Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Afternoon Links

Content goes here.

- David Climenhaga critiques the questionable Star coverage given to Angus Reid's polling showing the NDP catching up to the Libs nationally:
(A)sk yourselves this: If a new poll had showed a huge surge in support for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, would reporters have "balanced" their stories by noting in the lead, "but their support could collapse by the time voters go to the polls"? Unlikely.

If the poll had shown a huge jump in support for Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals, would the Toronto Star have observed, "their support could collapse by the time voters go to the polls"? Impossible!
Plenty of voters, myself included, have voted strategically for Liberals when we preferred New Democrats because in the ridings where we lived the No. 3 party, whichever it was, didn't have a chance.

If the New Democrats are on the cusp of becoming the No. 2 party, it may in fact be the Liberals who see their support peeling off toward the NDP by the time voters go to the polls.

Count on it that if that possibility rears its head, the mainstream media -- and not just the perennially Liberal Toronto Star -- will pull out all the stops to prevent it from becoming reality.

So look for plenty of stories in the next few days like the Star's, full of qualifiers, hedges and explanations of why what you're seeing isn't really what you're seeing.

But who knows where that might lead? As Layton observed in the same story, "A lot of Canadians don't like to be told what to do, and so we're seeing a lot of enthusiasm on the ground."
- Alice points out how "strategic voting" sites play directly into the Cons' hands:
You would think that with all these sites ganging up on Conservative candidates, that party would be up in arms for fear of losing its shot at a majority, right?


To the contrary: they are gleeful, as evidenced by the fact that they have not said one peep about the three sites publicly since the campaign began.
If you didn't read my plea not to vote strategically in the last election, I urge you to take another look now. A vote "against" someone or something is a vote in favour of nothing. It gives no mandate to elected officials, creates all the wrong incentives for the politicians who are elected that way, and guarantees that Parliament will descend even further into the partisan barking we see there now. Indeed the perverse problems with the methodology itself have led respected website Democratic Space author Greg Morrow to stop publishing his "strategic voting guide" from previous elections.

In this election, read the platforms, watch the debates, take a measure of the leaders and the candidates, and vote your heart. If everyone did that, who knows what we might come up with together.
- Environmental Defence catalogues where Canada's federal parties stand on key environmental issues. Predictably, the answer from the Cons is "nowhere in sight".

- Douglas Bell suggests that the Libs may want to start making an election issue out of the treatment of G20 protesters. But I have to wonder whether anybody would be fooled by their suddenly raising the topic at the end of an election campaign when they've been perfectly happy to ignore it until now.

- Finally, Hugh Mackenzie highlights why there's no such thing as a tax cut which primarily helps the middle class - and notes what's really afoot when political parties pretend to offer that impossibility:
(T)ax cuts are presented as if they are some kind of magic key that benefits everyone equally. So in the current election campaign, the Conservatives are running on their tax cut platform as if it benefits everyone in the same way, when in fact the cuts are very tightly targeted to people who have enough disposable income to double their savings in their tax free savings accounts, or who have children in arts programs, or who are in a couple with one very high income earner and one very low (or no) income earner and when by far the biggest tax cut goes to corporations in the financial services and energy industries.

In the same vein, in the early 2000s, a smattering (of) broadly-based personal tax cuts masked a massive cut in corporate tax rates and a huge cut in capital gains taxes that stands as the single most regressive tax change in Canadian history.

Equally important, talking up tax cuts without coming clean about their impact on public services is profoundly dishonest. Every cut in public fiscal capacity results in cuts to public services that we depend on – services that a study by the CCPA estimated in 2006 were worth an average of $16,000 to every Canadian woman, man and child. To illustrate the point, that study found that if the Harper government had turned the money raised by 2 percentage points of the GST over to local governments to spend on local services instead of cutting the GST, 80% of Canadians would have been better off.

What that means is that, when you take into account what happens to public services as a result of tax cuts, there really isn’t such a thing as a middle-income friendly tax cut.

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