Inside Policy, March 2019: Facing the Populist Moment

OTTAWA, ON (March 22, 2019): Populism has been acutely felt in a number of countries – from the UK’s turn towards Brexit to the election of Donald Trump in the United States to the rise of right-wing populist governments across Europe and beyond.

Canada has so far not felt the sting of populist discontent, but it is certainly not immune from these forces. As Sean Speer writes in our cover story, a proportionate political and policy response to these disruptive public sentiments will require drawing from both sides of our ideological spectrum.

Both Linda Nazareth and Philip Cross point to the prospect of a global economic slowdown that will likely only increase the urgency of such a response. Cross also raises the less-than-stellar track record of central banks in maintaining financial stability. Canada’s economy is furthermore hampered by inefficient carbon taxes and legal/regulatory uncertainty around pipelines, as noted by Cross and Joseph Quesnel.

Indigenous communities are particularly concerned about the environmental assessment process for natural resource projects, which are important to their own livelihoods – a point also raised by Quesnel.

According to Nigel Rawson, the government’s proposals on pharmacare do little to fix the problem of transparency and accountability in the current system. It also raises the prospect that Ottawa is moving in the direction of a national pharmacare scheme. If that is pursued, Speer foresees new problems for policy-makers.

Marcus Kolga argues that more needs to be done to safeguard our election system from interference. Kolga and Josh Gold also describe the dangers posed by Russian disinformation. Yet, as Kaveh Shahrooz notes, we must also be on guard against other countries, such as Iran.

China poses a particularly acute challenge to Canada, especially when it comes to our telecommunications network. For that reason, Christian Leuprecht and David Skillicorn recommend banning Huawei from our future 5G network. Ivy Li also outlines the dangers that Huawei poses to Canadian citizens who have ties to China. We need to be honest with our mistakes in dealing with China – from our appeasing attitude that is examined by Charles Burton to what Arthur Cockfield describes as our willful blindness to Chinese money laundering.

We should also reassess how we approach other countries. As Shahrooz notes, the left’s failure to be honest about the nature of the Maduro regime in Venezuela is a good case in point.

To read the articles in full, check out our March issue of Inside Policy here.

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