Posts from our progressive community

On search results

accidentaldeliberations - mar, 05/26/2015 - 16:08
Colby Cosh's latest on the role of the "human search engine" in tracking down information about candidates and elected officials is worth a read. But it's worth keeping in mind that the search results only matter to the extent they're put to use.

On that front, having commended Notley for her initial response to issues raised about Deborah Drever, I'll note that there's reason for concern about Drever's subsequent suspension.

I'm always leery about personal controversies being used as an excuse to disqualify people from participation in public life. And the high bar for excluding people from running seems like it should be raised even further when the party's vetting and nomination processes and a general election have resulted in an individual having been elected under the NDP banner.

Moreover, the effects of Notley's decision won't be limited to Drever herself. Instead, Notley's willingness to cut people out of the NDP caucus before they've even participated in it will only encourage more focus on MLAs' photographic history rather than their work in the legislature.

That said, the good news is that Notley has left room for Drever to redeem herself, imposing a temporary suspension rather than the under-the-bus sentence so familiar among other parties. And hopefully the future obsessions of the right's human search engine won't be to redirect Alberta politics from building a new culture of inclusion.

Another Nail In The Coffin Of Canada's International Reputation

Politics and its Discontents - mar, 05/26/2015 - 12:36

Ever the uncritical and obsequious friend of Israel and wooer of domestic Jewish votes, the Harper regime has once again shamed and blackened Canada's international reputation:
Israel has expressed its gratitude to Canada for helping to block a major international plan towards ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

Elsewhere, however, there was widespread international disappointment that Canada and Britain supported the United States in opposing the document at the United Nations review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The document called on the UN to hold a disarmament conference on the Middle East by 2016. Such a conference could have forced Israel to publicly acknowledge that it is a nuclear power, something the Jewish state has never done.In language that makes no attempt to conceal Harper's contempt for people's intelligence worldwide, his government stoutly maintained how important an issue disarmament is:
"Prime Minister Harper reaffirmed Canada's commitment to disarmament and non-proliferation, including within the framework of the NPT," the statement said.

"He also stressed Canada's belief that a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone can only be truly effective if all countries in the Middle East participate freely and constructively in its establishment."Huh?

Not everyone was imbibing the government-issued Kool-Aid.
It's disappointing that Canada helped scuttle the four weeks of negotiations that led up to Friday's result, said Beatrice Fihn, spokeswoman for the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a coalition of 400 non-governmental organizations in 95 countries.

"Three countries take their cue from a non-state party -- Israel isn't even part of the treaty -- and thereby have this final say," Fihn said.The Toronto area is a crucial battleground in the upcoming election, with some ridings having a strong Jewish presence. Expect new polling from the PMO to assess the efficacy of this latest denigration of Canada's reputation.Recommend this Post

Stephen Harper: Reality and dream

LeDaro - mar, 05/26/2015 - 10:37
Following picture depicts Harper quite well. In the mirror he thinks he looks like a macho man but the reality is quite different.

Tuesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - mar, 05/26/2015 - 09:00
This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- LOLGOP discusses the important role unions play in ensuring widespread freedom and prosperity - and why they're thus target number one for corporatists seeking to hoard more wealth at the top:
When Scott Walker promises to bring his anti-union policies that have help lead Wisconsin to the largest decline in the Middle Class of any state nationally, he’s revealing what’s long been the subtext of the conservative movement. Their goal has always been to trick the middle class to vote itself out of existence, and this requires turning workers against backbone that gives them the ability to stand up to corporate power — unions.
(H)ow we talk about unions matters. Making workers resentful and jealous of the few of their peers who still have pensions and other elements of job security is key to undermining the most important role unions play as the only advocate of working people who can stare down the corporate America, which has largely copied labor’s organizational efforts with greater resources and results than workers could have ever mustered.
Embracing labor and greater workplace representation as central to reversing the wealth gap that threatens our economy and stability is the “one thing” that can save as, as labor attorney Thomas Geoghegan argues in his great new book.

This starts by changing how we talk about unions. George Lakoff reminds us to always put their necessity in terms of the value that matters most to Americans: “Unions are about freedom, freedom from corporate servitude and wage slavery, freedom from unsafe working conditions, and the freedom in later life that comes from fair pensions, which are delayed payments for work done earlier in life.”

