Posts from our progressive community

No, we are not all [insert Black person's name here]

Dawg's Blawg - jeu, 12/04/2014 - 10:42
This morning, unlike Eric Garner as he was being murdered on video by a New York City cop, we could breathe. We. I mean white people. Like me. Wondering how to reach out, what the hell to do in solidarity.... Dr.Dawg http://drdawgsblawg.ca/

Now The Guardian Chimes In - Time to Nationalize Canada's Fossil Fuelers

The Disaffected Lib - jeu, 12/04/2014 - 09:53


They took their sweet time.  On Tuesday we proposed nationalization of fossil fuel companies as the best way to keep hydrocarbon reserves safely in the ground and clearing the way for a transition to clean, alternative energy.

Now it's The Guardian calling for putting Canada's oil companies under public control.

It would be hard to invent a more destructive ritual of national self-punishment. Year after year, we hand oil companies gigantic tracts of pristine land. They skin them of entire ecosystems. They vacuum billions of dollars out of the country. Their oversized power, sunk into lobbying and litigation, upends government law-making.

And Canada’s return? The exploitation of the tar sands provides just two percent of our GDP. It has gutted manufacturing jobs and made a mockery of our emissions targets. And now that oil prices are crashing – as resource commodities predictably do – it is putting a vicious squeeze on government spending.

Some will insist that nationalizing Canada’s oil industry is a fringe, radical idea. But half of Canadians already support it, according to one survey. That’s despite decades of relentless misinformation about the supposed perils of government regulating or running business. Even in the province that is home to the tar sands, more than one in three favoured the idea. Beware of your neighbours, Albertans: they’re harbouring closet nationalizers.

Canadians value that their hospitals, schools, transit, and libraries are run in the public interest. So why not our energy? Sure, the old style of nationalized companies – centralized, bureaucratic and often corrupt – is easy to criticize.

...These entities wouldn’t be run by CEOs accountable only to share-holders, or by bureaucrats accountable only to politicians: they would involve diverse boards with elected representatives of workers, consumers, and First Nations.

They could hardly squander Canada’s wealth more than those now running the industry. While oil companies have become the richest corporations in history, both federal and provincial governments have settled for capturing single-digit rents and taxes. An Alberta bumper sticker from the 1980s summed up this approach: “Please God, let there be another oil boom. I promise not to piss it all away next time.” But piss it away they have.

Take as a contrast Norway. A majority owner of Statoil, it has retained most of its oil revenue. A pension fund ensuring future savings for its citizens contains almost a trillion dollars – that’s nearly $200,000 per person. Alberta has produced twice as much oil; its fund, meanwhile, has been pilfered by its governments and holds a paltry $18 billion. Nationalization would be a way to finally put our hands on oil money and start directing the earnings toward something useful: like investment in renewable energy and green infrastructure.

Canada’s oil corporations have made a profitable mess of the country: it’s long-past time to put them under public, democratic control.

Amen to that.

Helping out Clifford Bowey PS…

Trashy's World - jeu, 12/04/2014 - 09:34
… in the Aviva Fund competition. Hi all – PSA time: Clifford Bowey PS has moved into the Aviva Fund Semi-Finals! I like to think that our school community last year helped Vincent Massey win this competition – and a new playground! Please visit the site and register and VOTE – one vote per day […]

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - jeu, 12/04/2014 - 06:49
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Monica Pohlmann interviews Armine Yalnizyan about the undue influence of our corporate overlords in setting public policy:
What’s your sense of the state of our democracy?

We have a troubled relationship with our democratic institutions. We need to get over the idea that government is something and someone else. The government is us. The idea that governments are largely useless, that they’re more likely to make a mess than fix things, is exactly what corporations would like us to think. It gives them more freedom to use the enormous power of the state to their advantage.

We are becoming a corporatocracy, a state that serves the interests of corporations first and foremost. Business groups write legislation. lobby, use campaign finance to shape the public sphere – how big it is, what it does, who it serves. This is the biggest test democracy faces today.- Meanwhile, Kelly Crowe reports that the Cons are dictating that Canadian health researchers won't receive any public support for their work unless they have private backing first - ensuring that the corporate sector gets to vet what research gets done.

- Robert Antonio examines Thomas Piketty's analysis of the seemingly inevitable concentration of capital and power (absent a major push to the contrary). But on the bright side, Joshua Holland notes that the U.S. has seen a rare debate over "tax extenders" which may signal some much-needed pushback against corporate giveaways and the erosion of the public sector.

- Sara Mojtehedzadeh writes about the divisive effect of precarious work, along with the role of anti-union policymaking in suppressing wages and job security for the most vulnerable workers. Luisa D'Amato points out that some of Ontario's poorest citizens are bearing the brunt of an error-ridden computer system used to manage welfare and disability payments, reflecting an appalling choice to ensure that predictable system failures lead to the greatest possible amount of human suffering.

- Finally, Linda McQuaig writes that we should fully expect Robocon to be replicated in future elections, as the Cons have gone out of their way to ensure that future vote suppression will be more difficult to investigate:
(I)n the name of clamping down on “voter fraud,” the Conservatives have brought in election reforms that will actually make it easier for voter suppression to go undetected in the future.

That’s because the government’s controversial election reform package includes a section that prevents the Commissioner of Elections from revealing any details about investigations being conducted by Elections Canada.
...
The robocalls came to light only because, after receiving complaints of electoral irregularities (primarily involving Guelph), the Commissioner of Elections began to investigate and filed a court application related to that investigation. After the details of the application were picked up by the media, there was a flood of complaints from citizens across the country reporting they received similar misleading phone calls on election day.

