Closing the Indigenous Education Gap in Canada


by Raywat Deonandan

The United Nations estimates that there are over 370 million indigenous people globally, spread across over 70 countries. In Canada, our approximately 3100 reserves are home to less than half of our 1.4 million Aboriginal citizens, who constitute one of the fastest growing and youngest segments of our society. Yet many Aboriginal communities in this country are characterized by deep poverty, high unemployment rates, substance abuse, suicide ideation, and domestic violence. In recent years, Canada has ranked between 6th and 8th on the UN Human Development Index, while our Aboriginal communities fall between 63rd and 78th. The federal government’s Community Well-Being Index shows that the gap has not changed at all since 1981. Continue reading


Why Do We Need A Control Group?


by Raywat Deonandan

Feb 4, 2019

A version of this article first appeared as a blog post.

We educators, when feeling bored and troublesome, often pass the time both by complaining about the failures of public education and by making bold and unreasonable suggestions about how best to reform education for all. While I have always erred toward the essential skills of numeracy, literacy and even history, my good friend, statistician Dr Nicholas Barrowman, once offered something more intriguing. Continue reading


No, Humanity Isn’t Worse Off Because Elon Musk Launched SpaceX


by Raywat Deonandan

This article was first published in the Huffington Post on Feb 12, 2018. A longer version is available here.

Elon Musk’s company SpaceX successfully launched the second heaviest rocket to have ever left Earth. The so-called Falcon Heavy rocket carried the whimsical payload of Musk’s red Tesla roadster and a mannequin in a spacesuit, blasting David Bowie tunes while flashing on the car’s dashboard Douglas Addams’s famous phrase, “Don’t Panic.” It was a triumph of nerdish power, but also an effective demonstration of SpaceX’s new space commercialization capacities.

Every time a grand achievement in space exploration occurs, the feat summons a predictable chorus of critics decrying the supposed waste that such a spectacle represents. And this event was no exception, as Nathan Robinson quickly wrote in The Guardian, in a piece titled Why Elon Musk’s SpaceX launch is utterly depressing: “If we examine the situation honestly, and get past our natural (and accurate) feeling that rockets are really cool, it becomes hard to defend a project like this.”

The launch was an easy target: a rich playboy spends hundreds of millions of dollars to put his private sports car into space. The intent of the spectacle was to demonstrate Musk’s capability to put an enormous payload into orbit and beyond: critical for potentiating the next great steps in the commercialization and exploration of deep space.
Robinson’s arguments are not new. With every space launch come the cries of disgust that money and resources are expended to expel materials from the world, while crises remain unaddressed here on the ground. In essence, the plea is one for rational priorities that rank the alleviation of human suffering above what Robinson describes as “indulgent projects” that only confirm that “rockets are really cool.”

Years ago, actor Ashton Kutcher appeared on Bill Maher’s TV show to complain about the new Mars rover, about how we shouldn’t be putting “stuff on Mars” when there is still “child slavery” here on Earth. The implications are twofold: first that we are somehow incapable of doing both things — addressing human crises here on Earth while simultaneously exploring the heavens; and second that if we did not do the latter, then the money saved would be redirected to service the former.

Leave aside the hypocrisy of a wealthy critic like Kutcher, whose $200-million net worth could be redirected to rescue countless child slaves, and whose purchase of a ticket to be a space tourist might be in conflict with his seeming anti-space and anti-equity stance. The real issue that Robinson brings up is one of the need to address wealth inequality. The specific injustices to which he alluded — insecure housing, health care and education — are essentially issues of poverty.

It is important to note that on a global level, there is compelling evidence that poverty is decliningChina alone reduced its poverty rate from nearly 90 per cent in 1981 to under two per cent today. It bothers a good leftist like me to admit, but China accomplished this Herculean feat by embracing market reforms. A brand of modern capitalism has lifted more people out of poverty than any other force in human history.

The NASA budget is just under $20 billion. The latest valuation of Elon Musk’s SpaceX company is about $21 billion. This is comparable to the size of a major airline, like United, which holds assets worth about $39 billion. If the SpaceX venture is an “indefensible waste of resources,” as Robinson claims, then what of other frivolous industries, like entertainment? Disney is valued at about $160 billion. But the endless production of Marvel movies, each the price of a space mission, is not seen as frivolous, since they employee hundreds and generate rivers of downstream wealth.

