Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Real Question

The question isn't why Quebec students are fighting back so fiercely against education being incrementally turned into a tiny gated community for the wealthy and the imposition of lifelong crippling debt for the rest of the population, the question is why aren't the rest of us?

UPDATE: And lest anyone forget, it is a proven, established fact that the Quebec police engage in agent provocateur violence to justify a harsh response. We KNOW they do this, its not an accusation, its a fact.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Do you get it now?

The Conservative House Leader says plainly and unequivocally that Woodworth's bill was intended to lead to changes in Canada's abortion laws.  Can those naive twits who fell for his denials and suggested there was a good faith discussion to be had about what stage in a pregnancy a woman loses her human rights admit they got suckered yet?

The Progressive Blogosphere suffered a major schism over a SoCon trolling exercise.  How would this have played out if Harper hadn't just watched the Wild Rose Party get annihilated?  We just had a demonstration that even in the most conservative province in Canada social conservatism is electoral poison and suddenly an incremental attack on women's rights becomes a platform for Harper's government to demonstrate his independence from the social conservative right. 

But if Mondays result had been different so would this debate.  Woodworth and the SoCons just got thrown under the bus but Harper would have embraced them if he thought he could get away with it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dance with the ones that brung you Allison

The PC party of Alberta has a proud history of being progressive and conservative and as we go forward from this place tonight we will honour both of those traditions.- Premiere Redford's Victory speech Monday night. 

Translation: "Thanks for bringing me to the dance after those other guys dumped me, would it be OK if I still flirted with them now that we're here?"

In a word, No.

Alberta's progressives saved Premier Redford's bacon and that of her party on Monday. Here's what that support will cost, please note, this is not a wish list. This is a price tag.

  • Labour - Alberta has the highest worker fatality rate in Canada. It also has the single most anti-worker labour laws in the country, a prevalent attitude of contempt for labour and the most chummy pro-management policies of any province in Canada. It's not a coincidence, there is a direct correlation between these things. If Redford wants to keep the progressive support that saved her from the unemployment line, the current state of affairs is not going to fly anymore. She needs to bring farm workers under Occupational Health and Safety rules and remove the second class citizen status that forbids them from even tyring to form a union. An exception originally justified for small family farms has resulted in ruthless, often deadly exploitation by huge corporate Agribusiness giants. A human rights lawyer who countenances such a thing is, to put it mildly a despicable hypocrite. Among many other concerns for Labour like a blatantly in the management tank provincial Labour Board is the Temporary Foreign Workers program, which is under federal jurisdiction, but its in Alberta that it has achieved its full flowering of racism, abuse and exploitation. All of this needs to change if Redford's vaunted 'Progressiveness' is to be anything but tattered fig leaf. 

  •   Health Care - Redford has many soothing words on this file promising major new investment and labour peace. We will be watching to see if this government continues its sub rosa campaign of underfunding and mismanagement that for years has been a clearly intentional effort to manufacture consent for privatization. The government has zero good will and trust from the Alberta public on this file and would be advised to remember that. 

  • The Environment - Sure, unlike Danielle Smith Redford concedes the existence of global warming caused by man. Good for her. But acknowledging the problem while resolutely doing nothing about it is less than meaningless. And no, carbon capture, an expensive useless pr boondoggle with numbers that will never add up does not count.
These are the top of the list on the bill - I'm sure others can think of more examples. It's due now, when can we expect payment?

Monday, April 23, 2012


Recorded just a few weeks ago.  Gave me chills.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Ignoring the Charter

Conservatives hate the idea of rights they can't just arbitrarily legislate away if they offend the reactionary bigots, you know, their base.

So blah blah blah divided history - that's an easy excuse, not a reason.  The real reason Harper and the Conservatives are so shamefully ignoring the Charter's anniversary is that they really do think the government belongs in the nation's bedrooms, and doctor's examining rooms and in our bodies and they really do think politicians should have the final say on human rights.

 And they hate that the Charter doesn't let them.

Meanwhile the Canadian Constitution and Charter have become the standard the rest of the world looks to instead of the centuries old US Constitution - and even an American Supreme Court Judge recommends the Canadian over the American Constitution.  This while the yokels in charge try to pretend the whole aniversary isn't even happening.

Petty schmucks.

