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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
Nanos’ latest poll on the parties under consideration by voters has received plenty of attention. But the discussion so far seems to miss the most plausible explanation for the poll results.
Compared to previous polling, the latest survey shows:- little change in the actual support levels of Canada’s federal parties; and- a dramatic drop in the number of voters listing each of the national opposition parties as “under consideration”.
Now, the first point means that – contrary to the initial analysis by Nik Nanos – we shouldn’t interpret the poll as affecting the “shine” or first-choice popularity for (Read more…)
Assorted content for your weekend reading.
- Lana Payne discusses Unifor’s goals in the wake of its founding convention: The hope is that, collectively, working people can push back in new and profound ways against what has been a decades-long, anti-worker agenda perpetuated by both governments and corporations.
But just as importantly, the hope is that we can build social progress again for all Canadians. That progress has been virtually halted, stymied by the incredible growth and concentration in corporate power here at home and around the world and the subservience of governments to that power.
Corporations have been emboldened (Read more…)
Not surprisingly, Linda McQuaig‘s entry into the NDP’s Toronto Centre nomination contest against Jennifer Hollett has set off plenty of discussion this morning. And much of the focus has been on a possible by-election battle between McQuaig and Chrystia Freeland – the authors of the two most prominent recent books highlighting the gap between the rich and the rest of us.
But I’ll suggest that neither The Trouble with Billionaires nor Plutocrats figures to be the most important piece of reading material for the Toronto Centre by-election. While the campaign will hopefully raise the profile of economic inequality as (Read more…)
Paul Wells offers a note of warning for the Libs in recruiting Chrystia Freeland as a candidate. But I see a greater problem for Freeland herself in pursuing the role.
It’s not hard to see how Freeland might seem appealing as a means of papering over the Libs’ disconnection from the general public: Chrystia Freeland, winner of the 2013 National Business Book Award for her book Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else (Doubleday Canada), has confirmed her foray into federal politics.
The race to replace MP Bob Rae in the Toronto Centre (Read more…)
This and that for your Thursday reading.
- Richard Eskow offers up some ugly facts about corporate wealth accumulation and tax avoidance.
- David MacAray writes about the challenge facing labour activists when much of the public has been trained to engage in gratuitous union-bashing even while fully agreeing with union priorities: A union official I correspond with (the International Vice-President of a West Coast labor union) recently shared an interesting anecdote. He said that whenever he meets someone for the first time and they casually ask what he does for a living, he answers by saying he’s a (Read more…)
Miscellaneous material to start your week.
- Andrew Coyne notes that the Robocon decision finding electoral fraud using the Cons’ voter database fell short of naming names – but recognizes that there’s still a glaring need for further investigation, a sentiment echoed by the Globe and Mail. Tim Harper explains that Stephen Harper hasn’t earned the benefit of any doubt about his party’s role in facilitating and covering up the fraud, while Thomas Walkom sees Robocon as entirely consistent with the Cons’ usual operations: (O)rganized, computerized fraud takes matters to an entirely new level of illegality.
Whoever was using the (Read more…)
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.
- Linda McQuaig discusses Stephen Harper’s class war: Canadians don’t like Harper’s anti-worker agenda — when they notice it. That’s why there’s been such a public outcry since the temporary foreign worker program was exposed as a mechanism by which the Harper government has flooded the country with hundreds of thousands of cheap foreign workers, thereby suppressing Canadian wages in the interests of helping corporations.
Apart from this clumsy fiasco, the Harperites have been adroit at keeping their anti-worker bias under the radar. Instead, they’ve directed their attacks against unions, portraying them as undemocratic (Read more…)
I haven’t commented yet on the story surrounding Tom Mulcair’s request for basic investigation into back-channel information between the Trudeau government and the Supreme Court of Canada – which seems best classified as a minor but reasonable request which has been blown out of proportion.
But I’ll take a moment to point out the jaw-dropping response from the Libs, who are apparently demanding government secrecy far beyond that ever publicly defended by even the Harper Cons: This motion calls for the federal government to release archived documents related to the constitutional negotiations which led to the patriation of the Constitution (Read more…)
There’s been no lack of past commentary (from myself and others) on how income splitting is about as regressive a policy as one could possibly design – and I won’t repeat it for the moment other than to say that the supposed “compromise” offered by Jack Mintz only goes a step further in ascribing zero value to a stay-at-home spouse.
But it is worth pointing out Lib MP John McKay’s participation in yesterday’s PR stunt – explained by the bizarre claim that the issue is one that we should “de-politicize” income distribution and tax policy.
Simply put, the issue (Read more…)
I’ve already pointed out the NDP’s opportunity to differentiate itself from the Libs as a truly progressive party. And the Libs’ corporatist votes against democratic decision-making and basic civil liberties will certainly help that cause.
But if it’s possible to draw a clear distinction between Mulcair and Trudeau on basic knowledge of current events, then so much the better: Mulcair told reporters after question period that the ruling did affirm that Page “had the right to demand those documents” (ie. the information from departments) in the first place.
