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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
  • In Praise of Deliberation

    Ray Pennings

    This weekend in Toronto, a similar, but much less consequential, convention will take place in Toronto. Canada's federal New Democratic Party—a party with socialist roots which for the first time in its fifty year history won official opposition party status in last May's election—is choosing a new leader.

  • Understanding the Fringe

    Ray Pennings

    I wasn't quite sure what she meant, wondering if by "fringe" she had in mind extraterrestrial Raelism, only the most fundamentalist expressions of religion, or orthodoxy of the more mainstream variety. So I asked her directly. "What do you consider fringe?" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  • Watching the Frog Boil

    Ray Pennings

    The short-term political strategies are predictable. When campaigns use tactics they prefer to hide, they typically give their political masters "plausible deniability" and keep the circle of those "in the know" as small as possible. If a tactic backfires, a staffer takes the public blame. Accept the resignation, insist it was an isolated incident involving a rogue player acting alone, and try to change the political conversation quickly.

  • Personal, not private

    Ray Pennings

    What was overlooked in much of the coverage, however, was what the policy demonstrated about our understanding (or lack thereof) of the connection between religion and the public good—and how that connection is often expressed through institutions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  • A Gift for Canada

    Ray Pennings

    It's not that these Calgarians had nothing else to do, given that the group included executives representing major oil, media and investment companies. The CEO of the Calgary Stampede was there as was the publisher of the Calgary Herald. The Mayor and Chamber of Commerce President, a university of Calgary representative and CEO of the community foundation—they all cleared their schedule to answer the invitation issued by former Epcor Center CEO and prominent Calgarian Colin Jackson who, with a few other civic leaders, launched Imagination 150.

  • Change the record

    Ray Pennings

    Officially, the meeting's purpose was "to re-connect with our Centre City faith-based organizations and to seek further feedback on The City's Centre City Plan." That plan, adopted by City Council in 2007, calls for the doubling of residential density in the downtown core, or 40,000 additional residents in the next thirty years.

  • The Virtue of Small Charities

    Ray Pennings

    the top 1% account for 59% of revenues received; 42% of the charities have revenues of less than $30,000 and collectively account for just 1% of revenues; 40% of charities have no paid staff 37% have just 1-5 employees 64% of charities operate in local communities with local mandates Most Canadian charities are pretty humble outfits.

  • Canada's Political Game a-Changin'

    Ray Pennings

    We are moving beyond the early speculation regarding how an agenda set by Conservative majority politics would differ from the previous five years of minority rule. The first six months after the May 2011 election, the government cleaned up its unfinished minority business. Exit plans are in place for the Wheat Board, Kyoto, and the gun registry.

  • Beyond the Predictable

    Ray Pennings

    This is not to say such polls are meaningless. Canadians in an optimistic frame of mind are more likely to spend money and take risks than those in a pessimistic mood. Polls and predictions are significant not for the accuracy of what they say but for their effect on those who read them. When it comes to predicting what might shape the world in 2012, a wider lens is needed.

  • Living the Paradox

    Ray Pennings

    My wife and I recently attended the Calgary Philharmonic's presentation of Handel's Messiah. It was probably the twentieth or so time that we have attended a live performance, and the music is very familiar. But we both agreed that this particular rendition, under the direction of Baroque conductor Ivan Taurins, was perhaps the most compelling we have ever heard. I am no music critic, but the sometimes surprising places where the accompaniment was lighter than usual, allowing the voice to more dominantly carry the music, brought lyrical clarity to help me think about the words in ways I had not previously.

  • Veiled Interference in Freedom of Religion

    Ray Pennings

    The issue is controversial, of course, due to the practice of certain Muslim women of wearing a niqab or burka in public. While Minister Kenney's edict sounds reasonable, as Peter Stockland noted in this space yesterday, the response of outrage to the announcement also sounds reasonable. Recognizing that freedom of religion is a greatly attacked freedom these days, I am usually inclined to bend over backwards to protect it, but here—in matters as basic to our citizenship as swearing public oaths, establishing identity, or witnessing at a trial—I think the state has a more reasonable argument, to ensure it functions properly. These essential processes in the state's functioning are part and parcel of the very package of freedoms that allow for the freedom of religion, which in my mind does allow for the wearing of religious head coverings on other occasions.

