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Justin Trudeau announces Canadian bid for seat on UN’s Security Council

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Mar 16th, 2016

NEW YORK — Canada will vie for a seat on the Security Council for a two-year term starting in 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today.

The members of the General Assembly won’t vote on candidates for the vacancy until the fall of 2020, which means Trudeau will have to win another federal election in 2019 if he wants to personally see Canada return to the UN’s most powerful body.

If Canada succeeds, it would end the country’s longest absence from the council in the history of the United Nations _ 21 years since the end of Canada’s last two-year stint in 2000.

Trudeau launched the campaign this morning from the lobby of the United Nations building in New York in front of a crowd of staffers, visiting students and foreign diplomats.

Officials said they could only recall the room being used once this way for a public event in the last few years _ for the Pope.

In his speech, Trudeau said Canada wants to revitalize its entire relationship with the world body and he underlined peacekeeping as an area where Canada can have an impact.

“We are determined to revitalize Canada’s historic role as a key contributor to United Nations peacekeeping, in addition to helping advance current reform efforts,” he said.

“And Canada will increase its engagement with peace operations, not just by making available our military, police, and specialized expertise, but also by supporting the civilian institutions that prevent conflict, bring stability to fragile states, and help societies recover in the aftermath of crisis.

He repeated his oft-made claim that Canada is back as a player on the UN stage.

“It’s time. It is time for Canada to step up once again.”

But experts says Canada can’t rely on nostalgia alone if it wants to return to the council.

“Any campaign will also have to be clear about our agenda,” said Fen Hampson, director of the Global Security Program at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ont.

“Those supporting our candidacy will not only want to hear that ‘Canada is back in the world,’ but also what exactly is it that we are bringing to the world and prepared to do.”

Paul Heinbecker, who was Canada’s UN ambassador during the 2000 stint on the council, said the western group is more competitive than any other, and Canada faces a tough battle, especially in Europe.

“There is the issue — or not — of the solidarity of the European Union. We were able to split the Europeans in 1999, but it’s not obvious to me that you can do that again.”

Ian Martin, executive director of the UN’s Security Council Report, said the most competitive elections now take place in Canada’s grouping.

“This year there’s a closely fought election between three European members” he said, referring to the contest between Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Lloyd Axworthy, Canada’s foreign affairs minister in the late 1990s, said Canada has lost standing at the UN over the last decade and needs to work hard to regain it.

He said Trudeau needs to come up with an agenda that shows a commitment to peacekeeping, which Canada has largely abandoned, as well as foreign aid, which has been declining steadily.

Five takeaways from Justin Trudeau’s 60 Minutes segment

Adrian Lee | posted Monday, Mar 7th, 2016

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If this was to be Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s most significant introduction to American audiences, it was to be far slimmer than the show’s name would suggest. A 13-minute 60 Minutes segment about Trudeau—the first Canadian politician featured on the show in 13 years, timed for just before his state dinner at the White House on Thursday—felt more like it lasted 60 seconds, a weightless introduction to a country that has been invisible on the United States’ No. 1 news show.

The reality, of course, is that Lara Logan’s 60 Minutessegment was not for Canadians, despite Canadians’ thrill that the newsmagazine was set to join outlets like Vogue and the New York Times to deign to cast a light on Canada. Nevertheless, the segment offered little new insight into Trudeau, spending swaths of time on his family and his affection for boxing in the wake of his 2012 fight against Patrick Brazeau. Here are five takeaways from the piece:

1. Margaret Trudeau is not Kim Cattrall.

The segment spent a large chunk of its time on Trudeau’s personal life, setting him in the context of a father that may still resonate for American audiences. But during a mention of his mother Margaret’s history of mental illness, 60 Minutes sent up a B-roll image of Kim Cattrall, the actress that Pierre briefly dated. In a segment that ends with Trudeau suggesting that Americans should “pay attention to us from time to time, too,” it’s a bit of an embarrassment.
Last word on this to Cattrall — for now:

 

 

2. Justin Trudeau is a fan of 2006’s Rocky Balboa.

“People think that boxing is all about how hard you can hit your opponent. It’s not. Boxing is about how hard a hit you can take and keep going,” he said, linking his politics to his love of the ring. But if it sounds familiar, it may be because you’re a completionist of the Rockyseries of films: In the movie Rocky Balboa, an aged, retired Rocky delivers those lines, nearly word for word, to his son Robert. (For whatever it’s worth, the 2015 follow-up Creed revealed that Robert moved to Vancouver; perhaps in the Rocky universe, Robert passed on this advice to a ski-instructor pal?) The lines about boxing don’t sound too different, either, from what he told Globe and Mail writer Ian Brown in his profile during the campaign; he regurgitated another story, too, when he tells Logan about the awkward conversation with his father when he asked him to teach him about politics—a tale he’d previously wovenfor the CBC’s Peter Mansbridge.

