Monday, March 05, 2018

Leadership 2018 Reference Page

A one-stop source for general links on the 2018 Saskatchewan 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
Saskatchewan NDP Constitution (PDF)
Leadership Rules (PDF)
Leadership 2018

Candidate Information
Candidate Website Twitter Profile Platform Ranking
Ryan Meili RyanMeili.com @ryanmeili Profile

Trent Wotherspoon Trent4Leader.ca @WotherspoonT Profile


Other Resources
Wikipedia

Posts
All Posts By Label

Discussion
Twitter: #skndpldr

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- The Economist examines the latest research showing the amount of money stashed in tax havens is even higher than previously estimated. And the Guardian calls for action on the IMF's conclusion that we'll all end up better off if the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes:
The IMF’s analysis does something to redress the balance, making two important points.

First, it says that tax systems should have become more progressive in recent years in order to help offset growing inequality but rather have been becoming less progressive. Second, it finds no evidence for the argument that attempts to make the rich pay more tax would lead to lower growth. There is nothing especially surprising about either of the conclusions: in fact, the real surprise is that it has taken so long for the penny to drop. Growth rates have not picked up as taxes have been cut for the top 1%. On the contrary, they are much weaker than they were in the immediate postwar decades when the rich could expect to pay at least half their incomes – and often substantially more than half – to the taxman. If trickle-down theory worked, there would be a strong correlation between countries with low marginal tax rates for the rich and growth. There is no such correlation and, as the IMF rightly concludes, “there would appear to be scope for increasing the progressivity of income taxation without significantly hurting growth for countries wishing to enhance income redistribution”.
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With a nod to the work of the French economist Thomas Piketty, the fiscal monitor also says countries should consider wealth taxes for the rich, to be levied on land and property. The IMF’s findings on tax provide ample and welcome political cover for Mr Corbyn and John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, as they seek to convince voters that Labour’s tax plans are not just equitable but also economically workable. By contrast, the study challenges Donald Trump to rethink tax plans that would give an average tax cut of more than $200,000 a year for someone earning more than $900,000. The response from the US administration was predictable: mind your own business. The IMF is not naive. It knows it is one thing to make the case for higher taxes on the rich but another thing altogether to get governments to implement them, because better-off individuals have more political clout. The IMF has demolished the argument that what is good for the super-rich is good for the rest of us, but don’t expect the top 1% to give up without a fight.
- Bernie Sanders highlights the contrast between the greater equality Americans want, and the government by and for the few they're instead stuck with. And Rachel West and Harry Stein find that the Republicans are managing to overrun their own farcical talking points about the uses of government revenue - as they could in fact buy and maintain a pony for every small American child with the money they instead plan to funnel to the wealthy.

- Meanwhile, Tom Parkin writes that a distorted tax system is contributing to the erosion of Canada's middle class. Andrew Coyne discusses how the Libs' already-pathetic excuse for closing some loopholes has turned into another giveaway to corporations. And Chantal Hebert comments on the comedy of errors surrounding the Libs' tax policy.

- Kamal Ahmed points out that younger workers in the UK are increasingly having to borrow just to cover basic expenses. And Barbara Ellen writes about the patent unfairness resulting from people living in poverty having to pay more for the necessities of life.

- Finally, the Mound of Sound blasts the Libs for insisting on new pipelines rather than taking any meaningful steps toward a green transition (or even an honest accounting of the costs of fossil fuels). And Nike Block comments on Canada's longstanding and shameful history of prioritizing exploitative mining over people around the globe.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Karl Russell and Peter Goodman note that lower unemployment rates in the U.S aren't translating into higher wages. Alena Semuels points out the barriers preventing people from moving in order to pursue a higher income. And Kevin Brice-Lall interviews Jonathan Rosenblum about the need for activism to push beyond the initial fight for a $15 minimum wage:
What can you tell us about the business backlash in Seattle — how did they fight the movement for a $15 minimum wage? Given the Ontario Liberal Party’s promise of a $15 minimum, what advice do you have for activists currently fighting against business lobby?
...
It’s critical for us to recognize what produces concessions in the first place. In my experience bargaining union contracts and negotiating with politicians, I’ve found that it’s easy to overestimate the importance of what happens at the bargaining table. When I’ve led union negotiations I’ve emphasized to bargaining team members that what we win in the end depends 90 percent on what we do outside of bargaining, and only 10 percent on what takes place inside the room.

