Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Leadership 2017 Reference Page (Pinned)

A one-stop source for general links on the 2017 NDP leadership campaign, to be updated as the race progresses. Please feel free to add additional suggestions in comments. (And note that new posts will appear below this one.)

General Information
NDP Constitution (PDF)
Leadership Rules (PDF) - Voting Process
NDP Leadership 2017
Leadership Debates: Ottawa (March 12) - Montreal (March 26) - Sudbury (May 28) - St. John's (June 11) - Saskatoon (July 11) - Victoria (August 2) - Montreal (August 27) - Vancouver (September 10)
Leadership Showcase: Hamilton (September 17)

Candidate Information
Candidate Website Twitter Profile Platform Ranking
Charlie Angus CharlieAngusNDP.ca @CharlieAngusNDP Profile Analysis 2
Niki Ashton NikiAshton2017.ca @NikiAshton Profile Analysis 4
Guy Caron GuyCaron.ca @GuyCaronNPD Profile Analysis 3
Jagmeet Singh JagmeetSingh.ca @theJagmeetSingh Profile Analysis 1

Other Resources
National Post Leadership Tracker
CPAC In Focus
IPolitics Inside the NDP Leadership Race
Chatelaine Cheat Sheet
NDP McGill Blog
Karl Nerenberg Candidate Profiles
Toronto Star Profiles (Alex Ballingall)
CTV Meet the Candidates 

All Posts By Label
Candidate Rankings - August 6 - August 13 - August 27 - September 3 - September 10

Babble threads: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4
Peter Julian Forum
Twitter: #ndp - #ndpldr

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Grounded cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- George Eaton discusses how some U.S. state governments are taking steps to fight inequality with taxes at the top of the income scale.

- The Canadian Coalition for Tax Fairness is coming together to push for a tax system where everybody pays their fair share (including changes far beyond those put on the table by the Trudeau Libs), while the Council of Canadians lends its support to the effort. And R. Sacha Bhatia suggests that if doctors prefer being salaried employees to being paid fees for services under a tax system without massive loopholes, that move may be best for everybody involved.

- Shannon Daub and Zoe Yunker highlight how the B.C. Libs outsourced the writing of their climate change policy to the Calgary oil sector. And that history of corporate ownership of government is exactly why the NDP's move to replace big money with public investment in politics figures to be so important.

- Meanwhile, Laurie Monsebraaten reports on the challenge of getting people to believe that a basic income actually comes without strings attached after decades of welfare scolding.

- Barrie McKenna responds to the Calgary Flames' demand for a publicly-funded arena to funnel profits into Murray Edwards' hands by pointing out the lack of any public benefit to doing so.

- Finally, Fay Faraday writes that due to pay inequity, Canadian women are effectively working for free for the balance of the calendar year.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday Morning Links

Assorted content to start your week.

- Ritika Goel writes that good jobs lead to all kinds of ancillary benefits to both the health of workers, and the strength of the overall economy:
We are in a time of increasing part-time, casual, temporary and contract work, with less access to benefits, insurance and pensions. Women, racialized people, single parents and immigrants like Michael are more likely to be in these positions of precarious work, which we know are bad for your health. 

Precarious work is linked to higher rates of repetitive strain muscular and joint conditions, as well as worse mental health. We also know that food-handling workers, like Michael, who have an infectious stomach illness cite not being able to afford taking a day off as the reason to come into work sick, potentially passing on their sickness.

A decent wage would allow Michael to contribute to his local economy by meeting his basic needs, save money to send to his family, perhaps move closer to this workplace, have time to build social connections and improve his mental health. Having paid sick days would allow him to recover when needed and not put the public at risk by handling food when unwell. In fact, having these measures implemented would allow Michael to better do his job. A study looking at employers who provide paid sick leave found that doing so was associated with fewer workplace injuries benefitting employers with a healthier workforce.

There is no doubt that the strong connection between good jobs and good health is widely proven in research. It thrills me to see that this is now also becoming a common perspective in the business world. At the Smart Employers Talk conference I attended this week, I got to hear directly from business owners who understand the importance of investing in their staff, so much that one employer referred to his workers as his company’s greatest asset. 
While I know some businesses have raised concerns about not being able to afford a $15 minimum wage, it gave me confidence to meet businesses owners from a variety of sectors who are already implementing and benefiting from these higher labour standards. They are proof that this can be done, and will benefit businesses on top of the health of workers and public health.
- Meanwhile, Paul Walsh discusses the pitch economy - where everything is a matter of constant competition - as the ultimate example of harmful precarity in work and life. And Jacqueline Nelson reports on a new study from the Bank of International Settlements showing how Canada is at risk due to high household debt levels.

