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In Character

Rusty Idols - 6 hours 37 min ago
Honestly anyone surprised by Danielle Smith's craven rat paddle away from the sinking Wildrose ship just hasn't been paying attention. When she couldn't control the Calgary school board with the the sheer self evident perfection of her Fraser institute indoctrinated ideology she blew it up in a display of juvenile mean girl behaviour that has typified her career. 

When it became clear that her deeply held passionate conviction that global warming was just a nasty fraud perpetrated by the 99% of scientists who belive in it meant a permanent exile in the electoral wasteland she abandoned it - publicly at least - with barely a moments delay. When it became obvious that good, moral gay hate clutched close to the withered hearts of her bigoted supporters had inexplicably become a barrier to her ambition she suddenly began pretending to be a lifelong defender of diversity and proud friend of Dorothy.

She's one of Canadian politic's most calculating, chameleon like, weather vanes to ever leave principle lying in a pool of its own roadkill blood as she tools down the highway to the bright future of power in devoted service to the elite.

Don't these mewling whiners understand her needs are what really matter?


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Saturday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - 7 hours 58 min ago
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Thomas Walkom discusses why politicians have thus far failed to take any meaningful action on climate change. But it's also worth noting that the question of whether voters are pushing for change may not be the only determining factor in government decision-making.

Most obviously, debt and deficits (which are no less distant from the immediate interests of voters than climate change) are seen as demanding constant and immediate action even at the expense of anybody's apparent short-term political interests - with unpopular and destructive policy choices regularly defended based on the accepted belief that no responsible government can ignore a greater issue. And while the fiscal scolding may be based all too much on a general aversion to government rather than any sane ranking of priorities, a similar and more positive principle might develop in the area of climate change: leaving aside the exact means chosen, there's surely some value in arguing that the end of not damaging our planet should be part of any reasonable set of governing principles.

- Of course, "a secure living for all" would also fit neatly into that category. On that front, Guy Standing makes the case for a basic income, while Neil Irwin points out that (contrary to the spin of the right) strong social programs strongly encourage workforce participation:
(M)ore people may work when countries offer public services that directly make working easier, such as subsidized care for children and the old; generous sick leave policies; and cheap and accessible transportation. If the goal is to get more people working, what’s important about a social welfare plan may be more about what the money is spent on than how much is spent.

That is the argument that Henrik Jacobsen Kleven, a professor at the London School of Economics, offers to explain the exceptional rates of participation in the work force among citizens of Sweden, Norway and his native Denmark....
There is a solid correlation, by Mr. Kleven’s calculations, between what countries spend on employment subsidies — like child care, preschool and care for older adults — and what percentage of their working-age population is in the labor force.
Consider Marianne Hillestad of Steinberg, Norway. She teaches kindergarten; her husband, Ruben Sanchez, installs heating and ventilation systems. Day care for their three children, ages 4, 7, and 9, works out to about $1,100 a month; Ms. Hillestad estimates that if she had to pay a market rate, it would be nearly twice that, eating up most of her paycheck....Collectively, these policies and subsidies create flexibility such that a person on the fence between taking a job versus staying at home to care for children or parents may be more likely to take a job.- Following up on Thursday's column, Don Cayo chimes in on Canadians' broad public support to fight inequality. And Dennis Howlett makes the case for strong enforcement against tax cheats to ensure wealthier citizens pay their fair share.

- Finally, Brent Patterson notes that the Cons managed to prevent a toothless NAFTA panel from even examining the effect of fish farms on B.C. salmon stocks by voting against any review. And ThinkProgress highlights Enbridge's recent Regina spill as yet more reason to be dubious of pipeline promises.

What's The Conventional Wisdom?

Northern Reflections - 9 hours 32 min ago

                                                   http://www.slideshare.net/

Parliamentary government is rooted in a series of conventions. The problem, Andrew Coyne writes, is that our political parties are no longer paying attention to those conventions. And if -- as seems likely -- we elect a minority government the next time around, what, he wonders, will happen in the wake of no political consensus:

We are notably lacking in consensus in this country on even the most basic rules of the game. We flirted with an all-out constitutional crisis on more than one occasion then. The next time we might not be so lucky.

