Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- On the anniversary of Jack Layton's death, Tim Harper points out how far the NDP has come in just a year, while Brian Topp highlights where the party still needs to go:
(W)hat to do about the federal government’s crisis of relevance? Recent Liberal and Conservative governments have worked together on a common agenda to make Canada’s national government largely irrelevant to the daily lives of most Canadians. Today’s federal government is a Parliament, it is a public service, it is an army and police force, and it is a largely unconditional bank machine for provinces.

Small wonder that Canadians increasing tune federal politics out. Small wonder Parliament in recent times has been about embarrassing squabbles over trivia. What else was there to talk about? Here is the fundamental mission of the New Democrats: to demonstrate that the Liberal/Conservatives are wrong, and that there are indeed important projects and priorities that Canadians can and should work on together. Not symbolic issues, designed to get us angry and to divide us from each other. The real stuff: Equality. Jobs. Health care. Economic security. The environment. Reclaiming our good name in in the world.

New Democrats need to find a way to give Canadians hope that we are more than the sum of our parts, and that there is much we can do together to make a good country a much better one – carefully and prudently, one practical step at a time, without reigniting the old federal-provincial wars that separatists and conservatives build on, each in their own special way
Meanwhile, John Ibbitson has a rather smaller vision for the NDP, suggesting that it should do nothing but accept the top-down, consumerist political style that's turned off so many voters. Ryan Cleary offers his own tribute, and Cityslikr challenges anybody who claims to respectfully disagree with Layton's proposals for greater generosity and equality to suggest some alternate means of building a better society.

- Mia Rabson rightly questions Elections Canada's lack of interest in prosecuting attempts at foreign influence on Canadian elections. And Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher report that even as Elections Canada directly intervenes to provide evidence useful to Ted Opitz's argument over Etobicoke Centre, it's withholding information which might be relevant to the Council of Canadians' challenges in seven other ridings.

- Edward Greenspan and Anthony Doob are almost entirely right in criticizing the Cons' attitude toward criminal law. But it's worth adding a proviso to the headline: the Cons' view is more along the lines of "once a criminal, always a criminal unless a Conservative", as the party is quick to offer absolution to anybody who's seen as politically useful.

- Finally, Matt Miller neatly sums up the mentality of "drawbridge Republicans":
(W)e’ve never had two wealthy candidates on a national ticket whose top priority is to reduce already low taxes on the well-to-do while raising taxes on everyone else — even as they propose to slash programs that serve the poor, or that (like college aid) create chances for the lowly born to rise.

Call them the Drawbridge Republicans. As the moniker implies, these are wealthy Republicans who have no qualms about pulling up the drawbridge behind them.
Most rich Republicans who champion regressive tax plans find it necessary to at least pretend they’re doing something to help average folks. John McCain, who’s lived large for decades thanks to his wife’s inheritance, famously had trouble keeping track of how many homes he owned — but McCain also tried bravely to create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. George W. Bush campaigned as a “compassionate conservative,” and touted education initiatives that made this claim plausible.

Today’s Drawbridge Republicans can’t be bothered. Yes, when their political back is to the wall — as Romney’s increasingly is — they’ll slap together a page of bullet points and dub it “a plan for the middle class.” But this is only under duress. The rest of the time they seem blissfully unaware of how off-key they sound.

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