- Melinda Trochu reports on a push by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers to ensure that our postal system provides needed services including banking and food shipping.

- Colin Perkel reports on Canadian doctors who support tax fairness - and are fighting to avoid being lumped in with professional associations and lobbyists invoking their profession to try to hinder it.

- Finally, Ross Belot writes that the Libs' hot air on climate change hasn't been matched with anything approaching commensurate action.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Leadership 2017: The Ballot

Despite the federal NDP's candidate showcase there hasn't been much change since last week's rankings - and so I won't update those for this week. Rather than ranking the candidates based on their perceived likelihood of winning, I'll instead take the opportunity to offer my own endorsement and ballot ranking, along with some explanation as to how I've made my own choice among four strong candidates. (For further reading, Alice Funke offers a must-read summary as to the array of expectations and responsibilities for the NDP's leader.)

1. Guy Caron

The key for Caron has been to establish that he could demonstrate the capacity to grow in a campaign with relatively limited resources. And in the end, he's done just that - offering strong and popular individual policies within an effective philosophical framework, and managing to win over a far larger number of supporters on sheer personal appeal than I'd have anticipated.

The most important sticking point for me with Caron is then his tendency to put process and jurisdiction ahead of underlying values at times. That's been most obvious in his take on Quebec's Bill 62, where I'll note that he may be best served taking a lesson from Thomas Mulcair's response focusing on fundamental values rather than political calculations. And it's also been notable at other times when he's demurred on ambitious social policy proposals by pointing to jurisdictional questions.

But on the balance, Caron looks to have the best prospect of winning Canadians over to a progressive vision - just as he's won over supporters throughout the leadership campaign.

2. Jagmeet Singh

Singh too has done a highly effective job of situating worthwhile policy proposals within a framework of well-defined values. The primary factor placing him behind Caron is that those values don't overlap with the ones I'd like to see promoted to quite the same extent: on one set of key economic issues in particular, Singh has gone out of his way to express principles which are both contrary to NDP policy, and problematic from the standpoint of winning voters over to a coherent progressive philosophy.

That said, Singh's showcase today suggests that he's both tightening up his economic message, and making strides in tying it to his personal experience. And the areas of concern within the leadership race should be ones where he'll have reason to be on the proper side of any debate across party lines.  

Moreover, Singh has lived up to his own "love and courage" theme with strongly principled stances in other areas where I'd have expected him to play it safer. And that offers me enough comfort on policy to place him second in light of his success in building an organization and appealing to the public.

3. Niki Ashton

Ashton's deeply progressive platform and strategy based on the successful movement-building exemplified by Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders hold a great deal of appeal to me. And today's presentation was likely her strongest in putting those together. But Ashton ranks below the top of my ballot because of some uncertainty about her ability to execute that strategy.

While Corbyn was eventually able to build up his UK Labour party despite a combination of internal grumbling and a dismissive press, he's done so based in large part on the demonstrable strength and breadth of the movement behind him. Corbyn only won the opportunity to face the general electorate by twice winning the support of a strong majority of his party's members - and it's the endurance of his personal support among members that's allowed him to withstand storms both internal and external.

Based on how the media has treated her throughout the leadership campaign, Ashton stands to match Corbyn's status as a lightning rod for press attacks. But she hasn't yet shown much of a movement behind her to answer issues as they've arisen. And so Ashton's most plausible path to victory looks to represent a potentially dangerous outcome for the NDP as a whole: the most difficult road for the party may involve a multi-ballot vote in which Ashton narrowly noses ahead despite modest enthusiasm, then has to face an onslaught of media criticism with relatively little internal support.

4. Charlie Angus

Finally, Angus finishes fourth on my ballot based on a leadership campaign which hasn't lived up to either Angus' potential or his competitors' choices in terms of either policy development or progressive values.

To be sure, Angus has been able to secure the endorsement of plenty of prominent voices who are willing to trust him. But I have to wonder whether the relatively unfocused populism he's relied on during the leadership race will be ameliorated - or produce better results - against the NDP's competition. And if not, then Angus poses the risk of losing ground in terms of both party results and issue advocacy.

Again, that's not to say Angus wouldn't have a strong opportunity to succeed as the NDP's next leader. But it does mean he falls behind his fellow candidates on that score - and thus to the bottom of my ballot.

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Matt Bruenig examines who is living in poverty in the U.S. - and how policy choices result in many people who can't feasibly earn wages being stuck below the poverty line:
(C)hildren, elderly, disabled people, and students make up around 70 percent of the poor. If you add in carers and those already fully employed, the number goes to around 90 percent. There is room to activate some of these folks into the labor market, especially carers through the provision of child care and paid leave benefits. But for the most part, the poor are people who cannot and should not work.
(B)enefits already do a lot to hold down poverty. The official poverty rate in 2016 was 12.8 percent. Without benefits, it would have been 21 percent.

