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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…)

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…)