Posts from our progressive community

The Folly of Harper's Economic Emphasis

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 09:20


While no reasonable person would suggest that Canada should immediately turn its back on it resources, the folly of self-described economist Stephen Harper is the undue weighting his regime has placed on that sector for fiscal health. Other countries have been looking toward the day when our dependence on fossil fuels will be diminished and are therefore diversifying, and a strong case can be made for the economic benefits of renewable and other green energy projects. However, our Prime Minister has continued in a full-court press as if the Alberta tarsands were the only game in town.

The folly of that approach now becomes evident with the precipitous decline in oil prices, largely due to a slowdown in growth worldwide that, ironically, may very well be the key to curbing climate change. However, even if this a temporary blip, the warning should be heeded.

An analysis by Don Pitt makes for some sobering reading:
About a year ago, I read a report forecasting this would happen. It wasn't exactly top secret, and hardly from a subversive group. Titled, The future of oil: Yesterday's fuel, it was published in the right-of-centre Economist magazine.

The Economist article suggests that this is not going to be just a blip but more of a sea change, as global oil demand plunges permanently. The article quotes a study by Citibank saying that oil use is already falling in rich countries. Most oil is burned to propel vehicles, and increasing fuel efficiency, including conversion to electric and hybrids, means we are using less for that.

It rejects the argument that growth in places like China will push oil use ever higher, saying emerging economies will see the advantage of leap-frogging to new technology and won't pass through the first world's gas-guzzling phase. In the year since that report, an explosion of solar in India, and an analysis by Lazard saying renewables had become as cheap as fossil fuels, only made the case stronger.
The implication for job losses in Canada goes well beyond employment in the oil patch.
“Canada’s economy is now very oil dominated,” economists Rory Johnston and Patricia Mohr at Scotiabank said a few months ago as the Northern Gateway project was being approved by Ottawa.

Businesses based across Canada that feed into the sector, like railroads, engineering firms, construction companies and equipment makers will also be sideswiped if the decline leads energy producers to pull back production. Twenty-five cents of every dollar invested in new business plans goes toward oil and gas projects, Scotia estimates.

If exports and investment in the energy sector take hits, experts suggest the broader economy will feel the chill and begin to slow.It would be nice to think that these hints of things to come would have an impact on the monomania that the Harper regime is seized of. Unfortunately, past ideological performance suggests nothing will change under the current administration.Recommend this Post

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 07:28
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Michal Rozworski responds to idealized views of Canadian equality with the reality that we fall well short of the Scandinavian model:
Canada appears on many accounts much closer to the US than Sweden, the stand-in for a more robust social democratic and redistributive state. Indeed, looking at the three top rows of the table, there is a clear link between the higher share of income going to the top (inequality) and the higher share of taxes paid for by those at the top (redistribution a la Vox authors Martin and Hertel-Fernandez). On both of these measures Canada is roughly in the middle between the US and Sweden and slightly above the OECD-24 average.

Looking lower, however, it is clear that Sweden still easily beats both the US and Canada in terms of tax rates on the highest earners. While Sweden “recycles” more of its income through the state (total tax revenue as percentage of GDP), it does not do it without soaking the rich in the process. Sweden does not lack of high taxes but, rather, it lacks more extreme inequality. Canada, more akin to the US, gets more of its total tax income from the rich only because the rich are richer – indeed despite taxing each individual rich person less. In fact, if we take into account an interesting recent study on how Canada’s wealthiest use private corporations to avoid paying tax, it turns out that our system is even less redistributive: the official data has Canada’s top 10% taking in 32.7% of after-tax income, they are actually getting 36.5% adjusting for the effect of tax-dodging via private corporations.

