Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to close out your weekend.

- Erica Alini points out that the effect of the Cons' lobbying on behalf of the tar sands has been solely to make sure that the absolute worst polluters force the public to pay the cost of their activities, as anybody actually operating cleanly in the oil sands would actually have a competitive advantage under the European Union's proposal which is now temporarily on hold:
(T)he basic message from Brussels is one we should listen to. The oilsands are, after all, a dirtier kind of fuel feedstock and we’d probably be doing a lot better in our global PR crusade if we had made more of an effort to make Alberta’s oil cleaner. Besides, the FDQ, as currently formulated, contains a clause that allows oilsand producers to obtain a lower-carbon fuel label if they can show that their emission performance is actually below the default value associated with their feedstock type, notes Pembina’s Jennifer Grant. Some of Alberta’s producers may already qualify for this.
- Others have already responded to last week's trial balloon by noting the fundamental unfairness involved in charging more taxes on poor Canadians in order to hand out yet more free money to the rich. But there's another aspect to the assumptions underlying the theory as well: in effect, that it's not worth anybody's time to try to figure out how to make fairer taxes work, such that tax policy should be based almost entirely on ease of enforcement (which will of course mean wringing as much as possible from people who can't afford to plan around tax changes rather than pursuing anything even faintly linked to principles of justice or fairness).

- Which leads nicely to Susan Delacourt's take on Robocon highlights the fact that the Cons' political success rests almost entirely on the assumption that voters are easily turned off of the political process - highlighting the need to make sure that assumption won't hold up:
"Voter suppression" is the alleged purpose of the calls. The idea was that if you phoned people, told them the voting location had changed, they'd just decide it was too much of a hassle to go and cast a ballot. Think about that for a second. To pull this off with any success, you had to count on people being so lazy, busy or disengaged that they'd throw away their democratic franchise because of a minor inconvenience. Cynical? Or just realistic? Voting, the most basic act of our democracy, rests on the idea that people will make a physical effort to participate. Someone (or many someones) calculated that the prospect of even slightly more effort would kill voter motivation. That's kind of insulting, actually. Not as insulting as calling people child pornographers, I guess, but still a rather minimalist view of the Canadian public -- as robots, easily reprogrammed.
- Meanwhile, the NDP digs up the direct connections between Racknine and the Cons. Sixth Estate is neatly charting the ridings affected by the Cons' electoral fraud.

- Finally, pogge notes that we should be entirely willing to listen to any actual examples of problems pointed out by Cons as well. And indeed I wouldn't be at all surprised if, as Stephanie Levitz theorizes, the end result is a long-needed discussion as to how voter data should be handled by political parties.

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