Brian Lee Crowley

Ottawa Citizen/Postmedia columns

  • Reconciliation between Canadian Conservatives and Aboriginal Canada March 1, 2016

    In my latest screed for the Ottawa Citizen and other PostMedia dailies I make the case that the Tories have to change their image, as their UK cousins did, to escape being branded the “nasty party”. My suggested strategy is for them to embrace the rise and aspirations of Aboriginal Canada. Conservatives have a narrative about freedom, opportunity and the future that vibrates with the emerging younger generation of leaders and is a distinctive policy compared to the left’s preoccupation with the past and victimhood. And a side benefit would be that the Tories would be tackling directly and constructively the appalling conditions of many Aboriginal communities, helping to remove a stain on the conscience of Canada. Nor is this mere abstract theorising; the hundreds of deals that Aboriginal communities are striking today to develop natural resources on their lands are proof that Indigenous Canadians want real opportunity, not more empty rhetoric.

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  • Will tougher rules for approval win over pipeline opponents? January 30, 2016

    At a time when the federal and several provincial governments have raised the bar on environmental and other standards for the oil patch it is not churlish to ask the question: will these moves, which will add both time and money to already demanding approval processes, win over those people who oppose pipelines and claim that they have no “social licence”. That’s the issue I explore in my column today for the Ottawa Citizen, Calgary Herald and other PostMedia papers. You will be unsurprised to learn that my answer is, “No”. And that means that at some point politicians will have to stop pretending that all that is required is process tweaks, that a better process will win over opponents. It won’t and at some point politicians will have to choose sides. How uncomfortable! Poor things — I almost feel sorry for them. Almost….

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  • My New Year’s prediction: more frustration as government proves just as fallible in 2016 as 2015 January 5, 2016

    In my end of year prognostication column I boldly state that 2016…will be rather like 2015. This is particularly true in that Ottawa will continue to try and do three impossible things before breakfast — except because it is the activist Grits in charge it will be even clearer now that the issue is the competence and capacity of the state and not an ideological conservatism that is to blame:

    “The looming crisis of our democracy is the growing anger sparked by the clash between the public’s expectation that every problem can be legislated or regulated away by omnipotent government, and the reality that governments struggle  every day to do relatively simple tasks like deliver the mail, build needed infrastructure and equip our soldiers. Contrary to the expectations of many, this anger cannot be appeased by the election of an activist government. It will be exacerbated until the public’s exaggerated expectations can be brought into line with government’s actual abilities.”

    The piece, originally published in the Ottawa Citizen, clearly struck a nerve. It caused quite a stir in the Twittershphere and was republished by the National Post.

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  • China’s two-child policy no better than the old one-child one December 17, 2015

    Commentary in the West was largely silent or else vaguely supportive when China recently announced it was changing its deacdes-old “one-child policy” to a “two-child policy”. Allow me to be the exception. Whether the policy is one or two children is irrelevant. The fact that the Chinese state arrogates to itself the power to dictate such decisions to their citizens is quite unjustified for any rational policy reason (including “population control”) and is the pretext for an oppressive police state enforcement mechanism that has resulted in well-documented cases of the kidnapping of pregnant women and the forcible aborting of their unborn babies.  It is repugnant and we in the West should not abet it with our silence.

    Read the argument in my latest column for the Ottawa Citizen.

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  • The Liberals’ deep roots in free trade November 29, 2015

    In my early November column for the PostMedia papers (including the Calgary Herald and the Ottawa Citizen) I talk about the Liberals’ deep commitment to the ideal of free trade, reaching all the way back to Sir Wilfrid Laurier and beyond. Sir Wilfrid, who exhorted Canadains to “seek markets wherever they are to be found” would have been a huge advocate of the recently negotiated deals with the EU (CETA) and other Pacific Rim nation (TPP). The fact that they were one of the signature achievements of the outgoing government should not make the Liberals look any less kindly on them. Anyone interested in learning more about Sir Wilfrid’s amazingly modern vision for Canada and why all parties should be pursuing it, have a look at the book I co-authored with Jason Clemens and Niels Veldhuis called The Canadian Century.

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  • Canada paying price for decades of pipeline complacency September 27, 2015

    For the longest time Canada’s O&G industry reaped the benefits of having privileged access to the US market, serving regions that found it difficult or costly to bring in oil from other sources. But we assumed these golden conditions would last forever. They didn’t. Now instead of a cosy preferred supplier relationship with the US, the fracking revolution plus inadequate piupeline capacity is forcing us to sell our production at a painful discount to world prices–and the world price is low enough as it is! This is an object lesson in how canada traditionally manages its economic vulnerabilities, but shouldn’t, as I argue in my column for the 26 September edition of the Ottawa Citizen and other Postmedia papers.

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  • Why pursuing happiness makes many unhappy August 18, 2015

    It is fashionable in public policy circles to suggest that a chief object of such policy should be to promote “happiness” among the public and that we should therefore be less concerned with measures of economic growth than with measures of happiness in determining what policies to pursue.

    Thus when Pierre Trudeau once mused that we should obsess less about GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and more about NSB (Net Socfial Benefit) he was lionised as a great philosopher

    There may be some truth in this idea, but not all that much. In fact as I demonstrate in my column for the Ottawa Citizen and other Postmedia newspapers, happiness is a slippery concept that often means promoting the happiness of some immediately causes the unhappiness of others.

    While GDP may have its flaws, at least it measures something objective, and there are few people who would argue that they would like less rather than more of whatever it is they want (whether parks, or environmental protection or toasters or airplanes or hospitals or public transit). GDP measures our production of the means that each of us needs to pursue our own vision of happiness, and that is perhaps the best we can do….

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  • The Iran nuclear agreement: how not to do a deal August 5, 2015

    John Kerry and Barack Obama are travelling the US and the world vaunting their nuclear deal with Iran. Yet while any sane person hopes that this agreement will do all its negotiators claim, I think there is every reason to doubt that it will. In my July 17th column for the Ottawa Citizen and other Postmedia papers I lay out the case for thinking the US played a strong hand poorly and Iran came out of these negotiations the winner.

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  • 800 years ago, Magna Carta. Still worth celebrating today! June 16, 2015

    Click here for my take on why Magna Carta still matters to Canada 800 years after King John signed it under protest on a muddy field at Runnymede. A specially commisioned column by the Ottawa Citizen.

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  • Friendship in the Facebook Age May 31, 2015

    My latest column for the Ottawa Citizen deals with how friendship is changing, particularly for the rising generation, in an era where so many relationships are moving on-line. The ad campaign has it that the future is friendly. I wonder….

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Brian Lee Crowley