Civil Discourse

  • Journos Who Soldier On

    Peter Stockland argues that despite the legitimate criticism journalism gets for all its institutional failings, abundant first-rate reporters and writers serve Canadian democracy well.

    Honesty demands acknowledgement.

    In recent weeks I’ve written, and other Convivium.ca writers have contributed, sharp criticism of journalistic performance on a variety of issues.

    It’s true that at the institutional level, corporate providers ...

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  • COVID and the Fearful State

    In her review of a 2021 book by British journalist Laura Dodsworth, Anna Farrow highlights disturbing evidence of governments using our primal panic response to push pandemic policies.

    Long before David Attenborough brought his soothing voice to the explication of animal behaviour for the BBC Life series, the North American television public had been introduced to the majesty and oddities of the natural world through Mutual of Om...

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  • Cancelling Wisdom’s Colour

    Daniel Dorman argues that the phenomenon of cancel culture emerges from a black and white vision of the world that forgets the vivid hues moral struggle brings to life.

    “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either -- but right through every human heart -- and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscilla...

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  • Intimations of Constitutional Crack Up?

    Peter Stockland reports on the week’s political signs that the past might be coming back to haunt Canada’s future much sooner than we dreamed.

    Ears of a certain vintage had to hear echoes of Elijah in Jody Wilson-Raybould’s emphatic “no” this week.

    The reverberation’s source was the late Indigenous politician Elijah Harper rather than the Biblical prophet Elijah. The latter, of course, over...

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  • Yes, We Can Understand Each Other

    Restoring trust in language goes beyond improving the sad state of our political debates. It’s vital to our common humanity, Daniel Dorman writes.

    Our political discourse is a demoralizing spectacle. In most public forums, and particularly in the House of Commons, we generally listen to what can’t (in any serious sense) be called ‘debate.’ Most of it is mere partisan verbiage.

    Character assault...

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  • The Moving Goalposts of COVID Response

    Faced with pandemic “certainties” that quickly turn out to be up, down, and all around, Don Hutchinson cautions that science can provide estimates but not ultimate truth.

    A friend recently joined the growing group of Canadians who take issue with the moving goalposts of the declared as life-or-death (not-really-a) game of pandemic response. Another compared the relationship between science advisors and politicians t...

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  • The Cat Fight Over State-Controlled Internet

    Experts pushed back this week on government efforts to legislate control of Canadians’ Internet use. Peter Stockland reports on what’s at stake.

    Despite the almost spiritual significance Internet cat videos apparently have for Canadians, fears that legislation known as Bill C-10 might snuff out Fluffy’s chance for viral stardom seem seriously misdirected.

    As Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeaul...

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  • Failing to Speak for Free Speech

    Eerie silence has met Ottawa’s plan to regulate the Internet and outlaw hurtful – not just hateful – expression, Peter Menzies reports.

    Canada’s long march towards violating Charter rights to free expression continues without any sign of political or media opposition.

    Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s campaign to suppress the Internet has now opened up on three fronts. It is no l...

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  • Our COVID Reality Check

    Western “realities” of freedom, prosperity and individualism have been shattered by the pandemic, clearing the way for a profound spiritual opening of hearts, Tara Vreugdenhil writes.

    The year just behind us was one of shaken realities. The news from Wuhan, China was of an unknown virus claiming lives in unprecedented numbers. But China is across the world so the West continued the reality of our usual daily tasks of work, school, activi...

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  • Coping With Covid’s Confusion

    In these days of pandemic disorientation and fatigue, uncertainty over the right thing is all right but failure to be good neighbours will be more toxic than the disease itself, Travis Smith writes.

    Trust withers in an environment where anyone who does not dutifully repeat the orthodox refrain by rote hazards condemnation as a rumourmonger spreading disinformation. The ubiquity of mask-wearing in public has become an apt metaphor for a situation in whi...

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  • An Error Plagued Affront to Liberty

    In Convivium’s series exploring the line between freedom and COVID-19 responses, Douglas Farrow argues Quebec’s curfew and lockdown cut off our noses to spite our masked faces.

    The Quebec government, by order in council, has locked down the province for a month and deprived its citizens of their constitutional rights, on the grounds of a “public emergency” that does not presently exist, under cover of a pandemic that has almost ru...

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  • We Better Hear the Hoi Polloi

    Politicians and bureaucrats caught flouting COVID restrictions should get over their embarrassment and heed the pandemic suffering of working people, Peter Menzies writes.

    As Grandpa used to say “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

    That’s probably as good a premise to begin with as any as we enter Phase Three and close in on month 11 of “We’re Not All In This Together.” For those of you who missed it, Phas...

