Prog Blog’s Flickr Photostream

CuriosityCat: Justin Trudeau’s legacy will equal that of his father

Just when Tom Mulcair was starting to measure the curtains in Harper’s home so that he could replace them when he became Prime Minister; when the polls showed a surge of votes for the NDP after the dramatic events in the recent Alberta election; and when pundits have started writing about Justin Trudeau being a washed up politician, Trudeau has taken to the airwaves to unveil a set of promises that will radically change the way that Canadians vote for and interact with their federal government.

The scope of the changes included in the plans to restore democracy in Canada (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: … Your Young Men Will See Visions, Your Old Men Will Dream Dreams.

Although far from a biblical scholar, I find the above line, taken from the Book of Acts, to be an apt title. Even though I am taking it out of context, it encapsulates for me a capacity that the world in general, and Canada in particular, has lost: the capacity to dream of and envisage a better reality than what we have settled for.

Under the relentless barrage of neoconservative propaganda, we have succumbed to the kind of existence epitomized in the video I posted the other day, a world of mindless consumerism, relentless environmental despoliation, and spiritual barrenness. (Read more…)

CuriosityCat: The Legacy of Ottawa: The Gutting of Canada

When Stephen Harper’s spinners start pontificating about his steady hand on the tiller over the past decade or so, think on this: Is Canada’s economy really that much better off under his watch? Or has he presided over a country whose financial and economic muscles had continued to waste away.

Sometimes the facts get the way of a good story, and the facts about the sinews of our country’s economy are bleak indeed. As Eric Reguly summarizesin today’s Globe & Mail: Entire Canadian industries – steel, brewing, mining, forestry – got hollowed out, leaving a few sorry subsidiaries behind. (Read more…)

CuriosityCat: Ukraine: Minsk deal includes de facto federation

Three powerful leaders and one powerless one gathered around a table in Minsk, negotiating a ceasefire agreement for war-torn Ukraine. The negotiations took a surprising turn when the four leaders met alone, without their advisors – it is not yet clear who suggested this, but my bet would be Putin.

Fuel for the negotiators: For 16 hours the leaders wrangled, with refreshments provided by their host, who has been called by some the Last Dictator in Europe: President Alexander Lukashenko hosted the talks in Minsk, which resulted in a new ceasefire deal on Thursday. Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany (Read more…)

. . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Ukraine: Minsk deal includes de facto federation

CuriosityCat: 2015 election: Liberals, put money into the 14 Birddog Seats!

Wise money chases low margins

After the last election, I wrote a post that pointed out that these 14 seats were won by the Conservatives by the slim average of 443 votes per seat. With the Tories ahead of the Liberal Party in fundraising so far, the Liberals could be well advised to set aside a sizeable whack of cash to contest these fifteen low-margin seats. Better bang for your buck, eh?

CuriosityCat: Michael Den Tandt is wrong: Mulcair knows what a mess of pottage is

Den Tandt: Muclair cannot count

So, what will our next federal government look like? Today is the last day of the year 2014, and most commentators have hidden their heads in the sand rather than venture a public guess.

Michael Den Tandt is one of the braver ones.

In an article in the National Post he forecasts a minority government for Stephen Harper, without any attempt by the two opposition parties – which combined will have more MPs than the Tory minority government – to vote him out in a no-confidence vote. Den Tandt believes that Harper will survive for (Read more…)

CuriosityCat: Mulcair leads the way to a more democratic Canada

Mulcair: The man who would bring democracy to Canada

Thomas Mulcair, that very capable MP who is leader of the NDP, has publicly committed himself to remedy our democratic deficit, as this post indicates. Mulcair is to be commended for two things. First, for signing the Fair Vote Canada declaration (click herefor the full text). Second, for strongly coming out in favour of a modified proportional representation system of electing our federal MPs. The Fair Vote Canada declaration has this very important commitment:

What is important about the Fair Vote Canada declaration is that it is the modern equivalent (Read more…) . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Mulcair leads the way to a more democratic Canada

CuriosityCat: Pipelines and Ottawa’s dropping of the ball: Gordon Gibson nails it

Gordon Gibson: The Nailer

If you are a politician, or work with any political party –federal or provincial or municipal – you should definitely read the succinct, well-written and politically significant articleby Gordon Gibson in the Globe & Mail, entitled Enough with pipelines. Refine it. Gibson summarizes, in one short article, the crux of the national debate about our crude oil pipelines. Here’s some of the article: There is a win-win-win response to all of this, if any national political party has the savvy to step up. The public opposition is really against pipelines to export bitumen and the (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: With An Eye To The Future

It is to state the obvious that all progressives long for the day that the Harper regime is ousted from office. What is not so obvious, however, is what shape our country will take once that happens.

