Saturday, September 04, 2021

Saturday Evening Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Doug Cuthand highlights how we can't afford to let our guard down against the dangers of COVID-19, while Allysha Howse notes that a full-on lockdown may be approaching if Ontario (and other provinces) can't change course in a hurry. The Leader-Post and Star Phoenix editorial boards and Murray Mandryk each point out the Moe government's utter uselessness in the face of an impending wave. And Bill Chappell reports on new research showing how the U.S.' prison system caused millions of avoidable COVID cases and tens of thousands of deaths.

- Natasha Abhayawickrama counters criticisms of climate activism by noting that young people are rightly anxious over the precarious future they face, not the effort people are making to try to achieve something better. Norm Farrell discusses the absurdity of subsidizing the fossil fuels which are causing a climate breakdown. Aliya Uteuova reports on the callous "thoughts and prayers" response of oil giants to a devastating hurricane whose effects were worsened by their decades of climate deception. And the Juice offers an Honest Government Ad for carbon capture and storage:

- Adam King discusses how unionizing drives at Indigo stores offer a positive sign for labour organizing in Canada. And Gil McGowan suggests that Alberta's workers celebrate Labour Day by pushing for Jason Kenney to resign from the position he's used to trample them.

- Meanwhile, Clive Thompson writes that the opportunity to work from home during the pandemic has revealed how much there is to gain from allowing people to structure their own work spaces.

- Finally, Helen Pidd and Georgina Quach report on the UK's crumbling system of social services as immense demands have been met with zero additional resources.

Friday, September 03, 2021

Musical interlude

PVRIS - St. Patrick

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Lynn Giesbrecht talks to Alexander Wong about the Moe government's refusal to prepare for a fourth wave of COVID-19 that's been readily obvious to anybody willing to pay attention. Ed Yong writes about the efforts of long-haul COVID patients to have policymakers acknowledge their need for support and treatment. And Michela Antonelli et al. find that the benefits of vaccines include reducing the likelihood of long-duration symptoms, while David Cole and Daniel Mach make the case that mandatory vaccination is a freedom-enhancing option compared to forcing people to endure the avoidable risk of a debilitating disease. 

- Meanwhile, Armine Yalnizyan examines some of the social changes that have arisen out of the COVID and climate crises. 

- Sarah Chaney Cambon and Danny Dougherty discuss how Republican cuts to COVID benefits served only to plunge people into poverty without seeing any improvement in job growth. Leah Willingham and Jay Reeves point out that people without resources have faced the worst of Hurricane Ida due to their inability to escape emergency circumstances. And Jessica Bruno writes about the gap between the income people need to thrive in the GTA as currently structured, and the amount most residents actually bring in. 

- Jacqui Germain interviews Naomi Klein about disaster capitalism in the midst of far too many examples of its operation. And Megan Brenan reports on the continued growth in popularity of unions in the U.S. as people recognize the need for collective action to counter corporate power. 

- Chris Ensing reports that an explosion near Wheatley, Ontario may be just the start of the carnage resulting from abandoned gas wells. And Alex Bozikovic discusses how denser cities are an essential part of any plan to avert climate disaster.  

- Finally, Damian Carrington reports on new research showing that air pollution is cutting short the lives of billions of people. 

#Elxn44 Roundup

The latest from Canada's federal election campaign.

- Jim Stanford writes about the evolution of political and economic thought toward accepting deficits as a readily affordable price of supporting people through a crisis and investing in Canada's future. 

- D.T. Cochrane examines the NDP's plans to close tax loopholes, and finds plenty to be enthusiastic about. And in contrast, PressProgress highlights the complete lack of substance to the Libs' home-flipping tax. 

- Steve Morgan and Linda Silas write about the need to move from talk to action in implementing pharmacare, while Danyaal Raza points out how the Libs are instead backsliding in refusing to discuss it as a priority. 

- Joe Roberts discusses why we shouldn't get overly caught up in horse race coverage of the campaign. Darrell Bricker notes that the NDP may be in an ideal position to keep building on what's already been an impressive surge in support. And Angus Reid polls the contrast between what Canadians actually want to see as an election outcome, and what they expect. 

- Finally, Devon Rowcliffe asks whether voters will be fooled by Erin O'Toole's attempt to be a political chameleon.

[Edit: fixed typo, added link.]

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jocelyn Keehner et al. find that COVID infection is already common in highly-vaccinated health care workforces, while Berkeley Lovelace J. reports on the "mu" variant which seems to be able to evade existing immunity. Reuters reports on a study finding that one in seven children with COVID may have symptoms extended for a period of months, while Mary Van Beusekom reports on new research showing that long COVID may be a cause of severe kidney disease. 

