Sample Cases

Artificial Intelligence

Technology has been improving human life for the entirety of human existence. As our society gets more advanced, we are approaching a critical point in our development of technology, the development of artificial intelligence. For most of human existence, the factor that separated us from the rest of the animal kingdom was our superior intellect. Current researchers are engineering artificial intelligence that matches our own intellect, challenging human superiority. Many people fear that once we create these advanced forms of artificial intelligence, we will be unable to stop them from continuing to advance themselves, and possibly overriding our mortal domination (Dowd). Others suggest that these robots simply make life easier, and are simply a continuation of technological improvements of human life. Is there a risk to the development of artificial intelligence? Should there be limits to the development or do limits stifle advancements?


Dowd, Maureen. “Elon Musk’s Billion-Dollar Crusade to Stop the A.I. Apocalypse.” Vanity Fair. 26 Mar. 2017. elon-musk-billion-dollar-crusade-to-stop-ai-space-x (18 Sept. 2017).

Welfare Limitations

The welfare system became an essential piece of the modern western state
in the middle of the nineteenth century. The welfare state is “founded upon
the principles of progressive taxation and universal welfare” (Bell). Under
this system, “the community as a whole provides for the other, and those in need receive this provision as of right,” meaning that those who have a little more share with those who have a little less. However, this system counters
the fundamental aspects of “the American [Canadian] Dream”: work hard
and attain the freedom to do what you want with your income. Many people oppose the welfare system, claiming that it promotes freeloaders, people who don’t work because they receive what they need from the system. Does the welfare system promote freeloaders? Are there limits to the care we provide for those in need? Does it create a state of helplessness or undeserved entitlement for some? Or are we responsible for the most vulnerable in society?


Bell, David. “Welfare state expresses an ideal of the good society.” The Guardian. 3 Nov. 2010. welfare-state-ideal-good-society (18 Sept. 2017).

End to School Detentions

Due to their youth, students often arrive late or are absent from class, hand
in an assignment late, get in arguments with fellow students, and commit countless other infractions. The timeless response to these behaviours has been to assign the student a trip to detention, where the student will stay for an extended period, as determined by the teacher. Recently students, parents, teachers, and administers alike have openly opposed this practice, saying
that it is archaic and does not create a disincentive for poor behaviour. They argue that often students who are sentenced to detention are treated as though they are “guilty until proven innocent” (Johnson). Those who support this practice say that part of school is learning about rules, and learning the self- control necessary to follow them. More recently some have opposed this style of learning, stating that children with learning disabilities like ADHD have a harder time following these rules. Should detentions or suspensions be meted out regardless of individual circumstances? Would individual treatment appear as injustice?


Johnson, LouAnne. “Down With Detention!” Education Week. 30 Nov. 2004. (18 Sept. 2017).

Use of Drones in War

Throughout history, the advancement of technology has often followed the need for weapons in times of war. The recent development of unmanned aerial vehicles, better known as drones, to attack members of ISIS and AL-Qaeda in the Middle East is no exception to this. Proponents claim that drones are “far more precise than other weapons systems,” cause less collateral damage, and do not put soldiers in danger as they are operated from a distance (Mockaitis). Others say that they make it too easy to kill, as the soldier operating the drone is removed from the human aspects involved in the killing. They also say
that they cause more civilian casualties than governments will admit, which
in turn fuels anti-western sentiments in the Middle East and contributes to terrorism. Is war more justified if costs are reduced? How can we ensure that civilians are not injured by drones? Are operators less morally responsible for killing if they are operating a drone, an indirect weapon?



Mockaitis, Tom. “Drones and the Ethics of War.” HuffPost 12 Jan. 2016. Last updated 12 Jan. 2017. the-ethics-of_b_8961510.html (18 Sept. 2017).

Mandatory Voting

Two of the most significant problems in Canadian elections are low voter turnout and voter apathy. In recent elections, only about 60 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot in the election (Adams and Flumian). This is a significant drop from the past where voter turnout averaged around 70 percent, and means that only 60 percent of Canadians are making decisions that affect all Canadians. One of the causes of this low turnout is voter apathy, where voters are disinterested in the state of political affairs and do not see a reason to vote. A solution proposed by some is mandatory voting, where all eligible citizens are required to cast a ballot or face fines. Proponents of mandatory voting claim that “[Canadian] democracy depends upon the active participation of its citizens, and, while voting is only one element of political engagement, it remains the very foundation of our democracy” (Harb 4). Those who oppose mandatory voting claim that it goes against a citizen’s freedom not to vote, and that they choose not to vote because they are dissatisfied with the available options, or with the system itself. Others do not feel as though they are informed enough about politics to decide which candidate to vote for, which perhaps indicates a failure from our education system rather than a failure of individual voters. Should we force uninformed citizens to vote? Does mandatory voting go against an individual’s right to choose not to participate? Do voter apathy and low voter turnout indicate a larger problem with our political system?


