Posts from our progressive community

Stephen Harper and the Deadly Politics of Ebola

Montreal Simon - Sun, 10/19/2014 - 04:11


The scene couldn't have been more ironic or more appalling. For even as the Ebola epidemic raged out of control, and Oxfam sent out a desperate call for more boots on the ground, in Africa. 

On Saturday Oxfam took the unusual step of calling for troops to be sent to west Africa, along with funding and medical staff, to prevent the Ebola outbreak becoming the “definitive humanitarian disaster of our generation”. It accused countries that did not commit military personnel of “costing lives".

And leaders like Obama urged Americans not to surrender to fear and hysteria.

There was Stephen Harper, with a strange look on his face, receiving an award for helping stamp out polio, while cranking up the fear factor.
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Nosferatu200 Will Be Back Soon

Anti-Racist Canada - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 14:36
While it has been fun being the regular writer for the blog, I always knew my tenure was to have been brief. Soon I will revert to merely providing the occasional article which might be a welcome relief to some of the regular readers.

It seems that Nosferatu200 has complete her final leg of retracing the Silk Road from Xiang to Kashgar and will be returning in the next few days.

Things I've learned as a regular writer?

1. I'm not as funny as I thought I was.
2. Writing regularly is hard, especially when one has the attention span of a fruit fly (what I'm saying it I occasionally become detracted by shiny objects and multi-colored lights).

I've been told by Nos that despite her absence, she has been collecting information which will find it's way to the blog soon. 

BREAKING: Russian Ship Threatens BC Coast Again

Montreal Simon - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 14:32


Well it looks as if Stephen Harper has jumped the gun again. For this morning he tweeted this:

Thank you to the @CCG_GCC's Gordon Reid and others for the great work they are doing off the coast of the Haida Gwaii off the coast of BC.
— Stephen Harper (@pmharper) October 18, 2014
After it looked like the Canadian Coast Guard had managed to avert disaster by towing a disabled Russian ship away from the B.C. coast.

Until the tow lines broke. 
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We Haven't Had This Much Fun Since the Cold War

The Disaffected Lib - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 13:46

Sweden's armed forces are hunting for a mystery (i.e. Russian) submarine in waters off Stockholm.

"We have begun an intelligence operation ... involving ships, helicopters and several ground units," Commander Jonas Wikstroem told reporters, adding that the operation was based on a tip-off from a "credible source."

Wikstroem did not specify how close the operation was to the Swedish capital but said that the military was informing the public as the area is "heavily trafficked.

In recent months, Swedish media have reported an uptick in Baltic Sea maneuvers by the Russian air force, including a close encounter between a Swedish spy plane in international airspace off Russia's Baltic Sea coast.

"As the government has said, the situation has deteriorated in the Baltic Sea," Wikstroem said, adding that no weapons had been used in the current operation.

At the height of the Cold War, Soviet submarines were regularly detected in Swedish waters.

Deep thought

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 13:18
It's always a relief to know our governments are constantly negotiating free trade deals to make sure no possible bidders are unfairly shut out of public procurement processes. That is, unless they're Canadian.

Saskatoon snatches defeat from the jaws of victory

Cathie from Canada - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 12:30
So you might think that the reluctant LRB ruling both the transit lockout and the pension bylaw illegal would have provided the Saskatoon civic administration with a great opportunity to rethink their whole strategy with this labour dispute, and come up with something that would work better.
But you would be wrong!
The city strategy of trying to starve the bus drivers into an agreement was never going to work, and now it is in tatters -- the drivers know they will eventually get their back pay for the 27 days the strike has lasted so far.  But the union was so happy about the LRB ruling, that the drivers would have cheerfully gone back to work without an agreement, and they would not have dared to go on strike.
So the city could have jumped at the opportunity to get everyone on board with the obvious way to end this dispute -- the same pension changes as everyone else, a slightly higher percentage increase than the rest of the city unions got, but with a longer contract to justify the difference. There, done!
But no.
Clearly, the city was in the wrong with this lockout, and that what the LRB ruled, but the powers that be in the city administration just couldn't accept "losing".
They doubled down by immediately issuing a new lockout notice to the transit union.
“My first thought is ‘Oh my goodness, they’re going to do this to the citizens of Saskatoon again,’ ” ATU local 615 president Jim Yakubowski told reporters outside City Hall Saturday morning. “They don’t deserve that, nor do our members deserve this.” And the people are furious:
I am profoundly disappointed in @cityofsaskatoon. They missed an opportunity to fix this mess: http://t.co/0021cbEILX #yxetransit #yxecc

— Tracey Mitchell (@TMitchSK) October 18, 2014

The City of Saskatoon's actions toward their employees and citizens have reached indefensible levels. I am ashamed. #yxe #yxetransit

— Paul Thompson (@paulbthompson) October 18, 2014

#yxecc, the students at #uSask deserve much better leadership from you. This has cost #yxe enough. End this nonsense. #yxetransit

— USSU Executive (@USSUExec) October 18, 2014

@cityofsaskatoon/#yxecc have issued another lockout on #yxetransit. #yxe, this isn't leadership. It's politics at the expense of the people.

