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Effective advertising, eh?

Cathie from Canada - il y a 1 heure 35 min
Well, those annoying Harper Con ads we've been seeing all summer appear to have convinced Canadians that Trudeau "is not ready" to be Prime Minister.
But they haven't made The Kitten Whisperer any more endearing.
So who is left standing?
Yes, you've got it:  NDP surges past Conservatives, Liberals in latest poll | Toronto Star:

Tom Mulcair and his wife Catherine Pinhas arrive at the Museum of History in Gatineau, Que., for his campaign launch Sunday. A poll taken during the day shows his New Democrats have surged ahead of other parties in voter support.

And it couldn't happen to a more deserving guy.
A guy who did NOT vote for Bill C51.

Monday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - il y a 4 heures 5 min
Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Chantal Panozzo discusses the lack of work-life balance which serves as the default in the U.S. - and notes how preposterous precarious work looks once a person has experienced an alternative:
Before I moved to Switzerland for almost a decade, American Reality was all I knew. I was living in a two-bedroom apartment making $30,000 a year in a job where I worked almost seven days a week with no overtime pay and received 10 days of paid time off a year.

In other words, for the hours worked, I was making minimum wage, if that. The glamour of this job was supposed to make up for the hours, but in reality, working every weekend is a ticket to burnout — not success.

My husband and I were so accustomed to American Reality that when he was offered an opportunity to work in Switzerland, we both thought about travel and adventure — not about improving our quality of life. It hadn't occurred to us that we could improve our quality of life simply by moving.

But without realizing it, or even asking for it, a better life quality came to us. And this is why, now that I'm back, I'm angry that my own country isn't providing more for its people. - Travis Lupick highlights why we should encourage the development of supportive housing rather than assuming there's anything to be gained by trying to push it away.

- Daniel Tencer reports on how the TPP would have prevented Crown entities including the CBC from operating in the public interest rather than as a commercial body - meaning we may have dodged a bullet in the breakdown of last week's talks. And Alice Olstein points out how trade agreements and control by financial elites have led Puerto Rico to fiscal disaster.

- Jacqueline Nelson writes about the confusing and ineffective patchwork of funding for prescription drugs in Canada.

- Finally, ThinkPol reports that the Cons have pushed any public access to documents evaluating the constitutionality of their two-tiered citizenship and terror legislation until after election day.

The Fascination Of Politics

Politics and its Discontents - il y a 4 heures 51 min

It always astounds me that more people are not interested in politics. Far too many dismiss it as an arcane pursuit that has no relevance in their lives, apparently confusing the recondite measures involved in the development of public policy with the human dynamics at the heart of pursuing and maintaining power. Greed, duplicity, manipulation, nobility, passion and compassion, all this and much more is at play. To dismiss politics is to dismiss any interest in the human animal. It is to sit on the sidelines of life.

That being said, I'm not sure that even as ardent a follower of human machinations as I am is ready for an 11-week campaign. The messages will get quickly repetitive, and the attacks will grow increasing dark and dispiriting. I may take the odd break from this blog to recover my equilibrium.

But since Dear Leader saw fit to visit the Governor-General yesterday as the prelude to spending even more of our money to try to cling to power, I would be remiss not to offer a few of the media's early observations. The Toronto Star sees the call as a blatantly cynical move:
Although Harper positioned the move as “fair,” designed to level the playing field for all parties at a time when the leaders were already out drumming up votes, it’s anything but. As the Conservatives well know, only they are in a position to fully capitalize on the much higher spending limits that come along with a longer campaign. Both the Liberals and New Democrats will struggle to keep up – and that of course is exactly the idea.

This shameless move is yet more evidence – if any was needed – that the Harper Conservatives are long past their sell-by date.Despite the tremendous spending advantages the Conservatives have, the editorial reminds us of a few facts that no slick strategy can conceal for long:
Over the next two and a half months, voters will have a chance to consider Harper’s record and decide if they want more. Among other things, they should keep in mind:

The Conservatives’ regressive social policies, pandering to their “base” at the expense of the least well-off.

Harper’s absence of national leadership on such crucial issues as health care, aboriginal issues and climate change.

