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Toward Democratic Renewal

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 08:28

I'm sure that all progressive bloggers are disheartened and bedeviled by the devolution of democracy in Canada. Not only has it been under consistent and sustained attack by the Harper regime, but it has also (perhaps as a result of those attacks) seen a substantial rise in the number of disaffected and disengaged citizens, attested to by the abysmal turnout in recent elections.

In today's Star, Bob Hepburn has some suggestions on how to reverse this deplorable situation, posed in this way by Hepburn:
How can Stephen Harper and other political leaders be prevented from running roughshod over our democracy?Hepburn suggests that Harper's egregious contempt for our democratic principles and traditions are sparking a backlash among a growing number of Canadians.

It is a suggestion with which the founder of Democracy Watch, Duff Conacher agrees:
“There will be huge competition on this issue among the political parties like we haven’t seen in more than 10 years,” he says.So how can we, as concerned citizens, contribute to this push for democratic renewal?
First, you can write, email and telephone Harper, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, as well as your MP. In the past, many people have written to Ottawa, but have received unsatisfying responses or no replies at all. Don’t give up, though. Politicians will change direction if enough people write to them, Conacher says.Next, Hepburn advises joining
a non-profit community group engaged in a public issue ... [that] can provide a chance to share your views with elected officials or public servants.Third, spend $10 and join a political party. As a member, you can try to influence candidates and the political agenda at the local or national level.

Fourth, talk about political issues with your family and friends. [Alison]Loat [of Samara]says one of the biggest challenges for anyone interested in restoring democracy is getting others engage. Barely 40 per cent of Canadians report they have talked with their friends or families or work colleagues about a political or societal issue in person or on the phone in the last year.

Fifth, sign up with pro-democracy efforts and petitions that are being launched across Canada. For example, the Ottawa-based Council of Canadians is urging its members to take a vote pledge, with a promise to challenge two more eligible voters to join them in taking the pledge. As well, Dave Meslin, a Toronto organizer who co-founded Spacing magazine, is seeking ideas for a book he is writing, titled One Hundred Remedies for a Broken Democracy.Hepburn also points out that Duff Conacher is
the driving force behind Democracy Education, a coalition of national groups that operates the website that strives to get voters to encourage non-voters to turn out for the coming election.The idea is to extract a promise from as many of your friends and acquaintances as possible to Make the Vote Promise.

Taken separately, perhaps none of these will cure our political malaise, but in the aggregate, they may, with the proper effort, result in a return to healthier numbers at the ballot box.

We have our job cut out for us. The challenge is daunting, but I refuse to believe it is insurmountable.
Recommend this Post

New column day

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 06:34
Here, on the Wall government's secret attack on overtime pay for retail workers - and how it reflects a preference for the rule of lobbyists over the rule of law.

For further reading...
- See my previous posts here, here and here for background on the story - including the Ministry's directives to staff at the second link.
- And I'll note that selective "flexibility" - defined as workers bending over backwards to serve their corporate overlords - is the Saskatchewan Party's main excuse for cutting workers' overtime pay. And Katie Mazer discusses how that same principle applies elsewhere as the Cons try to force workers from across Canada into marginal jobs in the oil patch.

Thursday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 06:28
This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Scott Sinclair studies the effect of NAFTA on government policies, and finds that it's been used primarily (and all too frequently) to attack Canadian policy choices:
A study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) finds over 70% of all NAFTA investor-state claims since 2005 were brought against the Canadian government and the number of challenges against Canada is rising sharply. From 1995-2005, there were 12 claims against Canada, while in the last ten years there have been 23.

"It appears that the federal government's strong ideological commitment to ISDS and its willingness to settle and pay compensation is encouraging investor-state claims against Canada," says Sinclair.

As of January 1, 2015, 45% of NAFTA claims were made against Canada. Canada has been the target of 35 investor-state claims, significantly more than either Mexico (22) or the U.S. (20). "Thanks to NAFTA chapter 11, Canada has now been sued more times through investor-state dispute settlement, than any other developed country in the world," Sinclair added.

