Saturday, November 07, 2015

A Challenge and proposed legislation for our shiny new government:

Resolved: That the Federal government be required to at minimum match education funding per child under federal jurisdiction dollar for dollar with what any province or territory any child under federal jurisdiction lives in is spending on the children under their jurisdiction.
Simple parity instead of the vast difference that exists now.

Monday, November 02, 2015

A Right Wing Pro-Market Think Tank thinks Canada under Harper was the Freest country on Earth. Kelly McParland thinks this actually proves something.

It comes a little late for Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, but Canada has been named both the freest and most tolerant country in the world. It’s also one of the most prosperous and best-run, and trails only Australia in education. Good thing we changed governments eh? The latest accolade for Canada comes from a London-based think tank, The Legatum Institute, which publishes an annual “prosperity index.” Canada scores well overall – in sixth place out of 142 countries – but excels in the categories of personal freedoms and openness. Though always near the top of the order in the seven years the index has been compiled, the last year of the Conservatives’ mandate coincided with its rise to first place as “the freest country in the world.”
And who exactly is the Legatum Institute?
Legatum Institue (LI) is a right-wing think tank promoting "free markets, free minds, and free peoples". LI is a co-publisher of Democracy Lab (with Foreign Policy Magazine), a website dedicated to covering political and economic transitions around the world. LI is a project founded and funded by the Legatum Group, a private investment group based in Dubai.  LI is based in London.
So a right wing think tank were fans of Stephen Harper? Shocking.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"They're being mean to me!"

Too used to the obsequious stenographers of the Alberta Sun and Postmedia papers who can be reliably counted on to wipe the drool off his chin and not reveal just how crazy he is.

When they encounter a real journalist who isn't there to protect them they perceive it as an attack because they are used to a comfortable cozy ride from the friendly Alberta press.

Afraid to make the argument

"The inference was that there was no fat to be found in the system and that every penny was being wisely spent. In Tuesday’s budget, every department gets a boost in expenditures." 

The Herald raises a straw man argument here, a claim that of course the government isn't even making but of course the writers don't follow through with their unstated thesis, that the healthcare, education and infrastructure Albertans depend on are bloated, coddled and wasteful rather than falling apart and straining at every seam.

This is not an argument that can survive an encounter with the facts on the ground that their readership knows quite well.

Whenever the usual suspects bleat about how Alberta's social spending is so much higher than other provinces they are always playing the same sleazy little accounting truck of pegging the date range they are making that comparison to AFTER the departure of Klein. Factor the lost decade in and suddenly we are at the bottom of the spending pack.

Cleaning up after an irresponsible vandal is usually expensive.

Monday, October 26, 2015

What to expect

To the rest of Canada, sometime Tuesday afternoon you will hear a ruptured steam-whistle wail with upper register notes of castrated steer coming from the vicinity of Alberta.

Do not be alarmed.

This will merely be the inevitable, carefully rehearsed reaction of the Wildrose, Ezra Levant and the Sun News chain and the owners of the Post Media editorial board to the contents of Alberta's first NDP provincial budget.

Those contents will be uncontroversial, commonsense changes to the tax code, many very similar to the stated plans of the former Progressive Conservative government but with a greater emphasis on shared responsibility and contribution. There will be nods to the stimulant effects of deficit spending on much needed infrastructure projects, a central place for environmental stewardship and support for front line services rather than neglect as they are needed most.

It won't be the communist manifesto. Rachel Notley will not be calling for nationalization, confiscation or declare a worker's paradise. CEOs and oil company executives will not be brought in for public show trials.

Simply a pragmatic progressive budget with pro-growth policies and common sense solutions.

And of course, that's what the shriekers are more afraid of than anything else.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Of course we hated him

Defenders of Stephen Harper and the Conservatives are describing the virulent hatred for their leader and their party that drove them from power as irrational.  On the contrary it was and is utterly rational when somebody clearly hates you to hate them back.

I'm a trade unionist and proud of it so Stephen Harper hates me.  I'm an environmentalist so Stephen Harper hates me.  I have leveled strong criticisms against the behavior of the state of Israel so Stephen Harper hates me.  I'm a leftist who believes in a strong social safety net so Stephen Harper hates me.

And he couldn't even pretend to hide that hatred.  In small ways and large day after day for YEARS he and his government demonstrated scornful, contemptuous hatred in word and deed for me and millions of other Canadians.  He rammed through legislation, violating long standing parliamentary custom in the process, to try to deliver a death blow to the union movement, he used revenue Canada as a personal goon squad to attack civil society groups that criticized him or his government going so far as to label environmentalists as terrorists and foreign funded saboteurs,  on an almost daily basis he and his government made statements expressing utter contempt for any group or individual who stood in the way of the Stephen Harper agenda.

