DUE: Nov. 21 OR Dec. 12, at 11:30 p.m. LENGTH: 800 words (+ or – 10% . . . not i
DUE: Nov. 21 OR Dec. 12, at 11:30 p.m.
LENGTH: 800 words (+ or – 10% . . . not including the reference list)
The goals of this assignment are to:
Practice a form of political participation that is open to almost anyone: writing an op-ed. Op-eds are short essays that express an informed opinion on an important public issue. Writing such a piece will also help you to understand opinion pieces you read.
Explore problems of democratic backsliding in Canada’s political institutions.
Originally, newspapers ran these essays opposite the editorial page (hence the name). They are signed by their authors, who usually have special knowledge on the subject matter. The Toronto Star regularly runs a feature called “The Big Debate” that consists of side-by-side “pro” and “con” op-ed pieces. You can see recent examples here: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/thebigdebate.html
See also the slides on “Writing Op-eds” and examples from the slides, which are all posted on D2L under Workshops.
In this assignment, you will take a position on a possible reform of a political institution and write a “debate-style” op-ed piece. This means you will first support your position using evidence from peer-reviewed or trustworthy sources. You will then answer critics of your position; the evidence from critics may come from a less authoritative source, like another op-ed, press release, etc. Questions you will consider are how the proposed reform would stop democratic backsliding or reduce the democratic deficit. You will need to discuss costs and trade-offs.
In general, you should be exploring these “big” questions as they relate to democracy:
Are there too many barriers to voting and/or participation in policy-making?
Do some groups (e.g., rich people) have too much control of the system?
Could the machinery of government work better, especially for the average person?
Does our electoral system over-represent certain segments of the electorate?
Here are more manageable topics. This list is not exhaustive.
Alternative electoral rules, e.g., mandatory voting, ranked ballots, proportional representation, lower voting age
One person one vote (rebalancing regional or urban/rural representation)
Reforms to permit greater participation (in voting / elected office / public hearings, etc.) of women / BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour)?
A new constitutional deal for cities
New rules for Parliament (see “Blood Sport” reading)
Should the Senate be abolished / reformed / left alone?
Is the Prime Minister and/or cabinet too powerful?
Should backbenchers have more power?
Should public servants be more accountable and less “faceless”?
Should government scientists and other bureaucrats be free to speak to the media?
Is judicial activism good or bad for democracy?
What sort of police reforms could restore/improve public support of this institution?