If we want to build on that kind of success, what we need to do is expand the coverage of the welfare state as well as the generosity of its benefits. Every child should get a modest monthly stipend paid to their parents. Minimum benefit levels for old-age and disability pensions should be increased. Students should get a living grant. Carers should get paid leave and caretaker allowances. Unemployed people should get higher benefits, and some minimum level of benefits should be available to new labor market entrants who have not yet secured a job. It is through these kinds of reforms that serious poverty reduction will ultimately be made.

Until we come to terms with the fact that market income distributions inherently leave out a massive swath of society, our system will continue to fail its poor people. Markets are not designed to get income to where it is needed. It is up to society to construct programs to do that.
- Michael Sisak and Emily Schmall report on a prime example of the U.S.' continued disaster capitalism, as FEMA has been selling off disaster trailers at cut-rate prices even as it's been scrambling to providing housing in responseto this summer's spate of hurricanes. And Josh Boak discusses how the Trump administration is pushing corporate tax giveaways in the face of abundant evidence they'll serve only to further enrich those who already have the most.

- Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood examines the state of NAFTA negotiations and concludes that there's no realistic prospect of reaching a meaningfully progressive agreement.

- Stephanie Taylor reports on the high rates of opioid poisoning in Regina and Saskatoon.

- Finally, Bruce Livesey reports on institutional racism and bigotry within CSIS and the RCMP which is both preventing them from addressing real threats, and resulting in the rendition and torture of innocent people based on their race and religion.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Leadership 2017 Links

The latest from the federal NDP's leadership campaign as tomorrow's showcases approach - and as members begin to fill out their ballots.

- The Star's editorial board has been meeting with the candidates, resulting in articles about Niki Ashton's determination that the NDP not be outflanked by Liberal rhetoric on the left and Guy Caron's pitch as the candidate who can win in Quebec, as well as Martin Regg Cohn's column arguing that Jagmeet Singh stands above his fellow candidates. Canadaland is interviewing the candidates, beginning with Guy Caron. Andrew Autio reports on Charlie Angus' take on the campaign so far and his position as voting begins. And Joanna Smith discusses Jagmeet Singh's familiarity with racism (and the need to respond with grace and purpose).

- Caron has released his nation-to-nation platform for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. And the Star's editorial board offers its support for decriminalizing drug possession as mentioned by Singh - though it neglects to note that both Ashton and Caron also expressed interest in the idea.

- Eric Grenier follows up on the significance of the endorsements made so far, while Campbell Clark picks up on Angus' surprising lack of support within the current caucus. Angus did add a potentially significant endorsement from Libby Davies as one of the NDP's most-admired voices from the left.  And Joel-Denis Bellavance reports on Alexandre Boulerice's decision to stay neutral - which is particularly interesting based on the view of one of the NDP's most prominent Quebec MPs that any of the candidates can succeed in his home province.

- Maura Forrest reports on a glitch which saw some members receive more than one ballot.

- Christo Aivalis offers his review of all of the candidates, while Alex Ballingall offers profiles from the Star.

- Finally, Ballingall discusses how the leadership candidates fit into the NDP's overarching goals as a party, while Jeremy Appel offers his take as to the impact of each candidate on the 2019 campaign. And Dennis Gruending highlights how the leadership campaign will affect Canada's broader political scene.

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Phillip Inman reports on a new UN study (PDF) showing that the inequality caused by austerity results in particular harm to women who are forced to take on more unpaid labour.

- David Sloan Wilson interviews Sigrun Aasland about the mix and balance of public and private development that has led to Norway's combination of wealth and wellness. And David Suzuki discusses the importance of identifying and applying better indicators of progress than GDP alone.

- But Adair Turner worries that we've come to accept a distorted and dangerous economic model (with debt taking the place of shared prosperity) as our new normal. And Sheila Block examines how the 1% is pulling away from the rest of Canada.

- Meanwhile, Justin Ling reports on the Cons' deliberate plan to further distort public discussion about tax policy by misleading Canadians about the effect of closing high-end loopholes. And Lana Payne comments on the importance of following through on the commitment to develop a more fair and progressive tax system.

- Brent Patterson points out how the Libs' talk about changing NAFTA's dispute resolution mechanisms serves little useful purpose.