The government’s misguided “tough on crime” laws that do nothing to enhance public safety.

The Conservatives’ divisive approach on national security and the dangerous measures in its “anti-terror” bill, C-51.

There’s much more, and thanks to Harper’s decision to call a vote so early, lots of time to debate it. The real issue is what’s the best alternative to this badly flawed government.Here in Ontario, a key battleground, Premier Kathleen Wynne is wasting no time in reminding people of the contempt with which Harper is treating the province:
Voters should turf Prime Minister Stephen Harper for showing Ontario “blatant disrespect,” Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne urged Sunday in one of her strongest attacks yet on the federal Conservatives.

Wynne accused the Harper administration of naked partisanship over refusals to smooth a path for her Ontario Retirement Pension Plan and for not doing more to help develop the rich Ring of Fire mineral deposit in northwestern Ontario.

She zeroed in on the pension plan, noting Harper’s government allows the Canada Revenue Agency to provide services to provincial pension plans in Quebec and Saskatchewan.

“For him to then turn around and say, ‘Yeah, well, we have agreement with other provinces through the CRA and we’re not going to do that for you’ … it’s blatant disrespect for the people of Ontario,” Wynne said. “That has to stop.”
There is much to consider in this election, and the fact that Thomas Mulcair is now leading in the polls is one indicator this will be a hotly-contested and vigorously-fought battle. But what is true today may not be true later in the campaign. Observes Tim Harper:
The test for the NDP this time is whether Mulcair has staying power — and the betting here is that he does — but the Conservative calculation is clearly that increased scrutiny will expose a leader of a party viewed with skepticism on the economy in uncertain economic times.Finally, here is some good advice from Harper's main cheerleader, The Globe and Mail, about the campaign:
Be a part of it. Make sure to vote. Turnout in federal elections is inexcusably low in Canada: Almost four out of 10 people don’t bother. While the leaders are doing their jobs, make sure to do yours. You can’t control the weather, but you can choose your government.Recommend this Post

Having It His Way.

Northern Reflections - il y a 6 heures 51 min

Yesterday, Stephen Harper said that he was forced to begin his seventy-seven day election campaign because the other parties had started campaigning early. And, he said, parties should pay for campaigns themselves. It's truly remarkable that he can say this kind of stuff with a straight face. Michael Harris writes:

Reality check? His own re-election campaign, using public money, began in 2011. The early election call will add millions of dollars to the $375 million that a 37-day campaign would have cost — and the taxpayer will be paying for all of it. Harper just wants to suck a ton more public money into the whole exercise, not less.

This PM is incapable of getting it out straight. Has he forgotten about that cuddly picture of Pierre Poilievre staring down at all those government cheques as though he were gazing at his first born?
Clearly, Harper believes that, if he keeps piling it higher and deeper people won't be able to see his record. He knows that, if Canadians look at his record, he'll be hiring a moving van on October 20th. Harris repeats a message he has been delivering for a long time:

Let me say it again. The moment any of the MSM, including the CBC, begin to seriously deal with the true Harper legacy, that is the beginning of the end of his decade-long debacle of corruption, deceit, and institutional destruction.

Institutional destruction, yes. The Law Reform Commission, the Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, the Long Form Census, the Canadian Wheat Board, First Ministers’ meetings, rural mail delivery, and the Office of the Inspector General at the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service. All gone.

There is the phoney reputation for fiscal stewardship, when the reality is a $200-billion increase in Canada’s national debt since 2006. Everything is a shell game with these political carnies, from fake balanced budgets to obscene public expenditures for the empty Economic Action Plan. It was neither action nor a plan – just partisan propaganda on the public dime.

There is the dubious distinction of owning the worst climate change record in the industrialized world, including failing grades from former Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan.
The prime minister has always claimed that he's a steady hand at the tiller. The truth is that he has systematically set out to destroy parliamentary democracy in this country.  He obfuscates the real story by telling whoppers -- like the ones he told yesterday.

Burger King tells us we can have things our way. Stephen Harper wants to have things his way.

Stephen Harper and the Porky Election Call

Montreal Simon - il y a 9 heures 3 min

It seems only fitting that Stephen Harper should kick off his last election campaign, in the same way he has governed this country.

