Saturday, September 18, 2021

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Andrew Nikiforuk writes that it's long past time for Jason Kenney to resign as utterly unfit for public office. The Globe and Mail's editorial board discusses how the UCP made Alberta's COVID-19 situation far worse by trying to deny it, while Alika Lafontaine comments on the hubris which has put health care systems in the position of failing to treat the people who most need it. Russell Wangersky writes that vaccinations alone were never going to be sufficient to avoid Saskatchewan's getting swamped by the fourth wave, while Zak Vescera looks at how the province has in fact succumbed even as Scott Moe continues to deny any responsibility. 

- Tom Bawden writes about the developing body of knowledge around long COVID - and the severe impacts on people's lives long after government statistics would have declared them recovered. And Sara Birlios asks how we can meaningfully mourn our dead while accepting political and economic structures which constantly devalue human life.

- Richard Murphy writes that the system underpinning our current economic model is obviously unsustainable, even as entrenched forces try to prevent any transition. And Jim Catano writes about how to process the prospect of the end of the world as we know it.

- Finally, Seth Klein discusses the need to address inequality and climate change together, rather than pretending it's possible (or worse yet, somehow desirable) to meaningfully address one without the other. And Angela Carter and others make the case for Newfoundland and Labrador to actually work on a just transition, rather than continuing to push fossil fuel development which our living environment can't afford.

#Elxn44 Roundup

News and notes from Canada's federal election campaign.

- Cam Fenton discusses how "strategic" votes for the Libs in the name of climate change figure to be anything but, while David Gray-Donald bluntly describes the Libs' offering as "denialist trash". Maya Menezes examines what we should be looking for in a climate platform, while Simon Donner discusses the need for any climate policy to fit with long-term goals. And Ben Simoni and Melissa Lavery discuss how Canada (and indeed the world) would benefit from a youth climate corps.

- Robert Hiltz writes that Erin O'Toole's mask has come off in the course of the election campaign, while Paul Willcocks discusses how O'Toole has campaigned as a trickster for lack of any ability to appeal to both his party's base and any expanded voter universe. Marieke Walsh reports on the refusal of the vast majority of Con candidates to say whether they've been vaccinated in the midst of a pandemic. And PressProgress exposes Con candidate Les Jickling's support for making health care about profit rather than patient needs. 

- Morna Ballantyne highlights how the Cons' tax baubles can't be equated with a plan to actually make child care available. And Paul Dechene similarly notes that the Cons plan to starve municipalities of desperately-needed infrastructure funding.

- On that front, Natasha Bulowski reports on the priority placed on housing by Canada's municipalities. And Erica Ifill discusses how the Libs' housing schemes have been gimmicky political diversions rather than effective plans to ensure people have the homes they need.

- Finally, Charlie Smith writes about the Robin Hood themes being presented by Jagmeet Singh in contrasting the NDP against the protectors of the wealthy.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Musical interlude

Sigrid - Mirror

Friday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Wallis Snowdon reports on what critical-care triage caused by a combination of COVID-19 and mismanagement will mean in Alberta's ICUs (at a time when Saskatchewan is facing the same). Jason Warick highlights how Saskatchewan's Chief Medical Health Officer has far more power to protect public health than has been exercised in the course of the COVID pandemic. And Murray Mandryk discusses Scott Moe's embarrassingly delayed and weak reaction to the building fourth wave - though as always it's worth pointing out how Moe has been coddled in his reckless endangerment of the public.

- Meanwhile, Tim Harford offers his take that a key next step in encouraging vaccine uptake is to present a positive view of the number of people already vaccinated. But it's also worth noting that the prospect of a vaccine passport looks to have done far more to boost vaccinations than any amount of mere imploring. 

- Phil Tank writes that Saskatoon is far past the point of being able to humour COVID conspiracy theorists. And Nam Kiwanuka points out how only some, particularly privileged people are granted space to be angry, even as people with genuine complaints face systemic state repression in trying to be heard. 

- Finally, Shawn Gude discusses different conceptions of freedom, and notes that a system designed to allow a few people to amass sickening amounts of wealth inevitably limits the freedom of "non-domination" of many people who would have a larger range of options if they enjoyed greater material equality. 

#Elxn44 Roundup

The latest from Canada's federal election campaign.

