Posts from our progressive community

Will Rona Ambrose Ever Apologize for Anything?

Montreal Simon - Tue, 05/31/2016 - 14:08

I still can't quite believe that Rona Ambrose hasn't apologized for calling Justin Trudeau a woman, or a female prime minister.

And is denying ever saying that, even though her little "joke" was caught on tape.

But then when I think about it, that ghastly Con has never apologized for anything.
Read more »

A New Phenomenon "Climate Departure" Arriving All Too Soon.

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 05/31/2016 - 11:54

Science has warned us that climate change isn't going to be linear. It isn't going to be a gradual, steady progression. It will come in sometimes jarring blows.

One of these jarring blows is just a few years away. The name they've given it is "climate departure." It refers to a transition that will be sweeping the world beginning around 2020 in the tropics and spreading into the northernmost regions by 2047.

I read about this today over at Lorne's blog, Politics and Its Discontents. He mentioned a new study that sounded eerily like something I read in a research paper two or three years ago. I followed the links back to the summary of the latest study and, sure enough, it mentioned that there had been several papers that came to the same conclusions. Damn.

Climate departure in going to be an abrupt process whereby a new climate displaces the old climate. In the new climate, every year will be hotter than the hottest recorded year of the old climate. Every year. Hotter than the hottest. Perpetual extreme heat and more, much more.

...climates without modern precedents could cause large and potentially serious impacts on ecological and social systems1–5. For instance, species whose persistence is shaped by the climate can respond by shifting their geographical ranges4–7, remaining in place and adapting 5,8, or becoming extinct 8–11. Shifts in species distributions and abundances can increase the risk of extinction 12, alter community structure3 and disrupt ecological interactions and the functioning of ecosystems. Changing climates could also affect the following: human welfare, through changes in the supply of food13 and water14,15; human health 16, through wider spread of infectious vector-borne diseases, through heat stress 19 and through mental illness 20; the economy, through changes in goods and services 21,22; and national security as a result of population shifts, heightened competition for natural resources, violent conflict and geopolitical instability 23. Although most ecological and social systems have the ability to adapt to a changing climate, the magnitude of disruption in both ecosystems and societies will be strongly determined by the time frames in which the climate will reach unprecedented states1,2. Although several studies have documented the areas on Earth where unprecedented climates is likely to occur in response to ongoing greenhouse gas emissions 24,25, our understanding of climate change still lacks a precise indication of the time at which the climate of a given location will shift wholly outside the range of historical precedents.
Does that sound apocalyptic? Well it kind of does, doesn't it? Most ecological and social systems can adapt to a changing climate, provided it's gradual and over many centuries. That sort of benign change is not what's expected from Climate Departure.
The first in line to receive a Climate Departure working over are the tropics. The earlier report singled out a few areas that could be hit by 2020, among them the Caribbean nations.
What begins in 2020 will move through the tropics and then spread poleward, arriving in the Arctic around 2047. Here's a map of the tropical zone.

What the chart shows is most of Africa, the greater part of South America, a big chunk of India and Southeast Asia are in the crosshairs for early impact climate departure. What's also notable is how little territory/refuge remains in the Southern Hemisphere. The main refuge is to the north into China, Russia, Europe and North America. North Africa and the Middle East are desert, that won't help.
So, if climate departure does kick off in 2020 as these reports suggest, we've only got a few years to figure out what we're going to do when the migrants come knocking. These certainly are interesting times. Wish they weren't.

Canada's Dust Bowl

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 05/31/2016 - 10:33

We call it the "prairies" but before long we may be calling it the "dust bowl."

The Prairie Climate Centre at the University of Winnipeg has just created a prairie climate atlas showing projected warming at several carbon levels over the next several decades.

“Many do not fully appreciate how much the Prairie climate is expected to change,” says climatologist Dr. Danny Blair, the Director of Science for the Prairie Climate Centre and Principal of the University of Winnipeg’s Richardson College for the Environment.

Here's a video of what could lie in store for the agricultural belt and every major city in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Tell Me We Have a Plan B. Please, Tell Me.

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 05/31/2016 - 10:02

The business about the immovable object meeting the irresistible force? It's nonsense. The immovable object is just a myth. Nothing is immovable.

We like myths. We've built our society on myths or, more accurately, outright lies, real whoppers too.

One of them is the myth of perpetual growth. In particular, constant, never ending growth in GDP. That's how we gauge the viability of our economy and, in a world in which the economy prevails, also our state and our society. We have allowed the economy to become the tent pole for every aspect of our lives.