By seeking to extract maximum political advantage from the withered carcass of our democracy.

By making it only too clear that the H in Harper stands for hypocrisy. Or hog.

And of course by lying like a thief. 
Read more »

First Harvest - Lughnassad

Fat and Not Afraid - dim, 08/02/2015 - 18:19

After two years of living here at my inlaws we finally shifted most of our things from the storage unit to our new apartment. It's been a long journey; four years ago we left the Soo and moved to Nanaimo, and a year and a half after that, to Victoria, then back to the Soo, with our things still in BC for a year, then in storage for another one. Last year we thought we were moving into our own place and it was kiboshed at the last possible second by the people we were working for. So we spent another six months spinning our wheels unsure where to go or what to do.

I'm ready for a new normal, for a new routine and the way sunlight plays on the walls. I'm ready for coffee freshly ground made in my wee one cup coffee maker. I'm ready for a queen sized bed and my own room, for friends over for games or a movie. I'm sure my inlaws are ready for quiet evenings and having their entire house back! It hasn't always been easy sharing this space but we did it and everyone's still alive, so that's something. *wink*

It's harvest time, time to taste the first fruits of the past year's labour; we started saving up for the apartment and pay off our debt during the cold winter months and now we have a place of our own. It's such a dream come true. We owe such a debt of thanks to our parents for giving us the space and time to get our feet under us, I can't even properly express it. It's harvest time! It's harvest time! IT'S HARVEST TIME!



On end goals

accidentaldeliberations - dim, 08/02/2015 - 14:19
We can fully expect Canada's election campaign to feature plenty more talk about possible coalition outcomes - which are favoured by the public, and may represent the best way to ensure the Cons' replacement if Stephen Harper again tries to cling to power. And as I've noted before, there remains little reason to take the Libs seriously in their threats not to cooperate.

But I'll take a moment to answer the latest excuse as to how the Libs are trying to present themselves as a party of change while needlessly ruling out what may prove to be the only way to get there - that being in a junior role in a coalition might be a fatal blow to the party.

Back when a coalition was formed between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats after the UK's 2010 election, I had this to say about the difference between what the Lib Dems negotiated for and what the NDP has pursued in past election cycles when it's sought to be the junior coalition partner:
Particularly during the 2008 coalition discussions, the NDP has consistently made clear that its top priority has been securing positive policy outcomes. And in order to reach those, it's been willing to trade off any expectation of top cabinet positions such as deputy Prime Minister, as well as to work in structures where its goal of electoral reform isn't on the table.

In contrast, the two largest benefits for the Lib Dems in their agreement seem to have little to do with substantive policy. Instead, Nick Clegg's appointment as deputy PM and the promised referendum on an alternative vote model look to be the main carrots for the Lib Dems in an agreement loaded with conservative policy priorities with only a modicum of mitigation for the worst off. In other words, a party negotiating from a third-place position doesn't have a lot to gain merely from pursuing cabinet positions rather than policy accomplishments, particularly if it has no clue what it wants to achieve once it gets a seat at the cabinet table. And the subsequent annihilation of the Lib Dems offers evidence in favour of that argument.

But a third-place party which has a genuine policy vision will find few better opportunities to see it brought to life than in at the negotiating table and the cabinet table alongside a party seeking which needs its support to win a majority in Parliament.
 Now, it's true that it's possible to support legislation on a case-by-case basis without a more formal coalition. But if anybody's needlessly confusing the issue, it's the party which is prematurely ruling one of those options out in the absence of anything even remotely approaching a defensible reason.

Moreover, a coalition which signals the availability of a stable alternate government to the Governor General forms an important subset of the cooperation options which can usefully be pursued - placing a significant onus on the Libs to provide a better explanation than they've deigned to provide so far.

In sum, if there is a reason for the Liberal Party to exist other than inertia, that reason should offer a reason to work with others - as well as an expectation of building the party in the future through the accomplishments achieved under the coalition. We should then expect the Liberals to be able to articulate what they'd want to pursue (under a coalition or otherwise) if they do end up as the third party in a minority Parliament - and to be willing to work with the NDP and others to accomplish it.

