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Governance Health Human rights Justice Population

Bill C-14, an assisted suicide and euthanasia law by any other name

Canadian Members of Parliament are set to vote on Bill C-14, also known as the Medical Assistance in Dying Bill. The bill will repeal numerous legal protections against assisted suicide and euthanasia in the Criminal Code, in line with 2012 Supreme Court of Britisch Columbia and  2015  Supreme Court of Canada decisions that found such protections unconstitutional. Notably, both Parliament and the courts have reversed course on previous decisions that upheld the constitutionality of those same legal protections under nearly identical circumstances.

Bill C-14 has been promoted by the federal government as taking a conservative approach, only allowing assistance in cases where “death is reasonably foreseeable” and implementing “safeguards” against abuse. However, as written it clearly contemplates broadly legalising assisted suicide and euthanasia, even for “mature minors” and those with mental illness.

Conspicuously absent from the debate has been any discussion about the experience with similar legislation in the United States and European Union, where both legal and medical reviews have been decidedly critical, second-guessing the wisdom of even having such legislation. That’s likely because the rationale for such laws, the topic to be covered here, is questionable at best.

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Accountability Governance Population Privacy Transparency

The likely reason millions of Canadians have yet to complete 2016 census

The vast majority of Canadians were furious when, in the summer of 2010, the federal government of the day decided to exclude the long-form questionnaire from the 2011 census. They were enthusiastic to fill out their long-form census questionnaires. They had practically no security or privacy concerns.

At least that was the popular media narrative.

Only a few months later, Canadians handed the same government that made that seemingly fateful decision its first majority. Despite their supposed enthusiasm, one in three Canadian households opted not to complete the voluntary 2011 National Household Survey (68.6% unweighted response rate) – and that’s with Statscan spending tens of millions more on ‘follow-up’ and accepting forms with as few as 10 of 84 questions completed. As it turned out, security and privacy were the primary reasons prosecuted census refuseniks offered for their refusal to comply.

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Environment Governance Innovation Population Transportation

A different approach to an Uber problem

It seems there’s no end to the Uber drama in Canada. Major urban centres across the country continue to debate how best to deal with the supposed ride-‘sharing’ service. Vancouver is leaning toward regulating the service, in a similar manner to taxis; Calgary’s already proceeded to do so. Montréal has banned the service until it can decide how to deal with it. Edmonton, Ottawa and now Toronto have passed bylaws to legalise the service, with conditions.

One possible approach that has received little consideration to date is co-optation. Given what appear to be the company’s future designs, that could prove a critical oversight.

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Accountability Governance Population Transparency

With 2016 census ‘restored’, it feels like 2006 all over again

Statistics Canada started sending out its 2016 Census letters this week. Shortly after taking office, the recently elected federal government once again made it mandatory for survey respondents to complete the long form questionnaire, presumably restoring the census.

Contrary to promises it made last year while still sitting in opposition, the current federal government did not make any changes to the Statistics Act, which appears to have been last amended in 2005. That means  Statscan can, and, if history is anything to go by, will once again be threatening non-respondents with jail time. Effectively, the clock has been set back to May 2006, when the conditions were already in place for the eventual long form census cancellation.

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Environment Governance Innovation Population Transportation

Why focus should be on mass transit instead of tolls to relieve traffic congestion, part two

Map 1 Usually take public transit to work
2006_2B_CSD_CT_MoT_transit_Montreal
Map 2 Usually vehicle passenger to work
2006_2B_CSD_CT_MoT_passenger_Montreal
Map 3 Usually drive vehicle to work
2006_2B_CSD_CT_MoT_driver_Montreal

Source(s): 2006 Census (20% sample) topic-based tabulations

As previously discussed, variable-rate tolling as a means of moderating traffic congestion in Canada makes little sense. Unable to cite relevant research to support its “toll everything everywhere” proposal, the recent paper from Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission (CEC) instead turned to reviewing anecdotal evidence from the USA, Canada and Sweden.

