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WARREN: Rise of Fords to power was political story of decade – Toronto Sun

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As we count down the remaining days in this decade, it is remarkable to look back at the massive change and some notable events during the past 10 years.

POLITICS

The most important Canadian political story of the past 10 years is the rise of the Ford family to political prominence in Toronto, Ontario, and across Canada.

No family has made as many headlines and shocked the political establishment as the Ford family.

Rob Ford was elected mayor of Toronto in 2010, Doug Ford was elected premier of Ontario in 2018, and Michael Ford was re-elected as a Toronto city councillor in 2018.

Doug is now playing a national role as Captain Canada and is considered a potential replacement as Conservative leader.

While cancer took Rob’s life in 2016 as he was mounting a political comeback, it is impossible to predict what Rob would be doing today politically if he was still alive.

Few have been as underestimated as the Ford family as they took the power of Canada’s biggest city and Canada’s biggest province. No family has had as much political success.

The past decade politically was also remarkable for another family with the return of a Trudeau (2.0).

Justin Trudeau has dominated the global stage as well as Ottawa for the last half of the decade. Like his father, he is controversial but also very successful.

Trudeau being re-elected in 2019 was proof that he is perhaps the best campaigner in a generation. Like a cat with nine lives, Trudeau’s best performances are yet to come.

Finally, I cannot skip the past decade in politics without mention of the rise of Putin, China, and Trump. Rough seas are ahead globally as the world must deal with these wildcards.

It raises the question of Canada’s place in the world. As both the United Kingdom and the United States recoil globally, does Canada become more powerful? The world needs new global leaders.

SOCIETAL ATTITUDES

The past decade has advanced LGBTQIA+ rights and other issues of equality. Almost no one in Canada thinks of rolling these issues back anymore.

People like TV host Ellen or former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne are judged on their merits and not on their sexual orientation. We still have a way to go – but there is no turning back.

Environmental issues which, 10 years ago, were marginal at best are now central to politics and a global problem. If one question drives the next decade, it will be this one.

TECHNOLOGY

Technology enabled by faster and more accessible internet and smart devices is driving change around the globe more rapidly and widespread than any decade before.

The iPhone and other smartphones have solved many problems for us and changed our lives forever. The rapid change has also brought about many issues we don’t know how to answer.

Distracted driving now tops drunk driving as a safety epidemic in Canada. Fines are not changing people’s behaviours, and it seems only self-driving cars will solve the problem.

Social media and smartphones have changed the way teenagers grow up and we now have a new generation of mental health issues we do not understand, comprehend or have the health care resources to address.

ECONOMY

The past decade saw millions of Canadians who are house-rich but live poor month-to-month and struggle to get by. At the same time, the massive increase in housing costs has shut out a generation of young people from entering the housing market.

Western economies are driving up record deficits in a time of positive global growth. How will we deal with the next global recession when there does not seem to be a political appetite on the left or right to balance budgets anymore?

HEALTH CARE

Today, Canadians live from cancers and other diseases that previously would have killed them in 2000 or 2010.

I had an angiogram this past year, and the technology of medicine is truly remarkable. It is only getting better.

In the past 10 years, we passed a threshold where we now have more older people than younger people in Canada. This has widespread ramifications for the availability of health care and how we pay for it. We need to have a political debate in Canada about the future of health care.

Vaping is out of control in Canada for our teenagers, and the government has been slow to regulate it.

We have also raised the issue of mental health. We now have awareness and diagnosis of these diseases, but we have not provided the resources or care for people. I know too many people who have family or friends impacted by suicide. We talk about mental health, but we need to put our money where our mouth is.

As Dickens once wrote, it was the best of times; it was the worst of times.

I am a glass half full type of person. I believe, as Canadians, we are all collectively better off today than we were in 2010. I also believe the best is yet to come.

Thank you for taking the time to read this column throughout the year. From my family to yours all the best for a happy, healthy, and wonderful 2020.

Jim Warren is Liberal political strategist who has worked for Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.

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Commons showdown highlights tension between politics and science – The Battlefords News-Optimist

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OTTAWA — Monday’s vote on a Conservative motion to launch an in-depth review of the Liberal government’s COVID-19 response highlights a key challenge of pandemic politics: how to hold a government accountable for decisions based on science, when the science itself is changing nearly every day.

The opposition wants a committee probe into everything from why regulators are taking so long to approve rapid testing to an early decision not to close the border to international travel, and what concerns the Liberals is how that probe is being framed.

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“One of the narratives that I find most distressing coming from the opposition, is that somehow because advice changed at some point that the government was hiding information or that the government was giving misinformation,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu said late last week.

“And nothing could be further from the truth.”

It’s not the science itself that’s up for debate, said Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole.

“In a pandemic, borders, since the Middle Ages, have been part of a stop of spreading of the virus and that was a failure of elected officials to put the health of Canadians first,” O’Toole told reporters last week.

“There has been conflicting information on masks and other things. My concern is that the Trudeau government relies more on open source data from China than our own science and intelligence experts.”

