Has foreign military aid helped National security or undermine it?

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Each year, the United States government allots billions of dollars from their national budget towards foreign military aid. As a means to defend the country’s national security during a tumultuous financial crisis, the overspending on security seemed to be an unnecessary risk to undertake. The United States has been active in providing foreign military since World War II, with the implementation of the Marshal Plan. Today, the United States has continued to significantly provide aid to the Middle East, Pakistan, and Afghanistan as the war on terror continues. While there have been some threats made to the United States in recent years, one tends to questions whether the amount of this funding is cohesive to the internal threat level. Furthermore, it is questionable whether the billions of dollars being spent for security is a necessary expenditure for an already damaged economy, or whether it can be better used within the country for to aid essential citizen needs.  In recent years, politicians and scholars alike have begun to question this idea and whether the United States is overextending their patriotic muscle. The United States foreign policy must address whether there is a need to continue funding other nations military’s at the expense of American taxpayers. It is also relevant to address whether the United States is further ‘fueling’ tensions in the Middle East, specifically between funding Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, countries who already have a history of hostile relations. Even though the payout for American arms is beneficial to the country, it should be discussed whether these profits are ethical or even economically sustainable long term. Military assistance to foreign nations has had a profound effect on the United States as it has created increasing pressure and controversy in the nation. Middle Eastern countries feel the need to outdo one another in terms of their military strength, using the American’s as a source for artillery, essentially acting as a middleman or a war lord. In fact the United States is the largest exporter of weapons; and it willingly supplies many hostile hotspots in the Middle East with arms. It is reasonable to question whether Americans would feel comfortable in their role as an instigator to violence and impending threat, while military contractors and arms dealers have provided the weapons as a means of military weapons .

My three arguments: National interest has been undermined through the foreign military aid, it has threatened national security, divested the economy and the fund can be used much more efficiently.

Thesis: The continuation of supporting foreign military aid ultimately undermines American National Security devastates the American economy and lastly the aid can help both national security and boost the economy.

Before examining foreign military aid, it is vital to recognize that the United States has historically been providing foreign military assistance to protect national interests and security. The Marshall plan provides the best example in which the United States provided billions of dollars to support Western Europe as a means to recover their economy after World War II. The Marshall plan became a success due to the circumstances Europe had, which was its inability to rebuild itself without foreign capital as the war had devastated there economy. In response, the United States provided 4 to 5 billion dollars of imports to Western Europe per year. There are multiple reasons why the United States wanted Europe to be self-sustainable, three key reasons. To ensure Europe continues to trade with the United States, secondly ensure that European nations are able to pay back there debt and thirdly to make Europe pro-American to counter the Soviet threat. It was in the United States national interest to rebuild post war Europe’s economy as they where the biggest importers of American goods. The Marshall plan was a complete success to rebuilding war torn European States; providing foreign aid was justifiable to protecting American interests and strengthen national security. However, once we compare the circumstances of post war Europe to and the war on terror banner it is evident that the circumstances do not justify the need for military aid. The United States has been providing weapons rather then providing needed goods or services, especially as the Middle East is experiencing Arab spring and an already constrained economy. According to the International Monterey Fund (IMF), the Middle East and Pakistan economy has dropped between 24-5% as of 2011, mainly due to lower oil prices, high unemployment as a result of revolts, and flooding in Pakistan. Europe did not need arms but rather capital and goods as well as services to restore their economy; this lead to economic miracles in Germany and Japan, providing weapons is simply useless to the Middle East. The United States has argued that the military aid is to help nations combat terrorism however to effectively remove terrorist they need to ensure the local population are not supporting terrorists; hence the U.S needs to win the hearts of the local population. Providing weapons to the government that the local population detests merely strengthens their commitment towards supporting terrorists.  Providing weapons to nations such as Pakistan or the Middle East is questionable, if the Unites States is to ever reduce and win the war on terror they need the support of the local population. This can be achieved by simply giving Pakistan and the Middle East aid that would benefit there economy such as building schools rather then building bases that only strengthens terrorism.   Providing weapons to the Middle East and Pakistan has lead to the local population to becoming suspicious of the United States intensions. For example after the CIA had faked a vaccine drive in search of Bin Laden, the local population had become suspicious of any U.S aid and their own government’s inability to being sovereign. Once again when comparing post war Europe, it appears that the United States failed to pursuit pro-American sentiments within the Middle East and Pakistan. Unlike the Marshall, plan which improved the economy and American sentiments in Europe it failed in the Middle East simply because military assistance was useless to the region. Providing military assistance to the Middle East and Pakistan was not justifiable as the Marshal plan had been and only arose suspicion and ultimately undermined American national security.

If the United States continues to provide weapons to Israel, the Middle East and Pakistan they create a viscous cycle of increased tensions that may escalate to a war within the region. Tensions between Israel, Iran, the United States and Saudi Arabia have dramatically increased this year alone as Iran has been active in building up nuclear facilities. Israel has responded by a willingness to attack the facilities however the repercussion for an attack may plunge the gulf states harboring American bases to war. Although the United States has provided Israel and the Gulf States military aid on the rationalization to combat terror it has resulted on anxiety where neighbors may attack at any moment threatening to drag the United States to war. The United States cannot be dragged to another war especially as the war on terror has already costed the U.S trillions of dollars has yet to end; a war would only furthers damage national security and national interests. It has also been evident that the United States bases and embassies within the Middle East and Pakistan have become terrorist targets. For example, Hezbollah who has been an Iranian-backed army of guerrilla fighters have been attacking Israel bases including American installations.  Hezbollah has the capability to fire 45,000 rockets from Lebanon while expressing there willingness to aid Iran if war where to ever occur. The United States has also had their embassy and military bases targeted by terrorists. For example in September 13, 2011 the Taliban had attacked Kabul attacking NATO headquarters and the U.S embassy escalating the 10-year insurgency. This establishes a cold reality for the United States, even as Bin Laden the leader of Al-Qaeda is killed, the war on terror continued and will continue as long as the United States supplies weapons to the region, which has only increased tensions. United States must recognize that military aid will not win them the war but rather prolong it; they must recognize the need to remove support for terrorism. If the Unites States wants to successfully combat terrorism, they must aid nations suspected of harboring terrorists develop their education and economy. By helping a nations evolve their economy this would in turn win the hearts and minds of the people ultimately reducing prolonged U.S interference in the region, which also eases tensions between Iran and Israel. Providing foreign military aid has undermined national security, unlike the Marshall plan, funding the Middle East and Israel has only fueled suspicion and tensions in the region, which will only grow as terrorist attacks increase.

The United States has heavily funded the Middle East especially states that host American bases on the banner of combating “the war on terrorism”. The Costs for the United States into providing military aid has been 15 billion per year. The United States also has 662 overseas military bases in 38 countries since 2010, elaborating the U.S global military reach. It has been often cited that the United States invests over 700 billion on its military the largest in the world however the recent recession in 2008 has questioned on whether the U.S is able to maintain such a large military presence as well as if such basis are necessary for U.S National security

The so-called ‘war on terror’ has led the United States to spending trillions with little progress to an end to the war, another aspect is hosting over (700) bases already costing billions. These costs are further increased by the United States generous military assistance which have been mostly been given to Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In fact, the recent military assistance static has been a total of 15 billion dollars.

The United States has Continued to fund the gulf region, while at the same time the Middle East has spent over 132 Billion on military rearmament as a response from Iran. The process of providing weapons to regions that are politically unstable can undermine the United States National security as what had historically occurred when the U.S supplied Al-Qaeda with weapons. Providing funding and weapons to these regions can have sever consequences especially as the Arab Spring is still in process meaning these nations may use these weapons to harm their own civilians.

The Middle East has one vital resources that the world craves oil, in which Saudi Arabia owns 14% of the world’s oil. Unlike post war Europe, Saudi Arabia continually exports 230 billion dollars worth of oil; meaning they have a healthy and lucrative economy. Although an argument can be made that, the United States provides foreign military aid into protecting  The United States has heavily funded the Middle East especially states that host American bases on the banner of combating “the war on terrorism”. The so-called ‘war on terror’ has led the United States to spending trillions with little progress to an end to the war, another aspect is hosting over (700) bases already costing billions. These costs are further increased by the United States generous military assistance which have been mostly been given to Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In fact, the recent military assistance static has been a total of 15 billion dollars.

Sources:

Fred Block, “Economic Instability and Military Strength: The Paradoxes of the 1950 rearmament decision”, Politics and society, 10:1, 1980, pp 159.

http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/reo/2011/mcd/eng/mreo1011.htm 

http://www.elecdem.eu/media/universityofexeter/elecdem/pdfs/giacomochiozzatraining/How_to_Win_Hearts_and_Minds.pdf

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jan/15/world/la-fg-pakistan-ngos-20120115 

http://go.galegroup.com.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA274115755&v=2.1&u=utoronto_main&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w 

http://www.elecdem.eu/media/universityofexeter/elecdem/pdfs/giacomochiozzatraining/How_to_Win_Hearts_and_Minds.pdf

http://gbk.eads.usaidallnet.gov/data/fast-facts.html

http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/DT_01_01_2012_p42-400663.xml

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Middle East and its dwindling Oil Reserves

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Middle East oil producers are finding it much harder to compete globally, especially as the largest oil producer in the region Saudi Arabia is running out. The Middle East and OPEC are no longer a Cartel, they have been steadily losing market share to new oil producers. In particular, the Shale boom in the United States poses a direct challenge to Middle East oil producers. The increased supply of oil combined with lack of market share forces oil reliant States into a crisis of economic uncertainty. Oil producing States have recently begin to recognize their vulnerability, however; they have done very little to diversify. The lack of action can be attributed to a historical trend of higher oil prices giving the illusion that Oil producing States have a longer time span to act on diversifying their investments. Political infighting and the Arab spring are another contributing factor towards slow action in diversifying Middle Eastern economies. It has been estimated that in 2030, Saudi Arabia will completely run dry of oil, this estimate is becoming more likely as no new oil wells have been discovered. Oil production in the Middle East are completely dependent on Oil income. For instance, 90% of Saudi Arabia’s export is oil. In the next decade or so, this dependance on Crude oil, a non-renewable resource will collapse the Saudi economy, leaving the region with little to no resource. Saudi Arabia’s second largest export other then crude based products is agriculture making a mere 3.7% of GDP in 2009. Saudi Arabia’s main agricultural exports are wheat, dates, dairy products, eggs, fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables and flowers, however; this is in decline. The agriculture industry itself is a challenge for Saudi Arabia, as the kingdom lacks water, in fact it rains an average of four inches of water per year; one of the lowest in the world. A healthy and growing agriculture economy requires large amounts of water, this sector can not be sustainable for the costs associated with water, has made its agricultural industry uncompetitive within a global market.

I would be cautious in provide a solution to these issues, yet one can recommend the following:

 Expand innovation: Increase funding for schools, attract scholars, R&D

– Utilize Wealth reserves into building up a diversified stock portfolio

However, even with such recommendations, the biggest challenge appears to be the lack of good governance; where policymakers who are qualified are ignored by elites who have their own agenda’s.

 

Is Israel’s Constitution becoming strained under the Religious right?

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The Israeli’s identity is a complex matter, with numerous scholars attempting to give it meaning with little success. Researchers from diverse backgrounds considered Israeli identity through numerous approaches: religious, cultural, geological, socially constructed, or a mixture of various approaches—Yet a single, definitive identity was not possible. Israel politically calls itself a “democratic and Jewish State” and as a result, the only institution which has a monopoly on interpreting the Jewish State is the Supreme Court. The identity of Israel as both “democratic and Jewish” is a delicate balance, and as such the Supreme Court plays a vital role in maintaining this political and religious balance. Ultra-religious groups, specifically the Haredim, threaten to tip the balance, so that Israel will increasingly be more religious and less democratic. The Haredim’s most significant obstacle is the Supreme Court which is the defender of Western Liberalism. The consequences of the Haredim gaining power include weakening the Supreme Court’s judicial activism, moving Israel towards theocracy by establishing Halachic laws and distorting the fragile identity of Israel as a “democratic and Jewish state”.

