Erna Paris

Award-winning author, journalist, and historian

ERNA PARIS is the author of seven acclaimed works of literary non-fiction and the winner of ten national and international writing awards for her books, feature writing, and radio documentaries. Her works have been published in fourteen countries and translated into eight languages. Long Shadows: Truth, Lies, and History was chosen as one of “The Hundred Most Important Books Ever Written in Canada” by the Literary Review of Canada Her most recent work, The Sun Climbs Slow: The International Criminal Court and the Struggle for Justice was first on The Globe and Mail's “best book of the year” list and shortlisted for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. Erna is a member of the Honorary Council of the Canadian Centre for International Justice and a past chair of the Writers' Union of Canada.

Most Recent Posts

Paris: Will the current Israeli-Palestinian negotiations progress in the coming months?

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May 2, 2014

I doubt whether negotiations will resume in the short term. The hard-line constituents of the Netanyahu government will make it difficult, if not impossible, for Netanyahu to continue following the announcement that the Palestinian Authority will seemingly work with Hamas. Should the latter revoke its policy concerning the existence of Israel, there might be a […]

Paris: What was the most significant development in international affairs this year?

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December 19, 2013

The breakthrough with Iran, which enabled international diplomacy over sabre rattling. With this move, the long-standing policy of the White House shifted from permanent hostility towards a potential win-win outcome for both parties. This initial success also weakened the hold of prime minister Benjamin Netanyanu over U.S. foreign policy in ways that may have turn […]

Paris: What impact has Nelson Mandela had on your life?

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December 6, 2013

I was privileged to be researching a book in South Africa during the TRC and the transition period in 1996. I didn’t meet Nelson Mandela (although I did meet Bishop Tutu), but it was clear that the positive, hopeful ambiance that was beginning to characterize black society then (and some in the white community as […]

Paris: Should Canada be calling for the overthrow of the Iranian regime?

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May 31, 2013

No. Canada’s international voice is increasingly inconsequential, so calling for regime overthrow frankly won’t make an iota of real difference. It will, however, add to the general puzzlement over Canadian foreign policy, which frequently displays neither rhyme nor reason on practical grounds, but is quick to grandstand on behalf of “values” and “principles” if doing […]

Paris: Did Margaret Thatcher do more harm than good?

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April 11, 2013

Her legacy is mixed, but more negative than positive, in my view. She waged a nonsensical “patriotic” war in the Falklands and a domestic war against the unions. The latter were certainly disruptive, but coal mining was more or less the only work available in the north and that industry imploded under her tutelage. She […]

Paris: Should the U.S. president have the right to kill American citizens when conducting counterterrorism operations?

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February 8, 2013

The question is revealing because it appears to assume that targeted assassinations are merely problematic when they kill American citizens. Killing one’s own, so to speak, makes things infinitely worse, but under international law, the U.S. president does not have the right to target any person for direct assassination. The underlying question that needs to […]

Paris: Is Islamist extremism a bigger problem now than it was before 9/11?

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January 21, 2013

Yes. The pro-Palestinian terrorism that rocked Western Europe in the 1980s was secular (although I saw an emergent version of radical Islamism in the Occupied Territories in 1987). 9/11 came as a shock precisely because political/religious extremism was not yet on any large maps. The al-Qaida attacks changed that. So did the subsequent “war on […]

Paris: Should Canada’s military support the intervention in Mali?

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January 15, 2013

A tough question, given the failure of interventions elsewhere. Skeptics will point to Afghanistan where the Taliban remains powerful after thousands of coalition deaths and spent treasure. But there is a difference. The Afghanistan intervention began as an attack on Al Qaeda, but evolved into a confrontation with the indigenous Taliban. Indigenous is the key […]

Paris: What question would you ask Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird?

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May 14, 2012

Would the minister please tell Canadians why his party has abandonned Canada’s historically balanced response to the Israel-Palestine conflict in favour of blatant pro-Israel favouritism? In addition to discrediting Canada’s reputation for fair practice internationally, this skewed policy also endangers our domestic history of Multiculturalism by raising the perceived interests of one group of Canadians […]

Paris: Was the first decade of the ICC a more just one?

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April 16, 2012

Because the ICC is the world’s first permanent international criminal court, it has had to establish itself as an institution to be reckoned with globally. I think the first prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, will be remembered for having created a strong profile for the tribunal and for having secured the support of the Security Council. […]

Paris: What will be the impact of the $1.1 billion cut to National Defence?

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April 2, 2012

The impact of defence cuts, foreign aid cuts, embassy cuts will be further confusion at home and abroad about Canada’s foreign policy. First example: We herald support for international child and maternal health initiatives, then cut aid. Second example: The prime minister opens new markets, then squeezes the diplomats who have to follow through. Go […]

Paris: Will Obama be successful in convincing Netanyahu not to strike Iran?

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March 4, 2012

The relationship between the two is not warm. Right-wing nationalist opinion in Israel and the Jewish diaspora is wary of Obama, and this is an election year so the president needs to be cautious. On the other hand, the broad American public is unlikely to support another war in the close aftermath of Iraq and Afghanistan. […]

Paris: How should Canada respond to the rising violence in Syria?

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February 27, 2012

Canada has joined the call for humanitarian breaks to enable the delivery of food, medicine, and the evacuation of the wounded, but this response seems inadequate. We should be encouraging the Syrian opposition forces to unite: a necessary prerequisite to any international decision to provide arms (unfortunately, an R2P intervention is unlikely). Second, civil war […]

Paris: Should religion be a tool of Canadian foreign policy?

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February 19, 2012

Religion is already a tool of Stephen Harper’s foreign and domestic policies, with as yet unknown results. With the exception of Mackenzie King’s anti-Semitic policies towards Jewish refugees from the Nazis, no Canadian government has so overtly used religion as wedge politics. Harper has already cut funding to human rights organizations that promoted equitable rights […]

Paris: Is North America dead?

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January 30, 2012

Dead? Newt Gingrich thinks America has been hijacked by “socialists.” Obama thinks America has been hijacked by a dysfunctional Congress. Some Canadians think Canada has been hijacked by the Reform Party. Mexico has been hijacked by drug crime and is flirting with “failed state” status. But are they dead? Hardly. Losing status as Number One […]