Legislatures in both the US and Canada are increasingly more diverse.
The 118th Congress is the most racially and ethnically diverse in US history, with 133 lawmakers – about 25% – who identify as Black, Hispanic, Asian American, American Indian, Alaska Native, or multiracial.
In Canada, the House of Commons is also at its most diverse, and it elected its first Black speaker, Greg Fergus, in 2023.Both chambers, however, still have a way to go to fully reflect the diversity of their respective populations. In the US, 75% of voting members in Congress are white, compared to their 59% share of the population. In Canada, where 20% of the population are immigrants, the number of immigrants elected to the House has slightly decreased since 2015, from 46 to 44 legislators.
Former President Donald Trump was the first major candidate to launch his campaign for the 2024 presidential election cycle – on Nov. 15, 2022, roughly two years before Election Day. The US puts no limits on the length of campaigns, which leaves the door open for massive amounts of campaign spending and has the potential to leave voters exhausted by the time they head to the polls.
Many other countries have laws restricting how long candidates can campaign. In Japan, campaigns do not officially start until 12 days before the election. The longest election campaign ever in Canada lasted 78 days in 2015. The Great White North now limits campaigns to 50 days at most.
Should the US follow their lead? Do American voters really need more than a year of campaigning to make up their minds about who will be president for the next four years?
Whether it’s the price of college, the promise of the gig economy, or simply the desire to get paid while training, apprenticeships are having a moment. In the US, this surge has coincided with an 8% drop in undergraduate college enrollment; in Canada, it comes amid high youth unemployment.
In short, young people want options for brighter futures. As a result, apprenticeships are increasingly becoming an alternative to expensive four-year college degrees, or as a way to forge new careers mid-life. Apprentices get all the benefits of other employees, including wages, while getting valuable on-the-job training.
After dipping during the pandemic, the number of apprenticeship registrations jumped 12% in 2022 to an all-time high in Canada. In the US, they rose 22% between 2020 and 2021 and saw an 82.1% jump between 2008 and 2021.
But this isn’t just a COVID-fueled trend. SAIT, one of Canada's largest post-secondary institutions for apprenticeships, has seen a 20% increase in enrollment over the last two years. So apprenticeships are likely to increase even more in the coming years.
Ukraine is days away from marking the second anniversary of Russia’s 2022 invasion. The war is largely stalemated, with few changes to the battlefield map in recent months. Ukrainian troops are engaged in brutal trench warfare reminiscent of World War I but with the added nightmare of deadlier modern weaponry and technology. After enjoying strong, steady support from its Western allies in the first year and a half of the war, Kyiv now faces a constant struggle to keep aid flowing in as it runs short on supplies and faces manpower issues. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin shows no signs of backing down despite the myriad political, economic, and societal consequences the war has had for Russia.
But none of that is undermining Ukraine’s resolve. New polling from the Munich Security Conference shows that Ukrainians are strongly opposed to any cease-fire framework that would require Kyiv to cede territory to Russia — particularly Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014. This suggests that Ukrainians are largely aligned with their government, which has pushed for a peace plan that would see Russia withdraw troops from occupied territories and recognize Ukraine’s 1991 post-Soviet borders. Moscow has scoffed at this proposal.
Women are having fewer children in the US and Canada, where birth rates have been falling since the 1960s. In 2020, Canada’s fertility rate hit an all-time low of 1.4 children per woman. In the US, the national birth rate has fallen by 20% since 2007.
The baby bust is not unique to Canada and the US; the decline is unfolding across the OECD, as women gain increased access to contraception, higher education, and careers, all of which tend to lead to delayed family planning.
High inflation in recent years isn’t helping matters. After all, kids are expensive – from housing to education to health care – which may be enough to deter some couples.But there is one OECD country where this isn’t the case: Israel. Israeli women have an average of 3.1 children, making Israel the only OECD country where the birth rate is above the replacement level. Experts attribute this to the influence of religion and tradition in the country, as well as social and economic policies that encourage work-family balance.
Attacks on commercial shipping by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the Red Sea have thrown yet another wrench into global trade, which has already struggled in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
The Red Sea is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, accounting for 30% of global container traffic. Due to the recent chaos, over a dozen shipping companies have rerouted their vessels around the tip of Africa – driving up costs and delays. This could also mean rising consumer prices at a time when inflation is already painfully high.
The US and its allies have made efforts to thwart Houthi attacks on shipping, but the Yemen-based militants have remained defiant. As recently as Tuesday, the Houthis fired multiple missiles at two ships in the Red Sea.
These are the commodities impacted by unrest in the Red Sea region.
The UK has struggled to rebuild its trade relationships with partners across the pond post-Brexit. Since leaving the EU in 2020, new trade agreements with Canada or the US have stalled, forcing it to accept many of the same terms it had under the EU.
For Canada and the UK, the terms of their EU agreement expired at the end of 2023, leaving them in uncharted territory. Trade talks broke down over disagreements on cheese, beef, and the automotive industry. The two retreated to the EU terms after negotiators walked away from the table, but Canada still slapped a 245% tariff on British cheese, and the UK refused to budge on restricting hormones in beef, essentially barring both industries from each other's markets.The UK has been striving and failing to secure a free trade agreement with the US. Last week, the UK’s business secretary blamed Washington’s reluctance to sign a free trade agreement for his country’s failure to hit post-Brexit trade targets. This was telling: Being free to forge its own free trade agreements was a major argument for Brexit. But the US is prioritizing specific deals in areas like semiconductors and critical minerals, and after negotiations fell apart with the UK in December, the Biden administration said it would not revisit the topic until after the 2024 elections.