It is vital to recognize, that the Supreme Court’s importance is defined by Judicial activism—that is it utilizes entrenched laws to determine legal and legislative decisions legality. As Israel has no Constitution, one would assume that Israel has a weak judicial branch with a very centralized legislative and executive branch; however, this is not the case as Israel utilizes judicial activism. This is evident when investigating the history of the Supreme Court, and the transformation of the Judicial branch, which makes Israel exceptional. In the 1950s and 1960s the High Court of Justice (HCJ) avoided judicial activism and preferred to restrain itself. It was also very difficult to have a case heard by the HCJ, as the courts at the time where very strict and had guidelines regarding “standing”, which placed the burden of proof on the victim when a violation took place. One primary reason why the HCJ was so reluctant was due to its vision, where it saw itself as a problem solver; however, at the same time not to challenge the other branches of government due to fear of criticism from those branches. Generally a Constitution in other democracies empowers the Judicial branch; having a ‘supreme law’ gives Justices power to override the law on the basis that a legislation is in violation of the Basic Laws. Remarkably Israel attempted to establish a Constitution as early as 1949; however; due to political infighting and Prime Minister Ben-Gurion opting to wait until the Jews of the diaspora returned, a formal Constitution was not enacted. One can argue that the years leading to the foundation of the State were marked by chronic instability, and as such it would not be in the interest of Ben-Gurion to have a Constitution that aims to limit government powers. The Supreme Court saw itself as a neutral institution; it increasingly saw itself as a referee between the Knesset and Executive branch. Due to the dysfunctional system of Israeli institutions the increasing competition between the branches and their political manipulation and bargaining. This meant judicial branch could no longer hold a neutral position and took an active role in implementing policy. Gideon Doron recognizes this shift of the Supreme Court from a neutral party into a “power broker and policymaking”. One can see how the instability of the two branches (Knesset and Executive) helped give the Justice new tools such as formulating policy.

The most significant catalyst for change within the Supreme Court has been Aharon Barak whom played a critical role when he became President of the Supreme Court (1978-1995). Barak played a vital role in reforming the Supreme Court and he was credited towards advocating for judicial activism and strengthening the powers of the judicial branch. Judicial activism refers to the ability of the Supreme Court to veto laws that it interprets as violating the Basic Laws. The Basic Laws include: Knesset (1958); Lands of Israel (1960); President of the State (1964); Government (1968, 1992, 2001); State Economy (1975); the Army (1976); Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel (1980); Judgment (1984); State Comptroller (1988); Freedom of Occupation (1992); Dignity of Man and his Freedom (1992). Israeli Supreme Court has the power to veto laws that violate the Basic Laws. Barak helped entrench the Basic Laws, as Constitution-like without having to have a Constitution, calling it “a cripple Constitution”. He was a secular Jew, and wanted to ensure that Israel maintains a democratic practices. Barak emphasized that by having a State of Israel as a ‘democracy and as Jewish state’ it would make the two seemingly incompatible identities clash until there were common values that would unite secular and religious Jews. Barak saw the importance of the Supreme Court not in its transformation into becoming a ‘powerbroker’ but rather its the ability to shape and change Israeli liberal identity.

The values that direct the judge are the fundamental values. They are not the results of a public opinion survey. They are not populism carrying away the masses. They are not changing styles. They are not sensational newspaper headlines. All of these are important. They may, in the long term, permeate and alter the soul of the nation.

Barak emphasizes on the idea that the Basic Laws, are meant to protect Israeli’s individual rights. For example, Israeli society does not have one Jewish culture or identity but rather many different types— these are secular Jews, religious Jews, Arabs, Catholic and ethnic Jews. One can see that the Basic laws are a means to bridge the diverse populace into a nationalistic Israeli identity. In effect, the people of Israel are directly and indirectly influenced by the Supreme Court. They are directly influenced by the courts legal decisions, and indirectly influenced by its ability to reconcile various cultural subgroups. The Supreme Court’s influence also allows for the benefits given to nations that have an active judicial Court, such as freedom of expression. Without a powerful judicial branch that has the ability to intervene, it would be difficult for citizens to critique or express their frustration with government. Most Israelis, no matter their background, religion or ethnicity are able to express themselves without the fear of prosecution and thus freedom is the result of the Supreme Court. In this aspect one can argue that Israel leads other democracies in the realm of freedom of expression. The Supreme Court strengthened the identity of Israeli nationality by protecting rights, which are strongly entrenched within the State. The Supreme Court has a weakness, the ultra-religious Haredim who have strongly opposed the legitimacy and rulings of the HCJ.

The Haredim or Haredi, are an ultra-religious group, they dress in black, they are concentrated mainly in Jerusalem, N’nei and other small pockets in Israel. It is also important to recognizes there are also types of Haredi who reject or integrate into modern society. The Haredim make up 6% of the population are becoming more organized and have impacted politics. The Haredim are one of the poorest group in Israel and heavily rely on State pension and subsides. Mechachem Mautner, the Haredim gained increasing powerful since the annexation of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six day war which lead to religious fundamentalism. As a result of the annexed territory did not only lead to increased nationalism, liberal ideology but also lead a religious movement. The Haredim pose a challenge to the Supreme Court because they are ideologically against the ideas of liberal movements. For instance Rabbi Avraham Ravitz who was a member of the United Torah Jewry Party stated: “The Supreme Court has to understand that it is influenced by a [liberal] culture that not all of Israeli society shares”. As a result there is a large conflict between the Haredim and those of secular Jews that will ultimately lead to a struggle that will define the identity and culture of Israel.

This ultra-religious group have increasingly become weary of the powers of the Supreme Court, especially within the realm of religion, family law and gender rights—which have been traditionally the rabbinical court’s jurisdiction. The Haredim have been very critical of the Supreme Court on the issue of Yeshiva students entering the Israeli Self Defines Force (IDF). Yeshiva allows its students to defer military service if they are full time students. The Supreme Court on February, 21, 2012 has suspended the Tal Law, a statue that requires to be renewed every five years, which allowed the yeshiva students to delay entering the IDF. By suspending the Tal Law, it makes yeshiva students obligated to join the military. This greatly angered the Haredim whom where quick to critique the HCJ’s ruling, they quickly mobilized to protest. March 2, 2014 the ultra-religious Haredim had a protest about seminary student exceptions from military service, between 250,000-400,000 Haredim attended. This type of protesting hurts the image and legality of the Supreme Court in three ways. First the image of such large protests influences the Justices decision making. For instance the protesting affects the Judges mind-set where they are less inclined in the future to favour such laws according to Jonathan Rosenblum. According to Rosenblum, the protesting affects a judges decision-making, as such they would be more cautious towards Haredim, when making a judgement that may affect the group. Secondly, public opinion could be sympathetic to the Haredim. Thirdly and most, critically Haredim have a strong influence politically and tend to centralize the votes within Degel Hatorah, Agudat Yisrael and Shas which are religious political parties. For example, as a result of the protesting regarding military enrolment of Yeshiva students; the three parties issued a joint declaration disallowing seminary students from enrolling in the IDF as a direct challenge to the Supreme Court ruling. Political parties have attempted to curb the powers and influence of the HCJ, on issues of Court and religion. For instance in 1999, the Supreme Court changed the 1947 Status Quo Agreement, which gave exclusive right handling all private collective religiously related affairs. This lead to massive protesting from the Haredim for the first time gathering the same number of Jews with the 2014 Supreme Court ruling on Yeshiva students. This led to two Knesset members one religious the other right to draft a bill to limit the Supreme Court by creating a special High Court for Constitutional Affairs—this occurred as a direct result of protesting by Haredim. One can no longer debate the close relations of the Haredi and political groups. Religious Political Parties have sense been playing a critical role in advancing Haredim interests and agendas.

Driving the conflict is the growing power of two diametrically opposed forces. Fervently Orthodox parties have enjoyed tremendous influence in the support for their budgetary priorities and seeking to formalize in law their control of Jewish religious Institutions. (Michael S. Arnold)

According to Michael S. Arnold, Jewish Exponent Correspondent, the Haredim have become politically powerful. This is evident from the concessions the Haredi have been able to gain from government, especially on religious matters, as a result of their well-organized lobbying. To recap the Haredi undermine the Supreme Court in three ways, by holding protests to pressure Judges and to gather sympathy from the public and use political parties to drag undermine the Judicial branch.

If the Supreme Court’s powers are undermined Israel will move towards a theocracy, the balance of Israel as democratic and Jewish will be tilted towards a religious State. As such the demographics of Israel are changing, where the natural increase in population of religious Jews has increased where infants in Israel account for 30% belonging to Ultra-Orthodox families. It is clear that the future of Israel in 2030 has a possibility of moving Israel towards a theocracy, however as of now Israel is not a theocratic State. The reasons to why Israel is not theocratic is due to its rooted liberal institutions that predate the Israeli state—under the British controlled Palestine. The entrenched institutions help shape the Israeli culture, as mentioned earlier directly or indirectly, as such Israeli’s root their identity through being a democracy. Most importantly political parties such as Shas, which is the most prominent Haredim party, has not forcibly advocated Halachic Laws. As such there is evidence to suggest that Israel is not heading towards a theocracy. The Haredim are simply not willing to compromising on issues regarding religious authority on matters of family law, gender equality in Jerusalem, marriages, divorces and questions on who ‘who is a Jew’. Whenever the Haredi feel the court infringes on issues that are of religious domain or if they go against Halacha (Jewish Laws) they will ignore or threaten the court. One questions whether the Courts supremacy on interoperation is being challenged by an ever-growing religious-right Knesset and the powerful lobbying of the Haredim.

The Idea of Israel as Jewish and democratic has become dominated with the conflicts between the Supreme Court and the Haredim. The Court acts as an equilibrium on the issues of religion and rights protected under the Basic Laws. As a result the HCJ attempts to be as delicate as possible to maintain the status qua of being democratic and Jewish. According to Aharon Barak:

In solving hard cases, it is appropriate for the judge to utilize his discretion in choosing from multiple linguistic meanings that which realizes the purpose of the legislation. To this purpose, the interpreter stands apart from the drafter, the history, and the fundamental values of the system. In this framework, each one receives interpretative inspiration from Jewish Law.

Barack, emphasis that the HCJ and Jewish law collides together to create a decision that attempts to satisfy a requirement of democratic values and Jewish values. The Court recognize that Israel has a majority Jewish population; however, it also recognizes that there is a large minority that are Arab and Israeli. As such the Court’s have a responsibility to be impartial, impersonal and judge decisions based on the common good for Israel.

When looking at the complex nature of Israeli identity, we recognize that it has become a battle filed between secular and religious ideologies. We recognize that these institutions include the Knesset, the Executive branch, the Israeli Self Defence Force the Histadrut, the Kibbutz, Political Parties and the Supreme Court, all these consortiums contribute to the Israeli identity. Institutions were not only created or shaped by the populace but also are also reciprocal where the institution itself shaped the Israeli identity and moulding the populace. In self-avowedly religious political State of Israel, the nature of its political institutions is closely related to its religion. We have discussed how the mechanisms of the Supreme Court, judicial activism and the challenges posed by the Haredim. In many ways the future of Israel will continue to be a dividing and dominate issue and as such the identity of the State can not be answered until the the divide between religion and democracy is bridged.

Works Cited

Arnold, Michael S. “Haredim Flex their Political Muscles.” Jewish Exponent: 1. Feb 18 1999. ProQuest. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.

“Aharon Barak.”. Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Web. 10 02, 2014. http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/mfaarchive/1998/pages/aharon%20barak%20-%20president%20of%20the%20supreme%20court.aspx

Barak, Aharon. “The Role of the Supreme Court in a Democracy.” Israel Studies. 3.2 (1998):  Web. 10 Feb. 2014. http://muse.jhu.edu.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/journals/israel_studies/v003/3.2barak.html.

Balmer, Crispain. “Ultra-Orthodox Jews stage mass protest against Israeli draft law.” Reuter [JERUSALEM] 02 Mar 2014 Web. 10 Feb. 2014. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/02/us-israel-conscription-idUSBREA210I820140302.

Bystrov, Evgenia. Israel : Demography 2012-2030 : On the Way to a Religious State. Ed. Arnon Sofer, Murray Rosovsky, and Universi?at ?efah. Haifa: Chaikin Chair in Geostrategy, 2012.

Doron, Gideon. “Judges in a Borderless State: Politics Versus the Law in the State of Israel.” Israel Affairs 14.4 (2008): 587-601.

Garfinkle, Adam M. Politics and Society in Modern Israel : Myths and Realities. 2nd ed. ed. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2000.

Israel since 1980. Ed. Guy Ben-Porat. Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

“Israel: Supreme Court Decision Invalidating the Law on Haredi Military Draft Postponement.” Library of Congress, 28 02 2014. Web. 10 Feb 2014.http://www.loc.gov/law/help/haredi-military-draft.php

Mautner, Menachem. Law and the Culture of Israel. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Meydani, Assaf. The Israeli Supreme Court and the Human Rights Revolution: Courts as Agenda Setters. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

SHARON, JEREMY . “Haredi rabbis issue ban on IDF service for yeshiva students .” Jersolume Post” 02 25 2014, Web. 10 Feb. 2014. http://www.jpost.com/National-News/Haredi-rabbis-issue-ban-on-IDF-service-for-yeshiva-students-342449 .

Smooha, Sammy. “The Model of Ethnic Democracy: Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State.” Nations and Nationalism 8.s4 (2002): 475-503.

Soffer, Oren. “Judicial Review of Legislation in Israel: Problems and Implications of Possible Reform.” Israel Affairs 12.2 (2006): 307-29.

