We are bloggers who advocate for social, economic and labour justice, for human rights, sexual freedom and reproductive choice, for non-violence, the protection of the commons, including universal healthcare, public broadcasting and Canadian culture in an independent Canada dedicated to true representative democracy, the well-being of our environment and the betterment of all in the world.
And don't forget that the first leaders' debate is August 6. Hosted by Paul Wells, it will be recorded in City’s Toronto studio and air live, commercial-free and with closed captioning, on City, OMNI.1, OMNI.2, and CPAC. It will also stream live at Macleans.ca, Citytv.com, CityNews.ca, OMNItv.ca, CPAC.ca, Facebook, YouTube, and on Rogers Radio stations at 680News.com, 570news.com, 660News.com, 1310News.com, News1130.com and News957.com.Perhaps not as accessible as the consortium debates would have been, this will nonetheless be Canadians' first opportunity to see the federal combatants in the same arena. Whether it will be fairly moderated by Wells is another question entirely. Having read his book, The Longer I'm Prime Minister, I couldn't escape the impression that Wells has a rather deep admiration for Harper.
On Saturday, the Globe and Mail published an excerpt from John Ibbitson's recently published book, Stephen Harper. The piece begins with a pean to Harper:
He is a lion in autumn, weaker than in his prime, but still a force of nature. He faces his fifth, and perhaps final, test as national leader. But in a way, the result won’t matter. Whether Stephen Harper wins or loses the general election of October 19 is moot. He has already reshaped Canada. And Canada will not easily be changed back.He has made the federal government smaller, less intrusive, less ambitious. He has made Canada a less Atlantic and a more Pacific nation.He has brought peace to a fractious federation. Under his leadership, Canada speaks with a very different voice in the world. He has also given us a very different politics – more intensely partisan, more ideological, more polarizing. This, too, is unlikely to change, now that people are used to it. Peace? I'm not so sure. Later in the piece, Ibbitson writes of Stephen Harper's flaws. He's a man whose personal psychology has made him a disastrous choice for prime minister:
There are disagreeable aspects to Stephen Harper’s personality. He is prone to mood swings. He can fly off the handle. He goes into funks, sometimes for long periods. He is suspicious of others. The public is aware of these traits mostly through what’s written and reported in the media. In public, Harper is almost invariably calm, measured, and careful in what he says and how he says it. Yet none of us, watching him, have any difficulty believing that this closed, repressed personality is capable of lashing out from time to time. We all get the vibe. His personality also comes out in the tactics that the Conservative Party uses against its enemies, both perceived and real – which are, in a word, ruthless.
Another of Harper’s less attractive qualities is a perceived lack of loyalty toward others. One-time political adviser Tom Flanagan points out that Harper has betrayed or estranged many in the conservative movement who were at one time senior to him – Joe Clark, Jim Hawkes, Brian Mulroney, Preston Manning. This, Flanagan believes, is the product of Harper’s need to dominate whatever environment he is in. “I think he has this very strong instinct to be in charge,” he said. “He really wants to be the alpha figure, and he’s achieved that. So part of that is to dispose of anyone who might be considered to be a rival in some sense or another.”
Flanagan also asserts that “there is a huge streak of paranoia in Stephen. And he attracts people who have a paranoid streak. And if you don’t have one to begin with, you develop it, because you’re constantly hearing theories.” At its root, “looking back, there’s a visceral reluctance to trust the motives of other people,” Flanagan concludes. “He often overcomes his initial suspicions and will sign on to other people’s ideas. But the initial response is always one of suspicion.” Flanagan believes Harper is prone to depression. “He can be suspicious, secretive, and vindictive, prone to sudden eruptions of white-hot rage over meaningless trivia,” he wrote in 2014, “at other times falling into week-long depressions in which he is incapable of making decisions.” Not disagreeable, Mr. Ibbitson. Dangerous. Such a man is capable of making momentous mistakes. And Harper has made many. Should he receive a fourth mandate? I think not.
I came across this article on Sockeye mortality on the west coast this year due to catastrophic high temperatures in the rivers. What really blew me away was the language the scientist used and his focus, strangely, on “talking points” and messaging.
- Ezra Klein talks to Bernie Sanders about how to build a more fair economy in the U.S. and around the globe. And Lynn Parramore interviews Tony Atkinson about the options available to rein in economic inequality - and why we should be working on putting them in place: LP: Some of the possible prescriptions you discuss, such as a basic income for all citizens, may sound radical, but you point out that they are actually already implemented as policy in many countries in various ways. Are ideas like basic income getting more attention and traction now?
TA: Definitely. A lot of people I’ve talked to about the book, in different places, say, “Oh! I never knew we could do that kind of thing.” It’s a tragedy, in a way, that our political system has become very narrowly focused and not willing to at least debate these ideas.
The basic income is very close to the idea Thomas Paine put forward in the 1790s. (Paine’s proposal, by the way, is on the website of the U.S. Social Security Administration). That proposal is something that I and many others think is really interesting, which is that everyone, on reaching the age of 18 or so, should receive a capital payment. It would be like a negative capital tax. That idea was also proposed years ago in America by Bruce Ackerman, a professor of law at Yale.