Related: The true sign of Canadian cool? Not caring if others think we’re cool

3. Trudeau nearly flunked out of school—and sees that near-dropout as a leading example of his failure.

The show’s most revealing clip may have come in an online bonus extra. In a “60 Minutes Overtime” video online, Logan asks Trudeau whether he’s ever “tasted failure.” He pauses, then says he nearly dropped out of Grade 12, feeling the pressure of following in his father’s high-achieving footsteps. “I went through a real period of wondering whether or not I was a worthy son, or even a worthy individual,” he said. “It repeated a few times at moments throughout my life where I was faced with uncertainty about whether or not I was actually on the right track, or actually even a good and worthy person. And quite frankly, through public life, the connection I’ve managed to establish with people in actually making a difference and helping and learning has done a really good job of having me understand that maybe I am a good person with things to offer and meaningful contributions to make.”

4. Trudeau took another swipe at Donald Trump.

Logan asked Trudeau whether or not he was concerned about whether refugees represent potential terrorism threats. In his response, Trudeau couldn’t help but take an unsubtle swing at the Republican Party’s frontrunner: “Ultimately, being open and respectful toward each other is much more powerful as a way to defuse hatred and anger than, you know, layering on, you know, big walls and oppressive policies,” he said. It’s not the first time: When asked to repudiate Trump’s beliefs at Maclean’s Town Hall, he did so, saying, “I stand firmly against the politics of division, the politics of fear.” On 60 Minutes, he also spoke of rebuking the supporter of a particular male presidential candidate for her failure to care about the global picture. These are rather daring interventions into a heated U.S. political race, and there are those who believe it’s best for Trudeau to stay out of it, to see how things shake out.

5. A glossing-over of some real issues.

Sure, there are only so many things you can do and say in 13 minutes. But it is odd to hear Logan describe the arrival of 25,000 Syrian refugees—which came months after the campaign-promised deadline—as achieved in an easy fait accompli. It is difficult to agree entirely with the claim that Pierre Trudeau “famously made Canada one of the most progressive countries in the world” when he suspended civil liberties by invoking the War Measures Act during the October Crisis. It’s odd to hear Logan suggest, largely unbidden, that the withdrawal of jets from the fight against ISIS represents a “deeper engagement in the war.” And it’s unusual to hear that Canada is more than hockey and cold fronts when Trudeau is not, it seemed, asked about his agenda for his important visit with Barack Obama.

But then again, Trudeau wouldn’t need to do these get-to-know-you interviews if Americans were already up to speed on Canadian politics. The segments weren’t for us, at home. And even if these profiles have proven to focus more on the telegenic leader than the country itself, it is impossible to argue that it’s not a useful exercise to try to raise Canada’s profile. He is asking America to—in the words of his father—just watch him. And so, we will: The real test starts this week, in Washington.

We may have hit ‘peak stüff,’ but Ikea says there is room to grow

Chris Sorensen | posted Thursday, Jan 28th, 2016

Inside An Ikea Store Ahead Of Durable Goods Orders Figures

Steve Howard, the head of sustainability at Swedish furniture giant Ikea, raised eyebrows at a recent U.K. climate change talk when he mused that Western consumers had finally hit “peak stuff,” including “peak home furnishings.” It was a seemingly stunning admission, coming as it did from one of the world’s biggest retailers, and it conjured up images of a looming worldwide glut of slatted Malm bed frames and upholstered Tullsta armchairs. But if Ikea thinks its more affluent customers are already swimming in personal belongings—and remember this is a company that specializes in clever storage solutions, from Billy and Pax to Ivar and Algot—it has a funny way of showing it. Just 10 days later, Ikea Canada president Stefan Sjostrand joined the mayor of Halifax to announce a brand new 30,000 sq.-m store in Dartmouth, part of a plan to double the number of Ikea locations in Canada, from 12 to 24, over the next decade. (Globally, Ikea has also touted plans to double its sales by 2020, although it’s backed off the ambitious timetable in recent years amid a slowing worldwide economy.)

