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2004 - Articles by Margret Kopala

Don’t Use the Charter for Political Correctness

Better late than never, at last there’s meaningful and accessible analysis in the debate on same-sex marriage. Published earlier this year by McGill Queen’s University Press and edited by Daniel Cere and Douglas Farrow, "Divorcing Marriage, Unveiling the Dangers in Canada’s New Social Experiment" is a collection of thoughtful arguments by established academics who oppose same sex marriage and raise seminal questions about its social effects, the nature of human dignity and equality rights, and the proper relationship of the state to civil society. This makes "Divorcing Marriage" the Christmas season’s must-have stocking-stuffer generally but particularly for parliamentarians, opinion makers and officers of the courts who must deliberate on such matters... (more)

December 18, 2004

Ukraine’s Renaissance Finally Seems at Hand

On August 24, 1991, euphoria descended on the diaspora as Ukraine declared independence and nowhere more than in Canada where centennial celebrations of Ukrainian settlement in Canada were also underway. Governor General Ramon Hnatyshyn presided while Prime Minister Brian Mulroney described the waves of immigration: 170,000 before the First World War, 70,000 between the wars and some 40,000 after. “Today,” he intoned, “Ukraine and the other republics of what once was an empire, can chart their own course to democracy and to freedom…”... (more)

December 4, 2004

Watch Alberta’s Election to Learn the Future

Two national themes will converge in the Alberta that emerges following Monday’s provincial election: Canada-U.S. relations and Canadian federalism. At some point in a future not as distant as many believe, the resolution to one may well be found in the resolution to the other... (more)

November 20, 2004

Someone to Respect, Look up to and Trust

Much has transpired to debase the lot of the soldier and the time when a man enlisted to fight for a cause. So when James MacGregor’s biography of his father arrived by express post from the Victoria Publishing Company I read it through in one sitting. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a well researched book with photos, maps, dates and personal reminiscences, the sort anyone might write about an old guard Canadian father – one who at first seems distant and remote then becomes human and more accessible in old age. But of course that father wouldn’t be John (‘Jock’) MacGregor, the first Canadian over Vimy Ridge and Canada’s most decorated soldier... (more)

November 5, 2004

Equal to the Task

Canada’s film-production companies can make it on their own, even if U.S. moviemakers are heading back to Hollywood... (more)

October 23, 2004

Casting Light on Gay Marriage

Counsel for the government of Alberta cut to the chase this week when the Supreme Court commenced hearings on the same-sex marriage reference. Any change to the opposite sex requirement of marriage is a change to the nature of marriage itself, counsel stated. The Charter’s equality guarantees are not a vehicle for remaking fundamental social institutions in an effort to manage questions of social status and approval... (more)

October 11, 2004

Kyoto’s Benefits Aren’t Worth the Cost

“Perhaps we are devoting too many resources to
correcting human effects on the climate without
being sure that we are the major contributor.”

Dr. Bill Burrows, climatologist,
member Royal Meteorological Society of Britain.

On August 24, Canada’s second largest single emitter of greenhouse gases announced the first Canadian purchase of certified emission reductions from a Chilean company under the Kyoto Protocol. “Meeting Canada’s Kyoto commitment will be a huge challenge,” said TransAlta President and CEO Steve Snyder at the signing ceremony in Santiago. “With emission trades like this one, TransAlta is able to cost effectively take action now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”... (more)

October 2, 2004

Strikes are Payback Time for Public Service of Alliance of Canada

You can’t say he hasn’t hit the ground running. Hard on the heels of a first ministers’ meeting on healthcare, the prime minister did the rounds at the United Nations even as his public works minister made a big announcement about plans to sell 365 federal office buildings. The Gomery Inquiry is underway and Canadian cattlemen have received yet another federal government aid package... (more)

September 25, 2004

As a Nation of Free-Traders, We Must Address Terror Issues

There’s a story about two men in a tent who hear a bear scratching outside. As the first dons his running shoes the other says, “You can’t outrun a bear.” “I know,” replies the first. “But I only have to outrun you.”

