Friday, April 22, 2011

Hard to believe Kinsella once had a high school crush on Ignatieff, or progressives just let the Liberals implode

Clearly there are still old deep fault lines in the LPC ranks, and the Big Red tent of brokerage ideological politics of "pragmatically" offering to be everything to everyone is being evacuated from both the left and right doors. And not too surprising. The LPC, with Ignatieff at the helm has moved so far to the right as to make itself a redundant choice within the Canadian political landscape. On the other side, small "l" liberals, lefty liberals, progressives are finally waking up to the fact that the LPC only campaigns from the Left (it is not of the Left) and there is a viable alternative: the NDP, a party which is actually progressive.

The LPC is redundant to as it moves to its the right and an impostor as it moves to its Left.  To paraphrase Michael Ignatieff: "There is a side Left door and there is a side Right door. Liberals choose your exit, but no one enters."

Warren Kinsella is not too happy but also only too willing to rub it in Ignatieff's face. From his blog today:

"I was tossed on the political barbecue pit by Michael Ignatieff and his Super-Smart Senior Staff (4S, for short) for having the temerity to suggest, out loud, that Messrs. Chretien, Broadbent and Romanow were right.“I have no relationship with Warren Kinsella,” sniffed [Ignatieff] the fellow for whom I’d busted my hump for a couple years, and that was that. 
My sin? Agreeing with, you know, the most successful Liberal leader in history: suggesting that those of us who opposed Conservatives clearly needed to get together if we were ever to defeat Conservatives.  And, more broadly, that Canada – like other democracies around the world – seemed to be heading towards a binary political universe, whether the political classes approved or not.
What now? Well, that’s a really good question.  If the NDP make history, and carry their current popularity past the weekend and into next week, they could very well form the Official Opposition.  The instant that happens, as I told this PostMedia reporter yesterday in a long chat, the aforementioned Ignatieff and 4S are gone.  They’ll all have to resign on election night if they are to escape the enraged, pitchfork-wielding grassroots Grits. Even in 1984′s rout we held onto Opposition status.  With that gone – and the staff, and budget and influence that brings – it will be a long, hard slog back."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Corporate tax cuts not delivering on job creation -neither under Liberals nor under Conservatives

Great piece by Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) debunking the neoliberal myth that lowering corporate tax rates leads to greater job creation, during either times of budgetary surplus or budgetary deficit (proving the Liberals wrong as well on their whole when times are good we should lower corporate taxes, but in a recession we need to restore them to previous levels). 

What bothers me is that the great research done at the CCPA by bonafide accredited and respected economists seldom enters into mainstream debate. I've been saying it for years, but why can't the Guardian open up a Canadian wing to supply critical, progressively minded, leftish commentary to Canadians.

Anyway below is a summary of the CCPA report:
After a decade of corporate tax cuts, the benefits to Canada’s largest corporations are clear but the job creation payoff for Canadians hasn’t materialized, says a study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

The study, by CCPA Research Associate David Macdonald, tracked 198 of the 245 companies on the S&P/TSX composite that had year-end data from 2000 through 2009 and found those 198 companies are making 50% more profit and paying 20% less tax than they did a decade ago.

However, in terms of job creation, they did not keep up with the average growth of employment in the economy as a whole. From 2005 to 2010, the number of employed Canadians rose 6% while the number of jobs created by the companies in the study grew by only 5%.

“Despite their growing profits and massive tax savings, the number of jobs created by Canada’s largest corporations was lower than the average employment growth across all sectors of the economy,” says Macdonald. “In essence, the largest beneficiaries of corporate tax cuts are dragging down Canadian employment growth.”

According to the study, if those 198 companies paid the same tax rate as they had in 2000, federal and provincial governments would have collected an additional $12 billion in revenue in 2009. The loss in revenue from all Canadian corporations would be larger still.

“It’s hard to find so expensive a program with so few tangible benefits as corporate tax cuts,” Macdonald says. “Canadian governments are losing $12 billion a year to 198 of Canada’s biggest companies, who are making 50% more profit and paying 20% less in income tax while creating fewer jobs than the average.”