A capital payment, or capital grant, would contribute to solving the problem of the intergenerational distribution of income, which is something I stress in the book. That is a serious problem, which I found, for example, in discussions with Korean journalists and economists. They are very worried about generational divide — concerned that the older people have benefitted from growth and the younger people are struggling to find jobs and so on. Some of the measures I propose are designed to take money away from my generation and give it to younger generations. The capital grant certainly would do that.
LP: You’ve been a strong critic of claims that we can’t afford to do much about inequality. How do you react to such claims?
TA: I think that the question about whether we can afford it has two dimensions. One is the extent to which addressing inequality involves redistribution —whether in involves some people, like myself, paying higher taxes to finance a more effective system of social protection, for example. On the other hand, it’s a question about how far these measures and other measures would tend to reduce the size of the cake, to put it in a rather hackneyed metaphor.
The second argument is the one I spend more time discussing, which is to say that in the kinds of economies in which we live, there are a number of directions in which we can both make the distribution fairer and contribute to making our economies more efficient and more productive for everyone. That’s very much within the Institute for New Economic Thinking’s way of looking at the world because I’m really saying that the economic model we’ve had to think about is one in which intervention tends to reduce the size of the cake. Yet if you think about a different economic model, you have to allow for the fact that there are corporations with monopoly power. You have to allow for the fact that we have workers who have very little countervailing power, and so on. There are, in fact, ways in which the current situation is inefficient.- Thomas Mulcair tells Christopher Majka why he's committed to combating inequality in Canada: For the first time in our history, the current generation is going to have less than their parents and their grandparents. That's never happened before in the history of Canada. We're far too wealthy to just stand by and watch that happen -- there's no reason for it. There's no reason for having 800,000 kids going to school hungry in the morning in Canada. That's a shame that we don't have to put up with. There's no way we have to put up with third world conditions on Canada's First Nations reserves. And I for one do not consider it inevitable that the seniors who built this country should wind up living in deep poverty. We're going to change that. My job, as a social democrat, has always been to decrease inequality in our society. That's our priority.- Meanwhile, Stephen Harper offers his own idea of how the economy should operate - involving increasing individual debt which is rebranded as "consumer confidence" rather than an unfortunate necessity.
- Finally, Dana Nuccitelli writes that contrary to the spin of climate change denialists, we're actually learning by the year just how accurate global warming projections have been. And Ethan Cox argues that instead of criticizing people for failing to go far out of their way to opt out of the dirty energy economy we're stuck with, we should be working collectively on a cleaner, fairer society for everybody.
Yes, Paul McLeod's report that Stephen Harper will go through a three-month election period without meeting a single person who hasn't been previously vetted by partisan operatives is pretty much the logical extension of the Harper Cons' attitude toward the public. But it's worth offering a reminder how that relates to the flood of propaganda going in the other direction.
Any place in Stephen Harper's campaign - or any consideration by his government - is by invitation only.
The few people who receive personal invitations due to their perceived political value - the Carsons and Duffys, Porters and Del Mastros - know they'll be taken care of.
But it's the converse that matters to most Canadians: if you're being advertised to rather than invited in, Harper has no intention of going anywhere near you. And that's as true for his policy choices as it is for his physical proximity.
So anybody being excluded from Harper's line of sight should have every reason to make sure he no longer has any power to decide who or what matters in Canadian politics.
The former head of Elections Canada, Jean Pierre Kingsley, says that Stephen Harper is "gaming the system." And Kory Teneyche, the former head of Sun News, says that,when Mr. Harper has a campaign event, attendance will be by "invitation only."
Ten years ago, no one would have thought that a prime minister could treat the voting public with such brazen contempt. But this is Stephen Harper. Contempt is in his DNA. Elizabeth Thompson reports:
While all parties keep an eye on who is showing up for events, largely for security reasons, most parties do not screen people before they are allowed into the room to hear their leaders. During the 2011 election campaign, there were a couple of incidents where people who showed up to listen to Harper were turned away because party workers discovered Facebook posts critical of Harper, pictures of them posing with another party leader or a pro-NDP bumper sticker. At the time, Harper apologized. But there are no apologies this time around:
This time, though, the Conservatives are unapologetic – serving notice that “by invitation only” is going to be the norm throughout the campaign, expected to last 11 weeks.
The tight control is in keeping with Harper’s style of government, particularly since the Conservatives won a majority government in 2011. Precisely. Stephen Harper has always been a man of his people. On election day, it will be interesting to see how may of his people are left.
Shorter Saskatchewan Party Ministry of P3 Giveaways: There's always a risk that the corporate giants we're paying to take over government operations might be more interested in making money than the public interest. We're pretty sure the only answer is to pay off more corporate giants.
Help us get this doc on the road before the election!
In a few weeks Canadians will head back to the polls without any clear assurance the last federal election delivered the results they voted for.
Documentary filmmaker Peter Smoczynski has just completed a 42 day road trip across Canada from Guelph to Whitehorse interviewing and filming recipients of the harassment, live and robo calls which took place in 234 out of 308 ridings in the 2011 federal election.