There are those who place their faith in Justin Trudeau. Others look with hope to Thomas Mulcair. And then there are others who see little to cheer about in the leadership or politics of either.

The other day The Mound of Sound, who falls into the latter category, wrote a post on leadership, concluding with the following observation: The thin gruel served up (Read more…)

CuriosityCat: Kudos to Premier Wynne for remedying our democratic deficits

Political Reformer Premier Wynne

While many premiers, MPs, politicians and commentators wring their hands about the low voting counts in elections, and the feeling of impotence of many citizens, Premier Wynne of Ontario has decided to stop whining and do something about it. With one bold step, Wynne will provide Ontario municipalities with the chance to try a radically different method of electing municipal councillors than the undemocratic first past the post sytem:

Premier Kathleen Wynne has ordered her municipal affairs minister to give Ontario cities the alternative of employing ranked ballots in the 2018 civic elections.

In her (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Explaining Justin Trudeau

No matter what the Liberal leader says or does, his popularity ranks at a consistently high level. While part of the explanation for his standings in the polls surely lies in the Canadian people’s weariness with the Harper regime, a regime that has shown itself, through its practices of division, neoliberal politics and fear/hate-mongering, to be unworthy of public office, there must be more to it than that.

Rick Salutin, writing in The Star, offers up an interesting perspective in a piece entitled Paradoxical public art of seeming human. His thesis is that the more a person appears like (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Cowardly Leadership: We All Pay A Price

As I have written in the past, poor leadership costs all of us dearly. Whether looking at local provincial, federal or international politics, the price we pay for leadership that has too high a regard for itself and too little for the people is moral, social, economic and military disarray. Whether we are talking about rampant cynicism with regard to the political process, the demonization of groups within society, the dodging of taxes or the kind of demagoguery that leads to war, all, at least in part, can be tied to defects in leadership. It seems that so many (Read more…)

CuriosityCat: Israel & Gaza: Is Kerry a Nebish?

John Nebbish Kerry?

This question has been raised, given Kerry’s missteps in recent weeks:

Nonetheless, one can’t deny Kerry’s almost inexplicable series of mishaps, faux pas and unfortunate events: on Friday it was the press conference in Cairo with the UN Secretary General and the Egyptian foreign minister that was not only upstaged by the Israeli rejection but also marred by technical mishaps that either blotted out Kerry’s face or distorted his voice; before that it was the Egyptian security authorities who insisted on humiliating Kerry by carrying out a physical security check before his meeting with President Sisi; (Read more…)

CuriosityCat: USA: Elizabeth Warren takes the fight to Wall Street

The Real USA

The highly intelligent, courageous and scrappy new senator is not stopping in her fight for the middle class. She is pounding the streets, raising money for long-shot Democrat candidates, and focusing on the rigged stock market that favours the wealthy and has a lock on many elected senators and House representatives:

Yet Warren’s 2014 road show is important in its own right. By stumping for long-shot Democrats in red states, raising and spreading around campaign cash, devising innovative legislation for candidates to borrow and, most importantly, sharpening the left’s rhetorical attack on Wall Street, Warren could (Read more…) . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: USA: Elizabeth Warren takes the fight to Wall Street

CuriosityCat: From My Quotes Cupboard: China’s leaders could have ruled the waves, but blew it

Decisions made can impact centuries, as China found out when its leaders made a shortsighted decision in the early 1400’s:

In Nanjing today you can see a full-size replica of the treasure ship of Admiral Zhen He, the most famous sailor in Chinese history. It is 400 feet long – nearly five times the size of the Santa Maria, in which Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic in 1492. And this was only part of the fleet of more than 300 huge ocean-going junks…. With combined crew of 28,000, Zheng He’s navy was bigger than anything seen in the West (Read more…) . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: From My Quotes Cupboard: China’s leaders could have ruled the waves, but blew it

Politics and its Discontents: Oh, And One More Thing

It seems I, Martin Regg Cohn and Cheri DiNovo aren’t the only ones to take issue with Andrea horwath’s leadership these days:

Re:Horwath admits ‘bittersweet’ election result, July 9

I wonder what Robin Sears has to say about Cheri DiNovo. The day Andrea Horwath walked away from the Liberal budget I cancelled my membership in the Ontario NDP. This decision was not taken lightly. I worked in my first election in Grade 9 and was a member of the party for decades. When the famous letter of “the 34” was made public, I felt better. Others were also disappointed (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Andrea Comes Down From Her Perch

But only a little bit. And only because her campaign is being criticized from within.