The core Conservative base is maybe 20% to 30% of Canadians, at one point or another Harper or one of the trained attack weasels of his cabinet expressed hatred and contempt through statements or legislative assaults against practically everyone else.  He and his government made it quite clear on multiple occasions that Canadians were divided into two groups; Conservative supporters and enemies, and no one can doubt that Stephen Harper hated his enemies.

So we hated him back, what could possibly be more rational?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Re-writing History only weeks later

Tom Mulcair says he's staying on as NDP leader but it may not be up to him.

There's a concerted attempt to peg the beginning of the NDPs decline in fortunes to the eruption of the Niqab controversy because that's an honorable and incontestable reason for losing, but our numbers started dropping before it erupted and the Liberals held the same position and manifestly did not suffer because of it.

The real turning point began with the absurd 'No deficits' promise when it became clear the NDP was running to the economic right of the Liberals and allowing them to become the real change alternative. I absolutely REFUSE to let that history be elided as the attempt to do so is clearly intended to short-circuit the necessary debate about the NDPs baffling, economically and politically suicidal lurch to the right.

We arrived at the moment where Canadians finally came to us - and didn't find us where they were looking for us.

Learning from Failed Strategies

Newscaster: And we'll be saying a big hello to all intelligent life forms everywhere. And to everyone else out there, the secret is to bang the rocks together, guys. - The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The Conservatives engaged in a despicable, pandering campaign of dog-whistle xenophobia specifically against Muslims.  This despite the PQ campaign that tried to do the same thing last year resulting in electoral annihilation.

The NDP decided to run a safe, nonthreatening, centrist campaign where the party completely accepted the neoliberal consensus of austerity and deficit hysteria - this despite the fact Canadian voters were aching for change and that a similar campaign to the right of the liberals by the NDP in Ontario last year was a disaster costing the party multiple seats.

The NDP campaign of 2015 was brilliant... when Tony Blair ran it in 1997.

The NDP ran a campaign on the assumption that voters have completely internalized the conservative framing on spending, austerity, deficits and the whole downward trajectory in public spending of the last several decades and will punish anyone who deviates from it.

But the NDP promised balance budgets and lost more than half their seats, the Liberals promised multiple deficits to finance reinvestment in Canada's infrastructure and won a landslide.

Times have changed.

But political strategists like generals are always fighting the last war.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Ghost of an Empty Suit

Joe Oliver was kept tied and gagged in a gimp suit in the basement at Conservative Party headquarters for the whole election, which was doubly strange since the Conservatives were running on their economic record and he was the Finance Minister.

He was beaten by his Liberal challenger tonight.

He disappeared from the Canadian political scene months ago.

The Politics of Hate are the Politics of Losers

Canada has now seen two major political campaigns that made pandering to xenophobia and racism cornerstones of their strategy.

The shameful PQ campaign last year that saw them utterly annihilated and now the Conservative campaign of 2015 a hateful, despicable campaign of incitement and willful shredding of the social fabric - which as I type this is seeing them swept from power.

By now even the most cynical of political psychopath must now calculate that pandering to Canadians worst instincts is a failing political strategy.

Also shameful, disgraceful and unforgivable.

Friday, October 09, 2015

How dare the NDP trick Albertans by delivering on their promises!

Claiming the NDP lied to Albertans via the cunning trick of telling them the truth.  Its the kind of pretzel logic and cognitive dissonance you could only get from the Wildrose.
Derek Fildebrandt, a Wildrose Party member of the legislature and finance critic, on Friday said he expected the NDP to be a “centre-left” government when it was elected, but that Premier Rachel Notley has turned away from embracing moderation. He cited the government’s decision to increase the minimum wage as an example. The NDP campaigned on a pledge to raise minimum wage. The MLA, however, argued the NDP never planned to follow through on its promises.

“The NDP platform was never intended to ever be implemented. The NDP platform was a hard-core ideological document” that was meant to pull the then-ruling Progressive Conservative Party “in a particular direction,” Mr. Fildebrandt told reporters after Ms. Notley delivered a speech to 1,600 members of Calgary’s business community.

“It was never actually meant to be implemented as real policy.”
Mister Fildebrandt perhaps this is how your party conducts business, making promises and commitments you never intend to keep purely for electoral gain - recent history would certainly back up this view of Wildrose ethics - but don't judge others by your own party's low standards.

Albertans are getting precisely what they voted for no matter how loudly you shriek and stamp your feet, have the class to at least respect the choice of Albertans even if you don't agree with it.

