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Smart, witty, and thoughtful political conversations that break from the limits of the 24-hour news cycle and the 280 character limit. Listeners will come away with a deeper understanding of the history and implications of the issues that shape us and our environment, anchored in discussions about public policy, and supported by research. Open to Debate is a space for agreeable disagreement based on the belief that such exchanges are essential to the health of our democracy.
 
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Canada is home to several active nuclear power plants and is the second largest uranium producer in the world. Nuclear energy accounts for roughly 15 percent of the country’s energy production. In Ontario, it meets approximately 60 percent of the province’s energy needs. While the popular image of nuclear power is conditioned by infamous historical…
 
Everybody loves a trilogy. In March of 2020, host David Moscrop and guest Amanda Watson dug into how folks were managing their lives during the early days of the pandemic. In the spring of 2021, the two checked back to talk about managing anxiety in what was billed, optimistically, as the “late pandemic.” Now, just under two years into this whole t…
 
Canada is home to structural racism. As much as some might wish to exempt our provinces, cities, political parties, laws, policies, and institutions from systematic exploitation and discrimination, such practices are routine. They are embedded in the fabric of our social, political, and economic lives. To better understand how these systems work, w…
 
Climate change is real, it is caused by human beings, and it is an existential threat to humankind. Politicians and industry leaders now claim to be taking it seriously. Their performances often fall short of their promises. Theoretical physicist and author Steven Koonin, however, extends climate critique to scientists and the media, arguing that w…
 
For decades, we’ve heard about the rise of China. A major historical and contemporary power, the country shapes domestic and global politics -- as Canada knows quite well. And yet, coverage of China, its affairs, and its international relations is often hyperbolic, skewed, and incomplete. A new book from a veteran reporter on China-Canada relations…
 
Managing the pandemic has required a delicate balance of expert guidance and government decision making. While experts provide knowledge essential for deciding what we should do and how we should do it, politicians are ultimately accountable to the public for the policies, laws, and programs they adopt. So, what is the role of experts during a pand…
 
Surveying the state of market competition in Canada, you might be forgiven for thinking the country is a handful of companies in a trench coat. One of the central critiques of capitalism is that it tends towards monopoly -- or at least oligopoly. Canada is a telling case study that supports the hypothesis. Market monopoly and oligopoly makes for a …
 
Canada’s 44th general election is underway. On September 20th, electors will return the members of Parliament who will decide who governs the country. When casting a ballot, however, voters typically think of political parties and their leaders. So, we ask: What are the policy priorities of Canada’s political parties? On this episode of Open to Deb…
 
Let’s start with a little celebration: This is the 50th episode of Open to Debate! Thanks to each and every one of you for listening. We look forward to many episodes to come. For this milestone moment, we are excited to welcome a special guest to help us navigate the question: What is the state of Canada’s courts? Plus, as a bonus, we get into the…
 
The free market is notorious for its contradictions and inequities. Competition tends towards monopoly. Owners accrue capital at the top but extract it from labour at the bottom. Large enterprises enter, disrupt, and even decimate communities, often leaving workers holding the bag, worse off than they were before. It doesn’t have to be this way. Th…
 
Despite a steady stream of news about the politics of the day, each of us might be forgiven for being unsure what a member of Parliament actually does. Even members themselves, from time to time, seem unsure. Are they lawmakers? Government foot soldiers? Opposition sentries? Committee investigators? Community service-persons? Issue advocates? An ad…
 
In 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States recognized same-sex marriage in the country as a fundamental right protected by the Constitution. The ruling was the culmination of decades of legal battles and advocacy labour by the gay rights community and their allies. The story of same-sex marriage in the United States is long and complicated. Bu…
 
June is Pride Month. For decades, the 2SLGTBQ+ community and their allies have been advocating and organizing for rights recognition. This month is both a celebration of that community and a remembrance of the struggle for justice and equality. A struggle that is ongoing. Even as we celebrate Pride, the Canadian government is fighting to uphold a d…
 
There are plenty of criticisms of democracy in Canada. While the country ranks in the upper echelons of mainstream reviewers concerned with global comparisons, there are disconcerting cracks in the foundation of our self-government. Indeed, the foundation itself is fundamentally flawed. One could—and should—point out the country’s inequities and in…
 
In March of last year, David Moscrop spoke with feminist theorist and friend Amanda Watson about managing life during the pandemic. The conversation included thoughts about compassion, care, inequity, resistance, and, of course, anxiety. Just over a year later, as the end of the pandemic begins, the two revisit that conversation. This time the focu…
 
