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Accidental Deliberations: On technological preferences

Shorter Diane Francis: I don’t much like Facebook, but this Google machine is neato. I just typed in “Harper Conservative Talking Points”, and it practically wrote my column for me!

Accidental Deliberations: #elxn42 Platform Review – Conservatives

Given the lengths Stephen Harper has gone to in limiting how his party is presented publicly as well as the Cons’ general status quo campaign theme, it may come as a surprise that the Cons’ platform includes 159 pages – making it nearly twice the length of any other party’s. But anybody hoping for the Cons to do more than waste paper in the process is out of luck.

To be clear, there’s a trend toward including talking points and contrast messaging in all of the platforms. But the Cons’ stands out in distilling Harper politics to its essence – (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: #elxn42 Platform Reviews – Overview

The combination of a majority government and an extra-long campaign period has left Canada’s major political parties with ample time to refine their election platforms. And regardless of what your disingenuous neighbourhood Wildrose MLA might tell you, those platforms represent the best indication as to what policies you can expect each to pursue if given the chance.

All three major parties put in the time and effort to prepare a detailed platform of 80 pages or more. But each also left relatively little time for that platform to be reviewed by the public.

For the most part, we can (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Mariana Mazzucato argues that in deciding how to vote, we need to challenge the Cons’ assumptions as to what the federal government can do to encourage development: Markets are themselves are outcomes of different types of public and private sector investments in new areas. Countries like Italy that have had low deficits but a lack of such investments, end up with high debt/gdp ratios. So, what should we be talking about? Public spending must be seen as part of the co-creation process by which markets are formed. The question should be about what (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On continuing leadership

Others have responded to Chantal Hebert’s latest by pointing out her past track record of telling the NDP when to change leaders. But even leaving that history aside, it’s worth seriously questioning her assumptions.

To start with, I’m rather less certain than Hebert that even Stephen Harper will be out of the picture altogether by the next federal election, if only due to his suppression of any viable successors within his own party.

Given enough time (a majority or stable minority arrangement), a resignation and leadership race would be a logical course of action for the Cons. But if another (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Edward Keenan writes that a lack of affordable child care is the crucial financial pressure facing families across the income spectrum. And Michael Wolfson discusses the dangers of talking about taxes in a vacuum without recognizing what we lose by failing to make sure everybody pays a fair share.

- Sam Thielman notes that the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s crackdown on intellectual property may seriously threaten our freedom of expression, while Michael Geist highlights the potential for content-blocking and the Electronic Frontier Foundation points out how the TPP transfers massive amounts of power to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On conversation pieces

Following up on this post, the stretch run of the election campaign (particularly a holiday weekend with advance polling already underway) is exactly the time when our messages in talking to unpersuaded voters will matter most in shaping the results. And I’ll offer a few suggestions as to how to argue for both a new government, and the best possible alternative.

First, the main theme should be the need for change – putting the focus squarely on the Cons’ failings and the need for a new government to reverse them. But as I’ve noted before, that doesn’t mean (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Don Pittis examines the Cons’ record on jobs and the economy, and reaches the inevitable conclusion that free trade bluster and corporate giveaways have done nothing to help Canadians – which makes it no wonder the Cons are hiding the terms of the deals they sign. And John Jacobs writes that the Trans-Pacific Partnership only stands to make matters worse: Canada is exporting goods that create few domestic jobs and importing goods that create jobs elsewhere. This accounts for some of the decline in manufacturing employment over the past decade in Canada and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On unaccountability

Shorter Harper Cons: It has come to our attention that we may have come to power on a platform of “whistleblower protection“. This was a typo: our plan was instead to pursue “whistleblower prosecution”. Don’t you dare tell anybody about the error.

Accidental Deliberations: To summarize…

…the Cons’ campaign is effectively down to brainstorming new ways to gratuitously attack women who wear niqabs, regardless of the excuse used to do so or even the non-existence of the circumstances where new discrimination would be imposed.

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how the Cons’ multi-billion dollar price tag for Trans-Pacific Partnership compensation makes clear that every party is planning to spend large amounts of public money reshaping Canada – leaving us to choose which we value most out of the NDP’s social programs, Libs’ temporary infrastructure spending or Cons’ corporate control.

For further reading…- My previous column comparing the NDP and Lib plans is linked here. And I first noted the burgeoning cost of the TPP (including both direct costs and compensation) here.- Armine Yalnizyan’s review (PDF) of past Canadian recessions includes some discussion as to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Scott Santens writes about one possible endpoint of the current trend toward precarious employment, being the implementation of a basic income to make sure a job isn’t necessary to enable people to do meaningful work. And Common Dreams reports that a strong majority of lower-wage workers support both unions, and political parties and candidates who will allow them to function.

- Harvey Cashore and David Seglins follow up on the multiple connections between the Cons, the Canada Revenue Agency and KPMG even as the latter was under investigation for facilitating offshore tax (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On power dynamics

Paul Wells offers his thoughts on what might happen if the Cons lead in the seat count in a minority Parliament. But I’d think it’s worth noting two other considerations to counter Wells’ take that the Cons could hold on with substantially less than half the seats in the House of Commons.

First, particularly if the combination of NDP and Lib seats adds up to a majority, it’s hard to see which of the parties running flat-out on the need for change could possibly do anything but vote down the Cons’ first throne speech.

The issue isn’t one of relying (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On campaign reflections

There’s been a flurry of discussion elsewhere about the NDP’s campaign over the past couple of weeks, and I’ll chime in quickly with my own take on how the campaign has developed so far – and what we should hope for as it reaches its conclusion.