There are three related principles that constitute the bedrock of effective movement work in politics. First, a clear recognition that anything and everything we win in the political arena isn’t the product of political enlightenment by the establishment; it’s a concession to our power.

Second, a recognition that power — the ability to shape and influence things — is what we get when we band together and take action, whether in the streets, workplace, in halls of parliament, or through political campaigns. Our power is a function of our demonstrated ability to harm, punish, or embarrass our adversaries, to disrupt their agenda. There are no gimmicks or shortcuts to building collective worker power. And third, an understanding that the balance of power is not static, and we have to keep organizing or we’ll lose whatever gains we’ve achieved.
- Meanwhile, Susan Delacourt discusses how the decline of retail sales (at least through many familiar businesses such as Sears) figures to affect political dynamics in Canada.

- Joe Gunn highlights how Canadians are still waiting for a federal government to start fulfilling the promise of reducing poverty.

- Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on Ontario's new guidelines for mental health claims which (like those of too many other provinces) establish an unfair double standard. And Benoit Denizet-Lewis points out the alarming increase in anxiety among teens.  

- Finally, Alex MacPherson reports on a legal opinion from Manitoba showing (to nobody's surprise) that Brad Wall's posturing against federal climate change policy has no basis in reality.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

On relentless positivity

Following up on my candidate profiles for the Saskatchewan NDP's leadership campaign, I'll point out one obvious change in dynamics since 2013 - starting with this observation from the previous campaign (emphasis added):
As long as there were four leadership candidates in the race, there were several ways to try to draw dividing lines among them. And the message that's suddenly crystallized in the media [as to a right-left split] wouldn't have registered as the most obvious classification scheme...
 
One could view the most important differences in the campaigns [as] geographical, with Meili/Broten and Wotherspoon/Weir largely representing Saskatoon and Regina members respectively while competing for other votes around the province. Or one could contrast the above-the-fray messages and statesmanship from Meili/Wotherspoon against the more conflict-oriented approaches of Broten/Weir.
That difference was and remains one rooted in both personality and strategy. While their forms of positive politics manifest themselves differently (Meili's to a greater extent in storytelling and political vision, Wotherspoon's more in crowd-friendly gregariousness), both candidates in the current campaign were on the upbeat side of the previous one.

And it will be worth watching whether (and if so how) that dynamic changes this time around.

In the absence of others on stage to test another candidate's vulnerabilities, neither Meili nor Wotherspoon will be able to count on other voices to do that work for them. And it will be worth watching whether both end up amplifying some more contrasting and critical messages of their own as a result.

At the same time, however, both candidates have also been strong proponents of party unity and solidarity in addition to presenting themselves as positive leaders. And a high-stakes two-way contest for the leadership will likely lead to some within the two camps seeing some opportunity in sharp attacks which both candidates figure to want to limit.

Paradoxically, the best way for both candidates to ensure that supporters don't go overboard may be to find the right level of respectful criticism in discussing and questioning each other - while emphasizing that a generally positive message is crucial to the NDP's future as a party. And we'll see who best works out that balance once Meili and Wotherspoon have to go head to head.

Leadership 2017 Links

One final roundup post from the NDP's federal leadership campaign - with a focus on Jagmeet Singh's first steps as the party's new leader.

- The Ribbon offers a roundtable discussion of Singh's victory. And Ryan Tumulty and Enzo DiMatteo each interview Singh about his campaign and his next steps.

- Brittany Andrew-Amofah discusses what Singh's victory means both for the NDP as a party, and for people of colour who might support it. Dr. Dawg tears into Terry Milewski's interview with Singh as an example of the media's double standard for minority leaders and guests, while Jade Saab is rightly frustrated about having to point out that there's more to Singh than his turban. And Jagdeesh Mann rightly notes that Singh isn't about to be pigeonholed into an overly simplistic view of the Sikh community. 