If we apply that same standard to the space exploration industry, a similar narrative emerges. A 1992 article in Nature estimated these economic benefits to the American taxpayer wrought by the space program: $21.6 billion in sales and benefits, 352,000 (mostly skilled) jobs created or saved, $355 million in federal corporate income taxes, $95 billion in economic activity and $1.5 billion return on investment in the form of sold commercial goods and services.

Elon Musk’s space venture is primarily a for-profit commercial venture. However, it produces wealth and income for hundreds of employees and thousands of downstream benefactors. It creates new technologies, some of them with the potential to help free us from environment-wasting fossil fuel dependence. Musk’s venture creates entire new sectors and a career pipeline for young scientists seeking to create more value, multiplying across future generations. All of this amounts to increased societal wealth, limitedly concentrated; in other words, if well-managed, his venture contributes incrementally to global poverty reduction.

So, where is the resource waste that Robinson really needs to scorn and scold? Well, a single new Ford class aircraft carrier costs the U.S. taxpayer $10 billion… half the total valuation of SpaceX. And its purpose is not to employ thousands, lift thousands more out of poverty, combat environmental degradation, explore the universe or train young scientists. Its purpose is to kill people.

I implore critics like Mr. Robinson to turn their attention to the sector that consistently wastes the largest proportion of public resources for no greater virtue than mass murder: military overspending. I would include in that call the need to resist the perversion of the development of space industries in service of militaristic ends, for that frontier is where the space sector loses its moral advantage. Meanwhile, as a character in The West Wing once said, “No one is hungrier, colder or dumber because we went to the moon.”

If it unfolds as many hope, space exploration shall be our salvation — economically, spiritually, technologically and possibly even ecologically. We denude it at our peril, especially in service of unspecific, misdirected and naive activist goals.


The World Isn’t Facing An Overpopulation Problem


This article was first published in the Huffington Post on April 28, 2017. A longer version is available here.

by Raywat Deonandan

Many people believe that overpopulation is the greatest threat to the world’s security and prosperity. It was probably Malthus who first pointed out that population growth is exponential, while agricultural growth is arithmetic. He reasoned that every population must inevitably outgrow its food source. Political instability and border insecurity naturally follow, when growing populations seek to nervously protect their shrinking resource base.

Critics of Malthus pointed out that human populations, unlike bacteria, do not grow exponentially; fertility rates vary geographically and over time. New economic models, including those that factor labour as capital, valued large populations as assets rather than detriments, allowing industrializing nations to convert population to production and therefore to wealth, allowing them to purchase needed resources.

The predicted Malthusian collapse did not occur, due largely to improvements in agricultural sciences and something called the Demographic Transition. It’s this latter thing that gives many demographers hope that the world’s population growth might be slowing, soon to be plateauing, and eventually reversing.

The Demographic Transition was first proposed by Warren Thompson in the 1920s and is well described on BBC’s educational site. From observing changes in Europe over the centuries, Thompson and his intellectual heirs suggested that societies evolve through five stages of demographic development.

In Stage 1, we live pre-industrial lives, dependent on the land and at the mercy of the elements. Diseases are plenty, lifespan is short. Infant mortality rates are very high, such that we don’t even name our children until we are sure they will live beyond infancy. The cost of a child is simply the price of feeding that child, whereas its value as a labourer is high. Both death rates and birth rates are high, and the population is neither growing nor shrinking.

In Stage 2, with the arrival of public health and hygiene measures, infectious diseases recede, and mortality declines, particularly among children. But the cost of children is still low, while their utility is high. Thus, reproduction behaviours remain unchanged. But overall population size increases dramatically. Many so-called developing countries would have been in Stage 2 in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, accounting for their explosive growth.

In Stage 3, social factors intervene to lower the birth rate. When infants survive and women are socially empowered, fertility rates drop. As economies shift from agrarian to industrial bases, more people move to cities. In fact, so many countries have entered Stage 3 that the human race is now a majority urban species.

The widespread introduction of contraception methods, and the use of new wealth to invest in public education (especially for women), leads to smaller families. The cost of children increases with housing and educational demands, while their utility diminishes, as they are no longer needed as labourers.

Thus, in Stage 3 population size is still increasing, but more slowly. Western Europe began emerging from Stage 3 in the 19th century. India and China, with their expanding middle class, are in the latter half of Stage 3 or beyond.

In Stage 4, we transition to a services and information economy, with few economic incentives for reproduction. Birth and death rates are balanced, and there is minimal population growth.

Canada is likely a Stage 4 nation. Rapidly modernizing Stage 3 nations may be progressing to Stage 4 quickly. China is approaching a sort of demographic cliff, since a majority of its people are over the age of 30 and are having fewer children than their recent ancestors.

