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Ministers of Education in the credentialist era

Quebec's new Minister of Education, Pierre Moreau, has held many previous senior offices for the provincial Liberals. Anglos may be pleased that he has had much greater contact with anglo constituents than his predecessor. Whether he will have any real effect, positive or negative, on public education is more open to question. Compared to other cabinet positions, Education has been something of a revolving door. In the last half century, it has had about two dozen Liberal or PQ appointees to the post. It is recognized as a difficult position, but while it has usually been occupied by senior party figures or fast rising stars, they have mostly been professional politicians, largely in the hands of the two groups that really control all the matters of substance, the permanent bureaucrats, and the leaders of teachers' and support staff unions. There have only been three Ministers who, for good or ill, put a marked personal stamp on the office. Paul Gérin-Lajoie, a Rhodes Scholar with an Oxford law doctorate, was a major founding architect of the MEQ, part of the “Quiet Revolution” of the 1960s Lesage Liberals. Jacques-Yvan Morin, another legal scholar, was René Lévesque's choice for the first four years of his government. And Claude Ryan, former editor of Le Devoir, former Leader of the Liberal Party, an austere and learned workoholic, was an unusually effective Minister from 1985 to 1990. I served on the Legislature Education Committee throughout the first half of the 1990s, observing Ryan's capacity in the first year I was there. He probably would have happily remained there another five years, but Bourassa switched him to a triple portfolio of Public Security, Municipal Affairs, and Native Affairs, to deal with the 1990 native insurrection at Oka. The three Liberals who followed Ryan over the next four… Read More

Peter MacKay and the Conservative Leadership

Polls over the past couple months have been gaging interest in various names as the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. Most of these polls have an old face at the top: recently retired six-term MP Peter MacKay. The most recent poll has MacKay with a two-point lead over recent leadership prospect Kevin O’Leary. With this level of attention, it is time to start asking whether MacKay would be the right choice for the party. While he may be a safe and comfortable choice, there are multiple reasons why he is not an optimal leader for the Conservatives. An assumption, to begin: Peter MacKay is interested in the leadership of the Conservative Party. He is relatively young, has a national profile, and has served in almost every role in the federal government. He hasn’t denied interest, and he kept himself in the spotlight during and after the election campaign. He was also careful to toe the Harper line just enough while distancing himself from his former boss. The Right Leader What constitutes the makeup of the best leader for the Conservatives? The next Conservative leader need not come from the glamour-and-looks mould of Mr. Trudeau. There is a real movement within the Conservative Party to present a softer, friendlier image, to the extent that one wonders if they are overcorrecting. However, in reality there are many ways to win an election, and many different styles can work. The win for Trudeau does not change the calculation to electoral success any more than Harper’s three wins did. They are merely examples of different ways to win. What the next leader does need are principles and clarity. Former Harper advisors Ken Boessenkool and Sean Speer explain in the Globe and Mail that much of Harper’s success was due to the… Read More

Hotel Canada, Sunny Ways, and the Usual Suspects

It may have escaped your attention during the 2015 federal election — what with all the Hitler/Harper noise — but Justin Trudeau was elected as prime minister. (Okay, Vogue noticed.) Many Canadians apparently didn’t obsess about that small detail so long as the dread man from Calgary was dealt a mortal blow. As such, a few have been surprised to discover that Trudeau has policies he intends to implement. It’s easy to overlook the irony of using the words Trudeau and policy in the same sentence. The son of Pierre Trudeau spent much of his 30s involved in flunking out of postgraduate studies, coaching snow boarding and lending his name to avalanche awareness (after his brother was killed in a B.C. snow slide). What passed for thought was admiration for the Chinese centralized government’s ability to act without the annoying democratic trappings of accountability. Then the Liberals parachuted him into Papa’s old riding and voila, Hitler/Harper was Vanquished. It’s pretty thin as resumés go. While not exactly a CEO or MP himself, the evil Hitler/Harper did spend his 30s working on public policy in anticipation of, like, running a government one day. Justin was training to be the next judge on So You Think You Can Dance. In any event, Trudeau’s has concocted a whack of interesting notions that Canadians are just now digesting. As he told a magazine recently, he doesn’t believe Canadians have “core values”. According to the PM, Canadians have “shared values”. To most, the two terms seem interchangeable, no? No. Core values are something we believe. Shared values are things we tolerate of each other. Shared values are best summed up by Yann Martel’s famous Hotel Canada, where lots of hipsters and groovy ethnics cook their meals in their own rooms and generally celebrate themselves, oblivious… Read More

