Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Chantal Hebert theorizes that Canada's political scene has taken every turn Jack Layton might have hoped for since his passing last summer, while Gerald Caplan discusses what the NDP needs to do next:
As the Liberals flounder their way through the next year, and with no federal election due until 2015, the NDP has a rare opportunity to focus on the multitude of areas that must be firmed up if it’s to be taken seriously as a government-in-waiting. It won’t be easy, and nothing can be taken for granted. Three years can go awfully fast, all kinds of hardball opponents are gunning for the party, wholly unanticipated events are certain to scupper the best-laid plans, lots of money is required, and a good many public doubts need to be addressed.
The NDP must look at all aspects of its being and decide what else must change – policies, rhetoric, organization, strategy, tactics? – while remaining true to its enduring goals of social justice, equality and democracy. To win, as Mulcair insists, the NDP must appeal to the many progressive Canadians who have never brought themselves to vote for it before. For 80 years, the party never figured out how to do so. There’s a short three years to come up with some answers.
- But if Thomas Mulcair's speech at #skndp12 is any indication, the party looks to be on the right track in both emphasizing a wider range of concerns than the Cons are willing to recognize, and putting them in terms that cut to the core of the Cons' brand. This offers a small sampling of Mulcair's message:
"People understand what we've been saying," he said. "Some others have tried to make it into something different, but we've been saying the same thing all along. We have to take care of our responsibilities to future generations. The way to do that is to make sure that we look at the economic, the ecological and the social aspects of every problem ... something the Conservatives don't believe in and have not been doing."
In Mulcair's speech, though, the message was framed in terms of economic, environmental and social debts - which goes a step further in both highlighting the Cons' short-sightedness, and tying their well-known fiscal deficits into a wider range of issues.

- Andrew Jackson points out that even as the Canadian economy supposedly recovered in 2010, incomes for working Canadians were entirely stagnant.

- Meanwhile, the Star-Phoenix editorial board notes that a province that's boasting about current growth and projecting far more shouldn't be decreeing that education funding and services will stay flat.

- Scott Stelmaschuk writes about the role of parties in Canada's political scene.

- And finally, Andrew Nikiforuk looks behind the scenes at Enbridge's response to an oil spill - which surely can't inspire much confidence in the Cons' plans to push massive pipelines with no regard for the environment:
Enbridge's control room operators, who open and close pipelines and monitor adequate flow rates, did not know how to respond to alarm warnings or even read warnings on their console system without a trained analyst in the room. At the time they were attempting to execute a scheduled shutdown of the bitumen-carrying line.

The report documents confusion, miscommunication and indifference in the computerized control room that manages some of the world’s longest pipeline systems. (Enbridge's control room is routinely staffed by 25 personnel that work a 12-hour shift.)

At one point the report documents this dramatic scene in the control room:

"Operator B2 said he has never seen this problem before and that it was interesting. Operator B2 stated that the situation looked liked a leak, and Operator B1 stated that they could pump as much as they wanted but could never over pressurize the pipeline. Operator B2 stated that eventually the oil has to go somewhere. Operator B2 said that it seemed as if there was something wrong about the situation. Operator B2 said to Operator B1 'whatever, we're going home and will be off for few days.' Operator B1 stated they were not going to try this again, not on their shift."
[Edit: fixed typo.]

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