Posts from our progressive community

Rob Ford’s Political Body

JOE FANTAUZZI Thoughts about power - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 07:33
Toronto’s Rob Ford lives a political life. Both his bare existence and his public personae have taken on a politicization since he entered municipal governance. Plainly said, his weight and other biological issues have become just as political as his public life as “mayor” of the City of Toronto. The Ancient Greeks, such as Aristotle, had […]

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 07:00
Here, questioning whether Canadians share Stephen Harper's newly-professed aspiration to spend tens of billions of dollars more every year to prop up U.S. and U.K. military contractors.

For further reading...
- David Pugliese reported on this week's NATO summit.
- NATO's most recent spending calculations are here (see PDF link), showing that Canada currently spends about 1% of GDP on its military. Note that while this number pegs Canada's current spending at about $18.4 billion per year, I reference the $19 billion figure used by both government and outside sources in the previous link.
- While some of us think it's worth asking whether military spending is actually intended to accomplish anything in particular, at least some Very Serious People are arguing that there's nothing more important than spending gobs of money to prove that we're indeed Very Serious.
- By way of comparison to the price of meeting the proposed military spending standard, see here and here (PDF) for estimates of the raw cost of national child care and pharmacare plans respectively. (In the latter case, I treat the added price of additional use as reflecting the new cost of a federal plan.)
- Finally, Jim Stanford rightly highlights how Canada has ignored another international funding target in the form of a significantly smaller foreign aid commitment. But I'd think it's well worth recognizing a contrast between the two which fits the theme of my column: helping those who need it most seems to fit perfectly as something worth aspiring to, while it's hard to see what normative value there can be in arbitrary military spending numbers.

The Murky Lessons Of History

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 06:43


Blindingly clear for some, obscure and ambiguous for others, the lessons of history need to be given close scrutiny these days, especially by our chickenhawk prime minister. Like so much else that his regime brays and sputters about, Stephen Harper's recent tough talk about the Ukraine and the Middle East conceals, minimizes, dismisses or entirely overlooks some very inconvenient truths.

Perhaps still smarting over having missed out on the first Iraqi war, which he supported, Harper seems to be eagerly embracing the latest opportunities fate has brought him. Fortunately, The Star's Thomas Walkom is there to remind him and us of some things best heeded.

During the last Iraq war, many nations, including Germany, France and Canada, officially chose to stay aloof.

This Iraq war is supported by a large array of Western nations including France, Britain, Italy, Australia, Germany — and Canada.


And, unfortunately, the opposition parties seem to have drunk from the same poisoned well as Harper:

In 2003, Canada’s Liberals and New Democrats vocally opposed going to war in Iraq. Eleven years later, both opposition parties seem onside.

Incited by the recent gruesome and unspeakably barbaric beheadings of two American journalists, historical perspective seems to be lost.

But Walkom points out a salient reminder that not all monsters are or can be dealt with with dispatch:

First, the world contains many monsters. The West studiously avoids direct military involvement in Congo’s brutal civil war for instance, even though the atrocities committed there are equally barbaric.

Second, Islamic State militants are deliberately trying to draw the U.S. and its allies into the quagmire of Syria and Iraq.

And this, of course, has happened before, with disastrous results that should have surprised no one:

Provoking America into overreaction was Osama Bin Laden’s aim in 2001. He succeeded masterfully, provoking not only the West’s ill-fated adventure in Afghanistan but George W. Bush’s subsequent and even more ill-fated invasion of Iraq.

In 2011, NATO’s military attacks on the forces of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi gave Islamic militants another victory.

Not only did NATO warplanes leave Libya in political chaos. They also allowed militants to seize weapons from Gadhafi’s well-stocked armories — weapons that have been used by Islamists throughout North Africa and the Middle East.


Yet a collective amnesia and hysteria seems once more to have taken hold on the world stage, an amnesia exploited by warmongers like Harper. In his Manichean world, the good wear white hats and the bad, black. Suggesting anything more subtle and nuanced would, I suspect, be entirely lost on him.

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All Hat And No Cattle

Northern Reflections - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 05:21

                                                       http://www.windsorstar.com/

Stephen Harper is in Wales today, bellowing at the Russian bear. NATO will discuss the necessity of increasing defence spending to meet the challenge from Russia -- something which Stephen Harper has flatly rejected. He has an election to win and tax cuts to deliver. Jeffrey Simpson writes:

Mr. Harper has cut defence spending hard in the past two years, attempting to balance his budget so that he can offer Canadians tax cuts and targeted spending in next year’s pre-election budget. He’s not going to take on any potential spending commitments, however vague, that might be used against him politically.
By now, the international community knows who Mr. Harper is:

Traditional allies are getting accustomed to Canada being an outlier under Mr. Harper’s leadership. But they are especially frustrated at the gap between the Prime Minister’s rhetoric about countering Russian aggression and Mideast terrorism while his government slashes military spending.
He came to power promising to end a "decade of darkness" for Canada's military. What he didn't say was that he would spend money in praise of Canada's past battles -- like the War of 1812:

To put matters aphoristically, Mr. Harper’s government likes the idea of the military more than it likes the military itself.
The idea of the military means history, monuments, medals, ceremonies, parades and repeated rhetorical praise. The military itself means buying equipment, deploying it, dealing with veterans and wrestling with a budget that always seems to go up unless the political masters get tough.
NATO is discovering what Canada's veterans and First Nations have known for a long time. Mr. Harper takes perverse pleasure in serving up warm rhetoric. But the Cowboy from Etobicoke is all hat and no cattle.

Why Stephen Harper Can't Destroy Justin Trudeau

Montreal Simon - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 04:12


Ever since Justin Trudeau was elected Liberal leader, Stephen Harper has based his entire strategy on trying to destroy him.

But a new Abacus poll is out, and it's not good news for Great Ugly Leader.

For it shows that his depraved attempts to destroy Justin just aren't working.

And that if he hopes to win the next election, and avoid humiliation, he's going to have to change that strategy. 
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fast-food workers are on strike today. you can support their cause.

we move to canada - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 04:00
Fast-food workers all over the US are on strike today, demanding a living wage and the right to form a union without retaliation. Did you know that the majority of fast-food workers are adults trying to support families on those crap wages? Their pay is so low, they qualify for food stamps! So taxpayers are subsidizing McDonald's, as the fast-food industries rakes in billions in profits.

If you're in the US and you pass a fast-food outlet today, especially a McDonald's, please stop by to show support for these courageous workers. They are the cutting edge of the labour movement today, risking so much to create a better world.

We can all support the fast-food workers' cause by visiting this page, signing the petition, and checking back for updates. And sharing with your own networks!

Stephen Harper's Absurd and Humiliating Trip to Europe

Montreal Simon - Thu, 09/04/2014 - 02:55


Well I see Great Chicken Hawk Leader is on his way to the NATO summit. With a strong message for his friends AND enemies.

"NATO I'm a raging bull not a piggybank. !!!!!"

"Putin gimme me the ethnic vote or ELSE. !#@!!! "

And the best one eh?

"ISIS you will not stop me from bribing Canadian voters !!!!!!"
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