As I noted in a recent post, Ontario NDP leader Andrea’s Horwath’s hubris following what almost everyone else would call a failed Ontario election campaign has been both unseemly and wholly unjustified. She initially avowed that she had no regrets about causing the election, terming it a success despite the fact her party lost key Toronto ridings and, more importantly, the balance of power. However, now that she is being publicly taken to task by both Peter Julian and Cheri DiNovo, Horwath seems to (Read more…)

CuriosityCat: Congratulations to Susan Delacourt

Susan Delacourt

Susan Delacourt neatly sums up the state of play in Canadian politics in her article in the Toronto Star:

In that same vein, we have been told repeatedly that Canadians want people in power who are “good managers” of the economy, but what about being a good manager of democracy? Doesn’t that entail a commitment to keeping citizens involved and (Read more…)

. . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Congratulations to Susan Delacourt

Politics and its Discontents: Well Said!

The other day I wrote a post critical of the ‘blame game’ being played by the NDP’s Andrea Horwath to excuse her lack of progress during the recent Ontario provincial election. In a similar vein, Star letter-writer Michael Foley of Toronto offers his excoriating assessment of her rationalization:

Re: Liberal scare tactics cost party at polls, NDP leader says, June 26

I want to make this very clear, Andrea Horwath. I did not, nor have I ever voted out of fear. I vote for the leader who offers the best ideas for all Ontarians.Horwath apparently lost because of an (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Lisa MacLeod Revisited

The other day I wrote a commentary on recently re-elected Nepean-Carlton Ontario Progressive Conservative Lisa MacLeod. In a thinly-disguised job application/op-ed piece for the Star, Ms. MacLeod talked about what is needed for revitalized leadership of her party, brought to electoral ruin by the soon-to-be-departed leader Tim Hudak. Perhaps not surprisingly, MacLeod’s prescription for renewal seemed to reflect her ‘skillset.’

It is a self-assessment with which not everyone agrees. In today’s Toronto Star, two letter-writers point out what the party needs, and their prescriptions do not seem to include Ms. MacLeod:

Re: Ontario Tories need fresh leadership, Opinion June (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Lisa MacLeod’s Ambition

I’ll say right off the top that I am no fan of recently re-elected Ontario Progressive Conservative Lisa MacLeod, and not just because she is a member of what has become an extremist party. Her embrace of the politics of division, her strident hyper-partisanship, and now, post-election, her hypocrisy, rankle.

Tim and Lisa in happier times

Ostensibly a staunch supporter of her leader up to and during the election, now Ms. MacLeod, a rumoured leadership hopeful, has dramatically changed her tune. In an op-ed in today’s Toronto Star, entitled Ontario Tories need fresh leadership, she offers the (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: The Better Angels of Our Nature

Like many who follow politics closely, I consider myself to be deeply cynical. Probably the best window into the human soul, politics is the arena where often the worst aspects of our natures prevail; greed, selfishness, abuse of power all have ample opportunity to find expression in this venue.

Yet despite many years of observing these terrible truths about ourselves, I have never completely abandoned hope for the possibility of something better. Recent events have provided some basis for that hope, despite the best efforts of the Harper neoconservatives to remake us in their own image and accept them as (Read more…)

CuriosityCat: Visionary Concept of Wildrose Party’s Danielle Smith: A National Energy Corridor

Danielle Smith: Visionary

Canada’s wealth depends largely on our ability to export goods and services that others want to buy from us. And one of our major exports is energy – whether it be electricity or oil and gas. Our ability to export large quantities of energy is under threat from those who are targeting our oil and gas resources in order to promote their agenda of greenhouse gas reduction worldwide. There is little we can do to persuade people of that mindset to allow us to export our oil and gas. The Closing of the Windows of Opportunity: Exports (Read more…) . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Visionary Concept of Wildrose Party’s Danielle Smith: A National Energy Corridor

CuriosityCat: Ukraine: One possible Russian-driven solution

Bill Clinton: Ukraine Saviour?

Ukraine is in turmoil, with positions apparently hardening on all sides, since the Geneva Agreement outlining a method of resolution was agreed upon a short while ago. The level of support for the anti-Kiev position in eastern Ukraine is unclear at the moment: Armed men have seized public buildings in a string of towns in the Donbas region. It is unclear how much support they have. Polls suggest that two-thirds of people in the south and east want to stay part of Ukraine and not be annexed by Russia, as Crimea was in March. Even (Read more…)

CuriosityCat: O Politician, behold The Shape of the Future

So, you’re a politician? You want to lead our country into a better future? You think the past cannot be relied on as an accurate predicator of the future of the country’s economy? You think the middle class deserve a better break than they’ve been given for the past decade or two? And you think Canada definitely has to move away from being simple hewers of wood and drawers of water, and move to the forefront of the next few waves of technological advances? Want some solid, take-it-to-the-bank, realistic ideas about where the most advanced economies are heading over the (Read more…)