Posts from our progressive community

Muslims as a "race"

Dawg's Blawg - il y a 1 heure 30 min
The above is the background image from a recent entry in the Conservative Party of Canada’s official website. And here is Margaret Wente, with her usual one-sided presentation, this time on immigration to Sweden. Ignore the main argument here,... Dr.Dawg

More Encouraging News

Politics and its Discontents - il y a 2 heures 26 min
I quite enjoyed this report, which suggests some of the most odious of Conservative sycophants have a good chance of losing their seats.

Meanwhile, in the first three of the four days set aside for advance polls, 2.4 million Canadians cast their vote. That has to mean something.
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Numbers That Can't Be Fudged, Just Ignored.

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 5 heures 38 min
These are hard numbers and observed facts even the most delusional climate change denialists can't dispute. Our oceans have warmed by more than 1C from the pre-industrial era. Over the same period, our oceans have become 30% more acidic.  We have been rapaciously fishing down the food chain. From overfishing to pollution to ocean warming and acidification, we have lost half of all marine life - fish, mammal and sea bird - over the past four decades. Around the world, surviving species are migrating poleward. These trends are showing no sign of slowing anytime soon.

It should come as no surprise then that a new study finds the marine food chains are in danger of collapse if we don't sharply reduce our ways and soon.

A study of 632 published experiments of the world’s oceans, from tropical to arctic waters, spanning coral reefs and the open seas, found that climate change is whittling away the diversity and abundance of marine species.

The acidification of the ocean, where the pH of water drops as it absorbs carbon dioxide, will make it hard for creatures such as coral, oysters and mussels to form the shells and structures that sustain them. Meanwhile, warming waters are changing the behaviour and habitat range of fish.

The overarching analysis of these changes, led by the University of Adelaide, found that the amount of plankton will increase with warming water but this abundance of food will not translate to improved results higher up the food chain.

“There is more food for small herbivores, such as fish, sea snails and shrimps, but because the warming has driven up metabolism rates the growth rate of these animals is decreasing,” said associate professor Ivan Nagelkerken of Adelaide University. “As there is less prey available, that means fewer opportunities for carnivores. There’s a cascading effect up the food chain.

“Overall, we found there’s a decrease in species diversity and abundance irrespective of what ecosystem we are looking at. These are broad scale impacts, made worse when you combine the effect of warming with acidification.

“We are seeing an increase in hypoxia, which decreases the oxygen content in water, and also added stressors such as overfishing and direct pollution. These added pressures are taking away the opportunity for species to adapt to climate change.”

Given that, for the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world, seafood represents about 70% of their protein intake maybe we should be debating the justification for Canada's future as a petro-state in the context of what that means for not just our atmosphere but also our oceans.

Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - il y a 6 heures 17 min
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Noah Smith weighs in on the effect of cash transfers in improving all aspects of life for people living in poverty. But Angus Deaton recognizes that individual income will only go so far if it isn't matched by the development of effective government. 

- Maude Barlow discusses how the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other corporate rights agreements may render moot any effort for global action against climate change.
And Bill Tieleman raises the question of why Justin Trudeau and the Libs are willing to take the Cons' word for it on the TPP even as they rightly brand Stephen Harper as untrustworthy elsewhere:
Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, a former World Bank chief economist, warns about the TPP.

“The real concern is that the whole thing is being written by corporations behind closed doors ... the consumers, who are not at the table, get screwed,” Stiglitz says.

But Trudeau is neither concerned nor opposed, saying last week: “The Trans-Pacific Partnership stands to remove trade barriers, widely expand free trade for Canada, and increase opportunities.”

So on TPP, Harper says “trust me” while Trudeau says “trust Harper” and trust free trade.

Trusting Trudeau on C-51 didn’t work – neither will it on the TPP.- Cory Doctorow examines the TPP's draconian crackdown against basic computer security measures in the name of strengthening the hand of media giants. And Kent Roach and Craig Forcese argue that the Cons' bluster about security has done plenty to attack our rights while doing nothing at all to actually make Canadians safer.

- Joe Fiorito writes that the Cons' idea of relief for refugees is to leave some of the world's most vulnerable people in limbo for a year or more.

