Saturday, October 24, 2020

Saturday #skvotes Links

 A roundup of news from Saskatchewan's provincial election as the last day of advance polling begins.

- Crystal Palmer writes about her observations and experiences losing someone close to her to an utterly broken addictions and mental health system. And Gillian Massie highlights the how the Saskatchewan Party's excuse for a suicide reduction plan - consistent with its pattern for most social policies - is designed to do the bare minimum for the sake of appearances rather than meaningfully improving outcomes. 

- Murray Mandryk sets out a few of the questions which haven't been fully answered over the course of the campaign - though it's telling that the list largely involves areas where the NDP has offered well-thought-out solutions while the Sask Party has avoided providing straight answers. 

- Safe Schools Saskatchewan publishes a letter from a new teacher frustrated with the appalling state of the province's education system. 

- PressProgress points out which Sask Party candidates bring anti-choice baggage to the election - with Scott Moe ranking as just the most prominent of an extensive list.

- Glenn Hicks reports on Glen Poelzer's prediction that the NDP will emerge with a substantial increase in seats - though how far that goes of course depends on people's voting choices over the next few days. 

- Finally, the Leader-Post and Star-Phoenix editorial boards advocate for voters to grab a mask and take health precautions, then go to the polls.

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Alisha Haridasani Gupta discusses how the anti-mask movement has developed from a culture of toxic masculinity. And Umair Haque points out the economic and cultural factors that have resulted in the U.S. and the UK standing out among wealthy countries in their woeful response to the coronavirus pandemic.

- Meanwhile, Rosie Collington writes that COVID-19 has provided yet another example of the dangers of relying on the private sector to provide public goods and services, as the countries which have responded directly have fared far better. And Jade Guthrie questions why food banks which were set up as temporary relief decades ago are being leaned on more and more heavily to make up for the failure of governments to ensure a minimal standard of living for citizens.

- Gillian Slade reports on the fierce pushback against the Kenney UCP's plans to shift the costs of non-urgent medication to hospital patients. But David Climenhaga worries that the UCP's gross mismanagement of so many other issues (including COVID-19) is making it difficult for the erosion of universal health care to get the attention it deserves.

- Brian Callaci discusses how management-imposed technology has made life more difficult for workers both by replacing them directly, and by putting them under constant surveillance and stress.

- Finally, Bianca Mugyenyi writes that it's long past time for Canada to reconsider a foreign policy based on the interests of U.S. capital at the expense of human rights. And Rachel Aiello reports that the Trudeau Libs are once again putting off even the most basic of services for First Nations in Canada by delaying their promise to ensure safe water supplies.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Musical interlude

 Megan Nash - Deer Head

Death by a thousand cuts

With the choice for many voters in Saskatchewan's election coming down to the question of whether the Saskatchewan Party's claim not to have cuts or fee hikes in the works can be believed, it's worth noting that it hasn't managed to live up to that standard even within the campaign itself.

Within an election period in which access to home care is a major issue, we've learned that the cost of existing care is being hiked by hundreds of dollars for seniors without money to spare. (And the closest there is to an excuse is the concept that the province is once again trying to ensure that it, rather than citizens, takes the benefit of any increase in available federal support.)

While Scott Moe has made spurious claims about future taxes, one of his cabinet ministers has opened the door to road tolling - and even Moe's initial response was to signal a willingness to discuss the idea if somebody else were to bring it up. (That's hardly reassuring given the track record of privatized tolling schemes as a corporate cash cow.)

And most damningly, in the middle of a pandemic, the provincial government seems to have decided to scrap its previous measures to ensure that homeless people can be isolated while being screened for COVID-19 - needlessly risking the health of everybody involved in providing shelter to the people who need it most. 

Needless to say, if this is what Moe's government does when it's trying to look presentable to voters, we can expect a new term in office to make the 2017 bloodbath budget look like a mere paper cut. And voters shouldn't fall for the trap of giving the benefit of the doubt to a government which continues to demonstrate its lack of interest in good governance.