The final three lines of the table show a common way to measure redistribution and these confirm that Canada is no Sweden. The Gini is a (convenient and imperfect) way to measure inequality in a single number on a scale from 0 to 1, where 0 is perfect equality and 1 is perfect inequality. The difference between the Gini of market incomes and the Gini of after-tax-and-transfer incomes shows how much redistribution is decreasing inequality. While even Sweden has a high inequality of market incomes, it redistributes quite a lot; Canada, on the other hand, is right behind the US and its comparatively paltry level of redistribution.- Eric Reguly points out that we're seeing the inevitable side effects of overreliance on a commodity economy - as predictable price drops can lead to fiscal disaster when public planning is based on nothing but the bare hope that prices and associated revenues will rise in perpetuity. And Jason Fekete confirms that the Cons' destructive environmental choices are based solely on the desire to let Alberta oil operators dictate public policy.

- Meanwhile, Justine Hunter reports that the choice to tie social funding to public approval of controversial resource projects is rather a losing proposition from a political perspective as well.

- Deirdre Fulton writes about the Center for Media and Democracy's study (PDF) into the harm done by ideological privatization of public services. And Jacob Swenson observes that in order to ensure that the public interest is protected, we need to see government as a solution (and indeed a prize) rather than a problem.

- Finally, Frances Russell laments the state of Canada's non-responsible Parliament - and the Prime Minister who's determined to make the problem worse:
The most corrosive and dangerous development in Canada’s fully Americanized parliamentary system is the highly centralized power of the PMO and cabinet with a majority government. Add the now-complete stifling of the rights of ordinary MPs to say or do anything on their own, and Canada has degenerated into a virtual dictatorship.

And that’s without including the ability of the prime minister to prorogue, recess and dissolve parliament at whim.
...
The dysfunction of the current parliament has its origins in the authoritarian mindset of the prime minister and the 100 or so individuals who staff his office. Rathgeber is merciless when it comes to describing the culture that has sprung up within it.

“The socialization and indoctrination effects of the PMO sub-culture cannot be overstated,” he writes. I have witnessed young, seemingly normal and well-adjusted college graduates enter the PMO and within six months, morph into arrogant, self-absorbed zealots, with an inflated sense of importance and ability.”

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 07:03
Here, on the similarities between the federal political scene now and in the lead up to the 1988 federal election - and how the Liberals may soon face the NDP's hard-learned lesson that personality politics may not go far in a sharp policy debate.

For further reading...
- The NDP unveiled its child care plan here. And the commentators taking a close look at the plan - and its contrast against the Cons' anti-government nihilism - include Karl Nerenberg, Jeffrey Simpson, Chantal Hebert and Linda McQuaig.
- Meanwhile, Les Whittington reports on the Cons' latest tax baubles, while Annie McEwen notes that they represent little benefit for anybody besides a few targeted swing voters. And it's also worth noting how the Cons have seemingly given up on offering all things to all people: instead of promising to create child care spaces through corporate handouts, they're now mocking the idea that anybody would want them (and singing from the Tea Party hymn book in the process).
- Finally, Nik Nanos confirms that the Libs are still ahead of the field for now - but that their non-positions aren't doing them any favours as serious issues come up for debate.

[Edit: added links.]

The Con Regime's Republican Assault on Canadian Children

Montreal Simon - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 06:00


It was one of the first things Stephen Harper did when he came to power. Declare war  children.

By destroying plans for a national childcare program. 

Parents have been paying for that decision ever since, with a lack of daycare spaces, and exorbitant fees. And children have been paying for it with their lives.

But still the Harperite cult is unrepentant.
Read more »

Stephen Harper and the Propaganda War on Canadians

Montreal Simon - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 03:43


Ever since he came to power Stephen Harper has been trying to brainwash Canadians with the greatest barrage of propaganda this country has ever seen.

A barrage of lies and half truths worthy of Big Brother, and almost impossible to avoid.

They're on TV, and on the radio, they jump out at you in newspapers and magazines.

And now you can't even get away from them when you check out the weather.

For all you have to do is scroll down to the bottom of the newly redesigned Environment Canada site to see what I mean. 
Read more »

Anti-Feminst Women.

Feminist Christian - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 19:15
I just do not understand anti-feminist women. What is in it for them? Is it that they have creepy sons that they're trying to protect?