Consider the tent pole something called "neoliberalism." It's a term that is not readily defined. Until recently many, especially the High Priests of neoliberalism, even denied its existence. However they can't do that any more because it's faltering - badly. Our societal tent pole isn't going to be holding up that tent much longer. We had better figure out what we'll do next, our Plan B.

An article in today's Guardian warns that you're witnessing the death of neoliberalism. You've got a front row seat, on the inside. The bell is sounding. The show is about to begin.

You hear it when the Bank of England’s Mark Carney sounds the alarm about “a low-growth, low-inflation, low-interest-rate equilibrium”. Or when the Bank of International Settlements, the central bank’s central bank, warns that “the global economy seems unable to return to sustainable and balanced growth”. And you saw it most clearly last Thursday from the IMF.

What makes the fund’s intervention so remarkable is not what is being said – but who is saying it and just how bluntly. In the IMF’s flagship publication, three of its top economists have written an essay titled “Neoliberalism: Oversold?”.

The very headline delivers a jolt. For so long mainstream economists and policymakers have denied the very existence of such a thing as neoliberalism, dismissing it as an insult invented by gap-toothed malcontents who understand neither economics nor capitalism. Now here comes the IMF, describing how a “neoliberal agenda” has spread across the globe in the past 30 years. What they mean is that more and more states have remade their social and political institutions into pale copies of the market. Two British examples, suggests Will Davies – author of the Limits of Neoliberalism – would be the NHS and universities “where classrooms are being transformed into supermarkets”. In this way, the public sector is replaced by private companies, and democracy is supplanted by mere competition.

The results, the IMF researchers concede, have been terrible. Neoliberalism hasn’t delivered economic growth – it has only made a few people a lot better off. It causes epic crashes that leave behind human wreckage and cost billions to clean up, a finding with which most residents of food bank Britain would agree. And while George Osborne might justify austerity as “fixing the roof while the sun is shining”, the fund team defines it as “curbing the size of the state … another aspect of the neoliberal agenda”. And, they say, its costs “could be large – much larger than the benefit”.

From the 1980s the policymaking elite has waved away the notion that they were acting ideologically – merely doing “what works”. But you can only get away with that claim if what you’re doing is actually working. Since the crash, central bankers, politicians and TV correspondents have tried to reassure the public that this wheeze or those billions would do the trick and put the economy right again. They have riffled through every page in the textbook and beyond – bank bailouts, spending cuts, wage freezes, pumping billions into financial markets – and still growth remains anaemic.

And the longer the slump goes on, the more the public tumbles to the fact that not only has growth been feebler, but ordinary workers have enjoyed much less of its benefits. Last year the rich countries’ thinktank, the OECD, made a remarkable concession. It acknowledged that the share of UK economic growth enjoyed by workers is now at its lowest since the second world war. Even more remarkably, it said the same or worse applied to workers across the capitalist west.
This is why, yesterday, I penned an open letter to our new prime minister urging him to enact what I termed "Just Society 2," an initiative to salvage our democracy and our society from the scourge of neoliberalism.
Neoliberalism, along with its companion disorders - free market fundamentalism and globalization - is a scam. It is nothing more than a now failed ideology that was launched on a narrow theory we now know was premised on very unwise assumptions. Thank you Messrs. Hayek and Friedman. Thank you Margaret Thatcher. Thank you Ronald Reagan. Thank you Brian Mulroney. Thank you every flunky president and prime minister so instrumental in perpetuating this self-destructive myth in the intervening years, the current crew included.
The tent pole is only as strong as public confidence in it. When that confidence fails, so too the tent pole.
As I wrote yesterday:
Just as the Charter vested in Canadians real democratic power, neoliberalism has undermined our democracy, eroded our state sovereignty. It has ushered in the rise of corporatism. Today the imbalance isn't between the state and the citizenry. Your father resolved that. It's now between the corporate sector and the citizenry.

The imbalance lurks behind a variety of social ills, societal malignancies, including the wage gap: the rise of inequality of wealth, income and opportunities; the severance of the bond between government and citizen; the subordination of the responsibilities of government to the populace in favour of the influences of commerce. All of this, and more, leaves us with a society that is no longer as "just" as your father left us. It is tarnished, enfeebled, and, at its rotten heart, transactional. These are the benchmarks of a society in serious decline that, if not arrested and reversed, ensure eventual democratic collapse.

