Categories

A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

– Citizens for Public Justice laments the Libs’ and Cons’ joint effort to vote down the NDP’s push for a national anti-poverty strategy. And Sean Speer and Rob Gillezeau make the case for an improved Working Income Tax Benefit which should be palatable across the political spectrum.

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon #ERRE Links

A bit of electoral reform material for your weekend reading.

– Nathan Cullen points out how the Special Committee on Electoral Reform’s report (PDF) serves as an effective road map to make every vote count in Canada.

– PressProgress highlights how the Libs are attacking their own campaign promises in order to preserve an . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon #ERRE Links

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

– Owen Jones argues that UK Labour needs to make far more effort to connect with working-class citizens in order to hold off the populist right, while Jamelle Bouie examines Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaigns as a worthwhile model for uniting groups of disaffected voters. And Wolfgang Munchau comments . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

– Stephen Dubner discusses the importance of social trust in supporting a functional economy and society: (S)ocial trust is … HALPERN: Social trust is an extraordinarily interesting variable and it doesn’t get anywhere near the attention it deserves. But the basic idea is trying to understand what is . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: On decision points

Needless to say, it’s disappointing that there now doesn’t seem to be any prospect of a shift to a more proportional federal electoral system without a referendum. But the NDP’s move to build a consensus among the opposition parties on a referendum offering a choice between mixed-member proportional representation and first-past-the-post makes sense given the . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On decision points

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Evening Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

– Brent Patterson criticizes the Libs’ short-sighted plans to privatize public services in lieu of any coherent economic policy. And Tom Parkin calls out their bait-and-switch approach to infrastructure.

– Robin McKie reports on Nicholas Stern’s recognition that his much-cited work on the impacts of climate change only . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Evening Links

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

– Community Food Centres Canada highlights the need for social assistance benefits to keep up with the cost of living, while noting that Ontario (among other jurisdictions) has fallen well behind in that task: It’s been far too long since social assistance rates have been viewed through the . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

– Toby Sanger offers some important background to the federal government’s expected plan for privatized infrastructure by noting that the anticipated result would be to double the costs. And Luke Kawa notes that the Libs are already having trouble spending the money they’ve budgeted for infrastructure – leaving . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

– The Star’s editorial board writes that while we can do more to provide supports to make workers less dependent on a single job, we shouldn’t pretend there’s nothing we can do to improve working conditions. And Lana Payne reminds Morneau and the Libs that there’s nothing inevitable about . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

– Scott Sinclair and Stuart Trew applaud Wallonia’s principled stance against the CETA. And Joseph Stiglitz discusses the need to set up social and economic systems which actually serve the public good, rather than favouring corporate interests: Where the trade agreements failed, it was not because the US was . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: On false prophets

It wasn’t long ago when a series of Canadian federal elections saw Stephen Harper and his Conservatives take more and more power – culminating in over four years of a false majority government – even as upwards of 60% of voters opposed virtually everything it stood for.

Some of us then figured it was worth . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On false prophets

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

– Alex Himelfarb discusses why a proportional electoral system can be expected to produce better and more representative public policy: The adversarial approach often means major policy lurches when the government changes. For example, the Harper government undid some important initiatives of the previous government, including the Kelowna Accord, . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

– Mary O’Hara notes that even a relatively modest and incomplete set of progressive policies has created some important movement toward reducing poverty. And conversely, Caroline Mortimer writes that child poverty is exploding under the Conservative majority government in the UK.

– Dean Beeby reports on the . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

– Valerie Strauss discusses the disastrous effects of corporatized education in the U.S. And Alex Hemingway examines how B.C.’s government (like Saskatchewan’s) is going out of its way to make it impossible for a public education system to do its job of offering a bright future to all . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

– David Dayen and Ryan Grim write that “free trade” agreements are in fact turning into little more than cash cows for hedge funds and other big-money speculators:

Under this system, a corporation invested in a foreign country can appeal to arbitration panels, consisting of three corporate lawyers, if that country enacts a law or regulation that violates a trade agreement or discriminates against the company. The ISDS courts can then award billions of dollars to the corporation to compensate it for the loss of expected future profits.

The problem is that these courts can also be used by speculators, who buy up companies for the sole purpose of filing an ISDS claim, or who finance lawsuits from corporations for a piece of the claim award.

“ISDS allows a small group of ultra-rich investors to extract billions of dollars from taxpayers while they undermine financial, environmental and public health rules across the world,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), an early opponent of ISDS, told HuffPost. “Our trade deals should not include ISDS in any form.”

The use of ISDS as a moneymaking engine, rather than for its initial purpose ― to protect foreign investors from having their factories expropriated or their businesses nationalized ― raises the question of whether there’s a better system available.

“Why should hard-won sovereign advances, like rules against polluting or consumer protections, be at risk when the obvious solution is for the investors to put their skin, not ours, in the game?” wondered Jared Bernstein, former chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden and a critic of TPP. “The simple solution is to have them self-insure against investment losses.”

– Mike Balkwill highlights the need to stop consulting endlessly about poverty, and instead take action by ensuring people have enough resources to meet at least their basic needs. Ann Hui reports on the especially dire circumstances facing First Nations families in Northern Ontario who have to spend upwards of half of their income on overpriced food. And Miguel Sanchez criticizes the Wall government’s attack on benefits to people with disabilities in Saskatchewan.

– Nicole Thompson points out how the Libs’ changes to the temporary foreign worker program are actually making matters worse for caregivers by eliminating any right to apply for permanent resident status. And Martha Burk documents how workers can lose out when employers force them to accept payroll cards rather than paycheques.

