This is the 50th issue of Inroads, and 2022 is our 30th year of publication – noteworthy milestones for a small independent publication with no government funding or corporate support.
Elsewhere in this issue, I look back at the period since our last retrospective in 2007 and revisit some of the major developments and controversies that Inroads writers have engaged in that period, in Inroads 50: A Look Back at the Last 15 Years. We also asked writers who had reviewed books since 2007 to have another look at their reviews and reflect on whether there was more to say now about the book they reviewed and whether they would change their assessment. Many reviewers were happy to respond, and we received some interesting contributions.
While our anniversary has provided an occasion to revisit the recent past, Inroads 50 does not neglect the present. Canada’s federal election was widely decried as unnecessary when it was called and left the political landscape virtually unchanged when it was held. Nevertheless, there were some developments that may portend larger changes in the future. Reg Whitaker looks at the increase in support for Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada, and asks whether Canada can maintain its relative immunity to far-right populist politics in In Mad Max and the Election in Which Everyone Lost. Patrick Webber examines changes in the Atlantic region which, while modest, were nevertheless disproportionate to the region’s small size in The East is (Still Mostly) Red.
In contrast to Canada’s political inertia, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Japan all acquired new leaders this fall. In elections in both Germany and Norway, centre-right parties lost ground to their centre-left rivals, and new coalition governments headed by social democratic parties have taken office. The importance of environmental issues is noted in both elections, in Philipp Harfst’s An Unexpected Change in Germany and John Erik Fossum’s Norway’s Shift to the Left. While Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, as expected, was returned to power in that country’s October election, this took place after the LDP had chosen a new leader for the second time in a little over a year. Mark Crawford explains why the new Prime Minister is unlikely to introduce major policy changes, in Political Change, Japanese Style. Nor is Sweden’s new leader, Magdalena Andersson, expected to take her Social Democratic Party in a radical new direction. Nicholas Aylott examines the impact of the closed selection process that brought Andersson to power as Sweden’s first female Prime Minister, in Sweden Has a New Leader, but What Does She Stand for?
In early November, COP26 in Glasgow was billed as the most important international meeting on climate change since COP21 in Paris in 2015. However, the concrete results of the meeting are widely regarded as inadequate to hold global warming to the limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius recommended at Paris. Two articles propose initiatives that could contribute to achieving the Paris goal. Taking his cue from a 2018 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, John Richards proposes building 100 small modular nuclear reactors to replace almost all fossil fuel–generated electricity in Canada, in Getting Serious About Climate Change. Marvin Shaffer suggests an accelerating schedule of carbon tax increases, with the revenue earmarked to offset the rising costs of extreme climate event damage, in A Carbon Tax that Pays the Cost of Climate Change. Not coincidentally, he is writing from Vancouver in the wake of damage created by monsoon-level rainfall in November.
Also in early November, the CEO of Air Canada – ironically named Rousseau – delivered a speech in English only to the Chamber of Commerce in Montreal, where his company is based, and proclaimed that he had more pressing things to do than learn French. The predictable reaction was a sign that the status of French is far from a settled question in Quebec. Of longer-term significance was the debate going on in Quebec’s National Assembly, which was considering Bill 96, the CAQ government’s language legislation. Anne Michèle Meggs brings us up to date on all these developments in Quebec’s Language Debate, 2021–22 Edition.
Afghanistan was a major focus of the world’s attention as the last U.S. troops withdrew, the Western-backed Afghan government quickly collapsed and Kabul fell to the Taliban. Reviewing the disastrous outcome of Western intervention in Afghanistan and other countries, Andy Hira maintains that the lesson to be drawn is not isolationism but more constructive involvement based on a deeper appreciation and study of local history and dynamics, in To Intervene or Not to Intervene, That is Not the Question. And in Can Afghanistan’s Neighbours Tame the Taliban, Sergei Plekhanov sets Afghanistan in its regional context and highlights the role of Afghanistan’s neighbours – which include such major powers as China, Russia, India and Pakistan – in building a viable political order in the country.
Also in this issue:
- Henry Milner examines the role of “woke” politics on the left in helping to elect a Republican governor of Virginia and – possibly – returning Donald Trump to the presidency in 2024, in The Political Price of Cancel Culture.
- Joyce Wayne draws on personal experience to make the case that Quebec’s restrictions on wearing religious clothing can propel positive changes in the lives of girls and women, in Quebec’s Bill 21 Brings Positive Change to the Lives of Girls and Women.
- Arthur Milner reflects on the death of F. W. de Klerk, who helped bring apartheid to an end in South Africa, and wonders where an Israeli equivalent might be found, in Rest in Peace, Frederik Willem de Klerk
- Philip Resnick, while not ignoring the pandemic, also turns to other subjects in his poems, in As the Earth Turns.