Brian Lee Crowley

Ottawa Citizen/Postmedia columns

  • Who speaks for Islam? September 12, 2014

    Back from my summer break my first column of the season for the Ottawa Citizen asks whether Western politicians aren’t whistling past the graveyard when they so blithely assert that Islam is a “religion of peace”. It is partly that, and partly a religion that gives inspiration and comfort to radical Islamist Jihadists. In reality we are living through a global civil war for the soul of Islam. We have not yet seen the end of the consequences for us all.

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  • Cameras and politics: a match made in hell August 1, 2014

    The news that the Senate is about to follow the Commons in allowing television (a mere 37 years later — that’s sober second thought for you!) brought back memories of what the Commons was like before the TV cameras. I share my reflections on how TV has changed parliament in my column for tomorrow’s Ottawa Citizen and many other Postmedia newspapers. Warning for the faint of heart: it ain’t pretty.

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  • Why the Parliamentary Budget Officer needs a few mental health days July 18, 2014

    The Parliamentary Budget Officer recently released a paper explaining why it doesn’t actually cost the government anything when civil servants take sick leave. His conclusion was, IMHO, so bizarre that I felt compelled to devote my latest column for the Ottawa Citizen and other Postmedia papers to dissecting it. My conclusion, which I was too polite to express this way in the column itself, was that the only way that it can cost nothing extra if public servants are absent is if they’re not doing anything when they are there. Somehow I don’t think that’s what the fans of the PBO’s paper had in mind as a conclusion….

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  • Big data is here. Will Canada embrace or rebuff it? July 4, 2014

    In my weekly screed, this time for the Ottawa Citizen and other Postmedia papers, I think about some of the potential of Big Data to transform our economic and social lives and maybe even our health. But at the same time as we can see as through a glass darkly where big data may be leading us, Canada is sending signals that it may well not be welcome. This wouldn’t merely be an economic loss of sizeable proportions. It would deprive us of the benefits of the self-knowledge that big data makes possible.

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  • Right to be forgotten vs duty to remember June 27, 2014

    In the wake of the European Court of Justice’s decision to create a “right to be forgotten” by Google’s search engine the National Post has been running a series of article’s about the decision’s meaning and effects. They kindly asked me to contribute and my piece asks the question, ‘if there is a duty that corresponds to every right, what is the duty that corresponds to the right to be forgotten?’ The answer must be that we have a duty to forget. But we have no such duty — au contraire! It is our duty to remember and to defend the integrity of the historical record.

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  • Why do the experts always seem to contradict one another? June 21, 2014

    Eat butter. No. don’t! Stay out of the sun! Make more natural vitamin D! Oat bran’s a wonder food. No it’s worthless. Don’t smoke! Smoking helps stave off Alzheimer’s. Salt is good, No it’s bad, No it’s good again….

    You get the drift. Why do the experts always seem to contradict one another? And in the face of some much mutually contradictory expert advice, what should you do? My expert advice in the Ottawa Citizen and other Postmedia papers, LOL!

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  • D-Day, the Cold War and Putin’s challenge to the West June 7, 2014

    In the latest of my seemingly endless screeds for the Ottawa Citizen and other PostMedia newspapers today I mine the D-Day invasion and the West’s success in the Cold War for lessons to apply to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s challenge to the values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. Relax, Mr Obama: We don’t have to engage the Russians militarily.  On the other hand, if we don’t show an unwavering willingness to do so if necessary, he will continue his campaign to re-create Russian greatness and a bi-polar world at our expense and that of weaker countries on his borders and perhaps farther afield. The longer we delay in responding decisively, the more emboldened he will become.

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  • Right to remember vs Right to be forgotten May 23, 2014

    In my latest column for the Ottawa Citizen and other Postmedia papers I dissect the significance of the European Court of Justice’s decision to recognise an individual’s “right to be forgotten.” The form this right takes is to order Google to remove links from their search results when the subjects of the links believe information they contain about their past may be injurious to them in the present. Warning: spoiler. The tenor of the article is summed up in the concluding sentences: “For there to be a right to be forgotten, someone must have the power to erase the record. That’s far worse than being remembered.”

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  • No Justice and no Truth? Then no Peace May 10, 2014

    Recent events in both South Africa (successful elections) and Northern Ireland (arrest and release of Gerry Adams) provide the backdrop for this week’s column in the Ottawa Citizen and other Postmedia papers. The moral of the story is that pursuit of peace for its own sake is doomed to failure, for true enduring peace is the outgrowth of justice and truth.

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  • No time to give up on Senate reform April 26, 2014

    The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled out almost all of Ottawa’s attempt at Senate reform that would skirt the need for a constitutional amendment. So be it (even though I think, as usual, the SCC has abused its power and mistaken itself for God rather than the guardian of the law as actually written…). In my column for the Citizen and other Postmedia papers, I lay out the case why we should redouble our efforts and confront the need for constitutional change head on.

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Brian Lee Crowley