Blog Posts by David Kilgour

  • Liberal leader Justin Trudeau talks to reporters on Parliament Hill in Ottawa April 21, 2015. (Reuters)Liberal leader Justin Trudeau talks to reporters on Parliament Hill in Ottawa April 21, 2015. (Reuters)

    New and important issues can arise or change in the months before any election, but as of today, most Canadians appear from opinion surveys to be focussed primarily on the economy. There is also concern about national security in a period of Vladimir Putin, the Islamic State and other threats to regional and world peace. Features of this week’s budget, such as TFSA and RRIF benefits for seniors and universal child care benefits, will also be a factor in attracting or losing votes in October.

    Based on almost 27 years in Parliament, I’d recommend that voters support the candidate in their constituency they identify with most closely regardless of party affiliation. Not all candidates are equally committed to representing every constituent without fear or favour in the House of Commons and with personal government problems.

    This can be difficult to assess before an election since every candidate and party leader puts their best face forward during an election campaign. There is

    Read More »from Canada's election: Vote for local candidates, not for party leaders
  • Hillary Clinton and Laura Ensler listen as an instructor reads a story to children April 1, 2015. (Reuters)Hillary Clinton and Laura Ensler listen as an instructor reads a story to children April 1, 2015. (Reuters)

    Hillary Clinton is expected to launch her second campaign for the White House this weekend. She can expect little difficulty in winning her party nomination despite problems in projecting warmth to large crowds and other rusty campaign skills. An intellectual, she remains the overwhelming favourite on the Democratic side over the closest other contenders, Vice-President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

    According to Public Policy Polling’s latest survey result on April 7, Clinton leads Florida Senator Marco Rubio 46/43 per cent and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker 46/42. An earlier average of various polls had her leading former Florida Governor Jeb Bush by about seven per cent.

    What might Americans and the world expect from a Hillary Clinton administration?

    Clinton’s 2014 book, Hard Choices, is in effect a 600-page campaign platform, doubtless reflecting advice from some of the best policy specialists in America and internationally. It frequently goes beyond what

    Read More »from U.S. Election: Hillary Clinton an open book, thanks to 'Hard Choices'
  • With the right attitude, those little problems between Canada and the U.S. don't seem so bad. (Reuters)With the right attitude, those little problems between Canada and the U.S. don't seem so bad. (Reuters)

    From a Canadian perspective, Canada-U.S. relations have advanced to a point where they are capable of transcending a very unpopular president such as George W. Bush. While Barack Obama was welcomed into office overwhelmingly by Canadians, his misinformation to justify a presidential veto of legislation key tothe Canadian Keystone XL pipeline was a serious blow to good bilateral relations.

    The relationship overall is probably no better or worse than it has been for many years, largely because our two countries are now seen on both sides of the border as alternative civilizations and thus increasingly unlikely to diverge or converge on a range of public issues. Our expectations of each other are perhaps becoming more realistic.

    David Jones and I wrote Uneasy Neighbo(u)rs about the two nations in 2007. Some features of the relationship continue to apply, including the approximately ten-to-one disparity in population and GDP. Canadian differences with our neighbour today are still often

    Read More »from U.S.-Canada relations: With humour and patience, we can remain friends
  • In the small ocean of printer’s ink consumed since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech of March 3rd to the U.S. Congress swim four not-so-imaginary fish.

    The most frightened one is Israel. A 2012 opinion survey by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs revealed that two-thirds of Israelis believed that “if Iran will acquire a nuclear weapon it would use it against Israel.” The strongly peace-seeking Shimon Peres as Israel’s president asked in 2012 how the world could allow the Iranian leadership to “openly deny the Holocaust and threaten another Holocaust.”

    A former Iranian president, Hashemi Rafsanjani, in 2001 claimed that a single bomb would end Israel’s existence. Israelis fear both a direct strike by Tehran and one by a non-state actor with a nuclear weapon provided by it. Many also believe that the Middle East as a whole, with Iran in the lead, rejects Israel’s right to exist as a country.

    Other concerns about a nuclear-armed Iran relate to the toxic consequences

    Read More »from Obama’s Israel-Iran nuclear problem: Tough economic sanctions brought Tehran to the table
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    House of Commons security guards receive a standing ovation from Members of Parliament. REUTERS/Chris Wattie (CANADA - Tags: POLITICS)House of Commons security guards receive a standing ovation from Members of Parliament. REUTERS/Chris Wattie (CANADA - Tags: POLITICS)
    The Parliament of Canada should initiate the most broadly acceptable model of proportional representation (PR) for electing members to our House of Commons, mostly because doing so would create a chamber where MPs are elected in proportion to votes received rather than our present winner-take-all system.

    Canada, the U.S. and U.K. are the only major Western democracies still using the first-past-the-post voting system. Our election laws should no longer prescribe that the only voters electing MPs are those favouring each riding's most popular political party. Now the votes of those supporting minority parties — about seven million in the 2011 federal election — achieve nothing in terms of post-election representation. That model was created centuries ago and is simply out-dated for modern times.

