27 Aug

When are Canada’s elections

Elections Canada is preparing a pandemic election that includes running a multi-day voting period over a weekend instead of the traditional one-day vote. In a year filled with an abundance of bad geo-political news, it seems Elections Canada is determined to show the world a shining example of the Canadian democratic process even in the midst of a challenging world.

Spreading voting across a two-day time-frame would allow voters to maintain social distancing and would permit Elections Canada to use larger venues (e.g. schools) which otherwise would be in use during a Monday vote.

In addition to making adjustments to the calendar and to venues, Elections Canada is also preparing for a higher-than-normal demand for mail-in ballots.

Likelihood for a fall election

Obviously, it’s uncertain when an election might be called, but Elections Canada is rapidly preparing for the strong likelihood of a fall election.

“Given the current minority government, an election could take place at any time,” the Elections Canada website says. “the health and safety of all participants in the electoral process is of paramount importance: this includes electors, thousands, of election workers and candidates and their workers.”

No online voting

Elections Canada has rejected the idea of online voting. According to research conducted by Elections Canada, the majority of Canadians plan to vote in person. However, a sizable 22% say they would prefer to vote by mail, which, as mentioned earlier, Elections Canada is already preparing for. Though the agency cautions that large numbers of mail-in ballots could result in delayed voting results.

“It’s at times of crisis that our democratic values are tested,” MP Michael Chong said. “That’s why it’s important that Elections Canada uphold our democratic values by ensuring the health and safety of Canadians during an election while maintaining confidence in the integrity of the election.”

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05 Aug

As the world reacts to the Beirut explosion, residents in the NWT community of Délı̨nę remember the town’s connection to atomic warfare.

As residents in Beirut frantically search the rubble for loved ones after yesterday’s deadly explosion, the world searches for answers as to why the earth-shaking explosion happened in the first place. Videos of the eerie mushroom cloud and its bloody aftermath immediately flooded social media in the moments following the blast.

Many have already calling it Beirut’s Hiroshima moment, and although the explosion wasn’t caused by an atomic bomb, the horror that spread through the capital city–and beyond–is no less alarming than had it been one. The blast created a 405-foot crater, killed dozens (with many still unaccounted for), and sent a shock-wave through the entire geo-political community with heads-of-state weighing in and urging rushes to judgement.

Although it’s only been a day since the disaster struck, all signs are pointing to the cause of the explosion as being an abandoned warehouse filled with a massive, abandoned shipment of ammonium nitrate, the same chemical used in the infamous Oklahoma City bombing in the 1990s.

As the entire world continues to process the tragedy, one small Canadian community in the Northwest Territory is reminded of its unique connection to one of the deadliest bombings in world history–Hiroshima.

As World War II was in full swing, the quiet NWT community of Délı̨nę was busy with workers and families eeking-out a living during one of the world’s most chaotic chapters, when, quite suddenly and unexpectedly, the Canadian Government informed the local Uranium mine that a very large order of Uranium was needed for a top-secret project, the details of which were tightly-kept, closely-guarded. It wasn’t until after the war ended that the community was informed that their participation was a key component in the development of the nuclear bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

When the startling news was announced, government officials thought the community would be proud of the critical role they played in helping to end the war, but the opposite response resulted. The prevailing opinion in the community was that the government had betrayed them by taking advantage of their mining labor to support a deadly bombing that, had the miners known ahead of time what the project was for, would have refused participation.

Although covert government operations surrounding nuclear activity are expected and normal, it gets tricky when entire communities are asked to toe-the-line with no explanation. Society is trained to look the other way, really and not ask probing questions. From nuclear missile silos dotting Anheuser Busch barley fields in Montana to the world’s largest nuclear lab in rural East Idaho which is down the road from the wellness company Melaleuca, the government’s response is always the same: “Nothing to see here.”

75 years later, the wounds from that chapter in Délı̨nę remain unhealed. No government apology has arrived and therefore the pain persists. So, it’s little wonder why an explosion in faraway Lebanon hits home for the folks in Délı̨nę, especially when the world refers to it as Beirut’s Hiroshima moment.

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18 May

Funeral services postponed for Calgarian who went missing for three weeks

The family of Simpson Van Der Linden, 34, is waiting until a future date to hold a memorial service after his body was discovered last week.

Van Der Linden made headlines in May when he mysteriously went missing after returning to Canada from travels in South America.  His disappearance sparked a public search effort that lasted for weeks.  Searchers discovered his body last week.  Officials have classified his death as “non-suspicious.” 