— Jordan Sherbino (@JordanSherbino) October 18, 2014
I don't know how this will end now, but it isn't going to be pretty.

Saturday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 08:14
Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Michael Rozworski observes that the NDP's $15 per day national child care plan has irritated all the right people - while still leaving ample room for improvement in the long run once the first pieces are in place. And PressProgress notes that the Cons' opposition to the plan is based squarely on their view that women fail to raise their own children if they have either careers or care support.

- Meanwhile, Simon Enoch, Canadian Doctors for Medicare and the Saskatchewan NDP caucus are all rightly critical of Brad Wall's attempt to sell for-profit, two-tier medical diagnostics (as a precursor to for-profit, two-tier treatment). And even Murray Mandryk is willing to acknowledge that this particular Wall idea is something short of magical.

- Heather Mallick writes that the consensus that we can't count on burning every available drop of fossil fuel as a resource management strategy extends from Naomi Klein to Mark Carney.

But Alison confirms that any charity daring to lend its voice to the cause will face an immediate crackdown from the Canada Revenue Agency at the Cons' behest - while gun advocates can apparently serve as political foot soldiers with impunity.

- Lana Payne reminds us of the historic misuse of EI funding by Con and Lib governments alike to fund general programs rather than benefits for the workers who have paid into the program. And Dennis Howlett proposes three relatively simple steps which could ensure that there's ample revenue available to live up to our social values.

- Finally, Jane Gingrich observes that strong and visible social programs may result in more predictable voting patterns than comparatively hidden social spending:
Voters in higher visibility states, defined here as that use the tax system to make spending more visible (i.e. by providing generous benefits and taxing them back) find it easier to estimate benefit levels. These voters also attach greater importance to welfare issues in electoral surveys.

The implications of these differences are subtle but important. Voters in higher visibility contexts are not necessarily more pro-welfare or in favour of higher taxes and spending. However, they do tend to weigh these issues more heavily in their political choices. Put differently, they tend to pick parties closer to them on welfare issues, rather than other issues. Of course, the relative importance of the welfare state to voters varies across time and place, depending on how political parties discuss these issues and the spectrum of choices that voters have.vi  Nonetheless, in general, voters in countries with high-visibility welfare states are more ideologically consistent in voting, and in particular, vote in ways consistent with their preferences on redistribution and state spending.

The implications of these findings for the welfare state in the UK are mixed. On the one hand, changes that make spending more visible to either recipients or taxpayers – such as the move to the universal credit for income support benefits – may actually heighten the salience of the welfare state. If voters can better understand what the state is doing, and for whom, they may begin to attach more weight to social policy in their political decision-making. Given how widespread benefit receipt is these movements could galvanise support for the state.

On the other hand, my work shows some of the most ideologically consistent voters in wealthy democracies are supporters of lower taxes in Scandinavia, a group that consistently votes for non-socialist parties. More visible spending can also clarify the revenue side, potentially creating support for anti-tax and spending groups.

With An Eye To The Future

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 06:42


It is to state the obvious that all progressives long for the day that the Harper regime is ousted from office. What is not so obvious, however, is what shape our country will take once that happens.

There are those who place their faith in Justin Trudeau. Others look with hope to Thomas Mulcair. And then there are others who see little to cheer about in the leadership or politics of either.

The other day The Mound of Sound, who falls into the latter category, wrote a post on leadership, concluding with the following observation:
The thin gruel served up today is a bowl filled with petty technocrats that come in varying flavours of authoritarianism. It's a bland and self-serving offering, devoid of vision, courage and commitment. I fear he is all too correct in his assessment, one that is intimated by Thomas Walkon in today's Star. Entitled Stephen Harper’s legacy fated to endure, Walkom offers the proposition that it is far from certain that the dramatic changes Harper has made during his tenure will be undone by a government led by either the NDP or the Liberals:
True, both the Liberals and the NDP expressed outrage when Canada Post announced its plans [to cut home delivery] last December.

