In 2017, Canada looked back on 150 years rooted in colonialism, while our neighbours to the south ushered in a troubling new era with Donald Trump in the Oval Office. It was a year darkened by uncertainty and fear, as the Trump administration wreaked havoc on democracy, human rights and the planet.
The frightening politics of the U.S. regime fostered new forms of reflection -- and reaction -- as citizens galvanized together against injustice. Calls for justice rang out at women's marches; in the aftermath of environmental disasters; at far-right hate rallies; in front of statues and institutions upholding a colonial legacy. This year more than ever saw the calling out of the systemic injustices that run through our social fabric.
It was also a year of pushback. Citizens pushed back against the colonialism embedded in the foundation of our country. Activists challenged the white supremacy fuelling the actions of hate groups. The #MeToo movement resisted the misogyny underpinning sexual assault and gender-based violence. People around the world united against the corporatism that is the driving force of Trumpism.
What meaning can be found in a year when the world was continuously on the brink? Where can we find glimmers of hope in the darkness? In this difficult year, rabble columnists looked to community as the site where transformative change begins. Hope is found in laws which protect human rights. It can be uncovered in re-imaginings of history through a compassionate, just lens. Most of all, it resides in all of us, catalyzed through solidarity.
Through their reflections, analysis and critiques, rabble columnists brought fresh perspective -- and yes, hope -- to the challenges of a painful year. Read highlights from the best of our columns writing below. For a complete selection, check out our columns section.
- What is the antidote to Trumpism? How do we create a new politics that builds the basis of a citizen-based democracy to replace our hollowed-out institutions? For Murray Dobbin, the key lies in first understanding the roots of Trump's popularity.
- The law is settled on sexual assault. When will the legal system catch up? The treatment of sexual assault complainants in the justice system received a great deal of mainstream media attention in 2017. Why has the system failed victims? Shelina Ali examines the hostile climate for sexual assault victims in the Canadian legal system.
- It's been 150 years of Canadian politics. What comes next? Canada acquired its identity as a federal state 150 years ago. Whatever the public relations designs for marking this anniversary, we should also allow for extended critical reflection on what history has to suggest for Canadian politics today. Duncan Cameron sets the stage for looking back.
- Graphic History Collective re-imagines parts of Canada's history. A collective of artists, activists, writers and researchers is examining Canadian history and re-casting it in new ways, in the Remember | Resist | Redraw poster project. June Chua gives a sketch of some alternative visions.
- On independence and the niqab. Quebec's shameful embrace of a niqab ban grew out of the identity politics that followed the failed 1995 referendum to separate from Canada. Monia Mazigh unpacks the politics and the history.
- Agriculture stats call for political will as family farms dwindle. In mid-May the federal government began to release the long-awaited results of the 2016 Agriculture Census. While lots of the detail have yet to be revealed, Lois Ross finds enough to see the big picture.
- The collapse of Sears Canada should bring change. The downfall of Sears Canada seems tragic and unnecessary, and the devastating blow to its employees should not have been allowed to happen. Linda McQuaig explains why a billionaire American hedge fund manager should personally pay benefits of terminated Sears workers.
- Liberals' pension reforms fall woefully short for Canadian workers. While changes to the Canada Pension Plan recently adopted by the Liberal government offer some improvement, they do not go far enough. We need to revisit how retirement income is going to be funded on a secure basis, advises Doug Macpherson, so that no senior is doomed to end their life in poverty.
- Trudeau's torture policies no different than Trump's. The Trump administration sets the bar so low that anything which is not Trump is deemed praiseworthy and acceptable. Giving Justin Trudeau a pass just because he is not Trump creates a yawning gap between the government's lofty rhetoric and its actual policies, cautions Matthew Behrens.
- Why we need to talk about climate change when covering Hurricane Harvey. Now is exactly the time to talk about climate change, and all the other systemic injustices -- from racial profiling to economic austerity -- that turn disasters like Harvey into human catastrophes. Naomi Klein explains why avoiding talk of the climate at these moments comes at the expense of telling the truth.
- The social media fight against Trump is a modern battle of the presses. The most powerful battalions battling against Trump's frightening presidency -- fuelled by the hard work of the press -- are fighting it out on social media. Wayne MacPhail urges us to look into the past in order to learn from it.
- Trump is lowering the bar for Canada's health-care system too. It's easy to laugh off the absurdity of Trump and his supporters' sentiments about the Canadian health-care system. But their ridiculousness doesn't make their impact any less dangerous, warns Julie Devaney.
- NAFTA renegotiation could undermine Canada's digital freedoms. There are a number of concerns that come along with a renegotiation of NAFTA. As OpenMedia's David Christopher notes, Canadians enjoy stronger digital rights protections than their U.S. counterparts -- policies that could be placed at risk.
- Trump's proven that free trade deals can be rewritten. So let's write better ones. If Trump can rewrite international economic treaties on the strength of a few tweets, then we can do the same thing, Jim Stanford points out -- but only if we build a political movement with the same confidence and power.
Michelle Gregus is rabble.ca's managing editor.
Photo: Liz Lemon/flickr
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