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  • The Year of Smashing Statues

    Along with COVID-19 and a sanity-challenging American election, 2020 made rampant the demolishing of monuments. Gavin Miller warns iconoclasm is more than vandalism: it threatens civil life.

    About a year ago, I saw a statue of the Pieta that someone had donated to my friend’s parish. It was placed in a relatively inconspicuous part of the church campus and was frankly hideous, with distorted limbs and blunt facial features. As pastor of the par...

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  • Newspapers Must Face the Facebook Music

    Print journalists’ pleas for the government to keep social media from eating their lunch are as fact-free as claiming the Pyongyang Times is a bulwark of democracy, Peter Menzies argues.

    A little more than 20 years ago, Conrad Black and David Radler saw the future. It was the Internet, and it was going to eat the newspaper business’ lunch. So they sold their extensive chain of Canadian newspapers to Canwest - a broadcasting company owned by...

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  • Baby Steps to Push Back Polarization

    Josh Nadeau reports on a study showing families becoming crucibles for toxic political contempt when they could be sources of pluralistic tolerance for divergent views.

    The word “polarized” saw major airtime through the whole U.S. election cycle, even to the point of becoming a cliche. That meme about a dress p...

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  • No Easy Solutions for Journalism’s Woes

    Cardus’ Daniel Proussalidis marks National Newspaper week by speaking with independent journalist Jen Gerson on what the future holds for newsgathering in Canada.

    Canada needs journalists – such is the theme of the 80th annual National Newspaper Week, which began Sunday. It’s tough to argue with the claim, frankly. Of course, Canada needs journalists who are free to uncover, discover, and convey news from ...

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  • What Donald Trump Says About Us

    In his October 3 Insights newsletter, Cardus Executive Vice-President Ray Pennings warns that even as we disdain the President’s politics of authoritarian preening, we must look for them in ourselves.

    Let’s begin by wishing the U.S. President and First Lady a full and speedy recovery following their positive COVID-19 testing. The text below was drafted before this diagnosis was known and reflects on the toxicity of public discourse for which the Presiden...

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  • Throne Speech is a Matter of Confidence

    Convivium contributor Don Hutchinson sets up resumption of Parliament by explaining the historical significance of the Speech from the Throne – and its potential political pitfalls for Justin Trudeau.

    The Speech from the Throne is a key moment in the life of any government. Today’s will be no less important for the minority Trudeau Government, which will seek to balance the confidence of the House of Commons and the confidence of the Canadian people in i...

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  • Free At Last Once More

    Conservatives and progressives alike require recalling to the Christian origins of Western freedom so they stop treating liberty as the enemy of the Good, Edward Tingley writes.

    It may seem that a well-meaning believer in the common good and social justice would believe in liberty too: these are basic human goods. But we are learning today just how many people are rethinking Abraham Lincoln’s “principle of ‘Liberty to all’” and fin...

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  • Losing Liberty in Post-Liberal Times

    In the first of two reflections on Canada’s shaken political foundations, Augustine College Dean Edward Tingley argues liberals and conservatives alike have turned against our primary principle of freedom.

    When Tory leadership candidate Leslyn Lewis said last month that, “(t)o focus on what makes us different, whether that’s race, gender, or religion, rather than what we have in common has never served to bring people together,” she might have added that, in ...

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  • A Task Worth Undertaking

     Matthew Lau offers a perspective on Preston Manning’s new book, Do Something, which exhorts Canadians to rescue ethical democracy.  

    Preston Manning argues Canadian politics is in deep trouble. The threat he perceives isn’t based on partisanship. It’s a question of incompetence and, quite often, a lack of preparation, on the part of politicians of all stripes.

    Canadians elect to p...

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  • Going Viral and Not Going Back

    Fr. Raymond de Souza considers the ways in which our public spaces may change as they've now moved online due to COVID-19.

    Going viral.

    That term doesn’t sound quite the same as it did a few months ago, when it was the aspiration of everyone who posts, reacts or publishes online. That viral tweet, post, or column was the desideratum. Now that an actual virus has shut dow...

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  • Two Kinds of Peace

    In the second of a two-part series, Josh Nadeau examines a way to engage with people who think differently, as well as come together to heal our polarized society.

    This article is the second of a two-part series. To read the first part, please click here: Desperately Seeking Civility.

    We live in a polar...

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  • Stitching an Abrahamic Tapestry

    During the years he spent knitting together a vast artwork of ecumenism, Kirk Dunn thought he might be wasting his time. Convivium’s Rebecca Darwent writes that what he produced is just what our present time needs.

    Photo credit: Jorjas Photography

    Unveiling the artist’s work at the end of a show might seem back...

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