Editorials - Sept. 30, 2022
Time to be a leader
Earlier this week, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly addressed the United Nations General Assembly as the gathering drew to a close. Joly stressed the importance of the United Nations itself, especially during dark times of conflict with massive upheavals, like we are experiencing now with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The rest of the world must present a united front when confronted with the actions of a bully like Vladimir Putin.
She also reiterated that our priority in international relations is to be a champion for women’s rights around the world. At a time when so many women around the world are facing a loss of equal rights, the loss of sexual and reproductive freedoms, violence and imprisonment, Canada can be a world leader in equality for all.
While we have long seen women targeted by autocratic governments in countries such as Afghanistan, Iran and Myanmar, we were made keenly aware of the fragility of women’s rights this summer when Roe v. Wade was overturned by our neighbours to the south in the United States. If the most developed country in the world can take away the right of half of its citizens to make their own health care decisions, then we need to stand up and say that Canada will lead the way with “a global coalition in support of equality” that will “repel these increasing attacks on women’s rights and freedoms.” – DS
Sign of the times?
While some candidates have had to shell out some money to buy signs encouraging residents to vote for them in this fall’s municipal election, many have been spared that expense, being acclaimed to their positions. This is nothing new in Huron County, where interest in some seats has been low enough to warrant just enough candidates to fill the available positions. In Howick, for example, Reeve Doug Harding and the entire council were all acclaimed, making the election irrelevant.
On Monday, CBC published an article under the headline “No Ballot Required” that analyzed the coming municipal election, stating that one in three mayors or reeves in Ontario has been acclaimed this year. Interest in local politics is waning, stated the article, based on several interviews, with the job of a local politician becoming more difficult and less appealing. Nearly 140 Ontario mayors or reeves have been acclaimed this year, compared to 118 in 2018 and 104 in 2014.
Oakville Councillor Jasvinder Sandhu called the position of a councillor “a full-time job with part-time pay” while others pointed to the “harsher political climate” and a lack of patience among people.
It’s unclear why interest in local politics can be seen as waning. Criticism is high, as is the workload, and in the age of social media and attack blogs, being a public figure can be taxing on one’s mental health. So, as all-candidates meetings are held, election guides are released and Huron County residents head to the polls, be sure to treat all candidates, not just those you agree with, with the respect they deserve. They are running to fill a job that fewer and fewer people seem to want, to represent us at the most accessible (and most impactful) level of politics. We can all agree that being a municipal councillor is not an easy job, so those who step up to do it should be celebrated. – SL
To what end?
Edward Snowden was officially granted Russian citizenship on Monday after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree awarding citizenship to 75 foreign nationals. Snowden has been in Russia for nearly a decade after fleeing prosecution in the United States for his role in releasing classified documents showing that the government was spying on its citizens. In 2020, Snowden was granted permanent residency and, at that time, said he was going to apply for Russian citizenship, but not renounce his U.S. citizenship.
The timing has been puzzling for some, especially since people like Snowden, who haven’t served the Russian military before, can’t be forced to serve through the partial mobilization order that Putin enacted was put in place. It leaves a lot of questions as to Putin’s end-goal. Surely, after more than a decade, whatever information Snowden may have (provided he hasn’t leaked everything, like he said) would be outdated enough to make it useless, so what does Putin gain here?
Is he just twisting the knife by further sheltering a man the United States wants returned so badly? Or does Putin hope he can garner favour with Snowden and use him to some nefarious end. The entire idea of, in the middle of a war or military action, taking time to sign citizenship documents in the middle of a war or military action seems odd and leaves a lot of questions, but to do so with a whistleblower like Snowden raises even more questions.
With Russians protesting Putin’s war, both through peaceful protests and more violent ones, including lighting themselves on fire or shooting recruiting officers, every move he makes is under scrutiny, so there must be a reason - only time will tell what it is. – JDS