I've noticed more of them lately. There was one odd conversation on FB yesterday in which a man was standing up for feminism and an anti-feminist, horribly misogynist woman. Baffling. And I can't find it again, but do look at this:

@ShelbyKnox @femfreq If I were a feminist, I sure wouldn't be bragging about it. I'd be getting some anger management therapy.
— Desiree Aaron (@DesireeAaron) October 15, 2014
What the everlovin' fuck? Okay, so I responded.
@DesireeAaron Shouldn't you be making sandwiches? And who taught you to read?! @ShelbyKnox @femfreq
— Luna (@Heading_West) October 15, 2014All she had to say about that was that I'm a feminazi, ignorant and arrogant. Okay... I mean, if she's so anti-feminist, shouldn't she be serving her husband somehow? Why is she allowed to read? Where do they draw the line? Does she have a job? If so, how does she wrap her brain around that? Does she get paid as much as the men doing the same job? If so, does she not realize that it was feminism that made that happen? And if not, is she okay with that? Really?

I just can't even. When it comes to that kind of hypocrisy, how can she stand it? How does her brain not collapse in on itself. The disconnect is just astonishing.

Rick's Latest Rant

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 12:52
In his latest, Rick Mercer turns his acerbic wit on the theft of copyright being engineered by the Harper regime to facilitate its campaign of attack ads.

Recommend this Post

Tell Christy Clark: Don’t rush through Societies Act reforms

Terahertz - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 12:47

Please write today to tell the BC government not to press through its reforms to the BC Societies Act. Email fcsp@gov.bc.ca before the end of 15 October 2014.

Clark’s Liberal government is looking to overhaul the law that regulates over 27,000 non-profit societies, including almost every active freethought organisation in the province. Many of the reforms are likely good ideas, like allowing societies to be registered and file documents electronically; however, at least one section would potentially allow members of the public to sue non-profits if they feel they are “carrying on activities that are detrimental to the public interest.”

Given that every non-profit is already required by the same law to operate in the public interest, there seems no reason to open non-profits up to the risk of frivolous lawsuits. Vancouver community advocate Sandy Garossino believes this proposal is designed to allow the province’s oil and mining industries to sue environmental NGOs. By the same logic, religious groups could use this same clause to persecute atheist and pro-choice organisations by claiming they are a threat to “traditional values.”

Most frustratingly, the government’s White Paper has been hiding on their website for months with little notification to the thousands of non-profits that are going to be affected by this. Every organisation in the province should have been told about this consultation and given the chance to respond.

The paper is 166 pages. There is simply not enough time to know what other changes will impact non-profits in the province. A quick glance suggests extra reporting requirements and changes to what needs to be in the by-laws.

The government needs to extend the deadline for responses and seek feedback from those who are set to be affected.

Here’s my letter:

As a former member of a BC society’s board of directors and staff member for two societies, I am worried by the quiet nature of this consultation. I only became aware that the government was considering on reforming the Society Act yesterday and in that time have not had a chance to carefully consider the 166-page white paper you have produced.

I don’t think my situation is unique. Every one of the 27,000 BC societies should have been notified that the government is considering re-writing the rules they are governed by. The consultation must be extended until this happens.

While many of the reforms are likely good ideas, such as allowing societies to be registered and file documents electronically, at least one section – 99 – seems to open organisations to frivolous lawsuits from members of the public. The section would allow non-profits to be sued if someone feels they are “carrying on activities that are detrimental to the public interest.”

Given that every non-profit is already required by the same law to operate in the public interest, there seems no rational reason to open non-profits up to this risk. Many non-profits are set to challenge the status quo and push for societal change. These actions inevitably bring about critics who would welcome the ability to sue to protect their positions of privilege rather than defend themselves in the public debate.

Please scrap section 99 and extend the deadline for responses until you are able to seek feedback from those organisations who are set to be affected.

Was Daesh (aka ISIL) a psychop™ ...?

Dammit Janet - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 12:08

My tweeted response to that sincere yet naive statement was that it could also be vile thuggery and violence tactically branded with religious symbols to appeal to a demographic.