The study notes that although NAFTA proponents claimed that ISDS was needed to address concerns about corruption in the Mexican court system, most investor-state challenges involve public policy and regulatory matters. Sixty three per cent of claims against Canada involve challenges to environmental protection or resource management measures. - And Thomas Walkom follows up by pointing out that the CETA figures to create even more limitations on democratic decision-making.

- Raksha Vasudevan writes about the Cons' voter suppression tactics aimed at Canadians living abroad. And, Linda McQuaig highlights how Justin Trudeau looms as the main obstacle to proportional representation at the federal level.

- Also on the electoral fairness front, Alice Funke identifies how the Cons have radically altered election spending limits based on the length of a campaign period. But I'd point out in particular (as Alice alludes to) that the effect of that change may be just as much to perpetuate a government's financial advantage as to exploit it: a governing party which had set its advertising budget for an election cycle could turn what would otherwise be pre-writ spending into a rebated expense by starting the writ period earlier.

- Mike Hager discusses how the Cons' restrictions on research funding are suppressing any work into exactly the controversial subjects where greater knowledge would seem essential to policy development.

- And finally, Daniel Beland, Rachel Laforest and Jennifer Wallner discuss some of Canada's worst policy ideas of 2014 - with the Cons' income splitting scheme rightly earning a prominent place on the list.

Coalition Redux

Politics and its Discontents - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 06:02

Never ones to shy away from expressing strong opinions, Toronto Star readers weigh in again on the best way to try to defeat Mr. Harper in the next election:

Re: Pondering a union of moderates, Letters Jan. 10
Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau must get their heads together. Prior to 2006, the federal conservative parties realized they were fighting each other. They became one party and have been in power ever since. In 2011, with a vote increase from approximately 37 per cent to 39 per cent, they went from a minority to a majority government.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper could win again in 2015 unless the left unites. NDP and Liberal issues and policies may vary slightly but they are heading in the same direction. If they don’t join, Harper will be one of the longest reigning prime ministers even though, by far, he is the worst prime minister ever, taking that title from (I’m sure) a relieved Brian Mulroney.

Let’s review some of his highlights. He promised to be transparent and accountable. Not so. United Arab Emirates allowed our military to use its military bases and hospitals, and they flew soldiers home at no cost to Canada. When Harper refused UAE commercial flights into Canada, we lost that privilege. This has cost Canada at least $300 million for an alternate airbase.

Harper wanted to buy 65 F35 jets from an American company, even though the U.S. air force wouldn’t because the jets were flawed. Because of Harper’s hawkishness, Canada was kicked out of the UN Security Council. He taught us that proroguing is not something you eat. He is the only prime minister in Commonwealth history to be held in contempt of Parliament.
Harper hired Deloitte Consulting for advice on how to handle finances. And yet before the election, he told us he had the means to balance the budget. He said he would be tough on crime, and then scrapped the long gun registry.

When Jean Chrétien’s Liberals chose not to fight in the illegal war in Iraq, Harper wrote a letter to the U.S. apologizing for Canada’s refusal. He promised Senate reform. Didn’t happen. Instead he stacked the Senate in his favour.

In 2011, the postal workers went on a rotating strike. Harper said that commerce relies heavily on the mail. So what did he do? He locked out the postal workers, so no mail was delivered. Sounds like a Monty Python skit.

He silenced the scientists for fear they may show evidence of climate change. Nothing gets said or done unless it goes through him first. Hence, the label he has acquired: Party of One.

John Vesprini, Stoney CreekFirst, to paraphrase Churchill, “first past the post is the worst form of election possible, except for all the others.”

All proportional representation does is transfer power to small parties, far in excess of their voter turnout. That is one reason the NDP supports it. You will discover that, and express your malcontent, when a hard-right party wins a balance of power with 15 to 20 per cent of the vote.

Second, why is it that right-wing parties are routinely cited by letter writers with the “61 per cent voted against this government” and left-wing parties are not? Kathleen Wynne won a majority with 38.2 per cent of the vote, but none of the letter writers acknowledged that fact.