Nor is Ikea content with simply erecting more cavernous big-box stores in Ikea-less communities, many of which practically beg the popular retailer to set up shop. Ikea is also seeking to boost sales by taking a page from “fast-fashion” retailer H&M, another Swedish success story, and collaborating with big-name designers on limited-time collections.

So how to square Ikea’s “peak stuff” talk with its “buy more” actions? A spokesperson volunteered in an email that Howard’s comments were made as “part of a wider global context where many people still have very limited means” while Sjostrand suggested the goal was “to continue to grow our business, but grow it in a more sustainable way.” Translation: Ikea will sell you more furniture and home furnishings, but it will try harder not to make you feel guilty about it. Which explains why the company’s corporate reports are festooned with examples of sustainability initiatives, from selling only LED-compatible lighting to serving responsibly harvested fish in the cafeteria.

Yet, while Ikea should be lauded for trying to reduce its environmental footprint, its lofty goal of bringing sustainability to the masses will be far more difficult to achieve. For one thing, Ikea’s core business is selling well-designed home furnishings so cheap—a $39.99 Fjellse bed frame or $12.99 Lack side table—they’ve effectively become disposable. In fact, some of Ikea’s particle-board creations seem designed to dispose of themselves when they detect disassembly with an Allen key, like a crumbly spy plane that’s fallen into enemy hands. How can such waste, critics charge, ever be considered good for the planet?

Anything’s possible, of course, but so far at least, it sounds like a case of trying to have your meatballs and eat them, too.

Whether Canadians are actually at “peak stuff” is debatable. The surge in firms offering “self-storage” units across the country—essentially a second garage or attic—suggests we may be finally approaching some sort of inflection point, but that doesn’t seem to have stopped the hordes from descending on Ikea’s blue-and-yellow stores each weekend. And there’s little doubt Ikea has ridden the wave of Canada’s housing boom to the bank. Data from Statistics Canada shows sales of furniture ballooned nearly nine per cent in November 2015 (the most recent month for which figures are available), compared to a year earlier, with all those tiny, 650 sq.-foot condominium units erected in cities like Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary seemingly tailor-made for Ikea’s sleek, space-saving Scandinavian designs. At the same time, Ikea’s affordable kitchens—including modular cabinets, butcher block countertops and apron-front sinks—have become a staple of many a Canadian home renovation or property flip.

The outcome was a 10 per cent increase in Ikea Canada’s sales last year to $1.8 billion. Ikea also reported the number of visitors to its stores increased by four per cent to 26 million, or about one store visit per working age Canadian. Worldwide, parent Ikea Group enjoyed $48.7 billion in sales at its 328 global locations and $5.3 billion in profit .(Although Ikea is a privately held company, it releases selected financial data in a bid to be transparent about its operations.)

Ikea’s now infamous showroom “maze” no doubt played a role in those impressive same-store sales increases. Alan Penn, a professor of architectural computing at the University College London, has argued the one-way trip through the real-life version of Ikea’s catalogue is designed to leave shoppers disoriented and slightly overwhelmed, primed to toss home furnishing items in their carts lest they have to go back and find them again. In fact, some estimate between 40 per cent and 60 per cent of all Ikea purchases are impulse buys—things people didn’t plan to buy when they walked in the doors.

With more people shopping online, Ikea has been forced to explore new ways to boost shoppers’ spending. That includes reaching out to new customers—including those who may have assumed their Billy bookcase days ended when they graduated from university—and creating a sense of urgency around purchases. In October, Ikea launched a limited-time collection of furniture and housewares in collaboration with British designer Ilse Crawford that included cork-topped tables and stools; weighty ceramic pitchers and plates; a daybed wrapped in jute and a rug woven from seagrass. Ikea called it “high-end design . . . at typical Ikea prices,” while Crawford told Architectural Digest she sought to bring “atmosphere” to Ikea’s already extensive lineup of more than 9,500 pieces. Popular items sold out at some of Ikea’s Canadian stores within days.