Some recognize a fifth stage in which birth rate drops below death rate, and the population shrinks. Japan is a Stage 5 country. Subsequent generations are too small to provide an adequate tax base for maintaining social programs. Immigration policies must be re-thought, and governments begin to experiment with strategies for encouraging larger families.

The Demographic Transition is a theoretical construct with some vulnerabilities. It is unclear whether deep religiosity can compel modernized generations to reproduce at rates against their economic self-interest, leading to what some call a “demographic trap.”

Also, it is possible that globalization is a disincentive for modernization, compelling some populations to remain agrarian or manufacturing-based, never to progress to an information-based economy. Climate change, antibiotic resistance, and the unpredictability of international affairs can confound a nation’s linear progression through the stages.

However, given that the basic tenets of the Demographic Transition are being observed in real time in such living social laboratories as India, China, and parts of Africa, it is reasonable that the world is in the process of transitioning.

With investments in public health, reproductive rights, and wealth-building programs, we have seen dramatic recent reductions in the global fertility rate. Most of humanity is transitioning to Stage 4, which means that while total population size is still growing, growth is slowing down.

Human population growth is expected to drop to one per cent by 2020, though we are still on schedule to reach the 9 billion mark by 2050. Total world population should plateau at about 13 billion by 2100, and actually decline thereafter.

Some projections, like that of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, are more optimistic, suggesting that total fertility rate will drop below replacement rate in the 2070s, plateauing around the 9 billion mark.

It took wealthy nations like the United Kingdom a century for fertility rates to fall from over six babies per woman to fewer than three per woman. It took China and Iran a mere decade, because economic and human development initiatives are better understood and better targeted. There is every expectation that current nations with high fertility rates, like Niger and Somalia, can perform similarly.

Draconian measures driven by xenophobia are not necessary to slow the expansion of our numbers. Nor do we need pandemics, famines or wars to cull our numbers. So long as we continue to invest in education, public health, access to contraception and global trade, our numbers are likely to decline naturally and painlessly.


Canada’s University Libraries Are In Peril


by Raywat Deonandan

This article first appeared in The Huffington Post on Dec 13, 2016. The author retains all rights.

Universities and colleges across Canada are having their budgets severely tightened for a host of reasons, some more rational than others. In this quest for slashing costs, libraries have found themselves on the chopping block. To many, this move represents an attack on the very idea of scholarship, and the undermining of the nation’s quest to be a leader in the knowledge economy.

The University of Ottawa, where I do my teaching and research, recently announced that it will be reducing its library budget by almost $2 million. Since staffing is already at a bare minimum, with the librarian-to-student ratio at the second lowest in the province , the library has opted to absorb this cut by discontinuing its subscriptions to some very popular scholarly journals.

Understandably, there has been outcry among all members of the University community–students, professors, researchers, librarians, and even some administrators–who claim that cuts to the library are an assault on the very idea of a university. It began with the cancellation of a handful of journal titles. But this assault may progress to a more profound diminishing of the capacity of a library system to catalyze knowledge and accelerate learning.

It’s important that all citizens understand the role that libraries and librarians play. Their importance transcends their roles as gatekeepers to books and journals. They are genuinely both the memory vault of scholarship and learned guides that help us navigate the increasingly expansive morass of data, information, copyright, and information technology.

University libraries are where sensitive data, such as census and government survey data, are made available to researchers, serving as the guarantors of Canadians’ privacy and security. Librarians train researchers and students alike in the art and science of finding relevant information to inform their work, and show us where the lesser known, yet deeply valuable, global source materials are archived. They are conduits to accessing materials, data and knowledge in institutions in other countries. They are the masters of archiving the results of our scholarly work, making them freely available to the public.

Personally, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the extent to which my university library has been indispensable in helping me to keep abreast of the constant changes to copyright law, which is such an underappreciated service in an era in which teaching materials draw from a multitude of online resources.

In addition, librarians are frankly the only profession who can regularly make sense of the emerging field of bibliometrics, which is the science of measuring the acceptance, reach and influence of scholarly work, which is so important in a time rife with accusations of scholastic fraud and politicized science.

Consequently, we need to keep in mind the paths by which the hobbling of university libraries profoundly affect every citizen and taxpayer, especially considering that by reducing a library’s ability to purchase journal subscriptions, the financial burden for such purchases falls upon the individual students and researchers. To read an individual article in a top journal costs about US$30, while a yearly subscription costs about US$200 per person.