We too have been lulled into remaking our "social and political institutions into pale copies of the market." We have all too freely surrendered important incidents of our national sovereignty to this same market to the point where, in many critical areas that impact on the lives of our people, the market and our government (or what remains of it) co-govern.
Neoliberalism is a con game, a confidence game. It works on the strength of the confidence of the duped. That confidence can be lost in a heart beat when the prey finally realize they've been had, swindled. 
The writing is on the wall. It's now the solemn duty of our government, Justin Trudeau and Company, to read it and act. What they do today and in the days and months ahead may make the difference between merely bad or much, much worse.

Wake Up and Smell the Corruption, Canada…….

Left Over - Tue, 05/31/2016 - 09:11
90 scientists and climate experts call on Trudeau to reject Pacific NorthWest LNG GORDON HOEKSTRA
More from Gordon Hoekstra
Published on: May 30, 2016 | Last Updated: May 30, 2016 1:41 PM PDT Analysis of the major flaws in Pacific Northwest LNG report


The only politicians speaking out against these horrors are Green..and, as a lifelong supporter of the NDP, I am ashamed of my party of choice for their mostly wimpy advocacy of voters against Big Oil; and Gas and Coal…and only half-hearted support for alternatives..the only NDPer who seems to be supportive of the need to keep it all in the ground and chase alternatives is Nathan Cullen, and unless or until he is voted in as the next leader of the Party, I’ll be voting Green..nothing else in this country is more important than dealing with climate change..nothing else will matter if we destroy the environment for the sake of the offshore bank accounts of a few rich old men…

I am ashamed and disgusted by this country’s voting  record, not to mention my  Province, BC, continually voting in  some right wing hack or the other who  will always lie to get elected, then turn around and do  what they always were going to the  agenda of their  big money donors..and it ain’t a  Green agenda, folks…

In this country, we  have a wealth of alternatives to  dirty resource extraction, yet  so many other countries, , all around us, ae already in  at least the planning stages for  an alternate, clean  vision…and BC, or  Canada?  Dithering  about   details,  like  two internet trolls  battling it out over trivialities in the comments section of  a Twitter joke…what the hell is going on with this country?  We used to be leaders in  peacekeeping, have the highest  standard of living, and elect progressives….now?

We make  jokes about  Trump refugees invading this country, but  doubt if they’d be any happier here…

Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 05/31/2016 - 08:29
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Greg Jericho is the latest to weigh in on the false promises of neoliberalism:
An article in the IMF’s latest issue of is journal Finance and Development notes that “instead of delivering growth, some neoliberal policies have increased inequality” and jeopardised “durable” growth.

The authors note that there actually scant proof that the standard policies of encouraging foreign investment and reducing deficits and debt levels has improved economic growth.

They found that it’s tough to actually establish “the benefits in terms of increased growth” from these polices but that the costs from “increased inequality are prominent”. Even worse for those who desire economic growth above all else, they found that the “increased inequality in turn hurts the level and sustainability of growth.”

The authors note that their study of economies found that “austerity policies not only generate substantial welfare costs due to supply-side channels, they also hurt demand – and thus worsen employment and unemployment”.

And as I have noted (repeatedly) lack of demand is a massive issue for our economy. Right now Malcolm Turnbull would have you believe that it is an absolute given that more foreign investment and lower taxation and government spending will deliver economic growth. The reality is such belief is based on a model that struggles to deliver proof that is actually works and which crucially ignores factors such as inequality that can actually undermine their goal of economic growth.- David Calnitsky writes that a basic income would ensure a reasonable standard of living for everybody without the stigma that comes with a patchy social safety net. Teuila Fuatai discusses how Employment Insurance has been designed to cover perpetually fewer workers over the past few decades, leaving more and more without any fallback at all. And the Star's editorial board calls for Canada Pension Plan reform to ensure all workers have enough for a secure retirement.

- Pamela Cowan reports on the desperate - and thus far ignored - need for improved mental health services in Saskatchewan. And the U.S.' Council of Economic Advisers summarizes how mental health and other social factors affect incarceration rates.

- Noah Zon points out that the reinstatement of the long-form census is just the start of collecting the additional data we need to assess and meet Canada's social needs. And Anna Stanley writes about the continued discrimination against First Nations built into our federal fiscal framework.

- Finally, Paul Dechene points out how the Saskatchewan Party has in fact imposed somewhat of carbon price through their obsession with carbon capture and storage - only without any of the actual emission reductions which are supposed to accompany any sane pricing policy. And Andrew Nikiforuk comments on the alarming pollution emanating from the oil sands.

I Never Thought It Would Come to This. I'm Agreeing with Ibbitson.