Sjostrand says it was the first time Ikea has partnered with an outside designer for an entire collection. It won’t be the last. “We will continue to work with celebrities because we think it’s important to spice things up,” he says, pointing to an upcoming collaboration with London menswear designer Katie Eary that will hit stores this spring and is heavy on unblinking eyeballs and boldly coloured fish. Asked whether the goal is to make Ikea’s furniture more like fashion, so that customers are encouraged to replace pieces more frequently, Sjostrand said that’s only true of accessories like pillows, curtains, blankets and rugs, which are typically used to freshen up tired decor. When it comes to furniture, however, he says Ikea builds things to last.

Others beg to differ. Aiden Enns, a former managing editor at Adbusters magazine who founded the Buy Nothing Christmas movement, calls Ikea’s products “beautiful junk” and says, “You buy it even though you know it won’t last very long.” Now the editor of Winnipeg-based Geez magazine, Enns doesn’t doubt executives are keen to do the right thing, but he still believes Ikea’s business model is inherently unsustainable because consumers will eventually realize “how stupid it is to keep buying mid-grade disposable items.”

Like many big global corporations, the image that Ikea presents to the public reflects a somewhat sanitized version of reality. The company’s official history recounts how founder Ingvar Kamprad got his start selling pencils and postcards, and derived the Ikea moniker from his initials plus the first letters of the name of the farm he grew up on and the parish in which it was located (Elmtaryd and Agunnaryd). It also details the evolution of Ikea, founded in 1943, and its flat-packed furniture concept, as well as Kamprad’s desire to ensure the longevity of his creation by splitting Ikea’s retail operations and intellectual property into two separate entities, making a corporate takeover that much more difficult. Ikea also spends a lot of time talking about its grandiose-sounding mission “to create a better everyday life for the many people.”

What the official history doesn’t mention is how Kamprad, one of the world’s wealthiest people, fled his native Sweden for four decades to avoid paying the country’s high taxes—all while simultaneously building Ikea’s brand around Swedish imagery, names and designs. At the same time, critics have questioned whether Ikea’s extraordinarily complex ownership structure, involving a web of Netherlands- and Liechtenstein-registered companies and not-for-profits, was similarly designed as a tax dodge. Equally troubling were revelations that Ikea used political prisoners in East Germany in the 1970s and 1980s to make some of its furniture, a transgression it apologized for three years ago, after it was confirmed by an auditor’s report.

Peel back the cheerful marketing and eye-catching designs, in other words, and Ikea is not much different than other big, global retailers like Wal-Mart or Target. It’s a massive, profit-making entity that leans on its 978 suppliers in 50 countries to deliver inexpensive products of relatively high quality. “When it comes to this thing about Ikea selling cheap [products], I would say, ‘No, they’re selling inexpensively because they are a very good buyer,’ ” says Steen Kanter, who spent 23 years at Ikea as a senior executive and now runs Raleigh, N.C.-based consultancy Kanter International. He adds that he still proudly sits on an Ikea sofa he bought in 1986. “The throwaway idea has more to do with people growing out of something, as opposed to a product that doesn’t last,” he says.

For critics, however, the net result is the same. The downside is the potential for a big environmental footprint. Ikea is already the third-largest consumer of wood in the world after Home Depot and Lowe’s—both of which sell actual lumber—and has been accused by some environmental groups of using wood logged from old-growth forests in Russia. It’s also clear that, peak home furnishings or not, Ikea’s hunger for raw materials can be expected to grow alongside its global expansion.

But it’s also true that few companies have embraced the mantra of sustainability as strongly as Ikea, particularly in recent years. The company claims to be well on its way to becoming “forest positive” by 2020. That means using only wood that’s either recycled or has been certified as responsibly harvested by the Forest Stewardship Council, a not-for-profit that advocates for responsible forest management. Similarly, Ikea claims 100 per cent of its cotton now comes from sustainable sources while all the lighting sold in its stores is LED or LED-compatible. Two years ago, Ikea Canada even purchased a 20-turbine wind farm in Pincher Creek, Alta., promising the facility would produce more electricity than Ikea uses in all its Canadian stores. And that new store in Halifax? It will be powered by rooftop solar panels and heated and cooled by geothermal energy when it opens for business in two years.

