Saturday, November 07, 2020

On advance preparation

I've noted before that Scott Moe's spring election posturing prevented Elections Saskatchewan from putting together a full postal balloting system for this fall's provincial election. And I haven't yet heard of any municipalities going to a full vote-by-mail balloting system for their subsequent votes (though I'd be interested to hear if any are trying).

But that doesn't mean voters can't cast a ballot by mail - only that they'll need to be prepared well in advance in order to do so.

With that in mind, here are links to the mail-in ballot application processes for...

- Elections Saskatchewan (Application deadline: October 15)

- City of Estevan (November 9)

- City of Martensville (October 19)

- City of Meadow Lake (October 28 online, November 6 in person)

- City of Melfort (November 9)

- City of Moose Jaw (October 16 online/mail, November 6 in person) 

- City of North Battleford (November 6)

- City of Prince Albert (October 26 online, November 9 in person)

- City of Regina (November 9) 

- City of Saskatoon (October 30 online, November 8 in person)

- City of Warman (November 6)

- City of Weyburn (October 30 online, November 6 in person) 

Note that the timing of an application will be crucial. In most cases cities should be receiving applications by now, meaning that the primary concern is to make sure applications are sent in time to be received by the deadlines above.

Other cities including Lloydminster and Yorkton have approved of mail-in balloting processes, but don't appear to have detailed information available online. I'll update with links as they become available.

[This will be a pinned post throughout election season - I'll plan to update it as registration windows open and close.]

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Tuesday Morning Links

 This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- The Economist highlights the public health steps governments need to be taking while we wait for vaccines and therapies to make the spread of COVID-19 a less severe risk.

- Pete Evans discusses the stress and anxiety placed on CERB recipients due to the Libs' choices both to let it expire, and to prorogue Parliament rather than putting a reliable alternative in place. And Bryan Eneas talks to Peter Gilmer about the need for Saskatchewan to increase its own contribution to the standard of living for people on social assistance - rather than instead using the CERB as an opportunity to line its own pockets at their expense.

- Nick Falvo writes about the obvious dangers facing homeless people as governments cut off temporary supports while doing nothing to address longstanding housing needs. And Sula Greene writes about the plight of renters facing eviction in the midst of a pandemic where isolation at home is imperative for everybody's health.

- Ryan Felton discusses the U.S.' choice to allow polluters to contaminate drinking water with "forever chemicals". And Evan Radford reports on research showing that south Saskatchewan's water is becoming increasingly toxic.

- Finally, Andrew Nikiforuk offers some lessons about the virtually inevitable failure of resource megaprojects - and they're well worth keeping in mind as the Saskatchewan Party pushes a multi-billion-dollar, Diefenbaker-era irrigation scheme.

Monday, September 28, 2020

On telling tests

I've previously posted about the Moe government's painful delay in addressing the limitations in Saskatchewan's COVID testing capacity, even as it promised to more than double that capacity over the month of August. But as others have pointed out, in the absence of any accountability from the Saskatchewan Party, we can go to the federal government's data to see whether those promises (coupled with a massive influx of federal funding) have led to any improvement.

And the answer tells us all we need to know about the Moe government's competence to turn dedicated funding into any results:

Even starting from per-capita capacity well below that of our neighbours, and even with the federal government pitching in millions to try to protect public health as kids have returned to school, the Saskatchewan Party's government has accomplished somewhere between zero and worse than that (given that the previous capacity was up to 2,000 tests per day). 

Needless to say,  Moe's "stay the course" campaign theme sounds downright dangerous when it reflects his government's inaction to protect public health in the midst of a pandemic. And if we rightly think that it's at all possible to do better, then we'll need to ensure the Saskatchewan Party isn't left in power to continue its glaring lack of accomplishment.

Monday Morning Links

 Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Lauren Pelley discusses the importance of making it a habit to weak a mask to protect against the spread of COVID-19. And David Rider points out the giant loophole for private workplaces as sites of community spread, while Jason Warick highlights the futility of Brandt's policy requiring masks only after an outbreak hit its workers.