Studies show this isn’t just good framing. It’s good economics.- Joseph Brean reports on the alliance forming between organized labour and the environmental movement to develop a sustainable economy. And Marc Lee observes that British Columbia's carbon tax isn't all it's cracked up to be in terms of either economic development or environmental progress.

- Matthew Yglesias points out one more way in which the finance sector is too big for the good of the community, as bank mergers and associated branch closures tend to result in less lending to small businesses.

- Meanwhile, Dylan Matthews discusses Kansas' scheme to ensure that supposed social benefits are in fact converted into bank fees. And Vineeth Sekharan looks at the costs of criminalizing homelessness.

- Finally, Thomas Walkom comments on the role terror figures to play in the Cons' election campaign. And Amanda Connolly reports on the lack of resources needed to provide any oversight for CSIS, whether under C-51 or otherwise.

Raising Those At The Bottom

Northern Reflections - mar, 05/26/2015 - 04:36

There has been a lot of discussion about the 1% of us who are fabulously wealthy. A new OECD report, In It Together: Why Less Inequality Benefits All, suggests that concentration of wealth at the top does not promote economic growth. And taking our cue from recent economic research, our current political discussion is focused on cutting the rich down to size.

But Clive Cook suggests that a careful reading of the report leads to a different conclusion. We need to  focus our efforts on raising the economic prospects of those at the bottom of the income distribution:

How does the growing gap between low incomes and average incomes hold back growth? The study ventures some plausible ideas. This one is top of the list:

A main transmission mechanism between inequality and growth is human-capital investment. While there is always a gap in education outcomes across individuals with different socio-economic backgrounds, the gap widens in high-inequality countries as people in disadvantaged households struggle to access quality education. This implies large amounts of wasted potential and lower social mobility.
That means we should be making major investments in public education at all levels and employment opportunities the improved schools would support:

The policy agenda this seems to recommend would focus on improving the schools that serve low-income families, and on raising the incomes of the households concerned — through lower taxes and higher wage subsidies. The study also backs efforts to get more women into the workforce and to enable people to move from irregular or part-time employment to proper jobs.
Quite simply, the neo-conservative agenda we have been living with for the last forty years has put the cart before the horse. Rather than rewarding the wealthy for creating mythical jobs, we should be helping those at the bottom get the jobs which keep the economy growing.

The Day Stephen Harper's Attack Ads Made Him look Like an Idiot

Montreal Simon - mar, 05/26/2015 - 03:48

As I've been telling you for a while, Stephen Harper's PMO is not the mighty Death Machine it once was.

These days it's looking desperate and disorganized. Its election campaign is veering wildly in all directions. It's making a lot of dumb mistakes.

And there couldn't be a better example of that than what happened yesterday. When the fanatics in the PMO launched two new attack ads.

Only to have them go horribly wrong.
Read more »

Staying the flawed course

accidentaldeliberations - lun, 05/25/2015 - 09:51
John Ivison is right to note that the Cons' latest ad reflects the Harper braintrust sticking to what seems to have been a long-established plan. But it's worth highlighting how that plan has been overtaken by events - and how even the Libs may be able to use the message to their advantage if they're smart in the approach to this fall's federal election.

In principle, a "just not ready" message is tailor-made for a two-party race where a party's ability to attach a single personality flaw to the opposing leader can make all the difference between victory and defeat.

But for the Cons, it represents a couple of important concessions.

As I've written before, the Cons' previous election campaigns were based on portraying the Libs' leader as unfit to govern under any circumstances - or indeed (in Michael Ignatieff's words) as lacking standing to be heard during at all. But "not ready" implies an entirely different standard: that the question to be decided about Justin Trudeau is whether or not he's suited to govern only at a single point in time.

And the softened message from the Cons seems also to signal some recognition that their attacks on opposing parties lack credibility. One has to figure that Stephen Harper would prefer to present a stronger critique if he thought voters would consider it plausible. But after a decade of saturation bombing with Cons propaganda through government and party channels alike, voters have tuned out anything that doesn't sound like what they'd be inclined to say for themselves.

It makes sense in that context for the Cons to turn to focus groups to tell them what messages will work. But that also means there's an awfully limited range of options available.