Based on election results from the last two elections, in Ontario Stephen Harper enjoyed the support of 44 per cent of actual voters, and 27 per cent of eligible voters, while Kathleen Wynne had 38 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

Finally, the Conservative party did receive the plurality of votes cast in the last election, on a party basis. There are four parties on the left, which split the so-called “progressive” vote.

Two parties splitting the “right” vote cost us 10 years of Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government. Until the “progressives” unite, we will continue to get a government elected by a majority of Canadians, on a party basis.

Alan McDonald, TrentonAs I have said before, it is doubtful that a uniting of progressives will take place before the upcoming election. It may be seriously entertained afterwards, if Harper is re-elected with another majority. However, if that happens, I suspect it will be too little, far too late.

Thirst for personal power will have triumphed over the public good, once again.Recommend this Post

The Conservative Broadsided Corporation

Creekside - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 06:00

Noam Chomsky : "That's the standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don't work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital."

All graphics from Friends of Canadian Broadcasting

I get Dr Dawg's point : "Dismantle. Then remantle out of new material" 

But I'm afraid once the goal of dismantling is achieved, there will be no remantling.
More likely, just as the dismantling is almost complete, the Cons will keep a severely controlled ConBullshitCorp limping along on an ever shorter leash as a somewhat less ridiculous version of SunNews.

CBC is really just a reflection of our society at large - a whole lot of self-serving repetitive corporate-driven drivel interspersed with occasionally rewarded bright sparks of public-spirit, principles, and courage.

So how about we support those who splash some much-needed cold water on CBC from time to time without actually drowning the CBC in the Cons corporate cronies' bathtub :


Now Is The Time, Justin

Northern Reflections - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 05:47


Talk of proportional representation has been around for a long time. Linda McQuaig writes:

The most widely-supported version of PR for Canada — called Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) — is used in Germany, Scotland and New Zealand, and has the advantage of combining local representation with a seat count in the legislature based on the popular vote. MMP was recommended by the Law Commission of Canada in a 2004 report on Canadian electoral reform. It has the support of nonpartisan groups like Fair Vote Canada and the Canadian Electoral Alliance.
And, last month, exactly such a proposal was presented to the House. It had the support of the NDP, the Green Party and 16 Liberal MP's. Curiously, Justin Trudeau voted against the proposal. The question is why? Stephen Harper is the incarnation of the argument for PR:

The rise of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives — with their aggression, their willingness to flout democratic rules and traditions, their indifference to the interests of those who didn’t vote for them — has highlighted the danger of an over-empowered minority in an urgent new way.
With only 39.5 per cent of the popular vote in the 2011 election (plus an unquantifiable amount of hubris), the Harper government has exercised 100 per cent control over Parliament, using that power to sabotage international efforts on climate change and implement a whole range of other policies at odds with the values of most Canadians.
McQuaig suggests that a minority government may, indeed, be what we are left with after this year's election:

A minority government is distinctly possible — and opposition parties undoubtedly would work together to ensure the end of the Harper government.

That could involve some kind of deal between them, a deal which should require the implementation of proportional representation in order to ensure a permanent guarantee of greater democracy.
If Trudeau the Younger is serious about democratic reform, he should be talking about proportional representation.

All The Ways Stephen Harper Could Soon Be Gone

Montreal Simon - Thu, 01/15/2015 - 04:20

It's one of my fondest dreams, the day Stephen Harper finally leaves. And it can't happen soon enough.

Because I honestly believe that him and his ghastly Cons are losing touch with reality, or think they can brainwash us all.

And that we are all FOOLS.

Because there he was in that latest Con propaganda video I ran last night. Telling Canadians that even though he blew the surplus before he had one, and even though experts are warning he's flirting with a deficit.

He's STILL a Great Economist Leader...
Read more »

Raif Badawi, Saudi Arabia, and the Hypocrisy of the Harper Regime

Montreal Simon - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 22:13

A few days ago I wrote a post pointing out that our ghastly regime had failed to say a word about Saudi Arabia's savage flogging of the blogger Raif Badawi.