- Zak Vescera reports on the dire state of Saskatoon emergency rooms as the fourth wave hits much of Saskatchewan, while Elis von Scheel reports on modelling suggesting Alberta may soon face 1,500 COVID hospitalizations in an already-strained health care system. And Lauren Pelley reports on the continued warnings by health care workers that public health rules are needed to slow the spread of a virus that's now out of control. 

- Laurie Adkin writes about the UCP's attempt to eliminate any function for Alberta's universities other than as sources of job skills to be exploited by employers. And Nicholas Hune-Brown points out the already-warped incentives in a post-secondary education system which relies disproportionately on high tuition paid by foreign students. 

- Finally, Justin Ling writes about the Trudeau government's failure to take any substantial steps to address the drug poisoning and overdose epidemic. Ryan McNally reports on the recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day at Saskatchewan's legislature - as well as the thousands of lives lost over just the past decade. And Jan Hoffman reports on the OxyContin settlement which is enabling the Sackler family to shelter billions of dollars acquired through the cultivation of human suffering in offshore trusts. 

#Elxn44 Roundup

News and notes from Canada's federal election campaign.

- Doug Nesbitt calls out Erin O'Toole's bait-and-switch scheme toward the working class. And PressProgress highlights how the Cons' policy planks for gig workers were actually written by Uber lobbyists to entrench permanent underclass status in law. 

- Meanwhile, D.T. Cochrane examines the Libs' platform from the standpoint of tax fairness and finds that it conspicuously avoids going far in that direction. And Paul Wells notes that incompleteness and incoherence are the main messages to be found in the platform of the party which controlled the timing of the election. 

- David Moscrop writes that the only meaningful answer to a worsening housing crisis is to build large numbers of non-market homes. 

- Bernie Farber argues that hate crimes should be an important issue for voters. But in case anybody was under the illusion that greater police authority is an answer, Stewart Bell reports on a newly-released intelligence report showing that extremist groups are actively recruiting members of Canada's military and police forces. 

- David Coletto offers up Abacus' polling on the "ownership" of issues - finding both a variety of top issues for voters, and plenty of room for movement in determining which party is seen as best equipped to address them. 

- Finally, Heather Scoffield writes that the common problem with the Libs' and Cons' plans is their dependence on implausible assumptions about what our economy will look like. 

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Guy Quenneville reports on the frustration of Cory Neudorf and other Saskatchewan doctors due to the Moe government's decision to ignore all available science on COVID-19, while Alberta doctors have taken to providing the daily briefings the government has chosen to abandon. Cam Tait discusses how the lack of government leadership responding to a grave health crisis in Alberta (as in Saskatchewan) is anything but a joke. And Alexandra Mae Jones reports on new research showing how even in its less acute forms, COVID may lead to a wave of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. 

- Meanwhile, Dave Connell offers the account of a grandfather who lost his grandson to the overdose crisis. 

- Chris Walker reports from the fossil fuel sector's festival of climate denial and destruction in the midst of a summer defined by climate catastrophes. And George Monbiot discusses why we can't build our way out of the climate crisis (at least as long as infrastructure projects are captured by the corporate establishment). 

- Finally, Alleen Brown reports on the choice of Minnesota police to provide both individual-level intelligence and operational support to Enbridge for the suppression of pipeline protestors. 

#Elxn44 Roundup

The latest from Canada's federal election campaign.

- Bruce Campbell discusses the connection between the climate crisis and wealth inequality - along with the miserable failure of Lib and Con governments in responding to both. And Canadians for Tax Fairness offers a fact sheet on closing tax loopholes. 

- Erica Lentl interviews Jagmeet Singh about the NDP's plans on LGBTQ2S+ issues, including in seeking to improve on the Libs' version of a conversion therapy ban. And Max Fawcett discusses how climate change is just one of the areas where the O'Toole Cons want to drag Canada backwards, while Randy Boswell points out O'Toole's laughable attempts to distance himself from the regressive positions he trumpeted to win and hold the Cons' leadership.   

- PressProgress points out Lib candidate Douglas Kobayashi's history of opposing not only minimum wage increases, but the existence of minimum wages at all. And Ashley Burke reports on Justin Trudeau's willingness to endorse Raj Saini despite multiple serious allegations of sexual harassment. 

- Meanwhile, 350 Canada offers its first set of endorsements for climate champions on the ballot - including Regina-Lewvan NDP candidate Tria Donaldson. 

