04 December 2011 Politics

Politically Correct: 2011 redux

In May of this year, I started writing a political commentary column in Imprint, the University of Waterloo’s student newspaper. In June, I came on board The Opposition, a new start-up website dedicated to fostering intellectual debate about Canadian and international politics.

With Imprint taking a break until the new year, I thought now would be a good time to take a look back over what I’ve written in the past year outside of this blog. It’s been a tumultuous time on the world stage, not to mention two elections and some major policy debates at home.

Without further ado, here’s a list of all the articles I wrote this year. I’m looking forward, anxiously, to what 2012 will bring.

20 May - Apathetic students or a pathetic system?

It is a common tautology that students, and young people in general, don’t participate in the political system because we’re apathetic about politics. This reasoning, as convenient and ubiquitous as it may be, is false.

3 June - Realizing the Tunisian dream

Tunisia is in a state of flux. Ben Ali is gone. Elections are approaching. A bright future is on the horizon. And we’re in this in-between place where Tunisians are taking an active role in shaping the kind of country they want to live in.

17 June - A new deal for first nations

The Auditor General’s report makes it clear that the centralized programs of the past decade haven’t done much and are certainly not the way forward. To be frank, what the government can offer is money.

26 June - Make no little plans

We need an unorthodox alternative to the current Senate system that involves more than just scrapping the institution completely. If it’s regional equality we need, Harper and his reformists are thinking too small. If we’re going to reform the Senate, let’s do something wild. Something so crazy, it just might work.

30 June - Let the games begin

Now that the NDP — a party with significant ideological differences from the Conservatives — is the official opposition, we can expect more standoffs like this in the years to come.

3 July - The political schizophrenia of the Melancthon mega-quarry

Ontario doesn’t put an additional tax on aggregate, as some jurisdictions do, which makes sprawling subdivisions more lucrative for developers than inner-city redevelopment or infill projects. This project goes against the very kind of compact, vibrant cities that Ontario says it wants to have.

15 July - Has climate change become taboo?

Shh — don’t mention the elephant in the room. Perhaps it’s better that way. More comfortable, I suppose. If we don’t use the c-word, it’s easy to portray the icebergs as rogue wonders of nature, imposing themselves for a moment upon civilization. The reality, of course, is 200 years in the making.

17 July - Why let a good election go to waste?

It’s a disturbing trend to see the pre-election jostling play out more like an elaborate game of Risk than a real political contest. The focus is not political; it’s territorial.

19 July - Improving healthcare doesn’t have to be so difficult

Our dead-last rankings on timeliness and quality of care are certainly cause for concern. And the current C. Difficile outbreaks illustrate the need for a new model of healthcare in this country.

29 July - Campus politics revisited

Academic institutions have a reputation in modern history as hotbeds for political change. The best example is probably the May 1968 protests in France. Similarly, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood emerged out of universities in the 1970s to become a dominant political force. The list goes on. In Canada, however, the reverse seems to be happening.

6 September - What does Ontario’s election mean for our cities?

The most important issues in this election will be about more than education, healthcare, and HST. Many of the public services that Ontarians use every day are provided by municipal governments. So what will this election mean for Ontario’s cities?

12 September - Jack’s dream lives on

Jack Layton’s legacy isn’t wholly his own — nobody’s ever is. He was continuing the work that a great leader before him had started, and Layton was proud to carry on that tradition. And now he has passed the torch once again. This end is only somebody else’s beginning.

20 September - Towards an effective environmental lobby

It’s one thing to piss off the government, but when mainstream media won’t get onside either, the party’s over. At this point we’re left with a few fringe media organizations lauding the CYCC in a show of self-congratulatory hyperbole. This gives the government more reason to write off the hoax as hippie angst, not worth addressing seriously.

20 September - Vote with your heart and avoid a one-night stand at the ballot box

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—election season! Yes folks, once again, your candidates (the provincial ones this time) are knocking on doors and burning up photocopiers all over town just to get your attention. Doesn’t it feel nice?

22 September - Tough on crime? Not by a long shot

At the end of the day, this new crime legislation doesn’t mean much for the federal government—all the real work is outsourced to the provinces. Maybe that’s why Harper seems so happy about it. If crime continues its declining trend, he can take credit for the success. If judicial efficiency doesn’t improve, he can blame the provincial leaders.

30 September - We need a new way of doing politics

Much of my political activism has centred around the process of voting. I’m more comfortable encouraging people to vote and advocating for electoral reform than I am talking about actual policy. But for this election, I feel the need to highlight one K-W candidate who isn’t afraid to speak his mind, and whose vision for our community is frank, honest, and achievable.

11 October - Breaking the glass ceiling in Alberta

Kevin Libin zeroes in on the preferential voting system that the party uses to elect its leaders, throwing suspicion on the process as if it were a black box full of voodoo. In reality, this system injects a measure of proportionality that made Alison Redford’s victory more legitimate.

14 October - Sixth Decade Plan: what about us?

Political leadership is about having a vision for how a community should evolve. But the administration seems to have made up its mind about what direction to take, so it’s worth asking, why is it feigning interest in what students have to say?

21 October - Punch-card politics in the digital age

In politics it’s far too easy to criticize policies that I don’t agree with. So when I see something worth congratulating, I make a point of saying something about it. My friends, it is with great excitement that I present to you the Senate of Canada’s Twitter account — in both official languages.

28 October - Occupy all streets: part one

I knew of Anonymous’s amoebic leadership structure, its non-centralized, non-hierarchical decision-making. And on Sep. 17, I watched that system in action for the first time.

4 November - Occupy all streets: part two

So, where do we go from here? If the Occupy movement is going to continue gaining momentum, protesters in individual cities will have to coalesce around specific demands.

11 November - Eurozone solutions should come from the people

Put simply, the European Union is united no more. Where there are unifying forces, they are spurred by fear, uncertainty, and preservation of self-interest.

18 November - Why the cold feet on Syria, Conservatives?

As the international community moves swiftly to rein in Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, the Government of Canada is dragging its heels on the issue.

25 November - Stimulus funding won’t save student life

The stimulus programs, responsible for so much of the construction on campus in the last few years, focused largely on academic and administrative space, ignoring the other infrastructure necessary for student life - study space, lounges, performance venues, and all the other things that connect students to their campus on a social level.

2 December - Our visceral civic duty

Since last May’s election, the political dynamics have changed, and those of us on the left are struggling to keep wind in our sails. The opposition parties cannot band together to block legislation anymore, but that doesn’t mean the wheels of democracy stop turning.

Sam Nabi

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