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.

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