True also that, after a rancorous debate in the Commons, both voted against these plans.

The New Democrats sponsored a cross-Canada petition to oppose the cuts. Alexandre Boulerice, the party’s critic for Canada Post, continues to raise occasional questions in the Commons.

But Canada Post is plowing ahead with plans to eliminate home delivery for almost 1.3 million households by the time of next year’s election.

And neither Mulcair nor Trudeau is promising to reverse that decision if the Conservatives are defeated.On Harper's tax cuts:
They won’t touch them.

Mulcair would raise corporate taxes. However, he says an NDP government would not reverse any of the personal income tax cuts Harper has introduced.

Trudeau says his Liberals wouldn’t reverse any tax cuts at all — personal or corporate.

Both parties slammed Harper for cutting the GST. Yet, if elected, neither would raise it back to its previous level.Walkom point out the further damage Harper could do before he is tossed from the political arena:
Harper may be able to torpedo his rivals’ pre-election spending plans simply by giving away, in the form of tax cuts, all of Ottawa’s expected multi-billion dollar surplus.

The result? Even if Harper loses the next election, much of his legacy seems fated to remain.Such is the timidity of today's political 'leadership' that I fear both the Mound's assessment and Walkom's predictions are all too accurate.Recommend this Post

In Beleaguered Calgary, a Tireless Multi-Tasker Toils

Dammit Janet - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 05:48
Poor Calgary. While home to many good and decent people, it is also headquarters for PetroState Canada as well as the country's most disgusting and self-righteous gang of fetus freaks, the Canadian Centre for Bioethical *ptui* Reform (CCBR), whose gory website you can look up yourself if you've a mind to.

They've plagued various parts of our fair land with their crap, but Calgary is their home base and special target.

When they're not dropping traffic-accident-causing gore banners over highway overpasses, they're stuffing residential mailboxes with their faked-up abortion porn.

The citizens of Calgary have fought back in various ways over the years. But after the last assault, when yet another appeal to the city to do SOMETHING resulted in arms flung up in helplessness, a group of parents (kinda ironic, eh?) decided to start a petition.

Oct 8, 2014 — We are now past 200 signatures which is a great feat in only 84 hours. Calgary City Council has put it forward for discussion but a city lawyer has stated there is little they can do. We disagree. Denver, Colorado has banned these images already. Hamilton, Ontario is in the midst of restricting them too. We have the bylaw already written for them. All they have to do is pass it. Please keep sharing, post on your social media and telling your friends and family. We need to keep the pressure on to make sure this can be passed as a bylaw here too. Please start using #protectyyckids and #yyccc when posting on twitter and facebook.
Please sign it and help stop the shameless misinformation and egregious shock.

Out of this kerfuffle though came an interesting tidbit, from the investigations of one pissed-off recipient of the anti-choice propaganda.
The Calgary teacher said he was just as shocked, however, when he started looking into the CCBR and found a staffer for Health Minister Rona Ambrose supporting the group’s more controversial actions online.

Daniel Gilman, who is listed in the federal government’s employee directory as an assistant to Ambrose, said in a tweet last year he’s “thankful” for the CCBR “project” that involves hanging graphic banners from overpasses above major roadways, including Deerfoot Trail in Calgary, where earlier this year a minor car crash occurred below one of the banners.

[The image has been digitally blurred by Metro.]

And here's young Daniel waxing all poetical-like about the recent moronic display of underground gasline markers on Parliament Hill. Link.

The gasline markers were the work of We Need a Law, an astroturf front for the Dominionist Association for Reformed Political Action, so it appears that Mr Gilman, like all good political assistants, is a multi-tasker, able to serve many masters and mistresses.

His boss, THE FUCKING FEDERAL HEALTH MINISTER, should be proud.




h/t for the YouTube to Alison in the comments here.

Stephen Harper the Big Lie and the Merchant of Venom

Montreal Simon - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 04:56


It's hard to tell these days whether Stephen Harper is lying because he's desperate, or because he's lost his moral compass.

Or on a day like yesterday, because he's simply delusional. 

He says he doesn't want to sound paranoid, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper is concerned his own federal bureaucracy is trying to bring back the long gun registry "through the back door."

"I don't want to feed paranoia, but as prime minister I can tell you I share the frustrations of our caucus members," said Harper, before alluding to "bureaucratic initiatives that we think are effectively trying to put the long gun registry back in through the back door." "This is not something we can tolerate." 

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