After signing a deal with that reactionary kingdom to sell it $10 billion worth of armoured cars.

Well now Harper's faithful stooge John Baird has finally said something.

Canada is deeply concerned by flogging of @raif_badawi - it is a violation of human dignity and freedom of expression
— John Baird (@Baird) January 15, 2015
But only after it was revealed that he is planning a high-level meeting with one of its most powerful princes Turki al-Faisal.
Read more »

Harper Casts a Dangerous Net. He's Fishing For Your Rights, Your Freedoms.

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 17:21
One of the classic goals of terrorists is to force the government side to become regressive, to turn on its own people.  Western governments, too stupid to realize this, use incidents such as the Paris massacre, to invest themselves with new powers that usually do more to suppress dissent than thwart terrorism.

Case in point, French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala.  He's facing up to 7-years in prison and a 5,000 Euro fine after being charged with "condoning terrorism."

Prosecutors opened the case against the comedian after he posted on his Facebook page: "Tonight, as far as I'm concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly" - mixing the popular slogan "Je suis Charlie" used in homage to the slain Charlie Hebdo magazine journalists with a reference to Islamist gunman Amedy Coulibaly.

Coulibaly killed four Jews at a supermarket on Friday and a policewoman the day before.

Dieudonne's arrest is one of 54 cases that have been opened in France for "condoning terrorism" or "making threats to carry out terrorist acts" since last week's Islamist shootings left 17 people dead.

Dieudonne made his controversial Facebook post after attending Sunday's unity march against extremism that brought more than 1.5 million people onto the streets of Paris after the attacks.

He described the march - considered the biggest rally in modern French history - as "a magical moment comparable to the big-bang".

This business of exploiting controversy to ramp up the state's powers over ordinary citizens is a racket, one our own prime minister, Captain Cowered, never passes up.
The CBC's Neil Macdonald drives home this very point.
...with all due respect to the sentiment behind it, Sunday's great march through the centre of Paris, and others like it around the world, must qualify as one of the greatest collective acts of slacktivism so far this century.

And the consequences of all this outrage may be far from what the protesters intended.

The leaders of several governments were in fact marching right up front with them in Paris over the weekend, which was a wonderful photo op, but really a bit rich given some of the alliances and the practices that some of those nations are involved in.

Certain close strategic partners of the U.S. and Canada are actively and violently anti-free-speech.

Egypt, a big recipient of U.S. aid, imprisons and tortures people just for belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, which was democratically elected to govern and then overthrown.

On Friday, two days after the Charlie Hebdo killings, Saudi Arabia administered the first 50 of a thousand lashes to Raif Badawi, a blogger convicted of insulting Islam.

He is also serving a 10-year prison sentence. Which means, effectively, that the Saudis intend to lash Badawi grievously, perhaps even to death, for speech far less corrosive than Charlie Hebdo's deliberately insulting cartoons.

How does that make Saudi Arabia substantively different from the Charlie Hebdo attackers? Is it merely a matter of scale and method?

...Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in his official statement of outrage at the Charlie Hebdo attack, made no reference to free speech at all, which shouldn't surprise anyone. Canada, unlike the U.S., offers no guarantee of absolute free speech in its constitution.

And Canadians are certainly not Charlie. My guess is that an English-language version of Charlie Hebdo wouldn't last even a few days in Canada before concerned Muslim or Christian or Jewish citizens would be demanding charges be laid under Canada's hate-speech laws, or dragging the magazine before one of our provincial human rights commissions that specialize in rooting out offensive expression.

Canada even has an anti-blasphemy law on the books. It was last used in an attempted private prosecution against the distributors of the Monty Python movie Life of Brian in 1980.

...Canada is preparing new legislation to expand the powers of its security agencies.

The French, and the Americans, and no doubt the Canadians, are considering how better to monitor and obliterate incitement on the internet.

Or, more precisely, what security officials consider incitement. It's a term that can be interpreted rather broadly, and no doubt will be.

