Saturday, August 01, 2020

On disproportional representation

Yes, it's bad enough that fully 10% of the election candidates for the Saskatchewan Party have impaired driving convictions - including the Premier, and one individual who was convicted based on actions while he was in Cabinet.

But it's even worse when those numbers are compared to the Saskatchewan Party's inclusion levels for other identifiable types of people:
The Saskatchewan Party has named 55 candidates for the 2020 election. [Note: Per the party's own news feed, this has been updated by two candidates who make no mention of being a visible minority.]

Of those, 10 are women, four are visible minorities and two are Indigenous.
That's right: the Saskatchewan Party is providing as much of a platform for drunk drivers as for visible minorities and Indigenous people combined. (Indeed, more so given Scott Moe's inclusion in the first group.)

Which means that voters will have a stark contrast before them in determining which party reflects the province they want to see.

On denialism

To date, most of the response to Scott Moe's multi-billion-dollar irrigation scheme has focused on the immense cost for uncertain return, as well as the lack of consultation with people who stand to be severely affected. But there's another major problem worth noting with the Sask Party's plans to dust off a plan developed before the development of the science we now understand around climate change.

It's generally well recognized that the effects of the present course of climate change include hotter temperatures and a drier climate for Saskatchewan. Which leads to these warnings from Elaine Barrow about any increase in irrigation (emphasis added):
  • Carefully consider the advisability and sustainability of any future irrigation projects.
  • Saskatchewan should evaluate its plans for increased irrigation very carefully in light of reduced water availability from Alberta due to increased consumption and climate change. But more efficient water use for irrigation or a reduction in irrigated acreage in Alberta could compensate for the reduced water availability.
There's certainly no indication that Alberta has any interest in reducing its own agriculture for Moe's benefit. And given that the project is being pitched as "based on the vision of John Diefenbaker", and that immediate work was announced with no environmental review, there's zero reason for confidence that even the changes in our climate to date have been properly accounted for - let alone the continued thrends which should be guiding the province's water management in the decades to come.

Which is to say that there's a third major flaw with Moe's scheme: at its core, it depends on ignoring decades of scientific evidence, and indeed effective climate denialism, as the basis for its assumptions. And Saskatchewan's voters should be extremely wary of letting its future be dictated by the ghost of megaprojects past.

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- John Metta discusses how low-income workers have been barely treading water for decades even before the coronavirus collapse. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives points out how we can take the failure of EI during the pandemic as a signal that we need to build far stronger income replacements for the future. And Roberta Bell reports on how the pandemic - and the resulting strain on already-threadbare support systems - has exacerbated Regina's existing addictions crisis.

- Avery Zingel talks to Michael Miltenberger about the dangers of the choice of both the Kenney UCP and the Trudeau Libs to suspend water quality monitoring. And Ben Parfitt points out how governments will need to step in to remediate the environmental damage the natural gas industry has inflicted on Fort Nelson, BC.

- Linda McQuaig discusses how decades of giveaways to big oil have left Alberta poorer. Andrew Leach weighs in on the folly of the UCP's War Room. Bryan Carney digs into the public money spent by Alberta - and the dubious tactics used - in its propaganda blitz seeking federal approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. And Wallis Snowdon reports on the municipalities facing massive property tax hikes to paper over the handouts the UCP has gifted to the fossil fuel sector. 

- Finally, even the Globe and Mail's editorial board is recognizing the need to start talking about increasing public revenues as part of Canada's path toward recovery - while the Libs continue to insist nothing of the sort is under consideration. And Bill Campbell notes that both the potential to raise income from the uber-wealthy and the ability to carry debt represent important reasons not to obsess over temporary deficits at the expense of rebuilding.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Thursday Evening Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Thomas Powell makes the case for ensuring that families are able to maintain connections to loved ones in long-term care as part of our rules governing the COVID-19 pandemic. And Karen Wang argues that we need a national mask requirement in place immediately to make school opening as safe as possible this fall, while Zak Vescera reports on the Saskatchewan NDP's plan for schools (in response to the Moe government's complete lack of effort).

- David Macdonald writes that the mobilization of public resources in response to the coronavirus pandemic shows that there's no excuse for refusing to fund a just transition to a clean economy. And in case there was any doubt whether investors have any appetite for a dirty fossil fuel economic strategy, Patrick Collinson and Jillian Ambrose report on the UK National Employment Savings Trust's move toward divestment, while Dan Healing reports on Total's writedown of its tar sands assets (and disaffiliation from CAPP).

- But lest anybody hoped the fossil fuel sector would be replaced without a fight, Dana Drugmand exposes how natural gas operators are attacking the electrification of buildings.

- Finally, Jason Markusoff highlights why whataboutism isn't a legitimate response to the Libs' WE scandal. And Paul Wells writes about the jarring refusal to listen to the public which resulted in the Libs trying to substitute a vaguely-defined review for an full inquiry into the Portapique shooting spree.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Donald McNeil discusses how inconsistency in state-level policies and a lack of federal leadership have combined to result in the coronavirus epidemic manifesting in radically different ways across the U.S. And Karen Wang points out the ticking clock facing Canadian students, parents and teachers as schools are set to resume operations with far too few precautions. And CBC News reports on Alberta's excuse for a forum to answer questions about its plan (which stands to be mirrored by Saskatchewan) - though it omits the justified dissatisfaction of participants.