UPDATE:  Yeah, this is the same Derek Fildebrandt who in the aftermath of Southern Alberta's devastating floods argued that flood relief should be privatized.  He called for mandatory, strictly market determined flood insurance for anyone living in a potential flood zone and if the market determines the cost will be too high for some Albertans, too bad, so sad, they just have to lose their homes and land, leaving them to be snapped up by some individual or corporation who CAN pay huge flood insurance rates - basically a massive wealth transfer of land and property UP from the working and middle class to the wealthy and powerful.
"The first step in the creation of any market is to have demand for a product. To start, at-risk property owners should be required to purchase flood insurance. The best way to safeguard against U.S.-style gerrymandering in who must have insurance is to only require insurance for properties that have made claims under the Disaster Recovery Program (DRP). If you’ve made a claim for assistance, you need insurance.

Like automobile insurance, making a product mandatory creates a market where one would otherwise not exist.

Premiums should be determined strictly by actuarial calculations that reflect risk, not political considerations. For some homeowners, premiums that reflect the full risk will be too great to bear."

Thursday, October 08, 2015

If you vote Conservative you are condoning and supporting THIS

Insiders say PMO actively discouraged the department from accepting applications from Shia and Sunni Muslims.

This is from CTV News, hardly known for a traditional hostility to conservatism or this government.
Sources tell CTV News that a temporary halt to the processing of some Syrian refugees was ordered earlier this year to make sure the types favoured by the Prime Minister’s Office were being prioritized.
Department of Citizenship and Immigration insiders told CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife that PMO staff went through the files to ensure that persecuted religious minorities with established communities already in Canada -- ones that Conservative Leader Stephen Harper could court for votes -- were being accepted. Insiders say PMO actively discouraged the department from accepting applications from Shia and Sunni Muslims.
 Roll that around in your mind a little.  Really let that sink in that the Prime Minister of Canada in 2015 actively, deliberately sabotaged the rescue of desperate people of a different faith in order to favour his own coreligionists and to benefit politically.

This is monstrous. And if you can still vote for the government responsible for this and for unforgivable pandering incitement against Muslims that has resulted in multiple vicious assaults across Canada as the hateful take their cue from official bigotry you are a monster too.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The comparison of ultra orthodox Haredi with the Taliban is routinely made in Israel and the Israeli media

Harassing, abusing and even assaulting women on planes and busses when they don't give up their seats to a Haredi man. Stabbing a teenage girl to death at a gay pride parade, burning a Palestinian infant to death.

Not surprisingly, within Israel and the Israeli media itself the Taliban comparison is routinely made.

But criticisms and comparisons frequently made by Israelis are apparently beyond the pale when noted by anyone else.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Seriously, the Facebook Likes story is a big deal

A CBC reporter finds himself unwillingly 'Liking' the Conservative Party

When asked, the Liberals, NDP and Greens firmly denied that they would ever buy Facebook Likes stolen from Canadians with malware.
The Conservatives said it was 'an internal party matter' and refused to answer any more questions.
Third-party websites or videos that you are clicking on may have malware embedded in them, and you won't even know, that's the thing. It's very insidious in how it can happen and it's also very quick." 
It turns out there are lots of people out there selling "likes." 
Suddenly you are liking companies, organizations, even political parties, and unless someone tells you, or you check your settings, you wouldn't know anything about it. 
"Peer-to-peer recommendation is huge," says Parker. "If I know you well and I see that Reg likes a certain brand, and I'm looking to shop, maybe I say, 'Well, if Reg is liking that, maybe I need to take a second look.'" 
This liking business happened to chocolatier Constance Popp, too. 
She loves chocolate, but when a friend told her that she had somehow "liked' the Conservative Party of Canada on Facebook, it left a sour taste in her mouth.
"And they asked if I purposely liked it," says Popp, "and I said no, and I found myself having to defend that I really didn't do that." 
So the question is, are political parties buying phoney "likes" on Facebook? 
The Liberals, Greens and NDP all said pretty much the same thing. They said they buy advertising, but they don't buy likes.The Conservative Party's director of communications, Cory Hann, however, said: "Thanks for reaching out to us. On this question, it's an internal party matter."  
It could be argued that response doesn't really answer the question at all.
This is a big deal.  This is identity theft by way of computer crime and Canada's governing party describes their participation in it as 'an internal party matter'.