Or later, when @jamynott suggested that it might also be a psyop, I agreed and refined the term, noting that given its brutal propaganda strategy, it should be dubbed a psychop™: a shortened version of psychotic operations, thereby highlighting the word 'chop' found therein ...

Some useful reading with regard to Daesh - how I prefer to call this horde of murderous, rapacious, greedy, patriarchal thugs.  The links are posted within the tweets.

This was published in mid-August, from Hassan Hassan: _A portrait of the menace that is sweeping my homeland_.  Andrew Mitrovica wrote about the group's agit-prop value, here.

Many speculate that some bits of Daesh were originally created, and generously funded by wealthy Saudi Arabian meddlers which explains their ability to purchase expensive military equipment from weapons industries based in the US and China.

Its connection with rebel forces that challenged the Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad is also complex, though some have identified various factions.

The horde has been set loose in the Middle East and, like all man-made monsters, may have developed an agenda of its own.

Our Most Worrisome Endangered, Perhaps Already Extinct, Species. World Leaders.

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 08:40
You know it.  I know it.  Even if you haven't really thought about it, you've probably sensed it.  As our world sails into an ever worsening storm, there's nobody at the helm.  Just when we need them most we find ourselves without real leaders.

Foreign Policy's Aaron David Miller contends that the leadership void reaches right into the White House.  He asks whether America has reached "Peak President"?  In a somewhat nihilistic approach, Miller argues that America is a nation that has moved beyond great leadership.

History, to be sure, is driven by the interaction between human agency and circumstance. Based on my own experiences in government and negotiations, individuals count greatly in this mix, particularly in matters of war, peace, and nation-building. Historian John Keegan made the stunning assertion that the story of much of the 20th century was a tale -- the biographies, really -- of six men: Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Churchill, FDR, and Mao. Wherever you stand on the issue of the individual's role in history, its impact must be factored into the equation, particularly when it comes to explaining turning points in a nation's history.

...Today we are consumed with leaders and leadership as the solution, if not the panacea, to just about everything that ails us. We admire the bold, transformational leader who seeks fundamental change, and value less the cautious transactor who negotiates, triangulates, and settles for less dramatic results. And we tend to forget too that great leaders almost always emerge in times of national crisis, trauma, and exigency, a risk we run if we hunger for the return of such leaders. Still, in Holy Grail-like pursuit, we search for some magic formula or key to try to understand what accounts for great leadership. Indeed, we seem nothing short of obsessed with the L-word.


