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Politics and its Discontents: He Won’t Be Missed

H/t Michael de Adder

Anyone who regularly reads this blog will know that I (along with guest posters The Salamander and The Mound of Sound) regard Peter MacKay as just one of far too many blights on the political landscape, perhaps distinguished only by his less-than-pedestrian intellect and very public absence of integrity. The most egregious example of the latter occurred during a very public soul-selling transaction (most such deals, I assume, go on behind closed political doors). After promising David Orchard during what turned out to be the final leadership convention of the federal Progressive Conservatives that he would (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Sean McElwee examines new evidence of the deliberate choice of past U.S. governments dating back to Ronald Reagan to completely discount the policy preferences of anybody but the rich: In a new book, political scientists James Druckman and Lawrence Jacobs examine data on internal polling from U.S. presidential archives and other existing research to determine how presidents use their knowledge of public opinion to craft policies. What they found is disturbing: Presidents tend to focus on the opinions of the wealthy and well-connected insiders, ignoring the views of most (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- CBC follows up on the connection between childhood poverty and increased health-care costs later in life. And Sunny Freeman points out how the living wage planned by Rachel Notley’s NDP figures to benefit Alberta’s economy in general.

- Meanwhile, William Gardner laments our lack of accurate information on health and well-being in the wake of the Cons’ census shredding, particularly among exactly the marginalized communities who are most likely to need help.

- And Richard Thaler reminds us why it’s foolish to assume that people and economies can be treated as if they’ll (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how the rise of Rachel Notley’s NDP serves largely to bring Alberta’s political system into step with those of its regional neighbours.

For further reading…- Murray Mandryk had previously pointed out why we should be cautious about reading too much into the Alberta results. But the most important distinction looks to be that Saskatchewan is currently functioning as a pure two-party system – so the support level which won Rachel Notley a resounding majority would leave the NDP on Saskatchewan’s opposition benches. – Dan Arnold and Andrew Coyne both confirm that a progressive victory in Alberta (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: From beyond the grave

Andrew Coyne wants to pretend we shouldn’t worry what legislation gets passed by the Harper Cons on the theory that there’s absolutely nothing stopping a future elected government from reversing course.

Which means it’s a good thing there’s no antiquated, undemocratic chamber of Parliament where regardless of the results of any federal election, a Conservative majority will continue to hold the power to unilaterally negate the decisions of elected representatives.

Oh, wait.

centerandleft: Alberta and Polls: Never Again

The Calgary Flames are preparing to host their first playoff game since 2009 in a matter of days. While the Flames are working hard to even up their series, the politicians are working the doors. The province of Alberta may be preparing to elect a new party to power for the first time since 1971.

Does this sound familiar? Just three years ago I was responsible for the following assumption:

Danielle Smith is likely to be the next premier of Alberta

It doesn’t sound like a terrible statement, but this type of statement reveals a foolish reliance on poor (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how the sudden disappearance of Danielle Smith and her fellow Wildrose Party defectors offers a case in point of the dangers of forgetting that politicians ultimately answer to the public.

For further reading…- CBC reported on the actual deal between Smith and Jim Prentice here, while Darren Krause reported on Smith’s nomination defeat. And CBC examines Wildrose’s bounce back in the polls as it elected a new leader.- Don Braid notes that Smith was warned about some of the dangers of crossing the floor at the time, while Andrew Coyne sees a bait and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On transition planning

I’ve previously highlighted the need for media and citizens alike to press our opposition parties on how they’re willing to cooperate to replace the Harper Cons after the next federal election. But let’s note that there’s a similar question which still needs to be directed at Stephen Harper at every available opportunity – even if we can’t expect much more than instructive non-answers.

As Andrew Coyne notes, it’s still an open question how far Harper would go in trying to cling to power under all kinds of circumstances: As prime minister, Mr. Harper would retain a number of prerogatives (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On prospects for change

The latest round of discussion about the possibility of a coalition to offer something better than the Harper Cons seems to have taken an noteworthy turn. At this point, everybody but the Libs seems to have settled on the position that there’s no real obstacle to a coalition government – and the Libs’ spin machine has responded with little more than a plan to fabricate mistrust between themselves and the NDP.