Minority Groups transformation into Charter Canadians

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The Charter of Rights and Freedoms has had an immense and profound effect on Canadian equality. Quite simply, the Charter limits government power and increases individual rights, ultimately guaranteeing these rights for Canadians, within reason. The Charter is a very important document as it is the supreme law in Canada, allowing the Supreme Court to carry the ability to supersede unconstitutional laws. Many have discussed the increasing misconception that the creation of the Charter has had harmful effects on Canadians. However, these critics are ignoring the intent and the impact that Charter of Rights and Freedoms has on Canadian democracy. Although, in recent years it has failed to consider all minority groups within society, its intent is positive and just. Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s objective in the creation of the Charter was to unite Canadians through equality whilst attempting to overcome a difficult period in the country’s history. In this respect, the Charter has succeeded. A uniting factor for Canada is equality rights, especially since the nation has a number of multicultural groups representing its demographic population. The Charter of Rights and Freedom has had two primary functions – one to unite Canadians and secondly, to protect the values of a society through equality. In the second respect, the Charter still has many hurdles to overcome, specifically those of gay rights. One can see how the Charter’s challenges the discrimination of most minority groups and aids them in their plight to gain equality. But there have been key minority groups who have been left to fend for themselves in the eyes of the law. There have been a series of poignant events that led to the 1982 Charter, yet there are still many more to overcome. The Charter has attempted to incorporate a wide variety of clauses to aid many minority groups, but it does need to be adaptable to changing ideals and viewpoints. Ultimately, it is the improvements that can be made to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that will ultimately define whether the government truly seeks to provide all citizens a sense of inclusion and equality.

Before elaborating how the Charter had affected equality rights to Canadians, it is essential to look at how and what lead up to its creation. The Charter was a created as a direct response to Quebec’s threat of independence from Canada. As stated by Trudeau, “When the erstwhile territorial state, held together by divine right, tradition and force, gave way to the nation-state based on the will of the people, a new glue had to be invented which would bind the nation together on a durable basis.” The Charter of Rights and Freedoms acted as the ‘glue’ that Trudeau believes will bind Canadians from province to province. In his eyes, the Charter was the greatest hope for a symbol of unity amongst Canadians. In a sense, Quebec’s resistance from the rest of Canada stemmed from that lack of explicitly defined equality rights in Canadian law. “Why do some advocate total independence for Quebec? It is because they have had enough of begging and lame compromises. It is because they have lost their hope of feeling at home throughout Canada. It is because they want to leave their minority status, their situation of dependence.” In Quebec view, English speakers heavily dominated Canadian politics, making Québecois feel as if they were minorities under English authority. Daniel Johnson, former Premier of Quebec, also elaborated that a Charter is needed to help mend relations with French and English speakers. “Also, I continue to believe in the possibility of a dialogue and establishing in Canada a new constitution which would set up from the top, for the entire country, a truly bi-national body, where the agents of both cultural communities could work together, on equal footing, to manage their common interest.” According to Johnson, Quebec needs equality on the same levels of their English counterparts and the best resolution is to form a Charter. The Charter of Rights and Freedom, “recognizes primary fundamental freedoms (e.g. freedom of expression and of association), democratic rights (e.g. the right to vote), mobility rights (e.g. the right to live anywhere in Canada), legal rights (e.g. the right to life, liberty and security of the person) and equality rights, and recognizes the multicultural heritage of Canadians. It also protects official language and minority language education rights. ” In the creation of a Charter, Trudeau alleviated the tense situation and reassured that Quebec’s cries of discrimination would no longer be an issue threatening the separation of Canada.

With the Charter, came a new outspoken group of Canadian’s defined by Alain Carins as ‘Charter Canadians’. This group act on the behalf of minority groups within Canada to dissect the Charter to ensure that each and every Canadian was well represented in this document. Specifically, women, Aboriginals and gay rights were some of the minority groups that the Charter Canadians believed were underrepresented within the Charter. Obviously, many felt that, like the Québecois, the Charter Canadians threatened the unification of Canada. F.L Morton critiques their role further in stating that “these ‘Charter Canadians’ have opposed constitutional amendment that would ‘weaken’ the Charter or the Court.” However, Charter Canadians do prove to be valuable, especially in the context of the Charter, as under Section 2b, Canadians are encouraged to practice their Freedom of Thought within an equality-based society. Charter Canadians are interested in simply fighting for minority groups. They are not infringing on the rights of other Canadians nor harming their rights and freedoms in their efforts to equalized Canada for the better.

Other than the Charter Canadians, minority groups themselves fight for representation within the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It should be noted that the most updated version of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms fails to recognize gay rights, much less marriage. As a result, action have been taken against the Government and Courts by individuals to identify such issues within the Charter. On October 3, 2001, EGALE Canada Inc., a group of Lesbians and Gays claiming the right to get married, filed a claim against the government stating that gay rights were underrepresented within the Charter. This interest group argued that the Charter allowed leeway for discrimination and harmful actions to be taken against homosexual Canadians. The Charter also did not clarify whether it was a right of homosexual Canadians to marry legally in the eyes of the Canadian government. The court ruled that same-sex marriage was allowed and denying homosexuals this right would be infringing on the Charter under Section 15, regardless of the fact that gay rights is not included in the “without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability” clause.

Many Canadians continue to assert that in order to absolutely ensure that homosexual Canadians do not suffer the ramifications of homophobic ideals, that gay rights be included outright within Section 15. The Federal Government has left it to the responsibility of the provinces themselves to designate that gay rights are protected under the context of each Provincial Human Rights Codes. However,  the Canadian Parliament has commented to the effect that “all Canadian jurisdictions prohibit discriminatory treatment based on sexual orientation, and the introduction of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms significantly altered the legal framework in matters of equality rights for lesbians and gay men.” Yet, the government has yet to include gay rights outwardly within the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. One could take this passive manner to indicate that the Canadian government still designates the inclusion of gay rights as a matter not pertaining the rights and freedoms of Canadians. This viewpoint could be seriously contested as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is intended to set precedence and quite simply, an example for Canada as a whole as provinces should act in accordance to Federal positions and codifications.

As a result, many provinces have taken to the inclusion of gay rights in the Provincial Human Rights Code idly and apathetically. Alberta’s Premier Ralph Klein, fought against the inclusion of same-sex marriage within the province’s Human Rights Code.  He allowed his own extreme position on the issue to impede on proper inclusion of all Canadians. Moreover, he purposely excluded and undermined gay rights within Alberta simply because he disagreed with the matter. Unfortunately, his views ultimately impeded on the mindsets of Albertans who only had 38% of the population accepting same-sex marriage. To exemplify this fact further, in 2009, Alberta became the last of the provinces to include the acceptance same-sex marriage within the Alberta Human Rights Code. This only further illustrates that Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms needs to stand as an example for the entirety of the country rather than relying on the provinces themselves to outline the issue within their own Human Rights Code. The failure to include gay rights within the Charter allows provinces to outright discriminate against particular minority groups based on simpleminded and biased views of the few. It allows such behavior and discriminations to prosper, thus acting against what the Charter strives to achieve.

The media and demonstrations have increased and gathered strength for gay rights and same-sex marriage. For instance, Television series began to portray homosexuals in less stereotypical terms. Gay newspapers became increasingly popular in cities such as, Xtra Canada’s gay and lesbian newspaper that are available in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver for free to further raise awareness to Canadians on equality rights. Canada has been very prominent in increasing awareness and issues for gay rights even celebrating homosexuality. The first Gay pride celebration in North America occurred in August 1972 in Toronto. In current day the event attracts more then 750,000 people. Canada has been in the forefront in accepting gay rights, specifically same-sex marriage which has become such a global phenomenon. Media is a very powerful tool that can influence people and politicians. In 2006 when the Conservatives came into power they introduced a motion seeking to re-define marriage between a man and a women instead of persons.  Members of Parliament (MP) in a free vote ultimately defeated this motion; demonstrators and media had influenced the MPs decision. However, the current Charter in place does not correspond with the current progressive reputation that Canada has gained from public support towards gay marriage. It is important to understand that the Charter of Rights and Freedom according to the Supreme Court should be reflective to Canadian values. “That our Constitution is a living tree which, by way of progressive interpretation, accommodates and address the realities of modern life” The Charter is meant to be dynamic and reflecting Canadian values, yet the Charter fails to recognize same-sex marriage, which a majority of Canadians have already accepted.

While the Charter has made great strides to strengthen Canadian unity, it has failed in a large respect towards gay rights. A great portion of the Canadian population has been disregarded and discriminated against as a result of the government’s lack of regard for their best interest. Although the Charter attempts to “guarantee the rights and freedoms set out in the subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”, they fail to do so in this respect. The Charter of Rights and Freedom is the mirror reflecting Canadian values to the rest of the world in its efforts to ensure that all Canadians are treated equally. It is not to be misunderstood that the Charter cannot resolve this issue. There needs to be amendments made to the Charter in order to ultimately solve the exclusion of gay rights from a national document. Without the revision, it only leaves a large aspect of the Canadian population unaccounted for and easy targets of discrimination and persecution.

Are Free Trade Agreements good for Canada?

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The United States and Canada have a very strong relationship economically, politically and environmentally. They also share similar cultures as a result of trading. In 1989, the Free Trade Agreements (FTA) came into affect between Canada and the United States after years of intense public debates where many Canadians were divided on its obligations. Prime Minister Mulroney saw the FTA as a solution to building jobs, economic reforms and resolving the federal deficit. The Free Trade Agreement’s main purpose was to stimulate and increase cross-border trading as both nations have a common interest in establishing growth within their economies. The FTA would replace the practice of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), a system that regulated tariffs. The FTA does not simply impact Canadian economical factors, but also political, cultural and environmental issues with the United States. When comparing the benefits and downfalls of the Free Trade Agreement, it becomes clear that the FTA undermines Canada’s potential. The FTA has impacted Canada negatively through Americanization, unfair obligations and economical potential.

Before elaborating on the negative impacts the FTA agreement, it is essential to review the main objectives of why Canada and the United States joined forces in the agreement. Each country had key motives and interests when joining the FTA and by comparing these aspects, one gains a sense of understanding how the agreement was implemented. In particular, there are three major objectives that Canada and the United States procured within the FTA. First, the United States were keen on lowering federal and provincial quality standards, which they perceived as a barrier to trade. From the Canadian standpoint, Canada was interested in protecting sensitive cultural industries that saw American trade as a threat. Secondly, Canada sought to preserve the FTA by establishing a system to resolve trading disputes. Much of this was prompted by the United States requesting that Canada to keep their promise within the FTA to remove aggressive screening on American goods. Thirdly, Canada wanted to gain access to the United States lucrative markets and sought the removal of tariffs on goods. Similarly, the United States also wanted removal of high tariffs on goods exported to Canada. These objectives made by both sides clearly elaborate a win-win proposal, as both countries would benefit economically by increasing trade. However when analyzing these factors further, it is clear that the United States was set to reap the benefits while Canada was expected to make more sacrifices as a result. The implementation of the FTA has caused two key parties in Canada the Liberals led by John Turner opposed the FTA while Conservative led by Brian Mulroney supported the agreement. This led both parties to run on the platform of endorsing or opposing the FTA. The Liberals argued that if Canada were to join the FTA Canada would lose its sovereignty because of aggressive Americanization. While the Conservative assured Canadians that culture would be protected as the intent of the FTA will be to create and enhance prosperity.

Free Trade had a major impact on culture.  The reliance on American based cultural products as opposed to Canadian goods greatly impacts the Canadian identity. Cultural production consists of periodicals, books, films, and television programs; which further establish Americanization within the Canadian culture. For instance, the United States has historically been on the forefront of establishing film productions, music, dancing and even the Internet. Cultural production is vital to the United States as it turns over billions of dollars annually that helps pay American deficits within trades. This depicts the importance of American culture as being an influential agent not only to other cultures, but also as a key economical export that the United States relies upon. Graham Carr, who is a scholar on American and Canadian culture, asserts that Americanization within the FTA is vital part of United States foreign policy. “Far from being a secondary or isolated item on the international policy agenda, the cultural dossier has long held an important place in American diplomatic strategy and is increasingly integral to the overall framework of U.S commerce.” He suggests that the United States establishes and attempts to intertwine culture within politics and economics in order to reinforce the United States supremacy. Although the FTA does allow cultural industries to be exempt from the agreement yet it fails to protect Canadian industries in the same regard. “Canada has attempted to shelter its cultural industries from the provisions of both arguments…. This protection has failed.” Even if the FTA provides protection against Americanization in written text, it still significantly affects Canadian industries. The FTA promise to protect Canadian culture could be easily ignored as the United States attempted to redefine culture as ‘information’. By redefining culture into information, the United States can protect their vital resource and information as a broad term to include computers, software, media, music, dance, graphics and texts. This ‘information’ would also be liable to copyright laws and intellectual property laws.   

Americanization of cultural products has affected Canadian culture as well as its cultural industries. American firms lobbied for cultural products to be redefined as intellectual property or as a service considering it would save industries roughly twenty billion dollars a year. For instance, by redefining culture as information in the 1980’s, it was estimated that the United States saves globally, 700 million on sale of books and periodicals, 250 million on sales of sound recordings and nearly 1 billion dollars on film and video sales. This elaborates that the FTA agreement greatly benefits the United States while destroying any hopes for Canadian cultural products that would have to compete with American firms. A key concern with removing these tariffs on American products was that Canadian industry cannot compete with tariff-free American products leading to massive unemployment.