In Canada and around the world, anxious, weary populations are looking forward to returning to something that will approximate normal life. That return is predicated on, among other things, mass Covid-19 vaccination efforts that continue along slow and steady. As more of us get the jab, states, including Canada, are considering vaccine certificatio…
 
In Canada, wireless and broadband prices are too damned high. Why? The recent news of a merger attempt by Rogers and Shaw gives us a hint—and a look into the world of telecom strategy and oligopoly. Indeed, observers would be forgiven for thinking the country is a handful of telecom companies in a trenchcoat, perhaps with an airline or two crammed …
 
Canada’s political left is facing a series of choices. What kind of movement should it pursue in the face of contemporary challenges at home and around the world? How can left-wing parties win at the local, provincial, and federal orders of government? Should communists, socialists, and social democrats work together -- and, if so, when and how? Al…
 
In early March, Ontario surpassed 7,000 Covid deaths, over 3700 of which occurred in the province’s long-term care facilities. Around the country, suffering and death in care homes is part of an emergency that has long been ignored -- an emergency that pre-existed the pandemic. Precarious work, low pay, inadequate staffing, neglect, abuse, unreason…
 
We have been at...all of this for about a year now. Maybe it feels longer for you. Maybe it feels shorter. Maybe time has lost all meaning. Whatever the case, on this episode of Open to Debate, we are taking a deep breath and mixing things up as we celebrate our 40th episode and process 12 months of pandemic life. How do we simultaneously celebrate…
 
Throughout the pandemic, the quality and success of communications from government, public health officials, elected representatives, and others tasked with keeping us in the loop have been, let’s say, inconsistent. There have been highs and there have been lows. Quality has varied across jurisdictions. And it shows. While approaches to good commun…
 
In late January, the House of Commons unanimously voted on a resolution, proposed by NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, to call on the government to “use all available tools to address the proliferation of white supremacists and hate groups.” The motion included a specific focus on designating the Proud Boys as a terrorist organization. . The rise of white …
 
Lady A has been in the music industry for decades. In recent months, she has been in the national spotlight in the United States for reasons other than her music. After the band Lady Antebellum shortened their name to “Lady A” in the wake of the death of George Floyd to dissociate themselves from the “Antebellum South” and the racism bound up with …
 
For as long as anyone can remember, talk about deficits and the debt have been central to political life. How much can we spend? On what? What are the trade-offs? What will it cost? I mean, what will it really cost. If politics is about choosing, if it is about, as the classic phrase goes, “Who gets what, when, and how?” then spending constraints a…
 
Throughout the country, politicians and policymakers routinely talk about the need to address Canada’s historic and ongoing colonial practices. Talk is plentiful. Action, less so. Among the many manifestations of Canada’s legacy and present-day colonialism is a healthcare and healing crisis in which Indigenous Peoples are overrepresented among thos…
 
Around the world, the calls have begun to “build back better.” The slogan, or some variant of it, is ubiquitous. Even as we continue to manage life during the pandemic, we start to look beyond it, towards something better, we hope. In Canada, the idea of a universal basic income has been circulating for decades. However, as the discussions and deba…
 
Around the world, the race is on to develop a Covid-19 vaccine. So far, nearly 200 candidates are in the works, including dozens at the human-trial stage. The optimistic experts tell us that a vaccine could be ready this year or early next, and set for distribution by mid-to-late 2021. The pessimists suggest it could take longer. But few doubt that…
 
In the United States, the votes have been cast. In some jurisdictions, they are still being counted despite the best efforts of President Trump to stop it. But counted they will be. The presidential election was closer than many expected, despite Joe Biden winning more votes than any contender in U.S. history. We are left with questions about the B…
 
On Tuesday, November 3rd, Americans will head to the polls in the country’s 59th election. After four years in power, Donald Trump’s presidency is on the ballot and on the ropes—things are not looking good for the incumbent. But will the US election be free and fair? For years, Trump has been working to undermine the integrity of American electoral…
 
Over 500,000 people die around the world each year from drug use, and the vast majority of those deaths are related to opioids. Thousands of the lives lost are Canadian lives. The old ways of thinking about, legislating around, and policing drug use have failed. New ways of thinking about drug policy, including an emphasis on safe supply, destigmat…
 
In Canada, the opioid crisis has killed thousands of people and continues to claim more lives each and every day. In August, British Columbia marked its third straight month with over 170 deaths by overdose - and its fifth-straight month with over 100 lives lost. In Canada’s westernmost province, the crisis has been, by far, deadlier than covid-19.…
 
