Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Jessica Bruno reports on Tom Mulcair's first six months as leader of the NDP. But while it's certainly a plus for pundits to recognize the NDP as a viable government in waiting, perhaps the most significant development is Mulcair's ability to persuade Canadians in what looks to be the country's defining policy debate over the next few years:
Some pundits thought that the honeymoon was over when Mr. Mulcair warned that unfettered development of Alberta’s oilsands would lead to a hollowing out of Canada’s manufacturing sector this spring, a stance Mr. MacLachlan said is a “defining issue for Mr. Mulcair and the NDP.”

Mr. MacLachlan said that while his remarks initially were scoffed at, people seem to be coming around to Mr. Mulcair’s position.

“Now it seems that every political leader, particularly in B.C. from Premier [Christy] Clark to James Moore are trying to align themselves with his position on the development of the oilsands, on pipelines, and more generally on the economy,” he said.

Prof. Wiseman agreed. “His position on the oil sands, what’s striking there is at first I thought, ‘Uh oh, this is impolitic, he’s going to drop in the polls.’ But they didn’t drop and the more you got to hear what he said … his position is that polluter pays. If you put that to people, they’re in favour of that,” he said.
 - But of course, the case against the Northern Gateway pipeline in particular has been made as much by Enbridge itself as by any other party. And the revelation that Enbridge isn't interested in figuring out whether diluted bitumen might behave differently than conventional crude oil if spilled certainly can't be reassuring for anybody counting on it to clean up its own messes.

- Carol Goar writes about the desperate need for Ontario (among other provinces) to provide protection for workers.

- Finally, Alice pieces together the background behind the questions about convention contributions which led to the NDP reimbursing paid advertisers this week - while also offering an important perspective on how election law should be made:
How we got to the point where election law is being made through a series of gotchas is the sadder part. The Chretien government tolerated almost no amendments from the Reform Party to its overhaul of the Elections Act in 2000, so the Conservatives got them back with punitive retroactive amendments to the Act in 2006, which led the Liberals to exploit a slip of John Baird's at a Senate committee to launch a complaint about their convention fees, which led the Conservatives to counter-complain about the Liberals convention fees, and now the NDP's. Meanwhile, civil society groups are trying to get in on the action themselves.

Basic misapprehensions abound, such as the belief that Elections Canada can just make up its own rules (it has to implement and enforce the Elections Act as passed by Parliament, warts and all), that party activists know or could be expected to know everything that's going on in their party across the country, and/or know every nuance of our complex and always-evolving electoral legislation.

Call me old-fashioned, but I'd like to see election law made on the basis of what's good for our electoral system as a whole, and without people on either side of the issue deciding what their position is based on who they want to win, rather than a consideration of the facts and the outcome for the electoral system as a whole.

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