May 31, 2010

The possibilities of the people's chamber (III)

By Alison Loat
Maclean's Aaron Wherry links to the debate on Michael Chong's recent motion that aims to "strengthen the dignity and authority of the House" by proposing a number of changes to Question Period. From Chong's opening remarks: "Canadians know that something is not quite right with their democratic institutions. They know that something is not the way it should be. They may not know exactly what pro... [More]

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May 27, 2010

Minding the inkwell

By Grant Burns
On May 25, 2010, the Canadian Journalism Foundation hosted a panel, “Keeping an Eye on Journalism”, about the role of the ombudsman in Canadian journalism.  Jeffrey Dvorkin, former NPR News ombudsman, moderated the panel, which consisted of John Racovali, The National Post’s assistant managing editor, Kathy English, The Toronto Star's The Toronto Star’s public edi... [More]

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May 23, 2010

The "politics of the libertarian mob"

By Alison Loat
Thanks to Douglas Reid for passing along this excellent article by Mark Lilla that reflects on the current state of politics in America specifically, and in western democracies more generally. Too multi-faceted to summarize here, it gets into the causes and implications of people's well-reported decline in trust for government and other collective institutions in society, and hints that our quest... [More]

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May 21, 2010

Signs of optimism

By Grant Burns
Hearing news executives talk about the future of journalism is pretty standard these days. But hearing them talk about why the future’s bright for journalism is far less so. Much has been written about the crisis in the news business. Newspapers have cut their staffs. Some have closed their doors. Circulation is declining, and the web has destroyed advertising revenues. Unsurprisingly, pes... [More]

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May 19, 2010

Who's watching journalism?

By Alison Loat
Our friends at the Canadian Journalism Foundation are hosting a panel entitled "Keeping an eye on journalism" on Tuesday May 25 in Toronto, and have kindly waived their entrance fee for friends of Samara. From their website: "Wikis, bloggers, media critics...or ombuds? Which is better? Is the watchdog function more effective inside or outside a media organization? The New York Times, the Toront... [More]

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May 11, 2010

New media: OpenFile.ca

By Alison Loat
These are exciting times. Just over a year ago, The Mark News launched in beta.  The Mark, an online opinion journal, provides a forum for lots of voices to contribute to the public debate.  In the same vein as OpenParliament.ca and Datadotgc.ca it's a great example of how the web has enabled greater citizen engagement in the Canadian democracy. Yesterday saw another example, the launc... [More]

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May 10, 2010

More on the people's chamber and how to fix it

By Alison Loat
Andrew Potter reacts to one MP's recent proposal to change Question Period, using it as an opportunity to elaborate on reasons for the relative weakness of our legislature branch when compared to the executive (i.e., the PM and cabinet). His reasons include: Low quality MPs, and too few of them The size of the country, whose associated travel and lifestyle demands makes it hard to attract com... [More]

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May 5, 2010

VP News of NPR, one of the only news orgs with a growing audience, to speak in Toronto

By Alison Loat
There are some bright lights admist the chaoticly evolving news media these days, and one of them is unquestionably National Public Radio. NPR is one of the only major news organizations to see a growth in audience share in recent years (you can read a short analysis on it, and the other one, here). On May 18th in Toronto, NPR's Vice President for News, Ellen Weiss, will be at the Samara/Massey ... [More]

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May 4, 2010

The possibilities of the people's chamber (II)

By Alison Loat
More from the Parliamentary possibility corner.... Conservative backbencher Michael Chong was on CBC Radio yesterday morning* talking about how to make MPs matter. He's concerned about the role of individual MPs in our legislature, which he called "the weakest in the Western world" in this regard.  Like many observers, he believes the executive branch (the PM and cabinet) is much stronger t... [More]

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May 4, 2010

The possibilities of the people's chamber (I)

By Alison Loat
It's been a good couple of weeks for those who think the Canadian Parliament matters. Last week, the House of Commons' Speaker's ruling on questions of Parliamentary privilege. This concerned Parliament's right to access to the documents on the Afgan detainees, which the Government argued should be withheld due to national security concerns.  In a thoroughly-researched and, at moments, oddly... [More]

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May 1, 2010

Why women give politics a pass

By Alison Loat
It's no secret that Canada does pathetically when it comes to electing women. Today, while receiving the EVE award at the Equal Voice/Canadian Club Women in Public Life lunch, Anne McLellan shared why she thinks this is the case. McLellan, a former cabinet minister and deputy PM (and, incidentally, an exit interviewee), is currently on the hook for finding more women candidates to run for her pa... [More]

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