Friday, June 08, 2012

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Friday reading.

- Michael Harris neatly sums up the Harper Cons' legacy:
In many ways, the Harper legacy will come down to this: how much can he get away with? Incumbency furnishes a speedy getaway car. From a legislative perspective, Harper might as well be King Tut. He can do whatever he wants for the next three years or so. Bill C-38, which makes the War Measures Act look like a piece of legislation declaring a public holiday, demonstrates just how aware this PM is of the total power vested in him. And how oblivious he is to Canada’s institutional integrity. One-third of C-38′s monstrous abuse of process is dedicated to dismantling environmental legislation that was never mentioned in the 2011 Tory master plan.

Harper gets it. It’s now or never, baby.
Stephen Harper’s gamble comes down to this — do Canadians give a hoot about the fact that their democracy is now a mere formality. Do they accept the Nixonian proposition that when your leader does something wrong, it’s actually right because he’s your leader? In other words, do we, like the wall-eyed People of the Corn in the Republican Party south of the border, believe that the office sanctifies the man?
Harper has concluded that with the proper balance of fear, marketing, and suppression of dissent, he can successfully argue that a small pox scar is really a dimple. Look what climate change deniers have done with a handful of zealots and scads of money from people like the Koch brothers.
But there is only so much fear you can put into people, just so much, and no more. And when people stop fearing you, that dimple starts looking like a small pox scar after all.
- But Brian Topp offers some rather important perspective: while the Cons are looking to make politics as small and substance-free as possible, a real debate in values is developing thanks to the NDP's strength as a progressive opposition. And Bruce Campbell notes that there's plenty of room for discussion as to how we want to develop our economy for the decades to come.

- For the most part, we know not to take any of the Cons' constant and fact-free boasting too seriously. But every now and then it's worth testing some of their claims - and John Geddes' post comparing the environmental progress under several previous governments to the total lack of action  under the current one nicely highlights the gap between spin and reality.

- Finally, Dan Gardner comments on how logic is Canada's most regular victim of crime thanks to the Cons:
(T)here’s plenty of fear in Toronto now. Stephen Harper failed. He betrayed the city.
Or at least that’s what I would write if I were as ruthless as the boys in the PMO.
But I try to set the bar at least a little higher. So I’ll write this, instead: The efficacy of a policy cannot be proven or disproven by a single incident. Or even a series of incidents. We should not let the passions of the moment, or lazy assumptions, or tired dogma, cloud our judgment. We should base our conclusions about the efficacy of tougher sentences on properly designed and carefully conducted research.
And that research says it doesn’t work.
Just as it doesn’t matter that Fantino’s claim about the Eaton Centre shooting and tough sentences — Our approach failed, which proves it’s critical! — is so bizarre it’s hard not to suspect the man was tripping on LSD.
Evidence and logic are irrelevant to Conservative crime policy. As Justice Minister Rob Nicholson famously observed, “we’ve made it very clear that we don’t govern on the basis of statistics.”
No, for Stephen Harper and company, crime policy is about nothing but dogma and politics.
 [Edit: fixed formatting.]

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