In the very first issue of Inroads, in 1992, the editors wrote that “Canadian intellectual life needs a genuine meeting of minds, which begins from the clash of opinion. Too much writing in Canada is not genuinely interested in pursuing opposing ideas.” They defined the objective of Inroads as being “to promote active and lively debate.”
Now, 31 years and 52 issues later, the need expressed in that first issue is greater than ever. And Inroads is still trying to fulfil that need and meet the objective that it set for itself at the outset.
One forum through which Inroads promotes debate is the Inroads listserv.* Edited versions of noteworthy listserv discussions are often published in the magazine. In February, a listserv discussion of whether what happened in Canada’s residential schools constituted genocide evolved into a larger discussion of what the word genocide means. In particular, does “cultural genocide” – a deliberate effort to eradicate the culture and identity of a people – belong in the same conceptual basket as actual mass killing? The discussion was intense, but the participants remained respectful and focused on the questions at hand. Highlights are presented in this issue.
Also in this issue, William Rees, a pioneer in ecological footprint analysis, makes the case that climate change is only a symptom of a broader phenomenon he calls overshoot: “Too many people are consuming and polluting too much on a finite planet.” Only a major reduction in both the number of people on the planet and the ecological footprint of those of us in high-income countries will prevent civilizational collapse. At our invitation, prominent – and somewhat more optimistic – environmentalist Mark Jaccard responds to this stark warning.
Frances Widdowson was fired from her job as a tenured professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary after criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement and expressing the view that residential schools had some positive value in providing many First Nations children with a formal education. Here she exchanges views on “wokism” with Mark Crawford of Athabasca University and Inroads co-publisher John Richards.
Finally, Anne Michèle Meggs and Pierre Fortin go back and forth on the Century Initiative’s proposal that Canada should boost immigration so that its population reaches 100 million by 2100, and on immigration more generally. While not fundamentally disagreeing with each other, they do come at the question from different perspectives: Anne as a former senior official in Quebec’s immigration department and acknowledged authority on immigration policy, Pierre as an economist who has delved into the economic impact of immigration.
Taken together, do these features represent the “genuine meeting of minds” that Inroads aimed to provide? We hope they at least make a dent in the unfortunate tendency of people across the political spectrum to listen only to views that confirm what they already believe.
Meanwhile, the main theme section in this issue covers a part of the world that has been underrepresented in Inroads: Latin America. Focusing on Mexico but also ranging over Spanish America as a whole and looking back at the region’s history, Mario Polèse offers an account of why Latin America has not achieved a level of economic and social well-being comparable to that of North America and Europe. Maxwell Cameron examines last fall’s events in Peru, where a failed “self-coup” led to the ouster of the country’s president. Although the Pacific Alliance – an initiative to forge closer economic ties among four Latin American countries – has run into difficulties, Geoff White maintains that the effort still has some life in it and deserves Canada’s support. Henry Milner, whose special report on deeply troubled Haiti was distributed by Inroads in February, provides an update and a renewed plea for Canadian military involvement. Craig Jones offers another perspective on Haiti, arguing that there will be no solution to the problem of the country’s violent gangs as long as the United States persists in waging a “war on drugs.”
Also in this issue:
- Herschel Hardin makes the link between high levels of immigration and the lack of affordable housing in Greater Vancouver, leading to a declining quality of life in what was once a great city.
- André Binette sees the controversy over Quebec’s use of the notwithstanding clause as a reflection of the contrasting political cultures of Canada and Quebec.
- Reg Whitaker endeavours to make sense of Artificial Intelligence, which evcryone says is the Coming Thing while most people don’t quite know what it is.
- Arthur Milner looks at the crisis in Israel’s democracy and expresses concern for the safety of Palestinians trapped in the fight between liberal and ultraright Israelis.
- John Richards reviews an economist’s harsh critque of India’s corruption and failure to provide universal quality services, and finds some of the same themes explored in a new novel and a Godfather-style Bollywood movie.
- Henry Milner sees parallels to current events in Russia in a novel about Trotsky and his murderer by a popular Cuban writer.
- Philip Resnick’s poems cover a variety of subjects, from the changing nature of truth to observations of his native Montreal.
* If you would like to subscribe to the listserv, write to Inroads at email@example.com and we will add your name to the list. If you are not a subscriber to Inroads journal, you can obtain a free subscription by writing to the same address. As a subscriber you will receive a PDF of each issue by email. And tell your friends.