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2006 Articles by Margret Kopala

The Questions We Should Be Asking

It was to weep. If the estimable Steve Paikin can’t get the questions right, what hope for finding the right answers on global warming? Save for the well informed and intellectually competitive editors at the Financial Post, mainstream Canadian media have - to the best of my knowledge - never asked the hard questions about the extent, the nature, and the history of climate variations as they pertain to the earth’s climate today. Certainly they haven’t debated the issue with knowledgeable spokespersons from both sides. So given the opportunitiy to fill the gap, how did the mid-December airing of TVO’s nightly current affairs program “The Agenda” tackle the issue? By debating whether or not there should be a debate!... (more)

December 28, 2006

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A Gift for a Policy Wonk

“…despite the large place occupied by fats in Western diet, our largest nutritional deficiency, paradoxically, revolves around the essential fatty acids: the omega-3 fatty acids.”

Foods That Fight Cancer, Richard Beliveau, Ph.D. & Denis Gingras, Ph.D.

Among the plethora of noteworthy scientists who have mined the cornucopia of nutrients that create and sustain human health, one man has single handedly put the good fats on the map. Extolling the virtues of the homely flax seed that is a widely grown prairie crop staple, his book is my pick for this year’s policy-wonk stocking-stuffer must-have... (more)

December 16, 2006

The slippery slope to polygamy

If you think polygamy can't be legalized in Canada, think again.

According to a recent poll sponsored by the Institute for Canadian Values and the Vancouver Sun, 82 per cent of Canadians oppose legalizing polygamy. But public opinion did little this summer to stop the Dutch courts from upholding the right of the Brotherly Love, Freedom and Diversity Party to field candidates in recent elections. Protected by the Netherlands' guarantees of freedom of expression, assembly and association, the party was formed by pedophiles calling for a reduction of the age of sexual consent to 12 and the legalization of pornography and sex with animals.... (more)

November 27, 2006

Liberal Moves on Quebec May Determine Klein's Successor

"Dunno.," the anonymous Calgary blogger wrote. "If the **** hits the fan with the Liberals and the Quebec thing, I'm a Morton man." In a province whose vast and still expanding wealth presents an equally vast array of issues, it is no small irony that Alberta's future leadership could be determined in Montreal... (more)

November 18, 2006

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Reaping What They Sow

Obscured by income trusts and other matters of state is a prairie whirlwind this young Conservative government surely hoped to avoid reaping. But with still more “promises” to keep and little time, patience or prudence with which to do so, Canada’s new minister of agriculture and Canadian Wheat Board siezed his levers of power and set about ending the CWB’s single desk monopoly on selling western Canadian wheat and barley... (more)

November 4, 2006

It’s Time for Marijuana Crackdown

Not a minute too soon, Mayor Bob Chiarelli is providing a much needed wake up call about the problem of marijuana use in high schools. Forty to sixty per cent of Ottawa students may be using the drug during the school day, he says. From parents to policy and opinion makers, research in this area is routinely ignored but believing cannabis is harmless is no longer acceptable. A study co-produced in September by two British Columbia universities documents rising cannabis use among adolescents while another from Australia confirms an association between adolescent cannabis use and early adulthood psychosis. Considered together (both papers are available online), they, like Chiarelli, set alarm bells ringing.... (more)

October 27, 2006

History Takes Right Turn

Martin Scorsese’s movie Gangs of New York concludes in 1863 and, as feuding immigrant gangs collapse in yet another fit of vengeful violence, their dramatic and historical significance reduces to mere threads when the camera pans the skyline to reveal the smoke and din of the Draft Riots. Abraham Lincoln needs 300,000 young men to fight a prolonged Civil War and in New York they are resisting. A whole new era is underway. Admittedly, it’s a stretch drawing parallels between 1863 New York and 2006 Calgary but last weekend’s Calgary Congress on Renewing the Federation had a similar air of history made and history moving on. In the room where in 1996 the Winds of Change Conference promoted conservative unity, moderator and co-author of the Alberta (“Firewall”) Agenda, Andy Crooks, intoned that “This is sacred ground in terms of planting seeds that will grow into the future”... (more)

