Saturday, August 15, 2015

On veto points

I'll follow up on this post by once again discussing another area where individuals' past comments are being treated as a basis for general exclusion. And the subject is particularly sensitive the midst of an election campaign - particularly in light of the issue where it's surfacing.

As in the case of judicial appointments, the starting point should be that past comments offer a reasonable basis for rejecting political candidates only if they meaningfully signal some general unsuitability for their anticipated future role (in this case representing constituents as a party's MP), not merely because they differ from one's preferred opinion. And in the political sphere, the assessment of candidates should take place first at the riding level through the nomination process, then through an election itself as the best means of assessing whether a candidate's views actually affect voter support.

Of course, party leaders have the ability to signal their own views about potential and actual candidates, and also have the statutory authority to exercise a veto. But the existence of that power doesn't mean it should be exercised as a matter of course.

Instead, I'd argue that leaders should do so only in the most extreme cases - a standard which doesn't apply to candidates such as Morgan Wheeldon and Jerry Natanine. And while the NDP may have concluded it's best off for now letting leaders' approval cut in all directions and playing it "safe" by jettisoning interested candidates at the first hint of potential controversy, there's a serious problem with the message that sends to its own supporters and activists.

That said, the longer-term fix should be to remove the systemic factors which both incentivize and permit the rejection of candidates on a standard of perceived inconvenience rather than genuine unsuitability. And on those fronts, the NDP is easily the best bet among the parties who have a prospect of exercising power - though there's room for it to do more.

For the moment, the promise of a system of proportional representation offers two related benefits to deal with similar problems in the future. Parties will have more of an incentive to appeal to principled candidates and voters, rather than seeing their future in votes by default in a winner-take-all system. And if one party is too quick to silence particular viewpoints, it will be far easier to develop a viable competing party willing to represent the points of view which are otherwise being limited.

That said, the leader's veto might remain a significant structural issue even under an MMP system.

Yes, a watered-down version of the Reform Act eventually managed to pass - but it leaves the decision as to who gets to approve nomination papers in the hands of the party. In contrast, the first-reading version provided for a nomination officer to deal with candidate approval at the local level.

Given that the Libs have already shown their hand on democratic reform and the Cons don't have any particular interest in it, there's an obvious opening for the NDP to promise to rein in the statutory power parties hold over the nomination process. And if Tom Mulcair recognizes that opportunity, then this may be the last election where undue top-down control over candidate selection remains a problem.

On opinion evidence

There's plenty of reason for concern about some of the views put forward by the Cons' latest Supreme Court appointment. But keeping those concerns in mind, I'll argue that we should be careful about putting too much emphasis on Justice Russell Brown's past blog posts, rather than the more important question of his present suitability for the Supreme Court (and the process by which it was assessed).

Let's start by asking the question: how many people with enough legal experience to be considered for any judicial appointment reach that point without forming opinions on matters of politics and law?

The answer would seem to be obvious: any potential appointee will have opinions, whether expressed publicly or not. And the Cons have gone out of their way to select for ideology in making their judicial appointments. 

The difference in a case like Justice Brown's is then merely that some of his opinions are a matter of public record. But I have a hard time seeing how we should be more concerned with somebody who has written what Justice Brown did, as opposed to a similar candidate who held the same opinions while limiting their transmission to a closed group of friends and the Cons' vetters. (If anything, Justice Brown's previous openness at least gives parties arguing before the Supreme Court some idea as to the specific issues where recusal might be appropriate.)

Meanwhile, one would also expect an individual's application of personal opinion to vary with context.

As a law professor, Justice Brown had a reason to share views which might be relevant to his areas of teaching. And while the merits of his opinions and associations and their impact on his decision-making are surely worth discussing, they don't rule out the expectation that he'd decide matters fairly when faced with the limitations and obligations that come with a judicial appointment.

In Justice Brown's case, we do have a track record as to how he's made decisions in that capacity. And that's where I'd think scrutiny is more appropriate.

The most prominent example of Justice Brown's views coming into conflict with one of his colleagues is this decision, where he wrote for a 2-1 majority that a previous decision should not be reconsidered and took a fairly strong stance on the nature and application of stare decisis in the process. While that view may not be shared by all, one can't read it as suggesting a failure or refusal to consider issues judicially. And indeed to the extent it's applied consistently, it should shield precedents of all kinds from question - though of course that may make for a point worth watching.