The Disaffected Lib - Tue, 05/31/2016 - 08:07

In today's column in The Globe and Mail, Tory lapdog John Ibbitson looks at the government's assisted dying law. He concludes the Trudeau Grits are acting just like the Harper Tories. I hate to say it but he's right.

The Liberal government’s handling of the bill resembled the Conservatives at their worst.

To bring the new federal law into compliance with the Supreme Court ruling on assisted dying, the government created a committee, which recommended measures to end the lives of, not only those dying from an intolerably painful illness, but those suffering from intolerable chronic or mental illness. Mature minors might also quality.

But the government calculated that the public was not prepared to go there, and so pared back the grounds for seeking a medically assisted death. Many observers warn that the government bill, as written, would be unlikely to survive a court challenge. So the Trudeau government is mimicking the Harper government in passing legislation that many authorities consider judicially invalid.

Potentially unconstitutional bills, warring over the hammer of closure and confusion in the Senate. Where have we heard that before?

He's right. You know it. I know it. Faced with a tough call - for his party, that is - Trudeau has, again, gone weak-kneed, incapable of doing the right thing. Once again he shows us that, when difficult, even perilous, problems arise, we can't count on him when we may need him most.

Things Are Bad

Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 05/31/2016 - 07:42
But they are going to get much, much worse.
The first study to integrate all prior scientific research in order to project approximately when climate change will produce permanent catastrophic consequences has been accepted and will soon be published in the scientific journal Nature, and it finds that things will start going haywire in the tropics at around the year 2020, and in our part of the world at around 2047.

Nature shares with Science and PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) the distinction of being tied as the world’s three most prestigious scientific journals, and an article is not published in these journals unless it has undergone extremely rigorous scientific peer-revue; so, climate-change deniers will have no professional credibility in attacking this study, as the Koch brothers and their friends can reasonably be expected to do, since they profit so much from what causes global warming - the burning of carbon-based fuels.

According to this study, the tropics, which are the near-equatorial region of this planet that’s almost 100% impoverished, and that has thus contributed virtually nothing to global warming, will begin the period of permanent catastrophe starting in approximately 2020; but the (cooler) moderate-latitude countries, such as in North America and Europe, will begin this catastrophic period in or around 2047.As if things weren't already bad enough. Consider the plight of the Great Barrier Reef:

Corals, which are animals, have a symbiotic relationship with algae that give them their colour and help provide them with food. During stressful conditions such as heat waves, the algae disappear from the corals, leading to coral bleaching. If the stressful conditions last more than eight weeks, the corals can die of starvation.Meanwhile, on our own continent, scenes like the following are becoming increasingly, distressingly common:

Clearly, the days of willful ignorance, selfishness and heedlessness are now exacting a massive price.Recommend this Post

Who Says You Can't Buy An Election?

Northern Reflections - Tue, 05/31/2016 - 04:42

Donald Trump keeps rolling along. And things keep getting worse for Hillary Clinton. The real campaign hasn't even started yet. A lot of Clinton's misery is of her own making.  Trump is a sociopath -- who will say anything and stop at nothing to win. But, Gerry Caplan writes, things will really get bad when "Kochtopus" is unleashed from its underwater lair. The meme refers to:

Charlie and David Koch and the astonishingly rich and powerful gang of extreme right-wing billionaires they have quietly organized over the past few decades. They have already wreaked havoc among Democrats and undermined any number of progressive causes.

They may operate underwater. But they are now well known:

This record is meticulously documented by the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer in her terrifying new book Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.
Mayer shows how the syndicate that the Kochs have organized has been responsible for everything from the emergence of the Tea Party to the charge that Obama’s health-care act provides for “death panels” to the widespread denial of climate change across the United States. The Kochs and many of their allies are themselves oil billionaires who hate environmentalists, government regulation and paying taxes. If Trump is dangerously unpredictable, Koch and his plutocratic pals are only too predictable.
They will, as they always do, use smears, lies, distortions, fabrications, fear-mongering – whatever it takes, or costs. The Kochs and their fellow conspirators are pledged to spend no less than a cool $889-million fighting the Democratic nominee this year.
Trump will deliver the fear, lies and distortions. Kochtopus will pay for them. Who says you can't buy and election?

The Curious Case of Michael Sona

Creekside - Tue, 05/31/2016 - 03:57

These few lines at Radio Canada and Adam Donaldson's Guelph Politico Blog are the only mentions I have found anywhere that Michael Sona, convicted of aiding and abetting unknown perp(s) in an unsolved crime of unknown proportions, lost his sentence appeal on May 18 and headed back to jail to serve out his nine month sentence.

