Read me: The week in commentary

A historic election, a nationalist would-be leader and a weak climate change deal — all in Canada this week.

A historic election, a nationalist would-be leader and a weak climate change deal — all in Canada

Copies of the Yukon Liberal election platform, 2016. (CBC)

A historic election just wrapped up and the results were unexpected.

For the first time in 14 years, Yukoners voted for a Liberal government instead of the conservative-leaning Yukon Party.

Writing for CBC Opinion, Genesee Keevil points out Yukon's Liberals have an all-star lineup that's short on big promises. What else is new. Keevil says that despite the faltering economy, there are few commitments when it comes to investing and mining. There are massive local layoffs, and it's unlikely the territory will remain in the black for much longer.

But despite the "bleak economic outlook," Chris Windeyer of Yukon News noticed an area where the Liberals excelled — the environment.

Although the Yukon Party are not climate change deniers (phew!), Windeyer thinks their lack of a clear environmental plan is part of what cleared the path for the Liberals.

"The Yukon Party tried to offer a hopeless fight against big, bad Ottawa's carbon pricing policy," he says. "In doing so, they implicitly wagered on other forms of government intervention (retrofits) in the economy." For Windeyer, the results are symptomatic of the challenges conservatives across the country are facing.

Creepy nationalism

The Conservative party's leadership debate earlier this week sparked some thoughts about leading candidate and noted Canadian values truther Kellie Leitch (and no one else). Never mind that our neighbours to the south just learned a hard lesson in media overexposure that we're now repeating, Leitch is the word on columnists' lips.

Kellie Leitch, seen here in Feb. 2015, when she was Status for Women Minister, says she and Donald Trump have 'some common ideas.' (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Alan Freeman, writing for iPolitics, says her nationalism is "a bit … creepy" but goes on to say Leitch winning would benefit the ruling Liberals. "If the Conservatives want to turn themselves into the party of older, rural Canadians, fearful of the diversity that is the new face of Canada's growing and successful cities … well, fine. That's their option. They'll be stuck at 30 per cent of the vote forever, perpetually in opposition."

At least Vic Satzewich, the author of the book Leitch keeps citing, took the time to throw some shade in the Globe and Mail. "What Ms. Leitch is proposing is a solution in search of a problem," he said. "I would encourage her to read more academic research by social scientists, and even 'commit sociology.'" When the author of your favourite book says you've got it wrong, I'm going to guess reading is not your strong suit.

At the Montreal Gazette, Robyn Maynard reminds us that Canada's black communities are facing deep, systemic discrimination. Those realities "should be seen as a national shame," she writes. "Enslavement may be over, but centuries later black Montrealers — the largest visible minority in the city — continue to experience dehumanizing treatment across institutions." As Kamal Al-Solaylee points out in the Globe and Mail, that's what Trump's victory was all about.

All talk, no action

We can only hope Leitch takes a page from the Liberal playbook: all talk, no follow-through. Desmond Cole of the Toronto Star says Canada needs to focus on problems at home. Similarly, the Ottawa Citizen editorial board wants to know why Attawapiskat — and many other Indigenous communities — have yet to receive help from the government. I bet the Indigenous communities want an answer, too.

And, hey, let's get back to the environment for a second. The Paris Agreement on climate change came into force last week, but there's little optimism Canada can hit the targets. As Damon Matthews and Peter Stoett write in the Montreal Gazette, the thought is nice, but "the Paris Agreement does not, however, provide a solid blueprint for moving ahead."

With a firmly anti-climate change president in the U.S. and possible renewed pressure to reopen the question of pipelines, the Star's Chantal Hébert thinks our Superman prime minister finally found himself a piece of kryptonite.

About the Author

Jane Lytvynenko is a freelance reporter and editor. Her work has appeared in BuzzFeed, Maclean's, CANADALAND and other publications.


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