Cardus Insights

Rejecting the temptations of hot takes or over-simplified solutions, this weekly newsletter from Ray Pennings is the right read for anyone desiring thoughtful, measured, and principled perspectives on faithful public life.

Why is Insights such a well-read newsletter?

“Insights brings clarity to Canadian policies and to their impact and inspires the desire to engage in these important matters.”

– Lori Caltagirone, President & CEO, Sunesis Consulting Inc.

“Every weekend I enjoy reading [his] well-thought-out, typically balanced, short enough to read but long enough to be substantive, articles. To be honest, they are my favourite and I look forward to reading them each weekend.” 

Bob Kuhn, Former President of Trinity Western University, Founder of Positively Parkinsons

Reliable, incisive, balanced, forward-looking – looking both inside and outside the box. The very best reason to get up on a Saturday morning

– Eugene Meehan, K.C., Supreme Advocacy LLP

“A trustworthy guide to developing a redeemed perspective on the big stories of the previous week.”

– Geoffrey Trotter, Litigation Counsel, Geoffrey Trotter Law Corporation

Ray’s perspective is refreshing.”

– Angus Reid, chairman of the Angus Reid Institute, CEO and founder of Angus Reid Global



July 29, 2023

Politics belongs to everyone. While the political class (officials, media, pundits, lobbyists) lead the way, what is acceptable behaviour is shaped by how all of us collectively–by our actions or inactions–reward that behaviour. Politics is inherently about power and reward. This means people usually will behave publicly in the manner that seems most likely to get them what they want. This week’s musing emerges from my own reflections regarding what I should be doing to resist the ever-declining discourse that masquerades as political conversation these days.

The responses to both the very public suicide of Toronto principal Richard Bilkszto and the nasty demonstration confronting Prime Minister Trudeau in Belleville, ON discomfited me. To be clear, by linking the two I don’t mean to equate them. Every suicide is a tragic and painful matter, complicated by a complex mix of circumstances that are almost always near impossible to understand for the person’s nearest and dearest, let alone those who only know of the matter through media reports. Protesting the prime minister is different. Protest is a legitimate political tool. While the media coverage does show last week’s event to be obnoxious and uncomfortable, it was evidently not so dangerous as to prevent Prime Minister Trudeau from wading into the crowd. We need to keep perspective. But for this column, the specifics of either event aren’t nearly as important as the very similar public reaction to them both.

Hate is a strong word that evokes emotion, so I want to use it carefully. My tentative conclusion based on the evidence of the past week is that:

  • The politics of polarisation is swirling downward into a vortex of hate
  • The passive response of ordinary citizens like me is allowing this to be normalised.

It’s a tentative conclusion, so let me walk you through the logic that brings it on.