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Babel-on-the-Bay: We’re having a ‘Be Kind to Stephen Harper Month!’

At a recent meeting of the Broadbent Institute supposed communication experts were telling the New Democrats that they should not keep up the incessant attacks on the Conservative government. It is not that they are feeling sorry for the bastards. They just feel that those who oppose the Conservatives need to be more positive about their competitive programs. And we Liberals will when we can when we get some.

We are not forgetting New Democratic Leader Thomas Mulcair’s national day care plan. This plan sounds good. It sounded even better over the years when it was promoted by Canada’s Liberals. (Read more…)

Babel-on-the-Bay: Who leads Canada’s progressives?

Canadian media are a lazy bunch. They follow the paths of least resistance and false assumptions. Take this past week when some supposed progressives were gathered at the Broadbent Institute in Ottawa for its Progress Summit. The one question that was never answered was ‘Who were the Liberal Progressives at the gathering?’

Ed Broadbent never invited this progressive Liberal. Nor would this Liberal attend. This is not sour grapes. We know that Ed Broadbent is not progressive nor are the sponsors of the meeting. Ed Broadbent is a staunch unionist with a closed mind. He believes in the collective (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On enduring foundations

The framing panel at the Progress Summit included plenty of ideas as to how the left can shape political debates. But I’ll note that it seemed to miss a couple of related issues.

Most notably, there was an almost exclusive focus on reaching out to swing voters rather than framing issues in a way that would actually serve to build the progressive movement in the longer term. But that of course utterly misses the point that one can’t afford to completely ignore base-building in the name of appealing to the currently-undecided – as even if one’s goals focused solely on (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Dollar for dollar

Thomas Mulcair’s Progress Summit commitment that an NDP government will redirect the value of a stock option tax loophole toward families in need will surely make for one of the most important moments of a summit directed at developing exactly those types of ideas.

So it’s unquestionably important that Mulcair is willing to take Canada in the direction of redirecting corporate giveaways toward people with a genuine need. That said, it’s worth taking a look at the numbers as to how far today’s announcement will go.

Canadians for Tax Fairness estimates the stock option loophole at a cost of $1 (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: New Contest. Spot the Progressive!

I’ll bet you’ve got inside yourself some sense of progress, progressive, progressivism.  Even bad people have a little.

The question today is whether progressivism remains a real construct in Canadian politics.  Have our political parties become so neoliberal as to eradicate progressivism?

Let’s take a look at some of the major problems of the day.  You think of how a progressive would respond.  Then compare that of any of the three main parties seeking power today.

What about an easy one, Palestine?  How would a progressive respond to that volatile and worsening problem?  How would Harper, Trudeau and Mulcair respond? (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…)

Politics, Re-Spun: What’s Wrong with Canada? We’re Not Denmark-ish

And I don’t mean we need to become Denmark, but we need to have the dialogue about why they can do what they do and we choose not to.

When Canadians are surveyed, a very large majority of us support these public goods. But those desires get subsumed with corporate, neoliberal, right wing government-cut rhetoric.

We need to explore the political sociology of Denmark to understand how they embraced the tax commitment to provide these public goods.

We can be Denmark, but we choose not to.

We need to respin the messages from the tax-hating corporations and make the economy (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Both Edward Keenan and the Star’s editorial board take note of Thomas Mulcair’s plan for urban renewal, with particular emphasis on its appeal across party lines: Speaking directly to Toronto city council and Mayor John Tory, who won election largely on the basis of his promised SmartTrack “surface subway,” Mulcair said he would be a partner on transit: “Together we will get the people of Toronto moving.”

No wonder Tory declared himself “gratified and pleased” with Mulcair’s approach. Other elements of the NDP’s urban agenda include: Appointing a minister responsible for urban (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Saskatchewan Needs a Real Change of Destination

Greg is making a good point in his latest column, but I had to throw in a Green campaign slogan into the title in good fun. The bottom line really is that the Sask Party is propping up the dying fossil fuels industry, while calls to divest from it are coming from around the world. There’s no stopping this change (for the better).

While the Saskatchewan Party remains bent on thinking small, any reasonable look at the world around us suggests it’s long past time for a big change in direction. And if if this year’s budget again fails (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…)

Susan on the Soapbox: Laurie Blakeman Takes a Symbolic Step…in the Wrong Direction

Crikey!

On Friday Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman announced that she’ll be running as a candidate for the Liberals, the Alberta Party and the Greens in the upcoming election…

…and on Sunday Ms Soapbox announced to her dad that she’d joined the NDP. He swears he’ll never speak to her again.

