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Babel-on-the-Bay: Go home Paul Martin.

Nothing grates a left-leaning liberal more than Paul Martin that skinflint former finance minister and briefly prime minister. Once a friend, Paul became a non-person when Prime Minister Jean Chrétien gave him the finance portfolio. He built his reputation for balanced budgets on the backs of the poor, the unemployed, the sick and the elderly across Canada. He proved to one and all that he was no liberal.

It was an understandable situation. Growing up in the very political environment of his family’s home in Windsor and in Ottawa, Paul got away from left of centre politics and tried his (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On transitions

Bob Hepburn makes clear that while the Libs may still be in denial about the importance of cooperating to remove the Harper Cons from power, their best friends in the media are under no such illusions. But the most noteworthy contribution to Canada’s discussion about post-election options comes from Aaron Wherry – particularly in highlighting what factors have, and have not, been taken into account in determining who gets a chance to form government: (A) Progressive Conservative government in Ontario in 1985 was defeated in the legislature and replaced by a Liberal government that had signed a governing accord with (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Mulcair is wrong on the deficit: cozying up to the neocons

Louis-Philippe Rochon Associate Professor, Laurentian University Co-editor, Review of Keynesian Economics Follow him on Twitter @Lprochon


First, it was his enthusiastic support and admiration of Margaret Thatcher; now it is his overzealous support of balanced budgets. What’s next? What is Mr. Mulcair ready to do to get the keys to 24 Sussex? How close is he willing to get to neocons to move in?

It turns out, there is nothing NDP-ish anymore about the NDP. That old party is gone. Buh-bye!

Adrift, rudderless … pick your word, they all describe what the NDP seems to have morphed into under (Read more…)

Yappa Ding Ding: In a PM, Character Matters – Be Wary of Mulcair

Years ago when Parliament was looking into Brian Mulroney’s envelopes of cash from an arms dealer, I followed every minute on TV. I was most impressed by two MPs on the committee: Pat Martin and Tom Mulcair, both of the NDP. Both were particularly focused, prepared, and effective. When Mulcair became NDP party leader, I was pleased.

Now, not so much.

I have heard Mulcair tell this little joke: “NDP governments always balance the budget. There was one exception, but he turned out to be a Liberal.” Hardy har har. I have heard this “joke” three times and I (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On balanced options

Dave McGrane offers a historical perspective on how deficits for their own sake shouldn’t be seen as an element of left-wing or progressive policy, while Excited Delerium takes a look at the policies on offer in Canada’s federal election to see how it’s possible to pursue substantive progressive change within a balanced budget. But let’s examine more closely why it’s wrong to draw any equivalence between the Trudeau Libs’ platform, deficits and progressive policies (despite their frantic efforts to pretend there’s no difference between the three).

Taking the Libs at their word, their current plan is to engage in deficit (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Olivia Chow’s Video About Bill C-51

Given yesterday’s post on the growing worldwide governmental repression of civil society groups and NGOs, as well as the disturbing information included in my update, a video by Olivia Chow attacking the Liberal position on Bill C-51 seems especially pertinent. The NDP is launching a national attack on Justin Trudeau’s Liberals over their support for Canada’s controversial anti-terrorism law.

The “T minus 51” blitz — 51 days from Saturday until the Oct. 19 election — will see dozens of NDP candidates in targeted ridings from coast to coast go door-to-door with special brochures attacking the Liberals on Bill C-51.

The (Read more…)

Michal Rozworski: This election, let’s really talk about the economy

Here’s a short, “populist” piece on going beyond the very limited economic debate in the election campaign so far. It was published on Ricochet:

The word ‘austerity’ is finally in the mix, but all parties stuck in the right-wing’s frame

Austerity is on the agenda of the Canadian election, as the word was finally uttered — by Justin Trudeau. Bizarrely, this came the same day as the Liberal leader rolled out his economic agenda flanked by Paul Martin, the former finance minister and prime minister who engineered deep austerity measures in the 1990s.

The way austerity has finally made it (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On crystallized positions

I’ve largely held off on discussing federal polls since few of them seem to be out of line with my initial assessment of the election as a three-way race with the NDP in a narrow lead, but with plenty of room for movement during the election campaign.