- Robert Reich points out that Donald Trump's attempts to create distractions from a pandemic are doomed to failure. And James Politi notes that any economic rebound resulting from premature reopening looks to have come to a quick and disappointing end.

- Brigitte Pellerin discusses how Ottawa's altered use of streets arising out of the need for social distancing has made its public spaces far more welcoming and functional. And Paul Shaker examines how the same trend is playing out across Canadian cities.

- Meanwhile, Nick Falvo writes that the pandemic offers opportunities for our governments to ensure the availability of housing for everybody, particularly in meeting commitments to provide supportive housing for people who need it.

- Finally, the Globe and Mail's editorial board offers a reminder of the opioid epidemic which has thus far killed more people in the western provinces than COVID-19 - and is especially critical of Jason Kenney's government which (like Scott Moe's) refuses to fund any harm reduction measures to save lives.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Sprawled cats.



Tuesday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Grant Robertson exposes how the Cons and Libs alike destroyed Canada's pandemic warning and response system just when we could least afford it. Kelly Cryderman writes that we should be able to agree on a common goal of returning children safely to school - with the main obstacle being right-wing governments who aren't willing to dedicated either funding or regulatory power to the "safely" part.

- Paloma Pacheco discusses what a small boost in benefits has meant for people with disabilities, while also noting the impending return to precarity as that increase is set to expire. And Adam Radwanski identifies the difficulty in trying to plan out a recovery strategy which accounts for the often-divergent goals of climate progress and gender fairness - though that should serve as a compelling reason not to waste money on fossil fuel infrastructure which is harmful to both.

- Varshini Prakash and John Podesta discuss why we should be eager to fight for a Green New Deal against the politicians trying to make political hay out of climate obstruction. Seth Borenstein writes that wealthier people are doing far more harm to our climate than people with less money to burn. And Nina Lakhani points out how the fossil fuel sector has funded police groups to crack down on activists.

- The Guardian's editorial board writes that a wealth tax is worth pursuing, but doesn't go far enough on its own in ensuring the equitable distribution of social resources.

- Finally, Paul Krugman discusses how the U.S.' pitiful response to COVID-19 - like many of its social ills - can be traced to the Republicans' cult of selfishness. And Susan Wright calls out Jason Kenney for putting Alberta up for a fire sale - though in that case, there appears to be far more public backlash.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Zach Carter highlights how jurisdictions whose governments have rushed to reopen businesses in the wake of COVID-19 have been rewarded with nothing other than mass death. And Peter Hartcher calls out Australia's for right-wing government for lacking any plan for a recovery.

- Meanwhile, Jeff Gailus warns Alberta about the horrendous odds facing Jason Kenney's bet on continued fossil fuel development with no regard for either environmental impacts or superior alternatives. And Jason Warick points out some of the more glaring problems with Scott Moe's choice to focus on an out-of-date irrigation plan rather than the economy of the 21st century.

- Jesse Brown looks into the question of what WE Charity actually does in its supposed core area of international development - and finds much less than would be suggested by its prominence. And PressProgress reports that Moe's contract with WE for educational services doesn't appear to have been known to the people working in Saskatchewan's education system.

- Daniel Xie discusses how the revelation that police put Shannon Phillips under surveillance for doing her job as environment minister fits into the history of the security state spying on progressive leaders in Canada.

- Finally, Rebecca Traister writes about the joint effort of Republican politicians and the corporate media to dismiss Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other women who dare to call out abuse by their male counterparts.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Murray Mandryk writes that any responsible government has to be willing to prepare for renewed restrictions on activity if the spread of COVID-19 requires it - though sadly, Scott Moe is falling short of that standard while reiterating his determination to prioritize profit over people.

- Matt Bruenig offers a framework for unemployment benefits which offers plenty of food for thought about how Canada's EI can be improved to cover far more people with fewer arbitrary restrictions and limitations.

- Blanca Mugyenyi highlights how preposterous it is for Canada to be pushing ahead with a $19 billion fighter jet purchase while laying the groundwork to cut off benefits to people in the face of a pandemic.

- Jim Pickard, Daniel Thomas and Gill Plimmer discuss how the Libs' infrastructure bank is serving as an embarrassing model for the UK Cons' scheme to privatize infrastructure development. And PressProgress points out that Doug Ford's PC government - which was happy to pour public money into trashing renewable energy and facilitating beer sales - has disappeared a billion dollars promised for repairs to Ontario schools.

- Zoe Yunker exposes the oil and gas industry's demands for perpetual power price subsidies from British Columbia. And Nathan Lemphers and Martin Olszynski discuss the need for Alberta to finally ensure that the fossil fuel sector pays to clean up its own messes.

- Finally, Abrahm Lustgarten highlights the climate migration which has already begun - but which is bound to accelerate if we don't rein in a climate breakdown which threatens to render vast swaths of the Earth uninhabitable. And Thor Benson writes that our experience with coronavirus-related shutdowns has only confirmed that we can't protect our planet merely by reducing individual emissions.