After the Free Trade Agreement came into full force, the debate in Canada shifted on the unfair obligations that the agreement forced onto Canada. The FTA prevented the Canadian government from altering or developing future resources and capital policies with other nations. For instance, the FTA agreement established a commitment to supply the American market with energy, even during times of shortage, making it very difficult for Canada to establish trade relations with other nations. The FTA also harmonized Canadian laws and product standards, degrading environmental and high-quality Canadian social services. For instance, The Pesticide Products Control Act had been harmonized to follow the American standards, which requires the balancing of health affects with economic losses in regards to the use of pesticide. In Canada, the use of pesticide was heavily regulated and held higher standards than the United States. However, as a result of the FTA, the Canadian standards eroded. The FTA agreement did not ensure complete access to the American market as it kept trade laws intact. This allowed the FTA to strike down Canadian laws or standards. For example, the Fisheries Act was implemented to ensure conservation and sustainability of Canadian fishers. An aspect of the act required for fish to be caught and biologically sampled to ensure they did not contain traces of asbestos. However, the regulations for fisheries and other environmental standards plummeted because of the FTA. A critical issue of the FTA made all trade disputes secretive and inaccessible to the public. This made it very difficult for lobbyists or political parties to run for platforms that would seek to resolve trade disputes. The FTA increased Canada’s dependence on American commerce, with over three-fourths of Canada’s trade tied with the United States. This dependence on one nation also brought in political pressure to conform certain trade policies. As witnessed in 1971, President Nixon imposed an import surcharge on all U.S imports, severely harming Canada’s economy during that period, with the FTA this dependence would only be amplified. The framework of the FTA established unfair laws and obligations, which only seemed to benefit the United States. These unfair obligations within the FTA committed Canada to supply the raw resources exclusively to the United States while lowering Canada’s standards on goods.

The FTA has excessively damaged Canadian cultural production, and lowered its policy standards, thus significantly affecting the environment all for the sake of economic prosperity. Since the implementation of the FTA in 1989, the Canadian and American economies have more then doubled. Although Canada’s economy has grown, there are severe consequences as a result of the FTA. From 1989 to 1998, Canadians disposable income has declined by 5% while the United States has enjoyed an increase of 12%, after adjusted inflation. This indicates that the promise of prosperity that the FTA was supposed to bring was one-sided, only benefiting the United States. For Canada, it appeared wise to sign the agreement in order to increase job opportunity.  Although this was the intention, between 1988 to 1995,  job creation in the manufacturing sector declined by 19% as a result of the FTA. The manufacturing sector was a critical sector in Ontario that many Ontarians depended on for jobs; yet, the FTA took many of these jobs to the United States.

The FTA has accomplished its intended purpose in some respect. Trade between Canada and United States has increased rapidly.  The exports of Canada to the United States increased to a whopping 139% from 1989 to 1995 as a direct result of the FTA.  However, even though trade between the two nations increased, this data suggests that job opportunity and income levels for Canadians dropped lower. American and Canadian firms shifted their branch corporations in favor of the highly lucrative American market. In the 1980’s, Canada was also experiencing a recession thus the move did not help the already unsteady time in the Canadian economy. The FTA has also undermined Canada with the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) levels, which fell from 21% to 14% of the North American share in 1990. This figure is a concerning as the FDI was meant attract business, boost capital and create jobs for Canadians. Before the implementation of the FTA, Canada’s FDI levels were much higher. When the numbers fell post-FTA, the American firms took advantage of Canada’s resources through liberalization, luring foreign investors to favor American firms over Canadian. It is important to recognize that Canada and the United States had three-quarters of trade already duty-free, while the tariffs imposed on other goods were implemented to help local industries compete with American goods. This implies that Canada implemented policies to help domestic corporations grow, yet were willing to sacrifice protection for Canadian industries in the hopes of gaining secure access to the American market. The access of the American market was a significant factor for Canada when joining the FTA. There were benefits to the FTA – reduction of tariffs and liberalization, specifically for Detroit and Windsor, where the bridges and ports between the two nations boosted trade. Although the American market is ten times larger then the Canadian market, there was still a large market that American firms recognized. Thus, gaining access to this market would allow a great opportunity for American firms to expand within Canada. Although the FTA resulted in a loss of jobs and lowered income, it is still too early to pinpoint whether it undermined Canada’s economy. Other factors, like the recession, may have played a major role in the downfall of Canada’s economy.

The Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the United States has destabilized Canada through Americanization, unfair obligations and economic potential. The Americanization of Canadian culture has made it difficult for Canadian cultural goods to compete within a free market concept. The FTA also imposed policies that harmonized Canadian standards and lowered environmental policies. For Canada, the FTA hurt the nations economical potential from 1989 to1995, leading to loss income, FDI disparity and loss of jobs in the manufacturing sector. When analyzing the FTA agreement, it is evident that it caused more harm than good. Reforms within the FTA would be essential if Canada were to ever benefit from the agreement.

Word Count: 1988 words

Works Cited

Brooks, S. (2009). Canadian Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Cameron, D. & Watkin M. (1993). Canada Under Free Trade. Toronto: James

Lorimer & Company Publishers.

Lemieux, R. (1999). Cultural exemptions in Canada. Parliamentary Information and

Research Services , Retrieved from: http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/LOP/ResearchPublications/prb9925-e.htm

MacDonald, I. (2000). Free trade: Risks and Rewards. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s

University

Press. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/lib/utoronto/docDetail.action?docID=10119854

Morici , P. (1990). Making Free Trade Work: The Canada-U.S. Agreement. New York:

Council on Foreign relations Press.

Nolle, D. (1990). The Canada-U.S Free Trade Agreement. New York: New York

University Press. p. 121

Winham, G. (1988). Trading with Canada: The Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.

New York: Priority Press Publications

Ontario’s monopoly on Alcohol is a positive impact?

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Implications of privatization of the LCBO:

There is an ongoing controversy on whether to privatize the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). Discussions tend to intensify during times of recession or when workers threaten to strike. The 2008 recession, and the recent threats by LCBO workers to go on strike makes this a perfect time to discuss whether Ontario should privatize liquor sales. It is vital to recognize the importance of liquor in Ontario and Western culture, as alcohol is often associated with socializing, yet overindulging has negative implications on health and social order. As a result, alcohol consumption requires a balance between pleasure and danger; this balance opens the question, should free trade govern liquor consumption? There is no simple answer to this question, as the ramification of privatizing liquor has economic, social, and cultural impact. Luckily, Ontario can study the privatization of the Alberta Liquor Control Board (ALCB) in 1993 to make an informed decision. Close examination of Alberta’s privatization of liquor leads to the conclusion that the privatization of the LCBO would jeopardize local spirit producers, lead to relaxed regulation on retail sales, and amplified costs associated with alcohol abuse. The LCBO prioritizes the well being of the general population over profits gained through alcohol sales.

Before analyzing the privatization of the LCBO, it is imperative to reveal the circumstances that led to the creation of liquor control in the province. During the 19th century, alcohol consumption reached a peak and public drunkenness was the norm. In fact families, including children, would often consume whisky in the morning in a manner similar to the consumption of coffee today. Politicians would also engage in drinking as a social activity. Sir John A. MacDonald was known to be a heavy drinker. In the 1830’s Taverns were so popular that people called them “public houses”, and there was one tavern for every 119 persons. The high levels of liquor consumption led to social disorder, violence, and family abuse; sparking the temperance movement in Ontario. The temperance movement was constantly described as the “moral voice” of Ontario, and it was often associated with women’s suffrage. The goal of this movement was prohibition of alcohol. The temperance movement was successful, and the Temperance Act of 1916 was passed into law, resulting in the banning of alcohol in Ontario. However, the law was not enforced until the fall of the William Hearst government in 1919. When the United Farmers of Ontario came to power, with E.C Drury as Premier, measures were taken to enforce the Act. At first Drury resisted the enforcement of prohibition, however later, discovering that lax regulations allowed for a bottle of wine to contain over 48% alcohol, he enforced prohibition. Prohibition was a complete failure due to smuggling and illicit trading, which resulted in a flourishing Black Market.

This also damaged Ontario’s relationship with the United States, as there was unlawful trading of alcohol within border towns of Ontario with little law enforcement. The ineffectiveness of prohibition led to a shift in public opinion and the failure of the referendum on the issue in 1923, led to the defeat of the Drury government. The new Premier Howard Ferguson, a Tory, supported a “wet” platform and established the LCBO in 1927 with strict government oversight.  Ferguson proposed the creation of the LCBO to the House of Commons:

“We are not here to push the sale of liquor. We are here to restrict it within reasonable bounds. We are here to eliminate all the abuses and excess it is possible to eliminate. We are here to protect particularly the rising generation of this country from being poisoned.”

Ferguson recognized the importance of liquor within a reasonable limit, however, he refused to allow businesses to regulate liquor. He knew that nothing would stop retailers from seeking profits, including illicit trading. Ferguson was himself a first hand witness to the failures of prohibition. The history of alcohol and its impact on politics is significant, yet the recent calls to privatize the LCBO threatens to undermine the reasons that led to the creation of the LCBO in the first place.

The LCBO has been credited with curbing the demand of public drinking by creating norms, and was critical in reshaping public drinking behavior. Post-prohibition focused not only on the concerns of drunkenness, but generally on all activities associated with alcohol. The provincial government and Ontarians were concerned with gambling, prostitution, and violence. This led the government to create commissions and strengthen the responsibility of the LCBO. For instance in 1934, the Liquor Control Act (LCA) gave municipalities in rural regions the authority to restrict alcohol usage in public spaces, and inns based on their discretion. Many rural communities in Ontario were largely opposed to having a local LCBO, and preferred a complete ban, as they feared alcohol would lead to public drunkenness. The LCBO responded to these concerns by creating a ‘beverage room’ in certain hotels and lodging areas, which could serve travelers alcohol. This allowed the LCBO to not only govern whom it was able to sell to, but also to designate specific areas where it was acceptable to drink. A curfew of 11p.m. was enforced to restrict the time allowed for drinking. These beverage rooms would prove critical in creating the proper environment and norms that made drinking safe and responsible.

Ontario can study the effects of privatization in Alberta, and more importantly why Premiers Mike Harris of Ontario, and Ralph Klein of Alberta came to such opposing beliefs on privatization. Mike Harris’s main objective was to reduce the deficit using what he called “the common sense revolution”. Harris’s platform was centered on reducing government spending and cutting taxation by selling public assets including the LCBO. Unexpectedly, Mike Harris did not sell the LCBO, but rather solidified its position as a publically owned corporation, thus providing critical funding for its development. In 1998-1999, the Harris government provided 50 million dollars a year towards restructuring, renovating shops, training employees and providing better selection of liquor, all in an effort to rebrand the LCBO for a favorable public opinion. Many Conservatives in the Mike Harris caucus were against privatizing the LCBO, as they wanted to restrict access to liquor, and ensure that regulations were not negligent. In Ontario, the public health community, LCBO unions, local spirit producers, and Conservative MPP’s helped ensure that the LCBO remained publically owned, and favoured reform. In Alberta, the sale of the ALCB became a key issue in influencing public perception of the Klein government’s attempt to reduce provincial deficit. Even though Alberta had the same interest groups (health care, local spirit producers, and unions), opposing privatization of the ALCB, their attempts proved futile in changing the mindset of conservative policymakers. Alberta’s stand on privatization was to increase job creation, and reduce government spending, which would aid in easing provincial deficit. Privatization of liquor would increase profits to the province, however it would lead to a greater spending in health care and law enforcement, to overcome alcohol abuse.

In Ontario, local spirit producers face the most risk from privatization, as local producers cannot compete with the prices set by the international market. Local producers also gain the advantage of selling their produce to one retailer. This allows for fair competition between international, and domestic produce seeing that all the products are displayed side by side. In 2013, the Ontario wine industry was worth 346 million dollars. Over half of the revenue came from the LCBO; only 60 million dollars was attributed to alcohol exported from outside the province, and the rest was attributed to the service industry, such as restaurants. The LCBO helps protect Ontario vineries from international competition, as France and the United States provide subsidies to their wine producers. The Ontario government launched an incentive to help further nurture the local wine industry, by having the LCBO add additional Ontario wine selections so that small vineries can succeed. The LCBO has supported local wine producers over international producers as a result the industry flourished; in 2003 there was only 66 wineries, while today, there are 140. Local producers help create jobs directly and indirectly through agriculture sector. Before privatization, Alberta’s wine industry was very small scale, privatization has forced wine producers to target tourists, and fruit based wines have become a niche market.