October 7, 2006

A Lesson for the Professor

Speaking in Vancouver last week, Liberal leadership candidate and former Harvard professor Michael Ignatieff said Canada should increase immigration to 350,000 people a year but a visit to any Vancouver school might have changed his mind. In a city that attracts 18% of Canada’s annual intake of 260,000 immigrants, English second language (ESL) students may comprise 60% or more of a class. When this happens, says a new study by University of British Columbia language and literacy professor Lee Gunderson, reading growth of both Canadian born and ESL students is compromised. Small proportions of ESL students, on the other hand, improve reading growth for everyone... (more)

September 23, 2006

Moving Forward, in an Indirect Way

“Until there is agreement on what the Senate is supposed to do, there will be no agreement on its modification.”
David E. Smith, The Canadian Senate in Bicameral Perspective

“The primary mandate of a reformed Senate should be to protect provincial interests, powers and responsibilities.”
Resolution 2b, for discussion at the Calgary Congress Sept 29-Oct 2, 2006

The capacity of a reformed Senate to address grievances and bridge regional divides cannot be overestimated so the task before the Special Committee on Senate Reform that started hearings this week is considerable. It is studying two proposals.... (more)

September 9, 2006

Softwood deal tears a hole in NAFTA

Industry-wide resignation greeted the Harper-Bush softwood-lumber agreement but Rick Wangler, president of Steelworkers Local 1-363 in Campbell River, probably said it best when he asked a British Columbia newspaper: what’s the point of cutting a deal when Canada is winning the legal battles against American imposed tarrifs? “I liken it to being in a poker game and having a royal flush but not betting on it,” he said. Elliott J. Feldman, a prominent Washington lawyer who represents several Canadian industry players, including the Free Trade Lumber Council and Tembec Inc., goes further and describes Canada’s victories in the NAFTA panels and U.S. courts as a “legal rout”, with other victories likely onstream.... (more)

August 26, 2006

Finally some hope in AIDS wars

Prime Minister Stephen Harper won’t be attending the AIDS conference and so far, too, he’s declined a visit to North America’s first safe injection site. Located in Vancouver’s downtown eastside, the scientific research pilot known as Insite will close on September 12th if its mandate isn’t extended. More important than Mr. Harper’s absence will be the absence in either locale of discussion about human agency or personal responsibility. These, finally, may be humanity’s best hope in the wars against an AIDS virus and substance-abuse problem whose capacity to mutate, replicate and find new markets knows no bounds... (more)

August 12, 2006

Alberta-B.C. trade pact a tectonic shift

Ralph Klein leaves the premiership of Alberta in December. Beyond the predictable ‘deficit slayer’, few assessments of his political legacy are yet available though on April 28, the verdict was in. That’s the date when a trade agreement signed by the British Columbia and Alberta governments laid the groundwork for what could become one of North America’s largest and most powerful economically integrated regions, one that in Canada rivals Quebec and challenges Ontario in population and GDP growth. Ralph Klein was its instigator and lead author. If the agreement attracts other provincial premiers, they, along with B.C., would be co-authors of Canada’s long overdue economic union... (more)

July 29, 2006

The Challenge of a United North America

Edmonton Oiler hockey legend Wayne Gretzky wept that day back in 1988 when he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, but Carolina Hurricanes’ goal tender and Sherwood Park, Alta. native Cam Ward took the cross border move in stride. Playing with equanimity against the Oilers in the NHL finals, Canada’s newest champion helped the Hurricanes win the Stanley Cup and won the Conn Smythe trophy for most valuable player in the playoffs. Hockey may be Canada’s national sport but now that we’re all North Americans, local ties, it seems, are the casualty of international competitiveness. It’s happening again with Canada’s mining giants Inco and Falconbridge. If North American integration confuses loyalties, it also rallies those on the further reaches of the ideological spectrum. When the Canadian prime minister recently visited the U.S. President, Linda McQuaig coyly suggested in her Toronto Star column the question isn’t how well these two conservative soul mates get along, but “What are they up to?”... (more)