- Finally, Jack Knox discusses the combination of nationalism and racism that's represented the Cons' main campaign theme. And Michael Harris reminds us that we need to prove Harper wrong in betting on a combination of cheating, hatred and apathy to eke out another term in power.

Winning All the Battles and Losing All the Wars

The Disaffected Lib - il y a 6 heures 24 min

Now that Canada is becoming a vassal state to America's military and foreign policy, perhaps this would be a good time to look back at how Head Office has been faring.

Andrew J. Bacevich is a must-read expert on this stuff.  A former US Army commander who came to see the light in his second career as an academic, Bacevich has written several books that take a surgeon's scalpel to dissect the malignancy of his nation's military and political leadership.

This week he tackles GWOT, the Bush-era Global War on Terror and why everything that America and her gullible allies, Canada included, have been doing in the Islamic world has been and will continue to be an utter failure.

...when the United States launched its GWOT soon after 9/11, it did so pursuant to a grandiose agenda. U.S. forces were going to imprint onto others a specific and exalted set of values. During President George W. Bush’s first term, this “freedom agenda” formed the foundation, or at least the rationale, for U.S. policy.

The shooting would stop, Bush vowed, only when countries like Afghanistan had ceased to harbor anti-American terrorists and countries like Iraq had ceased to encourage them. Achieving this goal meant that the inhabitants of those countries would have to change. Afghans and Iraqis, followed in due course by Syrians, Libyans, Iranians, and sundry others would embrace democracy, respect human rights, and abide by the rule of law, or else. Through the concerted application of American power, they would become different -- more like us and therefore more inclined to get along with us. A bit less Mecca and Medina, a bit more “we hold these truths” and “of the people, by the people.”

...History, at least the bits and pieces to which Americans attend, seemed to endow such expectations with a modicum of plausibility. Had not such a transfer of values occurred after World War II when the defeated Axis Powers had hastily thrown in with the winning side? Had it not recurred as the Cold War was winding down, when previously committed communists succumbed to the allure of consumer goods and quarterly profit statements?

If the appropriate mix of coaching and coercion were administered, Afghans and Iraqis, too, would surely take the path once followed by good Germans and nimble Japanese, and subsequently by Czechs tired of repression and Chinese tired of want. Once liberated, grateful Afghans and Iraqis would align themselves with a conception of modernity that the United States had pioneered and now exemplified. For this transformation to occur, however, the accumulated debris of retrograde social conventions and political arrangements that had long retarded progress would have to be cleared away. This was what the invasions of Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom!) and Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom!) were meant to accomplish in one fell swoop by a military the likes of which had (to hear Washington tell it) never been seen in history. POW!

Standing Them Up As We Stand Down

Concealed within that oft-cited “freedom” -- the all-purpose justification for deploying American power -- were several shades of meaning. The term, in fact, requires decoding. Yet within the upper reaches of the American national security apparatus, one definition takes precedence over all others. In Washington, freedom has become a euphemism for dominion. Spreading freedom means positioning the United States to call the shots. Seen in this context, Washington’s expected victories in both Afghanistan and Iraq were meant to affirm and broaden its preeminence by incorporating large parts of the Islamic world into the American imperium. They would benefit, of course, but to an even greater extent, so would we.

Alas, liberating Afghans and Iraqis turned out to be a tad more complicated than the architects of Bush’s freedom (or dominion) agenda anticipated. Well before Barack Obama succeeded Bush in January 2009, few observers -- apart from a handful of ideologues and militarists -- clung to the fairy tale of U.S. military might whipping the Greater Middle East into shape. Brutally but efficiently, war had educated the educable. As for the uneducable, they persisted in taking their cues from Fox News and the Weekly Standard.

...Rather than midwifing fundamental political and cultural change, the Pentagon was instead ordered to ramp up its already gargantuan efforts to create local militaries (and police forces) capable of maintaining order and national unity. President Bush provided aconcise formulation of the new strategy: “As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.” Under Obama, after his own stab at a “surge,” the dictum applied to Afghanistan as well. Nation-building had flopped. Building armies and police forces able to keep a lid on things now became the prevailing definition of success.

