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Terror and Fear in an Interconnected World, Thursday, November 06, 2014
… There is much so much more that people all over the world share in common than separates them in differences. If we want to truly eliminate fear and terrorism, then we need to find more ways to create ‘we’. Today we have the tools to accomplish this like never before. They are, in fact, the same tools that are generating the added fear in the first place -- the internet, social media, computers, telecommunications. Future heroes will be those with the courage to destroy fear by destroying the differences which artificially separate us and by bringing those differences, and us, together as creative partners. (more…)
Aligning Words and Deeds. Saturday, March 29, 2014
…I believe Minister Baird’s comments reflect a clear understanding of the changing landscape of government. What I don’t understand, however, is that given that understanding, why what’s apparently good and true for international affairs, is not equally good and true for national affairs.
A marketplace of ideas certainly exists in Canada but for all intents and purposes the Government seems intent on turning it into a monopoly. A country as large and diverse as Canada will always have, to its strength, a broad mix of ideas and adherents to those ideas. Successful democratic governments embrace that diversity and build on it, seeing the validity of each and teasing out of their combination that whole which is more than the sum of the parts. In so doing, a democratic government is representative of all, not just the champion of one group’s dominance over others. Yet today's federal Government seems uncomfortable with diversity, preferring the certainty of ideological answers over the uncertainty of having to learn from others. How can you be a leader if you don't have the answer?
This Canadian marketplace of ideas is certainly public – more so with each passing day – yet the Government goes to inordinate lengths to stifle the flow of information, to obstruct the creation of new information that it finds inconvenient, and discredit alternative points of view. Its obsession with message control, its disdain for science, and its predisposition for negative advertising do not reflect what the Minister feels should be the case internationally. (more...)
Future of Canadian Politics, Wednesday, October 23, 2013
What the Throne Speech
reveals is a timid government, one that won’t take on tough issues because
there is no promise of an easy return. These tough issues are the ‘wicked
problems’ where the required solutions usually involve many steps, lots of
players, reconciling multiple perspectives, more and different resources, and
various sources of power and authority. The Government is sidestepping these
complex concerns because they are too unpredictable, with all sorts of
undesirable political risks…(more…)
...If people can self organize using the internet to produce collective
goods and services (think MOOCs and education) what will be the new role of
government? If we can finally give up on the notion of privacy because
perfect privacy is neither technically feasible nor socially desirable, then
how can we protect ourselves against the harms that may befall us from
individuals, organizations and governments who try to use technology against
us while remaining anonymous? If we democratize knowledge and enable everyone
with very sophisticated technology, how do we protect ourselves from those
very few disturbed individuals who just want to do others harm simply because
they can? ... (more)
...To make themselves
more electable, political parties have increasingly focused on marketing
leaders rather than the retailing of ideas. Since the time of Ronald Reagan,
political parties have recognized that the public voted for the man not the
policy (a behaviour described by Nobel winning economist Daniel Kahneman). The voting challenge isn’t therefore to push
the best ideas but to push an image of a person who would be seen as most
likable by a plurality of voters. If voters could be assured that the candidate
was “like them” then they could be comfortable with the candidate making all
sorts complex decisions on their behalf. Reagan was so successful at this
that people voted for him despite the fact they didn’t like his policies.
This focus on the party leader also shifted attention away from individual
MPs and MPPs to an extent that Trudeau (senior) once commented that “the only
job of an MP is to get elected”. So politics is no longer about a “basket of
ideas” or “the team” but the personalities of individual party leaders in
much the same way as reality TV.
What do you do when
the traditional leadership approach just doesn't seem to work?
In conversation with Toby Fife Monday, September 24, 2012
Join me in conversation with Toby Fife, editor of Canadian Government Executive magazine, August 2012 during the IPAC annual conference in St. John's, NFLD 21 on 21 August 2012.
Let's update our language of leadership, March 25, 2012
For some time now, the concept of leadership become increasingly more nuanced and varied. At one time leadership meant something related to command and control authority in a military style hierarchy where leadership was the product of being ‘right’ more times than being ‘wrong’. In the last 20 years, however, we’ve heard about visionary leadership, servant leadership, collaborative leadership, bureaucratic leadership, leadership by example, charismatic leadership, democratic leadership, autocratic leadership, narcissistic leadership, and transformative leadership just to name a few. In today’s world where governance is widely distributed, is leadership really the appropriate term for what is required to coordinate and move organizations forward? (more…)
a new metaphor for a new economy, August 22, 2011
Mechanisms of Health Care Reform, July 9, 2011
On Tuesday June 7th, Maclean’s
magazine, the Canadian Medical Association and CPAC hosted an open dialogue
on health care at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. It was entitled: Health
Care in Canada: Time to Rebuild Medicare.
Identity Politics, April 14, 2011
Re: Identity politics can get complicated, by Elizabeth Payne in the Ottawa Citizen 14 April 2011
I just wanted to expand upon Ms. Payne’s important comments regarding identity politics.
There is a popular myth that people vote based on a party’s platform or the capability of a candidate. Study after study of voter behaviour over many years has show this just isn’t so. Voters don’t vote rationally like that. In fact, key election issues tend to be too complex and evolving for voters to understand them, let alone the solutions that might be offered by opposing candidates. Just ask Kim Campbell!
After decades of study in this area noted political scholar Daniel Kahneman recently commented to the New York Times that, “The fashion of political writing … is to suggest that people choose their candidate by their stand on the issues, but this strikes me as highly implausible.”
The Decline of the House of Commons, March 05, 2011
As Jeff Simpson once
observed, we have allowed our elected leaders to become “friendly
dictators”. The people we elect to Parliament no longer represent us to
government but they represent the government to us. Since the time of
Trudeau, the House of Commons has been stripped of its primary authority for
approving annual budgets by the imposition of time limits for debate and the
process of ‘deeming’ budgets to ensure their approval should debate take too
long. The practice of padding the budget with all sorts of extraneous
legislation in omnibus bills demonstrates a further erosion of respect for
Parliament and its authority. Governments no longer seem capable of representing
even a majority of Canadians, let alone Canada as a whole. They are content
to merely represent the largest special interest group. We have allowed
Parliament to drift into irrelevancy at just the time when we need it the
most as the country’s foremost forum for public dialogue.
Blog post on
Christopher's presentation to Public Health Agency's Knowledge Exchange
forum, entitled "Finding the Middle Ground in a Spectrum of
Policy makers should take heed of the warning from the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner that personal information is already flowing so freely on the Internet and technology is advancing at such a pace that privacy rights legislation “can no longer keep up”... I may be in the minority but I’ll say it anyway. Privacy isn’t the solution. It is the problem.
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Selected Archived Blogs
Post Secondary Education in Canada,