    Réal Lavergne of the Fair Vote Canada civil society adds:

    “Among the world’s 35 strongest democracies, 25 use PR and only six use winner-take-all systems of one sort or another... Comparative

    Read More »from Election reform: Canada in desperate need of proportional representation
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) listend during a meeting with Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez. Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) listend during a meeting with Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez.

    Diplomats, politicians and business leaders sometimes overlook that China is its peoples, cultures and history far more than its unelected government. The criticisms many of us at home and abroad make are of the party-state governance, not the long-suffering citizens.

    Mao remains the overarching governance icon. Jung Chang and Jon Holliday end their biography, Mao, The Unknown Story: “Today (2005), Mao‘s portrait and corpse still dominate Tiananmen Square .... The current Communist regime declares itself to be Mao’s heir and fiercely perpetuates (his) myth.” Many historians today include him with Stalin and Hitler as the three worst mass murderers of the 20th century.  Chang-Holliday notes, "...over 70 million Chinese perished under Mao’s rule in peacetime."

    Many governance problems today stem from the conflation of Mao's totalitarianism and his successor Deng Xiaoping's reforms after 1978 into a system of 'Leninist governance/crony capitalism.' Corruption and violence are so

    Read More »from Working with China: World’s democrats must continue to engage with the party-state
  • Members of the Winnipeg Rifles stand at attention at a Remembrance Day service in Winnipeg. (The Canadian Press)Members of the Winnipeg Rifles stand at attention at a Remembrance Day service in Winnipeg. (The Canadian Press)

    The removal of Julian Fantino as Minister of Veterans Affairs in early 2015 by Prime Minister Harper is one of countless indications that Canadians hold strong views about how our veterans should be treated.

    Another is the widespread public opposition to the federal Justice Department spending to date almost $700,000 in legal fees to fight a class action by injured veterans in B.C. seeking lifelong disability payments rather than lump sum settlements. The lump sum approach was an all-party decision under the Martin government that has proven to have disastrous impacts on Canadian soldiers returning from the battlefield. The lifelong monthly payments model should be restored immediately as an option. The crux of the legal case is whether there is a binding social contract on governments for the care of veterans and their families.

    Those who serve in our armed forces, who are wounded while in combat or in training for such missions, should be given assistance to return to military

    Read More »from Support our troops: Canadian veterans shouldn't have to fight for benefits and services
  • The world can be proud of France for hosting the largest protest in its history last Sunday for the 17 victims of the Charlie Hebdo and Kosher supermarket massacres. Reportedly, more than 3.7 million people across the country and 1.2-1.6 million in Paris joined the demonstration. Paris was the world’s capital that day.

    Marchers, including representatives from 50 nations, came from many parts of France, Europe and beyond. They were not protesting any religion; they were protesting terrorists pretending to be affiliated to a religion. ‘We stand together’ could have been the banner for all, walking arm-in-arm.

    The New York Times columnist David Brooks asserts that healthy societies allow “room for those creative and challenging (satirists) who are uninhibited by good manners and taste ... those who are funny, uncivil and offensive … don’t suppress speech, but … grant different standing to different sorts of people ... (S)cholars are heard with high respect. Satirists with bemused

    Read More »from After Paris: Effort should be spent on understanding faith communities, not hatred
  • The world in 2015: Tough times are ahead for all citizens

    Militant Islamist fighters hold the flag of Islamic State while taking part in a military parade. (Reuters)Militant Islamist fighters hold the flag of Islamic State while taking part in a military parade. (Reuters)

    The world will feel the impact of four international issues in the coming year:

    Oil. The current price war, caused mostly by the Saudi Arabian king’s drive for market share from rising non-traditional producers, has roughly halved the international price of oil from early 2014. Low oil prices will benefit most Canadians, providing vehicle owners and manufacturers with the equivalent of a sizeable tax cut. Our oil and gas sectors, including the oil sands, will suffer in the short run, but some in the industry think both oil and gas do best when international prices are ‘reasonable but stable’.

    Consequences of the oil/gas glut and collapsed prices are already emerging. Ironically, while the U.S. hydrocarbon-fracking sector is a major Saudi target, the U.S. is clearly the biggest national winner. The three per cent real U.S. economic growth expected in 2015 should help Canadian exporters significantly. Africa, the Americas, Asia, and most of Europe will also benefit from low prices.

    Read More »from The world in 2015: Tough times are ahead for all citizens
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein noted optimistically as her Intelligence Committee report on the CIA was released: history will judge (Americans) by our commitment to a just society governed by law and the willingness to face an ugly truth and say ‘never again’.”

    Her Senate colleague, John McCain, tortured in North Vietnam decades ago, stressed that its victims rarely reveal anything, saying whatever they think their tormentors want to hear.

    The use of torture by the CIA became widely known in 2003, when Amnesty International revealed its severe maltreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. To his credit, Barack Obama ended ‘enhanced interrogation’ by the agency in 2009, now admitting that the process “did significant damage to America’s standing in the world ... (making) it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners.”

    Whether torture saved lives – as claimed by defenders of the practices  is directly rebutted in the report, which cites the agency’s own documents to conclude

    Read More »from CIA torture: Regardless of the reasoning, we must be better than this

Pagination

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