Saturday, October 01, 2011

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Trish Hennessy points out that there's a debt crisis facing many Canadians that will only be exacerbated by public-sector slashing:
1.57 Trillion
Canadians’ household debt in the second quarter of 2011, reaching an all-time high this year.
Canadians’ household debt ratio to personal disposable income in the second quarter of 2011, higher than our U.S. neighbours.

Canadian households’ credit market debt ratio to personal disposable income, second quarter 2011.
1 in 10
Number of Canadians who say even with a credit card or line of credit they would have trouble paying an unforeseen $500 expense.
- Janice Kennedy discusses the Cons' efforts to shout down anybody who expresses even the most reasonable disagreement with them:
If differing opinions were anti-Semitic, then half of present-day Israel could be considered anti-Semitic.

It's like the neo-cons' familiar "anti-American" label routinely hung on Canadians opposed to the most recent Bush administration.

A disparaging word about George W. and his cohorts, and - zap - you were anti-American. Trouble is, such reasoning would have made an awful lot of United States citizens anti-American.

But such charges effectively shut down debate. That's their value.
(D)on't hold your breath waiting for some version of Speakers' Corner here. Our neo-con overlords wouldn't stand for it.

They have no qualms about denouncing human rights commissions - which, for all their flawed mechanics, do try to correct wrongs - as "star chambers." As newspaper readers, some of them threaten to cancel their subscription when the paper runs columnists not on their wavelength. They delight in turning up their noses at "political correctness," instead of the, yes, sometimes awkward impulse to reduce the sum total of offence given in the world.

And they apparently relish shutting down, and shutting up, the opposition.
- Naturally I have some doubt about Skippy's claim that conservatism has ever particularly opposed lying, stupidity or creative math. But there's no disagreeing with the reality that any aversion to those problems is sorely lacking from the right on both sides of the U.S. border.

- Finally, the good news when it comes to diversity in candidates in Saskatchewan's provincial election: First Nations are better represented than ever before in the main parties' candidate nominations, with the proportion of aboriginals among the NDP's candidates actually exceeding that in the general population. But then there's the bad news: CBC notes that there's a long way to go toward anything approaching representative levels of women candidates.

Update: Let's add Paul Wells on the NDP leadership race:
The worst thing for the NDP would be a coronation. I’ve been an admirer of Topp’s intelligence and strategic sense since it became obvious, in 2006 or so, that Layton grew bolder and more sure-footed whenever Topp was on hiatus from his labour-union day job to whisper in the leader’s ear. In private, on paper, Topp is the closest any party has to Stephen Harper for political skill. But the things nobody knows about him are most of the things that matter in politics. Can he fill a room with his voice? Stand up to brutal attack? Persuade people who didn’t think they could ever agree with him?

The Liberal lesson is that a problem doesn’t go away just because you wish it didn’t matter. Stéphane Dion’s incomprehensible English was a really big problem. Michael Ignatieff’s eagerness to please was a really big problem. Jack Layton’s last gift to the NDP is this: they have more to lose now than ever before. They should kick the tires on Topp and Mulcair and everyone else, hard.

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