In the coming days, Canada will see heightened activity in the nation’s ongoing gender identity politics debate. The “1 Million March 4 Children” protest against how gender identity is taught in schools, is set to occur on Wednesday, with synchronized events in more than 50 cities countrywide. Two days later, separate Toronto rally will spotlight two figures prominent in the gender-critical movement: Chris Elston, colloquially known as “Billboard Chris” for his distinctive method of protesting against childhood medical transition, and Josh Alexander, a Renfrew, Ontario student who was expelled earlier this year after objecting in class to his school’s transgender washroom policy.
Re “The essence of Johnston’s report: Trust me, there’s no story here” (May 24): Columnist Andrew Coyne describes well what many Canadians were expecting from David Johnston and what he failed to deliver.
No. 1 is to know what the government knew, who specifically knew, when they knew it and what, if any, action they took. I find Mr. Johnston failed to deliver on a grand scale.
The result? Many Canadians have even less trust in government than they have ever had.
Not a good position for the country, nor the current incumbents in Ottawa.
Roger Emsley Delta, B.C.
Re “My work to protect Canada’s democracy from foreign interference is not done” (May 27): Most troubling to me is David Johnston’s scathing criticism of the whistle-blower who risked their own freedom to alert Canadians to the danger to democracy of China.
Without their courage and loyalty to the public interest at the highest level, none of this would have come to light. The messenger he would shoot deserves our deepest gratitude, as do the Globe reporters who similarly put their reputations on the line.
Alexandra Phillips Vancouver
David Johnston reminds us that he was appointed governor-general by Stephen Harper, that he has served in a number of public roles and never once was his integrity questioned. Except now.
Politicians, reporters and columnists wanted a public inquiry into foreign interference, not public hearings. They want the Prime Minister and his ministers on the “stand,” so to speak. Unconscionable attacks on the pristine reputation of Mr. Johnston have ensued.
Can we fuel criticism not with anger and personal attacks, but with clarity and respect for informed opinion? Not too high a standard, surely, when the central figure is a man of such stature and decency as Mr. Johnston.
Bill Wilkerson Port Hope, Ont.
Re “Targets of Chinese regime reject Johnston findings, call for public inquiry” (May 26): What would a public inquiry tell us that we don’t already know?
David Johnston confirmed The Globe and Mail’s reporting. He also shed light on the bungling way intelligence is, and is not, passed on to government officials. How could anyone do their job effectively when this is the case?
Most disturbing, in my view, is Pierre Poilievre’s rejection of Mr. Johnson’s invitation to take an oath of secrecy and read the full report. It points me to a profound cultural shift within our parliamentary democracy that now embraces members, and those who elect them, who would rather dismantle democratic procedures from the inside than be properly informed.
The Globe has done its job by alerting government and the public. We should now have action on Mr. Johnston’s findings. There’s lots of work to be done.
This should be the urgent path to maintaining our democracy, not a public inquiry.
Janet Tulloch Ottawa
Re “Stop the presses on the King Charles $20 bill” (May 24): “An antiquated, deeply diminished institution that belongs to a long-ago era.” I agree: Our constitutional monarchy is the worst possible system of government for Canada – except for all the others.
We live next door to a republic that recently demonstrated the dangers of a head of state who is the product of “democratic” choice. And look at Brazil, Argentina, Pakistan and countless other democracies with elected heads of state. They provide a stark contrast to modern and progressive constitutional monarchies such as Norway, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands.
I believe constitutional monarchies are a superbly modern way of balancing traditional safeguards and democratic progress, allowing bitter political disagreements to work themselves out without tearing the fabric of nations apart. And because our monarch lives hours away by plane, Canadians are spared the costs of upkeep and maintenance.
A good deal for Canada, eh? Saves a lot of $20 bills.
Larry Muller Trent Lakes, Ont.
Contributor Peter Donolo writes of the need for Canada to reduce its fixation on the monarchy, in favour of placing mug shots of prime ministers on our money. No offense to Lester Pearson, but why replace one entitled elite with another?
For the duration of my day job, I’ve invited Canadians and academia to think about how they are placed in relation to Indigenous nations, politics, communities and histories. And as a citizen of the Ktunaxa Nation, a Canadian and a scholar, I’m still wondering why Canadians can have such limited imaginations that prevent them from seeing Indigenous displacement and oppression that is not merely historic, but still in play.
In this not-so-reconciliatory moment, consider putting Indigenous leaders, who were persecuted by Canada, on our bills, an invitation to remember where our money comes from and at whose expense.
