Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.
- Jim Stanford, Iglika Ivanova and David MacDonald each highlight how there’s far more to be concerned about in Canada’s economy beyond the GDP dip alone. Both Thomas Walkom and the Star’s editorial board write that it’s clear the Cons have nothing to offer when it comes to trying to improve on our current stagnation, while Balbulican notes that the Cons’ economic message amounts to little more than denial. And David Climenhaga calls out the laughable attempt by Alberta’s right wing to shield Stephen Harper from blame for a decade of failed federal (Read more…)
Miscellaneous material to start your week.
- Branko Milanovic answers Harry Frankfurt’s attempt to treat inequality as merely an issue of absolute deprivation by reminding us how needs are inherently social: “[Under necessities] I understand not only the commodities that are indispensable for the support of life, but whatever the custom of the country renders it indecent for creditable people, even of the lowest order, to be without.” (Book 5, Chapter 2)
Smith’s observation has far-reaching consequences. If our needs depend on what is socially acceptable, then they will clearly vary as between different societies. They will depend on (Read more…)
Bob Hepburn makes clear that while the Libs may still be in denial about the importance of cooperating to remove the Harper Cons from power, their best friends in the media are under no such illusions. But the most noteworthy contribution to Canada’s discussion about post-election options comes from Aaron Wherry – particularly in highlighting what factors have, and have not, been taken into account in determining who gets a chance to form government: (A) Progressive Conservative government in Ontario in 1985 was defeated in the legislature and replaced by a Liberal government that had signed a governing accord with (Read more…)
It never figured to take long for the Cons to start making up numbers for lack of any legitimate criticism of the NDP’s platform – and Jason Kenney has charged into the breach. But it’s worth noting the source of many of the supposedly-costed items, which consist of NDP MPs’ committee reports.
To be clear, committee reports represent an important contribution in Parliament’s governance of public policy. And what makes them stand out is that fact that they offer independent review by representatives tasked with assessing particular issues – who can then be expected to reach their own conclusions on (Read more…)
This and that for your Sunday reading.
- Dana Flavelle examines how many Canadians are facing serious economic insecurity. And Kevin Campbell discusses how the Cons are vulnerable on the economy due to their obvious failure to deliver on their promises, as well as their misplaced focus on trickle-down ideology: During this election it is essential to understand that we live in an era of persistent financial insecurity among the majority of the population. Household balance sheets are in a tenuous state throughout the industrialized world, particularly in Canada. This inevitably affects how citizens choose to vote. Healthcare, education, ethics (Read more…)
Dave McGrane offers a historical perspective on how deficits for their own sake shouldn’t be seen as an element of left-wing or progressive policy, while Excited Delerium takes a look at the policies on offer in Canada’s federal election to see how it’s possible to pursue substantive progressive change within a balanced budget. But let’s examine more closely why it’s wrong to draw any equivalence between the Trudeau Libs’ platform, deficits and progressive policies (despite their frantic efforts to pretend there’s no difference between the three).
Taking the Libs at their word, their current plan is to engage in deficit (Read more…)
Assorted content for your weekend reading.
- Michal Rozworski calls for the election to include far more discussion as to who benefits from our economy as it’s designed, and who gets left behind. Michael Wilson examines how Canada’s economy has become far less equal over the past few decades. And Michelle Zilio talks to Munir Sheikh about the “made in Canada recession” under the Harper Cons, as a rare divergence between Canada and the rest of the world is seeing us headed in the wrong direction even as the U.S. and other developed countries do relatively well.
- Joanna (Read more…)
I’ve largely held off on discussing federal polls since few of them seem to be out of line with my initial assessment of the election as a three-way race with the NDP in a narrow lead, but with plenty of room for movement during the election campaign.
But EKOS’ latest signals that we may have reached the point where more of the same is news in and of itself – particularly for the party which most needs to try to change the direction of public opinion.
While there might once have been reason to wonder whether public assessments of the (Read more…)
Assorted content to end your week.
- Joseph Stiglitz notes that the recent stock market turmoil may be most important for its effect in highlighting far more important economic weaknesses. And Richard McCormack discusses the link between stock buybacks, inequality and economic stagnation – meaning that a plan to eliminate loopholes for stock options may also have positive spillover effects for the economy as a whole.
- Barry Schwartz writes about the meaning of work, while noting that a focus on theoretical efficiency by eliminating all satisfaction from a work day may be leading to worse results for employers and (Read more…)
Following up on this post and some additional discussion, let’s take a look at the question of what options would be available to Stephen Harper if he decided he wanted to escape a drubbing at the polls by cancelling the federal election. And fortunately, the answer looks to be “not much”.
The Canada Elections Act does allows for a writ to be withdrawn, but only with some important limitations (emphasis added): 59. (1) The Governor in Council may order the withdrawal of a writ for any electoral district for which the Chief Electoral Officer certifies that by reason of (Read more…)
Yessiree, Stephen Harper’s choice to impose a longer election period rather than waiting to see whether his party would have a shred of credibility left after the PMO went under the microscope looks more brilliant by the day.
This and that for your Thursday reading.
- Michal Rozworski reminds us that austerity in Canada is nothing new under Con or Lib governments, while pointing out what the public needs to do to repel it: The campaigning Stephen Harper boasts that his tough austerity policies saved the Canadian economy. Lost in the rhetoric are two important facts. As most economists will tell you today, austerity measures are lousy ways to expand jobs and investment. And Harper’s Conservatives were just carrying on the work of their austerity embracing Liberal predecessors.…
The first round of Liberal cutbacks were quick and deep. (Read more…)
It shouldn’t come as much surprise that the Duffy trial has revealed that the Harper Cons sought to make the Senate as subservient to the PMO as the Cons’ trained seals in the House of Commons: Mr. Rathgeber said the PMO staffers’ handling of the situation was all too familiar and speaks to a “culture of invincibility” among some of the PMO staff.
