Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Linda McQuaig is hopeful that Quebec's student protests against tuition hikes might remind many Canadians that we can do more than just meekly accept austerity and inequality:
What seems to particularly gall some English Canadian commentators is the fact that the Quebec students — who reached a tentative deal with the province on the weekend after a three-month strike — have been protesting tuition hikes that would still leave them with the lowest tuition in the country. Why can’t these spoiled brats be grateful, and go back to...video games and keeping up with the Kardashians like normal, well-adjusted North American youth?
It’s that old problem about Quebec. Somehow people there manage to shake a bit loose from the rigid corporate-imposed mindset that has gripped North America in recent decades, convincing us that we as a society must cut back on things — like university education and old age pensions — that were somehow affordable in days when our society was a lot less rich.
The Quebec students, more attuned to the outside world, have figured out that this self-denial has more to do with dogma than with some new reality allegedly necessitated by the global economy.
It’s an odd form of self-indulgence. Tens of thousands of students have marched hundreds of hours in the cold, potentially jeopardizing their academic (and financial) futures, in order to champion accessible education for all as the cornerstone of a democratic society.
If only they could be less self indulgent, and stick to drinking, partying and finding themselves a comfortable niche in the corporate world.
- Drew Anderson wonders whether the Cons have lost their touch in attacking opposition leaders based on their tepid initial swipes at Thomas Mulcair:
The long waiting game is over. Finally, the ruthless attack machine of the Conservative Party has roared to life and taken aim at Tom Mulcair. A little later than expected, to be sure, but with the deepest warchest in Canadian politics and a mean streak the size of Lake Superior, surely worth the wait.

Except it’s not. It’s just a website. And a really bad one at that.
Harper’s Conservatives are worried that negative attacks might actually help the NDP unite the non-Conservative vote, something they are desperate to avoid.

Nothing would highlight that the NDP is now the main threat to the Conservatives like unleashing a negative barrage. Nothing would serve as a better rallying point for non-Conservatives. Certainly nothing would bring in more money to the NDP coffers.

The Harper Conservatives know this, and so while surely not happy to be looking up at their main opponent, they took a pass on defining their main opponent in favour of riding out the honeymoon. For now they seem resigned to snipe around the edges on amateurish websites and keep their powder dry for another day.

At least until someone pokes the dragon in the eye.
But I'll add a third distinguishing factor between now and the timing of the Cons' previous campaigns against Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff: instead of having to frame an opposition leader immediately based on the prospect of a snap election, they can count on holding power for three and a half more years no matter how ineffective their attacks are. And we shouldn't be entirely surprised if the Cons use that extra time to allow messages to build up over a period of years - rather than seeing a need to launch their strongest slams at the outset.

- Meanwhile, Dave Cournoyer muses about what Thomas Mulcair's brazen recognition of Dutch disease might do to federal politics in Western Canada. But it's well worth keeping in mind that the interests of Suncor aren't necessary the same as those of actual citizens - and as much as Brad Wall has been allowed to write his own headlines about Mulcair's comments, the message that the supposed benefits of a petro-state aren't all they're cracked up to be will find a receptive argument in a good chunk of the West as well.
- Finally, kudos to Tu Thanh Ha for not only reporting on the latest example of the Federal Court of Appeal finding a breach of natural justice in Vic Toews' treatment of Canadian citizens abroad, but also putting it in context within a longstanding Con pattern of neglect.

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