As for the opposition parties, the NDP surely figures to be happy to see the Cons sticking to their false assumption that the election will be a two-party race. (And it wouldn't be the first time that a right-wing party's failure to take the NDP seriously might lead to major progressive change.)

If the public accepts the ad's message - and particularly if Trudeau reinforces it at all during the course of the campaign - then Tom Mulcair can easily become the rallying point for opposition simply by showing that he's ready to govern. And that doesn't figure to be a problem for a leader with his talent and experience.

Indeed, Mulcair might well fit neatly into a Goldilocks scenario between a tired Harper and a not-ready Trudeau.

But even for the Libs, the new ad represents only a challenge rather than a defeat. And it's one they've presumably understood for some time now.

Unlike the vague criticisms of Dion and Ignatieff, the "not ready" critique is one which can be tested by how the Libs run their campaign. If Trudeau holds his own on the campaign trail and particularly in the leaders' debates, then the Cons' last attempt to bargain for another term in power will fail. And the particular criticism might also yield some fruit in developing counterattacks - such a "Harper thinks he knows it all" theme based on his presuming to dictate when Trudeau is ready, with former PMs taking to the stage to highlight the value of comparative humility and a willingness to learn.

Even if Trudeau can't hold up or counterattack immediately, though, he can easily preserve his own position by treating the election result as a "not yet" rather than a "no". And if a public consensus emerges behind the "not ready" messsage, the resulting attraction of progressive votes to the NDP doesn't particularly help the Cons either.

The Cons then seem to be betting that Trudeau's performance will be subject to just enough interpretation to split the vote for change while ceding the right to Harper. (Or they might hang on if Trudeau and the Libs spend their entire campaign bashing the NDP rather than making a case for change so as to ensure that both alternatives are tarred by election day.)

We'll see whether either comes to pass. But that's an awfully narrow set of possibilities for a sitting majority government which has done little but to plot for its own political fortunes.

On minimal solutions

accidentaldeliberations - lun, 05/25/2015 - 08:29
Shorter Corporatists to Fleece the Irrelevant Beggars trying to avoid a living wage for Alberta:
Has anybody pointed out that if we ensure that the hungry have food, some of them might gain weight? That's why we consider it more responsible to force-feed them diet pills.

Adblock is Adhoc Answer to the Ugly Ad Dilemma

Left Over - lun, 05/25/2015 - 08:02
AdBlock Plus mobile browser could devastate publishers About 215 million people will use ad block services on their computers by June, company estimates

CBC News Posted: May 25, 2015 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: May 25, 2015 5:17 AM ET

Twenty-four hours after Ad Block Plus launched its Android browser with an ad blocker built in, it logged more than 200,000 downloads. (Bloomua/Shutterstock)

Online advertising is beyond obnoxious, but I do realize it is a necessary part of getting ‘free’ content…

Instead of my first inclination to think it is a right wing conspiracy to control  media content to the extent that Adblock might force certain progressive-minded  media off the  Web, thereby pleasing the corporate masters of right wing politicians no end, and depriving us of  information regarding what our dictatorial masters are up to, let’s look at the problem as rationally as one possibly can….

I quit  being involved in Huffington Post a couple of years ago, because of obnoxious ads and because they forced you to join Facebook to comment..that was the end of HuffPo for me..I never used Adblock until the ads got so overpowering that you couldn’t even read the content you were trying to get…I realized that news media relied on ads for revenue in the face of disappearing subscriptions, etc. but this is insane..I had one company following me around to every media source I clicked on, with stupid pulsating lights and interference with the copy I was trying to read…how can any company ever expect consumers to want to check out their products when their ads are so annoying? Everyone mutes TV ads because they have become so loud and obnoxious, so why would corps assume that online ads are any less annoying? Seems really self-destructive to me..