But what about all the waste created as consumers toss their old Ikea furniture to the curb and replace it with the latest affordable designs? Ikea points to several initiatives under way in various countries that, depending on their success, could one day be applied to the global chain in pursuit of a more “circular economy.” They include a “second life” program in France that encourages customers to return, resell, recycle or donate used furniture and a “buy and sell” section for Ikea furniture on its Swedish website. “We’re really looking into it,” Sjostrand says, adding that Ikea doesn’t rush into anything until it’s been thoroughly tested. “We don’t think sustainability should be a luxury for the few. It should be for everyone.”

In the meantime, Ikea will continue to do what it does best: sell more stuff to the masses.

A new, and dangerous, kind of distracted driver

Anne Kingston | posted Monday, Jan 25th, 2016

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Working in traffic enforcement for a quarter of a century has exposed RCMP Cpl. Chris Little to bad driving in all of its manifestations. Recently, though, he’s noticed a concerning, and deadly, trend: the self-preoccupied driver in a steel-and-glass bubble, oblivious to the outside world. The telltale texter (head down, stopped on a green light) is the least of it. Little, an officer with Strathcona Traffic Services in Strathcona County, Alta., has pulled over drivers brushing their teeth, applying makeup, even reading a novel. “A 300-page book, balanced on the steering wheel,” he says. Car-as-mobile-kitchen is another theme: he pulled over one man eating a bowl of cereal while trying to drive with his knees; another man was eating waffles from a plate with a knife and fork. Then there was the solo female driver taking driver distraction to a new level: “A call came in that a vehicle was driving erratically,” Little says. When I pulled her over, her clothing was around her knees and she was flushed. You get the picture.” She was charged with careless driving.

It’s a roadscape familiar to Angelo DiCicco, general manager of Young Drivers of Canada (GTA). A driving instructor for three decades, DiCicco is also director of operations at Young Drivers’ new five-acre advanced driving centre in Markham, Ont., which offers rehab for drivers involved in serious crashes and also focuses on the perils of distracted driving, or, as DiCicco puts it, “to prove to people that multi-tasking is a lie.” People are far more stupid than they think, he says: “Just having your eyes open isn’t enough to see a dangerous situation; your brain has to be engaged.”

The fact that distracted driving now accounts for more fatal car accidents than impaired driving hasn’t made a dent in driving habits, says DiCicco, who sees the rise of “assertive” and now “aggressive” driving over the past 15 years as equally narcissistic and dangerous. It’s not unusual for impatient drivers behind a nervous novice trying to turn left to pull ahead and cut the new driver off, he reports.

Such “me-first” behaviour—disregard for traffic signs, failing to signal, lane-hogging, crowding intersections, sailing through red lights—has led to a culture of driving entitlement squarely at odds with the spirit of co-operation needed to navigate the impromptu societies that occur when motor vehicles share space. That has made driving, the most dangerous and behaviourally complex activity most people engage in on a daily basis, a cultural menace that affects not only drivers but pedestrians and neighbourhoods as the spillover effects puts cyclists on sidewalks and pedestrians at peril.

Some solace for drivers can be taken from Transport Canada statistics that reveal a decrease in deaths from automobile accidents over the past decade, in good part due to improvements in car design that reduce the impact of rear-end collisions. But it has never been a more dangerous time to be a pedestrian, bicyclist or motorcyclist; for them, deaths from automotive collision have risen in the same period. Even standing on the sidewalk isn’t safe; last year, four people were taken to hospital when a car plowed into a bus station in a Toronto suburb.

Aggressive, thoughtless driving is not new, says psychologist Leon James, a pioneer in the field of “driver psychology.” References to “road rage” date to ancient Rome, which had a law against “furious driving,” the University of Hawaii professor says. Comparison between North American driving habits and an empire in decline are appropriate. As James sees it, the rise of a selfish roadway culture is not only dangerous but culturally corrosive: “It’s anti-social, even immoral to expose others to risk.”

The evidence is plentiful. Consider Sheryl Sandberg’s widely circulated Facebook post written last year after her husband died of a heart attack; the Facebook COO recounts the “unbearably slow” trip to the hospital in an ambulance because drivers refused to get out of the way. She implored drivers to do what is both legally and morally required: yield way to emergency vehicles. Cars blocking emergency vehicles is a huge problem on Canadian roads as well, says Little. “And it’s getting worse.”

