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Ray Pennings

Ray Pennings co-founded Cardus in 2000 and currently serves as Executive Vice President, working out of the Ottawa office. Ray has a vast amount of experience in Canadian industrial relations and has been involved in public policy discussions and as a political activist at all levels of government. Ray is a respected voice in Canadian politics, contributing as a commentator, pundit and critic in many of Canada’s leading news outlets and as an advisor and strategist on political campaign teams. Read More ›

Bio last modified December 21st, 2017.
Articles by Ray Pennings
  • Intuition Trumps Strategy

    Ray Pennings

    In the October 2012 issue of Policy Options, NDP insider Anne McGrath and Conservative strategist Stephen Carter provide their assessment regarding the application of Haidt's thesis to the Canadian context. McGrath equivocates, suggesting that Haidt's appeal for civility is a bit of a "naïve distaste for acrimony," and doesn't adequately account for the mobilization that divisive momentums such as the Occupy Movement have created through history.

  • Strength Isn't What it Seems

    Ray Pennings

    Fans, it seems, would've felt better and had their jilted scratches itched had the Blue Jays punished Farrell and made him sit out the year. This would have made the Blue Jays appear strong, viable, and ready to attract top talent. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  • Anti-Bullying and Over-Correcting

    Ray Pennings

    But bullying is a subject on which platitudes come too easily. Anti-bullying, motherhood, apple pie . . . the right and wrong of the matter seems so obvious. But the road to overcoming bullying must be navigated with care if the ditches on both sides are to be avoided. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  • Sesame Street Politics

    Ray Pennings

    "I like PBS. I love Big Bird . . . But I' m not going to keep spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it." It wasn't Mr. Romney's most memorable line, but it definitely was more effective than the typical "blah-cut-spending-blah-deficit-blah-blah" monologues that are ignored daily.

  • The Commons Truth

    Ray Pennings

    If it only were so straightforward. Voters crave plain-talk from our leaders. They rarely receive it. "Not fair," complained the NDP. "It's not something that's dignified, and Stephen Harper, if he has an ounce of ethics on these things, will call his MPs to account and tell them to stop lying." . .

  • Reinvigorating Unions

    Ray Pennings

    Last week's announcement of a proposed merger between the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP) is certainly a bold move. Choices had to be made whether the future of unions rested in focusing on the nuts and bolts of grassroots collective bargaining or by taking on the bigger social questions of the day.

  • Our Only Comfort

    Ray Pennings

    Thankfully—and this is true at all times, but especially realized at times such as this—we are not alone. Where our own words falter, we can stand on the shoulders of the ancestors of our faith. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  • The Limits of Our Merit

    Ray Pennings

    As Andrew Coyne pointed out in his column this week, this ideal is an illusion. He dismisses much of what is about to happen in London as a predictable consequence of economics. When economic variables can predict the medal standings, the spectacle is debased to that "of the rich kid in the movies who gets daddy to buy him the trophy." Coyne muses about an Olympics "equalizing the support available to athletes of comparable ability, no matter which country they represent" as more fair and exciting.

  • Engaging Those Who Disagree

    Ray Pennings

    . . . [U]rbanists should take religion much more seriously than they often do. That's because it plays a much bigger role in the city and civic health than currently believed, and because many urban congregations have mastered the art of outreach and conversion in a way that transit and density advocates can only dream out. Both sides have rethinking to do.

  • Marrying Yourself

    Ray Pennings

    These narcissism ceremonies (let's not contribute to the debasing of language by calling it a wedding) have included guest-lists and parties, ring exchanges, and elaborate vows. It is also no guarantee of happiness—only 18 months after the ceremony, Bostonian Roland Nigland reportedly filed for divorce, charging himself for infidelity.

  • Church Meetings Matter

    Ray Pennings

    The very existence of churches and the witness of how they conduct their business provide a living example of an alternative way of dealing with the challenges of life. Church meetings begin not with bold affirmations of "we the people" but rather with times of worship. Those gathered are created beings acknowledging the authority of the God who made them.

