Why a politician’s character matters more than their platform

-Matt Burgess- As a Canadian, I have been forced to think a lot over the last few years about the importance of character in politics. Stephen Harper, the current Canadian Prime Minster, has been widely criticized for vindictive, ruthless, secretive and hyper-partisan behaviors, by both left- and right-wing pundits. Those who support Harper as PM largely do…

Carbon pricing should include food

–Matt Burgess- Carbon pricing debates have been picking up steam worldwide in recent months. The issue has made a particularly strong resurgence in Canada, after being politically taboo for several years. As a growing chorus of economists and politicians of all stripes has echoed the clear economic rationale for carbon pricing, the debate in Canada…

Free speech has always had limits. We should intelligently define them.

–Matt Burgess– Free speech is a bedrock right of democracy. In order to properly hold our governments to account, we must be able to criticize them openly without fearing retribution. Beyond this, we need free speech to have a truly competitive marketplace of ideas, something many (myself included) would argue is essential for sustained societal progress. Free speech…

The case for a globally harmonized, locally retained carbon tax

–Matt Burgess– Many would like to see a new binding international agreement to reduce carbon emissions at the upcoming UN Climate Conference in Paris. Though there appears to be some political will for such an agreement, early cracks in the negotiations in Lima in December call to mind the limited success of past climate agreements. The widely hailed Kyoto…

Holiday debates

–Matt Burgess- Though not every family is like the Woodhouse family, political diversity within families is common, sometimes leading to political debates during the holidays (much to the chagrin of Joy Woodhouse, evidently). Unlike the Woodhouse family apparently, I find holiday political debates in my family to be mostly civil and quite interesting. In fact, these…

Agreeing to disagree, disagreeing to agree, on the US Supreme Court

-Matt Burgess & Ian Burgess- On November 7, 2006, Michigan voters passed Proposal 2, the ‘Michigan Civil Rights Initiative’ (MCRI), by a 58%-42% margin. The MCRI amended Michigan’s constitution to ban affirmative action programs “granting preferential treatment to…any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin” in public employment,…

Case Study: The Hilborn-Worm debate on the status of global fisheries

–Matt Burgess- In July 2009, a group of scientists, led by Boris Worm of Dalhousie University and Ray Hilborn of the University of Washington, published a study in the prestigious journal Science synthesizing the current state of knowledge on the status of global fisheries. The study found that a large fraction of well-studied fish populations have been severely depleted…

Founding Editorial: Our vision for The Tête-à-Tête

-Matt Burgess & Ian Burgess- As a society, we face some thorny challenges that demand reasoned, pragmatic, but potentially uncomfortable conversations in public forums. We fear that the capacity to have this type of public conversation is eroding. The Tête-à-Tête’s mission is to create a safe space for reasoned and constructive conversations about any and…