Election 2015: Faith groups have lots of questions for candidates

Peace Tower Clock on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Photo by Creative Commons
Peace Tower Clock on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Photo by Creative Commons

Early in August, Prime Minister Stephen Harper set in motion a 78-day election campaign, the longest since 1872 when candidates traveled on steam-driven trains and horse-drawn buggies. Despite the early call, a number of faith-based groups have already published election kits. For example, the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) has prepared a 15-page summary of issues, which includes questions that people can ask of political candidates. The kit also contains information on how to organize and conduct all candidates’ meetings, and a guide for writing letters to the editor and using social media to talk about the issues. Continue reading Election 2015: Faith groups have lots of questions for candidates

Election 2015: “Lying piece of shit” episode inevitable

Spoof on man who accosted reporters at Conservative campaign event, Internet image
Spoof on man who accosted reporters at CPC campaign event, Internet image

During the federal election campaign in the autumn of 1965, dozens of students at my boarding school in rural Saskatchewan traveled in a big cattle truck to hear Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson speak in the Humboldt arena. The building was packed and Pearson gave a fulsome speech which was heard by anyone who showed up. Perhaps those were more innocent times. Or perhaps Pearson cared more about a vigorous democracy than some who have inhabited the office since then. Continue reading Election 2015: “Lying piece of shit” episode inevitable

Justin Trudeau, from the heart outwards: his Conservative critics howl

Justin Trudeau, from the heart outwards, photo Liberal.ca
Justin Trudeau, from the heart outwards, photo Liberal.ca

The Harperites and their fellow travellers in the Conservative universe have been scathing in their criticism of Justin Trudeau for saying recently that he wants to grow the economy “from the heart outwards.” After the Liberal leader made his comments during a stop at a Regina farmers’ market, the Conservative war room rushed out a news release to reinforce the party’s television attack about Trudeau not being ready. “Justin is an inexperienced politician who isn’t capable of managing Canada’s $1.9 trillion dollar economy,” the release said. This is rich coming from a gang that has run eight consecutive deficits and presided over the hollowing out of Canada’s manufacturing and energy sectors, as well as the replacement of full time jobs with precarious work. Continue reading Justin Trudeau, from the heart outwards: his Conservative critics howl

Paltry returns: Public spending on sports palaces is bad economics

Amphithéâtre de Québec, June 2014, Creative Commons photo
Amphithéâtre de Québec, June 2014, Creative Commons photo

The National Hockey League’s Ottawa Senators want to abandon the club’s 20-year-old arena in the suburb of Kanata and rebuild near the city’s downtown. Although the team says that fans don’t want to travel to the edge of town to watch their team, the arena actually draws an average of 96 percent of its capacity for home games. Continue reading Paltry returns: Public spending on sports palaces is bad economics

Tragedy in the Commons: Former Members of Parliament Speak Out About Canada’s Failing Democracy

Tragedy in the Commons
Tragedy in the Commons

The summer edition of The Catalyst, publication of Citizens for Public Justice, has published a number of books reviews, including mine of a book by Alison Loat and Michael MacMillan, who lead an organization called Samara. Other books reviewed in this issue include those by ecologist Wendell Berry, Naomi Klein and John Ralston Saul and I encourage you to go The Catalyst  website and to read them. Please find below my review below. Continue reading Tragedy in the Commons: Former Members of Parliament Speak Out About Canada’s Failing Democracy

Derry-Londonderry: from conflict to peace and inclusion

Defiant Protestants in Derry
Defiant Protestants in Derry
Murals in Catholic Bogside neighbourhood
Murals in Catholic Bogside neighbourhood

The history of conflict in Northern Ireland is such that there has been a long and bitter disagreement over the name of one of its historic cities. The locals, a majority of them Catholics and nationalists, call it Derry, while Protestants and British loyalists call it Londonderry, the name introduced when the Crown planted London merchants along with English and Scottish Protestant settlers in the city and region in the 1600s to gain control. There has even been a court case over the name which began in the 1980s and did not end until 2007. The British high court ruled that city’s official name remains Londonderry. Continue reading Derry-Londonderry: from conflict to peace and inclusion

Pontiff’s ‘grand message’: Pope Francis calls for spiritual and environmental revolution

Pope Francis, Creative commons photo
Pope Francis, Creative Commons photo

In his recent encyclical, Pope Francis may succeed in ways that the earnest scientists of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have not. The world’s foremost climate experts have issued a series of ever more urgent reports about looming ecological catastrophe if we don’t mitigate human-induced climate change. Those reports are factual and credible, yet astute political observers tell us that most people act — and vote — on the basis of deeply held values rather than facts. Continue reading Pontiff’s ‘grand message’: Pope Francis calls for spiritual and environmental revolution

Canadians on the Camino, Day 1: In Pamplona

Santa Maria Cathedral, Pamplona
Santa Maria Cathedral, Pamplona

My wife Martha Wiebe and I were in Spain to hike the Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) in September and October of 2014. We chose to start in Pamplona but our destination was the pilgrim city of Santiago de Compostela about 700 kilometres away through five autonomous regions and most of the distance across the north of Spain. We spent a month walking the trail and most days I posted to Facebook about what we were seeing, hearing and experiencing.  I have revised and fact checked that material and added more content  will post 31 pieces to this blog in the coming days and weeks. This is a pilgrims’ travelogue and is not meant to be a practical guide to preparing for and walking the Camino. There are, however, many hints embedded in the writing that will make it useful for those planning to make the pilgrimage. I hope that you enjoy what you read here.  If you are so inclined, please send me a note via the Comments section found at the end of the piece. Continue reading Canadians on the Camino, Day 1: In Pamplona