Since September 11, 2001, many Liberals have been running while others are still lacing their shoes wondering what to do. Those in denial like Carolyn Parrish believe social programs will somehow protect Canada against a terrorist strike, never mind abandoning a friend and protector to fight the terrorist bear outside...

September 18, 2004

There’s Nothing Clear or Simple About Senate Reform

“What if we started from the premise that Canada is not the exception to the rule, but its own rule and then marvel at that rather than try to fit it into some other box.” (Eugene Forsey)

Having undertaken a less than stellar process for selecting two supreme court justices, the prime minister will tread gingerly in the matter of filling Canada’s Senate seat vacancies. To help him along, ideas are tumbling out of western Canada where a death knell for the Triple E Senate is also sounding...

September 11, 2004

Monopolies are Bad, Especially in Health Care

If progress on a national pharmacare program or a reduction in waiting times is to be realised, Canada’s first ministers should stop thinking about giving or getting more money and start thinking about how to change the health care system. According to recently published papers from Vancouver’s Fraser Institute and Montreal’s Institute for Research and Public Policy (IRPP) – monopolies by Canada’s generic drug manufacturers and health care providers are the main factors in Canada’s expensive and sclerotic health care system... (more)

September 4, 2004

Alberta is Aching to Share the Secrets of its Success

Calgary’s Kyle Shewfelt and Edmonton’s Lori-Ann Muenzer won gold medals at this year’s Olympic Games. Not that Alberta is bragging, the medals are for Canada, after all. Still, they are the latest in a winning streak for the oil-rich can-do province that’s seen high OECD scores in education and the economic power of the Edmonton-Calgary corridor grow to match Ontario’s Golden Triangle. With debt free status and a budgetary surplus in the billions, the province is also working to remove interprovincial trade barriers, to find new tax tools for its cities and has doctors migrating to the province for its superior pay and facilities. Little wonder then Albertans are enjoying a sense of accomplishment... (more)

August 28, 2004

Our ‘Don’t Test, Don’t Know’ Policy on BSE Must Change

The Alberta based Canadian Cattlemen for Fair Trade recently filed a claim for $150 million with the U.S. government for losses from the mad cow crisis. Under NAFTA’s Chapter 11 investment provisions, they say the U.S. has “unjustifiably provided less favourable treatment” to Canadian beef producers... (more)

August 21, 2004

The Proud Path to Operation Athena

“Only the dead have seen the end of war” - Plato

It’s a far cry from the days when a cavalry regiment of 600 cowboys, frontiersmen and North West-Mounted Police was recruited mostly in western Canada. Created by the man who made it big in Canadian railways and become one of the British Empire’s richest men, Lord Strathcona’s Horse arrived in Cape Town on April 10, 1900, to fight in the Boer War... (more)

August 14, 2004

Canada’s Wheat Board Faces its Toughest Challenge

The beleaguered and misunderstood Canadian Wheat Board appears to have been outmanoeuvred at the recently revived Doha round of talks on agricultural subsidies at the World Trade Organization in Geneva... (more)

August 7, 2004

Western Superprovince is Closer Than You Think

By appointing several MPs from British Columbia to cabinet, the Liberals have consolidated their beachhead in that province. In the political game of getting and keeping power, their cabinet lineup is designed to win the next election: since there is little hope in Alberta, the campaign to win the other western provinces is being launched in B.C... (more)

July 31, 2004

This Prairie Pleasure Deserves to be Enjoyed in Ottawa

Living in London during the seventies, I yearned for a nostalgic taste of the Prairies – blueberry or, better still, saskatoon pie often came to mind. Now that I live in Ottawa, that ostensible repository of all things Canadian, blueberries are plentiful but still - no saskatoons. In fact, it looks as if the British will enjoy the purplish-blue wonder before Ottawans... (more)