Other cases where Justice Brown's view differed from at least one of his colleagues include this one, where he concluded for the majority that a trial judge unfairly interfered in a criminal trial by intervening on behalf of the complainant; this one, where he wrote for the majority in concluded that a trial judge improperly excluded evidence and misapplied the test in evaluating an "unsavoury" witness; and these two, where he concurred in higher sentences than those seen as appropriate by a dissenting judge. One can view them as reflecting a "tough on crime" approach to the facts of particular cases, but hardly as lying outside the realm of reasonable outcomes.

Of course, Justice Brown's track record was never subject to any scrutiny before Harper's unilateral announcement, which was both made without engaging in the Parliamentary approval process he once applied, and timed to avoid allowing the government elected by Canadians this fall to carry out its own evaluation. And those factors raise significant questions about the Cons' motives and actions in the appointment process.

But we should be careful not to treat Justice Brown's blog posts as the problem with Harper's choice - lest we resign ourselves to being judged (and indeed governed) only by those who have never cared enough about issues of public concern to comment on them.

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Stephen Marche discusses the Cons' ongoing efforts to make Canada a more closed and ignorant country:
Mr. Harper’s campaign for re-election has so far been utterly consistent with the personality trait that has defined his tenure as prime minister: his peculiar hatred for sharing information.

Americans have traditionally looked to Canada as a liberal haven, with gun control, universal health care and good public education.

But the nine and half years of Mr. Harper’s tenure have seen the slow-motion erosion of that reputation for open, responsible government. His stance has been a know-nothing conservatism, applied broadly and effectively. He has consistently limited the capacity of the public to understand what its government is doing, cloaking himself and his Conservative Party in an entitled secrecy, and the country in ignorance.

His active promotion of ignorance extends into the functions of government itself. Most shockingly, he ended the mandatory long-form census, a decision protested by nearly 500 organizations in Canada, including the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Catholic Council of Bishops. In the age of information, he has stripped Canada of its capacity to gather information about itself. The Harper years have seen a subtle darkening of Canadian life.

The darkness has resulted, organically, in one of the most scandal-plagued administrations in Canadian history.
- Jeremy Nuttall writes that the experience of reporting on the Harper Cons' actions bears a striking resemblance to the life of state-controlled media in China. And the Vancouver Sun interviews Gus Van Harten about Harper's efforts to hand power to Chinese businesses at the expense of Canadian citizens and governments.

- Brian Milner and Jeff Lewis are the latest writers to compare Norway's success in preserving its resource wealth to Alberta's minimal reserves.

- Glen McGregor reports that the Cons' Unfair Elections Act - which of course was rammed through Parliament with insufficient review because of the urgency of putting rules in place for this fall's election - was designed to ensure that voters can't trace the source of robocalls until after this fall's election.

- The CP reports that the Cons are looking to resurrect the concept of participating in Star Wars missile defence based on their own efforts to scare the Canadian public. And Amanda Connolly points out just another example of a Con MP - in this case John Williamson - callously using a dead Canadian soldier as a political prop.

- Finally, Robyn Benson examines the status of women in Canada, while highlighting the need to elect a government which isn't out to undermine it. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Musical interlude

Emancipator - Lionheart

On points of agreement

Let's see if we can turn Stephen Harper's otherwise laughable spin on his PMO's widespread cover-up into a couple of points we can all agree on.

First, the ultimate responsibility for lies and cover-ups lies with superiors rather than subordinates - in Harper's own words words attributed to Harper (see update below):
Second, exactly one person fits bears that responsibility when it comes to the unethical actions of the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff and central advisors.

And there are plenty of Conservatives ready to shout down anybody who tries to suggest otherwise.

Update: As Alison notes here, the quote attributed to Harper above originated elsewhere. So for a less well-written variation of the same theme, let's go with this:
(I)t was Mr. Martin's decision to turn a blind eye to it all when he was minister of finance.

Do Canadians really believe that the No. 2 man in a government now under a cloud of corruption, is the person to clean up that mess today?
And do you really believe that the Liberals will ultimately prosecute themselves and hold their own to account?

I don't believe that. I don't think you believe that.

