Saturday, March 03, 2018

On first choices

First-choice support for Ryan Meili in the NDP's leadership campaign: 5,973
First-choice support for Scott Moe in the Saskatchewan Party's leadership campaign: 4,483

Moe just barely edged past Meili's first-ballot vote total on the Saskatchewan Party's fourth ballot - when second- (or more likely third-)choice support shifted to him from voters trying to cut their losses within the Saskatchewan Party.

Needless to say, this presents a rather healthy contrast in enthusiasm as between the parties' respective leaders. And I'll look forward to seeing how Meili and the NDP can build on it.

Leadership 2018 - Convention Liveblog

For those following along, I'll be discussing the leadership showcases and voting results here. For now, stay tuned.

Before the showcases begin, I'll note that there doesn't seem to be a huge advantage for either candidate within the room - though the thunder sticks being used by Trent Wotherspoon's supporters make for a louder show. Wotherspoon will present his showcase first, followed by Ryan Meili.

Wotherspoon's showcase begins with strong testimonials both in person and on video. But it's striking that Wotherspoon's own words - even in video form - seem less organized and focused than those of the people introducing him.

Wotherspoon's supporters are definitely enthusiastic, giving standing ovations as his wife Stephanie and Trent respectively were introduced.

The catchphrase for Wotherspoon looks to be "hope, opportunity and reconcilation", as that phrase found its way into Wotherspoon's speech as well as his introduction.

Wotherspoon then delves into his platform, with mental health services and child care receiving particularly strong responses from the crowd.

Wotherspoon closes his speech and his showcase without any surprises, receiving a raucous ovation at the end.

Meili begins his showcase with the video used as his campaign's closing argument, followed by his introductions.

Lon Borgerson discusses his support for Meili based on a 48-hour trip together. We'll see if the showcase offers any new message to persuade people in the much smaller time spans available to reach most voters.

Meili also gets a standing ovation as he's introduced, and starts his speech by bringing a number of additional supporters onstage.

Meili contrasts a "garage sale economy" of the Sask Party against the longer-term vision of the NDP.

Meili's speech too is mostly familiar, including a concise statement of the "upstream" story.  And like Wotherspoon's it receives a strong response at the end.

The convention now breaks for voting, reconvening at 3:15.

Interim Leader Nicole Sarauer's final speech in that capacity includes details of funding promised in the provincial budget but not delivered - which will surely offer the new leader some strong evidence of a lack of fiscal foresight.

And the results are... Meili 5,973, Wotherspon 4,860. With strong voter turnout, Wotherspoon beat Meili's previous totals - but Meili managed to substantially increase his support.

Congratulations to both candidates for running strong and constructive campaigns - and it will be great to see that carry forward.

Leadership 2018 Links

The latest from the Saskatchewan NDP's leadership campaign as the voting window closes and the results are about to be unveiled. (Note that members voting online are able to cast a ballot until 3:00 PM.)

- Not surprisingly, the impending vote has led to plenty more media coverage, including a lengthy list of candidate profiles. CJME has offered detailed profiles of Ryan Meili and Trent Wotherspoon, along with question-and-answer features with both candidates. CKRM's coverage of Meili and Wotherspoon is more limited. And CTV focuses on Meili's overarching vision of a healthy society, along with Wotherspoon's political experience.

- Ammerio Reza interviews Meili in depth about his plans for the campaign and beyond, while Greg Wiseman covers Meili's visit to Melfort. And CTV interviewed both candidates at the end of the campaign.

- Ryan Kessler reports on the candidates' final pushes for votes, while Adam Hunter summarizes the campaign to this point (and sets out today's schedule). D.C. Fraser discusses the difficulty anticipating today's outcome. Murray Mandryk argues that the key factor for the next leader will be his way of relating to Saskatchewan's citizenry.

- And finally, for the few voters who haven't yet cast a ballot, I'll offer a reminder of my take on what to look for in the candidates' final showcases today (though again I'll be surprised if it raises any problems for two experienced contenders):
Much of Stephane Dion's tenure as leader of the Libs was defined by a basic inability to handle even relatively basic planning and message coordination when it counted - ranging from his campaign interview false-start, to the late-delivered and poor-quality video that did so much to undermine the 2008 coalition. But less noted is that Libs had an obvious hint as to his difficulties in the area: at the leadership convention where he was elected, Dion had the plug pulled on a convention speech which seemed to bear little relationship to the time allotted. (Of course, that seemed to be forgotten by the next day as Dion made his way up the middle of the Ignatieff/Rae divide.)

