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Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the similarities between the federal political scene now and in the lead up to the 1988 federal election – and how the Liberals may soon face the NDP’s hard-learned lesson that personality politics may not go far in a sharp policy debate.

For further reading…- The NDP unveiled its child care plan here. And the commentators taking a close look at the plan – and its contrast against the Cons’ anti-government nihilism – include Karl Nerenberg, Jeffrey Simpson, Chantal Hebert and Linda McQuaig. – Meanwhile, Les Whittington reports on the Cons’ latest tax baubles, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on Justin Trudeau’s remarkable demand that Stephen Harper set up a federal shun registry to make life easier for Trudeau politically.

For further reading…- Trudeau’s Question Period interview is here, with the key passage starting at about the 3:15 mark. And some Libs went so far as to trumpet the demand for a public enemies list as a show of political talent.- Carlos Tello reports on the RCMP’s interest in stigmatizing the environmental movement – which of course matches the Cons’ rhetoric. And Alex Boutilier reports that hundreds of public events have already found themselves (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On political evolution

Both Chantal Hebert and the combination of Bruce Anderson and David Coletto have written recently about the state of federal politics in Quebec, with particular emphasis on what we can expect as the Bloc Quebecois appears to crumble. With that in mind, I’ll offer a quick reminder as to one of the more subtle factors behind the 2011 Orange Wave – and how things have changed less than we might think at first glance.

As I’ve mentioned before, the NDP’s relatively strong push into Quebec happened to coincide with an election where both the Cons and Libs had obvious (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On permanent campaigners

Plenty of people have pointed out other pieces of Paul Wells’ interview with Justin Trudeau. But one exchange seems particularly telling in defining Trudeau’s perception of leadership and politics: Q: What do you have to get done when Parliament comes back?

A: Continue to do what we’re doing, which is build the team, build the plan. Draw in great, credible candidates from across the country and put together a set of solutions and policies that are going to give this country a better government. Q: So the campaign’s already begun?

A: I think the way politics is done these days—certainly, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On soft support

Ezra Klein discusses Ray LaRaja and Brian Schnaffer’s graph of U.S. donor policy preferences against political donations:

Klein’s take involves a comparison between the graph and the U.S.’ discussion about political polarization. But it’s worth wondering to what extent the same theory might apply in Canada – and how they might in fact conflict with current party strategies.

After all, the most obvious uncertainty on Canada’s political scene involves the fight for centre-left voters – with the NDP, Libs, Greens and Bloc using much of their effort to seek to win over and retain that cohort alongside (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how Justin Trudeau seems to have taken up the cause of unaccountable executive power even from his third-party place in the House of Commons.

For further reading…- For some of the background on of the Libs’ entitlement hangover following the Cons’ taking power, see here (insisting that Parliament has no place in approving of military engagement) and here (criticizing the Accountability Act as a response to their actions while in power).- Josh Wingrove reports on the attempt by privacy experts to challenge the Cons’ appointment of Daniel Therrien. And Lisa Austin highlights some of the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Mitchell Anderson compares the results of corporate-friendly Thatcherism to the alternative of public resource ownership and development in the interest of citizens – and finds far better results arising from the latter: Thirty-five years after she swept to power as British prime minister, it is ironic that socialist Norway now has $830 billion in the bank and enjoys fully funded social programs that most of us can only dream of. Meanwhile the U.K. is enduring another round of wrenching austerity and owes over £1.3 trillion — about US$2.2 trillion. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Jonathan Freedland discusses how the UK’s Conservative government is forcing its poor citizens to choose between food and dignity: Cameron’s statement rests on the repeatedly implied assumption that the only people going hungry are those who have opted for idleness as a lifestyle choice, who could work but don’t fancy it. This assumption is false. The majority of poor households include at least one person who works. As Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury, put it this week: “People who are using food banks are not scroungers who are cynically trying (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On top priorities