- Finally, Andrew Coyne writes that Justin Trudeau has turned the presence of protesters into a claim of victimhood without addressing the problems with his campaign generally. And Don Martin discusses how the Libs' efforts to make the campaign all about Trudeau have backfired due to voters' increased skepticism. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Relaxed cats.


#Elxn44 Roundup

The latest from Canada's federal election campaign.

- PressProgress takes a look at the housing plans on offer - finding the NDP's plan to be the best of the major parties, but still falling short of ensuring the right to housing is met. Jonas Goldman, Anna Jessop and Aline Coutinho examine the climate change and environmental policies of the three main contenders. And John McNally and Mohsina Atiq connect the two issues by highlighting how housing affordability is vital to an effective climate plan. 

- Meanwhile, Ian Young reveals how the extreme rise in housing prices in Vancouver can be traced substantially to foreign capital. 

- Rosa Saba examines the weaknesses in Canada's Employment Insurance system - along with the need for stronger action to protect unemployed workers than is currently on the table. 

- Larry Savage offers a needed reality check for people pitching strategic voting, concluding that it fails miserably in its stated purpose of defeating Conservatives while often diverting votes toward undeserving Liberals. 

- Paul Wells theorizes that successful federal election campaigns have tended to focus on benefits for voters, rather than appeals to values. 

- Finally, Enzo DiMatteo reflects on Jack Layton's determined optimism, and its continued relevance in an election where so much bandwidth is being used trying to persuade people to accept less than what's possible. 

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- J. Stacey Klutts offers a summary of the lessons we've already learned about the Delta variant - including the need to combine a vaccination strategy with public health protections, rather than pretending one is a full substitute for the other. Pete McMartin writes that he's (understandably) lost patience with COVID deniers. And Andrew Nikiforuk writes about the need for people to step up where their governments are failing to protect the public. 

- Meanwhile, Candace Lipski reports on the exhaustion of ICU capacity in Saskatoon, Prince Albert and North Battleford - endangering anybody with an urgent health condition of any kind. And Marlene Sokol reports on the five-figure COVID case count in the first week of Tampa Bay's return to school - offering an alarming indication of what might soon be in store in Canada. 

- Meanwhile, in case anybody was under the misapprehension that COVID is the only social and health crisis crying out for action, Morgan Black reports on the worsening human costs arising out of the opioid crisis in Edmonton. And Zak Vescera juxtaposes the increasing trend of people sleeping rough in Saskatoon even as shelter beds are empty due to unmanageable intake requirements. 

- Bryan Lufkin and Jessica Mudditt make the case for a shorter work week as a boost to health and well-being. 

- Finally, Saira Peesker writes about the lifelong loss of earnings arising out of mothers' departure from the workforce to manage the burdens created by the pandemic. 

Monday, August 30, 2021

#Elxn44 Roundup

The latest from Canada's federal election campaign.

- Charlie Pinkerton reminds us of the need to ensure that any party seeking power addresses the ongoing opioid crisis.

- David Akin offers a comparison between the major national parties in addressing Indigenous inclusion and issues - with the NDP ranking head and shoulders above the Libs and Cons on both counts. 

- Rosie DiManno discusses how the Libs have systematically squandered the polling lead which was supposed to have justified precipitating an election in the first place. And Robin Sears writes about the growing distance between Justin Trudeau and anything even remotely resembling the politics of hope. 

- Meanwhile, Martin McMahon reports on the Vancouver Lib candidate who can't even remember how many properties he's flipped in capitalizing on the housing crisis which the Libs claim to want to solve.

- Finally, Christopher Reynolds points out how Jagmeet Singh's political life follows from an extended history of care for the people around him. 

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Tzvi Joffre reports on the C.1.2 COVID variant which is confirming that the threat posed by the coronavirus continues to change and spread. And Emily Willingham comments on the importance of masks in schools to protect schools and individual health alike. 

- David Climenhaga points out the perils facing Alberta due to Jason Kenney's utter abdication of any leadership role in a pandemic, while Paul Parks discusses how Alberta's health care system is already in dire straits before the worst of the fourth wave crests. And health care workers in both Alberta and Saskatchewan are rightly calling for public health measures to ensure they (and vulnerable populations) don't face impossible burdens due to irresponsible governments and selfish individuals alike. 

- Meanwhile, Erica Ifill discusses how the pandemic has changed the nature of work - and the need for Canada's political leaders to start addressing the structural stresses it's placed on already-vulnerable populations. 

- Justin Mikulka highlights how "blue hydrogen" is nothing but the latest attempt to greenwash the fossil fuel sector's continued spewing of carbon pollution into our atmosphere. And Kayah George writes that the Trans-Mountain Pipeline represents a genocide against the Tsleil-Waututh people in addition to a suicidal bet for its funders and insurers. 