Personally, I make a list of advertisers that piss me off, and go out of my way to avoid supporting them..and that goes for any sort of  political or charitable types who  stalk you if you are foolish enough to  give them any donation or information…whatever their ‘public’ policy  might  be, they lie, they sell your info to others who then haunt you to the ends of the earth…

Do any of you corporate types out there get the message? It’s really simple…stop with the noisy nonsense, the flashing lights, the pulsating  headlines, the  interminable ads before you can watch a tiny bit of video (given up on that, too…) The fact that hundreds of thousands of cell phone zombies (surprised they even notice ads…) have quickly downloaded Adblock apps should tell you all you need to know..instead of being  more and more obnoxious, try being  cleverer…

I read the Guardian  every day, and have noticed that they have a bit of mischief on the bottom of every page  now that says …  “We noticed that you are blocking our ads, we need them for revenue to support the site, perhaps we could suggest another way to support us…” or something to that effect…now that is clever,  and it will probably get  some sort of donation out of me because the Guardian has great content (used to buy the  Guardian Weekly as a pricey newsprint tabloid full of good reading from around the world)

I don’t want to stop  reading the Guardian, I  just want the torture to stop…..and that extends to all media, pretty please……

Stephen Harper and the Great Con Debate Fiasco

Montreal Simon - lun, 05/25/2015 - 05:28

Whatever Stephen Harper and his grotesque Con regime say about the way they have blown up the political leader debates. Or the stinking fish they are trying to sell us.

Nothing can change the fact that a fish is a fish.The process is now a fiasco. It is yet another assault on our electoral process.

And yet another attempt by Harper and his thuggish gang to bend or manipulate the rules. 
Read more »

An Empty Chair

Northern Reflections - lun, 05/25/2015 - 05:07

An empty chair can symbolize a lot of things. John F. Kennedy's empty rocking chair symbolized the loss a nation felt after the president's assassination. But, in Stephen Harper's case, an empty chair at the consortium's leaders debate would symbolize many things -- none of them good.

To begin with, an empty chair is an pregnant emblem for a leader whose most salient characteristic is arrogance. Michael Harris writes:

Canada’s national political conversation has been emptied out by a sitting prime minister who is contemptuous of anything he can’t control. He believes that he can pay his way to re-election through the black magic of marketing and the usual bribing of the electorate with taxpayers’ money. There is nothing left but Harper’s cynicism – and his personal conviction that Canadians don’t want to talk about government anymore.
And that arrogance has led him to conclude that he has no obligation to talk to anyone:

When you think about it, Harper has never really wanted to talk with anyone other than the country’s corporate elites, and then really only a few resource peddlers. He talks at the rest.

He doesn’t answer the Opposition in parliament. Harper has never convened a first minister’s meeting where the premiers as a group could talk with him about the state of the country. Instead he talks down to them, if he talks to them at all.

Harper didn’t want to talk with Chief Theresa Spence about tangible ways to improve the lives of First Nations people some time before there is a human colony on Mars. He doesn’t talk with organized Labour about anything. He has more interaction with cats and chinchillas than journalists.
But, more than anything else, an empty chair at the consortium debate would symbolize Harper's cowardice:

Harper might be able to spin the 2015 election process into a vast electronic cattle-drive. That, after all, is what he has done with governance in Canada. But avoiding the huge audiences of the TV debates being staged by Canada’s major broadcasters can also be viewed as chickening out on the rumble.

At least Patrick Brazeau climbed into the ring with Justin Trudeau. Perhaps Harper has figured out what Brazeau never did – that underestimating your opponent can make you look weak. At the same time, hiding away from the electorate is no place to be for a man who keeps telling everyone he’s a leader. Then again, Harper is no stranger to hiding from things.
When historians write the saga of the last ten years, Stephen Harper may go down as the prime minister who hid in the closet. That's why his chair was empty.

Your Monday Morning Smile

Politics and its Discontents - lun, 05/25/2015 - 05:06
I believe this is the cartoon Pamela was referring to in her comment yesterday:

Recommend this Post

Laureen Harper and the Batty Leader of Parliament Hill

Montreal Simon - lun, 05/25/2015 - 01:42

When I saw all those bats flapping around over Parliament Hill the other night, I wondered  where they were coming from.

And because of the ghastly things they were squeaking, and the foul smell of their droppings, I naturally assumed they must be coming from the Harper PMO.

But now the horrifying truth has been revealed.

They're coming from 24 Sussex Drive !!!! 
Read more »

Turned Away in PEI

Dammit Janet - dim, 05/24/2015 - 09:44
This is so fucked up, it's hard to know where to begin.

One rendition: A person waits 5 hours for treatment at a Canadian emergency department then is turned away with the words "we are not comfortable dealing with this situation."