- Robin Seats discusses how Singh will need to build the NDP. Karl Nerenberg sees working-class voters and Quebec supporters as the keys to Singh's tenure.

- Finally, Noah Richler offers a valuable reminder of the role Thomas Mulcair played as leader - as well as how it should inform the party's continued work.

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Ian Welsh neatly summarizes the rules needed to ensure that capitalism doesn't drown out social good:
Capitalism, as it works, destroys itself in a number of ways. For capitalism to work, it must be prevented from doing so:
  1. it must not be allowed to form unregulated monopolies and oligopolies;
  2. it must not be allowed to run bubbles; it must not be allowed to engage in mass fraud;
  3. the money gained from it must not be allowed to turn into power which controls government;
  4. and money must not, generally speaking be allowed to buy anything that matters: from health care to a good education.
Capitalism, as the standard saying runs, is a good servant, and a terrible master. Only fools let capitalists actually control anything in their society that truly matters.
- Jessica Elgot reports on Jeremy Corbyn's much-needed acknowledgment that the structural unfairness in the UK's economy demands fundamental change. And Paul Krugman highlights the many lies behind the Republicans' attempt to warp the U.S. economy even further in favour of the wealthy.

- Bruce Campbell points out the lessons we should have learned from the Lac-Megantic explosion - and contrasts them against a resulting investigation which is scapegoating a few workers while ignoring the systemic causes of a preventable disaster.

- Paul Wells examines the challenges involved in responding to Canada's opioid crisis.

- Finally, Taiaiake Alfred discusses the need to move past a colonial mindset in order to pursue reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. And Murray Mandryk writes about the Sixties Scoop and other recent and ongoing examples of systemic racism in Saskatchewan.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Leadership 2018 Candidate Profile: Trent Wotherspoon

As with Ryan Meili, I'll start my look at Trent Wotherspoon's new run for the Saskatchewan NDP leadership by pointing back to his previous candidate profile and campaign review. And despite all that's changed in the meantime, this campaign starts with an even stronger sense of deja vu for Wotherspoon's candidacy than for Meili's.

Wotherspoon's 2013 run began with the largest and showiest launch of any of the candidates. But any hope that a shock and awe approach would give him an aura of inevitability soon gave way to the realities of the campaign - and he wound up finishing a relatively distant third in the vote count, despite doing better in other metrics such as endorsements, fund-raising and personal favourability.

Since then, Wotherspoon's most obvious opportunity to build his profile has been his tenure as the NDP's interim leader - which certainly worked wonders in allowing members to see him as the face of the party and ensuring that they'd be exposed to his retail political skills. His time in that role saw the NDP gain strength (thanks in no small part to the Saskatchewan Party's abomination of a 2017 budget), and seems to have cemented his place as the leading candidate of the party establishment.

But then, Wotherspoon likely had that title at the start of the 2013 race as well before Cam Broten managed to wrest it away. And some of the same issues which hurt Wotherspoon's cause then look likely to resurface again in the new campaign.

Wotherspoon's policy offerings are again on the light side so far in the current race. And while there's time to fix that in part by releasing more platform planks, the hesitation to engage on all but the most friendly terrain also reflects the relative difficulty he had in responding to challenges in the previous leadership race.

Meanwhile, Wotherspoon's place as the insider candidate itself has come at a cost. A party which has been burned twice in a row voting for an establishment choice may be prepared to look for something new - particularly as less-conventional strategies have succeeded in other jurisdictions. And Wotherspoon's reversal of his one-time assurance that he wouldn't seek the permanent leadership may create a trust gap which will be difficult to navigate.

In sum, Wotherspoon has a ways to go in establishing that he can build on his personal appeal and base of support to earn the leadership. And while he's likely a slight favourite at this stage, it's entirely foreseeable that the campaign may again erode whatever advantage Wotherspoon now holds.

Leadership 2018 Candidate Profile: Ryan Meili

As I've noted before, Saskatchewan's NDP leadership campaign will involve some very familiar candidates. And so my starting point in analyzing the race will be to review the previous leadership campaign run by both Ryan Meili and Trent Wotherspoon - with a particular focus on anything that's changed since 2013.

