women who’ve tried to wear niqabs at their oath-swearing, but the many more who wear them elsewhere. It is illogical to care about the former if one doesn’t care about the latter: a woman should not be prohibited from wearing a garment at a public ceremony recognizing citizenship if her citizenship includes the right to wear it everywhere except that ceremony. The reason that they won’t say this is twofold. First, because they’re cowards. This includes Harper and Duceppe, who don’t want to push the issue so far that it would cease to be electorally advantageous. But more importantly… Read More

Racial fluidity should be a progressive ideal

Most people seem unable to get past the lies and misrepresentations of Rachel Dolezal, the Washington State woman who resigned as president of Spokane's N.A.A.C.P. last week after being outed as a white woman. At best, one can say that she is a poor representative for racial fluidity, which deserves a fairer hearing than the jeers of the past couple of weeks have allowed. It may seem impossible for media elites and everyday Tweeters alike to leave this barrel of fish unshot, but doing so for a moment might help to show the matter of principle here, rather than just the disagreeable behaviour of Ms. Dolezal. Words like fluidity and choice may sound absurd in the context of race, but I don’t think that they should be. Our liberal society is beholden to the view that choice is the be all and end all of justice. And yet perhaps the most significant determinant of an American citizen's future, i.e. whether he is black or white, is apparently more stone-set than his gender. In contrast to race, the other major social marker, religion, is changeable by an individual with the requisite effort. While it may be discouraged within a family or community, religious conversion is considered perfectly acceptable in the greater political culture, including by people whose backgrounds make their choice of faith non-traditional. Given that race, like religion in America, entails specific cultural bonds and differences in ways of life, why oughtn’t "racial conversion" be just as acceptable? We are ceaselessly told that race is a social construct. We can also all see that race is a major cause of conflict, political turmoil, and social disparity. Rather than simply bemoan the consequences of the existing racial binary, why not resolve to “construct” something better? Fifty-two years ago, Norman Podhoretz argued convincingly in “My… Read More

Rachel Dolezal: A “trans-racial” trailblazer?

The internet outrage machine is alight with contempt for a Washingtonian named Rachel Dolezal, who resigned today as president of the Spokane branch of the N.A.A.C.P. Her offence: mischaracterizing her racial background to include black ancestry. The commentator Jonathan Capehart, among others, has likened her behaviour to donning ever-racist black face. I don't get the hype. Granted, Ms Dolezal did lie, which is never good. She also cooked up false instances of racism against her, overdid the tanning salon, frizzed her hair, and pouted her lips for photographs, all in the service of furthering the ruse. (That this worked for so long does say something about the prevalence of racial stereotypes.) And it is significant that because her black identity was adopted rather than inherent, she would have the ability—some might call it a privilege—of reverting back into a white identity if she so wished, something that real blacks do not have. But when previously questioned on the matter, Ms Dolezal is quoted as claiming only partly-black ancestry, along with "Native American, German, Czech, Swedish, Jewish and Arabic heritage". That's a lot of ethnicities. And yet nobody seemed to mind until one of these claims—the fractional black part—came into question. It's as though the racially-sensitive had adopted the racially-bigoted "one drop rule" in accepting representatives for Black America. In principle, what possible difference could "blood" really make if one's claim to racial identity can be established by, say, a mere 16th of one's ancestry? With lineages so selective, it really shouldn't matter whether they're real or not. This reminds me of the Democratic politician Elizabeth Warren, who once lied about having minute traces of Cherokee descent to advance her career prospects at Harvard. Yet the real sin was not so much the deception in her ethnic self-reporting, but the fact… Read More

Attacking Justin through Pierre: Mean, but Fair

The present campaign strategy of the Conservative Party is to discredit Justin Trudeau by invoking bad memories of his father's political legacy. Notably, both the finance and prime ministers have reminded Canadians of Trudeau Sr's spending sprees on the public dime, and have explicitly warned that a Justinian prime ministership will return the country to such poor fiscal management. For several reasons, this is a dubious bit of sound-bite pre-election rhetoric. First, while it is undeniable that Pierre T's spend-every-penny philosophy brought needless economic hardship to the country, it is also true that the succeeding Liberal government was the one who corrected it through much-needed austerity measures. This was a course that the intervening Mulroney government did not chart, while in fact contributing to Canada's economic plight. Second, the Conservatives have run up deficits of their own, notably in response to the Great Recession. Clearly their embrace of state stimulus spending was unwitting, in that it departed from their normal preference for balanced budgets. But their critiques of Trudeau Sr have not been mitigated by the admission that deficits may sometimes have to be run. So the charge of hypocrisy is not unfounded, notwithstanding the excesses of Liberal spending in the 1970s and '80s. Third, it is quite uncertain that the Liberal Party will indeed advance such policies, either in its election bid or as the next government. If anything, the party's strategy will be to steal the Tory wardrobe—above all in the economic realm, where Harper's record is strong. The pitch will be thus: voters can have their fiscally-responsible cake while eating their often-visceral distrust of Harper as well. The Liberals will grant a similar monetary strategy, while singing the praises of institutions like the Charter, the Supreme Court, and the federal bureaucracy, all of which the Conservatives would… Read More
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