“It’s shocking, but it validates everything I’ve ever said about their modus operandi. They have no ethical, or sometimes legal, boundaries and I would say without any doubt that a Senate report into expenses is a higher (Read more…)
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.
- Robert Reich discusses the unfairness of requiring workers to take all the risk of precarious jobs while sharing few of the rewards: On demand and on call – in the “share” economy, the “gig” economy, or, more prosaically, the “irregular” economy – the result is the same: no predictable earnings or hours.
It’s the biggest change in the American workforce in over a century, and it’s happening at lightening speed. It’s estimated that in five years over 40 percent of the American labor force will have uncertain work; in a decade, most of us.…Courts are (Read more…)
This and that for your Tuesday reading.
- Howard Elliott writes about the need for senior levels of government to help address the housing needs facing Canadian communities. And the report from Saskatchewan’s advisory group on poverty reduction includes housing among its key priorities as well (while also favouring work on a basic income).
- Meanwhile, Armine Yalnizyan reminds us that the Cons’ destruction of the census is making it far more difficult to identify and address social problems.
- Justin Ling documents the latest example of Stephen Harper’s utter contempt for the concept of accountability, as national media outlets (Read more…)
Miscellaneous material to start your week.
- Paul Krugman theorizes that our recent pattern of economic instability can be traced to a glut of accumulated wealth chasing too few viable investments: On the surface, we seem to have had a remarkable run of bad luck. First there was the housing bust, and the banking crisis it triggered. Then, just as the worst seemed to be over, Europe went into debt crisis and double-dip recession. Europe eventually achieved a precarious stability and began growing again — but now we’re seeing big problems in China and other emerging markets, which were previously (Read more…)
Following up on these earlier posts, here’s a quick look at the last of the messages Bob Hepburn thinks the NDP may face from the Cons in particular as the election campaign progresses. 2) Tax-and-spend image: NDP loyalists consider this issue as “trite,” but already Harper is hammering away at it, claiming Mulcair would raise taxes and spend countless billions on programs such as a national $15-a-day child care plan. Already, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been mocking the NDP, saying it doesn’t know what the tax rates are, “it just knows everybody’s taxes have to be higher. (Read more…)
Following up on this post, let’s take a look at the first of Bob Hepburn’s theorized lines of attack against the NDP – which gets its own separate post since it needs to be analyzed in radically different ways depending on the party who launches it: Worse, the Conservatives are expected to unleash a furious barrage of attacks on Mulcair’s perceived weak spots, or vulnerabilities. These weak spots include: 1) Quebec separation: Many Canadians could never vote for Mulcair because of the NDP’s policy that Quebec could split from Canada with a referendum vote of just 50-per-cent-plus-one. Mulcair (Read more…)
This and that for your Sunday reading.
- Laurie Penny argues that Jeremy Corbyn’s remarkable run to lead the Labour Party represents an important challenge to the theory that left-wing parties should avoid talking about principles in the name of winning power – particularly since the result hasn’t been much success on either front. – Trevor Pott discusses Canada’s popular backlash against an unaccountable and security state, particularly when it’s deployed primarily to silence dissenting political views.
- Bruce Johnstone writes that contempt for the law is par for the course from the Harper Cons. And Bruce Livesey reports on (Read more…)
Stephen Harper plays chess: Sources say Conservative planners did factor in testimony by Wright and Harper’s former legal counsel Perrin. Once the testimony was over, they calculated, the sting would fade, and those voters who were inclined to believe Harper’s version would continue to do so. Those who never believed him would never vote for him anyway.
Just one problem with his strategy: The vast majority of Canadians do not believe Stephen Harper is telling the truth about the Mike Duffy Senate expenses scandal, a new poll has found. Some 56 per cent of respondents do not think (Read more…)
Adam Radwanski points out in his latest column that several weeks into the election campaign, it’s hard to see what message might be used against Tom Mulcair and the NDP to any meaningful effect. But let’s note that the factors working in the NDP’s favour – and the challenges for the competing parties – are even stronger than Radwanski’s column might suggest.
For example, for all the talk of a polarized electorate when it comes to policy, all indications are that Mulcair has a huge advantage over his competitors over a range of issues.
On every single one of the (Read more…)
At the moment, plenty of Canadians are looking forward to waking up on October 20 and finding that Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have lost the election, to be replaced by a government determined by the MPs elected by voters. And we should certainly be hoping for, and working toward, that outcome.
But imagine if the electoral process worked differently, potentially rendering all of our efforts useless.
Imagine if the Conservatives could dictate that incumbents would keep their seats unless they were defeated by some amount which was never stated in advance. Stephen Harper could then retroactively set the required opposition margin (Read more…)
Yes, there’s plenty of reason to be outraged by the fact that the National Energy Board is delaying its review of the Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion – and perhaps setting the review back significantly – so a lobbyist for the project can take over as a board member.
But it’s worth noting that the delay itself could have some extremely dangerous effects: Bill C-38 imposes new time limits on some federal environmental assessments. Assessments conducted by independent panels must be completed within two years and, by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, one year. As well, the National Energy Board’s review (Read more…)