Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Laura Ryckewaert reports that Elections Canada's response to Robocon is now including an unprecedented level of public consultation, while Stephen Maher and Glen McGregor are digging deeper into voters' complaints at the time of the 2011 election. And Lawrence Martin recognizes the stakes involved in the Cons' gamble that nobody will get to the bottom of their robocalls:
Though nothing is conclusive, the revelations, which directly challenge the Conservatives’ version of events, can hardly be of comfort to Stephen Harper’s team. The story has become a whodunit with phenomenally high stakes. No democratic government found to have run a widespread vote-rigging operation is likely to survive.

Mr. Harper has denied any involvement by his party in a call campaign to misdirect voters. His 2011 campaign co-chair Guy Giorno, who said that suppressing the vote is a “despicable, reprehensible practice,” has been equally categoric.

In the run-up to voting day, EC officials had a list of complaints from 13 ridings. They found the alleged abuses so serious that, according to the Postmedia report, they immediately contacted Conservative Party lawyer Arthur Hamilton. He took a day to get back with a response that denied any wrongdoing, saying the calls were being made to ensure Conservative voters got to the right polling stations. Unsatisfied, EC officials went back to him again before voting began, but he responded in the same way.

The uncovered emails raise a question: if Conservative campaigners were only trying to assist their own voters, why were they giving out, as the Elections Canada officials saw it, false information on polling station locations? And why, if they were only dealing with their own supporters, would there be such a rash of protestations to Elections Canada?
But there are other questions: Why would the Tories stage a phone blitz on polling locations in the last week when, according to chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand, only 61 of 20,000 polling locations were moved in that week? That’s one half of one percent. Then there is the Ekos poll purporting to show the vast majority of poll-location calls went to voters supporting opposition parties. Why would that be? Then there is Michael Sona, the former Tory operative in the Guelph riding, who has referred to the vote suppression operation as being “a massive scheme.”
- Environics compares the attitudes of citizens toward inequality in countries across the Western hemisphere. And the results show a majority of Canadians seriously concerned about the inequality which the Harper Cons are working to exacerbate - and eager to see more progressive taxation as part of the solution:
Canada has weathered the recent global economic recession much better than most other countries, and Canadians are among the most upbeat in the Western Hemisphere about their national economy and household financial situation. But not all Canadians are doing well financially, and there is widespread concern about income equality. Most Canadians feel their politicians are defending the rich to the detriment of the poor, and expect their governments to reduce income disparities.

On this issue Canadians fall somewhere between citizens in Latin America and the Caribbean (who more strongly endorse active government efforts on income inequality) and Americans (who are divided on this issue). What distinguishes Canadians is their support for reducing poverty and inequality through higher taxes on the rich.
- Which in turn provides some rather important context for the Agenda's discussion of poverty and a guaranteed annual income:

- So part of the problem in our current corporatist direction is that far too many governments are ignoring what Canadian citizens are supporting in no uncertain terms. But Ben Sichel suggests that the labour movement needs to work on building students' knowledge of the role of unions long before they join a workplace for themselves.

- Finally, Murray Mandryk notes that the Sask Party's move to sell off most of ISC makes sense only as part of a longer-term scheme to gut Saskatchewan's public sector. 

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