Editorials - April 14, 2022
A historic day... for some
On April 7, the United States Senate made history when it voted to confirm the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, making her the first Black woman to become an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
This is a big deal. In fact, the last time such a monumental moment was achieved might have been in 1981 when Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court, or in 1967 when Thurgood Marshall became the first Black Supreme Court justice. And they both won their nominations with support from both sides of the house. In fact, O’Connor won by a unanimous vote.
The Senate is the canary in the coal mine on how divided the United States has become along partisan lines, with Brown Jackson carrying only three Republican senators’ votes, and two of the most influential Republicans could not even be bothered to be at their desks for the vote. Lindsay Graham and Paul Rand had to cast their votes from the cloak room as both had somehow managed to “misplace” their ties and be banned from the floor, resulting in the unusual voting arrangement, which many feel was a calculated gesture.
If that wasn’t rude enough, in a stunning display of disrespect, many of the Republican senators walked silently out of the chamber during the ovation for Brown Jackson’s successful nomination. The overt rudeness certainly looked like sour grapes from the old white boys’ club. – DS
It’s a start
Following in the footsteps of places like Europe and Australia, the Canadian government has introduced legislation requiring tech giants like Google and Facebook to pay struggling Canadian media outlets for distributing their news to the masses. Canadian news organizations have been pushing for such legislation for years.
Speaking to the proposal, Minister of Canadian Heritage Pablo Rodriguez said that the Canadian news sector is in crisis, which is a contributing factor to the rise in public mistrust and disinformation.
As the internet and social media have risen, some of their most high-profile companies have printed money on the backs of news organizations, while those same news organizations have seen revenue fall as the world has moved online and news has worked to keep up.
Critics of this move see it as another hand-out to the news industry under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as an effort to curry favour for his government, especially when it comes to talk of eligible organizations being qualified for subsidies, while many Canadian publishers will see it as the government finally starting a conversation that should have begun years ago. How successful of an initiative it will be, however, remains to be seen. Like previous attempts to support the industry, will the money be swallowed up by big companies with well-paid top brass, or will smaller, independent publications see a piece of the pie?
Regardless of the next steps, this proposal is a step in the right direction for news organizations that have seen tech giants stand on their shoulders and get rich, leaving news collectors behind. – SL
While there are some notable efforts made by the federal Liberal government in the 2022 budget, it looks like the government and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland are playing a never-ending game of Whac-A-Mole - dealing with the pop-up issues, but never getting at the root cause.
From the initiatives designed to help first-time home buyers get into an elusive affordable home, to housing construction initiatives and through to the dental care initiative that the Liberals promised the NDP for the latter’s support of the former, the budget looks less like a plan and more like a reaction to the financial realities being faced by Canadians.
The bans and controls put on foreign house buying, for example, is a temporary measure by design and represents another reactionary effort to control a symptom of an “out-of-whac” economy. They also don’t go far enough, according to some in the industry, who say that allowing purchases of “recreational properties” like cottages, cabins and other vacation homes could easily be used as a loophole by foreign investors.
Also, as many have pointed out, the efforts put forward will help people who can afford a home to be able to better afford it, but those who have already been priced out of the market will still find themselves unable to achieve the dream of home ownership.
Financial institution representatives have pointed out that enabling people to better save for a home only helps if people can save, but with rent prices being so high, that could be a non-starter for many.
Other experts have also pointed out that there isn’t a lot of help in the budget for the average taxpayer, unless they plan on buying a house, and while Freeland says Canada has recovered from COVID-19, it certainly can feel otherwise when Canadians are only able to afford three-quarters of the groceries they could a year ago or not fill up their tank without making a tough decision. – JDS