Adams, Michael, and Maryantonett Flumian. “Many Canadians aren’t voting. Have they stopped caring about democracy?” Globe and Mail 26 Jan. 2015. Last updated 25 Mar. 2017. the-young-are-quitting-politics-and-thats-a-danger-to-our-democracy/ article22633913/ (18 Sept. 2017).

Harb, Mac. “The Case for Mandatory Voting in Canada.” Canadian Parliamentary Review. Summer 2005: 4–6.
(18 Sept. 2017).

Ban on Junk Food

Obesity is one of the largest health concerns amongst Canadians. Many Canadians suffer from obesity-related illness. Thus, many elementary schools have placed bans on junk food to encourage and create healthy eating habits in their students from a young age (CTV). Some parents and community members are upset by this, as they believe these restrictions infringe on their free choice and ability to raise their children as they see fit. Others oppose these decisions stating that healthy foods are too expensive, and that these bans discriminate against low-income families who may not be able to afford to feed their children healthy foods (Paperny). On a larger scale, Health Canada recently proposed restrictions on advertisements for unhealthy food that are geared towards children (Gaviola). Do parents have ultimate authority over decisions involving their children, whether or not their decisions are healthy? Are these organizations overstepping their boundaries by enforcing such rules?


CTV. “Toronto school bans junk food from students’ lunch bags.” CTV News
16 Oct. 2013. students-lunch-bags-1.1500394# (18 Sept. 2017).

Gaviola, Anne. “Food fight: Health Canada, advertisers argue over protecting kids from junk food ads.” CBC News 27 Aug. 2017. health-canada-junk-food-advertising-1.4251950 (18 Sept. 2017).

Paperny, Anna Mehler. “Going hungry: Why millions of Canadians can’t afford healthy food.” Global News 25 Mar. 2015. Last updated 1 June 2015. http:// afford-healthy-food/ (18 Sept. 2017).

Cultural Appropriation

The development of global trade over the last millennia has also led to the development of cultural exchange on a global scale. As goods were exchanged on the market, cultures were exchanged between traders who originated predominately in Europe, and those who originated from these colonized lands. Today, this cultural exchange continues to exist; however, some argue that due to the power relationship that continues to persist between the colonized and the colonizer, one should be careful not to mistake someone’s culture as a trendy or exotic look. One example of such appropriation is when non-Black people sport dreadlocks, a hairstyle that is culturally significant to Black people and Black history (Conversation Africa). Another example of this involves author Joseph Boyden, who often writes about Indigenous cultures in his fiction (Associated Press). Some Indigenous people have contested whether Boyden’s claims to be a member of an Indigenous community are accurate. Many Indigenous authors who believe Boyden is non-Indigenous are offended by Boyden’s work and see it as a continuation of the history of Indigenous Peoples that has been recorded primarily by colonizers (CBC). Where is the line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation? Do members of racial or cultural groups have rights to their culture that others do not? What does it take to be a member of a group?


Associated Press. “Joseph Boyden: writers should be ‘careful’ on ‘somebody else’s turf.’ ” CBC News 5 Mar. 2017. careful-turf-1.4010679 (18 Sept. 2017).

CBC. “An emotional Jesse Wente on the ‘remarkable arrogance’ of an appropriation prize.” CBC News May 15, 2017. toronto/jesse-wente-appropriation-prize-1.4115293 (18 Sept. 2017).

Conversation Africa. “Cultural Appropriation: When ‘Borrowing’ Becomes Exploitation.” HuffPost June 21, 2016. the-conversation-africa/cultural-appropriation-wh_b_10585184.html (18 Sept. 2017).

Global Refugee Crisis

Due to the recent conflicts in Syria, and natural disasters in Haiti, among others, we have entered a global refugee crisis. Countries in the global
north have been bombarded by refugees who arrive en masse in seek of asylum from war or natural disaster. Many people in the global north have shown discontent towards these incoming asylum-seekers, fearing that their countries cannot handle this influx, or that these refugees will burden their local economies. In Canada, others call these views xenophobic, and openly welcome refugees (Macdonell), claiming that Canada is “arguably a nation
not just of immigrants, but of refugees” (Kilian). Initially Justin Trudeau’s openness to refugees was widely supported across the country, but as more and more refugees arrive at Canada’s doorstep, more Canadians are concerned with how we will support them. Canadians are in a difficult position—should we allow more refugees despite the burden they will place on our current residents? How will Canadians develop the support system needed to integrate refugees into Canadian society? More broadly, for whom are we responsible? If we do not accept them, are we morally culpable for the consequences they will face in their home countries?


Kilian, Crawford. “Refugees: Ready or Not, Here They Come.” The Tyee 23 Feb. 2017. (18 Sept. 2017).

Macdonell, Beth. “Surge of refugee claimants in Manitoba border town prompts temporary shelter.” CTV News: Winnipeg 6 Feb. 2017. http://winnipeg.ctvnews. ca/surge-of-refugee-claimants-in-manitoba-border-town-prompts-temporary- shelter-1.3273216 (18 Sept. 2017).