So while it'll be worth watching how much the candidates can inspire the crowd..., we should also pay close attention to whether anybody's campaign shows signs of disorganization on the biggest stage the leadership candidates will face.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Musical interlude

The Revivalists - Wish I Knew You

Friday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your week.

-Tom Parkin laments the timidity of the Libs' budget, while recognizing the opportunities it creates for the NDP:
Over $7 billion in infrastructure investment, the cornerstone of the Liberals 2015 election appeal, was cut and pushed past the next election — despite the sorry state of our social housing, transit, roads and schools.

And just two days after the Liberals implied they would support a national pharmacare plan, Finance Minister Bill Morneau ruled it out, saying the Liberals would only create a piecemeal drug scheme. The U-turn probably pleased Big Pharma. After all, pharmacare lowers drug prices by using its universal, single-buyer model to squeeze better prices from drug companies.

Across all fronts, the Liberals took timid steps, failing to use their power to help Canadians stretch their paycheques right when interest rates are about to take a bigger bite from the economy. And that timid approach makes it harder to keep growth going.

For NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh it’s a big opportunity. Singh’s NDP has consistently advocated childcare, pharmacare and public infrastructure — and the NDP governments in BC and Alberta are now getting the job done. That bolder approach will now contrast sharply with that of the Liberals — who continue to serve-up a watery gruel to voters who thought they’d ordered a hearty stew.
- Thomas Walkom calls out the Libs' immediate backtracking on the prospect of pharmacare, while Andy Blatchford reports on the justified call for Bill Morneau to avoid making decisions about the issue when the firm bearing his name makes substantial profits from a patchwork system of drug coverage. And Trevor Hancock offers an upstream look at the causes of - and solutions to - the opioid crisis.

- Erica Johnson has reported on Bell Canada's false "guarantees" and pressure on salespeople to mislead customers.

- Finally, John McDonnell and Hilary Wainwright discuss UK Labour's plan for a new form of economics built around administration by and for the public. Fred Harris and Alan Curtis comment on the U.S.' unfulfilled promise of racial and economic equality. And Iglika Ivanova reminds us that we have a choice as to the effect of new technology on workers and inequality.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

New column day

Here (via PressReader), on the importance of Saskatchewan's citizens staying engaged and active - rather than viewing the end of the main parties' leadership races as a basis to tune out until the next provincial election.

For further reading...
- Again, my reference page for the balance of the NDP's leadership campaign is here.
- And in case anybody is looking for issues worth organizing around, D.C. Fraser reports that Scott Moe is planning to echo Brad Wall's slash-and-burn approach to public services in his first budget. Alex MacPherson already exposed the Saskatchewan Party's plan for further asset selloffs. And Stephanie Taylor and Alex Salloum discuss how Moe is actively turning away federal funding in order to obstruct any climate action in Saskatchewan.

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Thomas Walkom and Andre Picard took the time to wonder whether the Libs actually planned to deliver on pharmacare before Bill Morneau confirmed otherwise.

- Joe Fries examines the history of P3s in British Columbia. And Alex MacPherson breaks the news that the Saskatchewan Party is planning on trying to distort the province's fiscal picture by selling off campus properties to the same universities which are already facing a several budget squeeze.

- Miranda Green reports on the Trump administration's destruction of environmental protection, including its plan to terminate the office which researches the harmful effects of chemical exposure on children. And Joan Lowy and Tom Kishner report on Trump's choice to echo the lax transportation safety rules which contributed to the Lac-Megantic explosion.

- Meanwhile, Annie Nova points out that while Republicans try to wring every possible cent out of ordinary people for the benefit of the wealthy, a plurality of Americans now support a basic income for everybody.

- Finally, David Climenhaga offers his take on why the Andrea Horwath-led NDP will win Ontario's upcoming provincial election by analogyo to Rachel Notley's Alberta victory.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Leadership 2018: The Non-Prediction

In previous NDP leadership campaigns at both the provincial and federal levels, I've compiled regular rankings and/or predictions among the candidates.