“We view his death as accidental,” his mother said in a CBC interview.

According to to his family, Van Der Linden was a “loving big brother and a yoga fanatic known for witty banter.”

Simpson was a certified yoga instructor, certified scuba-dive instructor, and traveled the world.

His full obituary can be found a

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18 May

Canadians mourn loss of beloved RCAF pilot

The Royal Canadian Air Force is mourning the loss of one of its pilots, Captain Jennifer Casey, after a tragic plane over the weekend.  The death happened during an exhibition fly over by the Canadian Snowbirds, the RCAF’s aerobatic stunt team, similar to the U.S.A.’s Blue Angels.

The crash happened shortly after takeoff and was witnessed by many with videos and images flooding social media in the moments afterward. 

The Royal Canadian Air Force later tweeted, “The RCAF has suffered another tragic loss of a dedicated member of the RCAF team.  We are deeply saddened and grieve alongside Jenn’s family and friends.  Our thoughts are also with the loved ones of Captain MacDougall.  We hope for a swift recovery from his injuries. – Comd. RCAF”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was also “deeply saddened” by the crash which occurred at time when the elite flying squad was conducting flyovers across the nation to lift the spirits of Canadians during the coronavirus shutdowns.

The plane fell in a residential area, striking a home before bursting into flames.  Stunned locals rushed from their houses and desperately tried to extinguish the burning aircraft using garden hoses.

“I just started running down the street.  And I got there maybe a minute after it crashed and there was a couple of residents that had their hoses out and they were trying to put the flames out because it hit a house,” a neighbor told the Associated Press.

Captain Casey served as the public affairs officer for the Canadian Snowbirds, and had worked in various journalism and media roles prior to joining the military.

The Royal Canadian Air Force has already dispatched a flight safety team from Ottowa to conduct an investigation into the crash.  In the meantime, the flyover mission, dubbed “Operation Inspiration” has been suspended indefinitely.

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27 Apr

Canada not immune to mass shootings

After last week’s mass shooting in Nova Scotia which left 22 dead, Many Canadians are scratching their heads about what more could have been done to prevent such a horrific attack. After all, mass shootings are an American thing. At least, that’s the prevailing thought. However, last week’s shooting added itself to a growing number of mass shootings happening outside of the U.S. in nations with particularly strict gun control laws such as New Zealand, Australia, and Norway.

The latest news reports suggest that the Nova Scotia gunman opened fire on the public soon after a domestic dispute with his girlfriend.

The British Royal Family joined the international community in condemning the shooting with the Queen offering her profound sympathies.

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17 Apr

Canadians are keen with the Queen, but not with her family

As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Canada officially acknowledges Queen Elizabeth’s position as monarch and Head of all 54 member states.  Yet, Canadians aren’t fully sold on the role of the Royal Family in the lives of North America’s dominant country in the Crown’s realm.  For years, Canadians have casually entertained the topic at dinner tables, but in recent months the discussion has taken a more serious tone since the curtain was raised on Prince Andrew’s dubious dealings with Jeffrey Epstein.

A public relations nightmare at best, and a carefully concealed sex crime at worst, the Queen had a mess to clean up when allegations of her son’s alleged sexual exploits with at least one underage girl came to light.  Canadians joined the world as it collectively shook its head while Prince Andrew’s scrambled in vain to explain his actions in a BBC long-form interview.  It was an epic failure.

A few weeks later, the Queen addressed the Commonwealth in her annual pre-recorded Christmas message.  As usual, her audience was interested in hearing her Christmas tidings, but they were also interested in how she would address (or if she would address) the elephant in the room: chaos in the Royal Family.  Not only was Prince Andrew presenting frustration and immense damage to the reputation of the Royal Family, so too was the headache of an emerging family feud with grandson Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

“The path, of course, is not always smooth,” the Queen said in her address, “And may at times this year have felt quite bumpy, but small steps can make a world of difference.”

Of course, the drama with Prince Harry continued into 2020 when he relinquished official royal duties and moved to Canada.  Public opinion on the move was mixed, with Canadians willing to extend the royals a welcoming hand but not keen to extend the royals a hand-out.  The prevailing opinion in Canada is that no member of the Royal family should have an official role in Canada, which therefore means that Canadians shouldn’t have to foot the bill for a member of the Royal Family who chooses to reside in the Great White North. 