Ukrainian tourists to Canada should not need a visa

In 1891, the first Ukrainian immigrants began arriving in Canada. Yet 125 years later, business travellers and tourists from Ukraine are still required to receive a temporary resident visa for short-term travel to Canada. The visa application process can be onerous and burdensome, and often frustrates individuals when they decide to visit our country. Even though the federal government continues to initial free trade agreements and spend millions to promote foreign investment and tourism, it simultaneously maintains cumbersome visa requirements that deter tourists and business people from visiting our country and spending money in our economy. Canadians should ask, how much do restrictive visa policies cost Canada on an annual basis in lost economic output and revenues? How many jobs could have been added to the already 1.7 million in Canadian tourist industries? Since Canada and Ukraine signed a Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA) in July 2015, the Canada-Ukraine bilateral relationship may now be potentially set to generate significant commercial benefits for both Canadian and Ukrainian businesses. In fact, Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s new Minister of International Trade, has been tasked in her Ministerial Mandate Letter to fully implement and potentially expand CUFTA. CUFTA’s implementation, however, will be undermined so long as temporary resident visa restrictions remain in place for Ukrainian citizens; these restrictions counterproductively serve as a barrier to greater economic development and job creation here in Canada and in Ukraine. Therefore, in order to facilitate economic growth and encourage the full realization of CUFTA’s potential, Canada should abolish temporary resident visa requirements for Ukrainian citizens for short-term travel. As the literature and statistics regarding visa liberalization suggests, such reform would assuredly be a net positive for Canada. In regard to security issues, Ukraine recently introduced biometric passports, which include advanced security features that meet (and in some cases even exceed)… Read More

Weekend File: Jan. 22, 2016

  1. Noticed   Monogamy and Sex Attacks Our English Editor Jackson Doughart checks in with two pieces that caught his attention this week: In the National Post, PAH Governor Barbara Kay reviews the recently-published Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human. Kay’s apologia is full-throated: she fully endorses the author’s claim that monogamy as a societal norm is superior to its rival of polygamy for its own sake, but that this ethic is instrumental in achieving a stable political order. Polygamous cultures inevitably produce a mating advantage to high-status, alpha males; this leaves a class of low-status males who are unable to mate and flourish, and therefore become a destabilizing force within the society itself, and with its adjacent ones. As Kay writes, “Tucker brings a persuasive body of biological, evolutionary, and anthropological scholarship to bear on a recurrent theme, that the besetting weakness of polygamous societies is the inability to get on with neighbours. If she is right in her judgment, Tucker’s book may become a seminal work. In Taki Mag, Paul Wood explains why the Cologne mass sex attack on New Year’s Eve, 2015 could become “of lasting and huge significance to European history.” The upshot, he argues, is that the government and media conspiracy to prevent the public from learning the truth — that this attack was committed by young Arab Muslim migrants, whose native culture does not discourage such sexual assault and harassment. It is possible, therefore, that the German public will be inoculated against the platitudes of its pro-immigration elite and demand change. If true, then the Cologne attack could indeed be the impetus for a sudden and massive reversal of policy direction, and a central event in this history of the present migrant crisis. Energy East (vs. West?) An interesting political situation… Read More

Last Days of a Sorcerer’s Apprentice

As a sceptical 1950s student hangover, I was still around university campuses and undergraduate life during the upheavals of 1965-75, but saw them very differently from most students around me. I was most interested in surprising ideas and developments that did not fit the instant mythology being created. A major cause of these surprises was that, when university departments, flush with cash in those days, sought to raise their prestige by inviting a "Distinguished Visiting Professor" from afar to join them for a year or two, they sometimes got different distinctions from the ones they expected. In 1966-68, I was at Sir George Williams University. My Queen's mathematics degree already in hand, I was taking two years to qualify in honours history. before moving on to graduate studies at McGill. During those two years, the Sir George history and economics departments had jointly obtained Rudolf Schlesinger as a visiting professor. Schlesinger was the retiring head of "Soviet Studies" at the University of Glasgow, and the editor of two academic journals, one on the USSR, one on "world co-existence." He was also a walking piece of history. Coming to Britain as an Austrian emigre in the late 1930s, he had been an important Communist Party activist for two previous decades, in Berlin, Prague, and Moscow. Despite having been expelled from the USSR CP in 1936 in a purge, he had remained a lifelong Marxist-Leninist. The then largely youthful and leftist history department revered him as a scholarly Marxist, who would add the weight of his historical experience. In some ways, he did as expected. He was certainly not one of the countless eventually disillusioned Marxists of his generation, symbolized by Arthur Koestler's 1940 novel, Darkness at Noon. For him, Communism was still not the god that failed. “Koestler? A mere courier!”… Read More
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