July 15, 2006

We Need Another Phil Gaglardi

It’s official. Summer is here and it’s time to hit the road. In British Columbia it will probably be a road built by Flyin’ Phil Gaglardi. “Outside of W.A.C. himself, I’m still the most remembered cabinet minister in the history of this province,” the flamboyantly immodest Phil Gaglardi told his biographer and then editor of the Kamloops Daily News, Mel Rothenburger. “W.A.C. said to me before he died, ‘Phil, it was you and me, we were the ones that got things done.’”... (more)

July 1, 2006

It’s Still Not Too Late to Reform Immigration

“Look, if Ukraine goes to war and they call me up, I’m not going,” Dmytro Cipywnyk, C.M., M.D., told the Ukrainian Weekly in 1997. “I’m a Canadian citizen.” --- Multiculturalism’s most distinguished advocate and, arguably, its most distinguished citizen of Ukrainian heritage, made no bones about his first loyalty. Serving as president of a range of Ukrainian and inter-ethnic organizations, Saskatoon’s substance abuse and senior care doctor was widely honoured in Canada and Ukraine where he received its highest non-citizen award, the Order of Merit, in 2002, one year before he died. It was a fitting conclusion to a life emblematic of the second generation Ukrainian-Canadian experience. For many, this meant life on a homestead with parents who spoke neither English nor French plus hard labour and privation. For the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who farmed Canada’s Parkland region, few escaped work in the fields, including children, even if it meant missing school where their unpronounceable names, babushkas and garlicky food were viewed suspiciously... (more)

June 19, 2006

Alberta will test Harper

The failure of the prime minister to rise above the Parliamentary Press Gallery contretemps mars the inherent statesmanship he frequently displays on other files. From restoring pride in Canada’s military and making Canada a respected neighbour of the United States to an increasingly manifest capacity to understand the subtleties of Confederation, Stephen Harper has proved himself a thinker and a doer, a man who can set and sustain an agenda with grace and with humour – qualities that could easily deflect the slings and arrows of an often hard pressed press gallery. That he refuses to deploy either is all the more mysterious given a normally symbiotic relationship between the press and politicians. Moreover, he’ll need every quality he can muster to meet his real nemesis when it arrives, namely a fresh attempt to set the terms of a potential bid for Alberta separation.... (more)

June 3, 2006

Stephen Harper in Richmond - Photo by Sam Wade

Moms and Babies Belong Together

Another Mother’s Day came and went but the Mommy Wars continue. Should Mom work? Should she stay home? Twenty years have passed since Fredelle Maynard asked ‘what’s best for the child?’ Now - thanks to outspoken professionals knowledgeable about attachment theory some common sense is emerging from the din. Attachment theory confirms that a caring committed adult, usually Mom, provides the secure base from which a baby can grow into responsible adulthood... (more)

May 20, 2006

The Year of the Sex Olympics

The recently published Pornified: How Pornography is Transforming our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families adds to the growing list of commentary on the dangers of pornography but so far no commentator has taken this danger to the depths depicted in The Year of the Sex Olympics. Set in an all too (now) recognizable future, the 1968 BBC television drama described a society of ‘low drive’ masses pacified by nightly doses of televised pornography. When an accidental death during the sex Olympics awakens them from their satiated stupor, the die is cast. Real people in real life and death situations, The Live Life Show, would be the next hit... (more)

May 6, 2006

Good news and bad news about BSE

Two cases of BSE in Alberta caused a $10-billion crisis in the Canadian cattle industry. Now British Columbia's burgeoning biotechnology sector is developing tests that have the potential to identify BSE and similar brain-wasting diseases that threaten human as well as animal populations. In other words, it's good news and bad on the mad-cow file... (more)