[Edit: fixed typos.]

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Mariana Mazzucato offers her take as to how to set our economy onto a positive course in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. And Ed Broadbent and Brittany Andrew-Amofah discuss how to fund a full and just recovery.

- Erica Alini reports on the long-term job losses caused by COVID-19, and the need for public supports to address the needs of the affected workers. Armine Yalnizyan confirms that the pandemic has been particularly hard on women, while pointing out how child care is among the essential elements of the needed response. And Patrick Brethour notes that any surface reduction of the gender gap in wages is an illusion resulting from women being pushed out of the workforce.

- Matt Simon makes the case for the U.S. to revive the New Deal's Civilian Conservation Corps to provide needed jobs while also remediating environmental hazards which have been allowed to fester far too long. 

- Sara Hastings-Simon discusses how solar and wind power have emerged as the most effective energy sources - despite the best efforts of the fossil fuel cartel to prevent the development of cleaner alternatives. Andrew Nikiforuk writes about a new report showing liquid natural gas to be a bad bet. And Jasper Jolly reports on a new study showing that electric vehicles may be as affordable to manufacture as traditional ones as soon as 2024 - making additional publicly-funded research into oil and gas extraction look like an utter waste.

- Finally, Justin Parkinson writes about a growing push to ensure that electrical consumer goods come with repairability ratings to promote durability and reduce avoidable consumer waste.

Friday #skvotes Links

While advance voting continues to shatter Saskatchewan's previous records, there's plenty of new information for people still making their decision.

- Julia Peterson reports on Elections Saskatchewan's warning that the tens of thousands of mail-in ballots won't be counted until after election day - meaning that many results could remain up in the air for at least a few days after Monday. 

- Arthur White-Crummey offers a comparison of the track records of the most recent NDP and Saskatchewan Party governments - showing the latter relying on resource price- and debt-fuelled growth for its few advantages. And Murray Mandryk rightly recommends looking at the facts rather than partisan advertising to evaluate the competing claims.

- CTV has posted interviews with each of the party leaders, including Ryan Meili, Naomi Hunter, Scott Moe, Robert Rudachyk, Wade Sira and Ken Grey.

- CBC News examines how our climate breakdown has received far too little attention within the election campaign (particularly going beyond power generation), even as it's a regular topic of political discussion and debate.

- Zak Vescera reports that the Sask Party's failures to respond to the province's HIV crisis have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, while also pointing out how poverty feeds into its spread. And Poverty Free Saskatchewan offers its recommendations to finally eliminate poverty in the province - with a needed first step being to reverse the cutbacks and clawbacks regularly imposed by the Sask Party.

- Finally, Juliet Bushi discusses the need for the next provincial government to recognize and address systemic racism and inequality.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

On personal choices

It remains clear that the victim of Scott Moe's careless driving isn't about to give up on finding out what happened - even if the local media continues to operate under Moe's orders not to so much as ask questions.

But if Moe is avoiding questions about the crash itself, here's a simple one he should have no problem addressing when it comes to Steven Balog's search for answers. 

The information Moe has requested from the RCMP will almost certainly include what would be considered personal information about Moe. And Moe's consent - or lack thereof - figures to have a substantial impact both on how long the request takes to process, and how much will actually be released. 

So if Moe refuses to speak to Balog until it's politically convenient, is he at least prepared to consent to the release of records about the crash? And if he demurs in helping at least to that minimal extent, can anybody see his apology to the cameras as anything but a cynical ruse?

Thursday #skvotes Links

Over 40,000 voters went to the polls in the first day of advance voting. But particularly for the many people who haven't yet cast a ballot, here's the latest from Saskatchewan's election campaign.

- Laura Sciarpelletti reports on Elections Saskatchewan's warning that it's facing a shortage of poll workers - making it all the more important that people who have the ability to do so get to the polls early.

- Nicholas Frew reports on the grades provided to Saskatchewan's parties by OUTSaskatoon and Saskatoon Pride - with the NDP ranking at the top, and the Greens just behind. And the Provincial Association of Transition Housing and Services grades the NDP with an A for its plan to deal with interpersonal violence - while lamenting that no other party has bothered to respond. 

- Meanwhile, Danielle Chartier discusses the desperate need to strengthen Saskatchewan's mental health care system.

- Murray Mandryk offers somewhat of a reminder of the 2017 Sask Party budget which began their current term in office. But it's worth noting that the well-justified public backlash was based not on Mandryk's deficit-scolding, but based on the callous slashing of services - and as others have pointed out, SaskForward provided an indication of the choices involved:

- Finally, Adrienne Ivey discusses a few of the issues seen as most important to rural Saskatchewan, while pointing out how their impact is felt throughout the province.

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- The Globe and Mail's editorial board argues that the Libs should be putting their energy toward dealing with COVID-19, not setting up games of chicken over basic parliamentary accountability. And Cam Holmstrom highlights the NDP's role as the adults in the room.

- Daniele Zanotti, Safia Ahmed and Sophia Ikura discuss how to slow the spread of COVID-19 through vulnerable communities. David Salisbury writes about the dangers of relying on an immediate vaccine to control the coronavirus. Alexandra Rendely and Courtney Sas warn that we can't afford to shut down operating rooms due to a second wave. Devabhaktuni Srikrishna, Abraar Karan, David Beier and Ranu Dhillon argue that we should be ensuring that essential workers have better masks, rather than accepting the stopgaps put in place at the outset of the pandemic. And Zak Vescera reports on the growing concerns that long-term care residents will again face extended isolation due to poor policy choices.

- David Suzuki implores the federal government not to give in to fossil fuel lobbyists by weakening clean fuel standards. And Fiona Harvey reports on new research from Oxfam showing that poor countries which haven't contributed significantly to climate breakdown are incurring massive debt dealing with its consequences.

- Finally, Press Progress exposes the corporate pressure groups pushing anti-union propaganda into British Columbia workplaces. And Tara Carman reports on the effect the ban on corporate and union donations has had in ensuring parties have to engage with individual donors, rather than being able to run on institutional funding.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

On failing health

The news that Jason Kenney's UCP has approved a resolution demanding privatized health care - coupled with Kenney's refusal to reject the concept - has been rightly recognized as a dangerous development in Alberta. 

But it hasn't received much attention yet in Saskatchewan's provincial election campaign. And there's significant reason for concern that the same attack on universal health care may be coming our way as well if the Saskatchewan Party gets the chance.

That arises partly out of its determination to follow the UCP wherever it goes, no matter how destructive and irrational for Saskatchewan.

But it's also telling that Kenney's fig leaf in response to the privatization resolution wouldn't apply to Moe and the Sask Party. 

Kenney's response to the resolution has been to say that he's operating under an electoral mandate which "guaranteed universally accessible and publicly funded health care". 

Let's leave aside for the moment how little respect Kenney and his ilk normally have for the constraints of such a mandate, including in his government's well-documented attacks on health care workers. Even if one assumes that voters can feel comfortable about their health care system when a government has promised to maintain its universality, the Saskatchewan Party's platform (PDF) offers no reassurance whatsoever. 

While it cites past spending and offers a couple of extremely narrow funding promises (p. 20-21), Moe's platform offers not a word about keeping health care public or universal. Nor does it include any additional resources to help an already-strained public system.

In fact, to the extent it references the choice between public and private operations, it defends the privatized MRI system which has failed to maintain any reduction in wait times while drawing resources away from the public system.

And of course, we know from bitter experience how eager the Sask Party has been to use the aftermath of an election to impose jarring and damaging changes in the health care sector - following in Alberta's footsteps despite its own disastrous experience - based on the theory that it never promised not to do so.

The result is that while we haven't seen much direct debate about the future structure of Saskatchewan's health care system, Moe's platform seems calculated to allow for full-scale privatization. And we should be wary of the risk that Saskatchewan's patients will again serve as guinea pigs for the plans of Alberta conservatives.

Update: And while we're taking note of the UCP's erosion of universal health care, they're also also downloading treatment costs onto patients for the sake of minimal savings. And once again, nothing in the Sask Party platform commits to avoiding that type of step.

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Paula Ethans points out how anti-maskers and other COVID cranks have cynically drawn on the language of progressive protest movements to exacerbate the dangers of a deadly pandemic. And Umair Haque argues that the upcoming U.S. election may determine whether or not the country is even liveable in the years to come.

- Seth Klein discusses the challenges posed by our climate crisis - and the need to do more in response than any party in British Columbia's election plans to pursue. And Jerry Dias writes about the increasing prospects that cooperation between government, labour and management can held to foster an electric vehicle industry in Canada. 

- Angella MacEwen, Mark Rowlinson, Andrew Jackson and Katrina Miller discuss (PDF) how to develop a basic income which fits within a social democratic model.

- Chris Selley highlights how the refusal of the RCMP to protect Indigenous fisheries from arson and violence shows the conditionality and selectivity of the rule of law in Canada.

- Finally, George Monbiot writes about the UK's privatized COVID-19 testing and tracing which has resulted in massive, unexplained payments to well-connected businesses, but an utter failure to achieve the goal of preserving public health.

Wednesday #skvotes Links

Nearly 63,000 voters have applied for mail-in balloting packages, and those who haven't are being encouraged to go to advance polls over the course of this week. So with many people casting their ballots, let's take a look at the latest from Saskatchewan's provincial election campaign.

- Ashleigh Mattern reports on the message from experts that people need to take responsibility for limiting the spread of COVID-19. But with Scott Moe once again showing his disregard for the most basic of public health precautions while insisting that schools don't need to bother following standard rules, it shouldn't be surprising that barely half of the province intends to get vaccinated once the option is available - though that is a large enough group to elect a more responsible government in the meantime.

- John Quiggin discusses how renewable energy is already reaching the point of being too cheap to meter (which was once wrongly assumed to be possible with nuclear power). And David Roberts points out how geothermal energy - one of the NDP's priorities for technological development - may soon put 100% renewable energy within reach while also using putting skills acquired in the fossil fuel sector to good use.  

- Meanwhile, PressProgress reveals that while the Saskatchewan Party was pretending to be neutral and removed from the Co-op refinery lockout, it in fact offered to use provincial resources to ensure more draconian action against picketing workers. 

- [Updated to add:] CUPE examines the impact of the Sask Party's privatization of services, and finds that it results in our paying more to get less.

- Jaris Swidrovich writes about the need for full and inclusive sex education to reduce mental health and suicide risks (particularly among Indigenous youth).

- Finally, Josh Sigurdson takes note of the need for additional action to eliminate poverty in Saskatchewan. And Heidi Atter reports on the Saskatchewan Disability Income Support Coalition's recognition that people with disabilities are being left with grossly insufficient supports from the province.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

 Sprawling cats.

On dissatisfaction

It shouldn't be news that far too many Saskatchewanians are facing precarious financial situations. But the latest report showing a majority of people on the brink of insolvency is worth considering in the context of the ballot question as to whether to be satisfied with the Sask Party:

Faced with questions about how people are struggling, Scott Moe's constant response has been to point to a relatively low unemployment rate. 

But if access to jobs isn't the problem, that only means that nearly half of Saskatchewan workers have jobs and yet are still barely able to pay their bills. And Moe is counting those as successes

Needless to say, if people are struggling to stay afloat even while employed, that represents an indictment of Moe's anti-worker policies, not reason to leave him in charge.

Moreover, there's added reason to worry based on the reality that Saskatchewan has been hit especially hard by COVID-19 under Moe's government - as a second wave is beginning to crest, making the danger of financial ruin all the more imminent for people whose jobs are in danger as federal supports are taken away.

Simply put, there's no reason to be satisfied - or even accepting - of a Sask Party economy which has been set up to keep workers from achieving any security. And voters will do well to elect better.

[Edit: updated wording.]

On negative contributions

I've previously noted how the Saskatchewan Party's platform diverts money to the people who need it least. But it's worth taking a closer look to see exactly how little Scott Moe is willing to put into even his supposed priorities when one examines how much of the Sask Party's plan consists of federal funds.

In 2017, the federal and provincial governments reached an agreement on funding for home/community care and mental health and addictions services, including the following chart of estimated federal funding in those areas:

So how does that compare to the Sask Party's budget and platform? 

On paper, its largest planned investment in any social program is $18.4 million annually starting in 2021 for home care and long term care aides. But keen-eyed observers will note that their campaign promise is less than what the federal government has already promised to contribute to the cause.

And mental health and addictions offer an even more stark picture. 

The costed items in the Saskatchewan Party's platform include a grand total of zero in new investment. And its attempt to take credit for past actions again includes less in funding for services than the amount provided by the federal government: barely $11 million in new funding for 2020-2021, and the continuation of under $4 million aimed at mental health supports in Northern Saskatchewan in particular.

The description of past actions tries to gloss over those failures by claiming capital and other expenses as mental health funding - including the new North Battleford hospital, which is hardly anything to be bragging about.

In sum, when it comes to actually providing services, Scott Moe is trying to claim credit for passing along less than the province is receiving from the federal government. And that dishonesty about who's paying for systems which are already failing in advance of an election offers nothing but reason for concern about what will happen if Moe stays in power.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Michael Orsini challenges the use of "resilience" as an excuse to neglect government choices and make individuals responsible for social failings:

The resilience industry is rooted in an individual model of change, one that leaves untouched the structures and systems that are responsible for the trauma in the first place. Children growing up in under-served communities would not have to “overcome” their environments if their schools and neighbourhoods had the resources they deserved. Indigenous people would not need to become resilient in the face of colonial dispossession had they not been forced into residential schools or had their land occupied. As disability studies scholar Eli Clare reminds us, the language of “overcoming” is deeply ableist, as well, implying that people can will things away if they just work more or try harder.


Resilience is even used to refer to structures that can withstand environmental catastrophe. Focusing on buildings that are tough enough to recover from weather-related calamities neatly sidesteps the real issue: climate change. Sustainable buildings are only as “sustainable” as the world in which they find themselves: a resilient building is no match for a world upended by the perils of climate change. Similarly, a resilient person is powerless in the face of structures that need to be dismantled, not reinforced.

It’s not surprising that many, including elected officials, take solace in narratives of resilience and recovery. They lift us out of the pit of despondency. But we need to collectively challenge some of these policy responses that are grounded in notions of resilience. These feel-good stories of “building back better” or “overcoming adversity” provide only temporary comfort. They mask problematic assumptions about the relative capacity of individuals to confront structures and conditions that are not of their own making.

 And it's worth offering a reminder in that context of the Saskatchewan Party's attempt to get around meaningful action to combat a climate breakdown.

- Emily Peck examines how the security of paid sick leave reduces the spread of the coronavirus. And Martin Regg Cohn writes about COVID-19's disproportionate impact on the homeless and powerless.

- Meanwhile, Trish Greenhalgh, Martin McKee and Michelle Kelly-Irving examine the funding behind COVID-19 disinformation.

- Finally, Nicolas Rivero discusses how the heat generated by data centres can be put to good use - rather than being countered by wasteful cooling systems. But Nat Herz reports that the oil sector instead wants to use large amounts of energy trying to cool thawing permafrost just long enough to allow for fossil fuel extraction.

Monday, October 19, 2020

On balancing acts

I've previously made note of the problems with media coverage of Saskatchewan's provincial election, including its consistently echoing and amplifying false Saskatchewan Party talking points about budgeting. But let's take a closer look at what the parties have promised on their face - and how irresponsible the Saskatchewan Party's position actually is. 

To start with, anybody who bothers to read the NDP's platform (PDF) rather than assuming that Saskatchewan Party propaganda must be taken at face value will find this (emphasis added):

We’re concerned about the provincial deficit, but we’re we’re also worried about the deficits in our schools, our hospitals and the bank accounts of ordinary Saskatchewan families. Going forward, we will work with an expert panel to plan our path back to balanced budgets, including setting targets for net debt-to-GDP ratio and a focus on the investments that will deliver the most growth and the greatest long-term savings.

So even for the most blinkered deficit scold, it's false to say the NDP hasn't accounted for a path back toward balanced budgets. What it has done is to say that it will chart that path based on a responsible analysis, informed by experts, as to when and how to get there.

Needless to say, this is in stark contrast to the Saskatchewan Party's choice to set a date without a plan, paired with conflicting promises:

The Saskatchewan Party has a plan to balance the budget by 2024, and that plan is on track. Balance will be achieved through a strong economic recovery and a growing economy, without tax increases or reductions in programs and services.

In other words, the Saskatchewan Party's supposed fiscal discipline literally consists of nothing but a magic asterisk. 

If the bare hope of a spontaneous recovery (unsupported by any intelligent governance) doesn't pan out such that it's impossible to balance the budget on an arbitrary timeline without cutting services or raising taxes, Moe refuses to say which of his promises he'll break. 

And unlike the NDP, the Saskatchewan Party doesn't have any interest in putting in the work to seek out expert advice as to how provincial budgets are best managed. Which raises every reason for concern that they'll once again follow their historical pattern of cutting twice, then measuring once. 

The question of how to prioritize and reach a balanced budget thus represents just one more area where Moe is trying to use bluster to shut down any possibility of reasonable policymaking. And voters who don't see through the ruse are all too likely to end up on the wrong end of grinding austerity when the confidence game falls apart.

On opportunism

When Scott Moe first heard about the coronavirus, he smelled opportunity. And that can take many forms.

No, Moe didn't call the spring election that he initially planned. But he did take the opportunity to prevent Elections Saskatchewan from pursuing a modernized voting process or a full mail-in balloting system for the election date set for this fall.

And here's part of the fallout from that opportunism:

In-person advance and election day polls cannot be held safely within Peter Ballantyne First Nation communities due to a COVID-19 outbreak, says Elections Saskatchewan.


Extraordinary voting will be offered to residents of these communities, but residents must apply within the next two days.

“This will be your only opportunity to get a ballot,” Elections Saskatchewan said in a statement.


Residents — members and non-members — of Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation communities must call Elections Saskatchewan at 1 (866) 351-0040 before Oct. 20 at 5 p.m. to apply for extraordinary voting.

And who's affected in particular? 

Well, the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation has about 5,700 members, including ones in the communities of Southend, Deschambault Lake, Pelican Narrows, Sandy Bay, Amisk Lake, Sturgeon Landing and Kinoosao who will be prevented from voting normally. And the 2016 results (PDF) show those communities supporting NDP incumbent Doyle Vermette (see p. 86-89) - with the combination of advance polls and regular polls providing a margin of over 500 votes in a constituency won by about 1,700 total.

In other words, the direct result of Moe's cynical and callous view of COVID-19 is the risk of disenfranchisement of thousands of voters - and potentially an electoral advantage for Moe's party. 

Hopefully it will be possible to get voters registered in time to avoid any disruption. But having seen what flows from Moe's view of the opportunity raised by a pandemic, Saskatchewan's voters should respond by taking their own opportunity to elect a better government.

Monday Morning Links

Assorted content to start your week.

- Agustin Carstens discusses the need for our recovery from the coronavirus pandemic to include meaningful planning for the economy to come, not only an attempt to shovel money at existing businesses regardless of their future prospects. And Chris Giles writes that this may be the week the austerity was officially dead and buried - though of course Saskatchewan may need to send that message to Scott Moe. 

- Meanwhile, Jeremy Appel discusses Jason Kenney's all-out assault on Alberta's working class in an effort to ensure that whatever comes next benefits only his donors rather than the province he governs.

- Michael Warner writes about the need to focus on vulnerable communities in order to limit the second wave of COVID-19. And Eli Cahan points out that home care aides are among the workers who frequently can't afford to refuse or avoid work which puts them (and everybody around them) at risk.

- But as a reminder that no amount of privilege will necessarily overcome wilful ignorance, the Canadian Press reports on Erin O'Toole's gobsmackingly-uninformed claim that his having contracted COVID-19 makes him immune from either transmitting or receiving it. 

- Finally, Tiffany Gooch discusses the need to recognize the torching of Mi'kmaw lobster fishing facilities as an act of terror.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

On national efforts

I've previously made my pitch as to why progressive people across Canada should pitch in to help support the Saskatchewan NDP's cause in this month's provincial election. But I'll highlight The Regina Mom's push to support a strong group of female candidates in particular:

We’re the Wild West of campaign financing. And the women running as candidates for the Saskatchewan New Democrats need support from Canadians everywhere if there’s any hope of ever defeating the SaskParty! Anyone living in Canada, any Canadian living abroad, and any corporation in Canada can donate to a Saskatchewan political party. So bring it, Canada, we need it. 


Saskatchewan will head to the polls on October 26. NDP leader, Dr. Ryan Meili, has gathered an incredible team of talent. Almost half the candidates around him are women and all candidates are committed to a progressive people first platform that includes pay equity legislation, a $15 minimum wage, $25/day childcare, and the return of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC).


This is a crucial election in Saskatchewan, one with great potential. We know that women’s voices need to be heard. We in Saskatchewan know that by working together, we can make a better world. 

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Erica Alini reports on Canada's K-shaped recovery on metrics including employment, debt and housing. And Bill Curry reports on polling showing that two-thirds of Canadians recognize the need to borrow money to keep people afloat through the coronavirus pandemic, rather than rushing into gratuitous austerity.  

- Meanwhile, Jon Roozenbeek, Claudia R. Schneider, Sarah Dryhurst, John Kerr, Alexandra Freeman, Gabriel Recchia, Anne Marthe van der Bles and Sander van der Linden study how susceptibility to misinformation is one of the main drivers of anti-mask sentiment and other behaviour which creates needless risks to public health.

- Bill Curry and Chris Hanay report on the millions of dollars in termination pay distributed by the Canada Infrastructure Bank as it's manifestly failed to meet its intended purposes. 

- Enrique Dans examines how solar power has moved to the front of the line as an affordable and effect option for energy production. And Susan O'Donnell rightly questions why the federal government is pouring money into the development of new nuclear reactors when renewable technology has long since overtaken nuclear.

- Tiffany Duong reports on new research documenting the damage air pollution does to young brains.

- Finally, Luke Savage discusses how establishment Democrats are ill-suited to meet the needs of the U.S. even if they're able to win power in this fall's elections. And Umair Haque writes that U.S. voters will be deciding not only whether to re-elect Donald Trump, but whether they'll have any future to speak of as a developed country.

On coverage failures

As noted a couple of days back, let's take a look at how Saskatchewan's provincial election is being covered by local media - and how people responsible for holding the government to account are instead going far our of their way to serve it, leaving important stories to be dealt with by the national media if they're going to be noticed at all.

The most striking example is of course the car crash in which Scott Moe caused one fatality and one injury. 

I've pointed out recently how Moe's driving record was never sufficiently covered. But what's happened during the election period has been even more appalling.

First, PressProgress was able to track down documentation from another incident where Moe caused an accident, this time after drinking and driving. Moe's response was to hold a single press conference, declare that he'd consider speaking to the family he destroyed once it was politically convenient, and demand that the media stop asking him questions.

And the local media has fully complied. 

This despite the fact that it was immediately after that the passenger involved in Moe's fatal crash - whose mother was the person who died - started speaking up and demanding answers. He was able to secure an opportunity to speak on national TV with Evan Solomon - explaining what he wasn't told about the collision, what questions he has about the circumstances, and how Moe has continued to fail to reach out.

But even with important new details about the story emerging - and with the person most affected by Moe's poor judgment positively begging for answers - the local media has kept up its blackout at Moe's request.

That said, let's not assume Moe actually has to ask for unhelpful messages to be suppressed.

This past week, the Canadian Press' Stephanie Taylor reported on the extreme intimidation campaign against Canora-Pelly NDP candidate Stacey Strykowski - including personally threatening notes, vandalism, and gunshots fired at her campaign office. (Notably, even that report didn't include any comment from Moe or anybody associated with the Saskatchewan Party.)

But rather than recognizing that as grossly unacceptable conduct to be called out, apparently the ol' boys' club has decided that anybody campaigning in orange is asking for it. And so there's been no local followup, whether in terms of reporting or commentary - even as mainstream punditry has regularly included tone policing about far less serious issues, including the gleeful silencing of one pseudonymous website after it had the temerity to suggest the Sask Party might be able to consider alternatives to Moe. 

Meanwhile, Moe's performance during the debate included an absolutely stunning bit of historical revisionism claiming that there was some problem with past NDP governments failing to balance budgets. Yet even after that was debunked by another national media figure in David Akin, the local media has almost universally accepted the talking point about responsibility in budgeting as true - or at least not to be challenged. 

And as the coup de grace, Canada's least-reputable pseudo-media outlet showed up on the scene to harass Ryan Meili - only to be told in a stunning self-own that its plan to spout Saskatchewan Party talking points (regardless of their accuracy or lack thereof) only duplicates what's already being done.

Needless to say, a governing party could hardly ask for a better servant than a local media which allows it to dictate content, takes pride in echoing government messaging no matter how inaccurate, and buries any criticism in a thick layer of "but nothing is going to change".

But if anybody is open to recognizing that journalism should involve comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable rather than the opposite way around, there's still some time to reflect that in covering the election.

Update: Let's note that there is one media figure (in the destructive entertainment realm rather than the journalism department) talking about Moe's vehicular fatality - but only for the purpose of stomping on the victim to benefit Moe politically.

Sunday #skvotes Links

The latest from Saskatchewan's provincial election campaign.

- PressProgress traces nearly half of the Saskatchewan Party's donations (which are of course the driving force behind its nonstop ad blitz) back to deep-pocketed corporate donors under the lax electoral financing rules they've refused to change.

- The Canadian Press reports on Scott Moe's remarkable opposition to Joe Biden (and apparent lack of any qualms about four more years of Donald Trump's fascism, corruption and human rights abuses as long as they're accompanied by slightly better conditions for pipeline construction).

- Michael Bramadat-Willcock writes about the important discussion of Indigenous suicide - including Tristen Durocher's rightly-skeptical response to the Sask Party's hostility in the face of his walk to push for action. And Jason Warick points out how the historical dehumanization and disenfranchisement of Indigenous people continues to reverberate through their view of elections today.

- CBC News reports on the efforts of student groups to hold a debate for young voters - and their disappointment in Moe's refusal to bother showing up.

- Finally, Ben Alexander discusses the frustration and resignation of students returning to schools which haven't been adequately prepared for a pandemic. And while his age cohort may fall just short of being able to vote for change, there's ample reason to react with determination rather than resignation.