A given undergraduate essay would have about twelve citations, which would therefore cost that student over $300. To write several such essays in a school year could be staggeringly expensive, absent the group subscription purchasing service offered by the library. In short, the decision to cut access to key journals may cost us more in the long run and download these costs onto individuals.

Research in Canadian universities is largely funded by government grants which, in turn, are funded from tax dollars. The results of such research are therefore owned theoretically by the Canadian taxpayer. They are public goods. The scholastic process demands that researchers communicate their findings formally in refereed journals, to ensure the highest standards of objective rigour and the greatest likelihood that the work is at the bleeding frontier of knowledge.

But the best journals in the world are still mostly so-called “closed access” journals, which means that a fee or a paid subscription is required to read them. These are the journals to which university libraries provide free access for students and scholars. In absence of this service, Canadian taxpayers who wish to read the results of research that they have paid for must pay once more.

This is, in essence, a kind of double taxation, which has helped to spur the more ethical “open access” movement, which in turn has seen the explosion of journals whose content is available without cost. But slow moving university culture still undervalues such journals, with some professors being denied tenure and promotion if they are perceived to rely overly on open access publishing . Therefore, for the foreseeable future, having libraries bear the cost and responsibility of securing access to closed access journals is essential to guarantee scholars access to the best knowledge in the world.

Interestingly, most of these journals are either American or British, which means that this kind of double taxation of the Canadian user isn’t even an investment in Canadian industry. It also means library subscriptions provide a cost buffer to the user against the largely unpredictable fluctuations in currency exchange rates.

In the digital era, the vision most have of the university library is no longer of a silent cathedral of books. It’s a centre of living learning, the access point to a global network of data, services, publications, and information expertise, as well as the defender of archived intellectual products. It has evolved over the years, but it remains the scholastic heart of the modern university. We wound that heart at our own peril.


Mining the gender gap: how do aboriginal women perceive mining in Canada?


by Raywat Deonandan, Brennan Field , and Kalowatie Deonandan

This article first appeared in the Hill Times on Dec 5, 2016. The authors retain all copyrights.


Canada’s mining industry is an important player in the nation’s growth and prosperity, with some reporting that the sector is responsible for 3.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent of our national GDP, while also providing employment to at least two per cent of our labour force. The industry is also critical for aboriginal prosperity, given its role in employing very large numbers of indigenous peoples, especially in the North.

But mining development also unavoidably creates dramatic changes in aboriginal communities, both positive and negative. Aboriginal women are affected in quite distinctive ways that do not receive a great deal of attention, but that have long term impacts on both community and productivity. With the Canadian mining steadily expanding and feeding an increasing global need for natural resources, it behooves us to take steps to address the concerns of these women, to minimize the negative impacts and cultivate the positive ones.

Our recent study collected previous researchers’ interactions with aboriginal women, and re-analyzed them with an eye toward elucidating those women’s unique perspectives on the Canadian mining industry. Our findings suggest that there is a constructive path forward for all stakeholders: aboriginal women and their families, government, and mining companies themselves.

In short, aboriginal women are concerned about the social impacts that mining has on their communities, most prominently the unequal distribution of employment and remuneration opportunities between the two genders, the aggravation of existing social ills, and the increased erosion of traditional ways of life.

Jobs for aboriginals created by the mining industry are not equal between women and men, with the latter receiving comparatively high-paying, and often high-risk, labouring and technical opportunities, while women are often relegated to lesser-paying culinary, clerical or custodial roles. In other words, societal gender divides are being reinforced by the arrival of the mining industry in these communities. This is an impediment on the road toward gender equality not only in aboriginal communities, but also within Canada as a whole.

In terms of social ills, the perception is strong that the sudden influx of employment income, combined with the time constraints that come with it, is leading to challenges in parenting. An elder in one study opined, “the kids really run the show. I think that there is more money in town because of the mine. But now parents are hardly ever at home. … They have replaced parenting and guidance and caring with money.” Many women also fear that the increased income is fuelling pre-existing substance addictions. But this is balanced against a general overall appreciation for the money entering the community.

Shift work is also seen as contributing to the decay of traditional lifestyles. With less time to hunt, prepare and preserve food, women feel that their families’ diets are shifting toward processed foods, causing both poor health and a rapid decay in their traditional family dynamic.

Shift work is a special cultural challenge to people used to being in constant close proximity to one another. Indeed, one woman believes that the arrival of mining has led to more marriage failures, “because they’re not used to being away from their families.”

