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The Coalition Idea, Tom Mulcair, and the Great Joe Cocker

Montreal Simon - 3 hours 44 min ago

In my last post I wrote about how I would welcome the idea of a coalition to bring down the Harper regime. 

Which as usual, was greeted with the usual scepticism from some of my readers and friends. As if it came from Mars not Canada.

Then I saw that Tom Mulcair has said that he is at least open to the idea. 

The “C word” many tire of or avoid altogether during election campaigns doesn’t scare the federal NDP leader.

While keeping the option on the table for 2015, the leader won’t yet commit to it, keeping his focus on the ultimate prize.

Which is all I want, because if you don't at least talk about the idea it will always seem to come from another planet. 

Instead of being a legitimate political arrangement which is used all over the world, including these days in the British mother Parliament.

And then I saw that Joe Cocker had died. 

And this song seemed to bring it all together...

What a great song, what a great singer.

And what a great idea...

With a little help from my friends, the idea of a coalition will never die.

With a little help from my friends, the great Joe Cocker will live for ever...

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NYPD deaths and the vulgar racial narrative

Dawg's Blawg - 6 hours 37 min ago
It had to happen sooner or later. In the land of the gun, when war seems to have been declared by unaccountable blue-uniformed thugs on unarmed Black babies, children, women and men, someone was going to react with violence. And... Dr.Dawg

u.s. war resister corey glass speaks out from europe

we move to canada - 8 hours 2 min ago
Corey Glass, war resister from Canada by way of Indiana, speaks out from his travels in Europe in the current issue of NOW.
I'm not going to bother to tell you that the Iraq War was wrong or quote the UN handbook on refugees, Geneva Conventions, Nuremberg principles or trials.

Nor am I going to try to convince anyone that soldiers should have the right to say no, that prosecution for a belief is persecution, or that recruiters lie. There's no reason to talk about that, or about how Canada didn't take part in the Iraq War. Or why Canadian troops are in Iraq now.

Everyone knows what happened and can find information on all that online. I'm fine with my choices. I have to deal with the repercussions of them every day.

I didn't take the easy road to do what I believe was right. And I don't really feel I need to convince anyone otherwise.

I will talk about what has happened to me since I quit the U.S. Army, went to Canada to escape the war and, after eight years trying to build a life there, was told I had to leave. . . .

Eventually I would run out of savings and favours. I started to understand how easy it is for war vets to become homeless, remembering the vets holding signs to that effect from my younger days in Manhattan. Would this be me? Would a government change in Canada allow me to come home? What if Shepherd wins asylum? Could Germany be a home someday? All these questions made me anxious, so I ordered a shot of Jameson.

What would happen if I just went back to the States? Maybe they would take it easy on me? They didn't on Chelsea Manning - 25 years for whistle-blowing. I'd be 57 when I get out. For quitting a job? Fuck that! More angst. Another shot.

I remembered losing friends back in the U.S. because of my choice to resist going back to war in Iraq.

A childhood friend who I had joined the service with - he hated me for leaving - called me out of the blue that night. We spoke for about an hour. He apologized for being angry with me. He was out of the military now and said I'd done the right thing. He wished he'd left, too.

He's an alcoholic now, and said the VA was not giving him support for his PTSD. After three tours, he was all messed up with nightmares. His wife was leaving him, and he was about to lose his job, the sixth in the last year. He wanted to die and wished he had in Iraq. He cried hard into the phone and said he was sorry. . . . Read it here.

Trudeau -- Mythic Hero?

Northern Reflections - 8 hours 29 min ago


Michael den Tandt writes that the political narrative in Canada over the next year will be all about what Justin Trudeau does. That's because -- for better of for worse -- Trudeau has assumed the mantle of the mythic hero:

Trudeau’s popularity could be linked to the very fabric of how human beings perceive political narrative. His brand has been crafted, deliberately it seems to me, to tap into very old archetypes of heroism. These archetypes are everywhere in our culture – in film, literature, myth and politics.

Joseph Campbell called it the mono-myth. It’s also been described as “the hero’s journey.” A young warrior appears, often of secretly noble parentage. He or she is called to adventure, initially refuses the call, but eventually yields to destiny, to take up the mantle and burdens of leadership. George Lucas’s character Luke Skywalker, of course, was built around this meta-story. So were the tales of the Lion King, and numerous other Hollywood fables.

Perhaps den Tandt is going a bit overboard. But he points out that:

Trudeau’s policy deficit has been presented as his greatest problem. It really isn’t. Though the lack of hard platform thus far has caused him some discomfort, the waiting does have one benefit: The Liberals will have the last word. It is safe to assume that, at some point between now and October, Trudeau will unveil a detailed plan to address income inequality and high household debt among the middle class. It is also safe to assume this plan will be framed as more egalitarian than the Conservatives’ income-splitting plan, and more realistic and responsible than the NDP’s ideas. The policy gap, in other words, will be filled.