  • Educating Without Families

    Ray Pennings

    The Star report claims Ontario is embracing "the overwhelming social, economic, and scientific evidence favouring investments in early-childhood education." Says the report,

  • Brother Calvin

    Ray Pennings

    The handout described a 1985 encounter involving Farrakhan being transported on a wheel—"or what you would call an unidentified flying object"—to another planet, where the Honourable Elijah Muhammad told him about the plot and mandated him to warn the world. Farrakhan held a press conference, travelled to Tripoli to warn Gadhafi, and urged his followers to warn others.

  • Feeling Gutless on Remembrance Day

    Ray Pennings

    Still, I feel quite inadequate every time Remembrance Day comes around. My head understands the symbolic importance of this day. My will wants to take a strong stand against injustice and tyranny and in defence of freedom and democracy. My heart is deeply patriotic and is proud of the historic contributions that Canadian men and women have made militarily.

  • More than One in 7 Billion

    Ray Pennings

    The proud parents, both 34, said their hopes for Caiden's future were simply that he be healthy, active and happy. "And," added Dave, "maybe play for the Sens at some point." Even Ottawa's mayor was enthusiastic. "We are excited to welcome Caiden, the seven billionth resident, to Ottawa," said Jim Watson. "Congratulations to Caiden's family, especially his mother Angela and father Dave." Coverage of the world's population passing the 7 billion mark has been widespread, although the coverage was typically a bit more generic than the Citizen's. What I read could be divided into two categories. On the one side, there are those who observed that parents in the poorest parts of the world are having the most kids. With water tables falling and fish stocks vanishing, adding 80 million or so per year is portrayed as a bad thing. On the flip side, others pointed out that in the developed world, the reproduction rates are falling below the 2.1-per-woman that a society needs to sustain itself (Canada's, for example is at 1.63 according to the World Bank.) "We need more kids to pay for our pensions," goes their argument. Implicit in this, especially when other people assume the costs and challenges of parenting, is that having kids seems like a good thing.

  • Hockey and Politics Don't Mix

    Ray Pennings

    I'll grant him his basic premise: the Canadian brand is changing. The Pan-Canadian consensus—that set of values the media brands as mainstream—is declining. Arguably, we used to see our identity in multiculturalism, our preference for international peacekeeping rather than taking sides, the Charter of Rights, and government social programs as expressions of our kindness and tolerance. While Mr. Martin blames Mr. Harper for this change, we publicly argued at the time of Stephen Harper's election in 2006 that this decline had already been a decade or two in the making. In other words, Mr. Harper isn't changing Canadian values. Canadian values changed in the eighties and nineties, and the election of a Conservative government was a consequence of that change. It is taking others a bit longer to adjust to the changes that have already taken place.

  • Keeping Public Faith in Perspective

    Ray Pennings

    Faith convictions and affiliations have long been considered fair fodder in American politics. In the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama's relationship with his pastor Jeremiah Wright was a major media and political focus. The question of whether Milt Romney's Mormonism makes him unelectable haunted his campaign both in 2008 as well as presently.

  • Life of the Party

    Ray Pennings

    The point of this post is not to nostalgically lament for days when political parties were the epitome of philosophical purity. Those were rare. The attainment of power has always been the objective of the political party and the adjective has always been operational in the process of compromise which is so characteristic of the noun. Neither is it a complaint that negative ads, centralized databases, voter suppression and mobilization strategies, and rigid talking points make for lousy campaigns. They do, but in politics you do what works. But put it all together, and the institution of the political party has been debased to a glorified set of social networks, historic loyalties, or present self-interest, all united under a particular sign colour.

  • Power from within

    Ray Pennings

    Either Gary Mar, Alison Redford, or Doug Horner—a trio of unabashed "progressives"—will be chosen by those with Progressive Conservative memberships on Oct. 1 to replace Ed Stelmach as Alberta's premier. One of the idiosyncratic legacies of four decades of uninterrupted P.C. power in Alberta is the process it uses to select its leaders.

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