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.
- Who gets to spend time in nature?This is the first episode in our three-piece series on the past, present, and future of public spaces in Canada. In these episodes we’ll cover nature, cities, and big national undertakings – things we do, have done, or might do together in spaces meant for all of us. We’ll also discuss threats to public spaces, of which there are many, and what is being done to address them. Now, nature is the ultimate public space. There is something fundamental about it. Something essential. Nature pre-existed the built world and in one form or another it will outlast it, too. But not everyone has equal access to nature, and some communities and groups are less likely to have that access. In that way, it’s very much like other spaces, the ones we have created.There are a number of reasons people ought to have both a right and an ability to access public spaces in nature. Among them are physical health, mental health, education, and pure, simple joy. One organization is fighting to secure that access, especially for youth from low-income households and BIPOC communities. To understand their work, and the battle for green public spaces, we ask: Who gets to spend time in nature?On this episode of Open to Debate, David Moscrop talks with Andrew Young, the executive director of Outward Bound Canada.
- Who should care about rural development?We spend an awful lot of time talking about housing and development—and we should. But often lost in the conversation is how we manage rural land and housing. The vast majority of Canada is urbanized, but in case you were thinking what happens “out there” has nothing to do with you, think again. Rural areas are home to plenty of houses and residential developments of their own, but they are also the site of the country’s farmland. In the face of geopolitical shifts, climate change, and the ever present concern of food security, rural development is an important issue. The bad news? Things are…not going well, particularly in Canada’s most populous province, Ontario.To understand the state of rural development, where things are headed, and how we might do better, we ask the fundamental question: Who should care about rural development?On this episode of Open to Debate, David Moscrop talks with Jeff Wheeldon, a municipal councillor in Brighton, Ontario, a real estate agent, and a housing advocate.
- What does a campus labour struggle tell us about unions in Canada?At Carleton University, a union local is fighting for a fair deal for its workers–and getting ready for a strike. Across Ontario and Canada, unionized workplaces are fighting similar battles, even while the balance of power continues to favour employers by default.Democratized workplaces produce better results for employees, and everyone down the line, too. Recent gains in Canada and the United States might point to a new dawn for unions as people struggle with the cost of living crisis and unfavourable working conditions. But the future, as it tends to be, is uncertain. We can, however, follow the clues and ask: What does a campus labour struggle tell us about unions in Canada?On this episode of Open to Debate, David Moscrop talks with Noreen Cauley-Le Fevre, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) local 4600 and a PhD Candidate in Geography at Carleton University; and Graham Cox, a research representative at CUPE.
- Can we have a healthy digital public sphere?Like it or not, we are stuck online. Digital life is a reflection and extension of life offline–if we can even talk about life offline anymore. It’s not like the old days of logging on and logging off. We are constantly connected. Our social, political, and economic lives are bound up with the digital world. So is our public sphere. And much of that world is controlled by a handful of very wealthy, very powerful tech giants.Digital space presents several significant challenges to the public good. Dis- and misinformation, domestic and foreign. Toxicity by way of name-calling, hate speech, and bullying. Economic exploitation, asymmetrical access, class divides. Doxxing and hacking. Even the threat of physical violence. It’s pretty grim stuff. In light of these challenges, how can we build a healthier digital public sphere?On this episode of Open to Debate, host David Moscrop talks with Taylor Owen, Beaverbrook Chair in Media, Ethics and Communications, the founding director of The Center for Media, Technology and Democracy, and an Associate Professor in the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University.
- How do we fix Canadian healthcare?In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford is trying to address the province’s healthcare crisis. With over 200,000 people waiting for surgeries, long emergency room wait times, too few family physicians, and nurses burning out and leaving the profession, something must be done. But Ford’s plan is to introduce more for-profit care into the system. He calls it “innovation.” It’s been done in other provinces. It won’t solve the crisis, but it might introduce new problems.Saving healthcare in Ontario, and Canada, requires structural changes to preserve and extend the public and not-for-profit elements of the system. And don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done. It can. There are best practices. We just need to adopt them at scale. So, how do we fix Canadian healthcare? On this episode of Open to Debate, David Moscrop talks with Dr. Melanie Bechard, a pediatric emergency doctor and Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare.
- Will the Canadian marketplace ever be competitive?Canadians can be forgiven for making a national pastime out of expressing anger at the state of competition in the country. Telecom, grocery, transportation, entertainment, and several other industries are an utter, anti-consumer disaster. As I like to put it, Canada is made up of three telecom companies in a trenchcoat. There may be some hope for change, however, as the country undertakes a review of its competition policy and the Competition Bureau pushes back a bit more than usual against monopoly and oligopoly. So, will the Canadian marketplace ever be competitive?On this episode of Open to Debate, David Moscrop talks with Vass Bednar, executive director of McMaster University’s Master of Public Policy Program in Digital Society, senior fellow with The Centre for International Governance Innovation, and the writer of the popular newsletter “regs to riches.”
- How should Canada engage with Indigenous legal traditions?Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada requires structural transformation. One essential site of institutional reform is the country’s legal systems. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada released 94 calls to action. In call to action #42, the TRC called upon “the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to commit to the recognition and implementation of Aboriginal justice systems in a manner consistent with the Treaty and Aboriginal rights of Aboriginal peoples, the Constitution Act, 1982, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples endorsed by Canada in November 2012.” To understand what meaningful reform could look like, we ask: How should Canada engage with Indigenous legal traditions?On this episode of Open to Debate, David Moscrop talks with Dr. Val Napoleon, dean, professor, and Law Foundation Chair of Indigenous Justice and Governance at the University of Victoria, and Dr. Hadley Friedland, associate professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta.
- How do cities work?This is the third and final episode in a three-part series on cities in Canada. So far, we’ve tackled how cities fit within the constitution and explored progressive visions for city life in the 21st century. We talk about cities all the time. Not that they get the critical, detailed coverage and attention they deserve; but talk about cities and life within them is common. Mostly complaining. But not always. But how do cities work? That is, how do they actually work? And how will they work now that Toronto and Ottawa mayors have access to the “strong mayor” powers afforded to them by the provincial government? To the outsider, the process of municipal governance might seem arcane. Probably because for most people, the process is arcane. Luckily, our guest knows the ins and outs of city governance and he's here to share his secrets.On this episode of Open to Debate, David Moscrop talks with Shawn Menard, City of Ottawa councillor for Capital Ward.
- What can be done about the biggest issues facing our cities?Around the world, more than 4 billion people live in cities. That’s just over 50 percent of the global population. The United Nations projects that by 2050, it will be 68 percent. In Canada, 82 percent of people live in urban areas and that number is on the rise, too. Alongside the growth in urbanization is growth in the number of problems cities and their residents face. The list is long and getting longer. Housing. Transit. Policing. Parks. Infrastructure. The drug poisoning crisis. Safe streets for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists. And more. Tackling numerous and overlapping urban challenges requires political courage and a commitment to doing things differently. To understand just what that entails, we ask: What can be done about the biggest issues facing our cities?On this episode of Open to Debate, David Moscrop talks with Gil Penalosa, founder of 8 80 Cities and former mayoral candidate in the City of Toronto.
- What does the targeted harassment of journalists mean for journalism and democracy?Threats and harassment directed at journalists in Canada are on the rise. A vicious coordinated campaign of hate targeted at a handful of women, especially racialized women, in recent weeks stands out as particularly troubling.
- How should we put ourselves back together post-pandemic?The pandemic isn’t over. Someday, it will be. But we aren’t there yet. We are, however, at a critical juncture – a fork in the road at which we can choose another path forward. Today, we ought to be devoting much of our attention to an analysis of how ...