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Althia Raj, Karl Nerenberg, Tim Harper, Jennifer Ditchburn and Kristy Kirkup, Lee Berthiaume and Jason Fekete, PressProgress and CTV News all point out some of the more noteworthy aspects of Nigel Wright's testimony in Mike Duffy's trial (along with the large amount of material brought to light as a result). Frank Koller observes that we should be insulted by Wright's belief that full cover-ups can be bought, while Sandy Garossino highlights how quickly Wright's talking points fell apart once they were subject to meaningful scrutiny. The Star, the Globe and Mail, the Ottawa Citizen and all see the inside look Wright and the rest of Harper's PMO as signalling a dishonest and corrupt government. And the At Issue review of yesterday's events is well worth a view:

- Ben Casselman takes a look at how much less we know about Canada due to the Cons' destruction of the census.

- Tom Sandborn argues that among the many other reasons to be wary of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it would make Canada complicit in large-scale human rights abuses.

- CBC reports on CMHC's assessment of Canada's high-risk housing markets. And both Seth Klein and Michal Rozworski note that the Cons' attempt to artificially prop up prices only figures to make matters worse without improving access to housing.

- Finally, Jeremy Nuttall offers a primer on the NDP's $15 minimum wage proposal. Robert Solow discusses why wages haven't kept up with profits or productivity. And Kevin Drum calls out corporate apologists who complain about labour shortages while refusing to pay employees enough to want to work for them.

Asked and answered

The problem with basing a party's rhetoric on theories which can be directly and obviously disproven by events beyond their control is that events happen.

With that in mind, over to you, people whinging about the candidates for Finance Minister under an NDP government:

The NDP Leader also announced that Toronto resident and former Saskatchewan Finance Minister, Andrew Thomson, will run for the Party against Conservative Finance Minister, Joe Oliver.

“Andrew has the experience and strong fiscal record that Canada needs to get the economy on track and create greater opportunity for the middle class. I am very pleased to welcome him to our team," said Mulcair.

Thomson served as Finance Minister in the Saskatchewan government throughout 2006 and 2007. Under Thomson’s leadership, the province posted a balanced budget, a significant budget surplus and strong economic growth.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

On progressive evaluations

I'll give Emmett Macfarlane the benefit of the doubt in having missed one of the NDP's key promises while assessing the Libs' attempt to mimic Kathleen Wynne's campaigning on the title of "progressive" in the absence of any intention to follow up while on power. But leaving aside the utter lack of credibility of Justin Trudeau's role model, let's remember what the NDP has proposed as a means of both reining in corporate benefits and reducing child poverty - which receives absolutely no mention in Macfarlane's assessment of either:
(A)n NDP government will close the tax loophole currently enjoyed by CEOs on stock options. Those funds would be re-directed to low-income families through an enhanced Working Income Tax Benefit and an enhanced National Child Benefit Supplement.

“This will be a dollar-for-dollar transfer in benefits from those who need it the least – to those who need it the most,” added NDP Leader Tom Mulcair. “Helping families out of poverty and into the middle class is good for our social fabric, as well as supporting a vibrant economy – and that’s good for Canada.”

This move will be a meaningful step towards reducing income inequality in Canada and will contribute towards getting families and children out of poverty and into the middle class.
So to anybody else purporting to compare the NDP and Lib plans when it comes to progressive taxes on the wealthy and fighting child poverty: if you're failing to take into account a billion-dollar idea aimed squarely at both, you're missing the boat.

[Edit: fixed typo.]

New column day

Here, expanding on this post as to how we should be criticizing the politicians who are wilfully misleading the public about the future of Canada's oil industry - and not the ones who are willing to keep living in reality once a campaign is on.

And if Stephen Harper comes out of hiding today, it might offer a particularly opportune time to explain why he's in agreement with the "decarbonisation of the global economy", along with what his government plans to do to achieve that goal. 