But EKOS’ latest signals that we may have reached the point where more of the same is news in and of itself – particularly for the party which most needs to try to change the direction of public opinion.

While there might once have been reason to wonder whether public assessments of the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Joseph Stiglitz notes that the recent stock market turmoil may be most important for its effect in highlighting far more important economic weaknesses. And Richard McCormack discusses the link between stock buybacks, inequality and economic stagnation – meaning that a plan to eliminate loopholes for stock options may also have positive spillover effects for the economy as a whole.

- Barry Schwartz writes about the meaning of work, while noting that a focus on theoretical efficiency by eliminating all satisfaction from a work day may be leading to worse results for employers and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On statements of values

It’s true that a party’s policy book is not the same as its election platform.

But it’s also true that there is more to a party than a single campaign or platform. And considering that the difference between a policy book and a platform can be pointed out in a single sentence, I’m hard-pressed to see what the NDP stands to gain by limiting access to the policy goals developed by its members.

Accidental Deliberations: On needless machinery

Those of us who have seen the Libs focus much of this year on criticizing the Cons’ partisan advertising might be rather surprised to learn they don’t think there’s any room to cut or redirect any current federal spending, and in fact consider it offensive that anybody might suggest such room exists.

But on a closer look, there’s actually a consistent theme behind the Libs’ message. While their petition on advertising criticizes the Cons for wasteful spending, it doesn’t promise to change anything other than to create a new commissioner position to oversee future publicity – meaning that it could (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: Green Party platform criticized for being “anti-feminist”

The Green Party of Canada’s 2015 federal election platform is being criticized for being inaccurate, hypocritical, “anti-feminist” and harmful to women.

The post Green Party platform criticized for being “anti-feminist” appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

Accidental Deliberations: On biased decisions

It shouldn’t come as much surprise that the Duffy trial has revealed that the Harper Cons sought to make the Senate as subservient to the PMO as the Cons’ trained seals in the House of Commons: Mr. Rathgeber said the PMO staffers’ handling of the situation was all too familiar and speaks to a “culture of invincibility” among some of the PMO staff.

“It’s shocking, but it validates everything I’ve ever said about their modus operandi. They have no ethical, or sometimes legal, boundaries and I would say without any doubt that a Senate report into expenses is a higher (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Lessons learned

As I noted here, it’s well worth comparing what’s happening in any given election to any recent precedents. While past performance never guarantees future results, we can tell both what lessons a party has drawn from experience, as well as how strategies change when they don’t work out as planned. 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few of the choices which have shaped recent elections where provincial NDP parties were competitive – and how they’ve been applied at the federal level.

Staying Above The Fray

Let’s start with two examples from the leading example (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Paul Krugman theorizes that our recent pattern of economic instability can be traced to a glut of accumulated wealth chasing too few viable investments: On the surface, we seem to have had a remarkable run of bad luck. First there was the housing bust, and the banking crisis it triggered. Then, just as the worst seemed to be over, Europe went into debt crisis and double-dip recession. Europe eventually achieved a precarious stability and began growing again — but now we’re seeing big problems in China and other emerging markets, which were previously (Read more…)

The Tory Pirate - Politics & Policy: Pirate Party Platform Spotlight (Part 4):Supporting Local Representation

A common complaint that the electorate has year-after-year is that MPs do not represent them. As party discipline hastightened into a stranglehold it has, in effect, made it impossible for MPs to represent their constituents’ views inParliament. The Pirate Party rejects this model of how a party should be run. Fundamentally we see a political party asan alliance of equals with shared values.

“The party will avoid the use of whipped votes in Parliament. Instead opting to seek caucus consensus through debate and discussion.”

No person matches their party’s policy platform exactly. Because of this leeway must be given (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: Jack Layton would be proud of Canadians’ growing hunger for change

Canadians’ ever-increasing hunger for changer from the dictatorial Stephen Harper regime would make the late NDP leader Jack Layton proud.