July 24, 2004

In Praise of Prairie Literature

A Complicated Kindness has been on national best seller lists for several weeks - a fact easily confirmed if you try, as I did recently, to locate a copy. Set in a small Mennonite town in southern Manitoba, it is the most recent of Miriam Toew’s four books – one of which includes a first-person ‘memoir’ plus, now, three novels which feature the zany lives and compelling observations of young Manitoba women. ... (more)

July 17, 2004

Alberta Reform Party Scatters to Winds of Discontent

On December 31st, 2004, the Reform Party of Alberta ceases to exist. The two Albertans who ran under its aegis to become the province’s senators-elect will also relinquish their titles... (more)

July 10, 2004

Monday's Federal Election

The important outcome of Monday’s federal election is that Canada has two political vehicles that remain viable forces for the national good. On the road to a victory that eluded both, Liberals and Conservatives made mistakes but they also made gains. In the race for which party would make greatest gains within stated regional objectives, the Conservative party wins. Its 24 seats in Ontario out distances the Liberals’ 17 in the West. ... (more)

July 3, 2004

The Provinces are the Real Winners in this Election

From Dalton McGuinty’s budget arose a primal scream that opened the door for a West wanting in. Now riding the backlash against a scandal-ridden national government and broken provincial promises, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are poised for a break through in Ontario and an historic entry if not to government, then something very close to it... (more)

June 26, 2004

We Need the State, and the State Needs Us

It goes without saying that a nation that is not reproducing itself is a nation in decline but what’s to be said about a nation apparently willing this condition upon itself? According to Statistics Canada, Canadians are reproducing at the rate of 1.49 children per woman, the lowest level since their 1959 peak of 3.94 births. Women today are delaying pregnancy while pregnant teens are the largest consumers of Canada’s abortion services. Additionally, 1 couple in 5 has trouble conceiving, a number that increases to 1 in 2 after the age of 40.... (more)

June 19, 2004

June 21, 2004

Canadian Drug Exports A Bitter Pill for Some

If all U.S. residents bought their prescription drugs from Canada, the nation’s supply would be exhausted in 38 days. These findings from a study by the University of Texas-Austin are the latest bombshell in a saga that began a few years ago as furtive cross-border shopping expeditions by American seniors seeking cheaper drugs in Canada. Thanks to the miracle of cyberspace, these expeditions have ballooned into a billion dollar industry and elevated drug pricing issues to a crisis pitch in the U.S. Now, congressmen are commissioning studies and considering legislation to legalize importation of prescription drugs from Canada and other countries... (more)

June 12, 2004

A Not-So-Quiet Burst of Attention to Emily Carr

“I understand you have not painted for some time?”
“Are you going to now?”
"Here is a list of books that may help. You are isolated out there.
Keep in touch with us. The West Coast Show is coming on to our Gallery after Ottawa. I shall write you when I have seen it.”
“Please criticize my things hard, Mr. Harris.”
“I sure will.”

West Coast painter Emily Carr’s Quiet fetched $975,000 (or $1.12 million with the buyer’s premium added) at a Vancouver art auction recently. This price broke records and placed her in the same league as her friend and founder of the Group of Seven Lawren Harris, whose Winter in the Northern Woods sold for $1.5 million in Toronto a few days later... (more)

June 5 , 2004

Emily Carr - Quiet - Image courtesy of www.Heffel.com
Emily Carr - Quiet

Image courtesy of

Fixing the Democratic Deficit means Fixing the Senate

Quebec and Alberta recently agreed on appointing Senators and Supreme Court Justices from lists provided by provinces. The March 23, 2004 news release also adds that the premiers, through the Council of the Federation, have identified strengthening the federation as a priority area. “Alberta is co-lead, along with New Brunswick, on a special council committee of ministers to develop and consider new models for selecting individuals to serve in key national institutions …”... (more)