MPs, journalists, scholars, court challenge litigants, and experts on the Fair Elections Act, voter micro-targetting and professional voter suppression techniques imported from the U.S. also lend their voices and expertise to the film.
When the writ drops, Peter plans to have an abbreviated version of the full length film ready to tour across the country from church basements and libraries to movie houses.
This is where you come in.
The film is running on fumes here.
We urgently need your help with post-production and editing expenses to get this doc out into the public eye before the upcoming election.
Please check back for details of our progress and information on future tour dates.
Producer's overview of the film can be viewed here .
Thank you for your time.
PETER SMOCZYNSKI The Script & Film Co. Producer/Director/Writer Documentary Filmmaker Peter's profile. People give dough to the damnedest things. But this project seems not to have the "right" kind of appeal.
Beats the shit out of me why not.
Please consider contributing. And/or pass the info around your networks.
Yeah, forget about the Parliamentary Budget Office saying that we are already in deficit. Like, what do they know? The Harper Reform Party – lying comes so naturally to them. (3) Trashy, Ottawa, Ontario
It turns out Stephen Harper is not going to interact with anyone during the election campaign that wasn’t cleared in advance by his staffers. Even “public” rallies with hundreds or thousands of people will be made up entirely people who are pre-screened.
Conservative spokesman Kory Teneycke said Friday that only invited guests will be allowed at each and every event over the expected 11-week campaign.
“You need to have been invited and if you don’t have a ticket you’re not getting in,” Teneycke said.
Like the cowards he and his master are, Teneycke broke the news late Friday afternoon before a summer long weekend, so statistically you’re not reading this.
If you haven't seen this, take 2 1/2 minutes and watch.
Press Progress put together 13 Conservative MPs all delivering identical speeches. It's hilarious.
As a reproductive rights blogger, of course I immediately recognized several of them as fetus freaks: Woodworth, Warawa, Anderson, Lizon. Then I looked further and found that 11 of the 13 are rabid zygote zealots. The only exceptions being Robert Sopuck and John Carmichael both of whom voted against Woodworth's Wank which earned them the ire of Campaign Lie.
OK, there are a lot of anti-choice CON MPs, but 11 of 13 of the robots are double-plus-good fetus freaks?
What are the odds?
This is kind of beside the point. I was looking at -- and laughing my guts out at (see below) -- anti-choice reaction to Health Canada's long overdue approval of RU486/mifepristone.
Bottom line: despite having years, decades even, to coordinate their reaction to this inevitable announcement, they do not have their shit together.
Here is the one that cracked me up. Mrozek at Focus on the Family's Astroturf Blog offered some quick thoughts. One such thought: "women will be traumatized by watching this in their toilets." SHRIEEEEK!
Who knew that anti-choice women don't bleed? Or never bleed heavily? Or never look in the toilet? Or deal with pads and tampons discreetly in the dark? Or something?
But traumatizing the poor frail women. OK.
Now over at CTV, they mashed five reports from local affiliates together, all with de rigeur statements from fetus fetishists.
One hand-wringer: “The bottom line is, you’re not taking the pill to get rid of a cold or a stuffy nose,” said Christina Alaimo of the Campaign Life Coalition. “This is a very serious procedure that’s being done and I think it may psychologically make it easier for women.” Easier on the sluts. Well, we don't want that.
Another, this one from CON MP David Anderson who issued a press release: "It is a dangerous combination of drugs that destroys a woman's tissues in the womb in order to kill her pre-born child," David Anderson, the member for Cypress Hills-Grasslands, said in a release. This is a head-scratcher because antis always insist that the "pre-born" thingy is a totally separate and nearly-ready-for-kindergarten entity. Absolutely nothing to do with the woman's "tissues" or, hevvin forbid, her body.
On Twitter, despite being stone-cold sober, I got into an exchange with creepy Dominionist Mike Schouten of We Need a Law Like a Hole in the Head.
I offered facts and links. Got back idiotic non-sequiturs. Then I thought to ask the Big Question.
Because here's the thing. Antis cannot go public with why they have a particular bug up their asses about RU486 because that bug is drenched in pure misogyny. They hate hate hate the fact that women now have another venue in which to express their autonomy, control, and privacy.
Oddly, the only one to tell the truth is SUZY ALLCAPS.
The problem with this [medical abortion] model, from the pro-life perspective, is that it's a little harder to protest the GP who does abortions, when he treats the community's ear infections, sore throats, STD's and so on.
If you make life hard on this person, it won't just be abortion clients who'll be unhappy. It will be all the patients this doctor sees. But the CON robot MPs did so splendidly in the PMO-scripted videos. Maybe Canadian fetus freaks need some Kids in Short Pants to write for them.
Or someone like Herr Harper to put the fear of Lucifer in them.
"When speaking of divine perfection, we signify that God is just and true and loving, the author of order, not disorder, of good, not evil. We signify that he is justice, that he is truth, that he is love, that he is order, that he is the very progress of.." Plato
“In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these means, man can attain perfection.” Plato