The United States had, of course, attempted this approach once before, with unhappy results. This was in Vietnam. There, efforts to destroy North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces intent on unifying their divided country had exhausted both the U.S. military and the patience of the American people. Responding to the logic of events, Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon had a tacitly agreed upon fallback position. As the prospects of American forces successfully eliminating threats to South Vietnamese security faded, the training and equipping of the South Vietnamese to defend themselves became priority number one.

Dubbed “Vietnamization,” this enterprise ended in abject failure with the fall of Saigon in 1975. Yet that failure raised important questions to which members of the national security elite might have attended: Given a weak state with dubious legitimacy, how feasible is it to expect outsiders to invest indigenous forces with genuine fighting power? How do differences in culture or history or religion affect the prospects for doing so? Can skill ever make up for a deficit of will? Can hardware replace cohesion? Above all, if tasked with giving some version of Vietnamization another go, what did U.S. forces need to do differently to ensure a different result?

Vietnamization 2.0

For Bush in Iraq and Obama after a brief, half-hearted flirtation with counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, opting for a variant of Vietnamization proved to be a no-brainer. Doing so offered the prospect of an escape from all complexities. True enough, Plan A -- we export freedom and democracy -- had fallen short. But Plan B -- they (with our help) restore some semblance of stability -- could enable Washington to salvage at least partial success in both places. With the bar suitably lowered, a version of “Mission Accomplished” might still be within reach.

If Plan A had looked to U.S. troops to vanquish their adversaries outright, Plan B focused on prepping besieged allies to take over the fight. Winning outright was no longer the aim -- given the inability of U.S. forces to do so, this was self-evidently not in the cards -- but holding the enemy at bay was.

...Based on their performance, the security forces on which the Pentagon has lavished years of attention remain visibly not up to the job. Meanwhile, ISIS warriors, without the benefit of expensive third-party mentoring, appear plenty willing to fight and die for their cause. Ditto Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. The beneficiaries of U.S. assistance? Not so much. Based on partial but considerable returns, Vietnamization 2.0 seems to be following an eerily familiar trajectory that should remind anyone of Vietnamization 1.0. Meanwhile, the questions that ought to have been addressed back when our South Vietnamese ally went down to defeat have returned with a vengeance.

The most important of those questions challenges the assumption that has informed U.S. policy in the Greater Middle East since the freedom agenda went south: that Washington has a particular knack for organizing, training, equipping, and motivating foreign armies. Based on the evidence piling up before our eyes, that assumption appears largely false. On this score, retired Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, a former military commander and U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan, has rendered an authoritative judgment. “Our track record at building [foreign] security forces over the past 15 years is miserable,” he recently told the New York Times. Just so.

...Some might argue that trying harder, investing more billions, sending yet more equipment for perhaps another 15 years will produce more favorable results. But this is akin to believing that, given sufficient time, the fruits of capitalism will ultimately trickle down to benefit the least among us or that the march of technology holds the key to maximizing human happiness. You can believe it if you want, but it’s a mug’s game.

...What are the policy implications of giving up the illusion that the Pentagon knows how to build foreign armies? The largest is this: subletting war no longer figures as a plausible alternative to waging it directly. So where U.S. interests require that fighting be done, like it or not, we’re going to have to do that fighting ourselves. By extension, in circumstances where U.S. forces are demonstrably incapable of winning or where Americans balk at any further expenditure of American blood -- today in the Greater Middle East both of these conditions apply -- then perhaps we shouldn’t be there. To pretend otherwise is to throw good money after bad or, as a famous American generalonce put it, to wage (even if indirectly) “the wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong enemy." This we have been doing now for several decades across much of the Islamic world.

In American politics, we await the officeholder or candidate willing to state the obvious and confront its implications.

Bacevich's commentary is anything but flattering to Canada's military leadership from the Big Cod on down. Make no mistake, any country buying Lockheed's F-35 light attack bomber is mainlining America's toxic militarism. We've played this game long enough to take stock of where it's gotten us and at what cost. Failure is not an acceptable objective.