A key argument made by those supporting privatization has been that the liquor regulations of the province can still be maintained with private retailers. Alberta’s relaxed regulations led to a massive increase in alcohol consumption due to the major autonomy given to the private sector. In 2004, a poll was conducted by the AGLC (Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission) that said: “86% of Albertans said they felt that alcohol abuse was a serious problem, in the province, and 78% believed alcohol abuse was a serious problem in their community”. Alberta has the highest average of alcohol abuse cases which continues to rise, and will continue to do so unless new regulations are implemented. The AGLC has been vocal in expressing the need for stricter legislation, regulation, enforcement, and most importantly the control of liquor availability:

Population-based measures include legislation and regulation to

control the physical availability of alcohol (for example, restricting the clustering of retail alcohol outlets and the hours and days of sale). Pricing strategies and taxation are population-based measures that control the economic availability of alcohol, based on a considerable body of evidence, suggesting that demand for alcohol is sensitive to price. Other population-based measures involve information campaigns to influence social availability and promote responsible alcohol use.

Many of the measures the ALCB recommends are already being implemented by the LCBO. The report by the ALCB emphasizes the need for state intervention in the private sector. The reason behind the ALCB’s concern is an increasing number of fatalities and cases of alcohol abuse that have been financially draining the province. Alberta lost roughly 1.6 billion dollars in 2006, to treatment of alcohol abuse and increase in social services. Privatization has led to easier access to liquor and has been associated with underage drinking, which is a key issue in Alberta. The LCBO has been mostly successful in keeping underage drinking at a minimum; only 14% of high school students have been reported of illicit purchasing. It is difficult to find statistics on underage drinking in Alberta, however the AGLC conducted an audit in which 82% of private retailers have failed to check ID.  It is difficult for the province to regulate private retailers, especially employees who are untrained in detecting suspicious underage drinking. Private retailers may also find it difficult to turn away business. The LCBO trains its employees to detect underage drinking, as evident last year, as 290,000 Ontarians were turned away for showing inadequate proof of age. Privatizing the LCBO would undermine the vision of Premier Ferguson, whose goal was to ensure that liquor did not corrupt the society. His legacy lives on today, and his plan has worked to maintain order and good government, while allowing for controlled liquor consumption.

Today, the LCBO’s revenue is $4.892 billion, with 1.7 billion dollars in profit for the province. Despite the enormous profits the LCBO provides, those supporting privatization have argued that competition in the market would generate more income to the province. The basic argument for privatization is the end of the dominance of LCBO over the liquor market. This would allow competitive pricing, innovation and untapped revenue generated through taxation. According to a study commissioned in 2005 by the Ontario government, privatizing the LCBO would generate at least 200 million dollars per year in addition to what is already being generated. However, this study ignores the costs of health care and law enforcement as a result of alcohol abuse.

When examining the arguments made by those who favour privatization, it would be naïve to simply consider the economic potential of such a move without factorizing in the social impact. It is imperative to acknowledge that the LCBO has been an innovative institution. Between 1927 and 1991, the LCBO was described as an oppressive agency, as it controlled, “What one looks for, and where and how one looks for it, restricts the range of possibilities of what one finds”. Today’s LCBO is drastically different. When it was first created in 1927, it had a complex administration, with multiple commissions and boards.

The LCBO’s organization shifted into a corporation in 1991, when Andrew S. Brandt became the CEO and chairman. Brandt was credited with modernizing the LCBO into an innovative organization, and helped generate enormous revenue by simplifying management and integrating corporate strategies.  Between 1991 and 2006, the revenue has, grown from 1.8 billion to 3.6 billion. As a consequence of the restructuring, the LCBO continues to see record-breaking profits. As a result, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario has been a key donor to local communities and charities. The economic argument for privatization is that publically owned corporations are inefficient as they are bureaucratic, however this is not the case with the LCBO. The argument for privatizing the LCBO is that this would generate an additional income of 200 million dollars, and yet these costs will be nothing in comparison to the costs of treating the alcohol abuse that would result from privatizing the liquor control board.

Generally privatizing the LCBO would create more profits, as competition in the market would lead corporations to examine and target demographics. A study found that the privatization of alcohol would result in a 15-20% increase in alcohol consumption in Ontario. Teenagers were identified as being at most risk, and would contribute significantly to the profits as is evident from Alberta. When Alberta privatized the ALCB, it led the provinces to spend more money on law enforcement, health care, and loss of productivity. Privatization of the ALCB led to an increase in criminal offences, such as break-ins, relaxed law enforcement for underage drinking, and a higher number of fatalities as a result of impaired driving. According to a study conducted by the federal government in 2001, Ontario would lose 11% of its budget, or 367 million dollars to the treatment of alcohol abuse. The study examined individual costs associated with the direct/indirect health care, law enforcement, and labour productivity loses. It concluded that the province would have to allocate more funds towards social services.  When examining the social issues, and the costs to society it becomes clear that Ontario would lose far more than it could gain from the privatization of the LCBO. The creation of the LCBO has mandates, which places an emphasis on operating in a responsible manor towards its customers, and society as a whole. If Ontario does privatize the LCBO, the corporation’s main responsibility towards its shareholders would become profit. When looking at the costs associated with privatizing the LCBO, one can appreciate the Mike Harris government’s decision-making that led to develop and fund the LCBO.

Privatization of the LCBO would economically damage Ontario’s winery sector, weaken regulations and increase provincial costs towards social services. After discussing the history of prohibition and the creation of a liquor control board, as well as the heated political debates, one must recognize the deep political culture that the LCBO developed. When analyzing the history of the previous premiers of the Drury government, the Ferguson government and the Harris government, had their political campaigns platform issues around liquor consumption. As was stated, liquor consumption requires a ‘balance’ and involvement of government to ensure that the retail of liquor is administrated responsibly. The Mike Harris government solidified this history, and was a key ‘crossroad’ that helped pave the way for the LCBO’s rebranding. Premier Ferguson’s vision of government oversight in the liquor industry remains intact. After leaving office, Ferguson maintained his policy on liquor control; “government control was for the good of everyone that included tax payers”. The LCBO has a clear mandate where it corresponds within its corporate structure that embraces its role as a ‘balancing’ institution, hence maintaining the selling of liquor to Ontarians while promoting responsible consumption.  Lastly as a scholar one appreciates the LCBO’s transparency and accountability to Ontarians as statistics where easily accessible for the purpose of this research paper. While Alberta’s statics where difficult to attain, considering the private retailers have no accountability to the province. Therefore the LCBO maintains order so as to protect Ontarians from alcohol abuse, while protecting local producers; these benefits far outweigh any benefits of privatization.

Bibliography

Alberta Alcohol Strategy”. 2008. Alberta: Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission.

“Ontario VQA Wine Industry Key Facts and Statistics.” Wine Country Ontario. Wine Country Ontario, last modified March 2013July 29th, 2013, http://winecountryontario.ca/media-centre/industry-statistics.

“Quick Facts.” Information. Liquor Control Board of Ontario, accessed 2013, 06/29, http://www.lcbo.com/aboutlcbo/media_centre/quick_facts.shtml.

Aly Vitunski. December 31, 2012. “Ontario Introducing Two New Ways to Buy Alcohol .” Ontario News.

Arndt, Ruth (Spence). 1919. Prohibition in Canada;: A Memorial to Francis Stephens Spence., edited by F. S. Spence. Toronto Ontario Branch of the Dominion Alliance.

Bird, Malcolm G. 2010. “Alberta’s and Ontario’s Liquor Boards: Why such Divergent Outcomes?” Canadian Public Administration 53 (4): 509-530.

Fish, Morris J. 2011. “The Effect of Alcohol on the Canadian Constitution … Seriously.”, 09; 2013/7, 189+.

Johnston, Charles Murray. 1986. E.C. Drury: Agrarian Idealist. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Her, M., Giesbrecht N., Room, R. and Rehm, J. (1998). Implications of Privatizing/Deregulating Alcohol Retail Sales: A Projection of Alcohol Consumption in Ontario. Journal of Substance Abuse 10 (4): 362.

Malleck, Dan. 2012. Try to Control Yourself: The Regulation of Public Drinking in Post-Prohibition Ontario, 1927-44. Vancouver, BC: UBC Press.

Oliver, Peter Nesbitt. 1977. G. Howard Ferguson: Ontario Tory. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Peggy Stewart. 2006. “Andrew S. Brandt Retires After 15 Years as LCBO Chair and CEO.” Ontario News.

Robert E. Mann, Norman Giesbrecht, Robin Room. “Alcohol Distribution, Alcohol Retailing and Social Responsibility.” A Report Submitted to the Beverage Alcohol System Review. Ministry of Finance, accessed Beverage Alcohol System Review Panel, , http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/consultations/basr/camh.html.

Sharon Faye. September 2012. “Wine Industry in Alberta.” Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.

Trolldal, Björn. 2005. “An Investigation of the Effect of Privatization of Retail Sales of Alcohol on Consumption and Traffic Accidents in Alberta, Canada.” Addiction 100 (5): 662-671.

World Trade Organization impact on Sovereignty

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The primary role of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is to resolve trade disputes between its 144 member states. This makes it a critical organization in Global Governance. The Uruguay rounds established the needs of both developed and developing nations and this was to be the impetus for the founding principles of the WTO. The priority agenda for the developed nations was to embed intellectual property (TRIPs) and general agreements on trade in services (GATS). Developing nations were keen to establish a legitimate framework for equality under the law, they requested that agricultural, textile and clothing agreements be made comprehensible.  As countries embrace export led growth, disputes between states become more common. Although; the WTO originally dealt only with trade disagreements it has now expanded its role to agriculture, services, trade related investment measures and intellectual property. The WTO is important for globalization, because it provides a diplomatic forum for settlement of disputes, which may otherwise lead to armed conflicts or trade wars. The WTO was created to replace the GATT system, which was ill equipped to handle the changing dynamics of globalization. The WTO has a unique power that most other international government organizations do not have, an enforceable legislature and powerful judicial authority. The heart of the principle of WTO is to create a fair and just system where all member states are equal in the “eyes” of the law.

There is growing concern that the founding principles of the WTO are being ignored and that the systems in place now are ill equipped to dealing with the problems of the emerging and third world economies. There seem to be three key contributing factors, firstly the judicial process is financially unfeasible for developing economies, domestic protectionism has severe consequences on developing nations as principles of fairness are ignored and lastly the WTO is constantly undermined by inter-governmental agreement that often oppose the principles of the WTO.

In order to fully comprehend the challenges faced by the WTO, it is imperative to   first understand the principles, structure and practices on which it is based. The WTO was created in 1995, to replace the controversial GATT system for regulation of free trade. The main principle of the WTO is to provide member States a platform to settle trade disputes in an unbiased manner within a legitimate legal framework.  For such ideals to be achieved strong structural and legal organization is required. The legislative and judicial arms of the WTO provide these. The WTO has two key objectives, the first is to interpret and apply existing rules or legislation, and the second is to enforce the commitments made by its members. The WTO mandate requires three main guarantees from all its member States. First, for membership, the country must accept all the terms and conditions of the WTO to maintain equal legal standing within the organization. Secondly, WTO decisions are legally binding. Thirdly, all-important decisions taken by the WTO are reached through consensus of members. The last mandate ensures that all members are treated fairly. The dispute settlement understanding (DSU) which is the judicial arm, often referred as the “crown jewel”, imposes the WTO guidelines on all member states to reinforce the idea of equality and fairness. Trade disputes between nations can be solved in two ways, the first is through intergovernmental negotiations and the second is through mediation by the WTO. Although the guiding principles of equality and fairness are protected, the issues facing the WTO are a paradox on these principles.

WTO is constantly undermined by governmental agreements, which are often reached outside the jurisdiction of the WTO. In such situations the economically dominant countries bullies its weaker counterpart into seceding on an alternate agreement that goes against the one proposed by the WTO. The WTO must take a stand against alternate policies formed outside the jurisdiction of the organization. This is otherwise a challenge to the legitimacy of the WTO. For example, in the soft wood lumber dispute Canadian soft lumber, which was cheaper then American lumber, was unfairly added duty so as to allow American companies to compete. Canada used the WTO and won the case, against the United States. However, the United States was keen to make new provisions for the lumber agreement that would benefit American production even against free trade agreement. The WTO was created to regulate the common and shared beliefs of nations on trade and governments that bypass the WTO to resolve trade disputes threaten its legitimacy. The reason that the success of the WTO has been mixed is due to intergovernmental agreements that ultimately resolve disputes outside the framework of the DSU.

There are limitations to the principles that call for equality and it is important to recognize that the WTO originates from the GATT system, which means that most of the original polices are simply updated. A key issue with the structure of WTO is that legitimizes retaliation. Retaliation occurs when one of the parties involved in the dispute fails to abide by the decision of the DSU. Retaliation is a provision where by a country has the authority to pass sanctions, as punishment, on the offending party. However retaliation depends heavily on economic strength of the countries in question. For example an important market like the United States or European Union, which are economically dominant, can undermine any sanctions imposed on them.

