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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.

The best quotes always came while at the bar, after the workshops and seminars. 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

Tory optimism cooling

Stephen Harper may still seek to control the message, but so far in 2015, he has been unable to control events. As the prime minister surveyed this election year from afar, he and party strategists thought they had a winning hand. They may yet, but the Conservatives will have to play the cards they’ve been dealt, not the cards they expected to draw. 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

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

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

Patient’s not failing

The main purpose of year-end reviews, of course, is to hold the ads apart. But they can also serve as a kind of annual check-up on the political health — and also on the economic, demographic and even physical health — of the planet and its teeming human population. 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

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

The time to act on climate change is now

Because we enjoy relatively pure air, clean water and healthy food systems, Canadians sometimes take the environment for granted. Many scarcely blink if oil from a pipeline spills into a river, a forest is cleared for tar sands operations or agricultural land is fracked for gas. If Arctic ice melts and part of the Antarctic ice sheet collapses, well… they’re far away. READ

Waiting on another coup in Thailand

If you are trying to get rid of the legitimately elected government of your country, it helps to have the Constitutional Court, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) and the Election Commission on your side. And Thailand’s Constitutional Court has come through for the opposition once again: it has just ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and nine of her cabinet ministers for improperly removing a civil servant from office. READ

Who will take charge of climate change?

It’s fitting that the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report was released during Earth Month. After all, the third chapter of its Fifth Assessment focuses on ways to keep our planet healthy and livable by warding off extreme climatic shifts and weather events caused by escalating atmospheric carbon. READ

Profitable pot revolution

When actors Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper hit the road on their choppers in the counterculture film Easy Rider, they cruised onto the big screen at the heart of the rise of recreational drug use, with marijuana at its epicentre. READ

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