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Stephen Harper's Strange and Desperate Spring

Montreal Simon - Sat, 05/16/2015 - 05:06

He is still campaigning furiously all over the country, sprinkling dollars all over the place, trying to buy the next election.

But the spring has gone out Harper's step, he seems listless at times, his cold dead eyes seem deader than usual. He's packing on the pounds.

The events of the last two weeks have clearly taken a terrible toll. Every day seems to bring more bad news.

And yesterday was no exception.
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Why Bill C-51 Is Starting to Terrorize Stephen Harper

Montreal Simon - Sat, 05/16/2015 - 04:57

It couldn't be more ironic. Stephen Harper creates a monster called Bill C-51, to go after his enemies, and scare Canadians into submission.

So he can turn this country into a police state.

But before he can unleash the monster on the population, the monster slowly turns around, grunts loudly.

And starts scaring the living daylights out of Great Leader.
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The Stupid is everywhere!

Cathie from Canada - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 21:54
What a triumph!
The Australian minister of agriculture had kept his country safe from rabies now that Johnny Depp’s little dogs have left the country. They will soon be followed by Johnny Depp himself, and by every other film star and film production company on the planet.

The Incredible and Outrageous Vanity of Pierre Poilievre

Montreal Simon - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 21:29

We know him as the rabid right-wing extremist who made it easier for the Cons to steal the next election.

We know him as the cruel fanatic who could play a Gestapo agent in a World War Two movie.

Or the union hating star of the Bates Motel...

But who knew Pierre Poilievre aka Dickhead, could be so incredibly VAIN? 
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Daphne Bramham: B.C.’s child welfare system is broken, racist and in urgent need of change

Metaneos - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 20:01
Vacouver Sun
Damn straight. Nothing institutional has ever really changed for First Nations. Many departments that are ostensibly for First Nations are operating with the same spirit as they were for decades prior, which often times takes the form of colonial style management over First Nation lives. Even worse, many of these same departments also haven't really seen any sort of increase in funding for First Nations in those same decades.
These are departments that are operating under outdated rules, working on shoestring budgets, handling problems they can't overcome.
To solve these problems, First Nations have to be brought into the process, making the important decisions on how these problems should be tackled. First Nations should be allowed to take the lead on this issue.

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 19:03
Moist - Tangerine (Remix)

As Expected, Harper's Canada is Number Last

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 17:45
Stevie-Joe Harper's lame target for greenhouse gas emissions cuts - 30% from 2005 levels by 2030 - secures Canada's hold on dead last place among the developed nations.  Last, and by a good measure.  Dead last.

That is a far weaker target than the European Union or the US. The European Union pledged to reduce emissions by at least 40% from 1990 levels, and the US committed to cut emissions to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025.

The target is also less ambitious than the one Canada set in 2009 – and which it is unlikely to meet because of the vast expansion of Alberta tar sands production under the prime minister, Stephen Harper.

The environment minister, Leona Aglukkaq, who made the announcement in Winnipeg, said the new goals were in keeping with Canada’s economic conditions.

...Keith Stewart, climate campaigner for Greenpeace Canada, said the weak target made Canada an outlier in the international climate negotiations.

“The Harper government has not only ignored its existing reduction target, but the pro-tar sands policies it has adopted are taking us in the opposite direction,” he said.

But, hey, let's not get worked up. Sure they're meager targets, the worst of what's actually a bad lot, but let's not go overboard. Harper has no intention of meeting those targets anyway. If the premiers want to do it then good for them. By now we should all be used to classic Harper bait & switch - say anything that you figure people want to hear, do nothing. Even his old pal and mentor, Tom Flanagan, doesn't hesitate to label Harper an opportunistic and chronic liar. 

