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CONFIRMATION BIAS

We have all heard about confirmation bias, the natural but generally unhelpful tendency that we all have that leads us to interpret new evidence with respect to any topic as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories. Too often these days, confirmation bias is the principal driver of an increasingly polarized political culture. The animus of confirmation bias undoubtedly had much to do with Brett Kavanaugh finding himself before the US Senate Judiciary Committee addressing events that had allegedly occurred 36 years ago when he was a seventeen-year-old high school student.  With very few exceptions, those that believed Dr. Ford’s […]

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DEMOCRACY NOTWITHSTANDING

The kerfuffle surrounding the recent announcement of Doug Ford’s intention to invoke the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is an interesting one.  Usually when the Right and Left square off on some issue of the day, it is the product of one of those classic conflicts of competing sacrosanct principles; usually freedom of speech versus the equality rights of one of the many groups recognized and protected by the Charter.  But in this case, each side is basing their support or opposition to this government action as a defence of the same fundamental right, that […]

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POPULISM AND POLITICS IN THE AGE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Both Canadians and Americans are once again debating the responsible use of Twitter as an instrument of political discourse.  The circumstances giving rise to that debate, however, could not be more different, and demonstrate a fundamental divergence in the expectations of the electorate in the two countries. On August 2nd, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland expressed alarm at the imprisonment of Saudi women’s and civil rights activist Samar Badawi, and confirmed that Canadians “continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi” (Raif Badawi is Samar’s brother, whose wife and children fled from Saudi Arabia […]

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