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Accidental Deliberations: Choosing the wrong side

Following up on this morning’s column, let’s note that there’s another area where the Libs are stubbornly sticking to a previous position whose underpinnings have been even more thoroughly destroyed.

The Libs have been at pains to at least offer the perception of changing their direction from nearly everything done by both Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff as leaders. But the common theme of arrogantly ruling out cooperation with other parties continues to lie at the centre of the Libs’ messaging – even though it failed miserably in both of the last two federal elections, and looks downright absurd (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how the massive shift in public opinion against the Conservatives’ terror bill should remind us that people are more than willing to reconsider their initial position on a policy – and how it should signal to political parties that it might be a good idea to do the same.

For further reading…- My previous columns on the terror bill can be found at the links here, here and here, while general coverage of C-51 is here. And the B.C. Civil Liberties Association points out why the few amendments the Cons were prepared to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On guesswork

Shorter Bob Rae: Some people actually believe voters deserve a meaningful idea what political parties plan to do before choosing between them? That’s crazy talk.

Accidental Deliberations: The petulant son

Shorter Justin Trudeau: When I say I plan to do politics differently, what I mean is that I’m willing to leave Stephen Harper in power based on the most petty and frivolous excuses anybody’s ever heard.

No longer is there any pretense that a flat “no” to a coalition with the NDP is based on policy differences (however implausible). Instead, Trudeau is ruling out the possibility of cooperation based on personal hostility toward Thomas Mulcair – which of course couldn’t be further from matching the public’s perception of the NDP’s leader, particularly among people with whom Trudeau supposedly (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Saturday reading.

- Lana Payne writes that we’re seeing exactly the results we should expect from Stephen Harper’s foolish choice to push money upward: A recent Globe and Mail story, using data from Statistics Canada, pointed out just how poorly the job market is doing under Stephen Harper’s leadership.

“Employment growth has been below 1 per cent for 15 months in a row.  The longest stretch … outside of recessions in almost 40 years of record-keeping,” according to the article by economics reporter Tavia Grant.

At the same time, corporate Canada is flush with cash, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: History repeating

2008, pre-election: Liberal bigwigs make a ridiculous spectacle of themselves proclaiming that they’ll never deign to cooperate with the likes of the NDP.

2008, post-election: Having spent the campaign echoing Stephen Harper’s desperate message that a coalition would be illegitimate, the Liberals conclude that they’re willing to cooperate after all, only to botch the job.

2011, pre-election: Liberal bigwigs make a ridiculous spectacle of themselves proclaiming that they’ll never deign to cooperate with the likes of the NDP.

2011, post-election: Having spent the campaign echoing Stephen Harper’s desperate message that a coalition would be illegitimate, the Liberals conclude that they’re (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On prospects for change

The latest round of discussion about the possibility of a coalition to offer something better than the Harper Cons seems to have taken an noteworthy turn. At this point, everybody but the Libs seems to have settled on the position that there’s no real obstacle to a coalition government – and the Libs’ spin machine has responded with little more than a plan to fabricate mistrust between themselves and the NDP.

But no matter how far that effort goes, the foreseeable outcomes of the next election feature a low probability of anybody holding a majority, and a strong prospect that (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- For those looking for information about today’s day of action against C-51, Leadnow and Rabble both have details.

- Meanwhile, CBC reports that a professor merely taking pictures on public land near a proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline site is already being harassed by the RCMP under current law. Tonda MacCharles notes that lawyers currently involved in dealing with classified-evidence cases have joined the call to rein in the Cons’ terror bill, while PressProgress points out that airlines are also raising serious concerns about the unfettered power handed to a single minister to dictate (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Edward Keenan is the latest to point out that any reasonable political decision-making process needs to include an adult conversation about taxes and why we need them: This week, when asked about the prospect of raising taxes beyond the rate of inflation in coming years, John Tory called the idea “an admission of failure.”

This is distressing to hear. Consider the context: Tory’s current budget turns out to require a lot of dipsy-doodling that edges the city perilously close to its debt ceiling while hiking TTC fares and garbage fees. Meanwhile the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On constitutional questions

Most of the analysis surrounding the Cons’ terror bill so far has assumed that CSIS’ powers will be interpreted based on a plain reading of the legislation. Under this reading of C-51, any action which could violate the Charter or other Canadian law would only be authorized by a warrant, meaning that deprivations of rights and freedoms would be subject to judicial oversight (however flawed the process itself may be). In contrast, CSIS’ authority to act unilaterally would be limited to intrusions on property or other matters which don’t affect Charter rights or legal entitlements.

But that assumption may (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On proper fixes

Since this headline seems to be getting far more attention than the actual accompanying interview (if mostly from people with a strong vested interest in distorting the NDP’s position), let’s take a moment to discuss what we’d expect a responsible party to do upon taking power – and what we can tell from a party’s actions while in opposition.