Sona, with nothing to deal and no electronic or material evidence of his guilt produced at his trial, was such a likely fall guy.  

A couple of weeks before the 2011 election, CPC HQ had sent him out to halt voting at a special election poll at Guelph U that CPC HQ disputed the legality of and his name hit the media bigtime.

Elections Canada's investigation into the robo/live calls misdirecting voters across two thirds of the ridings in the 2011 federal election appeared dead in the water in 2012, but public interest was rekindled when reporters Stephen Maher and Glen McGregor exposed "Pierre Poutine" as the perp and the robocall company RackNine as the source of the calls into Guelph. 

Con Party robocaller Matt Meier of RackNine - you might remember him from the dubious Con Party 2013 Saskatchewan election boundaries robocalls debacle - traced the missing Poutine evidence on the RackNine hard drives and fired it off to Al Mathews, along with a heads up to CPC HQ. Months earlier he'd sent another heads up to Andrew Prescott, Sona's Guelph campaign co-worker.

Then out of the blue on Feb 23 2012, Brian Lilley announced on Sun News that 
1) the Cons had identified Sona as a suspect, 
2) Con Party lawyer Arthur Hamilton was on the case, and 
3) Jenni Byrne had given Sun News a statement denying CPC HQ involvement. 

A shocked Sona called everyone he knew at CPC to find out what was going on. According to Sona, CPC lawyer Arthur Hamilton called him back and told him not to worry about anonymous sources. 

Hamilton subsequently delivered a sixpack of Con staffers to EC investigator Al Mathews and sat in on their interviews on the CPC's behalf as they told their stories of Sona asking how to pull off an anonymous robocall and later bragging of having pulled off the Pierre Poutine robocall scheme, the latter details of which were by then widely available in the media.

Elections Canada dropped their investigation into other suspects and ridings and the RCMP granted immunity from prosecution to the Crown's star witness Andrew Prescott. Prescott's "evolving" testimony at trial - Sona's post-election toast to "Pierre", burner phone packaging in Sona's waste bin, and Sona's euphoric election morning office announcement "it's working, it's working" - the Crown stressed several times, "should be approached with caution". 

The three minute difference between the end of a 4:12am Election Day Pierre Poutine log out at RackNine as Client 93 and a 4:15am Andrew Prescott log in from the same IP address in the Guelph campaign office as Client 45 was never adequately explained at trial. 
However Prescott testified that sometime before 7pm that same day, an hour before polls were to close anyway, Guelph campaign chief Ken Morgan handed him the Pierre Poutine RackNine account log in info and instructed him to put a stop to the "Counter Fake EC" robocall. 

Mr. Morgan later decamped to Kuwait without ever being interviewed by Elections Canada and Mr Prescott destroyed the Guelph campaign computers.

Sona did not testify at his trial, as is his right, after repeatedly maintaining his innocence of the charges against him and therefore his lack of knowledge as to who else might have been involved. His lawyer Norm Boxall was confident they'd won their case according to Sona, given the lack of any material or electronic evidence connecting Sona with either RackNine or Pierre Poutine or a CIMS list of non-supporters. Sona did not have access to CIMS.

On August 14 2014 however, Justice Gary Hearn found that, while apparently not acting alone, Sona authored the initiating email to Racknine and purchased one or more of the various credit cards and the burner phone in order to direct Guelph voters to the wrong polling station on May 2 2011. He believed the testimony from the Conservative staffers and campaign co-workers, or rather, as he stated in his summation, he could not believe the Conservative staffers and co-workers made it all up.

In sentencing Sona in November 2014, Hearn found that despite defence lawyer Norm Boxall's characterization of Sona's actions as possibly a "prank gone terribly wrong", nine months in prison was :
"necessary in order that the public and particularly those involved in political campaigns at any level will appreciate that the courts regard this type of activity as criminal and to be treated seriously." So off Sona went to jail and was back out on bail pending appeal of his sentence which he has just subsequently lost.

Guelph resident Susan Watson wrote the following day in the Guelph Mercury :
"Sona certainly didn’t access non-supporter lists in Winnipeg South Centre, Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, Elmwood-Transcona, Nipissing-Temiskaming, Vancouver Island North and Yukon. In a court case involving these six ridings, Justice Richard Mosley found that “misleading calls about the locations of polling stations were made to electors in ridings across the country, including the subject ridings.”If he knows who it is he is doing time for "aiding and abetting", Sona isn't saying. 