What’s more intriguing, and potentially dicey for the Liberals, is the relentless pressure on Trudeau to live up to what I have heard jokingly described as his “Skywalker brand.” It’s actually no joke. The framing of a leader in Arthurian terms, as a good-hearted young hero, is inherently risky, because it makes it incumbent on that leader to live that part, and continue living it.
The problem with the Arthur fable was that -- in the end -- it all came crashing down. Only time will tell if Trudeau can rebuild the Round Table.

Real Journalism: Holding Harper To Account

Politics and its Discontents - 9 hours 48 min ago

Unlike the kind of faux journalism that the CBC's most reverent chief correspondent, Peter Mansbridge, has perfected, real journalism requires critical thinking and hard-hitting questions. In that, The Toronto Star holds to consistently high standards.

To appreciate this fact, consider first the following exchange during the year-end interview the Prime Minister granted his media acolyte:

Mansbridge: So why don’t we propose something then?

Harper: We have proposed something.

What have we proposed?
Well the Province of Alberta, excuse me, the Province of Alberta itself already has a, it’s one of the few GHD regulatory environments in the country. It has one. I think it’s a model on which you could, on which you could go broader.

This is the carbon levy?

This is the tech fund price carbon levy and the, the, it’s not a levy, it’s a price and there’s a tech fund in which, in which the private sector makes investments. So look, that’s what Alberta has done, that’s a model that’s available but you know as I say, we’re very open to see progress on this on a continental basis. I’ve said that repeatedly to our partners in North America and we look forward to working on that.There is no follow-up by the good Mr. Mansbridge on this alleged carbon tax. That became the task of The Star, in today's editorial, which pointedly lambastes the Alberta model:
...the relaxed Alberta model that Harper promotes imposes a levy of just $15, and only on large emitters that fail to improve their energy efficiency (rather than reduce output). The firms can pay the money into a clean-energy research fund or purchase carbon credits. The result? Alberta emissions continue to soar, albeit at a slower rate, undercutting efforts in Ontario and British Columbia.Far better, says The Star, would be to adopt the B.C, model,
which has a straight-up carbon tax, an approach the Star has long favoured. The $30-per-metric-tonne levy currently pushes up the cost of gasoline and natural gas by 6.67 cents a litre and 5.7 cents a cubic metre. But it is revenue-neutral. Residents reap the benefit in lower income taxes. It has led to a sharp drop in per capita fuel consumption.British Columbia’s tax has been a “phenomenal success,” Charles Komanoff told the Star’s editorial board on Friday. He’s a co-founder of the New York-based Carbon Tax Center, dedicated to curbing global warming. The centre favours an aggressive carbon tax starting at $10 per metric tonne and rising to $100 over a decade.The Star speculates that any talk of a carbon tax, even the weak one used in Alberta, is simply subterfuge on the part of Mr. Harper who, going into an election year, is trying to don the guise of a green warrior.

It is to be hoped that Canadians will not be so easily fooled this time around by such shameless posturing.

The editorial offers a solid suggestion that, if pursued, will reveal not only the truth behind Harper's rhetoric, but also the integrity and commitment of the other party leaders:
When Parliament resumes after the holiday break the opposition should make it a priority to pin him down on just what he’s prepared to propose to our major trading partners, by way of a credible scheme to price carbon and curb climate change. Voters should know before they cast their ballots on Oct. 19, or sooner.I look forward to the House's resumption on January 26.


Recommend this Post

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - 9 hours 50 min ago
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Ryan Meili examines why Craig Alexander of the TD Bank is calling for a move toward greater income equality in Canada:
The OECD reports that income inequality is at the highest level in 30 years, and that economic growth has been slowed by as much as 10 per cent in some countries as a result. A 2014 IMF study showed that redistributive policies through tax and transfers not only do no harm to the economy, but can improve performance in the long-term. In fact, it appears that public investments in child care and other services are far more effective in creating jobs and increasing economic growth than corporate or income tax cuts.

Returning to the TD report, it recommends a variety of key public investments to reduce inequality, including affordable housing, health and social services, early childhood development and decreasing barriers to all levels of higher education, from skills training to professional colleges. These are encouraging comments, as they also address key social determinants of health, meaning they are not only good for the economy, but more importantly, good for Canadians.
(I)t’s extremely encouraging to see this shift in thinking coming from so many directions. When economists working for one of the Big Five banks — Canada’s largest lender, in fact — come out with a strong position on income inequality, it’s indicative of how much this has moved from being a fringe concern to economic orthodoxy.

