Monday, July 03, 2017

Monday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Martin Lukacs writes that the world should able to draw plenty of positive examples from Canada's politics - though not from the corporate-focused federal Libs:
As Donald Trump rips up the Paris climate accords, it may seem easy to despair. But these provincial victories show us there is a reason to hope: the huge potential in uniting urgent environmental action with an unapologetically left-wing agenda.

The agreement signed by the B.C. Greens and NDP — the boldest declaration of an incoming government in recent Canadian history — gives a taste of what this might look like.

Consider just a few of their plans. A ban on big money donations and the introduction of proportional voting: this alone would transform an enclave of corporate power into a more functional democracy. Honouring the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: this would start to heal the colonial wounds that tear apart the province. And “employing every tool” to block the Kinder Morgan tar sands pipeline: this would be a message that economic development need not torch our climate commitments, which would reverberate across the country.

It’s not quite a left-wing agenda: after all, the NDP has pledged only the most modest tax hikes to redistribute the obscene hoarded wealth in Canada’s most unequal province. But in its fusion of environmental and economic action, it is historic. In coalition, the fiscally-conservative Greens and environmentally-timid NDP have expressed the best of their platforms, and canceled out the worst.
For those who believe such ambition is impossible, look to those who fought for a $15 minimum wage in Ontario. They too were scoffed at for being “unrealistic.” They were ignored at first by major labour unions and the Ontario NDP. But grassroots campaigners, led by women of colour, built a campaign that forced the hand of a weakened Liberal government. They showed that, now more than ever, people are right to nurture higher expectations.
Quebec Solidaire comes closest to expressing this transformative vision. Its prospects in Quebec – a significant jump in the polls, an influx of thousands of new members — have now been boosted by Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. Before he won a by-election this week by a record margin, he made his name working alongside movements forging common cause: by fighting for free university tuition and strengthened public services, as well as against the Energy East tar sands pipeline, he has helped to articulate the holistic core of a new progressive politics. With the Parti Quebecois faltering, there is every reason to believe that such politics can win a much greater share of Quebec’s electorate — and even to hold the balance of power.
- Meanwhile, Rick Salutin argues that we should draw our national identity from genuine achievements such as our national medicare system, rather than worrying unduly about symbols for their own sake. But Tom Parkin laments the fact that far too much of our political media is easily distracted by shiny baubles such as Justin Trudeau's socks, rather than paying any meaningful attention to the choices which affect Canadians' lives.

- Campbell Clark discusses the elitism behind the Libs' push for a corporate trade agreement with China. And Robert Fife and Steven Chase report that the public doesn't share the Libs' blithe disregard for the security implications of handing technology firms to Chinese capital.  

- Carl Meyer exposes how the Libs reversed an evidence-based decision to ban
dangerous cosmetics based on corporate lobbying.

- Finally, Dean Baker examines the possible effects of a financial transactions tax - and notes that the elimination of extreme inequality based on top-end incomes linked to financial-sector rent-seeking is one of the major benefits.

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