For further reading...
- Again, Justin Trudeau's comment on the need to get beyond the oil sands is found in Macleans' debate transcript. The G7's declaration on the need to decarbonise is here (PDF). And Mark Carney's acknowledgment of the need to keep substantial oil reserves in the ground is reported on here.
- Linda McQuaig's original point to the same effect was discussed here. Brent Patterson discusses Nature's findings as to how many of the oil sands can viably be exploited here. And Bob Weber reports here on the inevitability of some resources staying in the ground.
- Martin Lukacs reports on the Cons' secret lobbying for the oil sands, signalling that we're in fact stuck with a government which is spending our money distorting markets in favour of its oil backers. 
- Finally, plenty of others have weighed in on the absurdity of the attacks on McQuaig, including Seth Klein, Barret Weber, and Michael Laxer. And Michal Rozworski points out what the attacks say about who's really being served by the Cons' and Libs' economic policies.

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Vanessa Houlder reports on the OECD's call for countries to make far more of an effort to ensure tax compliance among their wealthiest individuals.

- Scott Gilmore discovers the abusiveness of the payday loan industry by accident due to a lender's confusion between him and an actual borrower:
Regulations vary. Manitoba limits prices at $17 for every $100 borrowed. In Ontario it is $21. It sounds reasonable, but that is an annual percentage rate of over 540%, twice the traditional vig charged by loan sharks. Stan Keyes, the former federal cabinet minister and now the president of the Canadian Payday Loan Association, argues that it is unfair to calculate the interest rate this way, since the loans are typically for only two weeks. However, he concedes that many borrowers take out multiple loans over the course of the year.

It gets worse. A quarter of the loans initially default. Lenders actually want this. For an additional fee they happily extend the loan for another two weeks. Week after week, borrowers are slowly bled dry, often paying back several times more than they borrowed. What other business profits from keeping their customers down and out? Is there a more morally bankrupt industry?

The impact is immense. When people fall behind in their payments, the fees add up creating a painful financial drain for those who can least afford it. The stress this creates is immense. A recent study by St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto found a relationship between the number of payday lenders in a neighbourhoods, and premature mortality.
- Meanwhile, Thomas Walkom reminds us of Stephen Harper's efforts to undermine pensions of any kind (other than his own).

- Warren Bell lays bare the Cons' attempt to make myths overpower facts in Canada's election campaign. And Jeff Sallot writes that Canadians are rightly rejecting the Cons' steady diet of fearmongering.

- Finally, Zi-Ann Lum reports that if the Cons are pretending not to enforce a gag order on people attending their campaign events, they're certainly going out of their way to eliminate any opportunity to share their opinions by expelling anybody who dares to air them. And Tim Harper discusses how Mike Duffy's trial is showing us just how obsessed the Cons are with political calculation at the expense of competent governance.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Roderick Benns interviews Chantelle Scott about the role a basic income could play in fostering business development:
Scott says she would have preferred to have been able to take some business courses and learn more before jumping into opening a store – but she couldn’t afford to wait.

“There is pressure when you are on EI or Alberta Works, and there is fear. The programs inhibit job growth because you always know you will lose most of the support if you find a job, and if it is a bad job you are stuck,” says Scott.

She notes there is no one or no place to help someone find the “right job,” nor is there opportunity to rest after leaving a very stressful job.

“You have seven months to figure out your life and it starts immediately – but you also have six to eight weeks of no benefits, so you need to already use up your savings before anything has even begun.”

Scott says that a basic income (also called a guaranteed annual income) would help entrepreneurs survive. “A guaranteed income would allow me to pay bills, buy food and be able to pay down the start-up costs of the business, which would eventually allow me to be able to extend my hours sooner, attend more trade fairs and markets, and hire staff.”
- Richard Florida discusses the issues raised by concentrations of poverty. Kristy Hoffman writes about a new study showing how food insecurity connects with vastly higher health care costs. And Sophia Harris reports on the inability of more and more people to afford a home in Canada's major cities.

- Tim Abray points out that we should expect particularly strong negative comments in the leaders' debate (and other campaign coverage) to influence voters' choices long after they've forgotten where the messages originate. Which perhaps explains why Stephen Harper has reached levels of paranoia which are worrisome even to Tasha Kheiriddin - and why they're hastily trying to blame unspecified other people doing their bidding for their own choices.

- Meanwhile, both Murray Mandryk and the Toronto Star rightly slam Harper's cynical view of politics - Mandryk in general, and the Star on the Cons' travel ban in particular.

- Finally, Leon Thompson argues that First Nations need to get involved in federal politics in order to work toward putting our shameful colonial legacy behind us.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Cats aglow.

