The Bell: Good Night and Good Luck
SUMMER IS HERE, the 2021/22 cohort of Max Bell students is preparing to graduate, and the time has come to turn the final page on this year’s volume of The Bell. Over the past nine months, we published 33 pieces covering a variety of topics from the pandemic, to human rights violations, to climate change. As we reflect back on these pieces, we are reminded of the complex nature of good policy making and invite further reflection on how to make policy more evidence-based, effective, and inclusive.
In this next stage of the pandemic, many are “living with COVID” by booking summer travel plans; we should keep in mind Akriti’s proposal for the travel industry to improve transparency in their post-pandemic policies. The mere idea of travel runs in stark contrast to the realities just nine months ago when Canadians were picketing hospitals as part of their call to end vaccine and mask mandates, as Phaedra de Saint-Rome highlighted. The pandemic will be remembered by the many lockdowns and restrictions on movement, and whether or not they seemed to run counter to science, as suggested by Mune Mafusire, or by the moment countries like New Zealand transitioned from trying to stop the spread of COVID to managing its existence, as Daniel Cruden pointed out. Pandemic leadership certainly varied by country and Jason Kreutz demonstrated that Britain might have established itself as a global leader in the fight against future pandemics. We remember the high death tolls from COVID-19 when leadership failed, and Kerry Kittson shed light on the lack of policy support for those suffering from long COVID.
Over the past nine months, we have also continued to witness and experience the ravages of climate change. Caroline Merner drew attention to Canada’s continued high carbon emissions despite several federal commitments to reduce them, as well as to the subsequent effects of climate dissonance. Jaclyn Victor examined government inaction in response to Manitoba’s annual floods while Raul Scorza proposed a Canada Water Agency to effectively manage Canadians’ access to clean drinking water. A player in Canada’s environmental future will surely be the Green Party, and Elizabeth Fraser considered what the party’s future may hold.
Human rights also took a hit globally. We see this in the Ethiopian genocide to which Fanuel Gebremeskel drew our attention and the lack of support from the international community in Ethiopia, which Shweta Menon interviewed Sarah Hunter about. This is also evidenced in the racist double standards on full display in the world’s response to Ukrainian refugees, which Paola Salas Paredes highlighted. Elizabeth Fraser and Shweta Menon amplified the threats which exist to human rights in Canada relating to the right to housing and the discrimination against women. Sugandha Gupta wrote about gender-based violence in India, where no marital rape law exists. Shweta Menon also wrote about the UN’s failure to act on the Responsibility to Protect principle in Myanmar, and Tensin Dasel took us to Tibet, where the Chinese Communist Party is attempting to establish cultural and political uniformity.
It would not have been a policy newsletter without talk of global politics and the ongoing threats to democracy. Pangying Pang shared insights regarding what it will take to keep democracy as the standard for global government and how Taiwan is on the front lines of defending democracy. Jason Kreutz responded to the recent AUKUS pact, suggesting it demonstrates America is becoming increasingly isolationist, and Umer Farooq explained Pakistan’s loss of confidence in Imran Khan. Ian Rockwell brought us back to Canada with a proposal for ranked-choice voting and also shed light on Canada’s failures in Afghanistan. Jaclyn Victor discussed China’s presence in the Canadian Arctic.
Who can forget Elon Musk’s move to buy Twitter and Phaedra de Saint Rome’s analysis thereof? The social media blackout and its effects on the Global South were discussed by Paola Salas Paredes. In the ever-unpredictable world of digital tech, Aiza Abid reminded us to consider the digital privacy of children in the development of all new legislation.
The last few months of The Bell looked at Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. Prior to the invasion, Jason Kreutz and Naveen Kanwadia assessed Putin’s ideology to better understand his intentions, and also offered a possible response by the West. Pangying Peng and Jason Kreutz each penned a piece regarding how the West should respond to Russian aggression.
We send our heartfelt thanks to the students who took time out of their busy schedules to contribute to The Bell – this wouldn’t have been possible without you. We also appreciate the support received from Andrew Potter as we coordinated pieces each week – it was a pleasure working with and learning from you. Finally, thanks to you, our wonderful subscribers for reading, engaging, and sharing our pieces week after week. When The Bell returns in the fall, it will be under the stewardship of new editors and will amplify the voices of new writers at the Max Bell School. We look forward to reading their takes on important policy issues and to continue learning about what makes good policy from the Max Bell community.
Wishing everyone a safe and wonderful summer!
Sincerely, Phaedra de Saint-Rome, Jason Kreutz, Shweta Menon, and Jaclyn Victor.