Suppose, for starters, the Conservatives win a plurality of the seats in the election, and suppose, as seems likely, they are defeated in the Commons shortly thereafter on a matter of confidence: the Throne Speech, for example. What then? Would the prime minister go to the governor general and demand that he dissolve the House, triggering another election so soon after the last?

Would the governor general be obliged to do as he was told, or could he call upon some other party, perhaps even a coalition, to try to form a government? Mr. Harper has been adept at presenting this as dirty pool, an attempt by “the losers” to steal the election. Traditionalists like me insist that’s precisely how our system is supposed to work. We do not elect governments in this country: we elect Parliaments. The prime minister is whoever commands the confidence of the House, full stop.

All three parties now operate on the principle that we elect leaders, not parliaments. And it appears that most Canadians think that's the new convention. What happens when the conventional wisdom no longer applies?



Stephen Harper: Merry Christmas And Bah, Humbug!

Politics and its Discontents - 10 hours 25 min ago


My fellow Canadians,

If the above doesn't not warm the cockles of your Christmas hearts, please check out these, a small portion of this year's 'gifts':

Something for your digestive consideration.

Something for the greenie on your seasonal list.

And, for those workers both domestic and foreign, one of my perennial favourites.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night. ;)

If you still need an infusion of seasonal spirit, click here for a special treat that will leave you demanding more.

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Stephen Harper's Monstrous Propaganda War on Canadians

Montreal Simon - 10 hours 48 min ago


We know that Stephen Harper and his ghastly Con regime run the biggest propaganda machine this country has ever seen.

And that they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to brainwash us with our own money.

But who knew they're also spending a fortune trying to pass off propaganda as NEWS? 
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Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 17:57
Emma Hewitt - Rewind (Mikkas Remix)

The Ghastly Con Nightmare Before Christmas

Montreal Simon - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 17:02


Golly. When I think of the Cons reciting "Twas the Night Before Christmas" all I can think of is "The Nightmare before Christmas."

Because Christmas and the brutish Harperland were definitely not made for each other.

But believe it or not, the real version, is even SCARIER !!!!
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Setting The Record Straight

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 12:41
Weakly constituted as I am when it comes to tolerating disingenuous and dishonest political theatre, I was unable to watch the Chief Prevaricator, a.k.a. the Prime Minister, while his chief courtier and media enabler, the most Reverend (and reverent) Peter Mansbridge, performed what Michael Harris described as his Yuletide foot massage during their year-end chatfest.

However, I was able to muster up the strength to watch this snippet, after which follows a critical analysis on the CBC website of Mr. Harper's claims:



Harper Whopper Number One:
"We’ve got more work to do, but our emissions are falling," Harper said on Wednesday.

"Other countries’ emissions for the most part are going up. World emissions are going up. Canada’s have not been going up."

But the government's own report suggests emissions will go up dramatically by the end of the decade because of oil and gas production, Canada's emissions will be 22 per cent higher than its Copenhagen target of reducing greenhouse gases by 17 per cent below their 2005 levels by 2020.Harper Whopper Number Two:

Harper says he'd be open to using a carbon-pricing system like Alberta's for the entire continent, a concept he's previously opposed.

"I think it’s a model on which you could, on which you could go broader," Harper said in Wednesday's interview.Says David McLaughlin, an adviser at the University of Waterloo’s school of environment,
... emissions continue to rise under Alberta's system of carbon pricing.

"The price of $15 a tonne is too low to actually get the emissions reductions we want from these big emitters. So it would not do the job of reducing emissions in Canada."Harper Whopper Number Three
The prime minister also took credit for getting tough on coal.

"We are phasing out in Canada through regulations, we are phasing out the use of traditional dirty coal. It’s going to go to zero in the next 15 years or so," Harper said.Alas, as with most pronouncements by the Prime Minister, there is less here than meets the eye:
New federal coal regulations apply to new plants built after 2015. Existing plants built in the last 50 years are grandfathered, meaning they would have up to 2030 to close or introduce carbon capture and storage technology to reduce emissions.And Ontario's Environment Minister Glen Murray points out an inconvenient truth:
...the province closed coal plants with no help from Ottawa.

