Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thursday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your day.

- Leftdog points out that the Wall government's regressive ideology is doing exactly what it usually does - resulting in workers losing ground as a result of stagnant wages and skyrocketing costs even as billions of dollars get funnelled to big business in the name of "growth".

- Meanwhile, Stephen Harper makes it abundantly clear that he'll happily pollute anything that doesn't fight back if it makes a few more corporate bucks.

- Macleans comments on the utter pointlessness of the Cons' dumb-on-crime approach:
The obvious result of these new rules will be to create a flood of Canadians into the prison system—many first-time offenders. If there was evidence that filling prisons with minor criminals was a successful method for fighting crime, then this scenario might make some sense. But such an approach clearly hasn’t worked in the United States, despite decades of effort. In fact, many states are now emptying their jails for budgetary reasons.

It is also worth noting that as a political device, the tough-on-crime omnibus bill is starting to look a bit long in the tooth. Recall that in 2008, the then-minority government of Stephen Harper packaged five separate crime bills into its Tackling Violent Crime Act and rammed it through Parliament as a confidence issue. Now, after three years of evidence that the violent crime rate is falling precipitously—and with cops in many cities forced to spend their shifts running speed traps and busting pot-smoking mothers—the government is simply repeating itself for reasons of political expediency.

Serious crime requires a serious response—there is no debate there. But we also need to remember that the iconic statue of justice holds a scale in her hand for a reason: justice requires balance.
- Finally, in commenting on Le Bon Jack, Michael Valpy writes about what Canada's election results really mean:
When polls from the past federal election are closely analyzed, what shows up is that Mr. Harper’s Conservatives were elected by a lot of old people — people over the age of 45 whose electoral participation rate is between 60 and 80 per cent, climbing higher as they climb to meet their Maker. People under the age of 45 were powerfully anti-Conservative but at best only about 40 per cent of them voted. And if they had voted in the same proportion as the over-45s, there would not have been a Conservative majority; there probably wouldn’t have been a Conservative minority. What likely we might have got is an NDP-led coalition.

So then let’s suppose that half, at least half, of the electorate are powerfully opposed to Mr. Harper’s neo-liberalism, which is what the polls suggest. Let’s suppose they’re more in tune with Canada’s historic Red Toryism, the political culture that led to, in the words of philosopher George Grant (Michael Ignatieff’s uncle, although Mr. Ignatieff didn’t like his thinking) “a country which had a strong sense of the common good … that was possible under the individualism of the capitalist dream.” We certainly know this is the case in Quebec. We certainly know that younger Canadians, and even a significant chunk of older Canadians, have a strong sense of the common good and don’t like the contemporary conservative ideology of the individual.

Without Mr. Layton — without Jack, le bon Jack — it does not mean Canadians opposed to Mr. Harper’s neo-liberalism are simply going to go elsewhere or become less engaged with their democracy. It doesn’t mean Quebeckers are going to abandon their fling with the NDP.
Mr. Layton can accurately be seen as the catalyst, not the seducer, both of Quebec’s re-engagement with the country and of a debate within the whole country about its political values.

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