If there’s anything to question in the latest reporting about possible post-election cooperation between the NDP and the Libs, it’s the impression that Thomas Mulcair’s willingness to pursue a coalition to replace the Harper Cons with a better government somehow comes entirely out of the blue. But while the story may not be entirely new, it’s certainly well worth pointing out: The leader of the New Democrats said on Tuesday he is willing to form a coalition in order to take power after the next election, even as the other opposition party leader, Liberal Justin Trudeau, played down the idea. … (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Alison and PressProgress both discuss how Brad Butt’s attempt to defend voter suppression is based on what even he had to concede was nothing short of legislative fraud. And Stephen Maher notes that the Cons’ unilateral rewrite of election rules figures to force Elections Canada to cover up the Cons’ pattern of illegal activity.

- Meanwhile, Jason Fekete reports on the Cons’ deliberate ignorance of deputy ministers’ advice that the government can’t keep stonewalling against action on climate change – and follows up by pointing out the NDP’s work to challenge the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Stephen Hume writes about the importance of tax revenue in building a functional and compassionate Canada: My taxes provide our mostly peaceful, prosperous and safe society; a health care system that for all its flaws and glitches is pretty darn good compared to the alternatives; a policing and justice system that despite occasional hiccups is fair, merciful and trustworthy; a brave and honourable military.

My taxes provide income support for the unemployed, the indigent, the impaired and the unlucky. My taxes helped create educational facilities of exceptional quality and performance; public infrastructure that (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your weekend.

- Lana Payne highlights the Harper Cons’ culture of hate with just a few recent examples: Veterans. Informed-debate. People’s right to a union and free collective bargaining. Voting rights. These are all under threat in Harper’s Canada.

This really is a government that hates; hates anyone that disagrees with them. Hates unions and the ability of people to work collectively to get a fair share of the economic pie. Hates democracy. Hates people who vote for other parties. Just plain hates.

This is not healthy for our country, our society. This is no way (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Lynn Stuart Parramore offers five convincing pieces of evidence to suggest that the U.S.’ plutocrats are losing their minds in their effort to set themselves apart from the rabble. Kevin Roose tells a story about some awful, awful (and disturbingly wealthy and powerful) people. And Patrick Wintour discusses how the UK Cons are dedicating significant public resources to placing impossible demands on the unemployed – then cutting off the livelihood of anybody not acrobatic enough to jump through their newly-created hoops.

- So there’s plenty of reason to think Ana Marie (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Ken Georgetti discusses how the corporate tax giveaways of the past 15 years have hurt most Canadians: The Conservative government and special interest groups claim incessantly that cutting corporate income taxes is good for the economy and for individual Canadians. We have been led to believe that tax giveaways to corporations would lead companies to reinvest in research and development as well as machinery and staff training to boost productivity. This is supposed to stimulate economic growth and create better paying and more secure jobs. But that is not what has happened (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Deep thought

The Liberals, at their self-perceived best, lag many years behind the principled curve set by the NDP.

(Meanwhile, who’s taking odds as to the number of formerly-Lib Senators who will be recruited by the we’ll-take-anybody Greens?)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Pierre Brochu and David Green study the effect of minimum wage rates, and find a connection between a higher minimum wage and greater employment stability. But if there’s a choice between stable, well-paying work and precarious employment where job churn and wage reductions are seen as the norm, far too many policy-makers are choosing the latter – as Annie Lowrey notes that U.S. states are actively slashing benefits for unemployed workers to force them to grab desperately at whatever is available.

- Meanwhile, Juan Carlos Suárez Serrato and Owen Zidar offer (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On consensus positions

I won’t break down in detail the bevy of reviews of the current position of Tom Mulcair and the federal NDP – including pieces by Bruce Stewart, John Ibbitson and John Geddes. But it’s worth highlighting the areas where I’d see no need to challenge the consensus reflected in those articles – as well as the one where some pushback is absolutely needed.