So far, Harry and Meghan have kept a low profile, due in large part to COVID-19 isolation.  They aren’t seen in public and because they don’t have servants shopping for them, we can only assume they’ve joined the rest of us “commoners” as we shop for hand sanitizer using the e-commerce catalogs of Melaleuca products, GNC products, and Walgreens products.

Meanwhile, across the pond, the Queen enjoys wonderfully-high public opinion approval ratings throughout the Commonwealth—and, quite frankly, outside the Commonwealth.  She is revered as a stalwart world leader in a time of ever-present turmoil.  Canadians pray for her continued health and long life.  As for Prince Andrew? That’s another story.

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winter sickness
07 Feb

The best advice for staying healthy this winter

The winter season can be brutal on ones physical health. All the cold and darkness can also be tough psychologically. There’s a lot that can bring down your health and wellness this time of year. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the risks and maximize you overall health.

Here are just a few tips for staying healthy this winter.

Eat well. It is so important to maintain a healthy diet during the winter months. The more fresh produce and lean protein you take in, the better your body will be equipped to fight off possible sickness strains like the flu and cold. The worst thing you can do during the winter is sit around and eat junk food. Do that, and you are just asking for trouble.

Drink lots of fluids. It’s something we don’t think about, but when the weather is bleak and the temperatures are cold, staying hydrated often gets overlooked. It’s easy to work up a sweat and realize we need to quench our thirst in the hot summer sun. This winter, carry a water bottle around with you and drink from it regularly. Lots of fluids help keep every system in our body well-regulated and running at maximum efficiency.

Supplement. We got a lot of health benefits from the sun, including the awesome power of nature to produce vitamin D from cholesterol. However, when it’s dark and we stay huddle indoors, we lose out on that benefit. It’s important to find a good multivitamin and mineral pack that can provide us the nutrients we may be lacking. If you want to learn more about a clinically proven supplement pack, visit

Exercise. This one can be hard for those of us who love a morning jog or bike ride. Winter often brings temperatures and icy conditions that make outdoor exercise unsafe. But you can still work out at home. Instead of watching another 20-minute episode of your favorite series on Netflix, use that time to exercise instead.



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08 Jan

The changing face of Canadian diplomats, policymakers

From what you’ve seen, how is Canada’s multiculturalism received abroad?

This is one of those funny anecdotes. I was at an event hosted by the Pakistan High Commission here in Ottawa. I met someone new, who shook my hand and said, ‘Thank you for organizing this event.’ I was born and raised in Canada, but someone there shook my hand and thought I was a part of the organizing community, rather than the government of Canada. I don’t think you can take offence to that because it’s an honest mistake — the world is different now, Canada is a different country from what it was 50 years ago. I think that’s something to be celebrated. Occasionally, yeah, it leads to confusion or interesting encounters, but I think that’s actually really rich and a neat thing.

Being born in Singapore and ethnically Malay, people often think I’m Malaysian. [But] we’re moving along as a society, as an international community, to look at things differently and start recognizing that, hey, beyond nationalities and statehood etc., we’re individuals, and we’re persons, in spite of where we’re from.

Whenever you go to any multilateral forum, I know a lot of Canadians will do this, they’ll just put on the Canadian pin, because it helps and creates less confusion. People are genuinely curious anyway, about, well, ‘you’re Canadian, you’re not what I would think of as Canadian normally.’ You can take it one way, and can think ‘wow, these people don’t get what Canada is,’ or you can take it as they’re really interested in figuring out how Canada works, as a multicultural society.

Is there anything you’d like to see the department do to be even more representative?

I know Mahmud mentioned geographical representation, that’s a big thing, in terms of making sure that we truly represent Canada from coast to coast, from north to south, and on top of that, that we’re also representing different values and different experiences and linguistic abilities, to understand more in the diplomatic relations that we do.

We could probably do a little bit better in terms of raising awareness amongst Canadians about how much we would like them to be part of the public service. It’s tough, because there’s a tendency to recruit among the Ontario-Québec region. So maybe we could do a bit more of awareness raising, reaching out to those provinces that are a bit further away, but also looking at our internal policies and looking at how the system in place may not make it easy for those who aren’t well off economically to find their way here.

Even taking a step back from the department — something like Aboriginal representation is something that I think there has been a lot of effort on over the years through employment equity, and through recruitment and encouragement and various different programs.


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15 Oct

Why Canadian-American Studies

Canada and the United States share a continent and are linked by deep economic ties, several common historical experiences, and many cultural similarities; they are also marked by real and important differences.