This has led, again, to stresses in parenting. For example, due to rotating and uncoordinated work schedules, parents are finding it difficult to provide consistent discipline for their children in a single, uncontested voice. There is therefore a perception of increased intergenerational conflict flowering from the arrival of commercial mining.

From our findings, even when the concerns of aboriginal women are included explicitly in formal negotiating agreements, the women often feel as if such inclusion is merely window dressing, intended at most to fulfill the legalistic stipulations of impact benefit agreements, while the spirit of such agreements is ignored.

A policy path forward, then, is to include aboriginal women as decision-makers in all stakeholder engagement practice, not just as token voices in the formulation of impact agreements. There is a role for government in assuring that these women’s concerns are considered when mediating mining access requests. New research is also needed in exploring new models of employment for women, beyond gender stereotypes, and models of less socially detrimental shift work and wage labour.


Raywat Deonandan is an assistant professor with the interdisciplinary school of health sciences at the University of Ottawa. Kalowatie Deonandan is an associate professor of political studies at the University of Saskatchewan. Brennan Field has a master’s degree in political studies and is currently pursuing a PhD in geography at the University of Saskatchewan.


A Plea For Optimism In The Trump Era


by Raywat Deonandan

This article was first published in The Huffington Post Canada on Nov 11, 2016.

The Trumpocalypse is upon us. If you are among the Orange One’s supporters, congratulations; your guy won. In the words of a Facebook friend, I hope he’s as great as you think he is. For the sake of civility, I will assume that you had rational reasons for selecting him, and were not driven by hatred of women, non-Whites, or foreigners.

If you are, like me, horrified by the proposition of four years of Trump-style Republican rule of the White House, Senate and House of Representatives, these are dark days. My social media feed is alive with expressions of doom and Apocalyptic despair, as protests abound and professional friends in the U.S. are unironically looking for opportunities in supposedly more progressive countries.

I get it. There’s a sense that president-elect Trump will roll back all of the progressive initiatives that President Obama worked so hard to bring to Americans. There will likely be fast action to repeal Obamacare, to de-fund agencies offering reproductive services to women, to further drain the treasury by implementing deep tax cuts, and some vicious efforts to hunt down undocumented immigrants and, frankly, to terrorize non-White newcomers.

Longer term, Trump and Pence are in a position to appoint several new Supreme Court members, essentially giving U.S. government and society a right-leaning bias for the next generation. What this means for landmark decisions, like Roe vs. Wade, is uncertain. But fear and trepidation are understandable feelings for many Americans today (the majority, based upon the popular vote).

I am a foreigner, a Canadian. So the domestic policies of a U.S. President do not directly affect me. It is, however, worth pointing out that ultra-Right actors here in Canada were quick to celebrate the Trump victory, former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Conservative leader wannabe Kelley Leitch prime among them.

While the U.S. president’s domestic policies might not affect us Canadians directly, his or her foreign policies have profound effects on our lives, hence we can feel justified in having an opinion on who occupies the White House.

To go by the man’s actual statements, a Trump presidency might result in wanton nuking of random targets. Or a partnership with Russia against the wrong side in Syria. Or maybe nothing at all. No one knows. A Trump presidency fills many with dread, largely because of the competing forces of his egregious claims and his status as a complete unknown with no policy track record.

But in the interests of our mental health, I would like to put forward a brief argument for hesitating optimism. The Trump presidency is going to be a reality. We who opposed him need to accept it. Here’s how I’m getting through it.

1. Science policy

Yes, I’m about to cling to the barest of silver linings. As with almost all of his platform, Trump’s position on science is vague. And certainly it stands to reason that he is likely to gut environmental programs and earth sciences surveillance programs.

But taking space policy as a case example, the Trump verbiage aligns somewhat well with the ethics of pure scientists. While Clinton would have mirrored Obama’s position of requiring all funded programs to be mapped onto social priorities, Trump’s position seems to be to allow space scientists to dictate the scope of their investigation, regardless of whether the outcomes and outputs of that investigation are immediately applicable to American life.

This might mean an increased focus on deep space exploration, where unfettered discovery is to be encouraged, and a decreased focus on low Earth orbit, where observations of Earth and climate changes are prioritized.

In fact, historically, Republican presidencies are more closely correlated with increased research and development funding, across many scientific domains, than are Democratic presidencies. The problem, of course, is that each party de-emphasizes fields that do not correspond with their political agendas. In the case of Republicans, this means a decrease of focus on environmental sciences.