- PressProgress calls out Doug Ford for valuing profits over health in seeing nothing wrong with $400 private COVID tests.

- Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood argues that the recovery from COVID-19 represents a perfect time to move toward a low-carbon economy. And Andrew Jackson comments on the usual combination of ambitious claims and vague commitments in the Libs' throne speech, while Katherine Scott highlights the desperate need to turn rhetoric into action. 

- Finally, Gary Mason calls out the RCMP for its enabling of white supremacist violence in Ponoka and Red Deer. And James Pitsula offers a reminder of the KKK's history in Canada - including its role in influencing one Saskatchewan election.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Nicole Mortillaro notes that the reduction in pollution due to COVID-19-related shutdowns isn't keeping 2020 from being either the hottest or second-hottest year on record. Nina Chestney reports on new research showing that our current fossil fuel economy is utterly incompatible with any hope of limiting climate change even to 2 degrees. And Mariana Mazzucato discusses what we'll need to do in order to avoid climate lockdowns in the not-so-distant future:

(C)limate change will exacerbate the social and economic problems highlighted by the pandemic. These include governments’ diminishing capacity to address public-health crises, the private sector’s limited ability to withstand sustained economic disruption, and pervasive social inequality. 

These shortcomings reflect the distorted values underlying our priorities. For example, we demand the most from “essential workers” (including nurses, supermarket workers, and delivery drivers) while paying them the least. Without fundamental change, climate change will worsen such problems.

The climate crisis is also a public-health crisis. Global warming will cause drinking water to degrade and enable pollution-linked respiratory diseases to thrive. According to some projections, 3.5 billion people globally will live in unbearable heat by 2070.

Addressing this triple crisis requires reorienting corporate governance, finance, policy, and energy systems toward a green economic transformation. To achieve this, three obstacles must be removed: business that is shareholder-driven instead of stakeholder-driven, finance that is used in inadequate and inappropriate ways, and government that is based on outdated economic thinking and faulty assumptions.

- Caroline Evans points out how Alberta is seeing substantial expansion of wind and solar power despite the recalcitrance of the Kenney UCP. And CBC News reports on new polling showing strong support for a transition to green energy in Regina.

- Elizabeth Renzetti writes that we won't see a full recovery from the coronavirus pandemic until women are able to return to work. And Armine Yalnizyan and Kerry McCuaig take note of the opportunity to finally establish a national child care system.

- Jordan Press reports on the added stress and anxiety lower-income Canadians have faced due to the Libs' perpetual hemming and hawing over the continuation of coronavirus relief. And Alex MacPherson discusses how CERB recipients face the risk of being excluded from Saskatchewan's Legal Aid system due to a temporary shift to a slightly more liveable income level - highlighting just how many people are cut off from basic legal services. 

- But finally, on the bright side, John Paul Tasker reports on the federal government's plan to send out free automatic tax returns in order to ensure people receive the benefits available to them.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Saturday Morning Links

 Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Charlie Smith talks to Robert Hare about the increasing concentration of corporate control - and deterioration of the public's capacity to provide a needed counterweight - in the decades since The Corporation was released.

- PressProgress exposes the hundreds of thousands of dollars of Saskatchewan Party donations connected to the Rawlco radio network's owners. And the Saskatchewan NDP highlights how Scott Moe insists on preserving an archaic campaign finance system where he's motivated to serve out-of-province numbered companies rather than the people of the province. 

- Marco D'Angelo warns that transit services are in danger of falling into a death spiral just as they're proving especially vital in ensuring fair access to transportation while minimizing carbon pollution.

- Meanwhile, Ian Hanomansing interviews David Suzuki about the Libs' appalling willingness to hype nuclear power, while CBC News reports on their choice to throw hundreds of millions of dollars at offshore drilling - even as they again dither when it comes to meaningful action to avert a climate breakdown.

- Finally, Saskatchewan's Chief Electoral Officer Michael Boda puts a call out for people to work at the polls to ensure everybody has access to the polls.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Musical interlude

 Black Pumas - Colors

Friday Afternoon Links

 Assorted content to end your week.