No tale illustrates the spirit of driver entitlement better than that of Jourdan Bancroft, a 25-year-old woman pulled over at 8:20 p.m. on an Ontario highway last July for driving 150 km/h in an 80 km/h zone; she was charged with road racing. Her explanation for putting her life and others at risk? She told the arresting officer she wanted to get to her cottage to “see the sunset.” The story elicited outrage. But in a small way, every driver could relate.

How we behave on roads is culturally determined, says James—a confluence of technology, economics, sociology and psychology. A major factor is car design itself, specifically “improvements,” even at the low end, that make cars feel like safe, screen-filled, multi-tasking way stations, a place to text, chat on the phone, eat, even be entertained; in late December, Ontario Provincial Police stopped a man driving over 160 km/h on Highway 401 near Brockville, Ont., watching a movie on a screen taped to his dashboard. He was charged with distracted driving and stunt driving.

One telling casualty is the stick shift, a driving feature requiring hands-on focus. Only nine per cent of cars sold in Canada have manual transmissions, down from 35 per cent in 1980, according to IHS Automotive. Only 3.6 per cent of new car buyers in Canada request it. The new logic is laid out in a much-circulated 2013 video, an audition for a Canadian reality TV show, featuring a candid Dawn Muzzo: “I had a six-speed Porsche but I couldn’t wear my heels, have a cigarette, and drink my coffee whilst shifting,” she says. “So it had to be traded in for an automatic.” (Our ability to drive and multi-task is less than we think, according to a 2015 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report that found a phone conversation via hands-free or Bluetooth, which is legal, is mentally demanding and associated with moderate to high levels of cognitive distraction.)

No vehicle better symbolizes the altered road dynamics than the SUV; the behemoths’ popularity has given rise to an “if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them” mentality. Even James, whose research in the early 2000s found female SUV drivers far more aggressive that male SUV drivers, drives one. His wife convinced him, he says. “Women drive them because they feel safer, protected,” he says. “They’re higher up.”

But research also reveals that the aura of safety and impenetrability created by driving an SUV or light truck can foster what Reuben Aitchison of the Australian Automobile Manufacturing Industry calls an “illusion of superiority . . . that leads them to believe they should be getting somewhere faster than everybody else.” That can lead the SUV driver to take risks that the Smart car driver does not.

The fact almost two-thirds of SUV drivers are women aged 25 to 49 and men aged 50 or older has reframed the stereotype of road menace: it’s not the male teenager in a souped-up muscle car that poses risk, but the middle-aged woman in a black SUV. Last October, four-year-old Arisa Ahmed was killed and her seven-year old sister seriously injured while crossing the street in front of their school in Markham, Ont., as their mother watched; they were struck by a black Mercedes SUV driven by a 39-year-old woman, who was later charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing injury.

Perceived time crunch has added to road stress. DiCicco routinely hears stories from people who have had licences pulled or were involved in serious crashes. “Women say, “I had to pick up the kids; daycare charges by the minute,’ ” he says. Men are more likely to be ferrying kids from school to practice with dinner at a drive-through in between. Soaring housing prices have also fed frustration, says DiCicco, by pushing many buyers outside of city cores, which increases commute times.

DiCicco sees three distinct driver personalities: the “adult”’ who understands that everyone wants to get home and that one crash could mean hundreds of people are late; the “child” (unrelated to actual age), subject to peer pressure who engages in “my car is faster than your car” behaviour without thinking through consequences; and the “domineering parent” who wants to teach someone a lesson by tailgaiting, giving the finger or blocking a car trying to pass on a shoulder. “There are very few homicidal maniacs out to kill you. And very few people are suicidal in the car,” he says. “To be involved in a crash you have to not do a lot of things.”

He wants drivers to learn what he calls “traffic emotions management” and to see “good driving” redefined: “It isn’t just vehicle dynamics—lane change, parking, motor skills. It’s mastering the psychology of driving, of realizing more drivers are taking up a finite amount of space and you need to look out for your neighbour and keep space for the other driver who makes a mistake; then you can graciously allow them the space in front of you or move up quickly so they don’t rear-end you.” James agrees. “Being a good driver isn’t just, ‘How many accidents did you cause?’ ” he says. “It should be: ‘How many people have you blown off? How many people have you insulted?’ That should be the measure.”

Without a seismic change in driver attitudes, the situation will only worsen, says James: “Every generation is going to be more aggressive, more competitive and more selfish, taking risks and putting people at risk.”