He was referring to paragraph five of the ruling, which stated (Read more…) “neither on the basis of parliamentary privilege nor on the principles of statutory interpretation has Parliament reserved the right for itself to answer Mr. Page’s questions. That task falls upon this court.”
Mulcair told reporters that this effectively destroyed the Senate’s attempt to argue that the PBO’s . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On distinctions
Miscellaneous material to start your week.
- Paul Adams rightly points out that there’s no inherent value in centrism merely for the sake of centrism – especially when the spectrum of choices is itself shaped by decades of distorted assumptions: (T)he reality of modern politics is that the muddled middle is no answer at all to the issues facing us. On economic and social policy, what divides Canadians is their attitude towards three decades of market-liberating policies that have weakened our middle class, increased inequality, corroded social programs, undermined the ability of working people to negotiate a living wage, and (Read more…) us all more vulnerable and insecure.
There is certainly a discussion to be had about how quickly and by what means these policies should be moderated, revised or reversed — and issues of priority, pace and technique may divide the Liberals and the NDP.
But first, both parties . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links
Here, building off of my previous analysis on the current positioning of Canada’s federal parties.
For further reading, see:- Bob Hepburn and Carol Goar on the purpose and effect of attack ads in general; and- Andrew Coyne on the Cons’ particular brand of personal attack, featuring some suggestions to reduce the amount of negative advertising.
Following up on this morning’s post on the federal political scene, I’ll offer a few observations on the Cons’ immediate attack ad against Justin Trudeau:
Now, I’ve pointed out before that the Cons’ previous attack ads against Lib leaders succeeded precisely because they made claims which were so vague as to be unfalsifiable. And by that standard, there would indeed be substantial risk in an attempt to define Trudeau as comic relief (which would seemingly allow him to defeat the Cons’ definition simply by avoiding the most massive of gaffes) or as inexperienced (which falls under the category of self-defeating
. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: The first move
Karl Nerenberg offers one comparative look at how the NDP and the Libs are positioned for the next few years after this weekend’s conventions which saw Tom Mulcair resoundingly confirmed as the NDP’s leader and Justin Trudeau anointed as the Libs’. But I’ll take a bit of time to discuss the wider political scene – and how the most important choice over the next few years may still lie in the hands of Stephen Harper and his party.
While media coverage of polls inevitably tends toward proclaiming a horse race, the trend since Trudeau has instead pointed toward another possibility:
. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Stephen’s Choice
Steve has already pointed out RBC’s status as the leading beneficiary of corporate tax giveaways in the context of its outsourcing of Canadian jobs (using temporary foreign workers as an intermediate step). But it’s worth highlighting that there’s much more than a coincidental connection between the two.
After all, a tax system which includes meaningful rates on corporate profits and high-end individual earnings will implicitly increase the cost of prioritizing those ends over investment in an actual business. Which means there’s less reason to let dead money accumulate within a corporation rather than investing, and also less to be gained
. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On changed incentives
In advance of next weekend’s Montreal convention, the NDP has released the resolutions (PDF) to be voted on by delegates. And for all the distraction created by a non-binding constitutional preamble, the more interesting point to watch will be the treatment of substantive policy resolutions which look to confirm the NDP’s position as Canada’s true progressive party.
For those who want to see concerted action against tax havens and unbridled financial speculation (including a Robin Hood tax), an increased focus on social and community ownership and employment rather than capital interests, and a move away from corporate self-regulation, the
. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On topics of discussion
Among other highlights of the Saskatchewan NDP’s leadership convention this month, I was able to meet and chat with longtime NDP MP (and later MLA) Bill Blaikie, who attended in large part to introduce party members to The Blaikie Report. And I appreciate the opportunity to review the book – particularly given that others have already had their say since its release.
Blaikie’s book reads in part as autobiography, in part as polemic. And on both fronts, he nicely highlights how little Canadian politics have changed over the past several decades, with the appropriation of religious messaging by the far
. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Book Review: The Blaikie Report
This and that for your Sunday reading.
- Alan Feuer writes about New York City’s brilliant use of “big data” to connect the dots in making public policy. And the examples look like a rather compelling reason why we should be looking to expand public-sector data collection and analysis as part of any remotely viable regulatory structure – rather than following the right-wing model of reducing the public sector to checking whether private-sector actors have filed paperwork claiming to have complied with the law.
- Chantal Hebert theorizes that the Harper Cons may be facing their seven-year itch. Alison’s updated
. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links
This and that for your Thursday reading.
- Yves Engler highlights the two-tiered justice system exacerbated by the Harper Cons, as anybody with a sufficient level of privilege avoids any punishment for wrongdoing: One law for the rulers and another for the rest of us — wasn’t that supposed to have ended with feudalism?
If a poor person is caught taking a computer or some other piece of property from a federal building you can bet police will be called and the thief will go before a judge to decide if she/he goes to jail. Yet when a Senator who
. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links