The NDP has rightly taken the position that C-51 deserves to be defeated. And it’s thus making a strong push to challenge the bill both in premise and in its details – in stark contrast to the Libs, who have pledged (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On alternative explanations

In 2011, one of the turning points in Canada’s federal election campaign (at least in determining which party would form the Official Opposition) came when voters learned about Michael Ignatieff’s refusal to show up for work in the House of Commons.

One might have expected the Libs’ next leader to avoid leaving himself open to the same criticism. One would have been wrong.

But tonight, we may have seen Justin Trudeau’s answer to the same point in 2015:

“Of course I don’t show up to Parliament. Why bother when my party can’t remember what it’s supposed to do there anyway?”

Accidental Deliberations: On needless concessions

Shorter Dougald Lamont: The only way to win against Stephen Harper’s Conservatives is to let the Conservatives define both the significance of Stephen Harper, and what it means to “win”.

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- John Hood discusses how the privilege of the political class makes it difficult for elected representatives to understand, let alone address, the problems of the precariat. And Lawrence Mishel and Will Kimball document the continued connection between the erosion of unions and income inequality.

- Lizzie Dearden reports on one proposal to rein in corporate abuses, as Ed Miliband intends to crack down on tax cheats and the jurisdictions which harbor them. And Carol Linnitt suggests that Canada’s public corporations should be required to disclose their political expenditures.

- But unfortunately, the Harper (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Gregory Beatty reports on Saskatchewan’s options now that it can’t count on high oil prices to prop up the provincial budget. And Dennis Howlett writes about the need for a far more progressive tax system both as a matter of fairness, and as a matter of resource management: Just a few years ago, the question of tax fairness was relegated to the world of activists and progressive economists. But you know something has shifted when a U.S. president goes on national television and talks about the urgent need to eliminate tax loopholes (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on why we can’t expect our federal political parties to answer some of our most important questions without some significant public pressure – and how we can build that pressure for ourselves.

For further reading, I’ll point back to my earlier posts on what I’d hope to see happen before the writ period, including- an effort to define the Harper Cons beyond what we’ll see from the opposition parties; and- a strong push to make the opposition leaders and candidates talk about working together toward change.

Accidental Deliberations: On simple questions

Gerald Caplan goes far beyond what’s necessary in proposing that the NDP and Libs develop a pre-election cooperation pact intended to lead to a party merger. But as highlighted by the conversation started by Fern Hill’s Tweet, we can take his suggestion as a starting point in discussing what we expect from Canada’s opposition parties.

Each opposition party has ample reason to include the glaring need for change from a corrupt and ineffective Con government as part of their core message. So far, only the NDP is willing to even discuss post-election cooperation to ensure a change in government, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On common messaging

It shouldn’t come as much surprise that the new election year is bringing out the usual, tiresome round of calls for strategic voting and candidate withdrawals.

In the past, I’ve responded by suggesting that if Canada’s opposition parties have enough common ground to cooperate, they should consider working with joint messages rather than trying to carve up the electoral map. And I’d still be curious to see how that type of arrangement would work if there was any interest in pursuing it.

But I wonder now whether the best course of action may have nothing to do with party arrangements (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: I see what you did there

Let’s face it: a broken Red Book promise, an ignored Kyoto Protocol commitment and zero policy action later, nobody would have had reason to believe any Lib policy promises on greenhouse gas emissions anyway. So why wouldn’t Justin Trudeau try to spin continued neglect at the federal level as a feature rather than a bug?

Of course, anybody who actually wants to rein in climate change might recognize that an opt-in approach to a collective action problem is set up to fail. But apparently, “anybody who actually wants to rein in climate change” isn’t in the Libs’ pool of target (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On predictable arrangements

Aaron Wherry nicely summarizes the possible outcomes of the next federal election so the rest of us don’t have to. But let’s take a moment to consider what we can expect if we indeed have a hung Parliament, requiring parties to deal with each other to determine who will hold office.

To start with, Michael Den Tandt’s theory about the NDP having any interest in propping up continued Con government is utterly out to lunch. But CuriosityCat’s Lib spin is far from the right way to look at the NDP’s position as well.

No, Jack Layton’s tenure as leader (and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, taking a quick look at Canada’s options for electoral reform while arguing that an MMP system would create far better incentives for our political leaders than the alternatives.

For further reading…- Alison wrote about our options in advance of yesterday’s vote on the NDP’s electoral reform proposal. – Eric Grenier discusses the possible outcomes under the three main alternatives based on current polling. And I’d argue that the current party standings offer a useful litmus test as to one’s weighting of representativeness versus defaulting toward majority government – as a preferential system would put the Libs within (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On targets

Shorter Chantal Hebert: And just think how much more successful Jack Layton could have been as the NDP’s leader if only the Cons had spent years attacking him rather than Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff!

Of course, it’s true enough that Canada’s political scene has changed – and indeed for the better in terms of the NDP’s position. But if the NDP can engage its supporters, keep itself in the consideration set of potential governments and build further support for an already-popular leader in relative peace, I’m at a loss as to why Hebert thinks it should envy the (Read more…)

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…)