May 29, 2004

Our Democracy is in Bad Shape

We’re resigned to the fact this election won’t engender a debate about ideas but does it matter? After all, at no time in recent memory has such a pall descended on governance issues and it isn’t just the politicians, it’s the whole system. From Enron to Martha Stewart to Nortel, we watch inured as heads role from the highest corporate edifices while Abu Ghraib and the sponsorship scandal, not to mention broken promises, could do the same to heads of government... (more)

May 22, 2004

Spend Time with your Children so They Don’t Do Time

This week, in the banal setting of a Wal-Mart store in Abbotsford, British Columbia, a thirteen-year-old stabbed a seven-year-old girl with an X-acto knife when she refused his offer of candy. He was a complete stranger to her... (more)

May 15, 2004

No column published

May 8, 2004

Governing is too Important to be Left to Chance

Another spectacle of tawdry nomination battles, this time in British Columbia, was punctuated by a rare display of co-operation between the grassroots and the party brass in which three Liberal candidate acclamations in winnable ridings promise strong western voices in a future Paul Martin cabinet... (more)

May 1, 2004

Daring to Challenge the Aboriginal Orthodoxy

In his book First Nations? Second Thoughts?, Tom Flanagan writes about the baseball cap inscribed with the words ‘Lubicon Lake Band’ that was purchased at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. One of his most prized possessions, the University of Calgary political scientist calls it an invaluable artifact from the archaeology of knowledge... (more)

April 26, 2004

No Shortage of Ideas for Martin and Bush

“Of course it would be better if we played from one deck of cards instead of six hands against the dealer,” Larry Hill said. The Saskatchewan farmer and chairman of the Canadian Wheat Board’s trade committee was comparing the problems of the wheat board and the softwood lumber industries, both of which have been subjected to interminable legal challenges and punitive duties from American special interests. ... (more)

April 17, 2004

Returning to the Familiar Sensations of my Church

“Fortunately, as we engage in the task of shaping the Canadian Orthodox identity, we do not have to fumble around in the dark. We have historical cultures of the Orthodox world as our examples. The early Christians had Judaism as a template for their development, the Slavs had Byzantine Orthodoxy. We, in turn, can look to a 2000-year legacy of culture transfigured by the Faith, and Faith expressed through culture.” --- Rev. Fr. Andrew Yarmus, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, “The Herald”... (more)

April 10, 2004

Edmonton Schools have Lessons for Health Care in Canada

Spring time is shopping time for Edmonton parents seeking schools their children will attend in September. There are the usual choices of private and public, as well as publicly funded charter schools – that is, schools with unique mandates or operating systems but which must also meet Alberta government teaching and testing criteria... (more)

April 3, 2004

Harper's Road Map to Beat the Liberals

The Reform Party’s battle cry that ‘the West wants in’ seems closer than ever to realisation. Stephen Harper’s victory as leader of the newly unified Conservatives is the finishing touch that makes the party a viable government-in-waiting while the sponsorship scandal and a stronger NDP, both bleeding votes from the Liberals, should create openings for significant gains in the next election... (more)

March 27, 2004

Wild Salmon

There's a story about how a BC salmon farmer, unable or unwilling to dispose of the carcasses of his disease ridden fish as the law prescribes, towed the whole pen in which they were enclosed and released them into the ocean. Later, a commercial fisherman in the area called a radio talk show to describe what he saw: "We have an ecological disaster on our hands," he reportedly said. "There's a stretch of dead salmon here 3 kilometers long and 1 kilometer wide floating on the ocean"... (more)

March 20, 2004

More Than Just Water Isolates This B.C. Island

Salt Spring Island, B.C.
If you love the islands,
Please don’t come, please don’t come, please don’t come,
If you love the islands, please don’t come.
There’s no more room for anyone.
Please Don’t Come,
Salt Spring Hysterical Society