Clearly, the ultimate answer to the Charlie Hebdo massacre will not be freer speech. It will be a mostly secret intensification of police power, with attendant shrinkage of individual fre

And we will all be told not to worry: If you aren't doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.

At least one French demonstrator seemed to recognize some of this over the weekend. The sign he hoisted read: "Je marche, mais je suis conscient de la confusion et de l'hypocrisie de la situation."

I march, but I am aware of the confusion and hypocrisy of the situation.

Amen, brother.

Sea Levels Rising Faster Than We Had Imagined

The Disaffected Lib - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 16:57

If there's one aspect of climate change that even diehard denialists are having trouble writing off, it's sea level rise.  That's especially noticeable in states along America's eastern seaboard and Gulf coast.  There's some grand real estate along America's waterfront up to an including gorgeous ante-bellum mansions that dominate the barrier islands off the Carolinas shores that must eventually succumb to the sea.

There's over a trillion dollars worth of real estate at risk and a lot of that is Romney-esque money.  Sure, being rich, they can afford to relocate to higher ground but their waterfront wealth stays put.

A new study from Harvard, published today in the journal Nature, concludes that sea level rise is quickening more than thought.

The report, reassessing records from more than 600 tidal gauges, found that readings from 1901-90 had over-estimated the rise in sea levels. Based on revised figures for those years, the acceleration since then was greater than so far assumed.

The report said the earlier readings were incomplete or skewed by local factors such as subsidence.

The new analysis "suggests that the acceleration in the past two decades is 25 per cent higher than previously thought," Carling Hay, a Canadian scientist at Harvard University and lead author of the study in the journalNature, told Reuters.

While the report is unwelcome news to the "old money" Deep South, it's devastating on a life and death scale to subsistence farmers in places like Bangladesh or the islanders of the South Pacific.

Wednesday Evening Links

accidentaldeliberations - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 16:28
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jeff Begley criticizes the Cons and the Quebec Libs for their refusal to even recognize inequality as an issue - which of course results in their only exacerbating the gap between the rich and the rest of us:
While Couillard and Harper find the "courage" to attack workers, starting with those in the public sector, they are completely silent when it comes to the growing social and economic inequalities. Worse still, they are working actively to heighten those inequalities!

In our video message over the holidays, I indicated that we hoped this would be a time to think about better ways of sharing our immense wealth. I still think it is the basic mandate of any government to see to it that inequalities are not intensified, and indeed are reduced. And in the public eye, the current levels of inequality are far from acceptable.

The population as a whole, including unionized workers, must show leadership if we want our government to change course. The government is ignoring experts' advice that it's heading in the wrong direction, and is forging ahead with policies that will directly lead to greater inequalities. - The CP reports that the Cons have once again flipped from insisting it's reckless not to follow the U.S. on climate change the moment the U.S. actually gets something done. And Verda Petry notes that the Saskatchewan Party's reliance on dirty resource development is harming the province both economically and ecologically.

- PressProgress highlights how the Cons are attacking health care in Canada.

- And finally, in the course of setting out strategies for Canada's federal leaders, Tim Harper discusses the strong progressive position Tom Mulcair will need to continue presenting in order to build on the NDP's electoral success in 2015:
Mulcair is an accomplished campaigner and a superior debater.

The party should be better prepared to wage a campaign than ever before.

The Broadbent Institute has brought key members from Barack Obama’s campaign to Canada to speak and have sent campaign workers south to learn from digital and social media gurus who were instrumental in the U.S. president’s back-to-back victories.

The party is working hard to educate workers on voter engagement, fundraising appeals and get-out-the-vote efforts.

None of this will work unless Mulcair follows this rule — be bold, resist the urge to play small ball, refuse to worship at the altar of balanced budgets.

Give us real solutions to income inequality and this country’s sorry record on climate change.

Don’t play in the same sandbox as the others.

Layton was barely on the map when the starting gun sounded in 2011.

New Democrats are on the map now, but they will fall off if they timidly work around the edges instead of defiantly offering Canadians real choice.