It's No Wonder

Northern Reflections - il y a 8 heures 41 min

I have suggested on several occasions that the ghost which lurks in Stephen Harper's closet is Richard Nixon. But Marie Marguerite Sabongui, writing in The Guardian, suggests that the ghost which haunts Harperland is of more recent vintage -- George W. Bush. She makes a compelling case. The parallels between Harper and W. are striking:

Under Bush, the White House denied the existence of man-made climate change and gutted the ability of the US Environmental Protection Agency to go after polluters. Under Harper, the government took aim at Environment Canada, slashing its budget and restricted the ability of its own regulators to crack down on cancer-linked pollution. The Conservative Party silenced the government’s own scientists, who, for the first time ever, mounted a political campaign against Harper. Canada was also one of the first countries to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement to address climate change and is the only country in the world to have withdrawn from a UN treaty to address desertification. And the list of environmental programs that Harper has slashed funding to is long and devastating.
And there is the spectre that haunts this election:

Under the guise of cracking down on voter fraud — which doesn’t exist — Republicans in state capitals passed voter-ID laws across the United States. In reality, this was a blatant attempt to restrict the ability of working families and minorities — the majority of whom are likely Democrats — to vote. Similarly, Harper’s Fair Elections Act, passed in June 2014, attempts to address the non-existent problem of voter fraud. The result is that thousands of seniors, students and First Nations will find it much harder to cast a ballot in this election.

And, like Bush, Harper claims that he is tough on crime, while paralyzing public institutions:

While the US is learning from its past and addressing the issue of mass incarceration, under Harper, Canada has recently undertaken the largest expansion of prisons since the 1930s, despite a record-low crime rate. Echoing the doctrine of Republicans in the States, he cut funding to the arts, cut funding to Canada’s public broadcaster and destroyed the national gun registry, which experts say had historically contributed to Canada’s low rates of gun violence.  
It's no wonder people are asking, "What has happened to Canada?"

Something To Gladden The Spirit

Politics and its Discontents - il y a 8 heures 59 min
During this campaign, while Harper has been appealing to the worst in Canadians, I have to admit that my faith in humanity has been faltering. The following, which I saw on Facebook, is something of a restorative.

"You see, you've misjudged us... You've underestimated us." A former Calgarian writes an open letter to Stephen Harper and explains what it means to be Canadian.

“Dear Mr. Harper,

I live in BC with my husband and two little girls. I grew up in Calgary and have many friends and family members there. I’m white and in my early 40s. One of us is a stay at home parent, so we benefit 100% from the direct deposits in lieu of a national childcare program. We also benefit 100% from income splitting. And we can afford to take advantage of the increased allowance in our TFSAs.

In other words, we're the picture of the family who benefits the most from your economic policies. But we're not voting Conservative on October 19th.

You see, you've misjudged us. We enjoy our standard of living, we work hard for it but it's not the only thing that matters to us.

You assume we don't care about our first nation’s neighbours, or Canadians trying to bring their family members here from war torn countries. That we don't care about less fortunate Canadians, our veterans, or scientists. You think we don't mind that to save a few bucks and balance the books we axed the census, dumped decades of research from our libraries, cut funding to CBC, underspent our budgets in important departments and closed coast guard stations. You figure we no longer want our lakes and rivers protected and that we don't understand that climate change is a far greater risk to our way of life than Barbaric Cultural Practices.

You've underestimated us.

On October 19, we're not voting for our bank balance. We're voting for change because we want the caring Canada of our youth back. The Canada that supported our single mothers that gave us the opportunity to succeed in the first place.

Mary Cleaver”
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The Last Shabby Desperate Days of Stephen Harper

Montreal Simon - il y a 11 heures 19 min

There couldn't have been a more bizarre sight, or a clearer sign that Stephen Harper is losing his grip on reality, as well as losing the election.

And is now even willing to debase himself to try to avoid being humiliated by Justin Trudeau.

For there he was yesterday, looking incredibly bagged and grubby, while a young woman threw wads of cash in his general direction, to the cash register sound of ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching.

Looking and sounding like a sleazy carnival barker, or a third-rate Bob Barker.
Read more »

Playboy Goes PG

The Disaffected Lib - lun, 10/12/2015 - 22:24
It began in 1953 with a nude pictorial of Marilyn Monroe. Now, 62 years later, Playboy magazine is going PG, no longer shall it publish nude images.

Magazine executives admitted that Playboy - which was founded in 1953 - had been overtaken by the changes it pioneered, according to the New York Times.

