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Rethinking political parties

The need for radical social change is pressing and the desire for it widespread. Traditionally, political parties have been the means of giving shape, leadership and coherence to such desires. But in present circumstances they are simply not up to the task. There's never been a golden age for parties of the left but there have been periods âe" the 1920s until the late 1960s âe" when the majority of people desiring change in a broadly socialist direction would be members or supporters of mass socialist or communist parties.


Powerful minority hijacks system

I'm fed up. Our political system has been hijacked for too long by a powerful minority, who, if allowed to continue promoting their interests to everyone else's detriment, are endangering our very pluralism.

I'm talking about heterosexual men, of course. Yes, them: the guys who get to drive most of the time and give all the after-dinner speeches. If you let them, straight men will monopolize every sound system and TV remote within reach, and I've heard they often expect their spouses to take their name.


Rethinking political parties: part II

A useful framework for deepening our critique and highlighting the importance of the new methodologies implicit in many of the social movements of recent years is provided by critical realism. This is a philosophical school that was itself a product of the political and cultural struggles of the 1960s and 1970s and provides a necessary alternative to both the limitations of structuralism and the dead ends of postmodernism.


'Clarifying' the five principles of medicare

“Ottawa open to revising Canada Health Act, source says” (Canadian Press March 25, 2004)

Recently federal government officials have expressed interest in “revising” the Canada Health Act. When pressed, they insist that they have no intention of changing the five principles of medicare, but rather of “clarifying” them. Given the Martin government's predilection for free market solutions, perhaps we should be skeptical.


How to mourn a girl you'll never know

This piece was performed aloud by Farhat Rehman, the author's mother, at a candlelight vigil for Aqsa Parvez on January 10 at the Women's Monument in Minto Park, Ottawa. January 10 was the first day of the Islamic New Year; sadly, it also marked one month since the day 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez was killed.

Try to imagine what it would be like to be someone else. It's one of the hardest things anyone can do, pull themselves out of the infinite fascination of being themselves, and imagine that they are moving, stiff and unfamiliar, within a stranger's habits and dreams.


Fiddler on the right

On a recent trip to New York City, I saw from the window of my seat on the train to Long Island a poster for the controversial production of Fiddler on the Roof, starring Spanish-Italian sensation Alfred Molina; this most recent incarnation of the old favourite has drawn a lot of fire from critics for being “not Jewish enough.”

But though the new show has been derided by some for being a little light on the Yiddish and heavy on the foreskin, the Romantic Molina is practically Fivush Finkel when compared to the Tevye audition I saw when I arrived home to the federal leaders


Canada: brought to you byâe¦Molson

Because they have so few roadblocks or referenda on sovereignty under their belts, many assume that this country's vibrant Anglo-Canadian community lacks the impassioned national aspirations of their indigenous and French-speaking countrypersons. On the surface, it does seem that the wild and raucous face-paintery of St. Jean Baptiste and the staid, pleasant, conservative firework displays of Canada Day (formerly Dominion Day) are separated by more than the mere week-long gulf between June 24 and July 1.


Rep-by-pop at the Olympics: Down Under is No. 1

In the spirit of fair play and democracy at the Olympic Games, I propose anew form of medal standings that takes into account representation bypopulation.


Legitimancy: Coining a new word

Legitimancy — The ability to conjure an aura of legitimacy around dubious or questionable actions through the opportunistic use of marginal truths, unverifiable evidence, supposition, wilful ignorance, calls to patriotism and fear mongering. Its successful practice requires the public to willingly suspend disbelief, ignore common sense, and reconcile obvious contradictions.


Liberal or Conservative: same difference, eh?

Canadians are going to the polls — maybe this spring, maybe not until the fall. When we go, we'll have to give some serious thought as to how we're going to vote. Most pundits seem to feel that now that the Conservatives have chosen a leader, there is a clear choice for Canadians — and just one choice: Liberal or Conservative. Okay, here are 10 reasons why you should vote Liberal or Conservative — it doesn't matter which one.

I. It is what the corporations would like you to do.

2. Support Canada signing on to the American missile defence scheme, and help legitimize the policy of putting nuclear weapons in space with the American public, the only people in the world that can stop it.


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