Monday, April 11, 2011

"wherever I've been I've supported progressive policies."- Ignatieff

I completely take issue with this self characterization. 

When has it ever been "progressive" to?

1. Defend U.S. exceptionalism and the US invasion of Iraq.

2. Defend the use of coercive force and suspension of rights in a liberal democracy.
"To defeat evil, we may have to traffic in evils: indefinite detention of suspects, coercive interrogations, targeted assassinations, even pre-emptive war." (New York Times Magazine, May 2004)

3. Champion the Tar Sands (ethically or economically -the US is even reticent about procuring such dirty oil.

4. Uncritically support Israel's actions vis a vis the Palestinians, at one point (In August 2006) saying he was "not losing any sleep" over dozens of civilian deaths caused by Israel's attack on Qana during its military actions in Lebanon.

5. Fail to support any real electoral or democratic reform such as proportional representation.

6. Support tax breaks for the richest corporation in times of budgetary surplus.

And the list goes on and on. Ignatieff is much more credible as a neoconservative than as a progressive.

Update: Rediscovered one of my favourite John Steinbeck quotes:

"Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporality embarrassed millionaires."
John Steinbeck

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Message to Progressives Thinking of Voting "Strategically" and Why the Progressive Vote in Parkdale High Park Should Go To Peggy Nash

Progressives, by which I mean those concerned with issues of a thriving democracy, the environment, and social and economic justice, are once again not being well served in the coming election. Indeed, the middle of political discourse has shifted so far to the right that Rob Ford appears "reasonable" rather than bat shit crazy.

Owing to an outdated and profoundly flawed electoral system, "strategic voting" has reared its ugly head once more. Considering that one of the few strengths of First Past The Post (FPTP) system (i.e. electing a local candidate) is already continually undermined by voters who scarcely consider the merits of their local candidates in their choices, "strategic voting" only contributes further to the dysfunction in our electoral system. Thus, all progressives should at the very least demand electoral and democratic reform from our political parties.

The NDP is running on electoral and Senate reform. The LPC quite predictably is not. Liberal hack, Jason Cherniak, reminded us in 2008, exactly why the LPC is not in favour of electoral reform. What progressive voters need to understand is that the LPC is not progressive.

Regardless, the idea of "strategic voting" to prevent the "diabolical" Stephen Harper from renewing his grip on power is once again circulating. Some points for progressives to consider:

  • Stephen Harper will not lead the next government of Canada. 
    • to do so, the CPC would need to win a majority of the seats
    • as poll numbers are now and will increasingly be showing, a Harper majority is essentially out of reach, and in all likelihood the result will be a Harper minority
    • the opposition will have no choice (unless they are willing to be stupefyingly hypocritical) but to reject any attempt of Harper's to form a minority government

  • Michael Ignatieff will most likely lead the next government of Canada
    • not only is is the LPC not truly concerned with progressives, but also its leader, despite his attempt to craft an image as a progressive intellectual, really seems much more at home in the neoconservative camp led by Wolfwowitz and co. As for Ignatieff's mea culpa regarding his support for the U.S. invsion of Iraq see this.
    • In an interview with The Tyee, Linda McQuaig says the following:
"That quote [in Holding the Bully's Coat] from Ignatieff, where he talks about torture [being defensible] as long as it's done by a patriotic American, now that's an interesting quote. That one hasn't gotten the play that some of the others [have]. That one was from an interview he did with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. That is an incredible statement of the notion of American exceptionalism, the idea that America should be excepted from being bound by international law. And for Ignatieff to come out and endorse that in the way he did is just phenomenal. I find it striking, because he doesn't talk like that in Canada. You don't hear him talk like that so much in Parliament.... And yet if you actually look at some of the things he's said, he's actually an extraordinary neoconservative. He's up there with guys like Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith and some of those people in terms of the extremism of his position. And yet this guy's a prominent politician in Canada".... 

  •  In the coming parliament, the NDP will likely hold the balance of power. Thus, the more NDP candidates that get elected, the greater will be the leverage for the only party that truly represents progressives.

  • The only thing worse than strategic voting is strategic voting that is highly non strategic. In ridings where the the Conservative candidate has no chance of winning, it is in the interest of progressives to elect NDP candidates.