Saturday, July 25, 2015

On final excuses

I'll offer one more post arising out of the flurry of discussion about the Senate - and particularly the timing of an announcement which would seem to have been equally easily made during the campaign if it was intended solely for platform purposes.

Let's remember that the last time Stephen Harper broke his promise not to appoint unelected Senators (give or take a Michael Fortier), his rationale had nothing at all to do with the passage of legislation. Instead, it arose in response to the prospect of a coalition government winning power - and Harper's explanation was that if any party was going to appoint cronies and bagmen to publicly-funded sinecures, it would be his own.

In that respect, Campbell Clark's discussion of the difference between Harper's new announcement and the position the federal government has taken in Aniz Alani's lawsuit seeking to require the appointment of Senators might be of particular interest:
In that case at the Federal Court, the government has been filing materials to back up an argument that Mr. Harper is delaying appointments, not refusing them. They include an affidavit from McGill political science professor Christopher Manfredi, who declared that there’s no constitutional convention that dictates how much time PMs have to appoint senators, and they can take their time. But refusing to appoint senators?

“Certainly, at some stage, senators have to be appointed,” Federal Court Justice Sean Harrington wrote in May, when he rejected the government’s motion to dismiss Mr. Alani’s case. He noted that if there were less than 15 senators, the required number for quorum in the chamber, Parliament could not function. (Mr. Alani argues the Constitution requires Mr. Harper to appoint senators, and refusing to do so defeats constitutional provisions guaranteeing levels of representation to provinces.)

He also wrote this: “I know of no law which provides that one may not do what one is otherwise obliged to do simply because it would be embarrassing.”

But government lawyers told the court, in a letter dated June 15, that there was never any decision made by the Prime Minister to leave Senate seats vacant. The letter was sent as part of the court process: Mr. Alani had asked for copies of all the materials the PM used to make the decision to leave Senate seats vacant, and government lawyer Jan Brongers replied that there were no materials, because there was no such decision.
Harper's new announcement surely changes the factual landscape underlying Alani's application. And it's worth wondering whether Harper's plan might open the door to his being provided with an excuse to make appointments in advance of the election.

To be clear, it's questionable whether a decision in the first instance could be made by October even if both parties did everything in their power to speed the process along - particularly since at last notice, the Government was appealing the denial of its own motion to strike Alani's application. And any appeals on the merits would carry on well past election day if either side chose to pursue them.

But if Harper were looking for a declaration that he should serve up one more set of Con patronage appointments before the election (and a trial court decision could well be excuse enough for political purposes), yesterday's announcement would seem to set the wheels in motion toward having a court offer exactly that. And it will be worth watching whether the government's attitude toward the legal proceedings changes in combination with that choice.

Update: Stephanie Levitz offers the Cons' explanation for the timing. But it's worth noting that it contains at least as much spin as substance given the implausibility that the existence and functioning of a chamber of the federal Parliament can be labeled with a straight face to "really (rest) with the provinces".

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Murray Dobbin writes that Canadians should indeed see the federal election as a choice between security and risk - with the Cons' failing economic policies representing a risk we can't afford to keep taking:
(N)ot only is Harper vulnerable on his own limited anti-terror grounds, he is extremely vulnerable when it comes to the kind of security that actually affects millions of Canadians. When it comes to economic and social security, the vast majority of Canadians haven't been this insecure since the Great Depression.

It's not as if we don't know the numbers -- 60 per cent of Canadians just two weeks away from financial crisis if they lose their job; record high personal indebtedness; real wages virtually flat for the past 25 years; a terrible work-life balance situation for most working people (and getting worse); labour standard protections that now exist only on paper; the second highest percentage of low-paying jobs in the OECD; young people forced into working for nothing on phony apprenticeships; levels of economic (both income and wealth) inequality not seen since 1928. Throw in the diminishing "social wage" (Medicare, education, home care, child care, etc.) and the situation is truly grim.
Most of these insecurity statistics are rooted either directly or indirectly in 25 years of deliberate government policy designed by and for corporations. Governments have gradually jettisoned their responsibility for economic security, slowly but surely handing this critical feature of every Canadian's life over to the "market" for determination. Economic policy has been surgically excised from government responsibility to citizens and is now in the singular category of "facilitating investment" -- a euphemism for clearing the way for corporations to engage in whatever activity enhances their bottom line.