- D.T. Cochrane reviews the parties' platforms and finds the NDP's to be both the most progressive and the most fiscally responsible. And Martin Lukacs and Ben Cuthbert examine the voting records of the Libs and the Cons - finding a regular pattern of the two voting together to block progressive priorities. 

- John Woodside reports on the Climate Action Tracker's conclusion that the Trudeau Libs' climate policies rate as "highly insufficient" to avert climate breakdown.  

- PressProgress continues to offer plenty of important insight into Erin O'Toole and his party - this time pointing out both O'Toole's eagerness to make common cause with health care privatizers, and Brampton South candidate Ramandeep Brar's belief in an entitlement to silence a former worker who dared to raise issues of wage theft and abusive working conditions. 

- Meanwhile, Haseena Manek writes about Angella MacEwen's work to not only win a seat for herself, but build progressive capacity in Ottawa. 

- Finally, Joe Roberts traces the rise of the PPC to anger among Canadians, while noting the glaring need to ensure that people who recognize a need for change perceive a viable left-wing alternative to the politics of bigotry and hate. 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jason Markusoff writes about the human cost of Jason Kenney's false claim that the COVID-19 pandemic was over. Phil Tank points out that Scott Moe is now without question the most negligent premier in the country when it comes to public health protections. And Adam Hunter reports on the call from Alexander Wong and other experts to at least follow Manitoba's path in limiting the spread of the Delta variant, while Guy Quenneville talks to Steven Lewis about the Moe government's insistence on pushing privatization rather than paying attention to what's worked in responding to COVID. 

- Richard Hine discusses the emerging reality of death by anti-vaxxers in the U.S. - which is of course being matched in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Peter Hotez points out how anti-vaxx messaging is spreading in Canada. And Jenny Deam reports on the story of a 12-year-old whose appendix burst while he was stuck waiting in an emergency room as a stark example of how COVID's strain on health care puts everybody at risk. 

- Daniel Quiggin et al. study the compounding risks of failing to avert a climate breakdown by transitioning away from an economy which relies on carbon pollution. 

- Finally, Noah Lanard and Jacob Rosenberg write about some of the indignities bad bosses have inflicted on their employees - and the steps workers have taken to fight back. 

#Elxn44 Roundup

News and notes from Canada's federal election campaign.

- Alex Hemingway writes about the need to tax the rich far beyond even the "unlimited zeal" reflected in the NDP's modest plans to secure additional revenue. And David Moscrop makes the case for far more discussion of systemic change in who owns and makes decisions about the forces that shape our lives. 

- Martin Olzynski and Sharon Mascher examine the environmental policies on offer. Ali Raza points out the need for more detailed and ambitious plans to wind down fossil fuel production in the wake of the global recognition that oil and gas will need to stay in the ground. But Brian Hill reports on the declaration by the Lib Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson's declaration that the TransMountain pipeline his government plans to build could keep shipping exported oil until 2060 or later. And Bob Weber reports that the Cons are going so far as to refuse to rule out the UCP's plans for new coal mining in the Rocky Mountains. 

- Meanwhile, Anjali Appadurai discusses the importance of electing climate champions. And Libby Davies interviews Tria Donaldson about her plans to ensure that climate change and other crucial issues are dealt with immediately rather than being kicked down the road. 

- PressProgress offers introductions to Con candidates who have labeled Black Lives Matter a terrorist group and tried to force conservative beliefs on elementary-school children.  

- Finally, Raisa Patel reports on the NDP's efforts to reach new voters and ridings based on the belief that people can be persuaded to vote for something better. 

On politicization

There have been a couple of indications as to how Alberta's refusal to take basic health precautions in the face of COVID's fourth wave (and in all likelihood Saskatchewan's as well) can be traced to a willingness to govern based on the O'Toole Cons' campaign strategy rather than the health and well-being of citizens. But as long as we know Kenney is treating the issue solely as one of politics, there are a couple of implications worth raising. 

The first is that it's wrong to say that O'Toole is merely as bad as Kenney and other premiers in their pandemic response. Rather, O'Toole has been relying on them to be worse than they might have been otherwise if a refusal to protect public health didn't fit his political interests. And now, we've managed to reach the point where his valuation of the public interest is below even Kenney's.