- Karon Liu offers a basic primer on how to avoid contributing to the second wave of the coronavirus. And the Canadian Teachers' Federation surveys how educators and students have been - and continue to be - affected by COVID-19.

- CUPE is encouraging Saskatchewan's votes to cast their ballots with an eye toward the importance of public services. Adam Hunter reports on the doubling of Saskatchewan's MRI wait-list as the Sask Party's move toward privatized health care predictably did nothing to improve access in the public system. And CBC News reports on the likelihood that Scott Moe's choice to intercept federal CERB funding will end up leaving people homeless.  

- Brian Bethune talks to Michael Sandel about how the language of meritocracy contributes to ongoing (and indeed increasing) inequity.

- Finally, Emily Eaton and Simon Enoch examine how a move toward a renewable Regina can align with the goals of reducing poverty and inequality. And Seth Klein discusses the need to deal with the climate crisis and inequality together:

(C)limate policy purists are wrong. The rebuttal is two-fold.

First, these issues are actually deeply intertwined. Lower income people and countries are more vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis. Those with higher incomes and wealth have greater GHG emissions. Conversely, many climate action policies impact lower-income people harder, and thus these impacts must be mitigated.

And second, it is only by linking these issues that we win over and mobilize broad popular support. We cannot ask people to separate their fears about the climate crisis from the other affordability anxieties, economic pressures and systemic crises they face. At a very basic level, inequality undermines trust that “we are all in this together.”

Many doubt that the task at hand will be undertaken in a manner that is fair. It is hard to rally the public if many believe the rich are merely buying their way out of making change—fortifying their homes, walling their communities or purchasing carbon offsets in the hope that others will lower their actual emissions. Equally troubling is a cultural narrative that sees climate action as part of an elite project in which the poor or those currently working in the fossil fuel sector are expendable. 


High levels of inequality undermine social cohesion and promote social divisions, rather than building the social and political trust needed to chart a future based on a sense of shared fate. If climate policies are not perceived as fair, public support will not be sustained, and political determination will shrink accordingly.

The more a robust climate action plan is linked to an exciting plan to tackle poverty and inequality, along with a hopeful and convincing jobs plan, the more we maximize public support. Plus, it’s the right thing to do.


Thursday, September 24, 2020

Thursday Morning Links

 This and that for your Thursday reading.

 - Patrick Brethour discusses houw the effects of the coronavirus pandemic have been anything but fairly or equally distributed. And Katherine Scott highlights how the effect has been to undo decades of already-slow progress in improving the conditions of single mothers.

- Don Pittis discusses how New Jersey's wealth tax provides an example for us to follow. And Andrew Jackson makes the case (PDF) for a wealth tax in Canada:

It is both reasonable and practical to add a wealth tax to our current arsenal of fair taxes, to be levied at a low but rising rate on very large fortunes. The aim would not be just, or even most importantly, to raise extra revenues, though these would add to fiscal capacity, but to prevent the accumulation of huge fortunes which give the ultra rich far too much power and undermine democracy. The ongoing shift of taxes away from labour to the owners of capital which undermines the fiscal base needed to support social programs and public services and exacerbates rising inequality must be reversed. While there are some difficulties in levying an annual wealth tax, it is ultimately a feasible political choice and a matter of political will.

- Stephen Gordon and Christopher Ragan discuss the prospect of updating the Bank of Canada's mandate both to better measure inflation, and to account for additional factors including employment. And Marc Lee points out the folly of obsessing over the federal debt in the midst of a pandemic.

- The Star's editorial board writes that it's time to address homelessness by building long-term housing, not only shelters. And Ashwin Rodrigues notes that any effort to rely on private-sector landlords to provide housing will need to contend with new gig-economy structures designed to facilitate evictions.

- Finally, Russell Smith points out how algorithms shape what we read online - including by directing readers away from anything that doesn't fit an arbitrary conception of a significant topic.