[I]"f the federal government wants to start taking credit for provincially funded initiatives, they could at least have the decency to make a commitment to support those initiatives in the future."Thanks for taking a few moments to see through the Emperor's diaphanous attire.Recommend this Post

My Name Is Ozymandias

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 11:47
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'

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On satire

Dawg's Blawg - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 07:25
Most folks can tell an Onion-like piece when they see it, although we keep saying satire is dead, but we don’t really mean it, right? Deep down we figure there is still room to send up this already exaggerated, crazed... Dr.Dawg http://drdawgsblawg.ca/

On representative units

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 06:57
Does anybody remember which particularly prominent political pundit went far out his way to trumpet the idea that basic unit of political legitimacy is the caucus - to the point of repeatedly advocating a legislated requirement that a caucus vote override the decisions made by the whole of a party's membership?

I ask only because he seems to have been replaced with a far more reasonable impostor.

By the majority-of-caucus standard set under Michael Chong's Reform Act (or the stronger forms suggested by Andrew Coyne among others), the decision of a majority of Wildrose Party MLAs to join up with Jim Prentice's PCs following a caucus vote should be seen as having been fully validated.

So why then is Coyne among the people rightly lambasting Danielle Smith and company for their move? Well, that has to do with the flaws in the original theory behind the Reform Act.

Elected representatives are (and should be) only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to determining the direction of any political party. And we're right to consider it illegitimate when those representatives make choices which run contrary to the underlying basis for their elected positions - even if a majority of their caucus-mates happen to agree.

What's more, an undue focus on a narrow set of representatives rather than the broader populations they represent can make it far too easy for politicians to bargain away their votes or seats, rationalizing the action on the theory that the trust reposed in a representative through the ballot box represents a mandate to use an elected position for personal gain. And that can happen just as easily on a group basis as an individual one.

Of course, the question of how to then check top-down power remains open. (Though it's worth noting that exactly one party has respected the ethical principle that a mandate to serve one party can't simply be passed to another in both law and practice.)

And it's doubtful that any legislated structure can do the job in the absence of a strong and active membership which can ensure that self-serving actions are met with an appropriate response in the next election cycle.

But at the very least, nobody should hold any illusion that handing special power to party caucuses will resolve the problem.

The Curse of Petro-Politics

Northern Reflections - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 06:35

                                                          http://thetyee.ca/

Stephen Harper has made no secret that it is his intention to transform Canada into a petro-state.  Stanford professor Terry Lynn Karl has devoted her academic career to the study of petro-states. And she has concluded that petro-politics lead to self immolation. In an interview with Andrew Nikiforuk she predicts that falling oil prices will have catasrophic consequences for several petro-states:

"The effects of falling oil prices will be quickly felt in Venezuela, which is extremely vulnerable. If oil keeps dropping, the country's employment, standard of living and GDP will be affected. This tends to make people not like their government.

"Venezuela, which is already extremely polarized, is in big trouble. In this respect, there is a big difference between how oil prices affect Canada and the U.S. and how they affect countries where the politics have become totally petrolized. Where there is simply no difference at all between wealth and power, where corruption and rent seeking have taken over the whole enterprise or where conflict is already very high, these are the most vulnerable countries.

Russia isn't quite as vulnerable as Venezuela, but because it is a global power its fate is more important. In the face of both sanctions and low prices, the ruble has plummeted, debt is rising, living standards are declining, and food prices are up sharply. With oil prices high, Putin took certain actions in the Ukraine and elsewhere because he felt untouchable; his popularity remains very high.

"But this could change very quickly if prices remain low.

"Most people don't understand that the decline of the former Soviet Union was closely linked to the 1986 collapse in oil prices. Putin later took advantage of high prices to build his own personal power. That could be at stake if prices stay low."
And for all petro-states:

"Debt is the Achilles heel of this picture. If prices remain low for several years, a lot of U.S. shale producers have high debt loads, especially in junk bonds. Today, energy debt currently accounts for a substantial 16 per cent of the U.S. junk bond market. If these producers start going bust, investors in junk bonds will be in for a shock.

 "Dropping oil prices affect international debt as well, creating a high risk of default by countries like Venezuela. Around the world two sets of debt are coming in -- from the high cost bitumen and shale oil producers who borrowed to help create the current supply glut and oil exporting producers who have borrowed heavily. Both affect the entire financial system.
So, just as the financial system almost brought the house down in 2008, oil could be the cause of the next global economic collapse. And Stephen Harper happily assumes oil will lead to national Nirvana.

Who would you believe -- Karl of Harper?