April 8, 2006

How the race affects the West

John Turner was the only Liberal party leader the West ever produced and if, historically speaking, you blinked you’d have missed even his brief appearance. Saskatchewan’s Ralph Goodale notwithstanding, the Liberal party leadership race today remains characteristically Western-Canada challenged. Will any of the currently spotlighted candidates have any impact in Western Canada?... (more)

March 25, 2006

A model for reforming democracy

The prime minister is flexing his authority on Senate reform. While the appointments of David Emerson and Michael Fortier were an appropriate deployment of this authority, where institutional reform is concerned, it is not. Here process matters. As a premier who has worked on the margins of Senate reform, Ralph Klein understands the issue better than most. His province elected several senators-in-waiting and, in 2003, enacted the Alberta Amendment, a resolution on Senate reform. This year, he chairs the Council of the Federation whose provinces have the resources and the authority to sponsor a constitutional amendment. Since approval for Senate reform requires only 7 provincial legislatures with 50% of the population, its chances of success are better than even.... (more)

March 11, 2006


The Next Logical Step

Canada’s premiers came to town to visit the new prime minister yesterday. It’s safe to surmise that somewhere on the agenda was how Canada’s first baby boomers turned 60 this year. According to at least one study, they aren’t getting any healthier. The premiers might also have noted how in 2004, led by B.C. Premier Campbell, they uncharacteristically but unanimously agreed that the federal government should assume responsibility for drug costs. In British Columbia, seniors will comprise 25% of the population by 2030. Given current trends, healthcare services will consume 70% of all provincial revenues. Worse, drug therapies that already cost Canadians $18 billion annually are escalating. Often, the most expensive drugs offer the greatest benefits, saving lives or ameliorating catastrophic illness... (more)

February 25, 2006

Competence should Trump Process When Picking New Justice

“There’s time for balancing appointments but Harper should stay low profile,” cautioned the head of the political science department at the University of Lethbridge. “He hasn’t got any room to move. People are too ready to be outraged.” Peter McCormick and I were discussing the next Supreme Court of Canada appointment but even as we spoke, the Emerson and Fortier appointments had already provoked outrage. Given their big city connections and big business experience in a caucus conspicuously lacking both, Fortier and Emerson would seem to be inspired choices presaging a time of government by titans in the order of latter day C.D. Howes. But if process matters more than competence, these appointments are troubling despite, in the case of Emerson, Edmund Burke’s assertion that a representative betrays constituents if he sacrifices his judgment to their opinion.... (more)

February 11, 2006

Fisheries will be a slippery file for Tories

First it was western populists, then Ontario Tories followed. All being well, there’ll be a full complement of Quebec autonomists after the next election. Stephen Harper’s Three Sisters of Canadian conservatism - named after the mountain located along the Trans-Canada highway between Calgary and Banff on whose peaks three Indian maidens, so the legend goes, perished in isolation – could soon be reunited... --- ...Fish could be a player in the current Conservative government too. According to Dennis Brown’s 2005 Canadian bestseller “Salmon Wars: The Battle for the West Coast Salmon Fishery”, mismanagement of the only natural resource that remains in federal jurisdiction is the biggest factor behind British Columbia’s depleted salmon stocks... (more)

January 28, 2006

The Fiscal Imbalance and the Future of Canada

Deep in Ukrainian Canada’s Regina heartland, Ralph Goodale will be schmoozing a little less earnestly than usual at this weekend’s Malanka (Feast of St. Melania New Year’s Eve) celebrations. The department run by Saskatchewan’s lone Liberal member is under RCMP investigation for possible income trust improprieties and, after the leaders’ debates in which Paul Martin gave a flat-footed performance, Goodale will be watching his own theory that the fiscal imbalance is only a “theory” disappear into the Julian calendar’s crisp night air... (more)

January 14, 2006








Let's make Canada shipshape for the 21st Century