Stripped of their in house authority to prosecute election offences courtesy of Harper's 2006 Federal Accountability Act, and with the no longer independent Commissioner now housed under the Attorney General's roof courtesy of the Fair Elections Act, Elections Canada has quietly rolled over and gone back to sleep. 

The website for Peter Smoczynski's documentary film Election Day in Canada : The Rise of Voter Suppression has two new interesting pieces on Sona :

Sona on his realization he had been pegged as a suspect, and

Stephen Maher's reflections on Sona as a fall guy after his conviction, in the film's trailer

The Cons Claim Rona Ambrose Didn't Call Justin Trudeau a Woman

Montreal Simon - Mon, 05/30/2016 - 17:49

It was for me the lowest moment of the Con convention. The sight of Rona Ambrose strutting across the stage bragging about her party's feminist credentials.

While making a "joke" about Justin Trudeau as the first female Prime Minister.

As only a Con could.

But now Ambrose's office is claiming that never happened.
Read more »

Trump Lends ISIS a Helping Hand

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 05/30/2016 - 13:55
There have been reports that ISIS has begun having trouble recruiting new volunteers and hanging on to those who've entered service. Donald Trump may be a partial answer to their problems.

Former CIA/NSA Director, Michael Hayden, is a well-known US foreign policy expert. He says Trump is unwittingly aiding ISIS with his inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric.

"The jihadist narrative is that there is undying enmity between Islam and the modern world."

"When Trump says they all hate us, he's using their narrative," Hayden said. "He's feeding their recruitment video."

Hey, Slick. Here's an Idea.

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 05/30/2016 - 11:11
The Liberal Party is the party of the young. Trudeau won their support. Mulcair and Harper didn't. That's why Trudeau is prime minister and Mulcair settled for picking up Trudeau's old lease at the Motel 6 out on the Gloucester Highway.

Trudeau won their support. Now he's got to earn it. Until he consolidates it with meaningful action, he could lose it again. During the decades of neoliberalism the young stayed away from the polls. The parties didn't resonate with them. Politics didn't speak to their worries, their issues. That has to change.

And so I've penned this open letter to our fledgling prime minister.

Dear Mr. Trudeau:

I was around when your father captured our imagination with his "Just Society" idea. It was riveting. Rights were to be enshrined, readily enforceable. Government powers were to be restrained, limited, put into a democratic balance with the rights of the people and of individuals.

Not only did he dream it. He proposed it. He sold it to us. We bought it. Then, best of all, he fulfilled his promise and delivered us our own Magna Carta, our very own great Charter.

How brilliantly this, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, has served us during the intervening decades and it is as fresh and meaningful today as it was the day it was enacted. How wonderfully it served us during the last regime when it regularly thwarted Harper's impulsive instincts.

I'm going to suggest that you take a page out of your father's book and bring us "Just Society 2."

The Charter was all about entrenching constitutional, liberal democracy. In the intervening years, however, a new threat has arisen - neoliberalism. Just as the Charter vested in Canadians real democratic power, neoliberalism has undermined our democracy, eroded our state sovereignty. It has ushered in the rise of corporatism. Today the imbalance isn't between the state and the citizenry. Your father resolved that. It's now between the corporate sector and the citizenry.

The imbalance lurks behind a variety of social ills, societal malignancies, including the wage gap: the rise of inequality of wealth, income and opportunities; the severance of the bond between government and citizen; the subordination of the responsibilities of government to the populace in favour of the influences of commerce. All of this, and more, leaves us with a society that is no longer as "just" as your father left us. It is tarnished, enfeebled, and, at its rotten heart, transactional. These are the benchmarks of a society in serious decline that, if not arrested and reversed, ensure eventual democratic collapse.

Your come from behind triumph in the last election wasn't due to the Old Fart vote. It was the legions of young Canadians who turned out to vote Liberal that put you over the top. A smart politician would understand that, once you've got a demographic advantage, you nurture it lest it move on to someone else.

And you should remember, you weren't entirely responsible for your youth vote. So was Harper. Who can forget this charming little ditty?

You might have noticed the line about how, if the next guy (that would be you) is no better than Harper they'll send him packing too.

Back to neoliberalism/free market fundamentalism/globalization. That was sold to us as something as powerful and unquestionable as some law of physics. It was an irresistible truth and only penury and ruin awaited us if we resisted. However, if we embraced it, it would be a future of sweetness and light.

Here's the thing. Imagine if on a particular Sunday in Christian churches around the world, the priest/minister/pastor informed the congregation that the "afterlife" thing, well that was all sort of made up. Not real. Surely you all knew that, didn't ya? Yeah, well, it was a great way to get people coming back for 2,000 years and it was too good to let go. No harm, no foul, eh?