But the second is that there may be another political factor at play. The UCP has been considering its options for most of this week. And if it had acted quickly, there would still have been time for people to apply for special ballots - allowing them to vote by mail, or at relatively quiet and low-traffic returning offices.

The deadline to apply for a special ballot expired on September 14. The UCP made the announcement of a state of emergency on September 15. 

As a result, while Kenney's announcement yesterday may not have fit perfectly with the Cons' campaign plans, it might nonetheless have fit with a general desire to distort election results toward the right. 

O'Toole's main concern is surely that a vaccine mandate and health rules will drive voters to the PPC - and anybody starting from a position of pandemic denial is unlikely to hesitate about venturing out to vote. But if there's a risk of also affecting voters who care about responsible pandemic management, they'll face conflicting forces: while they may be less inclined to accept the Cons as good-faith actors, they'll also be less likely to vote at all. 

That might be slightly worse than a wash for O'Toole in the short term, but it's entirely compatible with the interests of the UCP and its movement allies who want to be able to point to some more extreme option as an excuse for their own refusal to listen to anybody to the left of Attila the Hun. And we'll have every reason for suspicion the timing was aimed at that effort if we see Kenney, Scott Moe and their apologists point to PPC results as a driving force in their own future actions. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jill Filipovic discusses how the mounting toll in human lives and health from COVID should leave no room for controversy about modest responses such as vaccine mandates. Andre Picard writes that there's no prospect of moving from a pandemic to an endemic state without active intervention to control the spread that's now being allowed to run wild. And in case there's any doubt that vaccinated people have plenty to lose from avoidable community transmission, Will Stone writes about the realities of even a mild "breakthrough" case of COVID. 

- Meanwhile, James Keller and Carrie Tait report on warnings from Alberta's doctors about the imminent collapse of their health care system, while Leyland Cecco connects that reality to Jason Kenney's deliberate choice not to apply public health restrictions. 

- Jillian Horton expresses rightful frustration at "kindness gaslighting" intended to allow for bad actors to engage in wanton destruction in the name of kindness and civility.  

- Brady Dennis and Adam Taylor report on new polling showing strong recognition of the need to combat a climate breakdown through global action. And it's well worth noting that the resulting demand that the world's largest economies take the lead in that effort has major consequences for any plan to export fossil fuels to the U.S. and China for any sustained period of time. 

- Finally, Sara Mojtehedzadeh and Omar Mosleh report on the certification application at Amazon's Nisku warehouse which may create an important precedent for the prospects of bringing collective bargaining to new types of jobs. 

#Elxn44 Roundup

The latest from Canada's federal election campaign.

- Christo Aivalis discusses Jagmeet Singh's much-needed willingness to take on the power of the rich to fight for a country that works for everybody. And Shelly Hagan writes about the resulting possibility of greater social contributions being required of those who can most afford to make them.  

- In contrast, Luke Savage highlights how Justin Trudeau's promises - particularly those aimed at progressive voters - are made to be broken. And the Centre for Canadian Progress offers (PDF) takes a look at the options for left-oriented voters on the key priorities of housing, climate change and pharmacare. 

- Richard Saillant reviews the parties' housing policies and finds the NDP's to be the one best suited to meeting the needs of people in precarious situations. And Richard Cuthbertson and Alaina Luck report that the Libs' idea of an "affordable housing" plan is to provide private developers with preferential terms to build units which cost up to double double the average rent within a community. 

- Meanwhile, Jackie Brown, Amit Arya and Andrew Longhurst discuss how to reach the NDP's goal of ensuring that long-term care homes are focused on care rather than profit. 

- Finally, David Akin examines the state of the race and concludes that we're likely headed for another minority Parliament. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Embedded cats.


#Elxn44 Roundup

News and notes from Canada's election campaign.

- Mohy-Dean Tabbara and Garima Talwar Kapoor examine what the parties are offering to combat poverty, while noting the need for more ambition in the effort. 

- Alex Hemingway points out that while the NDP's platform offers a start, there's plenty of room to raise far more money by taxing the rich with somewhat more (if far from unlimited) zeal. 

- Zoe Yunker examines where the parties stand on renewable energy, noting in particular that the NDP is the only party committed to closing carbon pricing loopholes for fossil-fuel-fired power plants. 