But no matter how far that effort goes, the foreseeable outcomes of the next election feature a low probability of anybody holding a majority, and a strong prospect that (Read more…)

BigCityLib Strikes Back: The National Post Should Fire That Anti-Vaxxer Prick

National Post columnist Lawrence Solomen is now running an anti-vaxxer website.  You can see it here.  This is from the “About us” section:

VaccineFactCheck, headed by Lawrence Solomon, is a project of Consumer Policy Institute.

The “Consumer Policy Institute” is also just more Solomon, another part of his “Energy Probe” network of  astro-turf groups pushing various corporate causes.

Now, Solomon probably wouldn’t call it an anti-vaxxer site; he’d probably just claim he was trying to “teach the controversy”.  But that is, of course, bullshit.  And after that whole thing with The Star’s Gardisil article I thought the whole nation had (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Tavia Grant, Bill Curry and David Kennedy discuss CIBC’s analysis showing that Canadian job quality has falled to its lowest level recorded in the past 25 years: Several reports have concluded that the country’s job market is not as strong as it looks and now a study from Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce paints an even worse picture. According to the bank’s analysis, job quality has fallen to its lowest level in more than two decades. A CIBC index that measures 25 years worth of data on part-time versus full-time work, paid versus (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Danyaal Raza highlights how Canadians can treat an election year as an opportunity to discuss the a focus on social health with candidates and peers alike: Health providers are increasingly recognizing that while a robust health care system is an important part of promoting Canadians’ health, so is the availability of affordable housing, decent work, and a tightly knit social safety net. Upstream-focused clinical interventions, like the income security program available where I practice, are increasingly meeting that need – but no such program works in a vacuum.…Thinking differently requires speaking differently. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On motivating factors

Andrew Coyne offers what’s probably the most reasonable argument to treat the negligible threat of terrorism differently from the other risks we so readily accept (and indeed which are regularly exacerbated by deregulation).

But Coyne’s argument falls well short of justifying the response actually on offer from the Cons – and indeed looks questionable on its own merits. (M)otive comes up at many points in the criminal law – if the motive is self-defence, for example. And motive, in the case of terrorism, is inseparable from the act. The terrorist does not seek only to kill for killing’s sake, or (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Larry Elliott writes that at least some business leaders are paying lip service to the idea that inequality needs to be reined in. But Alec Hogg points out that at least some of the privileged few are using their obscene wealth to remove themselves from the rest of humanity, rather than lifting a finger to help anybody else.

- Meanwhile, Joseph Stiglitz observes that sheer stubborn stupidity on the part of austerians is doing untold damage to the global economy. But Jon Henley notes that in advance of Syriza’s election victory, a new (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On limited victories

Truly, I wish Andrew Coyne’s latest actually described policy-making in Canada, and not merely the state of theoretical political debate.

But in fact, we live in a country where “let’s consider whether a trade agreement actually has benefits, rather than signing whatever gets shoved in front of us” has been shouted down by two national parties and the corporate press as an extreme view.

In fact, the “progressive” premier put forward as the paragon of leftism is from a government which brags about both trashing regulations for the sake of trashing regulations, and imposing perpetual real-money cuts to the public (Read more…)

CuriosityCat: Mr. Trudeau: Coalitions are what you make them

Let’s talk coalition …

The recent poll showing that most Liberal and NDP supporters would rather have a new government than have a Harper one after the 2015 election, even if this means some form of a coalition, has sparked renewed talk about the possibility of a coalition.

One problem with such talk is that a lack of understanding of our constitutional laws clouds the issue, as Andrew Coyne has pointed out in an interesting article.

And in a recent interview, Justin Trudeau has added to the confusion by slipping into the Either-Or mode of thinking, which sorely limits the permissible (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On representative units

Does anybody remember which particularly prominent political pundit went far out his way to trumpet the idea that basic unit of political legitimacy is the caucus – to the point of repeatedly advocating a legislated requirement that a caucus vote override the decisions made by the whole of a party’s membership?

I ask only because he seems to have been replaced with a far more reasonable impostor.

By the majority-of-caucus standard set under Michael Chong’s Reform Act (or the stronger forms suggested by Andrew Coyne among others), the decision of a majority of Wildrose Party MLAs to join up with (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, taking a quick look at Canada’s options for electoral reform while arguing that an MMP system would create far better incentives for our political leaders than the alternatives.