How full would those pews be the next Sunday? Not very, I'm guessing. The afterlife thing has worked so well precisely because the guys preaching it can never get called on it. It's your reward - after - life. You gotta be dead to claim it.

Neoliberalism, like Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islamism, every-other-ism, is an ideology. It's made up. It's not based on any real science. It's faith based. Now here's the problem. You're not supposed to have to wait until you're dead to reap your reward. No, you're supposed to get that here on Earth and it's supposed to come in the form of more jobs and better wages. Think of it as "prosperity" in lieu of "afterlife."

Only it hasn't lived up to all the promises, except for a very small segment of the population, the most advantaged of us all. They're making out like, well, bandits and the rest of us are getting screwed. They mention that in that video.

Neoliberalism has run out of time. It's losing its following, rapidly. That's what has sent Americans in droves to back a pathological liar and blowhard. Even the IMF, the very temple of neoliberalism is now calling "bullshit" on that failed religion, blaming it for driving inequality and economic chaos.

That's the problem with ideologies, religious or economic. They're belief based. Once the belief evaporates there's nothing left, nothing to salvage, nothing to rebuild.

The problem with neoliberalism is that it's a bad tooth, it has to be pulled before the toothache is going away. Until it's pulled the pain is going to get steadily worse, other complications may set in.

That means sweeping away the failed ideology, separating fact from fiction. It means reconsidering our economic policy, rebuilding opportunities for a vibrant manufacturing sector free of the restraints that we accepted under these trade deals. It means giving our young people at least some taste of the opportunities that we enjoyed at their age.

Jefferson knew and he warned his countrymen that democracy is always in peril and, every now and then, it needed a real shakeup to restore it. That time is here now in Canada.

Take the opportunity that's staring you in the face. Oh yeah, if you do I promise I'll stop calling you "Slick."

It's Just Too Good. I Couldn't Help Myself.

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 05/30/2016 - 11:02

Enjoy, you know it's true.

When Are We Going to Quit This Bitumen Addiction?

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 05/30/2016 - 09:37

There was a news report last week about aerosol contamination coming from the Athabasca Tar Sands.

Trust The Tyee's Andrew Nikiforuk to get to the bottom of what's really happening. It's a much bigger problem than the news stories conveyed.

Tote that Barge, Lift that Bale, Time's a Runnin'

The Disaffected Lib - Mon, 05/30/2016 - 08:18

Now there's a good reason to invest heavily in the hazmat fossil energy business with all its hazmat dilbit and its hazmat pipelines to tidewater and its hazmat lumbering supertankers floundering through our coastal waters like wallowing time bombs.

A federal government think tank, Policy Horizons Canada, says the global dominance of fossil fuels could be all but gone in 10 to 15-years.

"It is increasingly plausible to foresee a future in which cheap renewable electricity becomes the world's primary power source and fossil fuels are relegated to a minority status," reads the conclusion of the 32-page document, produced by Policy Horizons Canada.

The little-known government organization provides medium-term policy advice to the federal bureaucracy, specializing in forecasts that peer a decade or two into the future.

The findings aren't radical or surprising. This is becoming a global consensus. It's actually not "becoming" anything. It is the global consensus.
"It's absolutely not pie in the sky," said Michal Moore from the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy. "These folks are being realistic — they may not be popular, but they're being realistic."

Marty Reed, CEO of Evok Innovations — a Vancouver-based cleantech fund created through a $100-million partnership with Cenovus and Suncor — had a similar take after reading the draft report.
"You could nit-pick a couple of items," he said. "But at a high level, I would say the vast, vast majority of what they wrote is not even controversial, it's very well accepted."
So, Justin, you better stop dreaming of the low hanging fruit and get working on a viable industrial policy that reaches beyond carbon energy. The IMF says governments in Canada are squandering $35 billion each and every year in direct and indirect subsidies to the fossil energy giants. Enough. You've got other needs for that money that can have a lasting value to the country and our people. 

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Mon, 05/30/2016 - 07:02
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Nick Dearden discusses how the latest wave of corporate power agreements - including the CETA - stands to undermine democracy in participating countries:
Like the US deal, Ceta contains a new legal system, open only to foreign corporations and investors. Should the British government make a decision, say, to outlaw dangerous chemicals, improve food safety or put cigarettes in plain packaging, a Canadian company can sue the British government for “unfairness”. And by unfairness this simply means they can’t make as much profit as they expected. The “trial” would be held as a special tribunal, overseen by corporate lawyers.
The whole purpose of Ceta is to reduce regulation on business, the idea being that it will make it easier to export. But it will do far more than that. Through the pleasant-sounding “regulatory cooperation”, standards would be reduced across the board on the basis that they are “obstacles to trade”. That could include food safety, workers’ rights and environmental regulation.