Have The Terrorists Already Won?

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 09:49

Much press has been devoted to the aftermath of the cowardly massacre at Charlie Hebdo; strong displays of solidarity both in defence of freedom of expression and disdain for the jihadists' efforts to squelch it, have been widespread. But despite these demonstrations, one can legitimately ask if the terrorists have already achieved victory.

I offer but one example here of the egregious irony/hypocrisy of a state-sanctioned suppression of the very right that so many are so staunchly defending against attack.

Associated Press journalists Lori Hinnant and Angela Charlton report the following:
In a sign that French judicial authorities were using laws against defending terrorism to their fullest extent, a man who had praised the terror attacks while resisting arrest on a drunk driving violation was swiftly sentenced to four years in prison.I guess freedom of expression is ultimately largely contingent upon whether or not one finds acceptable the view being expressed. So it would seem that both the French government and the terrorists have found something upon which they can both agree.
Recommend this Post

The Other Path

Northern Reflections - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 06:27


Like a Puritan obsessed with sin, Stephen Harper is obsessed with austerity. He is not alone in his obsession. Most of Europe's leaders share it. And their obsession has led The Financial Times' Martin Wolfe to write that their economies suffer from "chronic demand deficiency syndrome." The OECD has also been trying to get those who mistake economics for theology to see the folly of their moralistic crusade.

Not all countries take a moralistic approach to economics. Murray Dobbins writes that the Scandinavian countries -- particularly Norway -- have chosen another path:

A recent study, "How Can Scandinavians Tax So Much?" on Norway, Sweden and Denmark, demonstrates how national governments can actually address underlying structural demand weaknesses -- or rather, in their cases, how to prevent such weaknesses from developing in the first place. The key is not just high government spending but a dedication to revenue collection that comes as close as possible to eliminating leakage in the tax system.

The top marginal income tax rate in the three countries is between 60 per cent and 70 per cent compared to 43 per cent in the U.S. and about 50 per cent in Canada. Add in other taxes like consumption and payroll levies and the average Scandinavian worker gets to keep just 20 per cent of her paycheque. In the U.S. that same employee keeps 63 per cent. How can such high tax rates (which would be denounced as "punitive" here) result in some of the best economic outcomes on the planet -- high standards of living, high labour participation rates, highly profitable corporations and high placements (all higher than Canada) in the world competitiveness sweepstakes?

With the governments pumping billions of dollars into the Scandinavian economies there is no "chronic demand deficiency syndrome." They do not rely on debt-financed consumer demand, and the reduction of private consumer spending makes for more rational economic decision-making overall. The U.S. has accomplished what appears to be a stable recovery by also rejecting the austerity obsession and engaging in repeated rounds of quantitative easing  -- artificially pumping money into the economy through bond purchases. Canada, meanwhile, is actually sucking billions out of the economy through tax cuts to sectors (corporations and the 1 per cent) who aren't spending it.
Over the last thirty years, rather than injecting money into our economy, our governments have withdrawn billions of dollars:

Of course we have withdrawn billions since 1985 -- over $60 billion a year in abandoned revenue at the federal level if you go back and count Paul Martin's huge tax cuts in 2000-2005. If we had that money back to spend, the vast majority of it ultimately ends up being spent in the private sector -- and might actually convince Canadian corporations to invest some of the $626 billion in idle cash they are now sitting on. (An IMF report recently chastised Canadians corporations for accumulating idle capital at a faster rate than any other country in the G7.)
And, rather than taking in money from our petroleum wealth, we have sold that resource at fire sale prices. Norway took a different tact:

In Canada we have virtually given away our energy heritage through criminally low royalty rates over a period of some 70 years. Norway bargained hard with oil companies to develop its relatively new found resource -- and kept ownership of it. The result, as reported in The Tyee last year, is a heritage fund of (as of a year ago) $909,364 billion (Canadian). That puts tiny Norway $1.5 trillion ahead of us and while each Canadian has a $17,000 share of our $600 billion debt national debt, each Norwegian has a $178,000 stake in their surplus. Norway puts aside a billion dollars a week from its oil resource.
Clearly, there is another path. And austerity isn't it.