Like Digger Wasps

I was born in Alberta and I've lived most of my life here but I did spend a decade on the lower mainland in BC.

In BC the two main political groupings are the people, as represented by the NDP and what I'll call the Chamber of Commerce Tendency as represented by... well thats the thing.  It tends to burrow inside existing parties, hollow them out from the inside and ride them until their exclusive and enthusiastic servicing of the rich and powerful at the expense of everyone else taints it beyond reclamation and then it is abandoned to wither and die as the Tendency moves on to its next host.. 

When I lived there it was animating the husk of the BC Social Credit Party - most of the kookiness of Social Credit had been shed in favour of cold blooded service of capital but  their last Premier Bill Vanderzalm mixed a sleazy televangelist grinning wing-nut vibe with an approach to ethics and finances that also brought televangelists to mind. After years of less flamboyant but still sleazy simmering scandals under Vanderzalm's predecessor Bill Bennett, Vanderzalm's toothy religiosity and nickle and dime sleaziness in his personal dealings with shadowy Hong Kong land developers sunk the Social Credit label completely. As the NDP took over the Chamber of Commerce Tendency  withdrew to lick its wounds.

And to slowly, over years inhabit the BC Liberal Party, hollow it out and animate it like a grotesque jerking corpse puppet.

Now that the zombie stink has gotten too much for the BC voter and the Liberals look like they are shambling to a political grave the 'Tendency' turns cold eyes to its next husk, the BC Progressive Conservatives.
 The B.C. Conservatives took 2.1 per cent of the vote in the 2009 election. But under the leadership of John Cummins, the party is tied in recent polls with Premier Christy Clark's B.C. Liberals in second place at 23 per cent.

Marshall said there are striking similarities between B.C.'s Clark and Alberta's Redford: Women in their mid-40s who returned to elected office after successful careers outside politics and became leaders of par-ties whose previous male leader had become too unpopular.

Both enjoyed brief bursts of popularity, added Marshall, followed by a decline in the polls as small-conservative voters shifted to an insurgent party from the political right.

Similarly, Redford was a red Tory - "certainly not the blue-est of candidates for the Alberta PC leadership" - while Clark was a federal Liberal, said Marshall.

Simon Fraser University political scientist Royce Koop agreed that Wildrose and the B.C. Conservatives share a common tack. "They are both consistently and openly principled conservative parties."
"There doesn't seem to be any attempt or desire to moderate that. When you are coming in from the right, as the Reform Party did on the federal scene, you sort of behave in a principled right-wing manner."
One difference, added Koop, is that Wildrose is poised to take power. Given the NDP's current strength in B.C., the most the B.C. Conservatives can hope for in next year's election is to replace the B.C. Liberals as the main party for B.C.'s anti-NDP forces.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Not Open for Debate

I resist absolutism but some things are red lines.  A woman's right to control and 'own' her own body is one of them.  Add me to the chorus of voices deeply disappointed in the tone of the Prog Blog moderators during the recent unpleasantness over the inability of some who call themselves 'progressives' to understand how monumentally offensive the suggestion that such rights could ever be open to debate is.

I had vacillated over severing ties but 'screaming banshees'? Scott?  Really?  'A trivial matter'?  Do you seriously not see the problem with these remarks and the attitudes behind them?   I couldn't even believe you had said that until I saw it with my own eyes.  Very, very disappointing.

This 'trivial matter' and your clueless response to it has cost you another blog from the list.  Please consider this my request for removal from the Progressive Bloggers Aggregate.  Those who come here from Progressive Bloggers - which I have been a member of for almost six years and do not abandon lightly - please make other arrangements.

'Screaming banshees'. Unfuckingbelievable.

UPDATE: Busily adding everyone who left Prog Blogs to my Links list who wasn't already there. I'm happy to say most of you were already were on it.  If I've missed anyone please let me know.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Conscience Rights in Action

May 2011 - (AP) NEW ORLEANS A Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have. Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.
"I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way," Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. "I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else."
Bardwell said he asks everyone who calls about marriage if they are a mixed race couple. If they are, he does not marry them, he said.
And to those who are now thinking, 'Well thats not the same thing as denying marriage to gays' - respectfully, fuck you, its EXACTLY the same thing.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Hello Wildrose, Goodbye Public Healthcare

In the States, that crazed pack of screaming ideologues known as the Tea Party only hate one thing more than the idea that a black man named Barack Obama could be their President and that's his paltry industry supporting attempt to provide all Americans with healthcare.  A plan that subsidizes private insurance company's and explicitly ISN'T a government provided healthcare system is derided as creeping Stalinism and irony deficient tight lipped teabaggers wave mis-spelled signs demanding Obama keep the government's hands off of Medicare.  Don't bother pointing out the logic problem there, they wouldn't understand you anyway.

Here in Alberta, the Tea Party's Canadian wing the Alberta Wildrose Alliance has to be a bit more circumspect about their fervent desire to end Canada's healthcare system and deliver us into the welcoming arms of the insurance industry.  Through gritted teeth they swear allegiance to universal healthcare while making long term plans to kill it as fast as they think they can get away with it.

David Climenhaga connects the dots here:
There’s not much need for scare tactics by supporters of public medicare: Yesterday the Wildrose Party laid out a pretty clear plan for privatizing health care in Alberta.
Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith’s news release touting the idea of a “wait-time guarantee” for medically necessary treatments and procedures is heavy on glittering promises (“Alberta families will have peace of mind”) and short on technical details, but it boils down to a three-part plan for privatization:
  1. Starve the public system of funds
  2. Pump public money into for-profit private health care corporations
  3. Watch a two-tier private system quickly flower as the public sector withers
It’s not a big step from administering public health care in two tiers – a neglected public system and a pampered private sector – to an honest-to-gosh two-tier system in which extra payments get you timely care in a private clinic and lack of cash lets you wait longer and suffer more.

The Wildrose news release claims “we all know from experience” putting more money into health care won’t work. (This statement is false enough on its face to warrant a Wildrose-style “clarification,” perhaps in the form of a “bullying press release.”)

Anyway, how would we Albertans know? After all, at least from the time Peter Lougheed left office until Premier Alison Redford came along, Alberta’s long-governing Progressive Conservative party has been playing pretty much the same game of starving key parts of the system for funds in hopes of creating public support for private “solutions.” And the jury’s still out on what Ms. Redford would be doing were her party not facing an existential crisis thanks to her apparently incompetent re-election strategy.

The only thing is that, up to now at least, the PCs have made a practice of bowing to public pressure to maintain the public health care system whenever voters cottoned on to what they were up to. It’s not so clear what a Wildrose government of hard-right market fundamentalists and raw-meat social conservatives would do if faced by a public backlash.
Remember Danielle Smith is a Fraser Institute alum.  An organization dedicated to the idea that the public sector is always bad and people should have to put a quarter in a meter to use a sidewalk.  They despise Canada's system, not least because its a constant reminder that the government does healthcare better than the private sector does south of the border.  They view the affection the Canadian public has for our public healthcare system as an existential threat because any example of successful, economical public sector solutions directly contradicts their core premises.

Be very clear Alberta, a vote for the Wildrose is a vote to kill public healthcare, just as fast as they think they can get away with it.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Wild Rose promises to waste your tax dollars... attempting to discriminate against gays and women seeking reproductive services, guaranteed to cause legal challenges equally guaranteed to be decided against the Alberta Government after expensive legal battles with preordained results.

So called 'Conscience Rights' have been decisively adjudicated.  People in government licensed positions like Marriage Commissioners MAY NOT refuse to perform legal civil marriage ceremonies because they disapprove of the people seeking to get a legal marriage.  So a hypothetical Marriage Commissioner who believed that gay marriages or racially mixed marriages offended his conscience (or his bigotry) cannot refuse to perform them.  His rights to 'concience' do not trump the right of those seeking a legal marriage to not be discriminated against by a representative of the government.  The same goes for a licensed pharmacist who 'doesn't think he should have to sell the sluts their birth control pills'.

The Wildrose Party would rather pander to the most reactionary and hateful elements of their hateful and reactionary base with a Kabuki show of wasting your tax dollars on doomed legal challenges.  When they inevitably lose those challenges they will rant about 'activist judges' to get more donations from their followers, but it wont be the Wildrose party that pays the millions of dollars in futile legal costs it will be YOU.

You don't get to call yourselves fiscal conservatives if you plan to deliberately waste MILLIONS of tax dollars to appease your bigoted base.

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