Last year at this time we heard Conservative Minister James Moore channel his inner Scrooge, implying that the poverty of his neighbour’s child was none of his concern, and neither was the poverty of Canadians any business of the federal government. How delightful to hear a message far more in keeping with the spirit of the season, however unlikely the source.  - Meanwhile, Alex Himelfarb talks to Possible Canadas about the damaging effects of inequality and austerity. And LOLGOP points out that slightly more progressive taxes under the Obama administration have been put in place at the same time the U.S. has experienced its best job growth of this century.

- Justin Ling interviews Tony Clement about access to information under the Cons, only to find that Clement's own responses consist solely of talking points and redactions. And Torstar reports on the Cons' use of a paid PR service at public expense to manufacture government-approved "news".

- Radical Centrist discusses the need for Canada to talk realistically about the meaning of minority election outcomes - and notes that the U.K. offers a readily-available basis for comparison. And Frank Graves finds that there's plenty of popular support for a coalition government to replace the Harper Cons, even as the Libs once again try to order Canadians not to accept change other than on their own unilaterally-dictated terms.

- Rob Drinkwater reports on CNRL's contamination of drinking water near Cold Lake.

- Finally, Naomi Klein writes about the scant attention paid to murdered and missing aboriginal women by Canadian authorities (with the full support of a callous government), while highlighting the movement to end the silence.

The Year Ahead and the Coalition Dream

Montreal Simon - 13 hours 2 min ago

It's a little too soon to take out my crystal ball and predict what's going to happen next year, like so many in the MSM are already doing.

Even though the big hollow ball in my neighbourhood seemed to think it knows, as I passed it on my way home last night.

But then homeless men like to smoke crack inside it, so it might have been them, and its predictions are probably as reliable as all those others.

Although I wouldn't be surprised if we do end up with a Liberal coalition government. Especially since even after all that has happened this year, nothing has really changed 
Read more »

John Doyle's Christmas Gift To All Of Us

Politics and its Discontents - Sun, 12/21/2014 - 06:58

One of the few bright spots on that erstwhile formidable newspaper, The Globe and Mail, is television columnist John Doyle. His trenchant wit and justifiable cynicism about showbiz, along with his capacity to point out shows worth watching, would almost make the paper worth its cost were it not for its abject subservience to its political masters.

A man who refuses to drink the corporate Kool Aid, Doyle maintains an independence that I suspect few are accorded at the Globe. In that spirit, his offers his Top Ten Most Irritating TV-Related Canadians for this year. I reproduce a few that may be of special interest to followers of politics:
Ezra Levant

A truly, truly outstanding year. His supremacy in irritating-ness is unmatched, a fact that must make him proud. His demented ranting about young Mr. Trudeau. An Ontario court ruling that he was guilty of libel and that he demonstrated a “reckless disregard for the truth.” And his bizarre attack on an Ontario school-board memo he alleged was some sort of anti-Canadian, pro-Muslim conspiracy. Still he smiles.

Pastor Mansbridge

Mansbridge should not have accepted money from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers for a speech. It was just a dumb thing to do. Inept and, as such, hugely irritating.If I may make a personal aside here, Mansbridge should also not be doing the devil's work.
The people behind “A message from the Government of Canada”

Specifically, the ad titled Drug Prevention – Marijuana Use, in which over deeply ominous music, it was announced, “Did you know that marijuana is on average 300 to 400 per cent stronger than it was 30 years ago? And that smoking marijuana can seriously harm a teen’s developing brain?” Actually the science is limited and, actually, the commercial is political, not medical. Irritating to think we are taken as fools.Pierre Poilievre

Anyone with the ridiculous job title minister of democratic reform, which sounds like something dreamed up in a satire of North Korea, should be a bit abashed. Poilievre spent the year as a finger-pointing, accusatory bully. Every time he appeared on TV he was outrageously choleric, instantly a ridiculous figure.

Our Glorious Leader (OGL)

The PM, the pianist and singer, whatever you want to call him, or Our Glorious Leader, announced himself to be in “a different headspace” in a year-end TV interview. We knew that.Regarding the last illustrious name on the list, obviously much more could be said. But I guess there are even things that the redoubtable Mr. Doyle knows he cannot say.Recommend this Post

Whose Terrorist?

Northern Reflections - Sun, 12/21/2014 - 05:31


The word "terrorist" is everywhere these days. But, Tom Walkom writes, the definition of the word depends as much on domestic considerations as it does on international considerations. And domestic considerations change -- frequently:

Take the most basic question: Who are the terrorists? Until Wednesday, Cuba was listed by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism. Now U.S. President Barack Obama says it is not.
Why? It’s not because Cuba has changed. It’s the same old place. Raul and Fidel Castro are still in charge.
Rather it is because American domestic politics have changed. Now it’s politically useful for Washington to bury the hatchet.Is Hamas itself terrorist? Canada says yes. The European Union’s second highest court says maybe not. The General Court said the EU used improper methods to place Hamas on its terror list.
And, in the lead up to an election, the word "terrorist" becomes a hot button:

For more absurdities, look at Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s air war against the Islamic State.