The post Jack Layton would be proud of Canadians’ growing hunger for change appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

Accidental Deliberations: On weak attempts

Following up on these earlier posts, here’s a quick look at the last of the messages Bob Hepburn thinks the NDP may face from the Cons in particular as the election campaign progresses. 2) Tax-and-spend image: NDP loyalists consider this issue as “trite,” but already Harper is hammering away at it, claiming Mulcair would raise taxes and spend countless billions on programs such as a national $15-a-day child care plan. Already, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been mocking the NDP, saying it doesn’t know what the tax rates are, “it just knows everybody’s taxes have to be higher. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On separation anxieties

Following up on this post, let’s take a look at the first of Bob Hepburn’s theorized lines of attack against the NDP – which gets its own separate post since it needs to be analyzed in radically different ways depending on the party who launches it: Worse, the Conservatives are expected to unleash a furious barrage of attacks on Mulcair’s perceived weak spots, or vulnerabilities.  These weak spots include: 1) Quebec separation: Many Canadians could never vote for Mulcair because of the NDP’s policy that Quebec could split from Canada with a referendum vote of just 50-per-cent-plus-one. Mulcair (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On messaging tests

Following up on yesterday’s post, I’ll make clear that nobody should hold any illusions that the NDP’s opponents will abandon their own efforts to pursue seats simply because the NDP holds a strong position for the moment. And on that front, Bob Hepburn floats a few trial balloons as to messages which the NDP’s opponents may try to use against it.

It’s certainly worth discussing and being prepared for the attacks we’re most likely to see. But while Hepburn merely labels a laundry list of possible messages as “weak spots” without any critical evaluation of their effectiveness, the likelihood (Read more…)

Pushed to the Left and Loving It: Mulcair’s Confusing Stance on Security and C-51

Columnist Ralph Surrette had a piece in the Chronicle Herald this weekend:  Harper defeat won’t suffice; this calls for fumigation In it he questions why the NDP did not go on the attack when Stephen Harper announced that he’d institute a “ban on travel by Canadians to areas of terrorist activity “ This announcement sent a chill down the spine of many Canadians, and prompted experts to weigh in on the legality of such a move.  More importantly, however, it would mean the further deterioration of our rights. Says Surrette: After all, the arguments over the anti-terror law, Bill (Read more…)

. . . → Read More: Pushed to the Left and Loving It: Mulcair’s Confusing Stance on Security and C-51

Babel-on-the-Bay: Mulcair moves on law and order.

Canadian voters are still trying to get used to a New Democrat leader campaigning to the political right of the Liberals. And they hardly expected Thomas Mulcair to play the law and order card. In a direct steal of a Conservative campaign promise in 2008, Mulcair has promised to renew a Conservative program. He is offering $250 million over the next four years to train up to 2500 front-line police officers across Canada.

It should be noted that Mr. Mulcair made the promise in Surrey, B.C. where there has been increased gun violence over the past four years. The (Read more…)

Montreal Simon: Remembering Jack Layton and the New Orange Tsunami

It's hard to believe that it's now been four years since Jack Layton died, and the hopes of so many turned to sadness.And yesterday evening, when I returned from the island to the ferry dock named after him, I paused for a moment before this statue in my neighbourhood.

I didn't stay long because I pass the statue almost every day. Anything I had to say I said long ago. Like thank you, or how cruel life can be.But I did stay long enough to think that wherever that happy warrior's spirit roams, it must be singing. (Read more…)

. . . → Read More: Montreal Simon: Remembering Jack Layton and the New Orange Tsunami

Accidental Deliberations: On guiding influences

Adam Radwanski points out in his latest column that several weeks into the election campaign, it’s hard to see what message might be used against Tom Mulcair and the NDP to any meaningful effect. But let’s note that the factors working in the NDP’s favour – and the challenges for the competing parties – are even stronger than Radwanski’s column might suggest.

For example, for all the talk of a polarized electorate when it comes to policy, all indications are that Mulcair has a huge advantage over his competitors over a range of issues.

On every single one of the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On twisted outcomes

At the moment, plenty of Canadians are looking forward to waking up on October 20 and finding that Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have lost the election, to be replaced by a government determined by the MPs elected by voters. And we should certainly be hoping for, and working toward, that outcome.

But imagine if the electoral process worked differently, potentially rendering all of our efforts useless.

Imagine if the Conservatives could dictate that incumbents would keep their seats unless they were defeated by some amount which was never stated in advance. Stephen Harper could then retroactively set the required opposition margin (Read more…)