The relationship between a nation’s scientists and their senior politicians is a challenging one, said Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides the scientific evidence there is, but at the end of the day, it is the politicians who make the call, he said.

A decision on whether or not to close the borders is a good example, he said.

In the early days of the pandemic, the World Health Organization cautioned against widespread border closures. Scientific research has suggested there’s little medical benefit to them and the economic impacts can be severe and wide-ranging.

But the optics of border closures, the idea that if countries can keep out a virus out they will be immune, creates political pressure to act, Culbert said .

“The tension between what is in the public’s good, as opposed to all of the varying political considerations the politicians have to take into consideration — there’s always a tension there,” Culbert said.

While heated, the interplay between Liberal government and Opposition Conservatives is a far cry from the hyper-partisanship around pandemic response in the U.S., where even the president has circulated misinformation and challenged that country’s top scientists.

Canadian researchers studying the response of political elites here in the early days of the pandemic found no evidence of MPs casting doubt on the seriousness of the pandemic, or spreading conspiracy theories about it. In fact, there was a cross partisan consensus around how seriously it needed to be taken.

“As far as we can tell, that story hasn’t changed,” said Eric Merkley, a University of Toronto political scientist who led the study.

Both he and Culbert said a review of the Liberals’ pandemic response is warranted, but a balancing act is required.

“Everyone has 20/20 hindsight and thinks that they can go, look back, and and point to points at which bad decisions were made,” Culbert said.

“But that’s with the knowledge that we have today. We didn’t have that knowledge back in March.”

The Liberals have sometimes hit back at criticism by pointing to how the previous Conservative government handled the science and health files, including budget cuts and efforts to muzzle scientists.

But critics can’t be painted as anti-science for asking questions, Merkley said.

“There’s plenty of scope for democratic debate about proper responses to the pandemic, there’s plenty of scope for disagreement,” Merkley said.

“And just because there’s that disagreement and an Opposition party holding government accountable, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that’s a sign of a healthy democracy.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 25, 2020.

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Vote to review Liberals response to COVID-19 highlights showdown between politics and science – National Post

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Article content continued

“In a pandemic, borders, since the Middle Ages, have been part of a stop of spreading of the virus and that was a failure of elected officials to put the health of Canadians first,” O’Toole told reporters last week.

“There has been conflicting information on masks and other things. My concern is that the Trudeau government relies more on open source data from China than our own science and intelligence experts.”

The relationship between a nation’s scientists and their senior politicians is a challenging one, said Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association.

And nothing could be further from the truth

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides the scientific evidence there is, but at the end of the day, it is the politicians who make the call, he said.

A decision on whether or not to close the borders is a good example, he said.

In the early days of the pandemic, the World Health Organization cautioned against widespread border closures. Scientific research has suggested there’s little medical benefit to them and the economic impacts can be severe and wide-ranging.

But the optics of border closures, the idea that if countries can keep out a virus out they will be immune, creates political pressure to act, Culbert said .

“The tension between what is in the public’s good, as opposed to all of the varying political considerations the politicians have to take into consideration — there’s always a tension there,” Culbert said.

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Students learn provincial politics in mock vote at Saskatchewan schools – Global News

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They are too young to vote in Monday’s provincial election, but Saskatchewan elementary and high school students have learned how to cast a ballot when the time comes.

A total of 420 schools across all 61 provincial ridings took part in Student Vote Saskatchewan 2020 ahead of election day on Oct. 26.

Non-partisan Canadian charity, CIVIX, provides teachers with the necessary materials for its civic education program, which has been running since 2003.

“The purpose of our project is to get engaged now, so that when they turn 18, we hope that they not only vote then, but that they will always vote,” said Dan Allan, CIVIX director of content.

Read more:
Ridings to watch in the 2020 Saskatchewan election

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Grade 12 student Brenna Metz said before the program, her class did not know much about who was running for election in their local riding.

“Realizing we need to be informed when making these decisions because they are really big decisions about our lives,” Metz said, adding her biggest takeaway was learning how the provincial government relates to important issues.

“I know mental health was a huge thing that we discussed in our classes because it definitely affects everyone in the school and for many students it is a large problem in Saskatchewan.”

After learning the ins and outs of provincial politics, students from as early as Grade 4 cast mock ballots on Oct. 22 and Oct. 23.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools were offered the option of online voting. CIVIX noted, however, the majority still chose to use paper ballots with added precautions.

Teacher Lyle Morley said classes at Dr. Martin LeBoldus High School in Regina voted at their desks using paper ballots sealed in envelopes — akin to mail-in ballots.

Read more:
Next Saskatchewan government will have to juggle budget, pandemic economy

“In past years we’d have them bring ID and go to the library and vote like you would usually vote,” Morley said, adding students are looking forward to seeing the provincewide results.

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“They want to know what the schools did and they’re definitely interested to see who won,” he said.

CIVIX will release the final student vote results, broken down by riding and school, on election night Monday at 8 p.m. CT.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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