Stephen Harper and his CRA Stormtroopers Prepare to Kill a Charity

Montreal Simon - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 05:31


For months Stephen Harper has been unleashing the stormtroopers from the Canadian Revenue Agency upon his many enemies.

They have been harassing environmental groups and other progressive charities, and trying to cripple them into submission.

But now it seems they have claimed their first victim, and are preparing to blast it out of existence.
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Michael Harris REALLY Doesn't Like Peter Mansbridge

Montreal Simon - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 04:20


As I said in my last post, I wasn't impressed with the way Peter Mansbridge handled his year end interview with Stephen Harper.

I thought he stroked Great Crazy Leader with a feather, and failed to challenge his many lies, or ask the follow up questions that needed to be asked.

So the whole thing looked more like a cozy chat than an interview.

But I see that Michael Harris was even less impressed.
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Stephen Harper's Crazy Carbon Tax problem

Montreal Simon - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 03:04


As I've been warning recently, Stephen Harper's mental state is clearly growing more unstable by the day.

The exhaustion of all those foreign photo-ops, combined with the shock of seeing his beloved Albertonia torpedoed by low oil prices, and his budget surplus going up in flames, has driven him to the brink.

And there is no better example of that than his wildly oscillating position on a carbon tax.

Just ten days ago he called one "crazy." Or CRAAAAAAAZY.

But in the CBC interview the other night, while being stroked with a feather by Peter Mansbridge, he all but called it a good idea. 
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RoboContractors

Creekside - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 01:22
If the Public Prosecution Service of Canada is so concerned that Michael Sona's nine month sentence for election fraud is "demonstrably unfit and fails to reflect the gravity of the offence” - so concerned in fact that they are appealing to have his sentence increased, why don't they direct that same concern towards investigating the Pierre Poutine perps behind him? 
Especially given both the judge and prosecutor in the case stated that Sona didn't act alone.

So reasons the Council of Canadians in their new formal complaint to the PPSC.

“PPSC is not an investigative agency,” responded PPSC spokesey Dan Brien. “It’s not in our mandate to initiate, conduct or direct investigations.”
Meh, said a spokesey for Elections Canada Commissioner Yves Côté, who now falls under the purview of the PPSC thanks to the Fair Elections Act, noting that the case is now closed as far as they are concerned unless someone submits a formal complaint or new information comes to light. “We conducted an investigation. All of the evidence that we found was presented to the Crown,” Michelle Laliberte told Global News."Asked if the office has received more information, Laliberte said, “Not at this point.”Really?  
Andrew Prescott's immunity-protected testimony that he logged out of his own RackNine account on election day only to log back in again a few minutes later onto the Pierre Jones/Poutine account on the instructions of Guelph election campaign chair Ken Morgan who decamped to Kuwait after refusing to be interviewed by Elections Canada - that isn't "new" or "more" information? Isn't a new lead? Isn't worthy of further investigation, if not a few subpoenas?

You know, it's really too bad Canada lacks a national police force who could look into this kind of crime on our behalf when they aren't busy dragging a 61 year old woman off her walker and throwing her to the ground and handcuffing her for being unclear what was being asked of her, or protecting foreign oil corporations from local protesters or First Nations, or protecting themselves from the possibility of staples, or shooting a vet with PTSD twice in the back and killing him on his own property because they didn't have a warrant to follow him into his house or .... where the hell was I? Oh yeah ...

In the absence of any interest from the horsemen, and for an idea of how much help Council of Canadians can expect from the Elections Canada Commissioner this time round in their bid to have the Poutine case in Guelph re-opened, lets have a look at the commissioner's response to their request for help in their March 2012 election fraud court case, launched on behalf of six plaintiffs from six ridings :
In early August. Commissioner Yves Cote refused to give a federal court more details on its ongoing investigation into the robocalls scandal.To avoid sharing the information, Cote filed for a special exemption, saying releasing it would “encroach upon the public interest,” and that “public disclosure of information from a partially completed investigation carries the serious risk of compromising the investigation by, among other things, influencing the testimony of witnesses, impairing the ability to verify information already obtained and affecting the willingness of witnesses to speak.”And then, as far as anyone knows, some time after that they just stopped..

Not That Anyone Asked

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 16:40
...but the always reliable Pastor Pat tells us there is really no reason to worry about the 'gay problem' for reasons he makes clear below:

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