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From the archives

Pax Atlantica

NATO’s long-lasting relevance

The Melmac Years

My peculiar resin d’être

George Anderson

George Anderson served as deputy minister for intergovernmental affairs, as well as for natural resources.

Articles by
George Anderson

Split Decisions

Canada, Quebec, and the next generation May 2024
It was the best of times and the worst of times. For a whole generation, Canada was caught up in existential politics. In 1965, the members of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism raised the alarm, saying they had “been driven to the conclusion that Canada, without being fully conscious of the fact, is passing through the greatest crisis in its…

Chin Up, Canada

Notes from a mellower critic December 2023
Donald J. Savoie’s remarkable career as a scholar, policy analyst, and occasional government insider has brought him many honours, and in this very personal book, his love for a Canada that he believes “offers more advantages to its citizens than any other country” shines through. At the same time, he bemoans how our politics and sense of self have been soured by widespread claims of victimhood by Canadians in all regions…

Emission Impossible

On policies and persuasion June 2023
Climate change has been on Canada’s political agenda since 1988, when we hosted the World Conference on the Changing Atmosphere and joined the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That was thirty-five years ago: the professional lifespan of a whole generation of politicians and public servants and long enough, one would think, for serious action. Canada did ratify the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in…

By Whose Authority?

Times of profound revolution December 2022
The death this August of Mikhail Gorbachev reminded many of the extraordinary collapse of the Soviet Union, which began when Estonia declared its sovereignty in November 1988. While most Sovietologists at the time regarded the Communist regime as senescent and corrupt, few had anticipated its complete demise. Then it all crumpled with remarkable speed. Gorbachev’s…

Toppling Statutes?

Thoughts on modern constitutions May 2022
In 1755, Corsicans ratified the constitution of their new republic, which was to prove a historical blip. The French conquered the island in 1768, but the constitution enjoys a minor celebrity as the first of a sovereign nation. The Enlightenment concept of a constitution was meant to challenge the unlimited power of kings and to institute democratic…

Long Arms

Extending the executive’s reach September 2021
The philosopher Joseph Heath ended his 2014 bestseller, Enlightenment 2.0, with a damp squib. That book explored the limitations of human rationality — both individual and collective — and presented a depressing portrait of a decline of reason in contemporary society, with its politics “enslaved by speed” and vulnerable to demagoguery. But even Heath seemed to recognize that his Slow Politics Manifesto —“a firm defense of…

The Age of Independence

The right to be, and a theory of territory in the era of Kurdistan and Catalonia September 2018
On September 25, 2017 voters in Iraq’s Kurdish region went to the polls in a referendum and gave more than 90 percent support to a proposal to make their region an independent country. The Kurds in northern Iraq suffered unspeakably under Saddam Hussein, but since 2005—and thanks to American arm-twisting during the rushed drafting of Iraq’s new constitution—they had emerged with a highly autonomous region in Iraq’s very incomplete federal…

What Might Have Been

Veteran observers go behind the scenes of the second referendum January–February 2015
For Canadians of a certain age—and Chantal Hébert and Jean Lapierre, authors of The Morning After: The 1995 Quebec Referendum and the Day That Almost Was, are both grandparents—Quebec nationalism was the defining political issue of our generation. It burst upon us with the death of Duplessis in 1959. Soon we were transfixed by the Quiet Revolution and the existential question: Quebec—in or out of…

Fossil Policies

In a world ever thirstier for oil, Canada’s approach to energy development needs fundamental rethinking May 2012
Despite Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s claim that Canada is an energy superpower, our national debate over energy policy has been remarkably feeble, too often resembling a simple morality play of greens against the oil industry or a grudge match between East and West. Canada, like other countries, must move to a greener energy policy, but our unique challenge is to do so while coming to terms with the opportunities and risks of the oil sands—our globally significant…

Checking in on Quebec

Two leading analysts try to free the province from old ideas September 2006
In 1970, the French sociologist Michel Crozier wrote an academic treatise, La Societé Bloquée, about a France unable to change, even after the general strike and near collapse of order in May 1968. It became a best seller—and a third edition came out in 1999 arguing why France is still “bloquée.” Last…