For further reading…- Alison wrote about our options in advance of yesterday’s vote on the NDP’s electoral reform proposal. – Eric Grenier discusses the possible outcomes under the three main alternatives based on current polling. And I’d argue that the current party standings offer a useful litmus test as to one’s weighting of representativeness versus defaulting toward majority government – as a preferential system would put the Libs within (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Paul Krugman writes that the ultra-wealthy’s contempt for anybody short of their own class is becoming more and more explicit around the globe – even when it comes to basic rights like the ability to vote: It’s always good when leaders tell the truth, especially if that wasn’t their intention. So we should be grateful to Leung Chun-ying, the Beijing-backed leader of Hong Kong, for blurting out the real reason pro-democracy demonstrators can’t get what they want: With open voting, “You would be talking to half of the people in Hong Kong who (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

 - Joseph Heath responds to Andrew Coyne in noting that an while there’s plenty of room (and need) to better tax high personal incomes, there’s also a need to complement that with meaningful corporate taxes: (A) crucial part of the Boadway and Tremblay proposal is to increase the personal income tax rate on dividends and capital gains. That’s where the “soak the rich” part comes in. The argument — and it is an interesting argument — is that dividends are currently taxed at a lower rate in the hands of individuals, in order (Read more…)

BigCityLib Strikes Back: Things We Learned During Ontario Election 2014: Conservative Ideologues Should Be Convulsed With Doubt And Self-Loathing

Take Andrew Coyne, for example. This guy is known among Canada’s literati as “the journalist who knows math”.  He’s always saying “Well, the iron laws of Economics will prevent that!” and so forth.  And when he says it what he means is that your figgers don’t add up.  So what happened when he realized that Tim Hudak’s 1,000,000 jobs plan made no sense unless you divided all his numbers by 8?  He endorsed the guy anyway!  He essentially abandoned mathematical Platonism, implicitly denied the reality of the number line, turned all Constructivist or, god help us,  into (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Richard Shillington studies the Cons’ income-splitting scheme for the Broadbent Institute, and finds that it’s even more biased toward the wealthy than previously advertised: • The average benefit of income splitting across all households is only $185, though nine out of 10 households will receive nothing. When one factors in the $3 billion cost in lost federal revenues that will result from this tax policy, income splitting stands to impose net costs on many Canadian households.

• To gain from income splitting, a family with children under 18 must have two parents in (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Robert Reich proposes that the best way to address corporate criminality is to make sure that those responsible go to jail – rather than simply being able to pay a fine out of corporate coffers and pretend nothing ever happened.

- And Shawn Fraser suggests that Regina developers should pick up the tab for the costs they impose on the city – even as the city itself has opportunities to both better shape residential growth, and turn a profit through its own own development corporation.

- Meanwhile, the CP reports on the (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Ric McIver Progressive Conservative leadership campaign lurches to life as Hancock Government sends mixed signals

Tory leadership candidate Ric McIver, shown on his extremely uninformative campaign website. Below: Education Minister Jeff Johnson and newly appointed Jobs, Skills, Etc. Minister Kyle Fawcett.

Ho-hum. After days of virtual silence, former infrastructure minister Ric McIver made the first official appearance of his campaign for the leadership of Alberta’s geriatric Tory dynasty at an Edmonton old-folks’ home yesterday morning.

Judging from the poor-quality CBC live-feed of the event, Mr. McIver’s heart wasn’t quite in it. But maybe I’m projecting – people keep telling me not to under-estimate Mr. McIver, so I won’t – but he sure looked like (Read more…)

Progressive Proselytizing: Andrew Coyne assures us "Hudak’s bogus plan is no reason not to vote for him"

The media reaction to Hudak’s 8 fold screwup in his Million 75,000 Jobs Plan has been almost as ridiculous as the mistake in the plan itself. I already wrote about what the CBC’s frontpage was doing in the interest of “balance” and “nonpartisanship”. But what about the media op-eds?

The latest from Andrew Coyne at the National Post exemplifies much of what is wrong with politics. We are assured in the title that “Tim Hudak’s bogus Million Jobs plan is no reason not to vote for him”.

The article lists several points why we already knew the Million Jobs Plan (Read more…)