Saturday, February 02, 2013

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Ray Grigg explains how Idle No More and other decentralized social movements may make for a crucial counterweight to the Harper Cons and their command-and-control philosophy:
Systems are always bigger and more complex than the individuals who try to control them. So political systems, like ecological ones, can be influenced and guided for a while by the stringent and obsessive management of details, but the intricate convolutions within their countless interacting parts eventually expose the futility of such effort. This is now becoming apparent in the present Conservative government in Canada under the authoritative - some say autocratic - leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The Prime Minister is known for his propensity to control, a predilection that includes his caucus, parliament and the research studies from every scientist in the employ of the federal government. All information is vetted through his office, the PMO, to be certain it conforms to the message and the image he wants to portray of himself as a rational and competent manager of the nation's business. But this strategy ultimately fails because even the most fastidious control can never match the complexity of systems. Like trying to prevent water from flowing downhill, pressures build, leaks occur, the ground saturates, and the whole containment effort finally collapses.
The Idle No More movement is so diverse and amorphous that it will be difficult to control by the Prime Minister and his powerful PMO. Such a vague and unfocused opponent will be an elusive target for Stephen Harper's vindictiveness. A restless and evolving movement with a wide range of demands will be impossible to manipulate with his secretive strategies. So Stephen Harper's suspicious nature will be forced to confront a dilemma of his own making. Charisma is not going to solve this problem. And if frustration should activate the morose streak in his character, he can stew in it until the end of First Nations' patience - which could be a very long time.
- Murray Mandryk criticizes David Marit's recitation of the Cons' message in his rare dissent from Saskatchewan's electoral boundaries commission report. But the more significant follow-up point looks to be the continued use of unsourced and misleading robocalls to push the Cons' talking points.

- CBC reports on the history of public spending on stadium projects - with the unsurprising conclusion being that the public generally doesn't gain anything from its massive expenditures.

- Straight Goods notes that a private surgery clinic which was supposed to be Alberta's health care panacea just a decade ago is now bankrupt - with the public picking up the bill to keep services running as the operators have no interest in treating patients under the terms of their existing contracts. [Update: a reader notes that SG's version of the story looks to be a reprint from 2010.]

- Finally, Trish Hennessy follows up on this week's Statistics Canada figures on inequality by running the numbers on Canada's privileged class.


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