"Canada is no stranger to dynastic ownership of its media companies," writes Robin Shaban in her feature article in this issue of the Monitor. "Thomson, Atkinson, Black, Irving: each family name is synonymous with the control of major press operations, either nationally or regionally. Governments have been aware of this issue for decades, but they’ve done little to address it." For years, Canada has had more concentrated media ownership than our American counterparts.
Law and legal issues
On his first day in office, US president Joe Biden revoked the permit for the controversial Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline. The partially built project was supposed to carry bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries in the United States. Green-lighted by Donald Trump in 2017, but delayed in the courts for years, this climate-busting project is now thankfully dead.
VANCOUVER — The 150th anniversary of British Columbia joining Canada arrives at a time when people and institutions are being asked to reckon with the foundational impacts of racism in our society. Challenging Racist British Columbia: 150 Years and Counting, is a new publication examining the long history of racist policies that have impacted Indigenous, Black and racialized communities in the province over those 150 years, tying those histories to present day anti-racist movements.
In this issue:
Maria Rose Sikyea is a young Dené artist living in Yukon with her adorable three-year-old. When I spoke to her in November, she was expecting a second child, whom she hoped would be delivered with the assistance of a midwife. But like many others in her situation, Sikyea faced a considerable roadblock: Yukon is the only Canadian jurisdiction that does not offer access to government-provided and funded midwifery.
"If we learn anything from COVID-19," write Lindsay McLaren and Trish Hennessy in their cover feature for this issue, "it should be that we need to build and foster a more comprehensive version of public health that acts on what we know about the social determinants of well-being." Economy and health are not separate things, they argue, and public health policy should not be limited to matters of primary care.
Photo by Francis Mariani (Flickr Creative Commons)
The COVID-19 infection rate for prisoners in federal penitentiaries is nine times higher than the general infection rate in Canada. Meanwhile, social movements across North America are calling for substantive law enforcement reform and the dismantling of systemic racism. Together, these developments call the prison system into question.
In her 2012 book, Consent of the Networked, Rebecca MacKinnon noted that the companies and governments “that build, operate, and govern cyberspace are not being held sufficiently accountable for their exercise of power over the lives and identities of people who use digital networks.” MacKinnon’s observation, that both public and private sector actors are “sovereigns operating without the consent of the networked,” is even more apparent today, not least in the context of policing and law enforcement in the criminal justice system.
It has been six months since we shut down the economy to all but essential activities in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Federal and many provincial emergency measures introduced since then, though imperfect and unevenly available across Canada, have stabilized incomes and bought governments time to figure out what comes next.