Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your weekend reading.

- Gerald Caplan weighs in on Jack Layton's legacy:
It seems to me that Jack Layton’s enduring legacy is twofold. First, he set a standard of doing politics that, if followed by others, would change the entire tone of public life for the country. You could see his influence in the decorum that characterized the leadership contest to choose his successor. The media saw only tedium. The party understood it was Jack’s insistence on civility that was at work.

Jack regarded those he disagreed with as democratic opponents, not as dishonorable, even treasonous enemies to be destroyed. For him politics was not the brutal, no-holds-barred permanent war being waged against all comers by the governing party. He rarely attacked motives or personalities. He treated his opponents with respect and civility. He stuck to the issues, about which he felt passionately and which he pursued forcefully.
Until May 2, (2011), I saw the party’s role as being the conscience of the nation, an influencer of those with power, not a government-in-waiting. That’s how I interpreted election results from the 1930s all the way through to the 2008 elections, during which time the CCF/NDP only once polled as high as 20 per cent of the votes; often it was considerably lower. This was even true of the 3 elections Mr. Layton had fought before his last one. The message from the party’s beloved “ordinary Canadians” seemed to me self-evident.

Jack rejected this destiny as the NDP’s permanent fate, and at the last minute he was vindicated.
- Andrew Nikiforuk comments on the Cons' attempts to make Canadian democracy subordinate to the will of Enbridge and other oil interests:
To get a million barrels of bitumen a day to the Gulf of Mexico at Port Arthur, Texas, the Harper government strenuously lobbied politicians in Washington on behalf of the Keystone XL pipeline. When that project became bogged down in public protests and regulatory delays, Harper abandoned a 2008 policy that restricted bitumen shipments to China and became an outspoken cheerleader for Enbridge and Northern Gateway. Putting bitumen on supertankers bound for Asia "will require some significant infrastructure projects to go forward," Harper said recently in Bangkok. "And we’re obviously…looking at taking steps necessary to ensure we can get timely regulatory decisions."

There is nothing subtle about Harper or the "necessary steps" he has taken. His government has been characterized by the Economist as "intolerant of criticism and dissent," with a penchant for rule-breaking. Early in 2012 it branded First Nations and environmental groups opposed to Northern Gateway, including the Canadian office of the U.S.-based nonprofit ForestEthics and the David Suzuki Foundation, as foreign-funded "radicals" opposed to economic prosperity. Environmental groups with charitable status that have challenged bitumen mining have been subjected to federal investigation. And to make sure that Enbridge’s pipeline experiences none of the delays that have beset Keystone XL, the Harper government launched a concerted attack in March and April on most of Canada’s main environmental laws.

"The debate is no longer about a pipeline," says Robyn Allan, an economist and former CEO of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. "It’s about an energy strategy designed in the boardrooms of Big Oil that’s being forced on the Canadian public."
- One might hope that the Libs' fine for robocalls in Guelph would help push the Robocon investigation along. But I have to wonder whether the story featuring both full cooperation from the Libs and a political price will simply reinforce the Cons' apparent conclusion that the cost-benefit calculation favours continuing to stonewall against any attempt to figure out who's responsible for their own misleading robocalls.

- Finally, Scott Stelmaschuk and Bruce Johnstone both offer rather more generous interpretations of Brad Wall's talk of royalty revisions than my take. But I'm still inclined to be skeptical until there's some evidence to suggest a Sask Party-led review would actually serve to increase revenue, rather than operating as yet another handout to the corporate sector.

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