To start with, I see two points where there’s some basis for fourth-quarter-commercial-break quarterbacking as to the NDP’s campaign strategy.  First, I’ve previously pointed out the inherent flaw in the Cons’ plan to brand Justin Trudeau as “not ready”: while it might have been a valuable message as long as it stuck, it (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Paul Theroux comments on the gall of corporations who move jobs to the cheapest, least-safe jurisdictions possible while trumpeting their own supposed contributions to the countries they leave behind. And Wilma Liebman sees more progressive labour legislation as one of the keys to encouraging workers to organize and secure better working and living conditions.

- The Star’s editorial board writes about the need for far more debate about poverty and precarity in Canada’s federal election. And Max Ehrenfreund discusses the connection between income and life expectancy, while noting that inequality is going up (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood highlights how the Trans-Pacific Partnership will do little but strengthen the hand of the corporate sector against citizens. Duncan Cameron notes that even in the face of a full-court press for ever more stringent corporate controls, there’s plenty of well-justified skepticism about the TPP. And Olivia Chow compiles both plenty more concerns with the TPP, and the evidence that the Cons’ obsession with trade agreements is doing nothing to help Canada economically.

- Upstream calls for Canadians to vote for a healthier society in the upcoming federal election. And Kimberly (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On uncosted liabilities

So even from the sketchy details made public so far, and even leaving aside the more general harm done by limiting government action and entrenching corporate monopolies, the Trans-Pacific Partnership will cost Canada: $4.3 billion in compensation to dairy, chicken and egg farmers Up to 20,000 lost jobs in the auto sector – meaning both lower revenues and higher costs for the affected communities Job losses in other industries which are supposed to “adapt”, again resulting in both higher costs and lower revenues A higher price for prescription drugs funded both publicly and privately

Naturally, none of those costs (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Joseph Heath discusses how the Volkswagen emission cheating scandal fits into a particular type of corporate culture: (W)hen the Deepwater Horizon tragedy occurred, or now the VW scandal, it was hardly surprising to people who follow these things. Certain industries essentially harbour and reproducing deviant subcultures. This is one of the reasons that much of the best work on white collar crime has been inspired by, and draws upon, work in juvenile delinquency. Whereas delinquents tend to exist in subcultures that reproduce deviant attitudes toward authority, many corporations reproduce subcultures that promote organized resistance (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Ian Welsh writes that the Harper Cons have destroyed Canada’s historic economic balance by scrapping the parts of the manufacturing sector which previously provided a buffer against low resource prices. And Bruce Campbell compares Canada’s record on climate change to Norway’s, and concluding that it isn’t only in terms of royalties and heritage funds that we’re far worse off for catering to big oil.

- Andrew Jackson comments on the role government investment should play in improving Canada’s record on innovation. But Joseph Stiglitz and Adam Hersh flesh out what the Cons (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your weekend reading.

- Alex Himelfarb highlights the vicious circle the Harper Cons have created and driven when it comes to public services: Today’s austerity is not a response to fiscal crisis. The 2012 budget demonstrated that it’s about redefining the purpose of government, about dismantling, brick by brick, the progressive state built by governments of quite different stripes in the decades following the Second World War. Implied is a very different notion of our shared citizenship, of what binds us together across language, region and community. The message was clear: government will ask less of Canadians (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On distinguishing factors

The common personalities and strategies by tired right-wing governments are leading to some comparisons between the ongoing Canadian campaign and the UK’s election earlier this year. But even as we treat David Cameron’s re-election as an important warning, let’s note that there’s a rather crucial difference between the two.

In the UK, the Conservatives’ sudden win seems to have been entirely unexpected, within prominent forecasters having seen the race as a dead heat rather than one in which Cameron had any prospect of taking a majority. And that likely affected coverage of the race as well as party strategies in (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- The Equality Trust reminds us that economic inequality leads to harmful health consequences even for the lucky few at the top of the income scale. And Matt Bruenig observes that a basic income would provide workers with far more scope to avoid employer abuses and other stressors.

- The Council of Canadians points out how the Trans-Pacific Partnership could block any path toward a national pharmacare plan and more fair prescription drug prices. And Andy Blatchford highlights the secrecy surrounding the agreement even as it should be the subject of electoral scrutiny.

- (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how we should call out the Cons’ bigotry surrounding the niqab for its own ill intent as well as for its effect of distracting from more substantive election issues.

For further reading…- The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision confirming that the niqab is a matter of religious freedom protected by the Charter is found here. And the Federal Court trial court and appeal decisions involving Zunera Ishaq are here and here, respectively.- CBC reports on just how few people are being singled out for deliberate and gratuitous discrimination, while also providing some background on (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Rosemary Barton discusses why it’s in Canada’s best interest on the global stage to work on building strong multilateral institutions (including the UN) rather than counting on bluster to make a difference. But Gus van Harten notes that we’re instead signing onto trade deals including the TPP which transfer power from governments of all types to the corporate sector. And Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood examines what’s at stake in the TPP in particular, while Susan Delacourt questions why such a major agreement is shrouded in secrecy rather than being subject to any meaningful public (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Armine Yalnizyan sees the Volkswagen emissions test cheating as a classic example of the dangers of relying on business to do anything toward the social good without facing strong and effectively-enforced regulations. And George Monbiot describes just a few of the preposterous new forms of waste we’re generating and buying rather than addressing serious social problems.

- Steve Paikin interviews Mariana Mazzucato about the proper role of an active state:


- Paul Hanley points out that the Leap Manifesto represents an important expression of mainstream Canadian values which deserves a prominent place (Read more…)