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Accidental Deliberations: On inevitable abuses

Justice James Stribopoulos sees the G20 human rights abuses as highlighting the problems with handing over poorly-defined powers to law enforcement: In an essay published in a new book on policing during the summit, Justice James Stribopoulos blames the abuses that took place on an absence of specific legislation to “confine, structure and check police discretion” during large events, which he says is “long overdue.” “Unfortunately, without that, the legal framework that helped facilitate the civil liberties abuses that marked the G20 Summit in Toronto will persist,” he writes in Putting the State on Trial. “And that, I fear, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: The abyss calling the kettle black

I’ve previously written that the Libs tend to be entirely incoherent when they can’t make any claim to votes by default – and that the lead in the polls earned by Tom Mulcair and the NDP raised a real possibility that would happen again.

But I’ll readily acknowledge that this goes far beyond my expectations.

Yes, for those scoring along at home: the federal leader of the Liberal Party is trying to score political points by noting another federal leader’s past association with a Liberal Party.

I suppose that’s one way to take “they’re all the same” messaging to a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On failures of strategy, calculation, politics, principle and general humanity

Shorter Justin Trudeau: Nobody could have foreseen that Canadian voters would judge me based on my actions rather than my self-proclaimed brand.

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Sam Becker discusses the economic harm done by growing inequality, while Alexandra Zeevalkink previews Katharine Round’s upcoming documentary on the issue. And Carol Goar argues that Canadians are eager for leadership to ensure that everybody shares in our country’s wealth.

- Meanwhile, Laura Cattari points out the importance of giving people living in poverty a voice in policy decisions. And Erik Loomis highlights the consequences of failing to do so, as an imbalance in political influence has resulted in U.S. corporations being able to use poor areas both domestic and foreign as (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Evening Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Daniel Tencer discusses the latest evidence that trickle-down economics are a fraud, while David Roberts and Javier Zarracina write about how the elite seems to get its own way even when the results are worse for everybody. And Heather Stewart reports on the IMF’s findings as to the connection between financialization, inequality and stagnation as the extraction of wealth comes to be valued more than the production of anything useful.

- Meanwhile, Simon Enoch and Cheryl Stadnichuk observe that Saskatchewan is headed down a well-worn path to ruin based on the Wall (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Flailbait

Susan Delacourt’s point that Canadian politics have seen a shift toward a permanent campaign is generally well taken. But it’s worth keeping in mind what it means when parties have the opportunity to plan for years in advance of a fixed election date: Political advertising, once only a feature of the official campaigns, now runs in between elections so that parties don’t have to waste precious time “introducing” their leader, including character and values, to the voting public. The between-election ads also give parties a chance to build a storyline around rivals, which will only be hinted at during the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On damaging positions

I haven’t commented yet on the latest wave of federal polls primarily because I don’t see them radically changing my existing take on Canada’s impending election. But I’ll briefly address what looks like an overreaction to the latest numbers by Michael Harris.

By way of context, here’s my previous analysis as to how the Cons have done in attacking Trudeau: Justin Trudeau’s honeymoon as Liberal leader has come to an end, due to both the usual Conservative barrage of attack ads and his own missteps (most notably his ill-advised support for the Conservatives’ draconian terror bill).

But unlike his predecessors, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On cooperative priorities

As part of their new “Hope and Wild Flailing” campaign theme, plenty of Libs are looking for any pretext – however lacking in reality – to attack Tom Mulcair. And Mulcair’s latest comments on a coalition offer the latest flimsy excuse. So let’s look at how there’s still a huge difference between the NDP and the Libs when it comes to a willingness to talk about coalitions – but how Mulcair could do far better by working with the NDP’s longstanding willingness to cooperate.

To start with, let’s look at the obvious distinction between the parties’ respective stances.

Trudeau’s position (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Staying the flawed course

John Ivison is right to note that the Cons’ latest ad reflects the Harper braintrust sticking to what seems to have been a long-established plan. But it’s worth highlighting how that plan has been overtaken by events – and how even the Libs may be able to use the message to their advantage if they’re smart in the approach to this fall’s federal election.

In principle, a “just not ready” message is tailor-made for a two-party race where a party’s ability to attach a single personality flaw to the opposing leader can make all the difference between victory and defeat.

(Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Evening Links

This and that for your Saturday reading.

- Keith Banting and John Myles note that income inequality should be a major theme in Canada’s federal election. And Karl Nerenberg points out that voters will have every reason to vote for their values, rather than having any reason to buy failed strategic voting arguments.

- PressProgress charts the devastating effect of precarious employment in Canada. And Wayne Lewchuk writes about the precarity penalty, and the need for public policy to catch up to the reality facing workers: Uncertain future employment prospects can increase anxiety at home.  Lack of benefits can (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On complexities

Bruce Anderson writes that as some of us have long suspected, a true three-party federal race is developing which will create some new complications for the Cons and Libs alike. But it’s worth pointing out one area where the Cons are in much worse shape than they’ve ever been.

Before the 2008 and 2011 elections, the Cons managed to render Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff radioactive with voters – with those leaders’ approval ratings running far below the Libs’ party polling results. And over the course of the campaign, an expected convergence between those numbers led to a natural (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Working across the aisle

Among the other lessons learned from Alberta’s recent election, let’s point out one more with implications for the federal scene.

While the main opposition parties recognized that they were too far apart in their general policy orientation to justify a formal coalition, both the NDP and the Wildrose Party were happy to point out some of the areas which were ripe for cooperation as part of their criticism of the governing PCs.

In other words, neither tried to pretend that there was no room to discuss post-election cooperation, nor to claim that some areas of disagreement or personal differences rendered (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- PressProgress weighs in on corporate Canada’s twelve-figure tax avoidance, while noting that the Cons’ decision to slash enforcement against tax cheats (while attacking charities instead) goes a long way toward explaining the amount of money flowing offshore. And Oxfam is working on its own Canadian fair tax campaign.

- Robert Frank highlights the complete disconnect from reality which results in most American millionaires claiming that they’re in the middle class, rather than representing a privileged few. And Stephen Gordon writes that there’s a similar sleight of hand at work in the Libs’ “middle (Read more…)

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?”