On the other hand, if the Liberal Party is so confused about its own reasons for existence as to have no idea what values or policies are important enough to make cooperation worthwhile, then it's hard to see what Canadian voters could possibly have to gain by keeping it around. And so the more the Libs whine that they'd be doomed if they tried to work with anybody, the harder it is to escape the conclusion that they're broken beyond repair either way.

Muslims Facing Tomorrow

Dawg's Blawg - dim, 08/02/2015 - 14:04
I’m indebted to my old Twitter friend Stephen Lautens for this one, via Holly Stick here at Dawg’s. A pro-Harper Muslim astroturf association has sprung into being, with the following Advisory Board: Stephen Schwartz - Executive Director of Center... Dr.Dawg

A modest proposal

Trapped In a Whirlpool - dim, 08/02/2015 - 13:11
We rebate 75% of every dollar donated to a political party and politician, we then go on to rebate 50% of every one of those already subsidized dollars spent during an election.
Read more »

Sunday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - dim, 08/02/2015 - 08:09
Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Frank Pasquale and Siva Vainhyanathan write that we shouldn't mistake schemes intended to get around employee standards and other laws for innovations worth celebrating or embracing:
Uber has confronted admittedly stifling restrictions on taxi driver licenses in France by launching a service called UberPop. Several authorities in Europe have ruled UberPop illegal, but Uber kept it operating anyway as it appealed. Now France has charged Uber’s general director for France, Thibaud Simphal, and the company’s director for Western Europe, Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty with enabling taxi-driving by non-professional drivers and “deceptive commercial practices”.

One could make a strong argument that France would benefit from more taxi drivers and more competition. But that’s for the people of France to decide through their elected representatives. The spirit of Silicon Valley should not dictate policy for the rest of the world. New York, Paris, London, Cairo, and New Delhi all have different values and traffic issues. Local needs should be respected.

Consider what it would mean for such a universalising approach to prevail. The business model of Uber would become that of law-flouting bosses generally. Reincorporate as a “platform”, intermediate customer requests and work demands with an app, and voila!, far fewer laws to comply with. Worse, this rebel attitude signals to the larger culture that laws and regulations are quaint and archaic, and therefore hindrances to progress. That could undermine faith in republican government itself.

In the 1950s and 60s, Southern governors thought they’d found a similar tactic to avoid the civil rights laws that they most despised. Though the strategy failed, the idea still animates reactionaries. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, now running for president, has even suggested that the US supreme court’s recent gay marriage decision should effectively be nullified by sovereign states.

Of course, a republic can’t run without authorities who follow the rule of law. Civil disobedience by citizens can be an important challenge to corrupt or immoral politicians, but when corporate leaders themselves start breaking the law in their own narrow interests, societal order breaks down. - Tyler Hamilton writes about the unnecessary risks caused by the poorly-regulated transportation of hazardous chemicals. And Mychaylo Prystupa reports that one of the Cons' last acts before calling an election was to take another step toward letting oil executives regulate their own industry, while the ITF highlights how the Cons' cutbacks and anti-regulation dogma led directly to the damage caused by the English Bay oil spill.

- Boyd Tonkin writes about the increasing significance and permanence of inherited wealth in the UK. And Simon Wren-Lewis reminds us that the public is broadly against needless austerity and insufficient government - meaning there's no reason to settle for political parties who are inclined to presume otherwise.

- And finally, Derrick O'Keefe discusses how the Cons' bloated federal election campaign looks more like a long goodbye than a plan with much prospect of convincing voters to keep putting up with their abuses.

Good to go

accidentaldeliberations - dim, 08/02/2015 - 07:17
A few images which may or may not become highly relevant in just a few minutes.