On cooperative options

I've previously excoriated the Libs for the connection between their refusal to talk about cooperation with other parties and their complete lack of any idea what they supposedly stand for. And nothing in the campaign to date changes that analysis.

By the same token, I'll give credit where due to Elizabeth May for being up-front about her test for support for a new government. And it's particularly noteworthy that the conditions - most notably the repeal, rather than tweaking, of C-51 - are ones which the NDP will be far better positioned to meet than any other potential governing party.

That said, I'll also point out that in her effort to blur the lines between the opposition alternatives, May distinctly rewrites some history:
Trudeau has already said he won’t form a coalition government. But May said that’s just election politics, and that math at the end of election night may be more convincing to Trudeau and Mulcair.

“He doesn’t want to be a junior player to Mulcair in the midst of an election campaign. If the roles were reversed and Trudeau was ahead in the polls, Mulcair would be saying no coalition,” she said.
The apparent theory that the senior partner in a coalition would support the possibility and the junior one would oppose it is rather hard to square with the parties' positions in 2008 and (pre-Orange Wave) 2011 - and as May's wont, serves to give Trudeau an excuse that he's done nothing to deserve. 
In fact, the parties' track record is this. The NDP is open to cooperation to replace the Cons with a better government no matter what the party standings say, while the Libs have refused to acknowledge the possibility at every turn. And between that reality and the policy conflict which seems to have arisen between the Greens and the Libs, May's declaration only serves to confirm that Canadians wanting change should ensure that the NDP is in a position to deliver it - with Green support if necessary.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- David Cay Johnston observes that the U.S.' extreme inequality goes far beyond money alone. And Jesse Myerson notes that a basic income can be supported based on principles held across the political spectrum, while making the case as to how it should be developed to serve as a counterbalance to the abuses of capitalism:
The engine fueling capitalism’s indefinite tendency to expand is mass dependence on the market to secure the means of subsistence. Because the majority of us have to work in order to afford the trappings of dignity, the market is able to impose its imperatives on all of society. Ellen Meiksins Wood articulates these drives clearly: “the compulsions of competition, profit-maximization, capital accumulation, and a relentless imperative to improve the productivity of labor so as to reduce costs in order to reduce prices.”

The way to break from this market subjugation is to guarantee material security as a human right, providing everyone with an “exit” from the job market. (Any good libertarian must concede that exit opportunity is a necessary precondition for a market to be “free.”)

While rights-based income wouldn’t stop capitalism’s advance, it would take the cinderblock off the gas pedal. It would also provide two critical tools to those trying to hit the brakes: social adjustment to the guaranteed right to a dignified life, and the provision of extra free time and cash to those motivated to defend and expand it. More patriotically, a basic income aimed at divorcing work from pay would provide the conditions for what the Declaration of Independence promises: the freedom to pursue happiness, however elusive.
- The American Heart Association discusses the social factors which stand in the way of reducing heart diseases (among other illnesses).

- Armine Yalnizyan points out that the Cons' economic track record is unimpressive even on their narrow choice of metrics and international comparators, while looking even worse from the standpoint of secure work for Canadians. And Mark Huelsman argues that the path to growth in the future involves making education readily accessible and affordable, rather than burying generations of workers under massive student debts.

- Amanda Connolly writes that travel bans like the one being peddled by the Harper Cons are standard fare for authoritarian governments, while the National Post concludes that there's no way around the fact that it has everything to do with politics rather than security. Michael Harris comments on Stephen Harper's cowardly retreat from anybody who hasn't been pre-vetted for his political convenience, while Don Lenihan writes that we shouldn't trust a government which so thoroughly distrusts the people it governs. And David Beers assembles a thorough list of the Cons' abuses of power.

- Finally, Tara Lohan points out that the U.S. is shifting more and more to renewable energy due to cost alone. But Zak Markan reports on yet another of the Cons' steps to avoid having the real costs of the oil industry paid by the people who stand to profit from it, as Shell's offshore drilling plan (approved by the Cons) allows it to leave any subsea blowout to spill oil for up to 21 days.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Crawford Kilian reviews Tom Mulcair's Strength of Conviction and describes what we can expect out of an NDP federal government as a result:
He seems likely to be a very pro-family PM, if only because his own family clearly shaped him that way. (His account of courting and marrying Catherine Pinhas is a lovely, funny slice of social history.) So expect affordable daycare to be in his first budget; but if once-housebound mums then flood into the job market, he may find unemployment rates even higher than they are now.