While I applaud the efforts of progressive MLAs and party leaders to cooperate I fail to understand how Ms Blakeman’s decision gets the progressives anywhere.

As journalist Graham Thomson points out this isn’t a merger of the Liberals, the Alberta Party and the Greens and it’s not a (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: The Gamble – High Stakes for Harper, Trudeau and Mulcair

The collapse of world oil prices is reverberating through Canada’s petro-provinces; Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador; and the fallout should yet might not be a major issue when Canadians go to the polls for a dominant fragment of eligible voters to decide who will govern our flagging petro-state, Canada.

Watch for Stephen Harper to try to control the election narrative as never before. In previous elections against Dion and Ignatieff, Harper’s pitch was “there’s nobody better to handle the economy and, besides, look at this dork.”  He defeated the Dion Liberals for a Conservative minority and, quite predictably, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On dividing lines

For the most part, Joan Bryden’s report signals that there isn’t much controversy left arising out of Alexandre Boulerice’s comments about niqabs in the civil service. But it’s worth asking whether the trial balloon floated by Boulerice serves any purpose whatsoever: Martin added that he has no problem with Boulerice’s suggestion that a pan-Canadian commission — along the lines of Quebec’s Bouchard-Taylor commission in 2007 — should be created to find a consensus on how far the country should go to accommodate minority cultural and religious practices.

However, Dewar, whose riding is home to many civil servants, said there is (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Lee-Anne Goodman reports on studies from both the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PDF) and the Broadbent Institute (PDF) showing that enlarged tax-free savings accounts stand to blow a massive hole in the federal budget while exacerbating inequality. And PressProgress documents and refutes the pitiful response from the right.

- But then, I suppose we shouldn’t expect the Cons’ actions on TFSA to differ from their usual mismanagement. And Scott Clark and Peter DeVries write that the Cons’ tax baubles in general have accomplished nothing useful, while Ricarda Acuna notes that Alberta (as the exemplar (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: New column day

Here, on the Cons’ attempt to spin an election narrative out of a fictional bogeyman rather than protecting or helping Canadians.

For further reading…- The National Academy of Sciences offers a comparison of death rates from multiple causes in Canada and elsewhere, while Statistics Canada has more detailed data. And it’s also worth a reminder as to the large number of deaths caused by inequality.- In contrast to the real risks we face and accept every day, even the Cons’ attempt to fabricate a paper trail around terrorism resorts to labeling arrests as failures or dangers (rather (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: A Timely Scottish Warning for the New Democrats

There’s a price you pay for abandoning the Left.  The latest party to learn that lesson is Scotland’s Labour Party.  The “Blairification” of the Labour Party has sent a good part of Labour’s base in Scotland over to the SNP.

Scottish Labour is suffering from a …to some extent self-inflicted – process of attrition. The process began in the mid-1990s, as Blair and Brown exchanged Labour’s post-war interventionism for a programme of liberalised markets and finance-led growth. In response, Salmond carefully manoeuvred the SNP into the vacant left-of-centre space. The strategy worked. Research from the period confirms that Scots started (Read more…)

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: The more things change…

Tim Naumetz’ comparison between the NDP’s place before the 2011 federal election and its current position is worth a read. But what’s perhaps more noteworthy is how little has changed.

Remember that the 2011 campaign was initially portrayed as a two-party race between the Cons and the Libs. And looking solely at party support numbers until midway through the writ period, that conclusion might have seemed justified.

(In that respect, the NDP is in a much stronger position now than four years ago. Even its worst recent poll results are well above the low-teens numbers which caused so many in (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.

The Disaffected Lib: What Neoliberalism Has in Store For You

click to enlarge

From Le Monde, a timely explanation of how disastrous neoliberalism continues to thrive despite an endless string of economic disasters and what it holds in store for you even as you continue to vote for those who practice it.  Hint. Neoliberalism is class warfare and it’s being waged in our own Parliament against us.

Even neoliberal proponents recognize that it is a crisis-ridden system. In his popular book Why Globalisation Works, Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf writes: “Between 1945 and 1971, in what might be called the “age of financial repression”, there had been only thirty-eight (Read more…)

. . . → Read More: The Disaffected Lib: What Neoliberalism Has in Store For You

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…)

staffroom confidential: What could a Canadian Syriza do?

It has been so inspiring to see the Greek people reject austerity and vote in a government committed to radical change. And what is so radical about Syriza? They want to do something pretty much no other government on the planet has committed to: put people first.Given the drastic impacts of the austerity program imposed on Greece, it is not surprising to see people so fervently reject yet more of the same. One quarter are unemployed, and of those still with work, average earnings have plummeted. It is frightening to imagine one’s own household with one lost job and (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…)