From elections to debates to referendums, in the political sphere we have seen some truly shocking occurrences worldwide over the past decade. Here are a few of the political events that have either sparked a debate or shocked and upset individuals across the Canada and the world.
The 2016 U.S. Election and the Aftermath: No matter where in the world you are from, the 2016 U.S. presidential election of Donald Trump was the talk of the town. The results of the election shocked millions of people in the United States and across the world. It has since called to question how we elect our leaders and who we allow to run for leadership roles in our countries in some circles, while others celebrated the presence of a perceived everyman in office. Since his inauguration, Trump has caused unrest time and time again, with political parties often in conflict over behaviour at political summits, the now-historic government shutdown over funding for the Mexico-U.S. border wall and the recently completed investigation into the campaign nicknamed the Mueller investigation.
The Brexit Referendum: “Brexit” is the term coined by the media to describe the shocking departure of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU). The iconic referendum has yet to display its full political and economic effects on the UK and the EU but has sparked many debates over the aftermath of the move, the planning process and which other countries want to be removed from the union as well.
Venezuela/Yemen Crisis: Over the past two years, Venezuela and Yemen have been in the news over their respective crises. In the last four years, over two million Venezuelans have fled the country while over one million others remain and currently face serious economic hardship. This all happened as a result of Venezuela’s economic collapse at the hands of corrupt political leaders. Meanwhile, Yemen is currently undergoing an almost five year long civil war which is regarded as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. As many as 14 thousand Yemenis have died fighting, and over 50 thousand more, including many children, are thought to have died as a result of war-induced famine.
Rise of ISIS/Terrorism: It is not possible to mention this decade without highlighting the rise of ISIS and other terrorist-related groups and attacks in the western world, Europe and the Middle East. North America has seen multiple bombings done in the name of ISIS but perhaps one of the most renowned attacks was the 2015 Paris bombing which killed 130 people and injured over 100 more. Terrorist acts by white supremacists have also dominated news cycles, including devastating mass shootings such as the March 15 massacre targeting a mosque and Islamic centre in New Zealand.
LGBTQ+ Rights and Issues: This past decade was a milestone for the LGBTQ+ community in various corners of the globe. Most, if not all, major western countries have now passed bills to legally allow same-sex marriages and increase accommodation for members of the LGBTQ+ community. Things have not been all great for the community, as the decade also saw events like the Orlando nightclub shooting. There are also still many territories that oppose LGBTQ+ rights campaigns. Even in areas with some amount of advocacy, much more can still be done in the coming years.
Trans Mountain Pipeline Debate: One of the biggest ongoing debates right now centers around the $7.4 billion expansion of the Trans Mountain Oil Pipeline that carries Alberta crude oil from Edmonton to Burnaby, on the coast of British Columbia. Many are divided on the economic versus ethical and environmental consequences of the project. It has been put on pause until a legal resolution is made by May 31, 2019.
Ford Changes/PC Government Election: One of the most talked about things across Ontario has been the massive number of changes made by Premier Doug Ford since his stepping into office on June 7, 2018. While new changes are rapidly introduced, some of the major controversial changes made include the significant OSAP changes and 10 per cent tuition cut that left many particularly low-income students in an arguably worse position than before, the shrinking of the Toronto city council which some viewed as a personal attack by Ford, the rollback of the sex education curriculum that caused the province to be taken to court and most recently the new changes to the education system regarding funding, class sizes, etc.
Politics remains a touchy subject with many people and some individuals opt not to vote or pay attention to what is going on for a number of reasons. Irrespective of your political leanings, it remains important to keep up to date with what goes on not only worldwide but across Canada. While many federal initiatives may not affect you in a way that you can see or feel you can change, politics begins at a local level. If we want better towns, cities, provinces and, ultimately, a better country, then being involved with elections and debates is in your best interest. It’s your right to vote or refrain from voting, but if enough individuals neglect paying attention to the politics of our regions and provinces at the very least, then the local government might just make enough “bad” decisions to greatly affect our quality of life — something we all can attest to.