- The Globe and Mail's editorial board contrasts the promise of actual child care spaces from each of the NDP and the Libs against the Cons' belated tax bauble. And Bill Blaikie writes that Erin O'Toole's weasel wording on health care is intended to distract from his plans for increased privatization. 

- Finally, David Beers interviews Chris Tenove about the often-toxic social media environment - and a few ways to try to move toward more positive and productive forms of discussion. 

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Naël Shiab charts COVID case rates by province - showing in stark relief how Alberta and Saskatchewan are in a worse position than at any point in the pandemic, with cases still rising sharply. Phil Tank reports on the large number of Saskatchewan daycares now facing outbreaks, while Leslie Young reports on the widespread pattern of schools having to close across the country. And Robson Fletcher reports on Alberta's record high ICU usage levels. 

- Jason Warick reports on warnings from Alabama officials to Saskatchewan about the devastating human toll when pandemic decisions are dictated by politics rather than evidence, while Murray Mandryk notes that Scott Moe bears full responsibility for choosing exactly that course of action with its inevitable results (while sadly going out of his way to demand that people not comment on the actual consequences). And Tess McClure reports that COVID Zero continues to be an extremely effective strategy in New Zealand, which is managing to stifle case numbers and fully trace and manage any spread. 

- David Gorski and Gavin Yamey discuss how science denialism cultivated in other contexts has complicated the fight against COVID-19, while offering some strategies to try to maximize cohesion in the effort. 

- Gaby Hinscliff writes that lockdowns have resulted in UK families demanding far better from their government in ensuring the availability of child care. And Moira Wyton discusses the British Columbia labour movement's continued push for sick leave as the dangers of working while ill are all the more obvious. 

- Finally, Roger Harrabin reports on a new Avaaz survey showing widespread climate anxiety among young people around the globe. 

Monday, September 13, 2021

#Elxn44 Roundup

The latest from Canada's federal election campaign.

- Khalden Dhatsenpa and Gavin Armitage-Ackerman write about the need to treat housing as a human right rather than a commodity. 

- PressProgress reports on an internal Health Canada report showing how the NDP's plan for dental coverage would remove crucial barriers to access to dental care while also reducing health costs.  

- Andrea Perrella and Brian Tanguay make the case to follow through on ending the first-past-the-post electoral system in favour of a proportional system. 

- Markham Hislop highlights the parties' positions on a just transition to a clean economy - with particular attention paid to the failure of either the Libs or the Cons to make anything of the sort a priority at what may be the best possible time to plan the transition. And David Climenhaga reports on the Alberta Oil War Room's apparent breaches of election financing requirements in demanding indefinite fossil fuel production and data mining for Conservative-connected groups. 

- The Care Economy offers a fact sheet on care issues in the election, as well as questions worth raising with candidates. 

- Finally, Leyland Cecco writes about Jagmeet Singh's growing appeal - along with the NDP's ability to influence policy in another likely minority Parliament. And Nick Taylor-Vaisey examines where the parties stand after last week's debate - with Singh emerging as the victor in public perceptions. 

Monday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to start your week.

- Cory Neudorf writes about the need for layers of COVID-19 protection now to avoid extreme measures like lockdowns due to the collapse of our health care system. And CBC News reports on the necessarily appalled reaction by public health experts in response to a recording of Jason Kenney's COVID denialism and declaration that Alberta is "open for good" regardless of the harm to health and well-being. 

- Adrian Blundell-Wignall writes that Australia can't escape responsibility for the "Stage 3" carbon emissions from the products it exports abroad - representing a point which Canada also needs to reckon with. 

- Bethany Lindsey writes about the massive conflict of interest of doctors who assess workers about drug issues while standing to profit from the testing regimes they can order. 

- Angela Sterritt reports on the drastically different treatment of privileged white anti-vaxx protesters compared to Indigenous land defenders. 

- Finally, Umair Haque discusses the impossibility of building a society out of an amalgamation of sadists - and the dire situation facing the U.S. as it attempts to respond to multiple crises while conservatives react with violent rage to any concept of social responsibility or empathy. 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

On narrow targets

At this stage of the federal election campaign, the seemingly wide range of outcomes is entirely an artifice of a first-part-the-post system with multiple parties contending for seats. Barring a drastic change in the last week of the campaign (which will likely need to overcome votes already locked in as well as significant inertia), we figure to see the Libs and Cons relatively close to each other in the popular vote, with the NDP a relatively strong third in what would be a minority Parliament in all but the most extreme possible outcomes.