– Erich Hartmann and Alexa Greig argue that it’s long past time for Canada’s federal government to provide stable funding for health care in partnership with the provinces, rather than contributing only as much as it wants to at any given point. And Tom Blackwell reports on the dangers of relying on private providers by highlighting how they inevitably leave the public system to deal with complications.

– Finally, Tom Parkin notes that we should base our discussion of electoral reform on the actual experience of similar countries, not the obviously-false claims of people wanting to fearmonger us into accepting the status quo. And Andrew Coyne draws a parallel to the census as an argument for mandatory voting. . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.- PressProgress points out that a large number of Canadians are justifiably concerned about our economy, with a particular desire to rein in income and wealth inequality. And Guy Caron notes that there’s no reason for … . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Northern Reflections: No Reason To Reject The System Outright

As Canada moves towards proportional representation, the Cassandras are wailing loudly. Andrew Coyne gives two examples — from opposite ends of the political spectrum:Here, for example, is Bill Tieleman, B.C. NDP strategist, writing in The Tyee: “H… . . . → Read More: Northern Reflections: No Reason To Reject The System Outright

Northern Reflections: No Reason To Reject The System Outright

As Canada moves towards proportional representation, the Cassandras are wailing loudly. Andrew Coyne gives two examples — from opposite ends of the political spectrum:

Here, for example, is Bill Tieleman, B.C. NDP strategist, writing in The Tyee: “How would you like an anti-immigrant, racist, anti-abortion or fundamentalist religious political party holding the balance of power in Canada? … Welcome to the proportional representation electoral system, where extreme, minority and just plain bizarre views get to rule the roost.”

At the other ideological pole, here’s columnist Lorne Gunter, writing in The Sun newspapers: “PR breaks the local bond between constituents and MPs … In a strict PR system, party leaders at national headquarters select who their candidates will be, or at least in what order they will make it into Parliament …” 

To the sceptics, Coyne writes, look at the countries where PR has been adopted:

Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, all of whose parliaments are wholly or partially elected by proportional representation. 

We can at least describe accurately how their political system actually works, rather than rely on caricatures born of half-remembered newspaper clippings.

At one end, you have countries such as Austria, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg and Sweden, all with six to eight parties represented in their legislatures — or about one to three more than Canada’s, with five. At the other, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Switzerland, with 10 to 12. 

Virtually all of these countries have some element of local representation: only the Netherlands, whose total area is less than that of some Canadian ridings, elects MPs at large. And none uses the “strict” form of PR Gunter describes, known as “closed list.” Rather, voters can generally choose which of a party’s candidates they prefer, so-called “open lists.”

How unstable are these systems? Since 1945, Canada has held 22 elections. In only one of the PR countries mentioned has there been more: Denmark, with 26. The average is 20. It is true that the governments that result are rarely, if ever, one-party majorities. But, as you may have noticed, that is not unknown here. Nine of Canada’s 22 federal elections since 1945 have resulted in minority parliaments. 

The sceptics like to point to two countries — Israel and Italy. But both countries are outliers:

The Israeli parliament has 12 parties, Italy’s eight. By comparison, France, which uses a two-round system, has 14, while the United Kingdom — yes, Mother Britain — now has 11. More to the point, there are circumstances unique to each, not only in their parliamentary systems — Israel uses an extreme form of PR, while Italy’s, which has gone through several, defies description — but in their histories and political cultures. 

So, yes, it’s important that the system be designed with care. But the fact that two countries have designed their systems poorly is no reason to reject the system outright.

Image: canadians.org . . . → Read More: Northern Reflections: No Reason To Reject The System Outright

Song of the Watermelon: National Post Letter

You will find a letter of mine in today’s National Post enumerating the many benefits of proportional representation. In order to read it, please click here and scroll down to the second last entry (or see the last entry in … Continue reading . . . → Read More: Song of the Watermelon: National Post Letter

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.- Lucy Shaddock offers a response to the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ report on poverty and inequality in the UK, while McKinsey finds that hundreds of millions of people in advanced economies are seein… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your week.- Rick Salutin argues that we need to say no to any more trade agreements designed to privilege corporations at the expense of the public. Will Martin reports on the IMF’s long-overdue recognition of the failures of ne… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Afternoon Links

The Canadian Progressive: NDP forces Liberals to surrender electoral reform committee majority

The Liberals will no longer exercise majority control over the special parliamentary committee tasked with liberating Canada from its 149-year old anti-democratic first-past-the-post electoral system. The post NDP forces Liberals to surrender electoral… . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: NDP forces Liberals to surrender electoral reform committee majority

Alex's Blog: Alex’s Blog 2016-05-12 18:36:30

A couple of days back, Ed Broadbent, Hugh Segal and I published an op-ed making the case for some form of proportional representation. Yesterday the government announced its process for assessing a range of options, making 2015 the last federal election under our first past the post system. And today the editorial pages are awash … Continue reading . . . → Read More: Alex’s Blog: Alex’s Blog 2016-05-12 18:36:30

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how Justin Trudeau’s control over the federal electoral reform committee looks to extend a familiar pattern of top-down government into the design of our electoral system. (And I’ll add one point here which didn’t make it into the column: the … . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Northern Reflections: The Fat Is In The Fire

In a superb piece for the Globe and Mail, Ed Broadbent, Alex Himelfarb and Hugh Segal argue that Canada needs true proportional representation. Nothing else will do:The central problem with our winner-take-all system is that the composition of our ele… . . . → Read More: Northern Reflections: The Fat Is In The Fire