"That battle has been fought and won," Playboy chief executive Scott Flanders is quoted as saying by the newspaper.

"You're now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it's just passe at this juncture."

Gone, too, are the days when interviews with figures of the stature of Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X and Jimmy Carter made Playboy so culturally and politically significant, says the BBC's Nick Bryant in New York.

#StopHarper is not a political programme

Dawg's Blawg - lun, 10/12/2015 - 17:58
It’s sometimes easy to forget how unacceptable a figure Stephen Harper was in Canadian politics, a boogeyman for the Liberals to scare Ontario voters with. And that was justified; Harper was and is an appalling figure, although it was... Mandos

#elxn42 Platform Review - Liberals

accidentaldeliberations - lun, 10/12/2015 - 15:37
Finally, let's take a look at the Liberals' platform. Leaving aside the question of whether the Libs can plausibly live up to their campaign messaging of simultaneously being more progressive than the NDP, more business-friendly than the Conservatives, more devoted to the revolution than the Marxist-Leninists and more subcutaneous esplanade imbroglio than the Surrealists, what can we observe from their platform that might not be noticed in their mass messaging?

For the most part, the answer is "not much": having created large pools of money for purposes yet to be determined as the core of their platform, the Libs mostly leave matters to future determination. But there are a few points worth noting:
  • avoiding the lapsing of some types of funding, including infrastructure funding which would be paid at the end of the fiscal year directly to municipalities (p. 14), and foreign aid and military spending which would not be allowed to lapse (p. 65, 69);
  • measures to seek out Canadians who are entitled to services, including proactive voter registration (p. 27-28) and steps by the CRA to advise people of available benefits not being claimed (p. 33);
  • setting aside a fixed percentage of program funds to experiment with new approaches (p. 37);
  • eliminating a Labour Market Impact Assessment fee for temporary foreign workers hired as caregivers (p. 63); and
  • creating a Cabinet committee dedicated solely to Canada's relationship with the U.S. (p. 67 - and note the juxtaposition against the NDP's plan for a committee to address First Nations issues).
More generally, the most striking aspect of the Libs' platform is its inclination to only partially reverse some of the Cons' most controversial actions while in power. (In this respect, the Libs' position on C-51 seems to be fairly consistent with a general pattern of accepting the Cons' decisions subject to only minor tweaking later.)

For example, the Libs plan to keep the Cons' distinction between "designated countries of origin" when it comes to evaluating refugee claims: their reform of that new and highly-dubious policy is limited to appointing a panel to determine which countries to list (p. 65). In contrast, the NDP promises to eliminate the distinction altogether.

Similarly, the Libs pledge to "review" the Cons' attacks on environmental laws (p. 42), but do not make a clear pledge to reverse them as the NDP does. And they promise to "refocus" foreign aid toward African countries and poverty reduction (p. 65), but not to actually increase that aid.

In sum, then, the Libs' platform suggests significant reluctance even to undo the damage the Cons have done. And so voters focused on change rather than triangulation may want to look elsewhere.

[Edit: fixed wording.]

Rick Mercer on Stephen Harper's Great Niqab Distraction

Montreal Simon - lun, 10/12/2015 - 15:36

As we know Stephen Harper has tried to make the niqab controversy the centrepiece of his campaign, as instructed by his brutish Aussie flying monkey Lynton Crosby.

And while most sane people might find that disgusting.

As Rick Mercer points out, for some it is a handy distraction.
Read more »

A Sign Of the Times?

Politics and its Discontents - lun, 10/12/2015 - 14:57
This afternoon I was in Niagara-on-the-Lake, which seemed to be sporting a lot of Tory signs. This one, I thought, perhaps said more than might have been intended:

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#elxn42 Platform Review - NDP

accidentaldeliberations - lun, 10/12/2015 - 13:51
I've pointed out before that Tom Mulcair's practice - both in pursuing the NDP's leadership and in leading the party - has been to continue largely with the party's existing policy base.

In keeping with that principle, the NDP's platform doesn't contain many surprises for anybody who's kept a reasonably close eye on the party's activity over the past few years. But there are certainly a few points worth highlighting - particularly to the extent they contrast against the plans of the Cons and Libs.