The Canadian-American Studies major helps students to understand and navigate these similarities and differences, preparing them to engage key cultural, environmental, and economic issues in North America today and in the future through three specializations:

  • Canadian-American Relations
  • Canadian Histories/Cultures/Identities
  • Francophone Canada

Additionally, students may design their own specialization in consultation with a faculty advisor.

Why Consider a Canadian-American Studies Major?

On its own, the major provides an excellent international and interdisciplinary course of study for students looking for a broad-based, liberal arts education. By drawing upon courses from the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, the major explores key concepts and methods across multiple disciplines and applies them to complex problems in our shared regional and continental contexts.

Through identified specializations, the major is also designed to combine with other majors to add depth and international expertise. Examples include combining Canadian-American Studies’ specializations with: anthropology, economics, environmental policy and science, geography, history, international business, languages, or political science.

In addition, students can learn about the business and trade relationship between Canada and the U.S. Knowing the ins and outs of how maple products are exported to the U.S. and Nike or Melaleuca products are imported to Canada, for example, can give hopeful professionals a leg up on the competition.

Beyond the Classroom

Beyond the classroom, the Center and Club Canada offer opportunities for students to immerse themselves in Canadian culture by holding events such as hockey and broom ball games, regional food celebrations, film screenings, guest speakers and faculty talks, and field excursions to Vancouver, Whistler, and more.

The Center provides support and resources to students interested in participating in relevant internships, including opportunities with the Canadian Consulate in Seattle.

Careers and Graduate Studies

The Canadian-American Studies curriculum prepares students for careers related to art and literature, education and research, environmental policy, diplomacy, international business, international law, and politics.

Recent Western graduates have found fulfilling careers working for the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, directing internet marketing for a Canada-US import/export firm, serving as a US federal government liaison to a municipality for emergency preparedness, working for Google in their map division, and coordinating border and emergency management programs for the cross-border Pacific Northwest Economic Region.

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15 Sep

Getting to know Canada’s nonprofit sector: why we need better data

Did you know that we can tell how many eggs are produced and how many asphalt roofing tiles are manufactured each month in Canada, but we don’t know how many charities and nonprofits there are?  Unfortunately, knowledge about the composition and impact of the Canada’s ‘third sector’ has declined for more than a decade.

There is growing recognition of the impact of the sector, in terms of employment, volunteerism, service provision, community building, and contribution to Canada’s GDP.  In a recent paper, for example, Brian Emmett, Imagine Canada’s Chief Economist for Canada’s Charitable Nonprofit Sector, projects that the sector will “account for more than $200 billion in revenue and roughly 700,000 jobs in 2026”.  Indeed, the sector is growing.  In addition to having a major economic impact and providing employment for many Canadians, the sector’s impact is also felt in terms of quality of life in Canada.  From arts and culture to sports and recreation, from education and research to health, from social services to religion, and beyond, the charitable and nonprofit sector plays an active part in making communities vibrant.

To speak precisely and meaningfully about the composition and impact of the sector, current and more frequently available data is sorely needed.  How does the sector differ from Halifax to Vancouver?  Are specific subsectors differentially impacted during tougher economic times?  How is charitable giving changing over time?  How is employment in the sector changing over time?  What is the sector’s contribution to Canada’s GDP?  To best answer these and other important questions, the collection and publication of corresponding data is key.

Of still greater concern, without current data, policy decisions are being made with a weaker, and less evidence-based, understanding of their impacts on the sector.  Indeed, given that key information about the sector is a decade or more old, policy makers have to rely on data from before two economic recessions!  Economically and socially, Canada has changed significantly since the last time the above-mentioned data initiatives were conducted.  The sector itself has also changed.  But, how has the sector changed?  What does it look like now?  What is its current impact for Canada and the communities it serves across our country?

Working group on Sector-Wide Data

Major stakeholders have come together in a sector-wide data working group to improve the availability and accessibility of data about the charitable and nonprofit sector (meet the working group).

The working group’s mandate is to:

  1. Map out currently available federal data resources for the charitable and nonprofit sector and identify data gaps
  2. Develop policy recommendations on what the federal government can do to address the gaps in data

Our goal is to advocate for renewed and improved information about the sector, which contributed over $160 billion to the Canadian economy in 2007 (Satellite Account) and featured $112 billion in revenues in 2003 (NSNVO).  The group aims to advance the collection and publication of data pertaining to the wellbeing and nature of the sector.  This includes data about the size (e.g., by annual revenue and economic impact), subsector breakdown (e.g., arts and culture, social services, etc.), staff and volunteer resources, and financing of the sector.

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