Needless to say, I haven't done that for the ongoing Saskatchewan NDP leadership campaign - in part because a two-candidate race has left no need to consider down-ballot implications, but also in part due to the difficulty determining exactly where the race stands. And I'll take this opportunity to explain why I'll also hold off on any predictions about Saturday's result.

In general, the issue isn't so much a race that's necessarily too close to call, as one which is too uncertain to call.

In most other campaigns, there's been at least somewhat more polling available to give some indication where the candidates stand. This year's race has featured exactly one public poll intended to capture member opinion - and Premier Cheveldayoff can tell us how sound its methodology has proven.

And in most other campaigns, there's been at least some trend among the other factors which I'd normally use to compare candidate strength. But this campaign has seen different results among those factors (with Meili leading in fund-raising and previous support, Wotherspoon in endorsements), and also no particular momentum for either candidate within those areas.

Complicating matters further, both candidates have a track record of late underperformance based on the 2013 campaign - where Wotherspoon's first-ballot count was far short of his own expectations, while Meili fell just short of winning over half of the party's voters on the final ballot.

And there are plausible factors which could have substantially boosted either candidate within the NDP's membership, including Wotherspoon's tenure as interim leader and Meili's election to the Legislature.

With all those considerations in mind, it's difficult to say more than that I won't be surprised by anything other than an outright blowout in either direction. And with such a wide range of outcomes within the realm of reasonable possibility, I won't be making any predictions as to which one is most likely.

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- The Council of Canadians sets out the key numbers in the Libs' all-talk, no-action federal budget, while David Macdonald highlights its ultimate lack of ambition even when there's plenty of fiscal room to work with. David Reevely focuses on the grand total of zero dollars allocated to the headline issue of pharmacase. Angella MacEwen questions the framing of the budget as a meaningful step toward gender parity when it utterly ignores child care and other necessary steps toward equity. Jeremy Nuttall writes that the Libs are doing little to ameliorate poverty. And Josh Wingrove notes that the infrastructure funding which Justin Trudeau made the economic centerpiece of his 2015 campaign has been relegated to campaign promise status again for 2019.

- Neil Macdonald discusses how the Libs' real actions as a government are systematically far more gloomy than their PR. And the Canadian Press notes that the federal government's gap between promises and actions on climate change has only been getting worse under Trudeau, while Marc Lee is the latest to note the false assumptions behind pushes for fossil fuel expansion in the face of climate disaster.

- Meanwhile, Jeff Goodell takes a look at the impending wave of climate migration as one of the readily-foreseeable consequences of climate change. And Jonathan Watts writes about the unprecedented Arctic winter melt which suggests some of the most dire climate projections may be coming true decades sooner than anticipated.

- Finally, Steven Chase and Robert Fife report on the fallout from Anbang's takeover of B.C. retirement homes now that it's been taken over by the Chinese government. And Paul Willcocks discusses how seniors stand to lose out when their needs and interests are treated as secondary to those of international capital.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Shredding cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- The New York Times' editorial board comments on the predictable flow of the Trump tax cuts toward primarily the few who already had more wealth than they could possibly put to productive use. And Tom Parkin discusses Jagmeet Singh's expectation that Canadians expect better from their government:
Surely one sharp contrast will be drawn with Trudeau’s proposed Infrastructure Bank, which hands over public infrastructure financing to private capital investors. Trudeau’s private banking approach increases financing costs significantly. And, because investor profits are required, Trudeau’s plan gives private investors a significant role in controlling which infrastructure projects — roads, bridges, community centres, transit — go forward and which won’t.

On infrastructure, Singh has plenty of room to develop contrasting policies that regain public control over projects and redirect financing costs into more project construction.

Another sharp policy contrast is likely to be drawn over tax policies. Trudeau, like Prime Minister Stephen Harper before him, continues to cut taxes and maintain loopholes for corporations and high-income Canadians, creating an increasingly unfair tax system.
Singh’s contrasting vow to “unrig” the tax system and restore fairness isn’t new. During his NDP Leadership campaign, Singh released a bundle of tax fairness proposals including increased corporate taxes, higher taxes on incomes over $350,000 and an estate tax on high inherited wealth. Those ideas may now get fine-tuned, but clearly they will not be abandoned.