On the bright side, there’s little reason to see anything but opportunity in the public’s views of both the NDP as a voting option, and Mulcair as a leader. As Geddes in particular notes, the main (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On crowdsourcing

I’ve previously pointed out the problem with framing electoral outcomes solely in terms of which party wins the most seats. And EKOS’ polling about which single party is most likely to form government thoroughly misses that point in previewing the federal campaign in 2015.

But that omission aside, EKOS’ results do offer an interesting contrast to the media narrative of a two-party race: We asked the panel to rate the percentage likelihood of each of the three contending parties winning the next election; it gave us an interesting insight into how Canadians view the next election. While the election is (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On voter friendliness

Others have been quick to give Chantal Hebert’s take on the NDP more credence than it deserves. But while Hebert is right to note that there’s more to the NDP’s path forward than merely challenging Justin Trudeau, she falls into a familiar trap in assessing the party’s public appeal – and indeed rewrites an awful lot of history in the process: A strong New Democrat performance in Quebec could block the path to power for the Liberals. But it does not follow that it would pave the way for decisive NDP gains in the rest of Canada.

In 2011, Layton’s (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how this week’s federal by-elections seem to confirm that another minority Parliament is a real possibility in 2015 – even as the main parties all rule out any discussion of what would happen under that scenario.

For further reading…- I make reference in the column to John Ivison’s rough calculations as to how a 2015 seat count might look. But his greater thesis seems to utterly miss the point that if the Cons finish with just a few more seats than each of the NDP and Libs (and far less than the two combined), they’ll be (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Paul Wells and Dan Lett offer roundups of today’s federal by-elections, while Chantal Hebert offers some advice to the candidates (whether or not they’re elected to Parliament today). And Murray Dobbin explains why there’s only one true progressive choice in Toronto Centre in particular: McQuaig’s Liberal opponent in the riding is Chrystia Freeland, a parachute candidate who is being touted as a progressive with deep concerns about inequality. Trudeau has tried to boost her profile by stating that he wants her in his “inner circle.”

The problem is that there is nothing (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Michael Den Tandt and Jonathan Kay both point out the willingness of conservative (and Conservative) supporters to brush off the obvious misdeeds of their political leaders. And Glen Pearson rightly concludes that the responsibility to elect deserving leaders ultimately lies with voters: We are guilty of asking to little of ourselves. We find it remarkably easy, natural even, to blame our representatives and yet we put them there. They have no real answers to our unemployment situation, but we either continue to support them because of the party we serve or because we (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On core products

It may not come as much surprise that I thoroughly disagree with Murray Mandryk’s paean to corporate protection agreements. But his take on the CETA does signal one point worth highlighting.

Last week, my column dealt with the shift toward seeing politics as a matter of marketing and microtargeting, rather than the development of (and advocacy for) broad ideas as to how society ought to function. Using Susan Delacourt’s terminology, the most obvious move is toward MOP rather than SOP-style politics.

But while Stephen Harper’s Cons may have won over swing voters by focusing on the former, they’ve certainly (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Leading the evidence

Paul MacLeod’s post-mortem of Nova Scotia’s election campaign is well worth a read. But following up on Kevin Milligan’s astute point, I’ll point out how one of the main factors in the outcome looks to hint at partisan politics taking yet another turn for the worse – even as it signals what activists may need to do to bring about change which may become increasingly difficult through the party system: It was around this point that the Liberals decided they needed a new game plan. They had recently been trounced in the federal election and the Liberal brand was (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Debbie Chachra discusses why an effective government is a necessary element of civilization – and why charity can’t fill in the gap: Taxes aren’t the only way to pay for civilization, of course: community groups, charities, and churches also contribute. But I consider myself a fairly prudent consumer, and I want my money to be used well.

Even excellent charities are inefficient. Take food banks. We have a distribution system that goes from farms to warehouses to grocery stores. Food banks then set up more warehouses and pick-up sites to get (Read more…)