This focus on leaders is understandable, particularly during times of great uncertainty and stress. The psychologists and mythologists tell us that the need to search for the great leader to guide or even rescue us is an ancient -- even primordial -- impulse. But what happens when we reach for something we may no longer be able to have?Indeed, these days, those who favor and align with ...the "Great Man" view of history -- myself included -- have a serious problem.We are now well into the 21st century, a full 70 years after Keegan's six transformers either tried to take over the world or to save it. Look around. Where are the giants of old, the transformers who changed the world and left great legacies? Plenty of very bad leaders have come and gone -- Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, Muammar al-Qaddafi, Slobodan Milosevic -- and some larger-than-life good ones too, like Charles de Gaulle, Konrad Adenauer, Anwar Sadat, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pope John Paul II, and Nelson Mandela.We face a leadership deficit of global proportions. In fact, we seem to be pretty well along into what you might call the post-heroic leadership era.Today, 193 countries sit in the United Nations, among them 88 free and functioning democracies. The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the so-called great powers -- the United States, Britain, France, China, and Russia -- are not led by great, transformative leaders. Nor do rising states such as Brazil, India, and South Africa boast leaders with strong and accomplished records. We certainly see leaders who are adept at maintaining power and keeping their seats -- some, like Russia's Vladimir Putin and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for many years. Germany's Angela Merkel is certainly a powerful leader and skilled politician.But where are those whom we could honestly describe as potentially great, heroic, or inspirational? And how many are not only great, but good -- with compassion and high moral and ethical standards -- too? Today, if I were pressed to identify a potentially great leader, I might offer up not a traditional head of state at all, but rather a religious figure: Pope Francis I, whose greatness as well as goodness may well be defined by the irony of his anti-greatness, commonness, and humility....great nations are supposed to have great political leaders too, right? And yet today in America we hear very little talk of greatness in our politics. Instead, the focus is on the leadership deficit, on America the ungovernable, and on the sorry state of its dysfunctional politics. One 2013 poll revealed that the public's view of Congress was significantly less positive than its view of root canal operations, NFL replacement refs, colonoscopies, France, and even cockroaches.It should come as no surprise that the concern about the leadership deficit in our political class also extends to the presidency itself, an institution that has become, both for better and worse, the central element in our political system....The presidency has always been an implausible, some might even say an impossible, job. But the following mix of challenges and constraints -- some old, some new -- has made the post-World War II presidency harder still: constitutional and practical constraints on the office itself; the president's expanding reach and responsibilities; the expanding role of a government we trust less, even when we demand more from it; America's global role; and an intrusive, omnipresent, and nonstop media. Miller contends that the United States has had three, truly great presidents - Washington, Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt....Each of the undeniably great presidents overcame a truly nation-wrenching challenge or crisis; each used his crisis moment to fundamentally alter the way we see ourselves as a nation and the way we govern ourselves too, and in doing so changed the nation forever for the better; and each in the process transcended narrow partisanship and in time came to be seen even by critics as an extraordinary national leader.The presidents we judge to be great are very much with us still -- everywhere, really. They are on our money and monuments, stars of our HBO specials and Hollywood movies, and subjects of best-selling presidential biographies. They are everywhere, that is, except in the White House.As we will see, what I describe as "traces of greatness," both real and perceived, have appeared in several of our more contemporary presidents. But those "traces" are not to be confused with the performance of the three undeniables or the handful of other top performers we hold in high esteem. The greatness ...belongs to an America of a different time and place, to a different country really. In the second part of the book, I explain why the history of the post-FDR presidency has been such a challenging tale, and why the times and circumstances have narrowed the prospects, the need, and the opportunity for sustained heroic action in the presidency. ...Like the ghosts in Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, great presidents continue to hover, to teach, and to inspire. And we have much to learn from their successes and failures. But there is a risk in thinking, let alone succumbing to the illusion, that we will see their likes again, even in an altered contemporary guise. The world and country have changed and so have we. And besides, we should not want to see them again. Greatness in the presidency is too rare to be relevant in our modern times and -- driven as it is in our political system by big crisis -- too risky and dangerous to be desirable. Our continued search for idealized presidents raises our expectations and theirs, skews presidential performance, and leads to an impossible standard that can only frustrate and disappoint. To sum up: We can no longer have a truly great president, we seldom need one, and, as irrational as it sounds, we may not want one, either.   Perhaps our last great leader was Pierre Trudeau.  Like America, our great leaders are names from the distant past - Laurier, Pearson, St. Laurent, Cartier and MacDonald.  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. 
And, perhaps just because I can't think of anywhere else to put it, here's Johnny Rotten on democracy and revolution. 

Wednesday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 08:04
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Duncan Cameron discusses how Canada can respond to being stalled economically:
In 2011 median earnings in Canada were $30,000. That means one-half of Canadian workers earned less than $30,000. What is more to the point is that earnings in 2011 were $1,800 below the level attained in 1977 (inflation adjusted 2011 dollars)! The pay packet for workers shrunk over that 24 year period.

It's a big stall -- an awful lot of Canadians are not getting ahead.
...
What has escaped economic stagnation, and gone up in value is what Thomas Piketty called patrimonial capital: inheritances, tax sheltered investments, ownership of private companies, public stock holdings, real estate and private art collections.

Piketty shows that patrimonial capital is not just inherited from parents. Important as inherited wealth is in the upper reaches of the Canadian economy -- think Thompson, Irvings, McCains, Desmarais, Péladeau, where new generations have taken over from wealth accumulators -- Piketty shows wealth also grows out of high incomes like those paid in the FIRE sector: finance, insurance and real estate.

