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From the archives

Paper Rout

Postmedia in the gutter

Past Trauma

Richard Wagamese and an Indigenous literary resurgence

Family Pride

Profiles in gay life

Andrew Potter

Andrew Potter wrote The Authenticity Hoax and, with Joseph Heath, The Rebel Sell.

Articles by
Andrew Potter

Snap Out of It

Can science correct our distorted realities? June 2019
At the beginning of every apocalyptic thriller, there’s a scene where the hero is getting ready for work, feeding the kids breakfast, cleaning up after a dog that has barfed in the living room, and generally dealing with the million minor stresses of everyday life. Meanwhile, on the TV or radio in the background, the news cycles through the usual mundanities of petty crime and traffic and…

The Devil Is in the Details

Canada’s legalization of marijuana raises a host of policy and health questions January | February 2019
The federal government’s move to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in October 2018 raises many questions about what this will mean for Canada and Canadians. Canada is only the second country in the world to formally legalize the drug and the first G7 country to do so. The government made the move to deal with a situation…

Steven Pinker, and is Enlightenment enough?

Why a new Age of Reason won't save us February 2018
“Man is a rational animal—so at least I have been told. Throughout a long life, I have looked diligently for evidence in favour of this statement, but so far I have not had the good fortune to come across it, though I have searched in many countries spread over three continents.” So goes the characteristically dry opening to Bertrand Russell’s 1943 essay An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish

The New Dissent

In an age of free speech battles and #fakenews, what exactly counts as dissent? July–August 2017
In his fine manifesto Letters to a Young Contrarian, Christopher Hitchens tells the story of Nelson Mandela being visited in prison by South African authorities who had been shaken by growing international condemnation. You’re free to go, they told him, out you get. Except Mandela told…

Twilight of the Pundits

The internet’s welcome transformation of public debate November 2013
Last December, my colleague at the Ottawa Citizen, a Parliament Hill reporter named Glen McGregor, wrote a blogpost entitled “Toward a Dogme95 of Political Reporting.” It was a trim little call for a return to journalism’s basics: pick up the phone, work sources, get stories. It asked reporters to stop filing easy stories skimmed from the froth of partisan posturing or from social…

Van Gogh’s Bastards

Celebration of his work—and life—reflects our age’s guiding obsession June 2012
During its 14-week run at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the exhibition Van Gogh: Up Close sold an extraordinary number of tickets to visitors from every state in the union and 46 other countries and territories. The only other North American venue for the exhibition is the National Gallery of Canada, where it opened on May…

Identity Crisis

But for the Liberals, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. March 2010
In the fall of 2006, I participated in a day-long seminar in Toronto on the future of progressive politics. While it was not strictly a partisan event, most of the participants were Liberals of some stripe or another, including three of the candidates in the federal leadership contest that was underway at the time. There was a great deal of anxiety in the…

Unbalanced Thoughts

Essays about last fall’s Ottawa showdown highlight only the values of parliamentary tradition. July–August 2009
For a couple of weeks last fall, a wonderful madness descended on Parliament Hill, and the country watched gobsmacked as the opposition threatened to bring down the newly elected Conservative government and replace it with a Liberal-NDP coalition propped up by the firm support of the Bloc Québécois. Was this constitutional? Was it democratic? Canadians seemed…

Are We a Métis Nation?

And has John Ralston Saul had the final word on Canadian identity? April 2009
Ever since he burst onto the philosophical scene in 1992 with Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West, a somewhat overdramatic look at the evolution of the western mind, John Ralston Saul has been engaged in two quixotic intellectual projects: bashing the Enlightenment and trying to make sense of Canada. The conceit that buckles these two projects together is the notion that the search for the Canadian identity will come to an end only when we come to see that what justifies…