- Finally, Zena Selam reports on the miserable end to Khaleel Seivwright's efforts to build shelters for homeless people in Toronto, as the City has used its power to stop him from doing so rather than to ensure that the needs of its citizens are met. 

Sunday, August 29, 2021

On history repeating

With the Libs floundering in an election campaign where they considered themselves entitled to waltz into power and the NDP making a push toward the top of the party standings, commentators haven't been able to avoid some comparison to 2011. But that's always come with a caveat - that Justin Trudeau is no Michael Ignatieff.

To which we should ask: are we sure he isn't?

On a closer look, there may be more similarities to the Libs' position today and their standing ten years ago than has yet been discussed. And voters should be at pains to avoid the same mistakes that resulted in our missing out on the best Prime Minister Canada never had due to a save-the-furniture-and-torpedo-the-NDP campaign by the Libs.

In both cases, let's start by examining what happened in the election cycle before the one at issue. In 2008, the Libs under Stephane Dion took their usual rigid position against any cross-party cooperation. Even in the midst of an economic meltdown, Dion considered it more important to keep the NDP out of any power-sharing coalition than to replace Stephen Harper in responding to the crisis. 

But circumstances changed after Harper held onto power, then used an economic calamity as an excuse to try to attack his political opponents. And with the Libs lacking any framework for cross-party cooperation, the NDP stepped into the breach and facilitated an agreement which would have created a Lib-NDP government supported by the Bloc to replace Harper's toxic Cons.

Michael Ignatieff signed onto that agreement, if only begrudgingly. But once Dion was removed and Ignatieff assumed the Libs' leadership, he decided he didn't want to be in charge under conditions which required another party's support. So instead, he left Harper (and his antisocial judgment) in power to rebuild from the economic crisis, without requiring any accommodations for any other party's input. 

By 2011, Ignatieff had to wear that decision while having no record of accomplishment to point to. And so instead of forcing voters into a binary red door-blue door choice, he opened up the opportunity for the NDP's message of pragmatic cooperation to position it as one of the primary contenders for government. And we'll never know for certain how much strategic voting based on the Libs' past results may have contributed to the Cons' majority - though it's highly likely that Jagmeet Singh would have been one of the NDP candidates to beat out a Con competitor if not for a coordinated effort to back a Lib who ended up in third place.

Let's then look to the parallels in more recent events. While Justin Trudeau was able to hold power in a minority Parliament in 2019, he stuck to his party's refusal to discuss formal support arrangements, instead choosing to engage in Harper-style brinksmanship. And that could have led to serious problems if there had been any trouble getting support behind a response to the COVID-19  pandemic when it hit in 2020.

Fortunately, that didn't prove to be a meaningful issue. All parties were willing to work on at least some urgent measures - and more significantly, Singh and the NDP made abundantly clear that they were willing to maintain confidence in the Libs as long as they worked toward supporting Canadian people and implementing the types of promises which had been put on hold during Trudeau's term of majority government.

Like Ignatieff, Trudeau decided that cross-party support wasn't enough: he wanted to be able to unilaterally shut down investigations, and pivot his entire government's direction on a dime if he saw the opportunity to to do. And so he called an election which he thought would hand him a majority.

Needless to say, that hasn't happened. And there may be a couple of associated reasons for it.

Most importantly, anybody voting based on policy has had nothing but reason to be wary of Trudeau. It never made sense to try to run on promises which could have been kept in the existing Parliament. And the Libs' insistence on an unaccountable majority has only opened the door for skepticism that the result would be another Chretien/Martin attack on Canada's social supports.

But there's another aspect of Trudeau's choice which doesn't seem to have received much attention. If one buys into the Libs' raison d'etre that the essence of politics is the pursuit of power, then there can be no less defensible choice than to deliberately abandon power which one is already in a position to exercise. 

Both Ignatieff and Trudeau tried to justify their choices with the claim that they'd be better positioned to secure more power later on by choosing not to govern in the short term. But both have left Canada to problematic government in the midst of a crisis - and both have given voters reason to view them as less than prime ministerial in repudiating the opportunity to show what they could do with the title.

In turn, voters will need to recognize that a leader who has abandoned his post isn't likely to recover support in the midst of an election campaign. And particularly given Singh's work following in Jack Layton's footsteps as a leader determined to use every bit of influence available to provide for what Canadians need, we should be eager to take up the opportunity we missed in 2011 to see how that mindset plays out in government.