From corporate rights agreements (which constitutionalize corporate power) to the decades old "independence" of the Bank of Canada (independent of democracy); from irresponsibly low corporate income tax rates to punitively low social assistance; from Employment Insurance that only 30 per cent ever qualify for to taxes grossly skewed in favour of the wealthy and a Charter of Rights and Freedoms that has bestowed citizenship status on the most powerful and ruthless economic entities on the planet, Canadian governments have abandoned their citizens to the vagaries of an increasingly unregulated capitalism. This is not even a complete list, but it demonstrates just how corporate globalization and its promoters like Stephen Harper have created the greatest insecurity for Canadians virtually in living memory.
- And Lana Payne highlights the absurdity of the Cons trying to pitch themselves as having anything to say about avoiding future downturns while refusing to accept any responsibility for the recession we're actually in.

- Meanwhile, Edmund Phelps suggests that Western economies in general are suffering from a narrowed perspective in which innovation is seen as important or valuable only if it creates or contributes to corporate machinery.

- Doug Saunders reminds us that if we want to see responsible budgeting, we're best off electing a party which is actually committed to keeping government functional. But I'll note that shouldn't be taken as an endorsement of the needless austerity which all too often forms part of budget-balancing exercises across the spectrum - and on that front, Sarah Miller emphasizes that B.C.'s nominally balanced budget is doing plenty of harm by cutting into needed public services.

- Mark MacKinnon weighs in on the Cons' imposition of second-class citizenship by taking the vote away from 1.4 million Canadians.

- Finally, Doug Cuthand calls out the Cons' treatment of First Nations as being disposable.

On leadership failures

Among the many responses to the Cons' latest Senate shenanigans, one (from someone who's not exactly known for his recent NDP ties) stands out as being worthy of mention:
That obviously represents an important rebuttal to the Cons' claim that they've done everything they could - or indeed anything at all - to keep their past promises. But it seems to me an equally powerful argument against the view that we should take the current stance of a few provinces as a final barrier to abolition.

Simply put, the Harper Cons have done effectively nothing to work cooperatively with the provinces - either on Senate abolition or on any other issue.

But for those of us who think it's possible for a Prime Minister to be more effective than Harper in achieving his goals, that reflects a failure of leadership in pursuing a worthy end, not the impossibility of reaching that end. And particularly if a Senate dominated by Harper's cronies stands in the way of action which an NDP government and the provinces agree on, the argument to have the provinces join in the effort to make the federal government more functional figures to be extremely compelling.

In effect, the parties' positions on the Senate now boil down to the following:

Libs: Let us tell you it can't be done. And don't even bother trying.
Cons: Maybe it can be done. But we're not going to lift a finger to make it happen.
NDP: Don't let them tell you it can't be done. And we'll actually work on it.

Of course, the NDP's position isn't a guarantee of success. But it actually reflects the concepts of hope and hard work which the Libs seem to have abandoned in favour of increasingly-desperate attacks - and it represents the only positive option on offer from any of the parties in Parliament.

[Edit: fixed wording.]

Friday, July 24, 2015

Musical interlude

Hot Chip - Need You Now

On common application

Between Stephen Harper's combination of broken promises and ongoing scandals, I'm rather shocked that anybody thought the Senate would be anything but a political liability for the Cons. But let's highlight what's worth taking away from an announcement which came nowhere close to living up to its billing.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he refuses to name any senators until the Senate is reformed, adding he hopes it will put pressure on the provinces to figure out a plan to update the institution.
The policy will remain in place as long as the government can pass its legislation, the prime minister said.
Of course, the Cons have a majority in the Senate and will for some time no matter what happens. As a result, they face no risk at all in their ability to pass legislation in the foreseeable future.

But the more general principle that the Senate shouldn't interfere with the passage of government legislation is rather more important given the prospect of a new government facing Con obstruction.

So between now and election day, it's worth pressing Harper, his party, and particularly their unelected non-representatives on their willingness to apply the same rule no matter who forms government. And if the result is a consensus that the Senate won't interfere with the will of the electorate, that should make for an important step in placing decision-making authority where it belongs.