Some of the more noteworthy promises which haven't received much notice so far include the following:
  • in addition to delivering the funding and pharmacare program promised throughout the campaign, resuming federal enforcement of the Canada Health Act (p. 1, 33);
  • expanding parental leave, including by providing specific leave for a second parent (p. 7);
  • not only reforming the temporary foreign worker program, but also ensuring that temporary foreign workers have a path to citizenship (p. 19);
  • modifying Employment Insurance eligibility rules to take into account the changing nature of work (p. 20);
  • cracking down on both unpaid internships and two-tier employment contracts (p. 26); and
  • deferring government appointment powers to board jointly selected by the government and Official Opposition (p. 56).
What's particularly worth noting, however, is the difference between the NDP position and the Libs' in areas where there's broad agreement about the need for action of some kind.

Anybody who watched the debates may be familiar with the distinction in the parties' positions on climate change - with the NDP wanting to commit to a target which can then be the subject of future planning, while the Libs talk about wanting to take action while declining to be pinned down as to what can or should be done. But the same distinction arises in other areas as well, particularly the ones which are likely to be of the most concern to progressive voters.

Both the NDP and the Libs promise some specific actions to combat poverty among children and seniors. But the Libs stop there, while the NDP pairs its immediate steps with an ultimate poverty target of zero and a commitment to establish a council and interim targets along the way (p. 28).

And both the NDP and the Libs promise to work on child care plans. But the NDP has targets as to how many spaces should be created and at what cost (p. 6-7), while the Libs leave for later any decision as to what a "framework" might look like.

To some extent, that distinction fits with one of the Libs' campaign messages: the NDP is indeed willing to ensure that federal money and authority is used to achieve specific outcomes. But it's left to progressive voters to decide whether they prefer a government which knows what it wants to accomplish and orients discussion with the provinces and other parties toward that end - or whether they're prepared to settle for one which doesn't see the need to decide.

[Edit: fixed wording.]

On technological preferences

accidentaldeliberations - lun, 10/12/2015 - 12:26
Shorter Diane Francis:
I don't much like Facebook, but this Google machine is neato. I just typed in "Harper Conservative Talking Points", and it practically wrote my column for me!

#elxn42 Platform Review - Conservatives

accidentaldeliberations - lun, 10/12/2015 - 10:48
Given the lengths Stephen Harper has gone to in limiting how his party is presented publicly as well as the Cons' general status quo campaign theme, it may come as a surprise that the Cons' platform includes 159 pages - making it nearly twice the length of any other party's. But anybody hoping for the Cons to do more than waste paper in the process is out of luck.

To be clear, there's a trend toward including talking points and contrast messaging in all of the platforms. But the Cons' stands out in distilling Harper politics to its essence - then serving up far more of that than any reasonable voter could possibly want to read.

To start with, the Cons bury minor and/or vague policy declarations within pages upon pages of the same material you've heard ad nauseum from Stephen Harper if you've paid any attention to him during the campaign.

As a key example off the start: the very first section of the platform, covering seven pages of the Cons' platform, could be described as a matter of substantive policy with four words: "balanced budget" and "tax lock". The rest is window dressing and largely-false attacks.

But that's not the last you'll hear of those same talking points. Instead, the subsequent section on the economy does little more than rephrase them under various subheadings, and numerous further sections repeat them again.

Meanwhile, the few promises the Cons do make are largely couched in language about continuing stakeholder consultations - which might seem more appropriate for an opposition party needing to get its bearings in government, but raises the question of why issues worth identifying and acting upon haven't already been discovered during the Cons' 9 years in office.

A particularly stark example here is the promise to "Increase funding to efforts to help women escape the sex trade" (p. 117), which neither mentions any such current or proposed efforts, nor includes any actual costing.