Many Canadians still don’t have a clue about these things.
Joyce Green Professor emerita, politics and international studies University of Regina
Re “America’s long embrace of stupidity” (May 22): While intelligence can sometimes present challenges, the acceptance of ignorance is a losing proposition.
Donald Trump, who appeals to the uneducated, provides evidence that stupidity is not a superpower. His ignorance did not yield solutions to problems plaguing the world. His reign of errors did not resolve issues such as domestic inequality, global warming and international conflicts.
The current countercultural movement by Canadian populists poses a dangerous threat to our democracy. The vocal criticism of gatekeeper expertise by Pierre Poilievre, along with Danielle Smith’s rejection of conventional thinking regarding public health and governance, are prime examples of this hazard.
Leonard Cohen and St. Augustine’s words –”behold the ignorant arise and snatch heaven beneath our eyes” – suggest that salvation may be achieved through ignorance. However, this notion relies on faith in matters beyond our world.
A discerning individual should question the intelligence of such a perception of reality.
Tony D’Andrea Toronto
As contributor Michael Enright so eloquently points out, this situation is nothing new to our southern neighbours.
It is a manifestation of America’s great divide, the socioeconomic distance between the haves and have-nots. Exacerbated by an inadequate social safety net and exploited by predatory politicians and media outlets, it has led to a toxic stew of conspiracy theories, misinformation and outright lies.
Add in racial tensions, gun-ownership disputes, abortion rights and illegal immigration at the southern border, and one fears that it’s only a matter of time before the fuse is lit on this powder keg, with catastrophic consequences.
Dave Hurley Belleville, Ont.
Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Keep letters to 150 words or fewer. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: email@example.com
Julia Malott: Nope, parents are not ‘fascists’ for being skeptical of gender politics
As parents’ voices grow louder, there’s a perception in the progressive left that all of these emerging movements are rooted and inspired by “far-right” extremism. Many in leftist circles suggest that parental rights advocacy is a dog-whistle: a veiled attempt to advance anti-transgender policies. A recently leaked video from an Ontario Federation of Labour meeting offers a glimpse into how some of the province’s most influential union members perceive these protests. As one member notably stated during the meeting: “The fascists are organizing in the streets … . This is far more than a far-right transphobic protest. They’re fundamentally racist, they’re fundamentally anti-union, they are fundamentally transphobic, and it’s just a matter of time before they come for us.”
It’s a grave mistake to deride the parental collective pushing back against the status-quo as fascist sympathizers motivated by transgender hate. A glance past such alarmist rhetoric reveals that — while a fringe group of hate has always existed — the concerns many parents are championing are much more moderate than a “far-right” moniker suggests.
For many parents, the core issue at hand is preserving their agency and autonomy over the ideological content of their children’s education. They want transparency about what is being taught, the option to excuse their child from content they believe doesn’t align with their values, and the discretion to determine age-appropriateness for activities, such as certain reading material or events like drag queen performances at schools. Perhaps least surprisingly, parents want to be involved in the key decisions of their own child undergoing a social transition in the classroom.
The matter of social transition behind parents’ backs in particular is so condemning of their role in upbringing that it has thrust the entire gamut of gender identity matters into the national spotlight, revealing just how out of balance transgender accommodation has become. The manner in which the left has responded — by doubling down in their rhetoric and deriding parents as militant zealots, has played powerfully into the rapid growth of this grassroots movement.
Many parents, even amid those who will stand in protest, have little desire to limit other families’ decisions regarding gender teachings and expression for their children. They realize that their objective of ensuring their own parental autonomy is intertwined with safeguarding those same freedoms for other families as well.
So where do we go from here? What might a balanced approach to parental rights look like within the nuanced landscape of gender identity politics? Fortunately, we need not start from scratch; history offers us a model for the coexistence of diverse ideologies within our educational institutions. Look no further than religion.
Amid religious diversity, we teach acceptance. Students are taught to make space for varied faith expression among their peers, whether through clothing or other customs, and with a strong desire to maintain neutral, religious symbols are not adorned by the institution. The lesson for students is to embrace and include, even where personal beliefs diverge; Meanwhile, the guiding principle for the institution is to avoid actions that display favouritism toward any specific religious doctrine.
Such a solution could address a significant portion of the concerns fuelling the rising parental unrest. Moderate parents would applaud such an education system, and this would still be inclusive of transgender students. But in order for this to be realized, the two factions moving ever further apart will first need to come to the table and talk. Given the recent rhetoric from progressive quarters, the prospect of this dialogue anytime soon appears distant.
