Sober second thought
It’s not often that Canada’s upper chamber does something praiseworthy. But a Senate committee’s pointed criticism of the Conservatives’ Fair Elections Act seems to have made an impression on the government. Pierre Poilievre, the minister in charge of democratic reform, says the senators’ study, which proposes nine major changes to the bill—including removing measures aimed at muzzling the chief electoral officer and increasing the time robocall firms must keep their records—is the “skilful” product of a “very smart group of people.” Now we’ll see if Conservatives are clever enough to compromise on a flawed piece of legislation.
Justice is rarely swift in Canada, but it finally arrived this week for three men who assaulted a Good Samaritan during the 2011 Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver. Video of the attack posted on YouTube showed Robert MacKay hauled to the ground, punched and kicked after he tried to defend a downtown department store from an angry mob of looters. David Leonati, Michael MacDonald and Carlos Barahona-Villeda will be sentenced for their three-year-old crimes in June.
A cure for climate change
Despite decades of global inaction, there’s still time to blunt the most catastrophic effects of climate change, according to a United Nations report released this week. The report concluded that cutting emissions by up to 70 per cent and tripling the use of renewable energy sources and nuclear power by 2050 would keep global temperatures at a manageable level, while only causing a minor pullback in economic growth. It would be a massive undertaking, to be sure, but one that’s far less costly than waiting until irreversible climate damage is done.
True, the Montreal Canadiens are the sole Canadian club in the hunt for the Stanley Cup this year. But a new report from the Conference Board of Canada may show the way to a brighter future. The study suggests that at least three cities—Quebec City, Hamilton and Toronto—can support additional, money-making hockey franchises. It’s not the first time that someone has pointed this out. (Remember Jim Balsillie?) And the seven current Canadian clubs already provide more than one-third of the 30-team league’s revenue. Hey, Gary Bettman: It’s time to start listening to the dollars—and the sense.
The Ukrainian government’s hold over much of the eastern part of the country appeared to be at risk of slipping away this week, as pro-Russian militants consolidated control over strategic locations in several cities and towns close to Russia. On Tuesday, interim President Oleksandr Turchynov said that a phased “anti-terrorist” operation began in the early-morning hours, and there were reports that Ukrainian troops entered the city of Slovyansk, which had been under the control of pro-Russian forces. Kyiv and its allies accuse Moscow of orchestrating the unrest. Ukraine is justified in protecting its sovereignty, but there is a real risk of heavy casualties, which may lead to a full-scale Russian invasion. The West will condemn Russia if that happens, but all evidence suggests there’s not much it’s prepared to do about it.
An unnecessary outbreak
Two new cases of measles were confirmed at schools in Calgary this week. The disease has now been detected in five provinces. B.C. alone has more cases, at 375, than the United States, and experts warn it may only be a matter of time before a child dies of the disease. Has the time come to consider mandatory vaccinations? Opponents say it’s their right to choose not to have their kids vaccinated (despite overwhelming, rigorous evidence that vaccines are safe and effective). But they don’t have the right to spread a potentially fatal disease.
Past your prime
Most people think of middle age as beginning around 45, but it turns out we’re “over the hill” at 24, at least according to a new study from researchers at Simon Fraser University. In the paper, published in the journal PLOS One, they analyzed the gaming records of 3,305 people aged 16 to 44 playing StarCraft 2, a video game. Response times to threats within the game, they found, declined for those past 24, regardless of the player’s skill level. Of course, it is always possible the more mature players just got bored.
The boob tube
More troubles for television this week. A new study in the journal Pediatrics found that fussy toddlers had more exposure to TV than those with no or few issues. A second study found that television-watching caused sleep problems among infants and young children. Meanwhile, the hugely popular TV show Game of Thrones this week killed off its most unlikeable character, the evil King Joffrey. Too bad the satisfying plot twist was ruined by a flood of Internet spoilers.