OpenCanada’s Best of 2014

12 must-read pieces from the past year.
By: /
December 23, 2014

End-of-year briefings are over. Government offices mostly shut down. Even some of the most politically charged films have been cancelled. So, what’s a politics junkie to do for the last two weeks of the year while on the road, holed up at home or stranded in a sleepy town?

For the inevitable down time, OpenCanada has a compiled a list of our best of 2014 — must-read pieces on the most pressing foreign policy issues of this past year, and commentaries on those issues that flew under the radar but should have been more widely examined, from cyber security to the Pope’s power, to the politics of maps.

First, in light of the spotlight on cyber security — well, the spotlight on the security of billion-dollar companies — Ron Deibert’s take down of ballooning, “secretive, war-fighting agencies” is a must:


And if that didn’t scare you into rethinking your sense of freedom and security, or at least into renewing your malware, take the time to read John Hancock’s essential essay on the trade-offs that come with a “freer” world:


Now that you’re feeling a bit disoriented, here’s a bit of Christmas cheer — an in-depth look at Pope Francis’ drastically different approach than his predecessors, by A. Alexander Stummvoll. Especially current given the Pope’s role in recent U.S.-Cuba diplomatic efforts:


Skipping out on the family snowboarding trip? Have your own ‘Putin Party’ instead with this elaborate graphic breaking down the Russian Olympics $50 billion price-tag:


You may now feel like a spendthrift in comparison, but not to worry. Give a priceless gift — that of optimism and hope. For, in our interview with Naomi Klein, she not only shares worrying effects of capitalism, but also reminds us of the growing social and environmental movements in British Colombia, Germany, China, and beyond. So, hey, we might not be doomed after all:

Naomi Klein

Still feel like you failed as a gift-giver this season? Well, keep some perspective. Read Roland Paris’ frank and thorough assessment of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan. In sum, it failed. Seriously, we need to keep talking, reading, and learning about this one:


Keep the mind-travelling going. Take a trip across the Afghan-Pakistani border with Samira Sayed-Rahman’s narrative journey to the Khyber Pass. No visa required:


Back to something for the whole family: Bernard Simon’s examination of education as a foreign-policy tool and Canada’s spot in the international education market. Complete with handy, pretty maps. You will be the resident expert by the end of the week:


Still looking for a New Year’s destination? How about one of the world’s smart cities? As Rob Muggah explains, they might not be for everyone:


And as the holiday winds down, refresh your knowledge on two of the most pressing issues in 2014 that will no doubt continue to grab our attention for months or years to come — the Ebola crisis and the phenomenon of the foreign fighter. (Stay tuned for our full 2015 predictions series coming early January.):


Time to go home and back to the office. Just Google map it. Or not: