Monday, December 14, 2015

Overheated Rhetoric, Overheated Supporters

Brian Jean bears personal responsibility for the extreme attacks and threats against Rachel Notley from his supporters that he is finally, belatedly speaking against.

The government mishandled the rollout of what they saw as a commonsense implementation of rules that have been clearly on the table since long before the election as inevitable components of any future farm worker legislation.  Rules that have been discussed and consulted on and refined for literally years.  The suggestion that they are now being implemented too quickly with insufficient consultation is absurd on its face.

Brian Jean led the charge against rules he knew had been consulted on, that he knew would inevitably come in by judicial fiat if the government didn't legislate them first, that he knew would not impact traditional family farming or cooperative seasonal activities between neighbors.

Rules that he knew both he and the Wildrose had supported in whole in the past.

Despite all these things that Brian Jean knew, both he and his party engaged in a despicably dishonest and irresponsible assault on Bill 6, seemingly entirely for partisan gain.

Brian Jean needs to remember who his supporters are.  Brian Jean needs to remember that overheated rhetoric when delivered to overheated people is frankly and unambiguously dangerous incitement.

The Official Opposition of Alberta is a right wing party that defined itself in right wing rebellion against... a right wing government.  These are not conservatives, either small 'c' or big 'C'. These are radicals, extreme right-wingers by Canadian standards, who viewed the the PC government, easily the most right wing governing party in Canada, hostile to labour and the environment, light on regulation and fighting equal rights for gays to the bitter end....with utter contempt.

The Wild Rose was formed to oppose this as too moderate and liberal!

Brian Jean is trying to appear reassuring and rational and sunny.  He is leading a party of far right extremists and he needs to remember that the next time he's thinking of throwing a match into a pool of gasoline.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Who would have thunk it

The cesspool of drooling, maniacal hatred becomes too much to ignore and Wildrose Leader Brian Jean feels compelled to call for a minimum of basic civility - or at least no more death threats - in a Facebook post this morning.

His supporters furiously turn on him in the comments section for opposing death threats and violent rhetoric.

The Wildrose sows hatred and contempt for the democratic choice of Albertans with apocalyptic rhetoric and blatant lies about government policies - policies they actually used to support until their was political hay to be made in railing about socialist tyranny - and are then surprised with what they reap.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Losers don't get to appoint the Refs for the next game

The Conservative attempt to stack the deck with a massive wave of appointments, many not even starting till after the election was a shocking and almost (Turner tried it too.) unprecedented abuse. 

You do not handcuff an incoming government like that and it bespeaks utter contempt for democracy and the will of the people.

 Now of course the government's objection is not entirely so high minded; the Liberal Party of Canada is primarily a carefully tooled loot dispensing machine. Tying their hands on patronage appointments must have offended them on an existential level.

 All of these people should have offered their resignations the day after the election rather than wait to be asked and should be publicly shamed if they resist being shown the door now. There will doubtless be lawsuits over this but the principal that you don't try to imprint your government on appointed positions just before an election every poll shows you are about to lose should have been respected.

Then there's this wonderful Freudian slip from Rona Ambrose who seems to have a very limited palate of emotional affect, mostly just flinty-eyed and grimly seething which makes her customary word salad in defense of the indefensible even funnier:

"[J]ust because it was a Conservative government doesn't mean none of these people are qualified. There's a lot of incredibly credible, qualified people," she said.

Incredibly credible indeed.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Falling for it

Somebody attacked a guy with a knife on the London subway.

Not scared enough about a piece of random street crime on the other side of the world yet?

Okay he also shouted scary Muslim stuff at the same time.


Congratulations, you just told angry, frustrated, egotistical potential maniacs all over the world that the best way to get noticed for once is to shout Muslim stuff when they do what they already would have done.

And gave the real terrorists what they want. Terror.

19 teenagers alone have been stabbed in London this year, there's been a surge in knife violence. But this one is getting worldwide news because the stabber had some dodgy Islamist pamphlets in his flat and shouted about Syria when he committed the crime.

Hook, line and sinker.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Confronting Evil

Going forward Donald Trump should not be allowed to make a single appearance or speech without being interrupted by protesters.

This is not a traditional democracy respecting politician running a traditional liberal democracy political campaign. He does not deserve the respect and consideration of one and must not be given it.

This is a fascist dictator in the making running an explicitly white nationalist campaign of vilification and scapegoating and he must be confronted everywhere and any time he tries to present himself as just another politician engaging in the democratic process.

This is one of those moments that people may someday look back upon and say 'If only he had been stopped before....'

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 trick 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:

Thursday, September 03, 2015

The Attitude Behind It

If You Care

If you care about the economy, you cannot vote for Stephen Harper.

If you care about healthcare, you cannot vote for Stephen Harper.

If you care about privacy and civil rights, you cannot vote for Stephen Harper.

If you care about veterans, you cannot vote for Stephen Harper.

If you care about the lives of First Nations people and native children getting a fraction of the education funding that the rest of Canada's children get and thousands of women abducted and murdered,  you cannot vote for Stephen Harper.

If you care about corruption, you cannot vote for Stephen Harper.

If you care about democracy and open, responsive governance, you cannot vote for Stephen Harper.

If you care about Canada's standing in the world, you cannot vote for Stephen Harper.

If you care about the environment - at all - you cannot vote for Stephen Harper.

You CANNOT vote for Stephen Harper.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

What's so hard about that?

Believing Harper just means believing that a paranoid, micromanaging control freak with a history of taking an active heavy hand in even the slightest minutia of the PMOs office, was completely unaware of convoluted months of scheming from those closest to him  to deal with a brewing scandal involving a star Tory Senator and serious financial malfeasance.

And then that this PM, known for his vindictive take no prisoners approach to betrayal and failure and those he considers enemies kept most of these trusted advisors on, even to run his reelection campaign, despite months and months of them lying to him to cover up unethical activity resulting in a huge scandal that has damaged his electoral prospects.

What's so hard about that?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Astonishing, Infuriating and ultimately terrifying.

The Tyee's comprehensive document of indictment against the Conservative government is something every Canadian should read to be reminded in the aggregate of the many crimes and misdemenors of this corrupt and dangerous government.
Stephen Harper and his Conservatives have racked up dozens of serious abuses of power since forming government in 2006. From scams to smears, monkey-wrenching opponents to intimidating public servants like an Orwellian gorilla, some offences are criminal, others just offend human decency.
This is more Nixonian than Nixon, more Dick Cheney style malevolence than even the savage former Vice President would have ever dared to indulge himself in.  Stephen Harper makes Vladimer Putin look like a cuddly devotee to the rule of law.

Stephen Harper's government is an ongoing, organized criminal enterprise.

The Quintessential Conservative MP

Sunday, August 09, 2015

The Pendulum Swing

There seems to be a resurgence for the left in electoral politics.  Bernie Sanders is drawing huge crowds and worrying establishment Democrats and in the UK Jeremy Corbyn, originally a protest nomination for Labour party leadership and very much a UK equivalent of Sanders is causing alarm among Blairite Labour Party elites by giving every sign that he might be about to win.

And of course here in Canada the so called center left Liberals are a distant third while the left wing NDP is a credible contender for government itself.

The so called center left parties like Canada's Liberals internalized the message post Reagan that the only alternative was neoliberal economics and politics run for the benefit of the few and the wealthy with at best, some token nobelese oblige thrown to the poor as their policies swelled their ranks.  Emboldened, the political right charged ever further down the field to the kind of far right extremism that conservatives once purged from their ranks dragging the hapless moderate middle with them.

Now Canadian Liberals, Wall Street Democrats and Blairite Labour Party grandees all watch in shock and fury as the progressives they have repeatedly used, abused, lied to and disrespected abandon them in droves.  'Such people are unelectable!' they howl 'You are throwing power to the far right!' - who they share almost all the same policies with - but such alarmist rhetoric is based on outdated views of the electorate at large.

In the US the public at large elected a black man named Barack Hussein Obama as President in 2008 and re-elected him four years later and will elect any of the Democrats currently vying for the nomination Clinton, Sanders, ANYONE over any of the lunatics currently cage-battling to run the Republicans.

In Canada the NDP just elected a majority government in the most right wing province in the country and is polling in the lead federally.  In the UK the Labour Party just lost the most recent election largely because they became too right wing to keep the support of Scottish voters who turned to a left wing nationalist alternative and until they realize that if people want to vote Tory they will vote Tory not Tory lite they will be in permanent opposition. 

Far from being a disaster Corbyn is their only hope.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Acting with principle makes the difference

Desperate, poll driven policy designed to triangulate with ruthless electoral precision and avoid giving the government something to attack them with has driven the Liberal Party down to third party status.

Firmly and conscientiously opposing the Government's hop, skip and a jump from a police state overplay with C-51 was viewed as a catastrophic mistake by the NDP.  Commentators confidently predicted that Thomas Mulcair had misread the public mood after the attack on parliament and this would be where the Liberals, more in tune with the electorate would pull away into firm second place and Harper, most in tune of all, into the lead.

Instead, despite the great effort of the media to create that narrative, the Canadian public recoiled in disgust from the savage, ideological Conservatives and also the blatant, amoral schemers the Liberals openly pronounced themselves to be.

"“I do not want this government making political hay out of an issue … or trying to, out of an issue as important as security for Canadians,This conversation might be different if we weren’t months from an election campaign, but we are,” - Justin Trudeau

And so the rights and freedoms of Canadians are knowingly and openly sacrificed to protect the Liberal Party of Canada's standing in the polls.  This has always been the Liberal Party's MO, Trudeau's just the first leader stupid enough to admit it openly. 

Meanwhile the NDP stood on principle and staked out a position that was deeply unpopular in the polls, and benefit now from being there waiting when the Canadian public reached the same conclusion.

That's called leadership, its something voters remember in the polling booth.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

The Fraser Institute's Incredible Shrinking Credibility

The American media notices just how much a joke the Fraser Institute is.

Soon it will just be the Calgary Herald left, breathlessly repeating the Fraser Institute's nonsense as if it had any credibility or usefulness.

Well the Calgary Herald is the staggering drooling joke of Canadian print journalism, which considering the embarrassing fish-wrapper competition is very strong in this country is  really saying something. 

It only makes sense that they would be joined at the hip to the most embarrassingly stupid right wing propaganda operation with pretenses to serious political and economic criticism in Canada. Again, a title with a lot of competition but one the Fraser Institute stoops to conquer.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Conflicted about Foothills

This is hard, I'm conflicted and not happy to be writing this.

Bob Hawkesworth has thrown his hat into the ring for the Foothills by-election to replace Jim Prentice who took his ball and slunk home on election night resigning his seat before the votes that won it for him were even counted.

Bob is a stellar candidate, experienced, skilled and a great potential addition to Alberta's NDP government.  He kept the NDP fires burning in Calgary during some dark years and I'd be glad to see him in government now that the party is in ascendency.


He had the chance to run in the general.  He could have put himself out there, back in the startlingly recent days when running as a New Democrat in Calgary was quixotic at best.  He didn't.  Anne Wilson did. 

Anne Wilson is a criminal lawyer specializing in legal aid cases who put her life on hold to make a kamikaze run against the leader of the mighty PC dynasty in Calgary Foothills in order to bring attention to starved social services in Alberta.  While Bob sat the General out, she was campaigning hard against the leader of the PCs.  And ultimately came within a few thousand votes of beating him as the orange wave crushed the Progressive Conservative Party.

Lots of commentators recognize that between the wave, the government's honeymoon and lingering anger at Prentice's punk move on election night Calgary Foothills is an extremely likely pickup for the NDP in the coming by-election.

And now, Bob Hawkesworth has thrown his hat in the ring.

And as much as I like him, as much as I think he'd make a great candidate and a great MLA that offends my sense of justice.

Anne Wilson put herself out there, she knocked on doors and put up signs and committed months of her life to give the NDP a voice in a riding that was an all but guaranteed PC win.  Bob sat the General out, there no shame in that, he's put himself on the line in a lot of elections and won some and lost some, he was in fact the guy who beat Jim Prentice the first time he ever ran for office decades ago. He had every right in the world to take a break from campaigning, maybe he was saving himself for the federal race or had family considerations or just didn't want to expend the energy on an all but guaranteed loss.

But Anne Wilson did.

She put her life on hold she campaigned hard and she came within a few thousand votes of defeating the leader of the PCs in the party's stronghold.

And now Bob Hawkesworth wants to, forgive the hyperbole, swoop in and benefit from the orange wave that Anne Wilson along with all the other NDP candidates helped create in the general.

Once again, Bob is awesome, he's a great guy, he'd make a great candidate, a great MLA and probably with his long experience a great cabinet minister.

But pushing aside the woman who put the work in during the general now that the byelection is a much better bet for an NDP candidate leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A week of big wins for Progressive Americans (But a very bad week is coming for abortion rights)

This was an amazing week of wins for progressive Americans. 

Obamacare has defeated what was probably the last chance to strangle it in its cradle and there's not just no path to kill it now, there's no time left to kill it before it becomes a beloved and untouchable program the way Medicare did.  In a few years the Republicans will be denying they ever opposed it.  Much the same story as their once fierce opposition to Medicare which they will now scramble to promise to support at every opportunity.

A horrifying massacre proved to be the tipping point for one of the most divisive symbols of the culture war right wing media hustlers are trying as hard to stoke as the race war terrorist Dylan Roof was trying to inspire.  Instead he was the catalyst to turn white southerners away from a divisive symbol of the war he was trying to start.

And then the Supreme Court declared once and for all and everywhere in the United States that gay Americans are equal and their love is equal.  A ruling met with public joy and public mockery of those who didn't share that joy.  A massive social transformation in America has brought gay Americans unambiguously into the American family.

Next week the other shoe will drop.

Expect the Supreme Court to savagely restrict the medical choices of American women, possibly just by declining to hear a challenge to a Texas law poised to wipe out abortion access in the state, the trend the last few years of massive growing acceptance for gay Americans has been darkly mirrored by ever decreasing access to abortion for American women, particularly poor and minority women. 

A look at the cases the Supremes have left to rule on and their voting history on abortion restriction cases indicate the right to abortion is in severe and immediate danger.

A week of victories doesn't mean the battle to sustain and expand progressive policies in America is over.

It's never over.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Crazy Train

Words from CEO Hunter Harrison that residents of Wabamum Lake who remember what his tenure meant for safety at CN will be gritting their teeth at.

The culture he presided over was all about speed and cost cutting over safety, ever longer, heavier trains hitting  corners at ever faster speeds with predictably disastrous results.

Followed by arrogant and outrageously exploitive attempts to buy silence from victims with quick cheques and gag orders.

The government needs to accept that the ideological decision to let rail companies self regulate their safety standards was a disastrous mistake and reinstate a vigorous regulatory regime over the industry.

Absent that, all the kabuki shadow play of the hapless Lisa Raitt huffing and puffing is just smoke and mirrors.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Shock Doctrine doesn't work if you wait until the shock has worn off

The 33% who say terrorism is the most important issue facing Canada are the bottom floor hardcore Conservative base plus a handful of weird neo-con Liberals.

C51 preaches exclusively to the choir.  As the details become more widely known even soft Tory swing voters are coming to hate it.  The Conservatives made the classic error that always trips up right wingers, of assuming everyone else will see and respond to events the way they do through what they assume is universal but is in fact an exclusively conservative lens. 

They thought they had one of Naomi Klein's shock treatment moments after a mentally ill man attacked parliament.  He was a drug addled paranoid who just as easily could have been commiting mayhem in the name of fighting alien invaders as jihad.

The Conservatives assumed their visceral response to the event would be shared by all Canadians and maybe it was... For a month or so.  The frustratingly long time line of pushing legislation through parliament even for a majority came up against the rebounding natural skepticism of Canadians who watched aghast as George Bush engaged in similar legislative fuckery after 9/11.

We may be watching what political historians will someday call one of the greatest political miscalculations in Canadian history.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The magic number is 40%

 Any single party that can get 40% of the electorate behind them wins. Federally or provincially. And the test isn't just that they can, its that no other party can. 

This is why, sad and horrifying as the prospect is, that the Conservatives have an excellent chance of winning the next federal election.  It's also why the Alberta NDP have an excellent chance of being reelected in four years and starting a new Alberta dynasty.

A three way tie means the Conservatives probably win federally.  Of the two progressive parties the NDP have a better chance of solidifying the progressive vote than the Liberals but very probably neither has the time to do it before October, The progressive split will probably continue and if it does, Harper wins.  I will be delighted to be proven wrong but I'm afraid I'm probably right.

In Alberta, frustrated right wingers like to harp on the fact that 60% of Albertans didn't vote for the NDP.  But of course the point is that no other single party could come close to that 40% the NDP won.  

'Ah ha!' They say, but its only because the right wing is divided between the Wild Rose and the PCs.'  Of course this is based on the highly questionable conclusion that Wild Rose and PC voters are generic right wingers who could end up following one party and this is of course nonsense.  The real vitriol and bile in the recent Alberta election was that between PCs and Wild Rose.  They are NOT interchangeable voters.  The many reluctant progressives who supported the PCs to keep out the Wild Rose will throw their support to the NDP or the Liberals or the Alberta Party.  That's assuming the PCs don't keep staggering on, and if they do they certainly won't win back the Wild Rose voters.

The electoral math favours the NDP, and so does the cyclical nature of petroleum prices.  The NDP will probably be going into the next election on the heels of a boom, and voters reward governments lucky enough to match the boom bust cycle to the electoral cycle. That's at least part of why Prentice called the early election that was his downfall.

The Alberta right wing split and renewed boom should be enough to get the ANDP another 40% at least next time, and that's all any government needs barring bringing in proportional representation.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The MRA movement is the primal whimper of a bunch of pathetic inadequates

The psychology of anti-feminist men is absurdly simple and straight forward: they hate strong, confident, intelligent women because there is no way in hell they would ever meet the standards of such women and they wouldn't know what to do with such a woman if they 'had' her.

That's really all there is to it.  They view the feminist goal of raising the consciousness and confidence of all women as an existential threat.  The less insecure, submissive women with low standards out there the less women even conceivably sexually available to them. 

That's why the one big idea of the so-called 'pick up artists' is 'negging', attacking the confidence of women with putdowns and self esteem crushing remarks - its very revealing; they are flat out admitting with this tactic that no woman with any self esteem will have anything to do with them so they need to crush it.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Crime of Opposing a Crime

The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (Yes, it's still an occupation when you pull your settlers out but retain full control of a territory.) is illegal under the fourth Geneva convention and constitutes an ongoing war crime.

Even Israel's own courts have ruled that its a belligerent occupation.  The tough on crime Harper government is trying to make protesting and resisting an ongoing crime illegal. 
The Harper government is signalling its intention to use hate crime laws against Canadian advocacy groups that encourage boycotts of Israel.   

Such a move could target a range of civil society organizations, from the United Church of Canada and the Canadian Quakers to campus protest groups and labour unions.

It is absolutely unacceptable to treat the peaceful advocacy of boycotts as hate speech. 

The Harper government knows this could not survive a charter challenge and hope just the expense and stress of a group or individual having to defend themselves till the point it was overturned will be threat enough.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

A clear contrast

Straight up; I am glad the Wildrose is the opposition.  I disagree with them about practically everything but they are clean compared to the PCs. 

Also I quite like the stark ideological contrast.  There will be two clearly defined, diametrically opposed viewpoints in governance and opposition.  Far more illuminating then the mushy but nasty neo-liberal corporatism of the PCs.

I predict a honeymoon as the NDP government and the Wildrose opposition cordially agree on campaign finance reform and a brisk sweep out of entrenched cronyism.  Then we can get down to articulating clearly defined opposing positions. 

I welcome Brian Jean, leader of the official opposition.

The Road Ahead

I've had this blog for, holy shit, nine years.

In its earliest days it was mostly ranting about PC Premier Ralph Klein's unrelenting war on the public sector in general and healthcare in the specific.  He went from being a nominal liberal to a hard right partisan against anything that smacked of cooperation or the public good.  In the end his all out assault on medicare ended up contributing to his tumble from power as rural conservatives thought about how Klein's proposed two tier healthcare system would drain small town doctors to the more lucrative practices in the city - and turned on him.

This was significant, in a way the seeds of tonight were laid when the doctrinaire movement conservative market ideology of right wing economists, Shotgun blog commentators and Fraser Institute leadership cadets like Ezra Levant and Danielle Smith ran aground on pragmatic Albertan fondness for decent public healthcare.

After Klein the open assault on healthcare in Alberta became the slow motion death of a thousand cuts, delistings, organizations and reorganizations.  If you were trying to manufacture consent to slowly chip away at public healthcare by degrading it to the point people let you privatize it - you would run it pretty much the way the Tories have.  Fixing healthcare and rebuilding the relationship with healthcare workers will be high on everybody's list. 

Alberta has the most anti-worker labour laws in Canada - a lot of current Alberta labour law is ultimately not even enforceable when looked at through the lens of recent Supreme Court decisions.  Expect major changes, including the removal on the absolute ban on farm workers even being able to join a union.

Education.  Students are an important part of the NDP coalition, I think we can expect education funding and tuition to be on this government's radar.  Higher education is becoming a luxury accessible only to the rich and that contradicts NDP egalitarianism directly.

The environment.  The NDP wouldn't have to pass one new law to change this file dramatically.  Just enforcing existing environmental regulations  and  laws would drastically challenge the free ride elite polluters have enjoyed.  Look for incentives to encourage projects like ENMAX's Shepard Energy Centre gas powered power plant.  Coal is cheap but dirty and breaking our reliance on it would go a long way towards rehabilitating Alberta's environmental image.  The only wrinkle maybe the fracking and ground water threat shale gas poses.

The number one issue, the one the NDP can probably find a lot of common ground with the Wildrose on, is the democratic deficit.  As Rachel said in her victory speech, for too long the agenda and conversation of this province was a red rope affair, the elites decided and the rest of us were used to our concerns being ignored.  Entrenched, unethical partnerships like the one the Stettler PC establishment had with local government are repeated all over this province, right down to one party's control over the levers of the democratic process itself and there is a crying need to have years of cronyism, and close party/state fusions  swept away.  The Progressive Conservatives have a secretive slush fund of a kind that is illegal for every party in Alberta, except them.  That's emblematic of an attitude of entitlement and authority PCs believed was their's by right. 

Hercules had an easier job cleaning the Augean Stables.

And make no mistake, the sabotage starts tomorrow if not sooner.

Entrenched forces in industry, labour and media will be attacking from every angle, political and economic success will be steadily redefined to exclude anything the NDP accomplish.  Red scare rhetoric will, if anything, get worse.

Keep your powder dry.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

The Flowering of Progressive Alberta


Canada's Texas.   The prairie bible belt.  The queer hating, union busting, healthcare privatizing redneck with a copy of Atlas Shrugged home of the Canadian Conservative movement.

Stereotypes that have never represented anything more than the most superficial understanding of this province.

North America's most successful socialist movement was founded in Calgary in 1932 when the CCF, later to be known as the NDP held their founding convention here.  Over the years Alberta has frequently flirted with socialism, both directly through the NDP and the early days of the United Farmers of Alberta's dozen years in power and through the mirror crack'd version of Social Credit.  Today's NDP has morphed into a center left good government party and the Alberta version in particular is a very pragmatic and centrist party, but socialism wasn't always a bad word in Alberta.

Social Credit was on its last legs in 1971 and people forget the Progressive Conservative insurgency of Peter Lougheed really was a somewhat progressive alternative.  They swept away embarrassing Social Credit weirdness like the forced sterilization of 'defectives' that was still going on in 1971 and DOUBLED oil royalties.

Lougheed's pragmatic mix of conservatism and progressiveness and flashy battles with the federal government and oil corporations made him a superstar and the Tories have coasted on his reign ever since while abandoning all his best ideas.

The NDP have been the official opposition multiple times in Alberta and many still believe only the untimely death of popular NDP leader Grant Notley kept them from becoming the government in 1986.

His daughter is now poised to become Premier according to poll after poll, but even if she doesn't Progressive Alberta is out of the bottle now and showing off our magic.

Alberta will never be the same

Friday, May 01, 2015



 Alberta Progressives, 

The right wingers, the dedicated small 'c' conservatives, the people who think going on strike should be grounds for firing, the people who know better than to say out loud certain things, but who still hate gays and immigrants and public workers and YOU and know the dog whistles to look for, the people who make you sad and mad and ashamed when you think of them running our province or being catered to....

They are going to vote. They are intensely, incandescently motivated to vote now that it really does look like Canada's conservative heartland is about to be delivered up to the socialist hordes, they will be more likely to vote than in any election in YEARS in this province. They desperately want to cancel out YOUR vote.

And they still might. Riding a wave election must be like surfing a tidal wave and wiping out at the last minute is more than possible.

If you think your vote doesn't matter IT DOES, in 2004 the election of MLA Thomas Lukaszuk came down to a half dozen appeals and THREE votes. That kind of knife's edge could be repeated in any riding in this province right now.


And donate to the NDP, the Conservatives are reaping  last minute panic donations from Corporate Alberta. Don't let the PCs saturation ad buy their way out of their hole without the NDP being able to fight back.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Wave of Mutilation

And now we will get a solid week of frantic red scare fear mongering.

Dark mutterings about socialism, fictional versions of the NDP governments of BC and Saskatchewan... Last night a well known right wing blogger implied on twitter that an NDP government would make it illegal to own a phone.

Yes, really.

Its all based on the assumption that Albertans are idiots.  That we can't see that NDP 'socialism' is more the subject of one of the CBC's historical heritage minutes than any element of modern NDP policy.

Rachel Notley is the sensible, cautious leader of a moderate left of center good government party.  There was enormous push back to early PC campaign efforts to portray her as extreme, enough so that they hurriedly dropped it.  Expect it to return because the stink of desperation from Tory central suggests that if anything, their internal polling is even worse for them than what the public is seeing.

Fear and loathing and lies are all this tired, corrupt decaying government has left.  Choose hope and truth instead.

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