OpenCanada’s Best of 2014

12 must-read pieces from the past year.

By: /
23 December, 2014
By: OpenCanada Staff

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:


The Cyber Security Syndrome

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:


The Rise of the “Unfree” 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:


A Revolutionary Pope?

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:


Putin’s Party

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

Pitting capitalism against the climate

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:


How Canada Failed in Afghanistan

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:


Journey to the Khyber Pass

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:


Time For a Fresh Curriculum

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:


Are smart cities a bright idea for the Global South?

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.):


Ebola: What Went Wrong


Portrait of a foreign fighter

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


The politics of making maps

Before you click away, we’d like to ask you for a favour … 

Journalism in Canada has suffered a devastating decline over the last two decades. Dozens of newspapers and outlets have shuttered. Remaining newsrooms are smaller. Nowhere is this erosion more acute than in the coverage of foreign policy and international news. It’s expensive, and Canadians, oceans away from most international upheavals, pay the outside world comparatively little attention.

At Open Canada, we believe this must change. If anything, the pandemic has taught us we can’t afford to ignore the changing world. What’s more, we believe, most Canadians don’t want to. Many of us, after all, come from somewhere else and have connections that reach around the world.

Our mission is to build a conversation that involves everyone — not just politicians, academics and policy makers. We need your help to do so. Your support helps us find stories and pay writers to tell them. It helps us grow that conversation. It helps us encourage more Canadians to play an active role in shaping our country’s place in the world.

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