For those looking for promises which haven't yet been subject to much attention, here are a few which might be worst some attention:
  • continuing to set arbitrary limits on the number of regulations through expanded "one-for-one" rules and new cuts to those which already exist (p. 24), with no regard for their effect or importance;
  • pushing for provincial and territorial education curricula designed to serve "employer and market needs" (p. 30);
  • increasing the size of provincially-nominated immigration programs for the purpose of more widely distributing immigration across the country (p. 32);
  • increasing and indexing the lifetime capital gains exemptions to create a tax haven for an individual's assets above $500,000 (p. 64);
  • establishing an "equivalent-to-spouse" tax credit to create a splitting-type mechanism for single seniors (p. 66) - though note that nothing of the sort is proposed for families; and
  • establishing a matching funding mechanism for museum endowments (p. 130).
As for more general themes, a few do stand out.

First, the Cons largely echo George W. Bush's theme of pushing an "ownership society" at every turn - setting a target for 700,000 new homeowners, with numerous policies then aimed at reaching that goal. Needless to say, we should pay close attention to how that worked out for Bush and the U.S. housing bubble.

Second, the Cons dedicate multiple promises to funding PR and marketing campaigns on issues ranging from agricultural promotion (p. 39) branding the lobster industry (p. 42) to challenging environmental questions about forestry practices (p. 44) to boosting pro-Ukraine messaging in Eastern Europe (p. 92). Which seems noteworthy in signalling that the Cons have come to see propaganda as a public policy priority in and of itself.

Finally, it's worth noting that while the Cons' platform contains numerous promises to continue or expand some existing programs, it falls far short of covering current federal government operations. So anybody looking to determine what the Cons plan to cut in the future can likely start with the areas where there's no commitment to continue doing what's being done already.

Will Turkey Become NATO's First and the Muslim World's Next Failed State?

The Disaffected Lib - lun, 10/12/2015 - 09:59

NATO's only Muslim member state, Turkey, has made great strides in developing a modern, even high-tech society. Turkey's aerospace industry, for example, is highly advanced and may even soon field an indigenous stealth fighter.

The wars (there are more than one) in neighbouring Syria, however, are destabilizing Turkey and its government and the recent intervention of Russian forces is worsening Ankara's problems. This is compounded by America switching its support from Syria's Sunni rebel opposition to its Kurdish forces who are enemies of the Turks.

If you want to understand how Turkey has succumbed to chaos, read this analysis from Asia Times Online.  And here's another take on Turkey's precipitous dilemma from Britain's New Statesman.

And You Think You've Got a Tough Commute.

The Disaffected Lib - lun, 10/12/2015 - 09:33

The Chinese drive to modernize hasn't always been very well thought out. After all, who was the engineer who came up with the idea of a 50-lane highway into Beijing? Was it the same guy who thought you could neck that 50-lane highway down to 20-lanes and not create a traffic nightmare?

Despite 50 lanes, the G4 Beijing-Hong Kong-Macau Expressway, one of the country’s busiest roads, was turned into miles-long parking lot.

The culprit of the “carpocalypse” was a new checkpoint that forces traffic to merge from 50 lanes down to just 20, according to the People’s Daily.

The sad part is this was no fluke. China has made traffic jams into an art form. And if you’re reading this on your phone while you’re sitting in this actual traffic jam, just know it could be worse. In 2010, 10,000 vehicles were stuck for 12 days on 74 mile (120 km) stretch of road, after construction turned into hundreds of fender benders.

#elxn42 Platform Reviews - Overview

accidentaldeliberations - lun, 10/12/2015 - 09:27
The combination of a majority government and an extra-long campaign period has left Canada's major political parties with ample time to refine their election platforms. And regardless of what your disingenuous neighbourhood Wildrose MLA might tell you, those platforms represent the best indication as to what policies you can expect each to pursue if given the chance.

All three major parties put in the time and effort to prepare a detailed platform of 80 pages or more. But each also left relatively little time for that platform to be reviewed by the public.

For the most part, we can fully expect each platform to mirror a party's broader election messaging. But in order to see if there's either more or less than meets the eye, I'll take some time today to examine each of the platforms, with a particular focus on:
  • any noteworthy themes or patterns within a platform itself; 
  • anything particularly important that hasn't been the subject of much public discussion;
  • anything that contradicts or conflicts with a party's public messaging; and
  • any glaring omissions from a party's platform.
For those interested in doing the same, the platforms are available in PDF as follows: Conservative - NDP - Liberal. And I'll suggest that even people who have already decided or voted may find them worth a look to see how the parties are looking to portray their planned actions in government.


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