Another major issue, that primarily affects developing nations, is the exorbitant legal costs. This makes the WTO inaccessible to financially weaker member states. An article by Keisuke Lida, “Is WTO dispute Settlement Effective?” states:

First of all, WTO are not cheap. A small firm or the government of a developing country may find it unaffordable. Therefore, it will simply keep silent…. However, as long as the government (and Firm) on the other side knows that the complaints cannot afford to file a WTO dispute, there is less incentive to concede.

All members of the WTO are required to sign an agreement that irrevocably binds them to financial and legal terms of the WTO. It then becomes the prerogative of the WTO to utilize its funds in any manner so chosen by the organization. What follows is that the WTO has the power to subsidize judicial costs for those countries that demonstrate financial needs. Although industrialized nations such as China, Brazil and India are able to benefit from the WTO, not all nations are able to afford the high costs of the legal framework. There is a need to help poor nations by subsidizing costs, which will allow all countries to fight legal cases on an even playing field, and secondly removing the use of retaliation. For instance, the small nation of Antigua, gained consent from the WTO to retaliate against the United States, the U.S then blocked Antigua’s online gambling, which in effect violated GATS. Antigua relies heavily on American imports, and its options to impose sanctions are limited and will have no effect on the United States economy. Small and economically weak countries do not often retaliate because they simply have no influence on strong markets such as the United States or the European Union. This suggests that even if African countries are able to afford legal frame works to fight violations, punishments in the form of economic retaliation would work only if the country is a major economic player. Africa has thirty-three members, but to the exception of Egypt and South Africa; there have been no case disputes presented. A major issue is that most African nations cannot afford the legal costs associated with cases; secondly most offending governments and corporations recognize and use this to their unfair advantage. The ideal of fairness in the WTO will remain an illusion unless, the WTO is able to reduce costs for weaker nations to access legal frame work.

Many developed nations have been accused of being protectionists, and providing subsides to ensure that their local markets can be globally competitive. There has been a growing misconception propagated by developed nations that developing nations are simply unable to compete in price. Any nation that is able to do so is accused of dumping and is then charged a dumping fee. As an example, agricultural subsidies of over 250 billion dollars, given to farmers in some developed nations hurt their poorer counterparts. These powerful nations often get special treatment at the WTO and obligations are less compulsory. This means that more often than not they are allowed to get away with the subsidies. This is the crux of the problem faced by most developing nations in the face of rowing globalization. Despite the principles of equality and fairness, evidence suggests that developing nations are getting the short end of the stick. The challenges faced by the WTO seems to be political rather than moral in nature and solutions can only be reached when global interests supersede domestic policy, especially in regards to dumping laws.

Economically powerful nations are constantly able to exploit loopholes in the agricultural policy of the WTO. Unlike North America, Asia and Latin America, Africa is at a significant disadvantage as sub-Saharan Africa cannot afford to subside its agriculture nor does it have the legal framework to fight dumping. Market manipulation results in “price shocks”, which has a devastating impact on the poor nations. For instance in 2008, due to market manipulations the price of food was at its peak and this lead to mass rioting in many poor nations. Africa is most vulnerable to the devastating consequences that arise from protectionism laws that violate the principles of the WTO. State subsidies and protectionism has become increasingly rampant after the recession and countries like China, U.S, Brazil, and Canada are constantly accused of protecting domestic enterprise. A classic example of protectionism is when President Obama proposed that a 20% tax credit be provided for all corporations willing to relocate to the United States. The Doha round, which had been deadlock, promised to address these questions of protectionism and subsidies, that ultimately manipulate prices, and ultimately cause poor nations to suffer.

Although industrialized nations appear to exploit the legal framework of the WTO, poorer nations have started filing more complaints since the year 2000. In this sense there is improvement that the WTO is still evolving. From 1995-1999, the number of complaints filed by developing nations went up from forty-one to one hundred and forty nine. This means that developing nations are now in the process of fighting trade violations. This trend of disputes filled by developing nations has been increasing over time, and as of 2001 71% of the disputes filed originated from developing nations. As mentioned earlier not all developing nations are able to afford the costs of the legal process. This warrants a call for better access to countries such as in Africa that have demonstrated inability to file complaints, the WTO has a moral duty to ensure access to such members. The WTO has promised equality to all its members however, analysis shows that discrimination and exploitation based on economic output is still a major concern.

Since its origin from the GATT system, the WTO has demonstrated its ability to adapt and evolve with the dynamic global economy. The WTO must ensure that it continues to monitor decisions by the DSU, as countries may create a new policy and pressure the opposing side to agree. The WTO members must come to a consensus to open access to members who cannot afford the legal procedures. Countries that embrace protectionism must abandon policies that create unfair competition and ultimately harm international trade. The WTO has shown remarkable progress as developing countries are slowly beginning to rely on it to fight exploitation and domination in the Global Market.

Bibliography

“Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.” Softwood Lumber. Web. 5 March 2013. http://www.international.gc.ca/controls-controles/softwood-bois_oeuvre/notices-avis/arbitration-arbitrage.aspx?lang=eng&view=d

Iida, Keisuke. “Is WTO Dispute Settlement Effective?” Global Governance 10.2 (2004). P. 207-222

Lanoszka, Anna. The World Trade Organization: Changing Dynamics in the Global Political Economy. London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2009. P.47-60

Lehmann, Fabrice, and Jean-Pierre Lehmann. Peace and Prosperity Through World Trade: Achieving the 2019 Vision. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

p. 89-92

Margaret P. Karns and Karen Mingst, International Organizations: The Politics and Processes of Global Governance (Lynne Rienner: 2010), second edition. P.414

New, William. “WTO: Antigua To Retaliate Against US By Suspending IP Rights Protection.” Intellectual Property Watch 28 Jan 2013. Web. 5 Mar. 2013. http://www.ip-watch.org/2013/01/28/wto-antigua-to-retaliate-against-us-by-suspending-ip-rights-protection/

Plummer, Robert. “Protectionism: Is it on the way back?” Business Reporter, BBC News [London] 17 Sept 2012. Web. 5 Mar. 2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18104024

Sampson, Gary. The Role of the World Trade Organization in Global Governance. New York: United Nations University Press, 2001. P. 7-25

Wilkinson, Rorden, and James Scott. Global Institutions Trade, Poverty, Development: Getting beyond the WTO Doha Deadlock. New York: Routledge, 2013. P.57-68

Does International Law impact the Charter of Rights and Freedom?

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The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom is often described as a “living tree”, due to its ability to remain dynamic in the face of political change. Unlike its American counterpart, the Charter has been successful in reflecting the changing values and beliefs of its citizen’s and has shown flexibility in interpreting laws to serve a free democratic society. International government organizations (IGO) such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and NATO were created to tackle economic and security issues to establish new systems of global governance. Global governance is defined as, “The sum of the many ways individuals and institutions, public and private, manage their common affairs.”  However, these international organizations are now beginning to influence spheres of law making, which were traditionally considered domestic. This interference is a double-edged sword. The rise of global governance poses a serious threat to the supremacy of the Canadian Charter. There is tremendous pressure being generated by the international community on domestic institutions to conform to a globally defined set of norms and laws. The rise of globalization has led to cooperation between countries in areas of banking, economy and trade through banking institutions, multinational corporations, and intergovernmental agreements. Nations also cooperate on matters of security such as terrorism and money laundering. The power of international law leads to erosion of local jurisdictions in favor of intergovernmental agreements, due to legal obligations. International decision-makers create norms and laws for countries to follow with little regard to local constitutions. Although Canada is prominent within the international community as a “middle power”, the community continues to be heavily influenced by the United States. The U.S heavily influences Canadian trade, commerce, security and intergovernmental agreements, which are often in opposition to the Canadian Charter.

This essay seeks to determine specific instances where the pressure of being part of a global community has undermined the rights of citizens as protected by the Charter. Canadian government has been repatriating citizens and transferring the judicial process to other governments or IGO entities. Canada recently established FINTRAC (Financial transactions and Reports Analysis Center of Canada), which is an organization, tasked with spying on the finances of Canadian citizens. The goal of this organization is to track cases of money laundering, however this is a direct violation of section 8 of the Charter. This is an example of how International persuasion has directly influenced domestic policy. Canada has accepted controversial treaties and trade agreements such as NAFTA and WTO that are in violation of the Charter’s principals. Global Governance poses a clear challenge to the Charter of Rights and Freedom as the idea of a “supreme law” is being diminished.

It would be wrong to assume all international institutions undermine the Canadian Charter. Entities such as the United Nations (UN), ad hoc conventions, and non-government organizations, empower the Charter. Many of these organizations advocate for human rights, which only act to legitimize the Canadian Charter. An article published by Osgood law school, titled “BEYOND SELF-CONGRATULATION: The Charter at 25 at an international perspective” argues:

The Charter represented a local translation of internationally recognized minimal common denominators. It permitted rights-holders to assert ownership of these rights and it allowed those tasked to protect or interpret these rights to consider them as our homemade response to discrimination, unfairness, or abuse.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights allows the Canadian judicial system to provide a domestic interpretation of human rights violations. Analyses of the conduct of Canadian military operations in Afghanistan demonstrate clear instances of breach in Charter rights of Canadian citizens living or working abroad. The case of Omar Khadr, embodies the clash between the Charter and foreign policy obligations. Omar Khadr was captured in July 2002 at the age of 15, for killing an American Special Forces officer. He was detained at Guantanamo Bay, and questioned by Canadian officials. Information collected during the interrogation was then handed over to Central Intelligence agency (CIA). This helped the Americans capture and persecute him.  The court documents of Justice O’Reilly indicated that there had been an “infringement” of section 7 of Khadr’s Charter Rights, which protects the life, liberty, and security of an individual and states that; “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice”. When the Canadian security intelligence service (CSIS) agents violated the principles of justice, the Canadian government had a duty to protect Khadr. Justice O’Reilly recommended that the Crown repatriate Khadr from American custody. Professor Errol P. Mendes, who specializes in Human rights, claims in his article, Dismantling the Clash between the Prerogative Power to Conduct Foreign Affairs and the Charter in Prime Minister of Canada et al v, that the rights of Canadian citizen living abroad are often ignored in favor of foreign policy.

Omar Khadr:

The Federal Court of Appeal seemed to stress that when ultimately those documents were disclosed by order of the Supreme Court, they revealed that the Canadian officials involved not only participated in the process that did not conform to international human rights norms that Canada was bound by, but they had done so knowingly.12 This heightened level of complicity in the torture of a Canadian citizen forced a re-examination by the Federal Court…response to one of the most serious breaches of a Canadian citizen’s rights.

Khadr’s case as an alleged “terrorist” is unchartered territory for the Constitution. Medes states that Justice O’Reilly was trying to protect Khadr from improper questioning methods, by requesting that the documentation of his interrogation be returned to him. This was done so that the information, extracted from him unlawfully, could not be used in a case against him and the Canadian government has an obligation to protect its citizen’s ‘security’. It was also noted that the Charter applies to the Canadian officials who did the interrogation on Khadr, yet continued to abuse his rights. The Courts also argued for Section 24 (1) of the Charter to be called upon specifically:

24. (1) Anyone whose rights or freedoms, as guaranteed by this Charter, have been infringed or denied may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain such remedy as the court considers appropriate and just in the circumstances.

(2) Where, in proceedings under subsection (1), a court concludes that evidence was obtained in a manner that infringed or denied any rights or freedoms guaranteed by this Charter, the evidence shall be excluded if it is established that, having regard to all the circumstances, the admission of it in the proceedings would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.

Both Justice O’Reilly and a majority of the Court of Appeals applied Section 24(1) to Khadr’s case. However, the Harper government counteracted the courts decision by asserting that this interfered with foreign policy. The Crown broadly argued that Canadian citizens rights are valid only on Canadian soil. This created a clash between the government foreign policy and the Supremacy of the Charter. The Foreign Minister, under Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Act, does have the authority to conduct foreign policy excluding Charter rights using section 1. However, this exception only applies under circumstances of war. According to Mendes, overriding section 7 of the charter in favor of section 1 requires sufficient justification from the Foreign Minister. Professor Peter Hogg who is one of the leading scholars on Constitutional law confirms this prerequisite. The Crowns claimed that repatriation undermined foreign policy, however this argument is questionable, as the government did not mention the nature of the interference or the evidence. The only clarification given by the Crown was that:

While the Crown tried to assert the order to request repatriation would not be effective as there was “one chance in a million” that the U.S. would comply, this argument faced two “reality tests” in the view of the majority of the Court of Appeal.

The Crown has failed in its duty to protect Khadr and undermined section 7 of the Charter, the government has not even attempted to negate Khadr’s sentence. There is evidence that suggests Canada did not want to anger the United States on transferring Khadr. Intergovernmental agreements within foreign policy tend to ignore Charter rights, U.S obligations and expectations from agreements pressure the Crown.

Canada’s erosion of Charter rights is not exclusively seen in security, but recent cases, suggest breaches in privacy as protected by the Charter. Although privacy laws are not specifically stated in the Charter except in section 8: “Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure.” The Supreme Court has claimed that privacy is implicitly protected under the Charter. A note worthy case was Hunter et al. v. Southam Inc, which is the first case to use section 8 to protect the privacy of the individual.

Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Center of Canada (FINTRAC) was created to combat the growing Global concern over money laundering. However, this breaches of section 8 of the Charter. FINTRAC was created in 2000, to track the finances of Canadians both domestically and internationally and it reports directly to the minister of finance. Its role was expanded in 2001 to include the Terrorist Financing Act, allowing CSIS to freely access Canadians finances. FINTRAC’s methods of gathering information violates section 8 of the Charter, as it forces Canadian businesses to conduct background checks on consumer and by doing so puts the consumers at risk for identity theft. FINTRAC essentially spies on the finances of Canadian citizens and any transactions over 10,000, by private individuals, are flagged as suspicious. FINTRAC forces small business to conduct background checks on their customers, but the risks of information disclosure makes the customers weary of identity theft. The target group to FINTRAC has been Jewelers. During a Senate hearing, the Canadian Jewelers Association (CJA), keenly pointed out the adverse effect FINTRAC was having on the market:

These small companies have built their businesses on trust. Consumers have come to expect their right to privacy, especially when shopping in a retail environment. Auction houses are excluded from the DPMS AML/ATF regulations, which create an uneven playing field even within the jewellery sector and is an area open to potential money laundering and terrorist financing abuse.

Intrusion by the government into the private sphere of its citizens is in direct violation of section 1 of the charter, which outlines the principles to create a free and democratic society. The Canadian Jewelry association claims that FINTRAC violates a social contract between the consumer and Capital. Corporations that do not disclose the financial information of its customers face fines of up to two Million-dollar or/and five-year imprisonment. FINTRAC also demands small businesses to store and record information under threat of similar penalties. The threat of financial and legal penalties is forcing corporations to disclose the personal information of its clients. Under section 8 of the Charter, it would appear, FINTRAC has breached the Charter. FINTRAC methods of gathering information, resembles the Hunter et al. v. Southam Inc case, in which it was concluded that business owners have privacy rights from the government. The Court decided that individuals have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” as protected by the under the Charter. According to an article by Julia Lawn and Andrew Bernstein, Primacy to Privacy? The Supreme Court and the Privacy Threshold in Edwards, justification must be provided any time there is a need to collect information. In comparison to other countries, instances of money laundering in Canada have been extremely rare. Therefore, the justification for the creation of FINTRAC appears to stem from international pressure specifically from the G7, which agreed on the FATF mandate to combat money laundering.

Trade and commerce has become dominantly international embodying norms and laws that govern the relationships between governments. The relationships between governments have taken the shape of IGO’s such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and treaties such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  The Charter of Rights and Freedom excludes property rights, as there was a fear it may lead to an unfair advantage towards corporations. Although NAFTA and the WTO do not specifically violate Charter rights, they do disregard some of the principles of Charter of Rights and Freedom’s and erode sovereignty. For instance, the infamous chapter 11 of NAFTA agreement provides property rights only to foreign governments. Professor Stephen Clarkson, at the University of Toronto, argues that Brain Mulroney’s desire to enact NAFTA at all costs has led to erosion of Canadian sovereignty; “… add external tier to the country’s Constitution, one that was shortly to be joined by hundreds of the WTO’s even more intrusive rules”. When Chapter 11 of NAFTA took effect in 1994, not many people understood its interpretation; it allowed foreign entities exclusively to bypass the domestic judicial system. Clarkson claims that Chapter 11 of NAFTA allowed complete freedom to the United States and Mexico to conduct business without any interference from local laws. Chapter 11 allows foreign investors to ignore environment laws, as well as, laws that abrogate the Charter rights, such as the well being of indigenous people. The United States also tends to use its influence as an economic power when trade disputes arise. For example, in the soft wood lumber dispute Canadian soft lumber, which was cheaper then American lumber, was unfairly tariff additionally so as to allow American companies to compete. Canada took the United States to the WTO and won the case. However, the United States was eager to make new provisions for the lumber market that would favor American production even against free trade agreement. This suggests that treaties such as NAFTA, do not benefit Canadian trade or industries. NAFTA has eroded the Charter as international agreements bypass or undermine Canadian interests.

The World Trade Organization has 144 members, all of which conform to the organization’s norms and rules, unlike most IGO’s, WTO’s laws are enforceable. As in the case of NAFTA, WTO also violates Charter laws however it does not challenge the notion of “the supreme law” of the Constitution. The WTO is tasked with solving trade disputes through a judicial process. The Judicial arm of the WTO is seen as authentic as decision makers are not nationals of the disputing country and disputes are settled in an unbiased fashion. Although the WTO has authority and is capable of enforcing decisions, it fails to gain legitimacy over the disputed country. Democracy can be in danger if the laws ‘forced’ upon it by the WTO are outside its control; essentially the WTO ignores local laws and concerns. The disregard by the WTO to recognize local laws and the importance of a Charter, may lead to an erosion of democracy due to the ever-growing influence of global governance.

When examining the erosion of the Charter specifically repatriating citizens, FINTRAC, NAFTA and WTO, it emphasis the threat of global governance. The ever-increasing realm of globalization threatens to diminish the sovereignty, where by decision-making is transferred out of the State and into the international realm. The Crown fails to recognize that once the country signs into a treaty the international arena creates expectations and norms that overlap with sovereignty. These intrusions from the intergovernmental agreements have breached Canadian Charter’s principles; that same principal that was meant to protect the Canadian identity.

Bibliography

Arbour, Louise, and Fannie Lafontaine. “Beyond Self-Congratulations: the Charter at 25 in an International Perspective.” Osgood Hall Law Journal. (2007): p.244. Web. 1 Mar. 2013. http://heinonline.org.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/ohlj45&collection=journals&id=249

Blake, Raymond. “STANDING ON GUARD CANADIAN IDENTITY, GLOBALIZATION AND CONTINENTAL INTEGRATION.” Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy. (2004): p.7, 1 Mar. 2013. http://www.publications.gov.sk.ca/details.cfm?p=12251

Ceric, Irina. “The Sovereign Charter: Security, Territory and the Boundaries of Constitutional Rights. “Ottawa Law Review. 44.1 (2012): p.22. Web. 1 Mar. 2013. http://ssrn.com/abstract=2096351

Clarkson, Stephen. Uncle Sam and Us: Globalization, Neoconservatism and the Canadian State. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003. p.50-62

Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada” Who We Are. Web. 1 Mar 2013. http://www.fintrac-canafe.gc.ca/fintrac-canafe/1-eng.asp

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.” Softwood Lumber. Web. 1 March 2013. http://www.international.gc.ca/controls-controles/softwood-bois_oeuvre/notices-avis/arbitration-arbitrage.aspx?lang=eng&view=d

Harris, H.A. “Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.” Privacy Rights according to the Supreme Court of Canada. General Counsel, 30 Oct 1997. Web. 1 Mar 2013. http://www.priv.gc.ca/media/sp-d/archive/02_05_a_971030_e.asp

Iida Keisuke, “Is WTO Dispute Settlement Effective?” Global Governance 10.2 (2004), p. 209 web. 1 March 2013

http://heinonline.org.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/glogo10&collection=journals&id=217

Johnson, M. (1998). “Privacy paranoia”. Computerworld, 32(20), P. 32. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/216047096?accountid=14771

Lawn, Julia, and Andrew Bernstein. “Primacy to Privacy? The Supreme Court and the Privacy Threshold in Edwards.” University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review. (1997): n. page. Web. 1 Marh. 2013. http://heinonline.org.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/utflr55&collection=journals&id=347

Margaret Karns and Karen Mingst, International Organizations: The Politics and Processes of Global Governance (Lynne Rienner: 2010) Second Edition. P.3

Mendes, Errol P. “Dismantling the Clash between the Prerogative Power to Conduct Foreign Affairs and the Charter in Prime Minister of Canada Et Al v. Omar Khadr.” National Journal of Constitutional Law 26.1 (2009): p.67-79. Web. 1 Mar. 2013. http://search.proquest.com/docview/219294221?accountid=14771

“Money Laundering.” Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Web. 1 March 2013. http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/poc-pdc/launder-blanchim-eng.htm

Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce.” Parliament of Canada, 28 Mar 2012. Web. 1 Mar 2013. http://www.parl.gc.ca/content/sen/committee/411/banc/15ev-49447-e.htm

P. Russell, R. Knopff, T. Bateman, and J. Hiebert, The Court and the Constitution: Leading Cases (Edmond Montgomery, 2008)

Trimble, Phillip. “Globalization, International Institutions and the Erosion of National Sovereignty and Democracy.” Michigan Law Review. 95.6 (1997): 1944-1959. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1290031

About me?

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My name is Shokur Fahd, I am a huge political science junkie, I am deeply interested in Politics.

Goal:

I created this blog to share some of my thoughts on Global governance, Canadian politics. I like to share my opinions about politics or events as they occur. Many people hate politics either becomes they have pessimistic views on governance, have been disillusioned or perhaps have become disengaged with politics. My goal is to get people interested in politics and ensure people are informed about government or international policy.

Education: 

University of Toronto Specialist in Political Science and Minor in History (2014)

Richmond Green Secondary School (2009)

Is Ontario’s government becoming less legitimate due to decreasing voter turnouts?

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Executive Summary

A democratic deficit in Ontario, has made it difficult to govern, lower voter turnout, citizen apathy and political disengagement. This briefing note offers possible remedies for the democratic deficit so as to help renew effective governance. After analyzing the issues, and offering alternative remedies to the problem, Minister, deliberative democracy and improved education offers the best means to renew civic commitment.

Issues

Minister, the Ontario Provincial Government is facing institutional overload, and citizens have become less engaged. To recap my earlier briefing to you, there is a deficit in the health of democracy in Ontario. Symptoms in a disengaged democracy include low voter turnout, low participation within politics, and a decline in trust in political leaders and democratic institutions. These symptoms arise when citizens feel dissatisfied with the government because they have undue expectations of public institutions. As a result, government branches are performing over capacity, leading to a “democracy overload” as citizens tend to have unrealistic expectations if they assume government can solve the class struggle. The deficit is also related to the disengagement of disaffected citizens from their civic duties—voting, jury duty and paying taxes. These longstanding issues continue to hinder governance. Addressing these symptoms of deficient citizenship will strengthen citizens commitment to performing civic duties, easing governance. The symptoms are not mainly the fault of government, but rather the attitude of citizens. Citizens have a duty to vote, should take an interest in their government and how it is run, and should be active within their community, yet Ontarian and Canadians have become disengaged socially, civically and politically.

It is in our government’s interest to renew citizens’ sense of responsibility. This approach requires us to reach out to the community at a grassroots level. Citizens lack readiness, reciprocity and political education. As we can see, the democratic deficit deals with citizens, and as we recognize that a democracy is only as strong as its represented citizens. Raymond Williams, claims such that our current democratic system is worse than a revolution, “ …he presents the idea that a withdrawal of interest is worse than armed revolts and protest.” As such, Minister, engaged citizens do not want to be governed but rather they want their voices heard. This is an opportunity for the government to provide the democratic renewal that citizens are seeking.

Another issue for government has been the type of consultation, referred to as “voice” that government should use to address stakeholders. There are three types of voice strategic, rule-led and communicative, out of the three, communicative is most beneficial. Communicative voice provides a dialog or open forum discussion and invites public input and innovation. I had a positive and enlightening experience with CCL&D’s new program—IWIP—which established dialog between stakeholders and CCL&D. Minister, to remedy the symptoms of the democratic deficit, we need a communicative voice, and the best attributes to fix the deficit of readiness, reciprocity, and political education by embracing deliberate democracy.

Alternatives

To recap, Minister, the main issue is a democratic deficit that stems from citizens being disengaged and ultimately lacking readiness, reciprocity and education within politics. Before exploring my recommendation, it is noteworthy to mention at least three alternatives and why they would ultimately fail. The alternatives include Asset-Based Community development (ABCD) model, e-democracy and social economy, by discussing the alternatives, I can highlight why deliberate democracy and improved education stand out as possible solutions.