Rising awareness of distracted-driving risks has led to an increase in penalties, which vary wildly across Canada—from $115-$145 in Quebec to $300 to $1,000 in Ontario. (Nunavut is the only region with no distracted driving penalty). This year, Alberta raised its fine to $250 plus three demerit points. Those enforcing the law say it’s not enough to act as a deterrent and that courts fail to recognize the severity of the crime. The woman charged with “road racing” 70 km over the speed limit to “see the sunset,” for example, received a reduced charge of “speeding”; she paid $812.50 and got six demerit points.

“We’re fighting a losing battle,” says Little, who believes Canada doesn’t take driving offences seriously. “We understand first-degree murder and gang violence. But driving infractions? We’re too warm and fuzzy. We can’t suspend a licence for life. People think driving is a right, but it’s a privilege.”

The call to attach the same stigma now associated with impaired driving to distracted or entitled driving is gaining traction. Pioneering activists exist, including the family of Josh Field, a 17-year-old driver killed in London, Ont., in 2009 when he took his eyes off the road to answer his phone. The Field family recently teamed with #DriveToStayAlive, an initiative launched by 17-year-old professional racecar driver Parker Thompson to teach high school students about the life-changing consequences of texting or talking on a cellphone while driving. “It’s far easier to teach youth,” says Sgt. Wade Davidson, who works in traffic services for the Lethbridge police force. “The group hard to reach is adult drivers who have been doing things the same way for years; they set the example for their kids.”

Frustrations are also evident on a rash of driver-shaming websites and YouTube “Bad Driver” channels, which has created a market for dashcams not only to record bad drivers but damage to a vehicle in a hit-and-run when it’s parked. Their presence has a self-monitoring effect, says Alex Jang, the Vancouver-based founder of dashcam company BlackboxMyCar. “Studies show drivers with dashcams drive more responsibly because they know they’re being filmed.”

Reminders of roadside perils are now entrenched in urban landscapes, with poignant “ghost bike” memorials for cyclists as well as the “Slow Down, Kids at Play” signage organized in 2014 by residents of a Toronto neighbourhood after the death of seven-year-old Georgia Walsh, killed by a van rolling through a red light. Some 15,000 signs have been distributed from Victoria to Charlottetown, says organizer Meghan Sherwin: “Interest tends to be spurred by a recent child pedestrian death and/or frustration with the lack of traffic-calming measures.”

In a telling detail, many of the streets boasting the signs already have traffic-calming bumps. Also telling is the sentencing in the case. The driver, who pleaded guilty to careless driving, received a two-year driving prohibition, a $2,000 fine and 200 hours of community service. The judge explained he didn’t give jail time after seeing the depth of the man’s remorse, his reported psychological trauma and the forgiveness of the victim’s family. “This was an avoidable accident but an accident nevertheless,” he said. “His inattention was momentary.” Yet in that momentary inattention, a young life was gone.

City to air Maclean’s town hall with Justin Trudeau today

Maclean's | posted Wednesday, Dec 16th, 2015

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Maclean’s year-end interview with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will take place in a live town hall broadcast to Canadians live on City and streaming on CityNews.ca.

“The last time Justin Trudeau visited Maclean’s, five months ago, his party was in third place in the polls and I asked all the questions,” says Paul Wells, Maclean’s political editor. “Now he’s the Prime Minister and we’re inviting Canadians to ask their own questions, on the issues they’re concerned about.”

The Maclean’s Town Hall with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be held at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre on Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. ET in front of a live audience.

The one-hour event will begin with questions for the PM from journalists Paul Wells (Maclean’s), Rachel Giese (Chatelaine) and Alec Castonguay (L’actualité). Then the Prime Minister will take questions from a live studio audience, from Facebook and from Twitter. See details below for how to submit a question.

Neither the Prime Minister nor his staff will not see any of the questions in advance.

The town hall will be carried live, commercial free, on City, Macleans.ca, OMNI 1 in Italian, OMNI 2 in Mandarin, Rogers TV (in Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland), CPAC, and CPAC.ca at 2 p.m. ET. Later that evening, City, OMNI 1 in Italian, OMNI 2 in Mandarin, Rogers TV and CPAC will broadcast an encore presentation of the Town Hall, commercial free, at 7 p.m. ET/PT (check local listings).

