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Recharging North America: The Trade Issue

November/December 2022

It’s no fun saying we told you so, but today the sad signs that we were right are unmistakable—from unmitigated climate change to stagnating incomes to widening inequality in much of the world. This issue of the Monitor looks at the cracks in the neoliberal consensus with respect to trade—including in the United States—and how Canada should respond.

The Politics of Affordability

September/October 2022

It has been a long, long time since Canadians had to worry about high inflation, let alone rapidly rising interest rates. In moments like this, opposition parties can be quick to capitalize on the politics of affordability. Queue Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Pollievre, who has been feasting on the politics of inflation and interest rates all summer long. In this edition of the Monitor Randy Robinson writes about how the right weaponizes inflation in his article “The Devil’s Crowbar.”

The future of growth

July/August 2022

As the impacts of climate change remind us of the quiet, and not so quiet, limits of growth, this issue of The Monitor examines growth through the lens of inclusion, sustainability and well-being. It’s chock full of insights, including: What’s so bad about growth? Randy Robinson’s must-read guest editorial focuses on a real tension: we’re taught to think growth is good, but it has its downsides.

The July/August Monitor also includes the latest edition of Our Schools / Our Selves. It focuses on how the privatization of our public schools has become normalized. But the other side of the discussion is about the power and potential of public investment in our schools and communities. You cannot build social change on a foundation of what effectively amounts to party favours. If we do not lift each other up without payment or incentive, wondering: "what's in it for me?" then it’s not progress at all.

Hatred unmasked: Tracking the rise of right-wing extremism in Canada

May/June 2022

Radicalization has been documented as a process that occurs when “individuals are destabilized by various environmental factors, exposed to extremist ideology, and subsequently reinforced by members of their community.” It’s hard to think of an event in Canada’s recent history more destabilizing than the ongoing pandemic. Public health measures put in place to save lives and reduce demand on taxed health care infrastructures did more than disrupt the financial security of millions of Canadians. It eroded daily social routines and networks that people relied on and amplified the importance of online spaces.

Ottawa has become a hotspot for extremist gatherings this year, with the January-February Freedom Convoy being the most notable example.

How do we take this moment as a harbinger, address the threat it represents and prevent a broader sea change that makes Canada more amenable to radicalized views?

When we examine how right wing spaces are becoming increasingly radicalized, it is critical to also create space to explore the impacts that this radicalization is having on marginalized communities.

Recognizing that the work of addressing radicalization is long and complicated, how do we centre the communities most affected by hatred and violence? How can we create spaces of safety, even in moments of uncertainty?

Reimagining the future of Canada's public transit

March/April 2022

In the two years since Canada’s pandemic experience began, transit ridership across the country has plummeted. Or perhaps, more accurately, riders who had the ability to work remotely or the ability to find alternate transportation to work did so. Early in the pandemic, ridership in Toronto, for example, declined as much as 85% resulting in a $21 million per week revenue loss for the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). In turn, the TTC laid off 450 employees and reduced service. Calgary saw a similar drop of 90%, while Vancouver reported an 83% drop in ridership early in the pandemic.

At the same time, the 2021 annual report from the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) advocated for a net-zero scenario, which would give humankind the greatest chance of surviving and mitigating the ongoing climate crisis. But achieving this requires a steep drop in demand for fossil fuels by 2030. Achieving this requires thriving, accessible transit systems across Canada.

The March/April issue of the Monitor explores saving, reinvesting in and reimagining Canada’s public transit systems. How do we fund a better transit system? What does a functional intercity transit system look like? What does a thriving accessible transit system look like? Where can we draw inspiration from? What lessons can we learn from Ottawa’s P3 experience?

Twenty years of anti-terrorism legislation

January/February 2022

In the aftermath of September 11, Canada’s Anti-terrorism Act (ATA), Bill C-36, received Royal Assent on December 18, 2001.1 Subsequent anti-terror and security bills have followed C-36, including Bill C-51, Bill C-24, and Bill S-7, expanding powers and curtailing freedoms. At the same time, new digital technologies that could not have been foreseen in 2001 have since made it easier than ever to track and document the movement and behaviours of citizens across the country.

Bill C-36, bills that followed and the broader public discourse around anti-terror measures have for two decades consistently sown seeds of hatred and suspicion against entire communities in Canada. This hatred has most notably culminated in the 2017 Québec City mosque shooting2 and the targeted hate crime against a Muslim family in London, Ontario this past summer.3

Bill C-36 also (further) criminalized protest in Canada. While the early signs of this were seen at the first major protest event held in Canada post-9/11, the 2002 G8 Summit in Kananaskis,4 the level of security surveillance and police violence reached a new heights at the Toronto G20 protests in 2010,5 at homeless encampments in Ontario6 and at the Fairy Creek and Wet'suwet'en blockades this past year.7

The January/February issue of the Monitor explores life 20 years after the introduction of Bill C-36. Our contributors explore how do Canada can begin to repair the damage two decades of Islamophobia has done to Muslim communities; what new facial recognition mean for privacy rights writ large; exploring what CSIS was collecting in the Protest Papers and more.


1 Government of Canada, Department of Justice. 2021, July 7. About the Anti-terrorism Act

2 Zine, Jasmin. 2021, January 28. Remembering the Québec City mosque attack: Islamophobia and Canada’s national amnesia. The Conversation.

3 Gilmour, Rachel. 2021, June 10. What is the government doing about Islamophobia in Canada? Here’s what we know. Global News.

4 Bergman, B. 2002, June 17. Ready for the G8.

5 2020, Aug 18. Toronto police pay $16.5m to protesters wrongfully held at 2010 G20 summit. The Guardian.

6 Gray, Jeff. 2021, Sept 21. Toronto spent $2-million clearing three homeless encampments in parks this summer. The Globe and Mail.

7 Cox, Sarah. 2021, Aug 25. Fairy Creek is set to become the largest act of civil disobedience in Canada’s history. The Narwhal.

Cover artwork for the January/February issue was done by Doan Truong.

The Big Ideas Issue

November/December 2021

The weekend before this issue of the Monitor went live, the northern lights were visible across North America in areas that they normally wouldn't be visible.

It feels particularly special to have the night sky light up in a year that has been profoundly difficult for so many of us in so many different ways. Even in the darkest moments, there can still be light.

It was that thinking that led the creative team behind this issue of the Monitor's theme— Róisín West, Katie Sheedy, and Tim Scarth—to create a northern lights-themed design. We had asked our contributors for their big ideas to shape the future of Canada. Ideas can feel a lot like the northern lights: they can be electric and have the potential to light up the darkest of moments. They are ethereal visions of what is possible.

Just as the aurora borealis has danced across the continent providing light in darkness, we hope that the ideas in this issue of the Monitor help make your November a little brighter and more hopeful for the future that we share.