Had the new “muzzling” rule been in place, the application filed by the Commissioner would have been sealed, preventing the public from knowing about the initial investigation — the trigger that prompted the nationwide response, allowing the public to see a larger pattern of possible voter suppression.
...
(T)he Conservatives don’t seem the slightest bit concerned that the party’s top-secret internal database was apparently used as part of an organized campaign of voter suppression.

Rather, as they gear up for the next election, the Harper crowd is focused on ensuring that not a single vote by an undocumented homeless person, student or senior will be allowed to contaminate our democracy.

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - jeu, 12/04/2014 - 06:42
Here, taking a quick look at Canada's options for electoral reform while arguing that an MMP system would create far better incentives for our political leaders than the alternatives.

For further reading...
- Alison wrote about our options in advance of yesterday's vote on the NDP's electoral reform proposal.
- Eric Grenier discusses the possible outcomes under the three main alternatives based on current polling. And I'd argue that the current party standings offer a useful litmus test as to one's weighting of representativeness versus defaulting toward majority government - as a preferential system would put the Libs within spitting distance of a majority with the first-choice support of under 35% of voters (and with two other parties within 12% of their support level).
- Finally, while "ramming through pipelines" is hardly the issue I'd want to see pursued as a top federal priority, Andrew Coyne does recognize that an improved electoral system would confer more legitimacy on our federal government.

Make No Mistake. It's Madness

Northern Reflections - jeu, 12/04/2014 - 06:37

                                                  http://www.oddbloke.ca/

Some commentators have suggested that, after the Michael Sona trial, no political party would be stupid enough to try any robocall shenanigans. Linda McQuaig has her doubts:

If you’re a low-level political operative, the conviction of Conservative party staffer Michael Sona for his role in the robocall scandal may well have deterred you from committing voter fraud in the future.

But if you’re a high-level political operative, the outcome of Sona’s trial probably left you emboldened.
After all, even though one judge concluded that there was deliberate organization behind the effort to misdirect voters, and another judge concluded that Michael Sona could not have acted alone, the Harperites managed to shut the whole investigation down:

Certainly, the Conservatives seem to have dodged a bullet. After months of investigation and court proceedings into allegations of an organized attempt to send non-Conservatives to the wrong polling stations on election day in May 2011, the party itself has emerged with (technically) clean hands.

Blame for the scandal was meted out solely to Sona, the former party operative in Guelph who was sentenced to nine months imprisonment and released on bail this week.

Avoiding any responsibility was no small feat for the Conservative party, given how strongly the evidence pointed to some sort of organized scheme, presumably involving the authorization — or at least the tacit co-operation — of high-level officials within the party.
And with the "Fair" Elections Act now in place, they have made sure that there will be no further investigations:

That’s because the government’s controversial election reform package includes a section that prevents the Commissioner of Elections from revealing any details about investigations being conducted by Elections Canada.

The robocalls came to light only because, after receiving complaints of electoral irregularities (primarily involving Guelph), the Commissioner of Elections began to investigate and filed a court application related to that investigation. After the details of the application were picked up by the media, there was a flood of complaints from citizens across the country reporting they received similar misleading phone calls on election day.

Had the new “muzzling” rule been in place, the application filed by the Commissioner would have been sealed, preventing the public from knowing about the initial investigation — the trigger that prompted the nationwide response, allowing the public to see a larger pattern of possible voter suppression.
There is a method to their madness. And make no mistake. It's madness.



#strikefastfood: low-wage workers in 150 cities will strike today

we move to canada - jeu, 12/04/2014 - 05:30
Two years ago, fast-food workers in New York City held a one-day strike. In that historic action, the result of months and even years of organizing, about 200 workers walked out of McDonald's, Wendy's, KFC, and other restaurants, to form the largest work stoppage in the history of fast-food. In the process, they launched a movement.
In the two years since then, the movement has burgeoned, and now includes thousands of workers all over the United States. Workers are rising against shockingly low pay in an industry that rakes in billions. The CEOs of the various fast-food companies "earn" about $25,000 a day. In New York City, one of the world's most expensive places to live, front-line workers in the same industry earn $7.25 an hour before taxes. 
The fast-food industry is a prime culprit in the huge and ever-growing income inequality that plagues North America, undermining what's left of democracy.
Fast-food workers want more than better pay: they want a bit of control over their own working conditions. That is, they want the right to unionize without fear of retaliation or intimidation. It's not just the fight for 15. It's the fight for fifteen and a union
Workers in the Walmart and fast-food struggles are standing in solidarity with the people of Ferguson and New York City who are protesting police abuse, recognizing, as King famously said, that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
You can support today's fast-food strike in many ways: sign a statement, tweet your support with the hashtag #StrikeFastFood, or best of all, visit a picket - offer support, listen, learn, and lend a hand. 





The Day Stephen Harper Tried to Defend Julian Fantino

Montreal Simon - jeu, 12/04/2014 - 04:32


I didn't think it was possible for anyone to defend Julian Fantino, after all he has done to our veterans.

And after even the PMO thought he was so out of control they sent one of their top operatives to babysit him.

But apparently that wasn't enough, because there was Stephen Harper yesterday, snarling at his opponents, defending his beloved Julie. 
Read more »

Stephen Harper's Depraved Plan to Destroy the CBC

Montreal Simon - jeu, 12/04/2014 - 02:21


He has always hated the CBC. He hates what it represents, the Canada he despises. Our Canada.

You can see it when he takes questions from CBC reporters. The insane hatred in his cold dead eyes, the way he purses his thin cruel lips, or licks them. The barely repressed violence bubbling below the surface.

But over the years Stephen Harper has successfully managed to conceal how he REALLY feels about the CBC. 

Until it seems he could no longer restrain himself, and his depraved plan was finally revealed 
Read more »

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