Send your questions on Twitter using the hashtag #mactownhall, or find us on Facebook.

What to expect when you’re electing: A voter’s election guide

Meagan Campbell | posted Tuesday, Oct 13th, 2015

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1. How to register

If you were mailed a burgundy slip from Elections Canada with your name on it, you’re automatically registered to vote. If you think it disappeared in the recycling bin, you will still be registered, but you should call or go to your local Elections Canada office to confirm. If you didn’t receive a slip, you can register by calling or going to the office with proof of your name and current address. Make sure to bring the correct proof.

2. Where to vote

Your local polling station is listed on your voter registration card, that white and burgundy slip from Elections Canada that came in your mail. If you didn’t get one, skip to tip number 5.

3. When to vote

To avoid the lines on Oct. 19, you can vote in the advanced polls between Oct. 9 and 12.  The operating hours of the advanced polls are stated on your voter registration card, or can be found at the Voter Information Service.

The operating hours on Oct. 19 vary by region:

  • Newfoundland, Atlantic, Central Time (other than Saskatchewan): 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • Eastern Time: 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
  • Saskatchewan Time: 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Mountain Time: 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Pacific Time: 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

4. Everyone’s special

Any day before Oct. 19, anybody can vote through a special ballot. You can do this at your local Elections Canada office or by calling the office to arrange a mail-in ballot or home pick-up option. This will be necessary for people who are travelling during the election or have physical disabilities preventing them from going to their polling stations.

5. What to bring

You’ll need to prove your address and name. You can bring your driver’s licence or two of the following: health card, passport, debit card, credit card or a bank statement, one of which must state your current address. There are dozens of other acceptable pieces of I.D. For a full list, visit the Elections Canada website.

Also, bring a friend to the polling station; voter turnout was a meagre 61 per cent in the last election.

6. Whom to vote for

Read about your local candidates on their websites or call their campaign offices to find out about chances to meet them. For a description of the parties’ overall platforms, read the Maclean’s election issues primers or transcripts of this year’s federal leaders’ debates, including  the Maclean’s debatethe Globe debatethe Munk debate, and the first French language debate.

7. Results!

Elections Canada will begin posting preliminary results on its website at 7 p.m. Eastern Time and will continue posting throughout the evening. Between Oct. 20 and 26, electoral officers will validate the ballots and post final results on the website as they become available.

As for your lawn signs, you can return them to your candidate’s campaign office, or, in most cases, call the office to have them picked up.

This or that? Figure out where you stand in this election

Maclean's | posted Tuesday, Sep 29th, 2015

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A federal vote is around the corner. It’s decision time, Canada, and you’ll soon ask yourself: How will I vote? That’s a tough question, and there’s so much to consider. That’s why we’ve built our Policy Face-off Machine, which introduces you to some of the campaign’s biggest and most contentious issues.

What is a Policy Face-off Machine?

It’s an entertaining and educational tool, and a jumping-off point for your own conversations about the ideas that will decide the coming federal vote. The tool doesn’t offer any opinion about the merits of each idea and won’t offer advice about which political party deserves your support.

How does it work?

The Policy Face-off Machine pits two policies against each other at random, and you’re asked to choose which you prefer. The parties pitching the policies are not identified when you make your pick, but every party has the same number of policies in the machine. Sometimes, you’ll be forced to choose between two policies offered by the same party. That’s okay. It’s all part of the fun. When you have no opinion about both policies in front of you, simply hit the “pass” button and we’ll randomly generate a new face-off. Pick at least 20 policies and we’ll present you with some analysis of your choices. But you don’t have to stop there. The more you pick, the more refined your policy profile.

Try our Policy Face-Off Machine today. Make the tough choices now, so your toughest choice of all—whom to vote for on election day—will be a little bit easier.

Click HERE to try it out.

Where to watch the Maclean’s debate on Aug. 6

Maclean's | posted Tuesday, Aug 4th, 2015

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The 2015 federal election will be the most important and dramatic in a generation. Watch and engage during the Maclean’s National Leaders Debate Aug. 6. Have your say too—what would you ask our leaders? Comment on our Facebook page. And make sure to bookmark macleans.ca/debate, where you’ll be able to live-stream our debate, participate in live poll questions, and get involved in the discussion. More details on where to watch are below.

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