  • The Loudest Exclamation: Humility

    Ray Pennings

    Regent College historian Dr. Bruce Hindmarsh opened on Monday the National Forum for Christian Higher Education Canada (CHEC) by speaking to this topic. As befits a historian, Dr. Hindmarsh sketched where we are in our cultural moment. Most recently, we've been through a "battle for the Bible" in the earlier half of the twentieth century, as Christian "fundamentalists" responded to liberal theology. We then engaged a "battle for the mind," as the subsequent generation grew tired of the fundamentalist generation's neglect of intellect in favour of absolute pronouncements of biblical truth. Citing Mark Noll's famous 1994 book The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind ("the scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind"), Hindmarsh suggested that the past few decades have come a long way in addressing that scandal. There is much good work that is taking place today of first-rate Christian scholarship—and, I might add, also in public theology. Hindmarsh warned that with measured success comes danger. Has our focus on cultivating the Christian mind eclipsed our call to cultivate the Christian spirit?

  • Is Canadian Politics Becoming an Extreme Sport?

    Ray Pennings

    After three months of student protests, many of which have become violent, Quebec's Minister of Education resigned yesterday. While the protests have been prompted by a proposed $325 increase to tuition rates, the University of Quebec student who has become the public face of the protests, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, has suggested that the protest is the cusp of a popular rebellion against "the wave of neo-liberal ideas" that have dominated popular debate. Political activists in British Columbia are openly musing about renaming the governing Liberal Party prior to the next election, or forming a "free enterprise coalition party" , in an attempt to counter the NDP's significant polling advantage in the lead-up to the provincial election which must be held during the next year. Federal Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair has prompted responses from western Canadian Premiers by describing the resource-industry inspired strength of the Canadian dollar as "the Dutch disease" and as the cause of manufacturing job loss in Ontario. There is, however, a common thread which binds these events into a broader story about the changing face of Canadian politics. It is a story that Cardus told after the 2006 federal election. The politics of consensus has passed and we are now moving into the politics of dissensus. It's about creating a wedge in the middle of the spectrum, focusing on defining difference and making the opposition seem scary. It has moved away from the way the game was played a generation ago, where parties involved tried to brand themselves as the best representatives of a nation-wide consensus.

  • A Convivial Culture

    Ray Pennings

    Convivium might just have been Father Richard's favourite word. There are other candidates—winsome and egregious come to mind—but he loved that word, convivium. He was the only one I knew who used it in ordinary conversation but, of course, his conversations were rarely ordinary. "Convivium" strictly means "to live together," but it connotes a banquet or feast, indicating that a certain supply of rich food and fine wine are, if not required, at least desired. The passage came to mind as over the past few days, I received an unusual flurry of emails regarding a column I had published in the Calgary Herald over the weekend.

  • Watch out for those Charitable Types!

    Ray Pennings

    Still, reading the formula put so starkly made me angry inside. Statistics suggest that anyone who comes close to tithing from their income (and claiming the benefits on their income tax form, which I assume most do) are among the six percent of Canadians who are part of the civic core, “super givers” as a recent polling report described them.

  • The NY Times on Chapter and Verse

    Ray Pennings

    But the desire of classical liberals to think of themselves as above the fray, as facilitating inquiry rather than steering it in a favored direction, makes them unable to be content with just saying, You guys are wrong, we're right, and we're not going to listen to you or give you an even break. Instead they labor mightily to ground their judgments in impersonal standards and impartial procedures (there are none) so that they can pronounce their excommunications with clean hands and pure—non-partisan, and non-tribal—hearts. It's quite a performance and it is on display every day in our most enlightened newspapers and on our most progressive political talk shows, including the ones I'm addicted to. The column was prompted by a network television discussion on global warming in which the host challenged accepted mainstream opinion on the subject. Chris Hayes, at least according to Fish,

  • Holy Week and Public Theology

    Ray Pennings

    Those of us involved in public life, when explicitly appealing to our Christian motivation for these actions, are often quick to cite the Christian obligation of love for neighbour as an animating force. In fact, sometimes this emphasis can cause a perceived tension between believers who make social engagement a priority and others who fear this emphasis leads to a neglect of the vertical relationship between believers and God.

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