Monday, May 27, 2013

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Andrew Coyne notes that the Robocon decision finding electoral fraud using the Cons' voter database fell short of naming names - but recognizes that there's still a glaring need for further investigation, a sentiment echoed by the Globe and Mail. Tim Harper explains that Stephen Harper hasn't earned the benefit of any doubt about his party's role in facilitating and covering up the fraud, while Thomas Walkom sees Robocon as entirely consistent with the Cons' usual operations:
(O)rganized, computerized fraud takes matters to an entirely new level of illegality.

Whoever was using the Conservative database to commit this outright fraud must have thought that, at one level, they were justified.

Similarly, I suspect that Wright thought his decision to give Duffy $90,000 — a decision that led the senator to refuse co-operation with a forensic audit of his expense accounts — was also justified.

In both cases, the justification was that political success must trump all else. The anonymous robocallers wanted to prevent non-Conservative voters from casting their ballots. Wright was trying to damp down a political scandal that, as Conservative Sen. David Tkachuk told one Postmedia journalist, was “spinning out of control.”

In both cases, underlings were responding to a take-no-prisoners tone set at the very top.
Harper may be telling the truth when he says he knew nothing of the specific payment to Duffy. Certainly, no one has claimed that he ordered the fraudulent robocalls.
But the prime minister does know perfectly well the kind of things he expects his lieutenants to do. That’s why he chooses them. That’s why, in the end, he bears responsibility.
- Meanwhile, the RCMP's former superintendent Garry Clement makes the case for charges based on the Cons' Senate Clusterduff. And we shouldn't be surprised to see the Cons at least paying lip service to the idea of Senate abolition when the public is rightly outraged at an institution that's proven both corrupt and useless.

- Yves Engler points out that Harper is pushing austerity and inequality around the world as well as at home. And Paul Adams rightly notes that the most important damage inflicted by the Cons can be found on the policy front, meaning that there's every reason for skepticism about the Libs' line that a new face on the same style of government will help in the slightest:
My real problem with Stephen Harper is not his personality but his policies, especially on the environment and the economy.

The Liberal party which is flying so high at the moment has a history of, shall we say, flexibility. The party was against the free trade agreements with the U.S. and Mexico until (in government) it wasn’t. It wanted to replace the GST until (in government) it couldn’t. And it was in favour of ratcheting down greenhouse gas emissions, except (in government) it didn’t.

One place where the Liberals’ new leader, Justin Trudeau, has put a tent-peg down decisively is on the Keystone XL pipeline. He has attacked the Harper government for not doing enough to promote it.
Personally, I don’t just want to replace Harper with a hipster — a cooler, kinder, gentler soul with much the same policies. I’d like to see change and would like to know what that change might be before I go to vote.

So when you find yourself getting a hate-on for Harper, stop a moment and think about who you would prefer as prime minister. And then ask yourself: Precisely why?
- But at the same time, any consideration as to what's wrong with the Cons' current policies should include some recognition as to what can be done better. And CBC's report on the connection between income supports and improved health should offer one obvious area of potential improvement - particularly compared to a government whose philosophy is to try to eliminate as many benefits as it can get away with.

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