Burnt offerings on the West Bank

Dawg's Blawg - dim, 08/02/2015 - 07:00
I commend Gideon Levy’s sharp new piece to readers still reeling from news of the Palestinian toddler-roasting that just took place in the West Bank. He pulls all of the threads together, leaving little for anyone to add. That child... Dr.Dawg

The Choice Is Ours

Politics and its Discontents - dim, 08/02/2015 - 06:44

And don't forget that the first leaders' debate is August 6. Hosted by Paul Wells,
it will be recorded in City’s Toronto studio and air live, commercial-free and with closed captioning, on City, OMNI.1, OMNI.2, and CPAC. It will also stream live at,,,,, Facebook, YouTube, and on Rogers Radio stations at,,,, and not as accessible as the consortium debates would have been, this will nonetheless be Canadians' first opportunity to see the federal combatants in the same arena. Whether it will be fairly moderated by Wells is another question entirely. Having read his book, The Longer I'm Prime Minister, I couldn't escape the impression that Wells has a rather deep admiration for Harper.

But I guess things could be worse. At least John Ibbitson won't be hosting it.Recommend this Post

I Think Not

Northern Reflections - dim, 08/02/2015 - 05:57

On Saturday, the Globe and Mail published an excerpt from John Ibbitson's recently published book, Stephen Harper. The piece begins with a pean to Harper:

He is a lion in autumn, weaker than in his prime, but still a force of nature. He faces his fifth, and perhaps final, test as national leader. But in a way, the result won’t matter. Whether Stephen Harper wins or loses the general election of October 19 is moot. He has already reshaped Canada. And Canada will not easily be changed back.He has made the federal government smaller, less intrusive, less ambitious. He has made Canada a less Atlantic and a more Pacific nation.He has brought peace to a fractious federation. Under his leadership, Canada speaks with a very different voice in the world. He has also given us a very different politics – more intensely partisan, more ideological, more polarizing. This, too, is unlikely to change, now that people are used to it.
Peace? I'm not so sure. Later in the piece, Ibbitson writes of Stephen Harper's flaws. He's a man whose personal psychology has made him a disastrous choice for prime minister:

There are disagreeable aspects to Stephen Harper’s personality. He is prone to mood swings. He can fly off the handle. He goes into funks, sometimes for long periods. He is suspicious of others. The public is aware of these traits mostly through what’s written and reported in the media. In public, Harper is almost invariably calm, measured, and careful in what he says and how he says it. Yet none of us, watching him, have any difficulty believing that this closed, repressed personality is capable of lashing out from time to time. We all get the vibe. His personality also comes out in the tactics that the Conservative Party uses against its enemies, both perceived and real – which are, in a word, ruthless.

Another of Harper’s less attractive qualities is a perceived lack of loyalty toward others. One-time political adviser Tom Flanagan points out that Harper has betrayed or estranged many in the conservative movement who were at one time senior to him – Joe Clark, Jim Hawkes, Brian Mulroney, Preston Manning. This, Flanagan believes, is the product of Harper’s need to dominate whatever environment he is in. “I think he has this very strong instinct to be in charge,” he said. “He really wants to be the alpha figure, and he’s achieved that. So part of that is to dispose of anyone who might be considered to be a rival in some sense or another.”

Flanagan also asserts that “there is a huge streak of paranoia in Stephen. And he attracts people who have a paranoid streak. And if you don’t have one to begin with, you develop it, because you’re constantly hearing theories.” At its root, “looking back, there’s a visceral reluctance to trust the motives of other people,” Flanagan concludes. “He often overcomes his initial suspicions and will sign on to other people’s ideas. But the initial response is always one of suspicion.” Flanagan believes Harper is prone to depression. “He can be suspicious, secretive, and vindictive, prone to sudden eruptions of white-hot rage over meaningless trivia,” he wrote in 2014, “at other times falling into week-long depressions in which he is incapable of making decisions.”
Not disagreeable, Mr. Ibbitson. Dangerous. Such a man is capable of making momentous mistakes. And Harper has made many.  Should he receive a fourth mandate? I think not.

Sockeye Mortality, Climate Change and Responsibility

Sister Sages Musings - sam, 08/01/2015 - 21:19

I came across this article on Sockeye mortality on the west coast this year due to catastrophic high temperatures in the rivers.  What really blew me away was the language the scientist used and his focus, strangely, on “talking points” and messaging.


“It may be advisable for DFO communications to identify “talking points” . . . → Read More: Sockeye Mortality, Climate Change and Responsibility


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