Just consider financial regulation. The ability of governments to control banks and financial markets would be further impaired. Limiting the growth of banks that have become “too big to fail” could land a government in a secret tribunal.
Finally, through something called a “ratchet clause”, current levels of privatisation would be “locked in” on any services not specifically exempted. If Canadian or EU governments want to bring certain services back into public ownership, they could be breaking the terms of the agreement.
If you needed proof that modern trade agreements are actually nothing more than an excuse to hand big business power at our expense, you need look no further than Ceta. No wonder the public outcry is growing, and opposition to TTIP is spilling over to the Canadian deal. - Meanwhile, James Wilt takes a look at how past trade agreements have painted Canadian governments into a corner, while also pointing out the ongoing lobbying effort by one oil industry claimant to grab a massive payout.

- Robson Fletcher reports on a new Policy Horizons Canada study discussing the reality that fossil fuels may be obsolete in a matter of decades, while the Economist (in a slightly dated report) discusses how many developing countries are skipping directly to renewables rather than building new, dirty infrastructure. And Gary Fuller reports on the climate damage caused by fracking.

- Finally, Sean McElwee highlights the connection between voter mobilization and progressive stances from nominally left-of-centre politicians:
Democratic politicians use the information of their vote margin to adjust their votes: a loss in vote share leads Democrats to vote in a more conservative way than they would have otherwise. They find, “a 2.5% Democratic loss results in an average 12.8 switches per incumbent.” A study by political scientists Thad Kousser, Jeffrey B. Lewis and Seth Masket finds that after a 2003 recall election in California recalled the Democratic governor, Democratic assembly members shifted their votes to the left. Previous research by political scientists Daniel Butler and David Nickerson suggests that when legislators are given accurate information about their constituents preferences, they are more likely to vote in line with those preferences.

It’s important to note that it’s difficult to disentangle the information effect from the turnout effect. It could be that representatives are gaining information about their constituents or it could be that higher turnout and thus larger vote share leads representatives to feel that they can move left.  Either way, the core finding – that a loss in vote share causes Democratic politicians to be more conservative – has important implications.
As I’ve argued repeatedly, higher turnout could shift change the American political landscape by shifting the constraints under which politicians make policy. A study of ten OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries by Jonas Pontusson and David Rueda find that, “Left parties will respond to an increase in inequality only when low-income voters are politically mobilized.” As Matt Grossmann tells me, “Democrats nearly always fear the electoral consequences of moving too far left, whereas Republicans tend not to view ideological conservatism and electability as a trade-off.” Thus, higher turnout would signal to Democratic politicians that they have space to move to the left.

The Con Convention and the Rapture of Jason Kenney

Montreal Simon - Mon, 05/30/2016 - 04:25

Lordy. Judging by the reaction of the Cons and their stooges in the media, you'd think the Harper Party's convention was such a great success they had all died and gone to heaven.

Or more precisely had risen from the dead, and were now on their way to another heavenly majority.

You know, the Con version of The Rapture.

For what else could explain Jason Kenney's feverish state?
Read more »

The Party Of The Young

Northern Reflections - Mon, 05/30/2016 - 04:18
Tim Harper wrote his last column yesterday. In it, he reviewed the state of Canada's three major parties -- which have all held conventions in the last four months:

The three gatherings have provided a real-time barometer on the state of politics in this country.

 New Democrats chose a coup and chaos by deposing leader Tom Mulcair last month and their short-term prospects look grim.
Conservatives this weekend were waiting to see whether their so-called A-listers will actually run for their leadership or whether a perceived prospect of another seven years in opposition will give some pause.
What most distinguished the Liberal convention was its youthful energy:
The youth gave the gathering energy even if there was precious little to get excited about. Party greybeards were in the minority.
No one is making 2019 predictions this early in the Liberal term, but there can be no question the party feels good about its future.
 Harper warned that all that could change:
It was a great weekend to be a Liberal in Winnipeg.
It may never get any better, but it cannot last.
It never does.
You don’t have to trust me on that one. As Trudeau repeatedly pointed out, it was five years ago this month that this party had been all but left for dead.
For the moment, the Liberals are the Party of the Young.

Image: John Woods Canadian Press


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