Time for some adult supervision

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 16:16

The latest Con dodge on greenhouse gas emission regulations for the oil and gas industry is to say that they'll promise to deal with a few collateral activities, just as long as actual production continues to receive a free pass:
Aglukkaq also announced new rules to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, such as industrial leaks and gas flares, which makes up a significant portion of the industry's total emissions.Notably omitted, of course, is the rest of the industry's total emissions.

So how does that painful level of parsing to avoid what has to be done sound familiar?

30 By 30 - Rachel, You've Got Some Catching Up To Do.

The Disaffected Lib - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 10:40
It's hard to know whether to laugh or cry but the feds have finally proclaimed Canada's target for greenhouse gas emissions cuts.  The figure is a 30% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030.

Harper & Co. are playing this true to form.  They're trying to take credit from the provinces that have taken action with precious little help from Ottawa.

As for Harper's pet, the Tar Sands, the feds are introducing regulations on methane emissions but have fallen strangely silent on CO2 emissions.  Did I say "strangely"?  I meant "predictably."

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 09:28
Assorted content to end your week.

- Matthew Yglesias points out that a particular income level may have radically different implications depending on an individual's place in life, and that we can only address inequality by formulating policy accordingly:
The median household income in the United States is about $52,000. So go ahead and picture a median-income household. What did you picture?

Did you picture a 25-year-old with a decent job who's maybe worried about student loans but is basically doing okay? Or did you picture a married pair of 45-year-olds who are both full-time workers stuck in kinda crappy jobs? Or did you picture a married couple with one full-time worker and one stay-at-home mom? Or a 65-year-old retiree whose $2.5 million stock portfolio yields him $52,000 a year in dividend income?

These people are all in very different situations. But household income says they are all the same. In fact, it says they are all typical households earning the US median household income.
In any discussion of a broad social phenomenon, a little loss of precision is necessary. But the key things to keep in mind about household income and class are that you always need to supplement with life-cycle analysis and net worthespecially housing wealth, where otherwise similar people are often in very different situations. - Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal charts how increasing inequality at the family level has thoroughly overtaken any basis for belief that the U.S. is a meritocracy. And Jeff Noonan writes that we can't afford austerity in our education system if we want all children to be able to participate in our society.

- PressProgress debunks the Fraser Institute's attempt to claim that improved fire safety is a reason to slash firefighting services.

- Finally, Glenn Greenwald looks at the UK Cons as a prime example of how the greatest threat to our freedoms comes from the parties willing to sacrifice them to a fight against trumped-up enemies. thwap highlights the Cons' selective definition of terrorism. And Alex Boutilier writes that CSIS continues to identify anybody even remotely associated with environmental protection as an "extremist" threat.

His Highness Emperor Stephen Harper

LeDaro - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 08:58
Harper is putting Canadian troops on the frontlines in Iraq, when even the United States would not, and then sending Canadian troops to Syria. He’s taking our country deeper into war and putting our Canadian soldiers at risk. Who does Harper think he is? Is he trying to be a macho superpower wannabe? Is he trying to be an imperialist and colonialist? White man’s burden?

Also, Harper and his government are harassing a young man, Omar Khadr, with bogus claims to the Supreme Court that Khadr should be tried as an adult. Elizabeth May was right, Khadr has much more class than the whole f@#king cabinet.

On top of all this, Harper is trying to distract from this with his nonsense over debates, refusing the joint consortium of Global, CTV, CBC, Radio Canada, and other stations. Probably he is also looking for media and moderators who will be favourable to him.

Awful this is coming from our government. Emperor Harper’s arrogance knows no bounds.

Support and illumination

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 08:26
David Moscrop laments the role of opinion polls in shaping political events - and there's certainly reason for caution in presuming that immediate polls will have a lasting effect. But I'll argue that at least as politics are now covered, polls in fact serve as an important check on the tendency of campaign coverage to become completely detached from the views of the public.

After all, the same citizens whose votes determine the outcome of a campaign are generally expected to follow that campaign with varying levels of care through media intermediaries. And I discussed the problem with the direct impact of media here, as the most subtle of campaign narratives - whether or not they're generated deliberately or based on facts - can swing enough votes to change the outcome of an election.