2. Congressional reform

Amazingly, Trump intends on introducing term limits to elected representatives in the House. I’m not sure what this would look like, but on its face this strikes me as a positive move toward more honest, responsive and representative government. Of course, there’s already a push-back, as Mitch McConnell has already declared that such reform “will not be on the agenda in the Senate.” But we will see.

3. He’s a complete unknown

Bear with me now. This argument is a bit of a stretch, but I’m doing my best. With Hillary Clinton, given her long life in public service in the public eye, there would be no surprises regarding her intents, and tactics. She was a known quantity. For better or worse, we were pretty darn sure which of her claims would bear fruit, and which she had no intention or possibility of acting upon.

With Trump, all we have are his vague proclamations and the composition of his team. Now, to be as honest and forgiving as possible, his proclamations are not altogether worrying. He will replace Obamacare with “something terrific”, for example. If he’s not full of sh*t, then…. cool.

On the other hand, his advisors are, almost to a person, monstrous. The records, actions, opinions and intellectual qualities of Mike Pence, Ann Coulter, Omarosa, Katrina Pierson, and Newt Gingrich are known quantities. This fact inspires neither joy nor confidence.

However, if you’re able to put aside the limitations of his rogue’s gallery, then the Trump presidency is a blank slate. Trump himself has a public history of liberal behaviour. He’s not particularly religious, and clearly not a cultural conservative, despite his recent campaign-trail stance. So maybe… just maybe… his actual actions will reflect more his inclusive Manhattan lifestyle and not his backwater election pandering.

4. Some historical perspective

I’m an old man now. I’ve heard this end-of-the-world talk before. Maybe it’s different this time. Bill Maher and Seth MacFarlane think so, with the latter tweeting, “We got through Bush. You got through Obama. But this is different. Half of your fellow countrymen and women now feel as if they are in a strange land that is no longer their home. That should give some of you pause. We now need proof that he is who you say he is, and not who he appears to be.”

I certainly see the temptation to perceive the rise of Trump, especially in the wake of his unprecedented divisive election tactics, as the anointing of a true tyrant, a leader with dictatorial ambitions, who has not hidden his open disdain for a large segment of the population he purports to lead.

However, this is a plea for optimism. So let me say that I was a very young man of 13 when Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980. But I was politically aware enough to understand the ramifications of Reagan’s conservative, hawkish policies. We had just had four years of Carter progressivism, and I had just met the first Prime Minister Trudeau; I could tell that Reagan was a different animal.

When Reagan was elected, deep in the latter days of the Cold War, I was utterly convinced that World War III would start before his term was over in 1984. I was sure a post-nuclear apocalypse would befall us well before my 20th birthday.

I was wrong.

When Bush Jr. was “elected” the first time in 2000, I thought it would be business as usual, my political cynicism was so well entrenched. Bill Clinton, after all, was, to my mind, a right-leaning Democrat or a left-leaning Republican; I couldn’t see much difference. Why would Bush be any different?

I was wrong. He was a nightmare.

When Bush Jr. was re-elected in 2004, I was sure the world had gone mad. How could the American electorate reward an anti-civil liberty stance, scaremongering, torture, and blatant abuses of the vaunted constitution? Surely, the path to fascism had been joined.

I was wrong. Bush’s second term was horrible. But it wasn’t the end of the world.

Well, Trump probably won’t be the end of the world, either.

I hope.


The Ebola Outbreak Proves the Need for Health Surveillance


by Raywat Deonandan

This article was first published in The Huffington Post Canada on Oct 9, 2014.


As we all know, here has been one confirmed case of Ebola infection diagnosed in the USA — Eric Duncan made the news after returning from Liberia and showing those symptoms no one wants. Tragically, Mr. Duncan passed away on Wednesday. Contact tracing indicates that there are an additional 10 persons at “high risk.” (In the interest of discouraging any unwarranted panic, do please remember that the virus can only be transmitted via intimate contact with body fluids — blood, saliva, semen, sweat, etc. — only after the patient starts showing symptoms, and not during the incubation period.) Continue reading


The World Needed the Return of ‘Cosmos’


by Raywat Deonandan

This article first appeared in The Huffington Post Canada on May 17, 2014.

This past week, the much lauded TV show Cosmos made its return to the small screen, more than three decades after Carl Sagan famously sought to teach people from all walks of life about the wonders of science. The world has changed since that first series, and the nature of public education with it. Yet the need for such a TV show committed to the celebration of knowledge and learning is perhaps greater than in Sagan’s day. Continue reading