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Barry Eidlin argues that Canada's comparatively stronger trade unions have led to a far more equal distribution of income than exists in the U.S., and discusses what we need to do to reinforce that tendency:
In a recent article and forthcoming book, I put forth a new theory: Canadian unions remained stronger because they were better able to retain a legitimate social and political role as defenders of working class interests. By contrast, U.S. unions got painted as a narrow “special interest.”

These different roles for labour weren’t just rhetorical. They were built into how unions are viewed by the legal system and political parties, and even how unions viewed themselves. While U.S. unions’ “special interest” role de-legitimized class issues, eroded workers’ legal protections, and constrained labour’s ability to act, Canadian unions’ “class representative” role gave class issues greater legitimacy, strengthened legal protections, and imposed fewer constraints on labour.

It’s important to stress that Canadian unions didn’t adopt this “class representative” role because they were more radical than their U.S. counterparts, and Canadian labour law didn’t stay stronger because of more sympathetic governments. Rather, it was the result of a labor policy designed first and foremost to keep labour unrest in check. For example, while unions’ ability to strike was restricted, so too was employers’ ability to replace strikers or interfere in union certification campaigns.

The dynamic that this policy framework created reinforced for labour the importance of mobilizing to win demands, as opposed to finding sympathetic political allies from whom to seek favorable treatment. For employers and government officials, it reinforced the importance of a strong labour policy to discipline unions.
What broader lessons can we draw from this comparison of U.S. and Canadian unions? The key point is that if we want to do something about runaway income inequality, we need to address the power inequality that underlies it.

At a policy level, that means laws that level the playing field for labour. But more broadly, it means that we need to talk about the working class. Politicians, union officials, and other civic leaders talk far too much about a mushy – and somewhat meaningless and outdated – “middle class.” They need to acknowledge the real and growing class divide between the wealthy and the working class.
- Which isn't to say there's a lack of reason for optimism in the U.S. (where Patrick McGeehan reports on the spread of the movement for a $15 minimum wage), nor for concern in Canada (where Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on the failures of Ontario's employment standards enforcement system in its job of ensuring that workers get paid).

- David McLaughlin wonders whether this fall's election will be the last under Canada's antiquated first-past-the-post system. And Kelly Carmichael and Ryan Campbell make the case for mixed-member proportional representation as a far more fair and democratic alternative.

- Finally, Stephanie Levitz reports on the United Nations Human Rights Committee's recent review (DOCX) of Canada's deteriorating human rights record - with Bill C-51 raising particular concerns. And Fram Dimsham points out how the Cons' terror legislation might criminalize the work of journalists (whether by accident or by design):
Even before C-51’s passage into law, Henheffer said that freedom of the press in Canada was under attack, citing Harper government restrictions on media access such as that experienced during press conferences and increasing difficulty in accessing information.

Now that C-51 is law, Henheffer said that journalists would face additional difficulties in doing their job in reporting stories related to national security or street protests such as those against the G20 five years ago, as the government could selectively target people to ensure their own agenda dominated the headlines.

Journalists covering protests have already found themselves under arrest, such as New Brunswick reporter Miles Howes, who in 2013 was detained at an anti-fracking demonstration on suspicion of uttering death threats against an RCMP officer, but some believed that the real reason was his asking too many questions regarding hydraulic fracking in Atlantic Canada.

The Lemming Party of Canada

Shorter Scott Reid:
There is no indignity which we Libs we won't suffer, and no evil which we won't allow ourselves to be strongarmed into supporting, if it means marginally saving face for the leader irresponsible enough to embrace them in the first place.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Change for the better

It seems so long ago when it was conventional wisdom that no party in contention for government in Canada would dare talk about cooperating to get things done, no matter how many voters wanted to see it happen.

But if there was any doubt that the NDP can change Ottawa's underlying assumptions, we can put that to rest.

New column day

Here, taking a look at the voter pools the NDP will be looking to win over in order to come out ahead in if this fall's federal election turns into a two-party race. And I'll note that while Alberta may serve as the most recent precedent, similar patterns can be found in the NDP's previous rises to power in other provinces.