The most significant point of uncertainty looks to be the Bloc - which seemed to have fallen from its earlier support levels earlier in the campaign, only to have ticked upward more recently. And as the campaign has played out it's worth wondering whether the NDP may have limited its ability to capitalize on opportunities - in Quebec in particular, and to some extent across the country.

On the Quebec front, the NDP has been explicit about limiting its focus to 6-10 ridings. And while it might be understandable not to launch a high-resource offensive into all of the terrain included in the 2011 Orange Wave, it has to be a disappointment to treat even seats which the party held in 2015 as secondary considerations.

After all, the result is that voters who have supported the party under multiple past leaders will perceive the lack of attention even after party finances have stabilized. And even in the ridings which are specifically targeted, the sense of limited aspirations from a strategic standpoint is particularly dangerous for a campaign based on asking voters to dare to imagine more than the status quo. 

Moreover, there's reason for concern about the same phenomenon playing out across the country and setting a ceiling on party support which caps the plausible seat count in double digits (again lower than levels the NDP has already reached), and limits the prospects of pushing aside either of the Libs or the Cons.

There is reason for optimism that the NDP is back on its 2000s trajectory of building from one election cycle to the next, including by being able to close its campaign strongly in close seats. But if the NDP wants to be able to put its ambitious platform into effect, it needs to be no less daring in the seats it contests - and it will be a severe disappointment if an opportunity to make far larger gains is lost to an overly cautious campaign plan. 

[Edit: fixed typo, wording.]

On concealed motivations

Martin Lukacs worked for years documenting and explaining the Libs' concealed raison d'etre...

Whenever discontent builds up, the Liberals have always been there to safely channel it, like a political shock-absorber.

They’ll wink to the elite, and then pose as anti-establishment to the broader population.

And...Trudeau just...he blurted it out.

#Elxn44 Roundup

The latest from Canada's federal election campaign.

- Jeremiah Rodriguez reports on the omission of Canadians with disabilities from much of the election campaign, while pointing out the priorities which should be part of our discussion.

- Justin Ling brings the receipts as to what became of the Libs' promises of pharmacare and prescription drug affordability, and finds that industry lobbying has completely overridden any interest in ensuring Canadians have the medication they need.

- Jim Stanford discusses how the election will shape the future of Canadian labour and employment laws, particularly in determining whether gains which the Libs have reluctantly accepted under NDP pressure will last past the immediate moment. And Katrina Miller and Jamie Kirkpatrick write that the Cons' refusal to accept a just transition away from fossil fuel reliance would have dire consequences from a labour standpoint as well as an environmental one.

- Gregory Beatty calls out the Cons' attempt to portray themselves as moderate while assuring extremist supporters they'll get their way and ignoring some of the most important issues facing the country - along the willingness of far too much of Canada's media to repeat the lies.

- Finally, Ryan Patrick Jones reports on the NDP's costed platform which combines important investments in social priorities with a progressive tax system to keep the books healthy.

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Graham Thomson discusses how the UCP has put politics over public well-being in choosing to let COVID run rampant (while now seeking to fund-raise off of opposition to even the most basic measures to let people reduce their own risk). And Carrie Tait discusses how Alberta parents are scrambling in the face of a new policy to refuse to inform people of positive cases in schools.

- Raiyan Chowdhury offers an ICU doctor's voice in speaking to the unvaccinated people who have made the choice to pose a danger to themselves and others. And Karen Howlett reports on Saskatchewan's choice to follow Alberta in putting essential surgeries and other medical treatment on hold to make room for preventable COVID cases.

- Armine Yalnizayan writes about the need to focus on the care economy, particularly as its workforce faces both a wave of retirements and massive burnout.

- Stephanie Hughes reports on new research showing the different faces of financial precarity in Canada - with homeowners generally carry larger debts, but renters being twice as likely to be unable to keep afloat.

- Finally, Matt Stoller discusses how predatory capitalism has undermined the supply chains necessary to ensure people actually have access to the goods they need. And Michelle Cyca interviews JB MacKinnon about the problems with consumption for its own sake.