The broad strokes of Singh’s conflict with Trudeau have been drawn. Jagmeet Singh doesn’t simply seek to replace Justin Trudeau. Singh seeks to rebuild a trust, broken by Trudeau, that public infrastructure and progressive taxation are social goods that create fairness and a strong country. If Singh can rebuild that trust he will have put himself on strong ground for his conflict with Justin Trudeau in 2019.
- Meanwhile, Ed Pilkington reports on the massive amounts of money spread around by U.S. billionaires to attack public-sector unions to lay the groundwork for this week's Supreme Court argument to trash the concept of collective action. And Rachel Cohen highlights some of the consequences if collective bargaining is treated as pure free speech rather than a separate class of activity.  

- Chris O'Neill-Yates reports on Husky's "economic" decision to risk a collision between an oil production vessel and an iceberg, while the Canadian Press reports on the HMCS Calgary's fuel spill off of Vancouver Island.

- Max Fineday argues that there's no prospect of reconciliation in Canada as long as Indigenous people's lives are being treated as expendable. And Tanya Talaga discusses how a long and shameful track record of deaths without accountability parallels the history of injustice for Indigenous people.

- Finally, John Nichols makes the case to lower the legal voting age to 16.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- J.W. Mason reviews Yanis Varoufakis' Adults in the Room with a focus on how damaging austerity was forced on Greece by other governments. And Jan Rovny comments on the need for Europe's left-wing parties to adapt to the precarious economy and evolving social structures.

- Laurie Monsebraaten reports on some of the early results of Ontario's basic income trial - including the predictable health benefits of income security. But in a signal as to how the corporate sector views individual financial security. Rob Davies reports on the UK's investigation into Carillion's collapse - including the privateers' view of the pensions promised to workers as a "waste of money"  .

- Douglas Welbanks challenges the arguments against free tuition by pointing out both the increased importance of post-secondary education, and the limited amelioration of inequality within a student loan system which saddles young workers with debt. 

- Brady Dennis and Chris Mooney point out that many countries are falling short of even their already-insufficient Paris Agreement emission reduction promises. And Crawford Kilian notes that Canada is living far beyond its environmental means.

- Finally, Kevin Milligan writes about the outlines of the alternative budget plans on offer from Canada's federal opposition parties. And Nora Loreto discusses how the NDP's future lies in its ability to mobilize the public, rather than hoping to catch lightning in a bottle on election day. [Edit: fixed wording, typo.]

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Nick Falvo highlights some of the most important proposals in the CCPA's alternative federal budget (parentheticals omitted):
3. Introduce a national pharmacare program. This proposal would help address the fact that many Canadians simply cannot access prescription medication; it would also result in reduced premiums paid by employers for health benefits for their employees. This initiative would cost the federal government $11.5 billion annually, but would likely save Canadian households and employers almost as much.

4. Address involuntary part-time employment among women. Points raised in the gender equality chapter include the following: women perform considerably more unpaid work in the home than men; increasingly, many women who work part-time in Canada report doing so involuntarily; and among women working part-time involuntarily, half say a lack of available child care is the reason they’re not working full time. To help address these challenges, the chapter proposes both universal child care and paid paternity leave.

5. Reduce poverty. The AFB proposes earmarking $4.4 billion annually as a Goods and Services Tax credit top up for low-income Canadians. It further proposes that $4 billion annually be transferred to the provinces and territories for their poverty-reduction initiatives. Finally, it proposes that $3.5 billion in new funding be spent on affordable housing, noting that the federal government’s recently-unveiled National Housing Strategy represents a rather modest increase in new builds going forward
- Nicholas Davis wonders whether citizens are substantially devaluing democracy due to the perception that leaders don't reflect the interests of the people who vote for them. And John Doyle discusses how Ontario's PCs are going far out of their way to feed into public contempt and distrust.

- Trevor Tombe rightly argues for a closer examination of the cost of various means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But I would respond that he gets the conclusion exactly wrong: our final goal should be to reach a sustainably reduced level of emissions as quickly and efficiently as possible, not to merely determine a price and let the emissions (and their associated environmental harms) fall where they may.

- Meanwhile, Larry Hughes comments on the problem with relying on intensity targets which allow for - or even encourage - emission increases.And Sean Kavanagh reports that Manitoba has signed on to the federal government's existing emission reduction plan, leaving Saskatchewan again as the sole laggard.

- Finally, Simon Enoch neatly summarizes how P3 schemes have been proven to be a poor use of public resources (as well as a dangerous choice for the future of essential services).