A Blog Post Recommendation

Politics and its Discontents - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 05:51

I have only one purpose in this brief post, and that is to strongly recommend that you take a look at Dr. Dawg's latest post. A trenchant and incisive dissection of the rot that has beset the CBC, Dawg concludes that there is little worth saving at what he calls the 'MotherCorpse', given its increasingly flagrant disregard for conflict of interest issues, Amanda Lang's case being only the latest.

Who is to blame for this sorry state? Well, you'll have to read Dawg's post for his answer.Recommend this Post

Stephen Harper and the End of the Great Economist Myth

Montreal Simon - Wed, 01/14/2015 - 04:06

Well it must have been a grim scene in the PMO bunker last night. For years the Con propaganda machine has tried to brainwash Canadians into believing that Stephen Harper is a Great Economist Leader.

The steady hand on the wheel, steering us to prosperity, the only leader who knows ANYTHING about economics.
Even as he put all our economic eggs into one oily basket, decimated our manufacturing sector, flooded the country with foreign workers, drove down wages, and failed to come up with an industrial strategy, or create enough jobs.
But today that absurd myth finally fell apart, after the Great Helmsman's boat collided with the hard rock of reality. 
Read more »

The Con Regime Goes After Another Veteran's Advocate

Montreal Simon - Tue, 01/13/2015 - 22:59

Yesterday I told you how Erin O'Toole, Julian Fantino's equally ghastly replacement, had gone after Mike Blais and his veteran's group. 

Now it turns out that wasn't an isolated incident, it's part of an all-out offensive.

Because today we found out that the Cons are also going after the distinguished veteran's advocate Keith Neville. 
Read more »

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

accidentaldeliberations - Tue, 01/13/2015 - 20:07
Lounging cats.

Unfriending the CBC

Dawg's Blawg - Tue, 01/13/2015 - 10:39
When an institution that I can remember from my childhood—a staggeringly long time ago—starts to rot, it’s usually from the head, like the proverbial fish. We cannot blame the MotherCorpse’s current condition, of course, on the Harper government, or the... Dr.Dawg

Counting On Oil

Northern Reflections - Tue, 01/13/2015 - 06:31

Falling oil prices should stimulate the world's faltering economy. But they won't do the Harper government a lot of good. That's because the Harperites have nailed their political flag to eliminating the deficit. And that has become more difficult than they anticipated. Scott Clark and Peter DeVries write:

In other words, cheaper oil will have a net positive effect on real economic growth in the oil-consuming provinces and on their budget balances — but it will have the reverse effect in the oil-producing provinces and in Mr. Oliver’s department.

That growth forecast of 3.7 per cent for nominal GDP already included a downward adjustment for lower oil prices and an additional ‘risk adjustment’ factor — which, according to Finance, together lowered budgetary revenues by $5.5 billion in 2015-16. The drop in oil prices has burned up all of this fiscal ‘slack’ in the deficit forecast. In other words, the collapse of a single commodity has completely undermined the government’s commitment to a balanced budget in 2015-16.

Count on it: Nominal GDP growth of only 2.5 per cent for 2015 means, in the absence of any offsetting cuts or other policy actions, a deficit in 2015-16.
We won't know what the real numbers are until after the election. So you can also count on Mr. Harper selling the same old snake oil. But, remember, he didn't see the Great Recession coming, either.

The Prime Minister has always been a one trick pony. He has always counted on oil to bring Canada prosperity. And, after nine years, it's painfully obvious that he can't count very well.

Alberta faces recession…

Trashy's World - Tue, 01/13/2015 - 05:57
Because of falling oil prices. I predicted this about a two years ago. Right here. … and Ontario bounces back. With the lower price of oil and a lower dollar,it was inevitable. And I bet the short pants in the PMO are beginning to regret their short-changing and put-downs of Canada’s most populaous province. They have surely […]


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