It's actually a criminal offense.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Harper's new campaign fixer is a virulent racist

First this:
Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are reaching overseas for expert election help in a bid to regain their footing and halt a slide in the polls, bringing in globetrotting Australian campaign doctor Lynton Crosby.
Crosby is known as the Wizard from Oz, and is considered one of the world’s top political strategists. He helped David Cameron retain the prime minister’s office in Britain, and just last month engineered victory in Sri Lanka’s election.
Crosby also helped Boris Johnson get elected mayor of London.
The Conservatives have looked abroad for ideas in the past, but this is the first time they’ve brought in a fixer from overseas in mid-campaign. The campaign had already been speaking to Crosby, but he joins the team as they refocus following several weeks of being forced off their main messages.
Then this:
The man David Cameron has picked to head his Election campaign once launched a foul-mouthed rant against Muslims.
Outspoken Australian ‘fixer’ Lynton Crosby used the phrase ‘f****** Muslims’ in a diatribe while working for London Mayor Boris Johnson.
Mr Crosby’s outburst came earlier this year as Mr Johnson’s aides discussed whether to devote more attention to wooing the ethnic minority vote in his battle with Labour’s Ken Livingstone.
According to a source, Mr Crosby said Mr Johnson should concentrate on traditional Tory voters instead of ‘f****** Muslims’. The source added: ‘He definitely used that phrase’ and said: ‘Lynton’s view was that chasing the Muslim vote and other ethnic groups was a waste of time –  and he frequently expressed himself in very strong terms. Some people found it very offensive.’
 So we can assume Harper's re-calibration will not be to chase the Muslim vote.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The Grownups are now running the Show

Unapologetic common sense about stimulus during recessions.

The Friedmanites of the Calgary School still repetitively reciting their stale and discredited creed will howl and chant their anethemas and clutch their stained copies of the Fountainhead fearfully to their breasts.

But grownups are finally running the show in Alberta.
Alberta’s NDP government may boost spending on public infrastructure as a salve for an ailing provincial economy that has been battered by the slumping price of oil.
Finance Minister Joe Ceci told reporters Wednesday the government has received and is reviewing a report from former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge that it commissioned this summer to examine Alberta’s capital spending.
Ceci said the government isn’t ready to make announcements, but noted increasing capital spending — on infrastructure projects such as roads, hospitals and schools — would give a shot in the arm to private sector companies contracted by the government to do the work.
“Where we’re in a down cycle economically, counter-cyclical spending by governments on public infrastructure is seen as a good investment, especially in this low (interest rate) borrowing time,” Ceci said in Banff, where the NDP caucus was holding a retreat.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Sleazy Partisan Attack

The takeaway that reliably partisan hack Warren Kinsella gets from the tragic death of Alan Kurdi, while farcically decrying the way others have made partisan hay over it, is that NDP MP Fin Donnelly should resign.
If this is true – if, contrary to what he claimed to the media, no application at all was made on the family of that boy – he should resign.  He has not only tried to politicize that child’s death, he has lied to do so.
His logic is that since no formal refugee application had specifically been made for Alan Kurdi, it was deceptive to argue the family had been denied.

Tima Kurdi had in fact applied to sponsor her other brother Mohammed but when that application was denied for his not having UNHCR official refugee designation she hadn't even tried to apply for the rest of the family.

This was, of course, because they didn't have that UNHCR designation either.  Almost nobody does making it impossible for almost any privately sponsored Syrian refugees to get into Canada for a very simple reason completely under Immigration Minister Chris Alexander's control which is why he is being held responsible.
The Conservative government imposed a new rule for potential refugees in 2012 — a change refugee groups say is squarely to blame for why so few Syrians have made it to Canadian soil.
The rule also appears to have played a key role in the government’s refusal to let a B.C. woman, Tima Kurdi, privately sponsor her brother Mohammed Kurdi and his family to come to Canada.
After Mohammed’s application was returned to Tima, their other brother, Abdullah, tried to flee with his family from Turkey to Greece. Their boat capsized and Abdullah’s two young sons and wife all drowned. Pictures of three-year-old Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body washed ashore in Turkey shocked the world this week.
The refugee groups say they have repeatedly called on Immigration Minister Chris Alexander and the government to exempt Syrians from the rule — which says the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) or another country must first designate a person as a refugee before immigration officials will consider letting them be privately sponsored to come to Canada.
But they say their requests have been ignored.
 So it is perfectly, technically correct to say that the Kurdi's hadn't officially applied for Alan and his family after it was made clear by Mohammed's rejection that any such application would be automatically denied, perfectly accurate while simultaneously despicably, grotesquely deceptive.

But Kinsella is more eager to score points against the NDP than in holding this wretched, squalid government with the ultimate responsibility for the death of Alan Kurdi and many more like him to account.

UPDATE: From the Guardian, who get it even if Kinsella doesn't:

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