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Accidental Deliberations: On legacies

Obviously last night’s Nova Scotia election results represent a huge disappointment for the NDP. But they also offer some reason to discuss the brand being developed at both the provincial and federal levels.

The working assumption for both the federal party and most of the provincial parties close to forming government has been that the only way to win over voters is to appear steady, staid and safe rather than pushing strongly for many policy priorities. And that theory seemed especially likely to work for Darrell Dexter given Nova Scotia’s precedent of offering every previous government at least a second (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- Mark Leiren-Young shares Corky Evans’ perceptive take on how the B.C. NDP has lost its way – and the message is one which we should apply elsewhere as well: I remember when one of the Leaders I worked for asked some guys many of us know to purge our Party of the troublemakers (that was not the word he used.) They did a good job. We got Slates so the people we didn’t like couldn’t serve in Executive positions. We got Mike Muffins (members with nothing to say who stand (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Thomas McDonagh discusses how the combination of concentrated corporate wealth and ill-advised trade agreements has allowed business interests to override the will of even strong citizens’ movements: In 2009, when the government of El Salvador refused to issue an environmental permit to a Canadian mining corporation, community activists in Las Cabañas rejoiced. For years they had been fighting a pitched battle against the efforts of the company, Pacific Rim, to mine for gold in their region – plans that included the dumping of toxic arsenic in their rivers. It was not a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- To the extent corporatist voices are pushing increased private involvement in funding Canadian health care, their main argument generally involves the claim that private insurers will be more willing to fund expensive courses of treatment which might be rationed out of public plans. But Don Butler reports that at least one of the major private insurers is taking exactly the opposite view in describing the future of private prescription drug insurance: Private drug plans that provide coverage to 19 million Canadians are not sustainable in their current form, according to an executive at (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Pat Steenberg observes that the Harper Cons’ deficits are the result of conscious choices to reduce government revenue – and that we can fix our deficit and rein in inequality at the same time by reversing the damage: (W)hen our governments say they can no longer afford something, what they are really saying is that “we” cannot afford it. But is this really the case?

Canada’s average GDP per capita — the value of total productive output divided by the population that produced it — has continued to grow, with a few minor (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Murray Dobbin contrasts the B.C. NDP’s recent election loss against the type of popular focus which helped Saskatchewan’s CCF to earn a twenty-year stay in office in the face of far more hysterical opposition: You can design a campaign that projects a positive vision of the future but two things about the NDP’s approach doomed it to failure. First, you can’t run a positive campaign in a month. It takes time to engage people in a vision of the future, even one they agree with.  Secondly, the NDP tied one (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Paul Krugman draws a much-needed connection between austerity politics and Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine: What Smith didn’t note, somewhat surprisingly, is that his argument is very close to Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine, with its argument that elites systematically exploit disasters to push through neoliberal policies even if these policies are essentially irrelevant to the sources of disaster. I have to admit that I was predisposed to dislike Klein’s book when it came out, probably out of professional turf-defending and whatever — but her thesis really helps explain a lot about what’s going (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how a narrow focus on pursuing a seemingly safe path to a bare majority government may have contributed to the B.C. NDP’s stunning election defeat this week.

Needless to say, there’s no lack of other commentary on the election, with Alice Funke, Sixth Estate, Michael Stewart, Paul Ramsey and Thomas Walkom all reaching conclusions relatively similar to my own. And while not a lot of observers can claim to have identified the problem in B.C., Dan Tan and Leftdog look to have earned at least partial credit.

[Update: Let's add David (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Michael Babad takes a look at Bureau of Labor Statistics data on wages and employment levels – reaching the conclusion that the corporatist effort to drive wages down does nothing to improve employment prospects. But the absence of any remotely plausible policy justification hasn’t stopped the Sask Party from “modernizing” the province’s rules governing work by setting them back upwards of half a century.

- Meanwhile, Pat Atkinson rightly notes that the most important problem with the Cons’ push for temporary foreign workers is the “temporary” part. And Nicholas Keung and Dana Flavelle (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Evening Links

Assorted content to end your day.

- Carol Goar discusses how the Cons’ latest attacks on Employment Insurance add just one burden to the backs of workers who have already borne the brunt of decades of corporatist policy:

(L)ast Sunday, employment insurance benefits in two-thirds of the country were quietly reduced. Existing recipients were spared but new EI claimants — starting with the 54,500 workers who lost their jobs in March — will be subject to tougher rules. Most will get less support.

Generalizations are impossible. The impact on any person depends on his or her employment record, skills and

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Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Chrystia Freeland comments on the disproportionate influence of the super-rich in a democratic system which is supposed to value citizens equally: “I think most Americans believe in the idea of political equality,” Callahan told me. “That idea is obviously corrupted when in 2012, one guy, Sheldon Adelson, can make more political donations than the residents of 12 states put together.”

The Demos study draws in part on the quantitative research of Martin Gilens, a professor of politics at Princeton University and author of “Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in

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Alberta Diary: A Tale of Two Provinces: B.C. NDP and Wild Rosehip Tea Party show why opposition matters

Razzle-dazzle, sis-boom-bah, balanced budgets, rah-rah-rah! Danielle Smith and the Wild Rosehip Tea Party yell squad cheers for Alison Redford’s Tory team’s worst plays on the field. The actual Alberta opposition may not be quite as illustrated. Below: Ms. Redford and B.C. Premier Christie Clark. Why are these two premiers smiling?

British Columbia and Alberta, Canada’s two westernmost provinces, have lots in common.

Both have economies that rely heavily on volatile natural resources, well-educated, diverse and generally socially progressive populations, and Westminster-style parliamentary legislatures in beautiful old buildings.

Both are also governed by irresponsible neoconservative coalitions with misleading names that

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Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Tim Harper writes about Scott Vaughan’s final report as the federal environmental commissioner: Scott Vaughan doesn’t have the profile of some of his contemporaries but as the environmental commissioner bowed out with a final report Tuesday, he reminded official Ottawa how much he will be missed.

Vaughan is leaving after five years of what he calls — in typical understatement — identifying “gaps” in the environmental policies of the Conservative government. More often than not, those gaps are more like chasms.

He also departs at a time when the environment and the economy

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Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- There’s plenty of reason for concern about the departure of some of the few independent officers who have successfully held the Cons to account at times – with departing environment commissioner Scott Vaughan serving as only the latest example.

- But the more important story is less the presence of watchdogs than that of effective regulators – and the fact that the Cons have limited environmental enforcement to sporadic letter-writing campaigns gives us plenty of reason for concern no matter who’s in a position to point it out.

- Meanwhile, Luigi Zanasi

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Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Tim Harper gets somewhat closer to the mark than most pundits in recognizing that any talk an NDP/Lib merger is neither timely nor particularly well-placed. But the “one more time” message is a little bit off: again, we’ve still run precisely zero election campaigns in which the NDP was treated as anything but a novelty party at the outset, which means that we should see 2015 as the start of a new opportunity rather than a continuation of previous trends. And both Barbara Yaffe and Lawrence Martin point out some of the reasons

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