According to Ottawa, it is part of an epic battle for the future of civilization. Yet in almost 50 days of warfare, Canadian fighter jets have released their bombs only nine times.
In part, this is because the U.S.-led coalition can’t find enough enemies of civilization to bomb.But in part, it results from the disjunction between the rhetoric surrounding this conflict and a more mundane reality — which is that Harper needs a war to win the next election, but he needs it to be a war with few Canadian casualties.

Last week, both Peter Mackay and Stephen Harper suggested that the murderers of two Canadian soldiers might be connected to ISIS. To date, no evidence of that connection has emerged -- just as those "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq never materialized.

So whose terrorist are we talking about? A real one -- or one manufactured for political gain?

Stephen Harper and the Hidden Story of the Anti-Gay Judge

Montreal Simon - Sun, 12/21/2014 - 04:16

The other day I wrote about how appalled I was to see that Stephen Harper, and his ghastly stooge Peter MacKay, had appointed an anti-gay judge. 

A law professor named an Ontario judge this week wrote two years ago for a conservative, U.S.-based institute that the legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada has harmed religious freedom and free speech, and led to the “indoctrination” of children in public schools.

Who sounded like he had sprung from the bowels of bigot America.

But then I decided to find out more about Bradley Miller. 

And now I'm even more DISGUSTED.
Read more »

The War on Christmas is Over Somebody Tell Nina Grewal

Montreal Simon - Sat, 12/20/2014 - 22:52

Well I know it may be hard to believe, but it seems like that old Con favourite, the imaginary War on Christmas, is finally over.

The Fox News nutbar Bill O'Reilly has declared victory. Again.

"I won the 'War on Christmas!'" he said. "I've been doing this for about 10 years and this is the only year we have not had a store that commanded its employees not to say 'Merry Christmas.'" "It's over, we won," he proclaimed.

And this time he may actually be right. 
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Accused in Home Invasion and Attempted Murder of WWII Veteran Not What Boneheads Expected

Anti-Racist Canada - Sat, 12/20/2014 - 20:25
Yesterday our newest friend Jonathan Kotyk posted the following on Stormfront:

Thankfully, the victim Ernest Côté is still tough as nails and was able to free himself from his bonds once the suspect had left; Mr. Côté was otherwise unharmed physically. Not surprisingly though, the folks on Stormfront jumped to what they thought to be an obvious conclusion:

Yep, has to be a person of color. 
Except that it wasn't.

Meet Ian Bush, currently in custody and suspected of the home invasion and attempted murder of Ernest Côté. It should be noted that Bush is currently accused but has not been convicted, thus any time we will refer to him in relation to the crime that took place we will be certain to use the word "alleged" liberally.
Ian Bush is the president of Bush and Associates Consulting, though given how shitty the company's website is (and considering how shitty ours looks, we kind of think we write from a position of some authority on this matter) we aren't sure we would be very confident in Mr. Bush and co. Then again, the company is registered through on a federal government website, so there is that. We guess.
We also found that Mr. Bush led a fairly active life online through Twitter:

We spent some time reading through his tweets of the last month, and found some that are rather ironic considering Mr. Bush's alleged conduct:
Real soldiers.... like Ernest Côté    The alleged home invasion occurred on December
18, the day before this particular tweet.
We didn't go through every single tweet, but we did look at a month's worth of messages. If the boneheads had hoped that Mr. Bush was a leftist commie hippy, we think these messages might put a bit of a damper on that hope:

Read more »

In Character

Rusty Idols - Sat, 12/20/2014 - 09:43
Honestly anyone surprised by Danielle Smith's craven rat paddle away from the sinking Wildrose ship just hasn't been paying attention. When she couldn't control the Calgary school board with the the sheer self evident perfection of her Fraser institute indoctrinated ideology she blew it up in a display of juvenile mean girl behaviour that has typified her career. 

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

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

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


Saturday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 12/20/2014 - 08:22
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

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

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

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

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

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

What's The Conventional Wisdom?

Northern Reflections - Sat, 12/20/2014 - 06:48


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

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

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

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

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

Stephen Harper: Merry Christmas And Bah, Humbug!

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 12/20/2014 - 05:55

My fellow Canadians,

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

Something for your digestive consideration.

Something for the greenie on your seasonal list.

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

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

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

Recommend this Post

Stephen Harper's Monstrous Propaganda War on Canadians

Montreal Simon - Sat, 12/20/2014 - 05:32

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

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

But who knew they're also spending a fortune trying to pass off propaganda as NEWS? 
Read more »

Musical interlude

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


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