Wealth accumulation is outpacing income growth. This is an overall trend in Western economies according to statistics collected by Piketty through extensive research in tax returns around the world. This trend is what the big stall is about.

It should be obvious to anyone (other than the very rich) that it is good idea to take additional money from those who have much more than they need, or could ever spend, and transfer it to people who are barely surviving on social transfers.- Meanwhile, Carol Goar notes that we stand out internationally in our large number of well-educated workers earning low incomes - meaning that our investment in education isn't translating into economic benefits. And PressProgress suggests that contrary to the Cons' inclinations, free money for the corporate lobby won't solve anything.

- Dave Gilson and Mattias Mackler chart the combination of greater inequality and more precarious lives for most U.S. residents. And Natasha Boddy reports on the work being done to act on the social determinants of health in Australia.

- Jacques Gallant reports on Amir Attaran's latest study showing that Canada is paying far more than it should for generic prescription drugs. And Andre Picard examines the even more worrisome trend of overreliance on antibiotics - which looks all too likely to create resistance which won't be met by insufficient research.

- Finally, Paul Dechene tears into the Regina Public School Board for teaching students all the wrong lessons:
Oh sure, they have a “unit” on “sustainability” somewhere in the school curriculum. I think I remember my kid bringing home a blue papier-mâché globe she made on Earth Day or something. I threw that shit out.


But we all know the three Rs — Reduce, Reuse and Recycle — can’t power a fossil fuel economy.
Neither can words like “sustainability” or “the environment.” And we’re within spitting distance of the epicentre of our fossil fuel economy (if you could spit on Alberta from Regina, that is). So we have to support the fossil fuel economy. It’s our patriotic duty.

If we don’t, who will?

And that’s why I’m glad the school board is doing an end run around those socialist Rs and setting a strong example in the three Cs: Combustion, Construction and Consumption.

Tearing down Connaught is a win on ALL THREE!!

Kids, you know all those plastic juice bottles you put in the blue bin because it’s good for the environment? Your school board has more than offset all that work you did by throwing the bulk of a two-storey building in the dump and then busing all of Connaught across town for three or more years. You could start composting the crusts off your jam sandwiches too and it wouldn’t amount to a hill of organic soy beans at this point!
...
So why exactly is the Public School Board tearing down Connaught? Because the building was not maintained adequately. Because renovation work that was done on the foundation exacerbated problems. Because heritage elements have already been removed from the building.

When Connaught kids graduate to high school, they’ll learn that these are all examples of the passive voice. That’s a way of playing with verbs that skilled wordsmiths employ to hide who actually did a thing.

In this case, it means no one ever has to say, “The Regina Public School Board and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education did not maintain Connaught and did renovation work that exacerbated foundation problems and removed heritage elements from the building.”

With the passive voice, it looks like absolutely no one did any of this. And that means no one ever has to take responsibility for what happens, no one ever has to say “Sorry,” and no one ever has to learn anything. And that means the Regina Public School Board can keep doing the same thing over and over. 

On Encouraging Political Participation

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 06:11


The other day I wrote a post on John Cruickshank's TED Talk about the low level of political participation among young citizens. His thesis was that as a society, we are losing our news-reading and news-watching habits thanks to the myriad options offered by our current technologies. Asserting that news reading is a skill, the devolution of that skill has affected our ability to think critically and be civically engaged.

A well-considered letter to The Star, however, argues that without structural changes in our political system, measures to encourage participation will be ineffectual:
Re: What's the big threat to democracy? Distraction, Insight Oct. 11

I read the dissertation by John Cruickshank on the threats to our democracy. Unfortunately, the analysis and subsequent conclusions are flawed.

The real threats to our democracy come not only from a disengaged younger electorate (understandable given the hardships they face relative to older generations in income, housing and equality of opportunity), but rather from a perversion of the existing democratic institutions by our current plutocracy.

Political parties have “gamed” the system to their advantage. Our current body politic is often about demagogues using power seized through campaigns of fear or misinformation to obtain power; with little recourse for voters if perverse and discriminatory policies ensue.