Also expect some help for student debt, and fresh money for post-secondary education -- issues that make Mulcair genuinely angry. An attempt at a true reconciliation with the First Nations seems certain, and we can expect a restoration of Elections Canada and a move to some kind of proportional representation for the next election.
- Meanwhile, Priya Sarin reminds us that plenty of people will lose the chance to have their votes taken into account due to the Cons' voter suppression laws.

- Murray Dobbin writes that Canadians are already getting gouged when it comes to prescription drug costs, while noting that the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other trade agreements only figure to make matters worse. And Jordan Pearson examines some of the many areas where the copyright provisions of the TPP would force Canada to rewrite its laws to serve foreign corporations rather than the public, while the Star expresses its (perhaps premature) relief that nothing is expected to be finalized before Canadians get some say at the polls.

- The Ontario Federal of Labour sets out five simple reasons to support a $15 federal minimum wage, while the Canadian Union of Postal Workers offers its backing as well. And the Workers' Action Centre confirms that the issue is one that should be dealt with federally to get the ball rolling on increases for workers under provincial jurisdiction as well.

- Finally, Paula Simons comments on the destructiveness of locking up poor people simply because they're poor. Cynthia Hess argues that we should measure our progress by how well we combat inequality and otherwise improve people's lives, not by how many new gadgets we can produce. And Jennifer Szalai discusses the roots and effects of austerity:
Austerity is often promoted as not only economically but morally necessary too — Greece, according to this argument, needs to be taught a very painful lesson, or else it’s going to continue to do silly things with other people’s money. Blyth told me that austerity policies, whatever we want to call them, turn an economic situation into ‘‘a morality tale of saints and sinners,’’ leading to punishment rather than problem-solving. Besides, he says, this morality tale gets it backward. Austerity programs have historically been enacted in reaction to a banking crisis: A government goes into debt in order to rescue the banks, and so private debt is transferred onto the public balance sheet. Public spending is slashed as a result.

Given that the poor benefit more from the kind of government spending that is cut, Blyth writes in his book, austerity ‘‘relies on the poor paying for the mistakes of the rich.’’ Greece’s people are becoming poorer: Last year, Unicef calculated that more than 40 percent of Greek children were living in poverty, a doubling from four years earlier. The conversations about Greece sound depressingly familiar, mimicking the ones we have here about the poor, the rich and who ‘‘deserves’’ what. The setting might change, but the moral stays the same: Those with less are expected to be the ones to do without.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

On fear merchants

Shorter Stephen Harper:
It's not paranoid fearmongering if somebody's really out to get you. So here's to four more years of a government who's really out to get you.

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Richard Nisbett comments on the situational determinants of behaviour which are far too often mistaken for merit or accomplishment. Libby Kane points out how increasing inequality and the predictable social segregation which follows makes it harder for the lucky few to see the deprivation that develops around them. And Peter Georgescu makes the case for the corporate elite to work on fighting inequality in its own interest.

- Meanwhile, David Kirp rightly notes that the best way to provide support to people living in poverty is to ask what they need, rather than scolding them or imposing one-size-fits-all decrees from on high. And Solomon Greene and Marjory Austin Turner observe that in housing in particular, there's a desperate need for more choices which may include a combination of direct investment in improving high-poverty neighbourhoods, and encouraging housing mobility.

- Susanna Kelley exposes the extreme measures the Cons are taking to harass journalists who dare to try to cover their campaign, including requiring searches by RCMP dogs. And Elizabeth Thompson writes that the Cons are trying to gag every single person who makes it through their process of exclusion to attend one of Stephen Harper's events.

- David Climenhaga discusses the dangers of the Cons' all-bluster, no-sense foreign policy. And Christopher Hume calls out the Cons' neglect of Canada's cities.

- Finally, John Robson offers an example of a small-C conservative who has reached the point of being unable to put up with the Harper Cons any longer. And Lana Payne describes how Stephen Harper's legacy will look to those of us who value a functional democracy.

[Edit: fixed typo, wording.]