Notably, the Canadian examples referenced were Toronto and Calgary. As previously mentioned, the CEC conceded Toronto’s 407 ETR did not work as intended. The Calgary example, along with one from San Francisco, of a variable-rate parking scheme, has neither proven effective nor popular. Another example, of a distance-traveled toll scheme in Oregon, likewise neither proven effective nor popular (and highlights an important privacy issue). 4 of the 6 anecdotes CEC could come up with were ineffective and unpopular.

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Environment Governance Innovation Population Transportation

Why focus should be on mass transit instead of tolls to relieve traffic congestion, part one

MTO_401_Keele_1970_2005

It’s déjà vu all over again. By extolling the virtue of variable-rate tolls on all highways and bridges leading into major Canadian central business districts, the recent paper by Montréal’s latest conservative think tank, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission (CEC), mimics the 2008 proposal by the even more conservative Montréal Economic Institute.

The latest proposal was dead on arrival. The recently elected Prime Minister of Canada had campaigned on a promise to scrap his predecessor’s toll plan for the new Champlain Bridge in Montréal. Québec’s Transport Minister, also the Minister responsible for the Montréal region, immediately scuttled the CEC proposal. In doing so, he succinctly made a point that all such proposals glance over: “What are we offering as an alternative?”

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Health Media

As WHO affirms link between meat consumption and cancer risk, Canada frets over bacon

Figure 3. Non-linear dose-response meta-analysis of red and processed meats consumption and the risk of colorectal cancer

Source(s): Chan DS, Lau R, Aune D, et al. Red and processed meat and colorectal cancer incidence: meta-analysis of prospective studies. PLoS One 2011; 6: e20456.

This week, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), released a long-overdue monograph1 affirming the link between meat consumption and cancer risk.  After reviewing more than 800 studies, the IARC decided to classify processed meat as a known carcinogen (Group 1), and red meat in general as a probable carcinogen (Group 2A). The agency urged public health officials to re-examine their dietary recommendations. Those anticipating the Canadian media to objectively inform the public of the news and start a rational dialogue may have been disappointed.

A news segment by Canada’s national broadcaster interviewed a cattleman who viewed the report as “an attack“ on his industry. The reporter referred to it as an “added hit” to declining beef and pork sales before queuing up a spokesman for the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. He urged Canadians to ignore the findings and follow Canada’s Food Guide recommendations, as did the family physician who closed the segment.

Canada’s ‘national newspaper’ fared no better. It published an editorial that was criticised by readers for insulting their intelligence, and a column by its public health reporter that urged readers to ignore the supposedly misleading report – even as it misrepresented its content.

Categories
Governance

Proportional representation in context of recent Canadian election history

Chart 1 Federal election results by seat and vote shares, 1993-2015
Federal election seat and vote shares 1993-2015
Source(s): Elections Canada

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Accountability Governance Media Trade and investment

Will Trans-Pacific Partnership diversify Canadian economy? Not a chance.

The recent Globe and Mail leaders’ debate focused on the economy. One important – albeit crudely constructed – question asked during the debate was: “Do you have a jobs plan for industry beyond taking things out of the ground”. The question presumed that natural resource extraction has been a big employment driver in Canada, which it hasn’t. That aside, the implicit question was whether the aspiring leaders had a plan for, or even wished to see, greater industrial diversification in Canada. None of the candidates provided a direct response to the question. However, one response in particular stood out for its reference to international trade.

Categories
Governance Transparency

2011 NHS: Illustrating why the data is still as unreliable as ever

Map 1 Global non-response, 2011 NHS2011_NHS_FED2013ord_CT_GNR_Toronto
Map 2 Low income, 2006 Census2006_2B_FED2013ord_CT_LICO_Toronto Map 3 Visible minority, 2006 Census2006_2B_FED2013ord_CT_VISMIN_Toronto