Democracy is in decline in the United States of America. While President Trump is hastening that decline, he is neither the initial nor the sole cause of it. Indeed, prior to Trump’s election, the Economist, in its Democracy Index, downgraded the USA from “Full Democracy” to “Flawed Democracy,” citing the concerns that would help give rise to the 4…
 
For over a year, Open to Debate has brought you smart, witty and thoughtful political conversations on current affairs, to help make sense of today's politics and policy, in Canada and around the world. At its core, Open to Debate is a space for agreeable disagreement, driven by the belief that honest, meaningful and vigorous discussion are essenti…
 
Social media has opened up opportunities for sharing, networking, self-expression, and collaboration that were previously difficult, if not impossible for many. In plenty of ways, it has pluralized and democratized communication. While social media offers opportunities, it also comes with risks and costs. At times, it becomes an utter wasteland: a …
 
The year 2020 will be, for many, the most difficult year of their life. And yet, there will still be difficult years ahead. We are living through a pandemic. We are facing structural shifts in the global order. We are witnessing the decline of democracy, or at least its stagnation. We are grappling with climate change. The struggles we face are sha…
 
In the United States, the United Kingdom, and around the world, protestors are defacing and toppling statues of figures whose legacy of deeds include oppression, violence, and death. While these monuments purport to celebrate these individuals for other reasons, the mere presence of such tributes speaks to a particular construction and understandin…
 
In June, Canada lost its bid for a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council. The loss came after four years of campaigning for the spot and is reminiscent of Stephen Harper’s 2010 failure. Back then, we lost to Germany and Portugal. This time, it was to Ireland and Norway. Each time, we have been left asking: Why? Previously, going bac…
 
Since the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, observers have been talking about the “egalitarian” nature of the virus. ‘Covid-19 doesn’t discriminate’ has been a common refrain. But while the virus itself may have common effects across populations, the pandemic and its consequences are far from equally shared. As with many public health challenges…
 
Around the world, Black Lives Matter and their allies - are demanding justice -- and structural change -- in response to years upon years of racist violence, marginalization, and repression. In many instances, activists are being met with further state violence at the hands of police and resistance from elected representatives and officials. Despit…
 
Humankind is facing an extraordinary threat. No, not that threat. The other one. Climate change. And we are running out of time to develop and implement solutions to meet the challenge -- or, at least, to mitigate the worst of what’s coming. Tackling the climate crisis requires radical change, including adaptations to -- or perhaps upheavals of -- …
 
As of May 18th, 2020 there are more than 1.52 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States of America. While 280,000 people have recovered from the virus, 90,000 have died -- the most of any country in the world. The American response to the pandemic has been criticized, appropriately, by just about everyone who is paying attention. And…
 
Canadians like to tell themselves stories about the serene, progressive country they call home. In certain imaginations, Canada is immune to the social and political toxicity we find around the world -- especially that which we find to the south of us. And yet, a cursory glance at our past and our present tells another tale. Racial prejudice is emb…
 
The coronavirus pandemic continues. So does lockdown. Before the crisis, many of us used the internet for our day-to-day and month-to-month tasks. During the crisis, more of these tasks will be online. No doubt, that will continue in the future -- and change too. But we must be able to trust this digital identity: trust that it is safe and reliable…
 
As the coronarvius pandemic continues, a mutual aid movement known as ‘caremongering’ has emerged in Canada. The endeavour is encouraging and welcome, but it isn’t new. Mutual aid and solidarity have long been practiced, especially in racialized, disabled, and Indigenous communities. On this episode of Open to Debate, David Moscrop talks with inter…
 
The COVID-19 virus has upended life around the world. On this special episode of Open to Debate, David Moscrop sits down -- remotely -- with professor, author, parent, and friend Amanda Watson to ask: How do we manage life during COVID-19? We discuss how she and others are managing life during the pandemic and how a lens of compassion and care can …
 
Masculinity dominates our social, political, cultural, and economic lives. As a way of seeing and being in the world, it is often narrow-minded, aggressive, and oppressive. Toxic conceptions of masculinity are a threat to all of us; but they are also social constructions. As such, they can be deconstructed and reconstructed in the service of a heal…
 
In January, the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel released its report ‘Canada’s Communications Future: Time to Act’. The recommendations are sprawling; some are wise and timely, others are invasive and unnecessary, advocating a highly regulated internet and an interventionist communications regulator in service of, among …
 
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