Media

After dust settles on assassination attempt, nothing will change in U.S.

No Comments 19 July 2017

No one in the United States is really willing to tackle the single biggest killer of Americans—their own guns.

By SHEILA COPPS

First published on Monday, June 19, 2017 in The Hill Times.

 

OTTAWA—A baseball shootout in the United States will rally all Americans behind their government.

The one thing that won’t happen is any amendment to laws that seem destined to promote a national gun epidemic.

By all accounts, the alleged shooter had political opinions. He despised both U.S. President Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. He supported left-wing Democrat Bernie Sanders, who was quick to dissociate himself from the shooter by decrying violence in any form.

After the dust has settled on this assassination attempt, nothing will change.

No one in the United States is really willing to tackle the single biggest killer of Americans—their own guns.

It is politically correct to focus on foreign enemies, from ISIL to Iran, to the Syrian government. But the single most significant reason for death in America is unfettered access to firepower by any person under any circumstance.

Rarely has this open access hit so close to political home. The attack upon Democrat Gabrielle Giffords generated a similar visceral response back in January, 2011, when the congresswoman was shot at a public town hall meeting in her constituency.

Six other people at the meeting were killed but Giffords survived, with extensive brain damage. She resigned her seat a year later, with the intention of focussing on her own recovery.

In January 2013, Giffords and her spouse, retired astronaut Mark Kelly cofounded Americans for Responsible Solutions. The organization is working with elected officials and the general public to promote gun control legislation. Their movement supports “keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people like criminals, terrorists, and the mentally ill.”

Giffords’ family effort follows in the wake of work by other victims of similar politically-motivated assassination attempts. The fallout of a gun attack on president Ronald Reagan back in 1981 left his press secretary James Brady, paralyzed and with permanent brain damage.

Brady’s wife Sara, then devoted her family’s efforts to lobbying for gun legislation. Ultimately, the Brady Bill, placing a five-day wait time on pistol purchase, was proposed in 1987 and passed into law by president Bill Clinton in 1993.

Even this small step was concurrently undermined by contradictory legislation called the Firearm Owners Protection Act. That counter law was designed to ensure that any details on gun ownership would not provided to any police authorities, supposedly to protect firearm owners.

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Media

Meilleur could be best official languages commissioner we never had

No Comments 12 July 2017

Madeleine Meilleur was bullied out of the job last week simply because she recently stepped down as a member of the Liberal cabinet of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

By SHEILA COPPS

First published on Monday, June 12, 2017 in The Hill Times.

 

OTTAWA—Former Progressive Conservative leader Robert Stanfield is called the best prime minister we never had.

Madeleine Meilleur could follow his lead as the best official languages commissioner we never had.

Meilleur was bullied out of the job last week simply because she recently stepped down as a member of the Liberal cabinet of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Former Conservative cabinet minister Lawrence Cannon went right from government to an ambassadorial position, as did former New Democratic Premier Gary Doer. Both nominees served with distinction, and were able to set aside their partisan histories in the interest of the country.

Meilleur, a respected francophone, would have been a fantastic official languages commissioner.

The commissioner’s job is not as high profile as that of ambassador, but it requires a devotion far beyond any diplomatic posting.

I was approached about the same appointment by prime minister Stephen Harper many years ago, when a mutual friend got in touch to test my interest.

I replied that I would rather stick pins in my eyes than assume responsibility for official language laws across the country. It is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

Most people understand the role of ambassador. Few Canadians have a clue as to what the official languages commissioner even does.

It involves devoting all your energy to fighting an uphill battle against federally-regulated bodies that regularly flaunt official bilingualism.

Meilleur is a diehard minority defender. She would definitely have put the survival of her people ahead of any political loyalty.

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Media

Trump’s backward move on climate change disadvantages U.S.

No Comments 05 July 2017

Trump is closing off his country and making the U.S. a less attractive destination for innovation and investment.

By SHEILA COPPS

First published on Monday, June 5, 2017 in The Hill Times.

 

U.S. President Donald Trump just hammered another nail in the American coffin.

In his petulant conversations about pulling out of the global climate change consensus, he is labouring under the misimpression that his withdrawal would influence the agreement.

Instead, he is reinforcing the impression that his leadership is leading the United States down the wrong road.

At a time when other potential global players are emerging to challenge American hegemony, the president seems bound on taking his country backwards.

It all started with his slogan, “Make America great again.”

In reality, old America may have welcomed a certain demographic, but not everyone. Equality for women and minorities, still more myth than reality, is much closer today than it was in the last century.

Income inequality and racial tension prompted the civil rights and women’s liberation movements.

Times were pretty good for white men who headed traditional families with no pesky questions about who ruled the roost.

Ask a gay or transgender person how happy things were in the good old days and their response will be different. Today’s equality, with all the ensuing challenges of integration, is far preferable to going back to the good old days.

And the same is true for climate change.

The world has collectively come to the conclusion that Mother Nature needs help.

From floods to fires, from extreme weather to desertification, the environment around us in changing in a way that needs a global response.

That means changing the way we live, including weaning ourselves off our dependence on non-renewable fuels.

That train has left the station, and while it is possible for the United States to bolt, it will be that country, not the world, that is left behind.

China, battling a pollution problem of epic proportions in its’ own major cities, is tackling national environmental challenges with gusto. It has rolled out a 10-year green plan and is currently in the process of electrifying its complete transportation system.

Its government’s edicts have also spawned a thriving alternative-energy industry, with almost every neighbourhood in the country sporting solar panels on the rooftops of most households.

China is also working actively in countries around the world promoting sustainable infrastructure with its Silk Road investment fund.

Meanwhile, Trump is closing off his country and making the United States a less attractive destination for innovation and investment.

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