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Where’s the commitment to defeating ISIL?

Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was in London last week, telling the Western media how helpful Ankara was being in the struggle against the terrorist “Islamic State” that has emerged in northern Syria and Iraq. Turkey is doing everything it can, he said — although, of course, “We cannot put troops everywhere on the border.”

Turkey’s open border has become a sore point with its Western allies, who suspect that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is deliberately allowing a steady flow of recruits and supplies to Islamic State because he still wants the Sunni rebels, most of whom are jihadi extremists, to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s Shia ruler. (Erdogan is no jihadi, but he is a devout and militant Sunni Islamist.) READ

Starting from scratch

Last August, when he was still an outsider wanting to get inside, Jim Prentice proposed a three-term limit for provincial MLAs. Now that he’s premier, that hasn’t been so much on the radar, much less the agenda. But MLAs in all three major parties in our province have been doing a lot of that work for him. In the next provincial election, not one of the current party leaders will have fought a provincial campaign before, not as leader. READ

Medium and message

Communication is our business, not our practice. That’s one of the quotes I’ll always remember from the old days, back when newspaper types used to gather at provincial conferences to discuss their dark trade. READ

Oil prices drop as global warming rises

With oil prices plunging from more than $100 a barrel last summer to below $50 now, the consequences of a petro-fuelled economy are hitting home — especially in Alberta, where experts forecast a recession. READ

Being goaded into delivering a punch

A little bit of Latin always raises the tone of an article, so here (with thanks to the classical correspondent of The Observer) is a sentence that may prove useful to Pope Francis: “agite tentaque si fortiores vos putatis.” READ

Living on table scraps

There’s poverty and there’s poverty, so the saying goes. When do-gooders talk about poverty in a place like Red Deer as a root cause of family breakdown, depression, drug addiction, crime and homelessness, do-nothings suggest the “poverty line” here is way too arbitrary. READ

Gender revolution brewing in political backrooms

When federal votes are counted in 2015, our next prime minister will be a man. But pull back the curtain. For the first time in history, the three major federal campaigns in this country are being run by women and this might be the biggest leap forward in gender politics in recent memory. READ

Going beyond rhetoric

At a time when Canada is headed for the political trenches for a take-no-prisoners fall election, the final sitting of the current Parliament would normally have been reduced to a venue for self-serving partisan rhetoric. READ

Publish and be damned?

I haven’t been there often, but in this business, sooner or later you are going to offend someone. Fortunately, the consequences are most often a blow to the ego (a metaphorical punch-back in the nose) or financial (repent publicly or pay a fine). READ

Shifting gears on energy

Abundant, cheap fossil fuels have driven explosive technological, industrial and economic expansion for more than a century. The pervasive infrastructure developed to accommodate this growth makes it difficult to contemplate rapidly shifting away from coal, oil and gas, which creates a psychological barrier to rational discourse on energy issues. READ

Asylum-seekers: the limits of tolerance

The language of the immigration debate in Germany has got harsh and extreme. German Chancellor Angela Merkel attacked the anti-immigration movement in her New Year speech, saying its leaders have “prejudice, coldness, even hatred in their hearts.” READ

Top of Harper’s to-do list

We all have our little rituals on our first day back in the office in a new year. Some of us delete old emails. Others might start filling in a new calendar. READ

Extracting some hard truths from Dalhousie mess

The University of Dalhousie’s school of dentistry finally announced on Monday that there will be a partial suspension of the 13 students, members of a “Gentleman’s Club,” for misogynist Facebook postings. That hardly makes them special, since the entire fourth-year dentistry class has yet to return from the Christmas break and get back to work. All other classes have already resumed, but school management is keeping the fourth-year class out for now. READ

Politics as seduction

Take a bow, hard-working taxpayer. This is your year. You will be known by your moniker, to be repeated over and over by your federal government. You will be known by the indignities visited upon you, according to our opposition parties. READ

Resistance is futile

You know how people (and especially people who report on health studies) tell you that nearly everything you can think of will give you cancer these days? Or that nearly anything can prevent (or even cure) cancer, if you take enough of it? READ

Like dimes in a cash can

Around this time of year, I like to remind people to be a little charitable. Just a little. To decide to make gifts so small you don’t even notice them. If all of us did this, the cumulative power of many small donations to local charities can be extremely powerful. It only takes a mass acceptance that this is needed, and that it works. READ

Punishment fits crime

The case of self-admitted “arrogant pissant” Justin Bourque signals a new era for Canada’s criminal justice system, which now has the power to lock up killers and throw away the keys. READ

Energy agenda loses steam

Just when Prime Minister Stephen Harper declined to join other world leaders on the podium of the United Nations climate change summit, the climate for his ambitious energy agenda continued to deteriorate across Canada. READ

Tories defy democracy

There was little doubt the federal government would approve the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project, regardless of public opposition or evidence presented against it. READ

A transit system travesty

The Advocate article on Tuesday said Red Deer is the largest city in Alberta that has no program for a lower-cost transit pass for low-income and disabled people. While that is true as far as it goes, the reality behind this is actually worse. READ

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