Ex-diplomat says Poland asked him to keep tabs on Alberta politician
A month after Global Affairs Canada told CBC News it was looking into claims that the Polish government asked one of its diplomats in Canada to gather information on a former Alberta cabinet minister, the dismissed consul general at the centre of the affair says he still hasn’t heard from the department on the matter.
Andrzej Mańkowski told CBC News the only official he has heard from is a B.C. bureaucrat who asked him to return his diplomatic licence plates and identification.
“[Officials with Global Affairs] haven’t tried talking to me,” he said.
Mańkowski showed CBC News a copy of a letter dated Aug. 31 he received from B.C.’s Chief of Protocol for Intergovernmental Relations Lucy Lobmeier asking him to turn in his identity card and to return his diplomatic plates “within 30 days of this letter.” She also thanked him for his service.
Mańkowski alleges he was dismissed from his post in late July after he refused to carry out orders from the Polish government to gather information about Thomas Lukaszuk, a former deputy premier of Alberta who often provides commentary to CBC News about the province’s politics.
“It’s clear that Polish diplomacy during Communist times, the main responsibility was to collect information, to gather information on some Polish representatives abroad,” Mańkowski said, adding he felt as if the request was a throwback to that time.
“The analogy’s extremely evident.”
Last month, Global Affairs Canada said it was taking the allegations seriously.
Spying allegations ‘out of this world’: ambassador
In August, Lukaszuk said he believed he had been targeted by Poland’s department of foreign affairs over his activism against a controversial Polish pastor, Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, who has private radio and television stations in Poland.
Rydzyk, who has ties to the Polish government, has been criticized for delivering sermons featuring homophobic and anti-Semitic views and for preaching against the European Union.
Lukaszuk also shared what he said were encrypted messages Polish government officials sent to Mańkowski asking him over the course of a year to prepare notes on the former Alberta politician.
CBC News has not independently verified these messages were official government communications. Mańkowski did not dispute their veracity in his interview.
“Asking for my opinion about Lukaszuk was just a kind of trap, was just a political test of my loyalty,” he said.
Poland’s Ambassador to Canada Witold Dzielski called the allegation “totally absurd.”
“The idea of Polish diplomacy spying on a former provincial politician … it’s really out of this world,” Dzielski said.
He said he has never met Lukaszuk and did not know of his previous career in politics before Lukaszuk emailed him about an unrelated consular matter long before the reports about Mańkowski came out.
Dzielski said that if the notes cited by Lukaszuk are real, they were leaked illegally because they would constitute private diplomatic communications.
The affair has captured attention in Polish media, where the story first broke.
In July, Polish opposition politicians cited the messages released by Lukaszuk when they asked Piotr Wawrzyk, a secretary of state in the government’s foreign affairs department, whether Mańkowski was dismissed because he refused to spy on Lukaszuk.
In reply, Wawrzyk said the government could recall a diplomat who refused to carry out an assignment.
Wawrzyk, who was also a deputy foreign minister, has since been fired himself over an unrelated matter both local media outlets and Reuters have linked to a clandestine scheme awarding migrants visas in exchange for cash.
On Saturday, The Associated Press noted he had been hospitalized following an apparent sucide attempt.
“The minister, Wawrzyk, was laid off because of a totally different subject,” Dzielski said.
He pointed out that those documents were cited by opposition politicians in the context of a heated election campaign.
Dzielski� also said it’s normal for diplomats to be asked to gather information on notable members of diaspora communities.
‘A very marginal conversation’
“We are working very closely with them,” he said. “It is obvious and natural, and it is an element of diplomatic workshops, that we provide and we build ourselves opinions about the quality of cooperation with particular actors.”
He said Global Affairs has spoken to him about the allegations. “We had a very marginal conversation on this which reflects the level of seriousness of this topic,” he said.
A NATO member, Poland has worked closely with Canada to help out its neighbour Ukraine ever since Russia launched its full-scale invasion last year.
Asked for comment, Global Affairs said in a media statement it “continues to work closely with security and intelligence community partners to assess the situation and identify next steps as appropriate.”
The department said last month it had contacted Lukaszuk and that it took the responsibility of protecting Canadians from “transnational repression” very seriously.
Put politics aside to solve housing crisis, or your kids might never own a home: Raitt
The Current20:05Putting politics aside to tackle the housing crisis
Political leaders of all stripes must find a way to work together to solve the housing and climate crises impacting Canadians, says former Conservative MP Lisa Raitt.
