Rick Salutin

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Rick Salutin is a Canadian novelist, playwright and critic. He is a strong advocate of left wing causes and writes a regular column in the Globe and Mail.
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Attawapiskat and the importance of community

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I've never visited Attawapiskat to "cover" its crises, past or present, as many journalists have. Despite that, I want to say something about it. The late Edward Said encouraged non-Muslims to deploy their common humanity to try to understand events in the Muslim world. You don't always need expertise or direct experience, you can go some distance without them.

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Warning: This column is about trigger warnings

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Warning: this column is about trigger warnings. That's the kind of lame witticism writers are tempted by (and succumb to), regarding trigger warnings, the latest subcategory for mockery in the genus, Political Correctness. The delightful, multifarious Stephen Fry stuck his foot in it this week:

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The left has surged back elsewhere. Why not the NDP?

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A certain lassitude seems to have gripped the NDP for this weekend's leadership review in Edmonton. Donald Trump might call them low energy, like Jeb! Hey, they could try changing their name to NDP!

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For the Internet generation, revolutionary change is nothing to fear

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Rob Ford's common touch and the origins of Ford Nation

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I was listening to CBC-Radio's annual, self-satisfied Canada Reads contest when news of Rob Ford's death broke in. You couldn't picture Ford on a panel of advocates for one of those worthy novels -- or any CBC panel -- yet you could see most other politicians: John Tory, Kathleen Wynne, even Stephen Harper. Rob didn't register as a culture guy, he was the opposite: The Library Closer.

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From politics to science, Chomsky motivates us to make the world more livable

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Noam Chomsky has been relentlessly demystifying and exposing political BS since the 1960s. He did it almost alone for decades though lately the torch passed to TV satirists like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Reading Chomsky on politics, someone said, is like a purge. You may not recall all the disgusting propaganda he catalogued but you feel your system has been flushed out and you can start again. What a contribution. He's still doing it, at 87, with detail and high moral outrage, during this U.S. election.

But there's always been an alternate Chomsky: the pioneer of generative linguistics, a philosopher and historian of science. His recent book, What Kind of Creatures Are We?, is by Chomsky Two, the one who plumbs the mysteries of human thought and speech.

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Ghosts of politics past and present haunt Trudeau's White House visit

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Two spectral presences appeared during Justin Trudeau's visit to Washington, one Canadian and one American. You could almost see them onscreen, then they frustratingly faded, as spectres do.

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Debt looms over the good and bad in Ontario budget

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The good, even visionary, news in Ontario's recent budget was elimination of student debt to cover tuition, for all families under $50,000 of income and many above. It amounts to "free tuition." It doesn't matter if there's no new money provided to do it, or if it's "just moving money around," as the opposition says. It doesn't matter because a fateful dynamic was finally confronted.

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After Trump, political parties are on the verge of extinction

Donald Trump at the New Hampshire Town Hall on August 19, 2015

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Is the era of political parties nearing its end? In the U.S. neither Donald Trump nor Bernie Sanders has a history in the parties they're vying to lead. They're recent arrivals. It doesn't seem to matter; in fact, it might help. Their lack of party connectivity may embody the movement of history.

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Justice Scalia and the political opponents we like -- even as we fight against them

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Responses to the death of Antonin Scalia, the right-wing, fundamentalist, vituperative U.S. Supreme Court Justice, have been notably sympathetic, even from the left. It turns out his best friend on the court was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, also his fiercest legal foe. They holidayed together. Stephen Colbert got teary recalling that, after he roasted conservatives, only Scalia greeted him warmly.

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