It's certainly fair to point out that polls can help to shape those narratives. And the effect can run in both directions: just as they can offer a signal as to which parties are viably positioned to offer an alternative government (as happened for the Alberta NDP in this month's election), they can also offer a warning that the public may wish to reconsider a trend (as arguably happened for the Wildrose Party in 2012).

But that serves only as a side effect of polling rather than a primary purpose. At their core, polls are the basic evidence-based means of measuring public opinion - which seems like rather an important factor in talking about how the public will choose to be governed.

With that in mind, let's ask this question: what's the alternative to paying attention to polls as a means of assessing where parties stand, for the purpose of both strategic voting (as identified by Moscrop) and merely talking about the progress of a campaign?

While it's easy to find elections where polls have come under fire for failing to reflect outcomes (see the UK's recent vote or Alberta's 2012 election), omitting them from election coverage won't stop pundits from offering their own prognostications - which at best reflect an unstated set of personal biases and assumptions, and at worst are downright intended to shape the campaign narrative to favour one party. And this month's Alberta vote reflects an obvious example where the polls told a far more accurate story than the insiders.

Which leads to this question: would Alberta have been better served by not knowing that enough voters were receptive to an NDP government to create the potential for change?

Before answering "yes", it's well worth questioning the alternative of having campaign narratives shaped entirely by the people who are able to spin stories in the absence of evidence - and not at all by the public whose interest is intended to be served by the election.

Of course, one might validly point out that we'd be better off with a radically different form of campaign coverage which focuses far more party platforms and values, and far less on spin from all directions. But until we've taken some giant leaps in that direction, we're best off treating polling as a check to test whether narratives match public opinion - not as a problem to be eradicated in favour of even more air time for evidence-free speculation.

The Abuse Never Ends

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 08:08

The abuse of the taxpayer by the Harper regime is shameless and relentless. That's the conclusion drawn by The Star's Tim Harper today, and it is abuse that is amply demonstrated in today's Globe.

First to Tim Harper:
The Conservatives have provided a national background Muzak of sloganeering and propaganda that aims to lull Canadians into a false sense that everything will be okay if you just vote for them.

They’re using your money to buy your vote.The contempt for Canadians is egregious:
... this government has spent $750 million blanketing you in Tory blue.

It has advertised programs before they existed. It has appropriated “Strong. Proud. Free” as an advertising slogan, but its genesis is considered a state secret and cannot be revealed for 20 years because Conservatives have deemed the matter one of cabinet confidence.

It is spending $13.5 million to advertise its budget — not to inform, but to promote.

It uses your money for its own partisan videos, endangering Canadian soldiers in the process of burnishing the Stephen Harper image.

David McGuinty says there are 9,800 Economic Action Plan billboards in this country, costing $29 million.

“At its core, this kind of advertising undermines the rules of fair play in our democratic system,’’ he says.

“Canadians believe the government thinks they’re stupid.’’How little the Harper regime regards the taxpayer is made even more graphic by a video that government toadie Pierre Poilievre produced at taxpayer expense:
Employment Minister Pierre Poilievre commissioned a team of public servants for overtime work on a Sunday to film him glad-handing constituents in promotion of the Conservative government’s benefits for families.

The ensuing taxpayer-funded video – and other recent ones like it – are prompting concern that the Conservatives have taken a new step in the use of public funds to produce “vanity videos.”I have to warn you that the following video, made at a children’s clothing consignment event at a local hockey arena in Poilievre's riding, should only be watched by those who are strongly constituted:

And if that's not enough, I offer you a second video, with the same strong viewer advisory:

I can only hope that instead of being impressed by the 'largesse' of the Harper regime, people will far and wide discern its subtext, that we are regarded by our government as suckers easily manipulated by the very propaganda we are footing the bill for.

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