“Toronto is the best example. NDP mayor, provincial premier who’s Conservative, federal Liberal who’s the prime minister,” said Raitt, co-lead of the new non-governmental Task Force for Housing and Climate, which launched Tuesday.
“And if they don’t figure this out, one voter is going to punish them all.”
The new task force is concerned with accelerating the construction of new homes, while ensuring that’s done in a sustainable way. In a press release, the group of former city mayors, planners, developers, economists and affordable housing advocates said it intends to convene until April 2024 to develop policy recommendations. The work is supported by the Clean Economy Fund, a charitable foundation.
Raitt held several senior cabinet posts under former prime minister Stephen Harper. But as co-lead of the task force, Raitt said she won’t engage in the political partisanship that she thinks “poisons the well” around these issues.
“Part of the reason why we’re coming together as the task force is to have a real pragmatic and practical conversation about these issues instead of weaponizing it into a political arena, and finger pointing back and forth,” she told The Current’s Matt Galloway.
Canada needs to build an extra 3.5 million new units by the end of the decade, over and above what’s already in the works, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. A report this week showed rental costs have increased 9.6 per cent from Aug. 2022 to 2023, to an average now of $2,117 a month.
This week, the federal government announced it would cut the federal goods and services tax (GST) from the construction of new rental apartments, in an effort to spur new development. The Liberal government also pledged $74 million to build thousands of homes in London, Ont., — the first in what it hopes will be a series of agreements to accelerate housing construction.
Speaking in London on Wednesday, Housing Minister Sean Fraser called on municipalities to “legalize housing,” urging them to remove “sluggish permit-approval processes” and zoning obstacles if they expect federal investment in housing construction.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre criticized the government’s plans as not going far enough, while pointing out it echoes some of his party’s proposals. He’s proposed measures that tie federal funding to the number of housing starts. Funding would be withheld from cities that fail to increase the number of homes built by 15 per cent, while cities that pass that threshold would receive bonuses.
Poilievre’s proposals also include a “NIMBY” fine on municipalities that block construction because of opposition from local residents, and the sale of 15 per cent of federally owned buildings so the land can be used to build affordable homes.
Don Iveson, former mayor of Edmonton and co-lead of the task force, said he understands why partisan politics can creep into the debate — but Canadians expect more.
He said the task force intends “to help all orders of government” understand what’s needed to tackle these problems from an economic, technical and planning perspective.
“We’re not going to be able to solve the housing crisis [by] building housing the way we built it for the last several generations,” said said Iveson, who was mayor of Edmonton from 2013 to 2021.
Your kids need a place to live: Raitt
Iveson said the challenge of scaling up housing construction will require some new ways of thinking.
That might mean a greater emphasis on automation and building houses from components prefabricated off-site, which he described as “essentially a more factory approach” that could also reduce construction costs.
Raitt said the task force will examine where houses are built, and in what kind of density, to ensure scaling up can “get the most bang for the buck.”
That might mean Canadians might need to have difficult conversations, including whether to build multi-storey buildings instead of single-family homes.
Raitt said older Canadians who already own their own homes might not like the idea of taller buildings going up around them, but they should speak to their kids about it.
“They don’t care if it’s going to be four, six storeys in a residential neighbourhood. They just want a place that they know that they can purchase,” she said.
“Talk about whether or not our kids are going to have a place to live, let alone rent, let alone own, let alone a house in the communities where they were brought up, because right now it’s not looking so good.”
Counting the cost of climate change
When it comes to climate change and sustainability, the task force’s goals come down to a “very simple equation,” Raitt said.
“Whatever we’re building now is going to be here in 2050. So if it’s going to be part of the calculation of our net-zero aspirations, whatever they’re going to be,” she said.
She said the task force will work to formulate ways to build housing that take emissions into account, but don’t include prohibitive costs that slow down the rate of construction.
“It’s going to be a little bit more costly to build with climate indications built in … but you’ve got to make sure that there’s policies surrounding that to make sure it still makes it affordable,” she said.
Iveson said wildfires, floods, heat domes and extreme weather events are already disrupting the economy, as well as posing huge financial burdens for the Canadians caught up in them.
“Climate change is already costing us a fortune,” he told Galloway.
Building without those climate considerations “maybe seems affordable in the short term, but it’s false economy when it comes to the real costs ahead of us,” he said.
Social media is a double-edged sword for the public image of Canadian labour unions – The Conversation
How petro-nations are approaching the shift to net zero and the future of oil – CBC.ca
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