Or: A person is turned away from a hospital emergency department and told to go to a clinic in ANOTHER PROVINCE.

Or: The Minister of Health looks into the situation and is satisfied that all protocols were followed.

Here's the story as reported in the media.

Here's the story as told by the woman herself, Courtney Cudmore, to As It Happens (at 9:50 mark), or from her Facebook page.

In Prince Edward Island, while it is part of Canada where abortion is legal, abortion is simply not done.

A PEI woman was unwillingly pregnant, found a doctor to prescribe LEGAL abortion drugs, listened carefully to the instructions, and took the drugs. The instructions included what to do if the drugs did not seem to be performing as expected: Go to a hospital.

The drugs did not perform as expected, and so the woman took herself to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital emergency department.

Well, they didn't seem to know quite what to do with her. A nurse got her to give a urine sample and that was it for about 5 hours.

Finally 7:00 pm.. I get called in... The nurse gives me a johnnyshirt to put on, Obviously Im getting examined. 45 minutes later Dr. Lantz comes in. With my chart ... Looks at my chart then looks at me and says... What would you like me to do.. Ohh I don't know check me out?! I told him why I came in. "Well I will go talk to the gynecologist and see what they say" 10 minutes later... "Well we are not comfortable dealing with this situation" What really... not comfortable... What the hell is going on inside of me... I'm thinking this in my head.... and staring at him. I ask ok what did my urine sample tell you?? Are my levels dropping?? "I don't know.. all I can tell you is you are still pregnant" ok so in that breath right there his job was to do a full examination on me. If I didn't pass everything which I'm sure I didn't .. Tha'ts going to cause bigger issues for me. But he did let me know I could go to a clinic in Halifax, They would have no issue helping me. After totally getting he wasn't going to help or find me help I asked him to leave so I could put my clothes back on. But I did thank him for wasting my time.
There just was an election held on the Island, where abortion was an issue.
P.E.I.’s four male political leaders provided their party’s policy on abortion services Tuesday during a forum on women’s issues where the last remaining variable was finally clarified. Liberal Premier Wade MacLauchlan said P.E.I. would continue to provide abortion services but only at a Halifax hospital. It’s the same policy followed by Premier Robert Ghiz so there is no change to the status quo.
When this story broke on social media on Thursday, the media got on it and the Health Minister was asked for a comment.

Health Minister Doug Currie says he was initially highly concerned when he received messages on social media, but after following up with officials at the hospital, says he feels all proper protocols were followed.

“I was reassured that no one was denied or turned away from the emergency room (Thursday) night,” Currie said.

“I was reassured that the standard quality of care was followed and I continue to be even more motivated to work with stakeholders to continue to remove current barriers that are facing Island women that are looking to access this service.”No one denied or turned away? Is he calling Ms Cudmore a liar?

Standard quality of care followed? Being told "we are are not comfortable" and "go to Halifax" is "standard quality of care"?

Do PEI physicians not know how to treat miscarriage? Would a woman miscarrying "normally" also be refused treatment and sent to a clinic in Nova Scotia?

Is this not dangerous, patronizing, and, well, simply OUTRAGEOUS?

Not to mention a human rights violation and a pretty prima facie case of malpractice?

The reaction was swift. PEI Abortion Rights Network wrote an open letter.

A petition was begun to have Health Minister Doug Currie removed from his position.

Ms Cudmore plans to contact a lawyer.

What else can we do?

How about alerting potential PEI patients about the patronizing asshole doctor? Ms Cudmore names a "Dr. Lantz". It seems pretty clear that this is Chris Lantz, member of a "prominent" PEI family, and -- hey, look at this -- brother of the leader of the PC party, Rob Lantz.

And how does Rob Lantz feel about abortion?

PC Leader Rob Lantz did meet the group and assured them he will maintain the status quo. … Abortion is not on the PC radar, not in the platform and there are no plans to re-open the debate.
And we'd like to know the name of the gynecologist supposedly consulted by Dr. Lantz.