- Finally, Steven Chase reports on polling showing a strong majority of Canadians opposed to the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Musical interlude

Watchmen - Say Something

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Leslie McCall and Jennifer Richeson offer another look at what happens when Americans are properly informed about the level of inequality in their country:
What effect did this information have? First, more respondents came to believe that “coming from a wealthy family” and “having well educated parents” were essential or very important to “getting ahead” (43 percent, compared with 27 percent among those who did not get the information).

Conversely, fewer respondents who saw information about inequality said that individual factors, such as “having ambition” and “hard work,” were essential or very important (81 percent vs. 90 percent).

In short, being told about rising inequality made Americans a bit less likely to believe that economic success was about individual effort and much more likely to think it was about luck.

Information about rising inequality also changed people’s views of economic policy. In particular, we asked separate questions about whether “the government ought to reduce the income gap between the rich and the poor” and “major companies ought to reduce the pay gap between employees with high pay and those with low pay.” Respondents could answer on a scale of 1 to 7, ranging from strong opposition to strong support. Among the people who read about inequality, 53 percent indicated some degree of support for government efforts to reduce the income gap, compared with 43 percent among those who did not read about inequality. Similarly, people became more likely to support efforts by major companies to reduce pay gaps (58 percent vs. 51 percent).
(I)nforming Americans about the extent of economic inequality, or simply making the issue salient, can change attitudes about economic opportunity by foregrounding the role of luck in getting ahead — and that in turn tends to increase support for policies designed to reduce inequality. For this reason, the instinct to focus on economic opportunity instead of inequality seems misplaced. In the minds of Americans, the two can be linked quite readily.
- Matt Bruenig examines who is poor in the U.S. and why - with the lack of an adequate welfare state serving as the overwhelming cause of poverty. Luke Williams writes about the connection between low incomes, precarious work and suicide. And Leslie Young notes that Canada's latest census shows 1.2 million children living below the poverty line, while Roderick Benns offers a look at poverty in action while asking why we continue to put up with it.

- Mark Suzman reviews how greater financial equality for women leads to overall economic and social progress. And Lizzie Buchan reports on a push by UK unions to punish employers for perpetuating pay inequity.

- Michael Harris warns Justin Trudeau and his entourage that they are supposed to be accountable public servants, not royalty to be catered to at public expense. And Stephen Maher writes that Dean Del Mastro is now in jail due in large part to his bringing political hubris to his defence for election law violations.

- Finally, Brent Patterson points out how Trudeau is falling short on his promises to rebuild Canada's environmental regulatory structure. And Helena Bottemiller Evich discusses how soaring greenhouse gas emissions are making our food less healthy.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Andrew Jackson, Tavia Grant et al, Kate McInturff and Trish Hennessy each look at Statistics Canada's new income data which shows worsening inequality and persistent poverty over the past decade.

- Jordan Brennan offers a needed response to a Financial Accountability Office of Ontario report which is being torqued to attack a fair minimum wage. And Alia Karim talks to Malka Paracha about the role organizing around wages has played in fighting prejudice in Ontario workplaces.

- The Star's editorial board discusses the need for legislation to protect temporary workers from systemic abuses.

- Charles Smith writes about the dangers of mixing big money with politics. And Alex Soloducha reports on the lack of both competence and ethics from the Saskatchewan Party government bought and paid for largely by the corporate sector, as the Global Transportation Hub has turned into a money sink as well as a scandal. 

- Finally, Bill McKibben writes that it's far too late to talk about catastrophic climate change as a hypothetical threat rather than a current reality. And George Monbiot writes that Hurricane Irma should leave no doubt that unfettered capitalism is the problem, not part of the solution.

New column day

Here, on how the Libs' weakness in closing even modest loopholes is allowing tax entitlement to win out over tax fairness.

For further reading...
- Justin Ling offers a useful look at the minor moves to rein in the abuse of private corporations in this year's budget. Konrad Yakabuski rightly argues that the entire fight is primarily over politics rather than revenue. And Susan Delacourt speculates that such a minor change affecting a small number of incorporated businesses will result in as much controversy as the GST.
- James Laxer discusses how the reaction to the Libs' proposed changes represents class warfare by the wealthy. And Don Pittis writes about the clash between the public's desire for a fair tax system, and entrenched interests looking to preserve their perks.
- For a reminder, David MacDonald studied Canada's unfair tax expenditures, including the billion-dollar stock option loophole. And Dennis Howlett lamented the Libs' decision to leave that wide open for exploitation.
- Finally, for examples of the type of revenue options on the table in the NDP's leadership campaign, Niki Ashton, Guy Caron and Jagmeet Singh have each proposed substantial revenue increases to fund needed social spending, while Charlie Angus' plan includes targeting corporate tax havens.