ABCD

ABCD, utilizes social assets, such as gifted or talented individuals as means to mobilize the community to lobby the government. Minister, although ABCD offers poor communities a means to engage with the government, ultimately I would discourage that model as I will explain the disadvantages that outweigh the advantages. ABCD, requires assets that are either recognized or unrecognized by the community to function. ABCD is a post-political stage, it is best suited towards enhancing co-governance, reciprocity, and civil society. ABCD functions by networking—where formal or informal institutions, local government, community based organizations and private sector are mobilized. Through networking, the community is able to use resources of individuals to build a powerful interest or lobby group that is able to effectively pressure government towards entitlements. ABCD requires the community to have a strong leadership specifically top-down, with a rule-led centralized voice. ABCD portrays its community as victims and by doing so they gain a leverage against the government to benefit their cause. Rule-led consultations tend to be aggressive in engaging with the government, as well as encourage uninvited advocacy to pressure the government. To recap, ABCD addresses readiness and reciprocity; however, it does little towards fixing the deficit in political education that poor communities suffer from. Worse, ABCD may impact education, readiness and reciprocity negatively over time, as integrity, values and the identity of the community diminish. This is evident as citizens begin to “hunker down”, they begin to accept the exaggeration presented by community leaders and, as a result the excessive victimization presented leaves the individual with a victim mentality. This victim mentality would lead to eroding individual autonomy, thus further isolating individuals within their communities leaders. This would further damage the concept of  empowering citizens through readiness. Communities with newcomers tend to lack social cohesion, social trust and social capital, as they are not entrenched within the community values and norms; as a result, diverse communities with immigrants are an obstacle to ABCD. Regent Park, a poor community has 60% of its residents as immigrants who are not yet integrated, as such ABCD will have a hard time bridging and bonding diverse cultural communities quickly enough to mobilize. ABCD model does not address the issues of society directly such as lack of jobs, education or housing, but rather it simply advocates the class struggle in the community. The drawback with ABCD is that it pressures government to address social injustice; however, the government is unable to solve the class struggle. In a word, ABCD seeks a welfare state, where citizens demands and expectations on government will only make the citizens reliant on the state, creating a ‘democratic overload’ and ultimately harming individuals’ sense of responsibility towards the State. Minister, I would not advise the use of ABCD—aggressive rule-led consultations devalue citizens’ self-esteem and does not address the issues of society directly; instead, it lobbies government similar to an interest group.

E-democracy:

Minister, the advancement of technology and the Internet has impacted social, civil and political engagement. According to the World Bank, 86.8% of Canadians, had access to the Internet in 2012.  Thus, the government has incentive to utilize technology as means to engage with its citizens. E-democracy utilizes information and communication technology (ICTs), such as the Internet to foster democracy. The benefits of e-democracy—engaging the Y-generation, overcoming distances, respecting new diversity, accessing information, and reducing lobbying costs. Most people already associate the Internet with enhancing social networking; however, the ability of social networking to enhance social cohesion and social capital is questionable. The Internet does not automatically lead to social capital, it would be unwise to assume that the Internet provides citizen the same quality of networking as face to face-to-face interaction. The Internet also has the potential to provide a meeting space for the community to develop common interests and, overcoming limitations of physical space and time. E-democracy allows for greater consultation or e-consultation, where the Internet can create a virtual space where citizens, NGO’s, stakeholders and government can interact—it has emphasis on input. E-democracy can be used to solve the issues with “democracy overload”, as it has been effective in easing the burden on government institutions. This is evident as ICTs have led to the creation of e-voting, e-services, e-governance, e-consultation and e-decision making. The public is capable of bringing in feedback on policy, allowing policymakers to ‘check’ how a policy would be perceived by the the public. Grassroots NGOs are slow to use the benefits of e-democracy, for instance CCL&D has a website, however; it is poorly managed. NGOs needs to use e-consultation to raise awareness about their programs, CCL&D can raise awareness for IWIP, which is relatively new program through social media. E-democracy has setbacks that declines its appeal as a solution towards renewing sense of civic duty. First, E-democracy is very complicated and difficult to predict how it functions and how it would impact the community. Second, e-democracy takes a while to indicate results. For instance the youth or the y-generation, will take decades for the youths to get a sense of civic duty. Third, not everyone in communities especially the poor have access to a computer or the Internet. Fourth, older generations may see e-democracy as an obstacle as they lack the know-how on how to operate a computer or the Internet. As a result, Minister, e-democracy is not realistic, it requires training citizens to use a computer and Internet. Citizens in poor areas simply do not have the luxury of time or the money to utilize the Internet, even if NGO’s provide the costs for the Internet and training.

ASD/Social Economy:

The social economy refers to non-profit and non-government organizations, that deliver services that are similar to government and private sectors. The social economy relies heavily on, volunteerism, non-paid workers, encompassing nonprofits, charities, social enterprises, social movements, and other community—based organizations. This form of funding is known as the third sector, which emphasis on delivering social services, rather than profit seeking. In Canada, the social economy is a massive market, generating 90 billion dollars with 175,000 to 200,000 nonprofit organizations and 78,000 charitable organizations. The social economy, enhances co-governance and reciprocity. There are three main types of social economies: public-sector nonprofits, market-based social organizations, and civil society organizations. Public-sector nonprofit is independent from government; however, it receives a large amount of funding from government, donations and grants. Market-based social organizations are associations, their source of income is from the market place, they compete with other agencies or organizations to gain funding from the private sector or in some cases grants. Civil society organizations have a defined membership that only provides services for members; their main source of income is derived from member fees, donors and fund-raising. The private sector contributes finances towards the third sector, however; corporations have little obligations to the community and can withdraw at anytime, as they contribute financial resources as a means to brand their company. Social economy has many disadvantages that outdo its advantages thus making it unfavourable to implement. The social economy has the following benefits over government: it is flexible as it does not have a bureaucracy, its cause is appealing to citizens, more responsive than government and it is cost effective. Third sector do not partner with the government and it tends to have a strategic voice with ad hoc type of consultation; this would be problematic if government seeks to act as an equal partner in projects. The drawback to social economy includes: untrained helpers, dependency on volunteerism, deficiency in resources, self-appointed administration that lacks guidelines to prevent corruption or oversight, tends to be local, and has inconsistent or insufficient services. Without funding it is very difficult for an organization to keep or maintain, quality of its services to the community. For instance, CCL&D has cancelled many programs or where forced to make certain programs seasonal—the inconsistency is due to lack of funding/resources to keep the programs in operation all year round. Minister, I would reject implementing the social economy to address the deficit in citizenship, as the social economy does not promote readiness, but rather only address reciprocity and co-governance.

Recommendations

Minister, after discussing and engaging with community issues through CCL&D, I come to the conclusion that the best remedy is deliberate democracy and to a lesser extend improved education. John Unr, describes deliberate democracy as “fair and open community deliberation about the merits of competing political arguments.” Deliberate democracy allows for input and feedback from citizens to the institution, thus empowering citizen. The core ideology behind deliberate democracy is to promote deliberate empowerment—this would address the challenges of readiness and reciprocity within the community. Deliberative empowerment focuses on both the individual and institution—citizens gain readiness while the institution becomes responsive to community needs. Deliberate democracy is most effective when citizens unconstrained feed back and analysis are utilized towards the consultation for policy making. Unfortunately, most institutions hesitate to give citizens policy making powers. It is essential for the discussions to be regulated by a mediator to maintain balance and order,  otherwise; rule-led would occur when a group of people dictate the entire consultation creating chaos. The mediator is a person that is given power by the group to act for their best interest. A good model to follow was in 2006, the Provincial Government created a Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform. The citizen’s electrical reform was created by the government to study citizens choice in maintaining the First Past the Post (FPTP) system, or remove it in favour of allowing a Mixed Member Proportional representation (MMP). The assembly sent experts to educate the citizens on the issues and possible remedies—by educating the citizens, they were able to create a rational decision (readiness), as well as base the decision on good governance and for the sake of the common good thus encouraging reciprocity.

Engaging stakeholders ( NGOs) through deliberative democracy provides three important benefits—first it provides input or ‘letting-in’, as NGOs tend to have built trust and a strong relationship with the community. Second, NGOs are up to date with community struggles, in this case it will save the government time and effort in searching and documenting community issues at hand. Third, government and stakeholders can share resources for cost-effectively programs management. Minister, there is an inherent incentive to invite stakeholders and actors, to build a relationship or partnership that would help address the deficit in citizens’ sense of duty. By doing so, we are able to build a relationship that not only address the symptoms of the community, but also make ready diagnosis of any symptoms that threaten the health of democracy or its citizens. Institutions are beginning to utilize deliberative democracy, as it provides a legitimacy for the institution and demands for good policy, as a result organizations are seeking consultations with local communities. Legitimate policy, has led to empowerment of both the individual and institution. Giving citizens a say on how their institutions are run, gives legitimacy and responsiveness to the institution. Deliberative democracy allows citizens to regain a sense of duty as members of the community, and have a common goal towards seeking effective policy. Institutions and NGO’s are increasingly leaning towards deliberate democracy, because ‘good policy’ is linked towards citizen’s legitimacy. Actor’s have always had a voice however, it had been traditionally strategic or rule-led that diminished the citizens vocal contributions.  Deliberative democracy offers collective problem solving using communicative voice.  Rule-led is centred on accomplishing its own mandate, while strategic has  compromised policies for the sake of persuasion. On the other hand, deliberate democracy is centred on ‘truth seeking’ and problem solving. The success of deliberative democracy relies on citizens self autonomy, and being informed, if citizens lack informational awareness than the quality of the consultation decreases. I recognized, the importance of consultation from CCL&D as it recognized that immigrant women are a minority, they also recognized that a majority of new immigrants are not entrenched within their community considering it takes time to develop norms and networking as a member. The trainees (new immigrants) learn about their local councillors, institutions and services offered in their community, as their involvement allows them to be entrenched their community’s values and norms. Minister, deliberative democracy can renew and solve citizens apathy towards civic duty. 

Minister, while deliberative democracy can be used to improve civil duties, my experiences from CCL&D has shown how improving education can be a positive contribution to  the community. The more educated a person is, the more likely they are to vote and perform civil duties. Ontarian’s lack adequate knowledge about our their own governance structure and political parties, the reason is the lack of education offered to teach citizens. In Ontario, the only mandatory class for grade 10, that teaches teenagers about their political system is a half-credit course titled “civics”; in 2009 a study shows that 74% of students who have taken it referred to it as a “waste of time”. According to the Canada Broadcasting Corporation survey, students and teachers want to change the curriculum to draw students towards learning about the political system. Introducing youth towards civic education has an incentive, as there is a correlation between political education and  informed youth about their political parties, local councillors, thus allowing them to formulate their own opinions. Citizens aspire to be part of the process of the policy making regardless of its success, because the citizens value the experience of being actors. Even if citizens ‘input’ on policy does not materialize, they aspire to be part of the process; however, they want the energy and time spent to “matter” or be taken into consideration. The provincial government has an obligation towards consulting citizens on future projects and this is where consultations come to play in strengthening representative democracy and citizens sense of readiness. IWIP, at first empower women through education, there are classes that teach the English language and civics, and to apply their knowledge the trainees are asked to create reports on the demographics of their community. Newcomers need civic education to teach the importance of civic duties—voting, jury duty, and paying taxes. The more educated one is, the more likely they are to vote and more importantly be an informed voter, this is a major distinction as informed voters tend to vote for the common good. It is to our interest to promote educating citizens, be it the youth, New Canadians, or the general public, as informed citizenship will address the deficiency of reciprocity, readiness and reengage the y-generation towards politics. Minister, aside from deliberative democracy, well informed citizens are required for democracy thrives on informed citizens. Deliberative democracy and improved education provides an opportunity for citizens to be heard, it gives them a seat in decision making, as this gives strengthens citizens involvement in civic duties.

Minister, we must consider opportunities to address our state of disengagement through a reengaging civic duties that would strengthen the democratic governance. Deliberative democracy and improved education provides an opportunity for citizens to be heard, it gives them a seat on decision making, as such it gives citizens meaningful involvement.

Consideration:

Minister, deliberative democracy and improved education are the best means to improving readiness, reciprocity and educated citizens. No solution or solutions are ever risk free, this including deliberative democracy and improved education, however; the benefits of the recommendation outweigh the implications.

Deliberative democracy is expensive, it requires booking large venues to accommodate the community, it also has costs associated with promoting the event. Since deliberative democracy needs to provide access of information to the citizens costs of posting information via web or flying in experts can be very expensive. For instance Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC), spent 10,000 dollars for a 1.8 day session, when they engaged in deliberative democracy. Despite the high costs associated, TCHC, embraced deliberative democracy, because it makes their policymaking legitimate in the eyes of the citizens. Good policy is what most institutions seek, deliberative democracy allows policymakers to gain feedback from citizens, empowering both the individual and state. Poor communities such as Regent Park, can lower the costs associated with deliberative democracy by engaging stakeholders to absorb the costs. For instance, universities or colleges can host large venues and tend to provide non-profit organizations low cost to use lecture halls. Other than costs associated with hosting events, providing expert analysis and advertising the event. A mediator for hosting deliberative democracy needs to be patient and able to be productive, especially on highly publicized or critical policy implementation, where citizens maybe distributive. 

Improving education, allows citizens to be well-informed citizens, however; there are major issues that may lead to drawbacks, especially since education requires time. If you recall, Minister, NGOs provide services such as in-class training and internship opportunities, such as the IWIP provided by CCL&D. However; this requires the individual to come to these classes and at times choose between working or getting an education. Poor families or individuals, may find it difficult to choose an education, scarf icing time for education rather than income. Even so, Minister, communities like Regent Park are actively seeking education, especially immigrants. For instance IWIP—newcomer women, do not speak the language, have difficulty integrating, and as a result find it difficult to building relationships with community. IWIP trainees have been successful in getting jobs, volunteer, expand their social networks and have become model citizens.

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