Here's Ms Cudmore from her Facebook page again:
I have gone to the media as most of you already know and I will be contacting a lawyer to take legal action against the hospital. I urge ALL women who have come across difficulty in support/access to proper health care regarding abortions to take a stand now!! Don't be silent anymore.. We have a right we have a choice. All we see and hear are people slamming abortion if we stand now just maybe we might get the access and rights we deserve. This is legal and as women living on PEI we have a right to choose what we do with our bodies. ‪#‎statusquonomore‬
In other momentous news from the Gentle Island, there is a bit of panic going on over metal objects found in potatoes.

Precious PEI potatoes VIOLATED!!!!!

Last word to unexpectedly prochoice Stats Can (which is a parody account just to forestall any idiotic screeching):

PEI treats potatoes with more respect and dignity than 99% of women seeking abortions

— Stats Canada (@stats_canada) May 22, 2015

Image from @ProChoicePEI.

An Empty Podium

Politics and its Discontents - dim, 05/24/2015 - 07:43

Given the firm rejection by Mr. Harper to join in the leaders' debates being arranged by a consortium of broadcasters, it would seem only fitting to have an empty podium onstage with his name attached, in case he changes his mind at the last minute, and to serve as a useful reminder of the prime minister's disdain (fear?) of honest and unbiasd formats.

With their usual perspicacity, Star readers offer their insights about this sad decision. All are excellent, but I am reproducing only a few below:

Confused about leaders debates? It's Harperology 101, May 16
I’m surprised Stephen Harper isn’t insisting the election debates be hosted by 24 Seven, his self-promoting video-streaming website. His heavy-handed refusal to participate in any debates hosted by a media consortium of CBC, CTV, ICI Radio-Canada and Global reeks of the fear he may not be able to exercise adequate control over the form and, perhaps, the moderator of those debates.

In assessing Harper’s decision, it’s worth recalling the under-reported episode this January when the PMO tried to stipulate that reporters submit their questions before interviews and press conferences. According to veteran reporter Robert Fife, both CTV and CBC unequivocally refused to comply.

Following fast on the heels of the Charlie Hebdo shooting, the government backed away from its stipulation — perhaps realizing that it was the wrong time to curtail freedom of the press.

If Harper wants to accept invitations to debate at events hosted by others, that’s up to him — though the decision of who is to moderate and the rules over any such debates should be carefully scrutinized by every single leader before going along with this scheme.

The debates hosted by the consortium Harper rejects out of hand have been free of biased moderating to date. I am unsure the same impartiality will govern in all other venues Harper favours.

Penny Gill, Dundas

In reference to the Stephen Harper Conservatives’ alternate plans on federal election debates, I urge the consortium to hold their debates as they planned and scheduled them and issue formal and public invitations to all the federal political parties. Whether the leaders attend or not is their problem, not the consortiums nor the voters.

An empty space at a federal election debate will give a very telling message on the interest, concerns and respect the absent leaders have for the people (voters) of this country. The control freak Conservatives must be shown that they are no better than anyone and they will be treated as equally as everyone else in the debates.

Canadians are getting very tired of their antics and this may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back if they continue on their path of arrogance and false sense of entitlement and superiority. I am of the considered opinion that the majority of voters would agree with and support my suggestion.

Gerald McIvor, Winnipeg

Funny how Harper loves to use the big networks to air his propaganda but fears participating in candidate debates hosted by the same group. This could however be a rare opportunity to salvage what’s left of our nation if Thomas Mulcair, Justin Trudeau and Elizabeth May were to simply seize the opportunity and agree to participate in debates hosted by the CBC/CTV/Global consortium without Harper.

Each could explain why their party is the best choice to put an end to Harper’s destruction of our nation’s environment, democracy, economy, integrity, honesty and reputation while sparing us from having to listen to all Harper’s spin crap. If he chooses not to play – well so be it.

Randy Gostlin, Oshawa

......CBC, CTV and Global should go ahead with their plans to conduct debates. If Harper chooses not to participate, they should set up an empty chair so voters can see what he thinks of them.

Mr. Harper refuses to meet the press in regular news conferences, unlike most PMs and U.S. presidents. He doesn’t trust the media. If he refuses to debate on the “national” television networks, the feeling of mistrust may become mutual.

Joe Spence, KanataRecommend this Post

Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - dim, 05/24/2015 - 07:06
Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Heather Boushey writes about the Great Gatsby Curve showing a direct correlation between equality and social mobility - and conversely, that high inequality severely limits opportunity for large numbers of people. And Vikas Bajaj discusses how high inequality also harms overall economic development.

