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
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.
- Tim Harper reminds us why Brad Wall is thoroughly off base in claiming that it’s the duty of every Canadian politician to demonstrate constant fealty to his resource-sector puppet-masters: The Conservatives, of course, would like the entire country to come together behind their view of resource extraction, but the nice thing about democracy is it accommodates dissonant voices.
Keystone faces credible and determined opposition in both countries.
There is a longstanding protocol in the U.S. that politicians do not criticize the government while abroad, but if that ever was the convention in
. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links
I’m skeptical about Paul Adams’ argument that some type of electoral non-compete agreement between the NDP and the Libs is inevitable an election cycle or two down the road. But he does hint at something close to the type of cooperation that I could see as useful in the meantime: (T)here is a very slight possibility that there will be yet another opening to the idea [of a non-compete deal] before the 2015 election. If the Conservatives were to start polling quite a bit stronger — say nearer the 40 per cent mark — and the Liberal and the NDP
. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On first steps
I’ve already pointed out the absurdity of Gordon Campbell anti-NDP acolyte Joyce Murray pretending to run as a pan-progressive candidate in the Libs’ leadership race. But if we needed any more indication that she can’t be taken seriously, Tim Harper provides it by looking at the fine print of her “cooperation” plan: Under the Murray plan, seats held by the Conservatives in which the governing party received less than 50 per cent of the vote would be targeted for co-operation.
She would blend the 2008 and 2011 results, to eliminate any onetime anomalies. One such anomaly, she said, was the
. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On poison pills
Alice’s comparison between the federal Lib leadership race and that of Saskatchewan’s NDP is well worth a look. But let’s draw a somewhat more clear contrast between the depth of discussion within the two campaigns – even if based on somewhat incomplete data in both cases.
Again, here’s Erin Weir’s comparison chart of the policies proposed during the Saskatchewan NDP campaign.
And here’s Justin Ling’s effort to piece together what the federal Libs’ candidates stand for – with more leadership contenders taking a public position on horse-sized ducks vs. duck-sized horses than such minor issues as, say, health care.
Miscellaneous material to end your week.
- Lawrence Martin questions the media’s obsession with fabricating stories out of imagined motivations and insignificant shifts in poll numbers: In the year before an election, the media’s heavy focus on tiny political twists and turns is understandable. Here in Canada, a federal campaign is likely a long way off, the Conservatives’ numbers are stable and so are those of the NDP. But it doesn’t prevent the rash of pollster and media speculation about who is up and who is down and who might be headed in either direction.
A headline the other day
. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Evening Links
Assorted content for your weekend reading.
- Susan Delacourt comments on the role of robocalls in turning citizens away from politics – though it’s worth pointing out that the Cons may well see that as a desirable result to capitalize on a modest base of support: What may need more testing, however, is how robocalls work as a tool to suppress votes. Sure, they don’t make people any more likely to turn out at the polls, or vote for a particular party.
But they may just be annoying enough to turn people off politics or voting — and, from all
. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links
Thomas Walkom and the Mound of Sound both note that a leadership race has only signalled how far the federal Libs are from being a progressive party. But with Walkom and Paul Adams also questioning whether Canada’s political system has seen either a convergence in the middle or a drift to the right, let’s note that the Libs’ leadership convention may not be this spring’s most important source of answers on those points.
On the same weekend the Libs choose their new leader, the NDP will be holding its first convention since last year’s leadership vote which elected Tom Mulcair.
. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On policy choices
There are surely worse offenders to point out in the bevy of recaps and previews we inevitably see at year’s end. But I’ll pick on Paul Wells’ latest as an example of a well-regarded observer making obvious missteps in trying to limit the scope of possibilities we should consider: The opposition parties should all worry, all the time, that their support is simply a system of communicating vases: that rising Green support hurts mostly New Democrat and Liberal incumbents, that Trudeau or Marc Garneau or Martha Hall Findlay can hope at best only to replace Mulcair as Stephen Harper’s sixth
. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On ranges of options
A couple of polls this week have been used as evidence that the Cons are largely in control of the federal political scene. But I’ll argue that while each suggests the limitations of a possible course of action, taken together they point to plenty of reason for hope over the next few years.
Let’s start with Ekos’ numbers, which suggest a current 32-26-24 three-party race – which is being interpreted by Frank Graves to mean that the Cons are in a strong position due to their relatively stable base and high anticipated turnout. But to my mind, a low,
. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On alternatives