The newly elected representative quickly finds out that they are merely trained seals, told what to say and when, with little chance to have their views fairly considered on important matters.

To just encourage people to vote no matter what is not the answer. I would proffer that an uninformed voter is more dangerous to our electoral system than one who is informed but chooses not to participate. It could be argued that the uninformed who choose to exercise their right to vote are willing participants to the demagoguery that is pervasive.
Merely asking relatively uninformed citizens to go out and vote once every four years in the current antiquated system is not the answer. The answers will begin once we seriously consider measures to not only encourage civic engagement, but with an accompanying corollary of institutional reform.

This will include some type of proportional representation to better reflect the views of all voters, greater use of plebiscites, allowing recall votes, and having party leaders chosen by their caucus to make them more accountable to the members, rather the reverse. The guise of greater voter turnout will not lead us there.

However, if a major political party were to propose such visionary reforms, then we might experience a sea change in civic involvement.

David Dos Santos, MississaugaRecommend this Post

Will Stephen Harper Go For a Late Fall Election?

Montreal Simon - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 04:58


It's been the subject of much fevered speculation. Will Stephen Harper call an early election? And if so how early?

And no doubt Great Desperate Leader is consulting his crystal ball, and the fevered voices in his head.

And in his brief moments of lucidity, probably wondering if he DID go early what would be his excuse?

But now some Cons are apparently saying that he already has two good excuses, and he should pull the plug immediately.
Read more »

Steve And Bashar

Northern Reflections - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 04:11
                                             http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/

Paul Adams writes that Stephen Harper is now Bashar Assad's newest ally. The coalition he has joined strengthens Assad's hand:

  • Most obviously, it strikes directly at the most potent rebel force that rose up in opposition to his regime — the one that has acquired the most territory and has the strongest fighting force.
  • By targeting Islamic State, it allows Assad to divert military resources to fight other rebel groups, including the al-Qaida linked Al-Nusra Front and the so-called ‘moderate’ rebels we supposedly support.
  • The anti-Islamic State mission also creates a diplomatic opening for Assad to begin rehabilitating his regime from pariah state to unlikely Western ally.

And Adams offers a few facts for comparison:

The U.S. government recently said that Islamic State had abducted between 1,500 and 4,000 Yazidi women, some of whom were apparently sold as “brides”. That’s awful — but how does it compare with the record of the Assad regime?

Although it’s notoriously difficult to assemble statistics on sexualized violence, there is substantial evidence that the Assad regime has used rape as a weapon, and on a scale yet to be matched by Islamic State. It also has a ghastly record of torturing and murdering civilians — including children.Best estimates of the number of people killed in Assad’s war so far are in the neighbourhood of 300,000. The number killed by Islamic State to date may be in the tens of thousands.
None of this means that Islamic State is a victim. They are beyond the pale. The question is: Is the Harper mission the solution to the problem? Past history suggests it isn't. But Stephen Harper is no student of history -- even recent history.


The Con Regime's Lethally Inadequate Response to the Ebola Epidemic

Montreal Simon - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 00:44


We are still awaiting our first case of Ebola.

And even though the risk of a major outbreak in Canada is almost negligible, in the emergency rooms of the nation, doctors, and nurses, are already struggling to contain an epidemic of fear.

Not just the irrational fears of their patients, but legitimate fears over their own safety. 

Linda Haslam-Stroud, president of the Ontario Nurse’s Association, said Tuesday that her organization is particularly concerned that nurses are not being offered all the equipment they might need to protect them from contracting the virus, as a Texas nurse did last week.

And as might have been expected, the response of the Harper regime has so far been woefully lacking. 
Read more »

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 19:36
Companion cats.




Has Olive Garden Lost Its Way?

Politics and its Discontents - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 16:26
Although we didn't eat at The Olive Garden this year when we visited our son in Edmonton, last year we did. It was quite disappointing, a far cry from years ago when we had the restaurant chain in Ontario. The following video perhaps explains why:

Recommend this Post

Pages

Subscribe to canadianprogressives.ca aggregator - Posts from our progressive community