With that in mind, here are Meili's candidate profile and campaign review from the 2013 race - which mostly hold up for now. And in particular, Meili's policy focus only seems to be getting stronger with time, as he's started this campaign with both a strong set of core principles and a plan to fund them.

The main differences for Meili since the last leadership campaign of course involve his development of political organizations: first in founding Upstream, then in getting elected as an MLA. And those should offer some comfort to voters who may have previously perceived Meili as lacking political experience. (That said, anybody treating a track record in elected office as the main factor in selecting a candidate will figure to be more interested in Wotherspoon's longer tenure in the Legislature - not to mention his time as the NDP's interim leader).

But the central reality surrounding Meili's campaign is this factoid from the previous two leadership campaigns:
Notwithstanding an entirely different type of leadership campaign and plenty of new participants within his own camp, Meili's final vote total of 4,120 was a jump of exactly 18 votes from his second-ballot total in 2009.
Meili thus has a well-established level of support he can likely match again. But where can he gain ground in order to change the final outcome?

There's some possibility Meili could win simply by holding his past vote count if the absence of Cam Broten as a competing candidate results in less organization and votes against him. But it doesn't seem likely that the membership rolls will wind up substantially smaller at a point when the public desire for an alternative government is much stronger than it was during the last campaign in particular.

If Meili is going to add to his vote totals, he'll need to find support beyond what he's been able to achieve already. Among current members, that will likely involve a combination of establishing that he's been able to improve in areas which have previously been perceived as weaknesses, and making the case that there's a need for more change internally than Wotherspoon will offer. And beyond partisan lines, it figures to involve reaching out to people who have been disillusioned in the past - with Meili's pledge to practice what he preaches about campaign finance serving as an important starting point.

Of course, while Meili will be looking to win over supporters from beyond past party lines, he'll also have to deal with the effect of forces outside the party on the leadership campaign. Much of Saskatchewan's media still seems determined to dismiss Meili, even while grudgingly recognizing that he's the only candidate in either leadership race doing much to advance any policy discussion. And the Saskatchewan Party began putting a target on Meili's back even while Wotherspoon was still the interim leader.

All of which means that Meili's past leadership campaign success probably isn't enough to make him a clear favourite to win at the start of the new campaign. And he'll likely need to aim substantially higher than he's been able to reach before in order to finally win the opportunity to lead Saskatchewan's NDP.

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Paul Wells writes about Justin Trudeau's natural affinity for the rich and privileged, while the Star remains unduly willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to fulfilling promises of Indigenous reconciliation and tax fairness. And Chantal Hebert discusses Bill Morneau's role at the centre of the Libs' broken progressive promises, while Elizabeth Thompson exposes Morneau's shell-corporation-owned French villa which apparently slipped his mind on previous ethics disclosures.

- Larry Cohen offers some policy suggestions to aim higher to protect workers in the U.S. - including sectoral bargaining and wage structures.

- Geoff Leo reports on the Wall government's deliberate actions to avoid both rights of access to information and fair hiring practices in the public sector. And Murray Mandryk connects that secrecy to the Saskatchewan Party's contempt for public servants.

- Carolyn Jarvis discusses the latest in-depth collaborative investigation across journalism schools and media, this time documenting the health costs of poorly-regulated and never-reported chemical spills in the Sarnia area.

- Finally, Lana Payne highlights the importance of empowering girls - and the reality that there are still far too many barriers to equal opportunity based on gender.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Musical interlude

Avicii - X You

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Matt Bruenig explores the U.S.' wealth inequality and finds a similarly skewed distribution of wealth among all kinds of demographic subgroups. And Robert Reich discusses why the attempt to sell a tax cut for billionaires as doing anything but making that problem worse is nothing short of laughable.

- Meanwhile, Richard Partington reports on a study proposing a "basic services" model for the UK to alleviate precarity in multiple facets of life:
Free housing, food, transport and access to the internet should be given to British citizens in a massive expansion of the welfare state, according to a report warning the rapid advance of technology will lead to job losses.

Former senior government official Jonathan Portes and Professor Henrietta Moore, director of University College London’s Institute for Global Prosperity make the call for a raft of new “universal basic services” using the same principles as the NHS. They estimate it would cost about £42bn, which could be funded by changes to the tax system.

The recommendations include doubling Britain’s existing social housing stock with funding to build 1.5m new homes, which would be offered for free to those in most need. A food service would provide one third of meals for 2.2m households deemed to experience food insecurity each year, while free bus passes would be made available to everyone, rather than just the over-60s.

The proposals also include access to basic phone services, the internet, and the cost of the BBC licence fee being paid for by the state.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said the recommendations would “help inform Labour’s thinking”.

“This report offers bold new thinking on how we can overcome those challenges and create an economy that is radically fairer and offers opportunities for all,” he added.
- Citizens for Public Justice has released its annual report on poverty in Canada. And Jeremy Nuttall writes that people living with disabilities are all too often caught in poverty traps.

- Meg Sears, Richard van der Jagt and Warren Bell discuss how more effective environmental policies can lead to massive improvements in public health. 

- Finally, Thomas Walkom points out that Canada has plenty of options if the U.S. makes good on its threat to walk away from NAFTA

Thursday, October 12, 2017

New column day

Here, on the growing gap between the Trudeau Libs' "middle class" messaging and the self-perception of a growing working class in Canada.

For further reading...
- Ekos' polling is discussed here, with detailed tables here (PDF).
- The Libs' 2015 platform is again here (PDF). And again, PressProgress discussed Bill Morneau's message that Canadian workers should accept precarity as the new normal here.
- For information on a few of the barriers being placed in the way of younger workers, see Statistics Canada's summary of the trajectory of tuition fees, Daniel Tencer's discussion of ballooning housing prices, and Patricia Kozicka's reporting on the trend of childbirth being pushed later into life.
- Finally, I wrote about the Libs' failure to close tax loopholes for the wealthy here. And John Paul Tasker and Karina Roman reported on the sudden move to crack down on employee benefits, while Tencer reviewed its effect on lower-income workers before the Libs hastily retreated.

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Nathaniel Lewis and Matt Bruenig discuss the relationship between massive inheritances and ongoing wealth inequality. Nick Hanauer makes the case for much higher taxes on the wealthy as part of a plan for improved economic development, while a new Ipsos poll finds that three-quarters of Americans are in favour of that possibility. And Larry Elliott reports on a new IMF study which concludes that a more progressive tax system will reduce inequality without affecting growth:
The Washington-based IMF used its influential half-yearly fiscal monitor to demolish the argument that economic growth would suffer if governments in advanced Western countries forced the top 1% of earners to pay more tax.

The IMF said tax theory suggested there should be “significantly higher” tax rates for those on higher incomes but the argument against doing so was that hitting the rich would be bad for growth.

But the influential global institution said: “Empirical results do not support this argument, at least for levels of progressivity that are not excessive.” The IMF added that different types of wealth taxes might also be considered.
...
IMF research found that between 1985 and 1995, redistribution through the tax system had offset 60% of the increase in inequality caused by market forces. But between 1995 and 2010, income tax systems failed to respond to the continuing increase in inequality.

It also said inequality should be tackled by giving a more pro-poor slant to public spending.

“Despite progress, gaps in access to quality education and healthcare services between different income groups in the population remain in many countries,” Gaspar and Garcia-Escribano said, adding that in rich countries men with university education lived up to 14 years longer than those with secondary education or less.

“Better public spending can help, for instance, by reallocating education or health spending from the rich to the poor while keeping total public education or health spending unchanged,” they added.
- Michael Nienaber reports on a push by German trade unions to translate productivity gains into reduced hours of work. And Martin Regg Cohn argues that corporate fearmongering isn't a valid reason to avoid ensuring that workers make a living wage.

- Meanwhile, the Mowat Centre and Smart Prosperity Institute study (PDF) how decent work fits into a green economy. And George Monbiot theorizes that a combination of private sufficiency and public luxury could represent the economic model which allows us to reconcile higher standards of living with environmental sustainability.

- Finally, Geoff Leo reports that the Wall government has ordered public servants to use private e-mail accounts to deal with sensitive issues in order to avoid any public record of their actions. And Alex MacPherson notes that the Sask Party has refused (or neglected) to provide information to allow the Auditor General to even assess the effects of its destruction of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company.