- But of course, we'll never get policies to address those problems without a government willing to highlight the need for change and acknowledge that there are no non-controversial answers - as Sadiq Khan points out in discussing the U.K. Labour Party:
(I)nsecurity reaches right up the income scale, which is why our commitment to fair rents and secure tenancies spoke to many middle-class professionals in London. Even Tory candidates attacked the Tory’s lack of policies on housing as a factor in why they struggled in the capital.

It’s got to be a deal though: economic growth, and lower inequality will only create a better life for all if we are straight that this will require shared effort and sacrifice. We promised things to ease the pain now for the “squeezed middle” without outlining what the economy might be like if we were in charge. And we suggested these would somehow be “pain-free” – paid for by someone else. The British public just didn’t buy it.

So it allowed our opponents to use the crash as a symbol of our economic mismanagement. But this is far from the truth. Let us be clear: the deficit in 2007 did not cause the crash, and the Tories were fully signed up to our spending plans. We should not cede this ground.

There were, however, bigger issues about our economic approach. We failed to regulate the banks and financial sector. We subsidised employers who paid low wages, placing a burden on the taxpayer, rather than encouraging them to pay a living wage. We tackled the effects rather than the causes, and that made it harder for us to tackle inequality. Since 2010 we began to address that and we must not go back on that now. But we have to paint a picture of what it means for people beyond the very low-paid, and how they’ll benefit personally if we tackle this.- Suha Diab discusses the Cons' general antipathy toward all but the wealthiest of immigrants, while the Ottawa Citizen editorial board is particularly (and rightly) critical of their attempt to dehumanize people trying to escape Burma by boat.

- Finally, Mitchell Anderson writes that just as Alberta's citizens finally built up immunity to right-wing rhetoric (if only over a period of decades), Canada's voters may be building the same strength just in time for this fall's election. And Michael Harris suggests that Stephen Harper's vanity may be his party's undoing, while Chantal Hebert argues that the Cons may be utterly oblivious to the public's demand for change.

Follow The Money

Northern Reflections - dim, 05/24/2015 - 05:04

Recently, Linda McQuaig asked a question which, so far, has stayed under the radar. Who, she asked, owns Stephen Harper? Mr. Harper has done his best to keep the answer to that question secret:

In the 2002 Canadian Alliance leadership race, Harper disclosed some of his donors but kept secret 10 of the major ones. A list of donors to Harper's Conservative party leadership race two years later was at one point posted on the party's website but has since been removed.

At the time of those races, it was legal for leadership contenders to receive unlimited donations from corporations, including foreign-owned businesses operating in Canada.
Which led McQuaig to wonder if  the Koch Brothers are somehow connected to Harper:

In the recent U.S. congressional elections, the Koch brothers helped secure the victory of an unlikely band of far-right extremists who control both the House and Senate.

Among some 3 million political ads for both parties, there wasn't a single mention of the issue of income inequality -- either for it or against it, says Sam Pizzigati, editor of a newsletter on inequality at the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies.
We do know that the Koch Brothers support the work of the Fraser Institute, one of Harper's most vehement enablers. But, even if the Kochs have not contributed to Harper's rise, we should know who did. It's instructive to remember that Karl Heinz Schreiber gave Brian Mulroney the money to fund his first campaign for the leadership of the Conservative Party. Schreiber did not give Mulroney money out of the goodness of his heart. We now know what he wanted in return.

Deep Throat's advice to Woodward and Bernstein is as relevant today as it was forty years ago. You find out all kinds of things when you follow the money. If Harper has not made it easy to do that, it's probably because he knows what happened to Richard Nixon after Woodward and Bernstein took Mark Felt's advice.

Stephen Harper Gets Three Slaps in the Face From his Own Supporters

Montreal Simon - dim, 05/24/2015 - 04:46

As you know I've started portraying Stephen Harper not only as a cowardly puppet, and the most monstrous leader this country has ever known.

As well as a hopeless incompetent, and the turkey king of Canada.

But also as a leader so long past due, the flesh is falling off him and his rotting government.

And as more evidence of that, I have three examples that demonstrate that even some of his own natural born supporters think he's so far gone.

That they are giving him one slap in the face after the other.
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