Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Morning Links

- In case there was any doubt what the Harper Cons' primary goal has been while in office, pogge nails it:
What dominates conservative action is not a belief in the inherent inferiority of government but a radical, nihilistic desire to throw sand into the gears to assure it is inferior.
He's writing about things like senate filibusters and the recent brouhaha surrounding former (and soon to be once again?) USDA employee Shirley Sherrod but it certainly rings true for Canadians as well when he writes:

...this is collective action to stop the government from working, and an attempt to drive competent individuals out of civil service.
I've seen alternative explanations for this government's insistence on crippling Statistics Canada but I would suggest that this is the fundamental motivation. This is what Conservatives have been attempting to do since they first wrote the infamous manual on sabotaging Commons committees: "throw sand into the gears."
- Meanwhile, Douglas Bell echoes the NDP's recent stance in noting another parallel with the U.S.:
The Tories ridding us of the long form census is a feeble attempt to gain political advantage by importing (a culture-war-style) backlash from the States. It’s dollar store demagoguery, pure and simple. Because putting the motto “live free or die” on a license plate was already taken, the Tories have to settle for Potemkin victories like scrapping the census, kicking ass at the G20, nixing affirmative action in the civil service, and building more prisons. Pretty thin gruel really. But you have to take what you can get in a country where only one in three voters really give a damn about your agenda.
- Of course, the latest in the Cons' is their attack on affirmative action. Needless to say, I share Scott's skepticism that the timing following a self-serving complaint from a Con supporter and blogger is a coincidence.

- Finally, Armine Yalnizyan is still optimistic that the Cons will eventually decide to back down on the mandatory long form census:
There are three possible openings for fruitful discussion in the immediate future:

Meetings with groups of reasonable people (i.e. including people who vote Conservative) can be held when Industry Minister Tony Clement returns from overseas. Meetings, such as the one requested on Monday would help save face and might help craft a way out.

The House of Commons Industry Committee is holding summer meetings, which is unusual but not unprecedented. If committee members agree to hear from some of the organizations that have requested standing, one or more witnesses could suggest an exit-strategy from this suicide mission.

The Council of the Federation (the Premiers of Canada’s provinces and territories) meets in early August. The Prime Minister has not yet played his hand. Stephen Harper could cast himself in the role of statesman, entering into negotiations with his peers and saving the day. (I know, I know) Even before this annual event takes place, the provincial and territorial Ministers of social services are meeting. Backroom discussions there, too, could identify or smooth the path forward.
Mind you, the fact that the Cons have only been getting more stubborn and less open to criticism with time doesn't look promising. But it's probably true that there's a reasonable chance of some of the summer's events - particularly the Council of the Federation meeting - resulting in a way out if the Cons decide they want one. And the perk for the Cons in senselessly sticking to a position that nobody much cared about in the first place is that they probably won't take much damage in the long run if they do reverse course.

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