March 13, 2004

Government Must End Uncertainty for Cattlemen

Southern Alberta is a magnificent part of Canada with sprawling hills that change from green to taupe and gray or white as the season dictates. Despite a recent flurry of snow, calving season is about to begin. It’s an event that’s as reliable as Mother Nature herself. Even so, for Arnow Dirksen, a cow-calf rancher and feedlot operator who is also chairman of the Alberta Beef Producers’ Association, the word ‘uncertainty’ sneaks into his vocabulary with disquieting regularity.... (more)

March 6, 2004

It's Time to Axe the Guillotine Clause on Public Spending

Despite protestations about being more open and accountable, the Liberal government slipped the budget estimates to the House of Commons on Tuesday - a week ahead of schedule... (more)

February 28, 2004

Even Ralph Goodale Can’t Escape the Mud

Finance Minister Ralph Goodale spoke convincingly of the new Liberal government’s intentions for western Canada. “First, the government needs to acknowledge the reality of western alienation and treat it not with denial but with the seriousness it deserves,” he said in his dinner speech to the Canada West Foundation last October. “Disaffection in the West is no less important than any other challenge to Canadian unity and cohesion elsewhere.” (more)

February 21, 2004

Few Conservatives will accept an untested Leader

"Confusion has marred the Conservative party’s leadership selection process, in particular by raising concerns about the potential influence of Quebec ridings. If Quebec - where Belinda Stronach has a strong and well funded organization - determines the winner, some fear that years of Western disaffection, compounded this week by revelations about the federal Liberal sponsorship scandal, will grow even worse. How valid is this fear?" (more)

February 14, 2004

The first lady of reform gets ready to move on

"The sun pouring through a window of the seldom-used living room in a clapboard farmhouse. A fly buzzing around the potted geranium. Searching for wild strawberries in a thicket. Eating Sonny Boy porridge and eggs scrambled with freshly separated cream. The howl of a coyote piercing the dark silence…" (more)

February 7, 2004

Canada’s cities expect a lot from Paul Martin

"‘No matter how long it takes, we are going to provide Canadian municipalities with a portion of the federal gas tax,” Paul Martin told the Union of British Columbia Municipalities last fall. The mayors of Canada’s largest cities reminded him of his promise when they convened in Toronto last week and made a last- gasp big media push for consideration in Monday’s throne speech and the upcoming budget"... (more)

January 31, 2004

Changing parties in mid-session challenges our democracy

"The federal Liberal party recently released its rules for candidates and, to prevent the kind of embarrassment a defection by the likes of Sheila Copps might pose, it is asking prospective candidates to pledge support for the eventual nomination victor. Dubbed “the Sheila Copps Clause,’’ and hot on the heels of defections by Progressive Conservative MP Scott Brison and Canadian Alliance MP Keith Martin, it’s further evidence political parties hope to staunch voter disenchantment caused by opportunistic and unwieldy members of Parliament"... (more)

January 26, 2004

A creative experiment in democracy on Canada’s west coast

"In yet another attempt to address yet another democratic deficit, the British Columbia government has convened its independent, non-partisan Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform"... (more)

January 17, 2004

Canadians need to know why and where Harper wants to lead us

"All the truly great ones have all these things going for them — they are very knowledgeable about their disciplines, they have great physical skills, they have learned to control their own learning and their arousal levels. And they can bring it all together instantly to deliver precisely the performance demanded by the moment. That’s what makes them great. Ted Wall"... (more)

January 10, 2004

Mad cow disease requires more than tough talk

"Ralph Klein may or may not be eating beef these days, but he should certainly be eating his words. Now that a second case of BSE (mad cow disease) has been identified in North America’s highly integrated beef and dairy industry, his remark that “shooting, shovelling and shutting up,” rather than illuminating and solving the problems associated with this disease, seems particularly irresponsible. After all, look what happened in Britain, or even Walkerton."... (more)

January 3, 2004









Let's make Canada shipshape for the 21st Century