For further reading...
- Both Nanos and EKOS have polled as to the federal parties' accessible and second-choice support, with the NDP currently leading the pack on both fronts.
- And for more about the business groups who have reason to want to see a change from the Cons, Dean Beeby discusses the problems facing Canada's manufacturing sector. Daniel Tencer reported on tech industry opposition to Bill C-51. And Karen Briere reports on how the Trans-Pacific Partnership is creating uncertainty in supply-managed agricultural sectors, while Michael Geist highlighted some of the other obvious costs of the deal.

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Brendan O'Neill writes that the UK Cons are following in Stephen Harper's footsteps by pushing the concept of thought policing. And George Monbiot rightly criticizes the gross inflation of supposed terror threats and simultaneous neglect of far more serious risks:
A global survey published last week by the Pew Research Centre found that while the people of North America, Britain, Australia, Japan, France and Germany see Isis as the greatest threat they face, most of the countries surveyed in poorer parts of the world – Africa, Latin America and Asia – place climate change at the top of the list. Even in Turkey (where, as the bombing on Monday suggests, the terrorist group is a real threat), more people said they were “very concerned” about climate change than they did about Islamic State. The nations least threatened by Isis rank this risk the highest. This is media-driven madness, an epidemic of transcontinental paranoia that governments are happy to foment and exploit.

Men such as Cameron, Tony Abbott in Australia and Stephen Harper in Canada won’t engage in generational struggles with real existential threats – climate breakdown first among them – for fear of alienating their sponsors. They have learned all the wrong lessons from Churchill’s legacy, seeking to invest themselves with belligerent glory while forgetting his ability at crucial moments to place the interests of the nation above the interests of his class.

So, as Hitler is reborn with a thousand faces, a new “struggle of our generation” emerges every six months, and all around us existential crises are ignored.
- Meanwhile, Jennifer Chevalier exposes the Cons' direct orders to the civil service to fabricate terrorism-related news for their political use, while Azeezah Kanji notes that even from the standpoint of addressing terrorism the Cons are deliberately avoiding naming the more plausible threats which come from their base. And the Star lauds the much-needed court challenge to C-51 while lamenting the fact that it's become law in the first place.

- Robyn Benson weighs in on the Cons' use of public money to bribe voters as an election approaches. And Anita Khanna and Sid Frankel write that we should expect all parties to be making clear how they'll fight child poverty, rather than limiting their focus to temporary goodies for swing voters.

- Susan Wright offers her take on the contrast between Rachel Notley and Brad Wall by pointing out what happened to the last premier who matched Wall's condescension.

- And finally, Henry Farrell sets out a useful general theory of Very Serious People.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jerry Dias discusses how the Cons have pushed Canada into an avoidable recession by slashing useful funding in order to send out pre-election baubles:
How far has Canada's economic star fallen? Only recently Prime Minister Stephen Harper boasted that Canada's economy was "the envy of the entire world." That claim was always overstated. Now it is downright ludicrous.

The Bank of Canada cut interest rates for the second time this year, but few expect this to pull us out of the tailspin. After all, Canadians are already tapped out: household debt now exceeds 165 per cent of disposable income. And businesses are more reluctant to invest than ever -- despite expensive corporate tax cuts that drain $15 billion per year from the federal treasury. Without a strong willingness to borrow on the part of consumers or businesses, cutting interest rates is like pushing on a string.

So we must look to government for a more effective response to the recession. Unfortunately, however, that looks like another policy dead-end. Because so far the response of federal Conservatives has been as ineffectual as it is predictable: deny, point fingers, and spread fear.
Their claim that the coming flurry of baby bonus cheques -- a manipulative $2 billion attempt to buy votes in the coming election -- will somehow turn the economic tide, is especially insulting to our national intelligence. This pre-election giveaway is macroeconomically insignificant. Consumers are likely to save the money, anyway: they can see it's a one-time political payout, not something that really alters their budgeting. And since the end-goal of Conservative social engineering (including the baby bonus, income splitting, and other measures) is clearly to encourage stay-at-home parenting, it will in fact ultimately undermine women's labour force participation, employment, and income. It's the opposite of what the economy actually needs: support for real work, more participation, and real wages.

For years Conservatives have touted their reputation as "good economic managers" to pave their way to power. This reputation is now in tatters, and rightly so. They have squandered so much opportunity, and steered Canada into a preventable, self-inflicted recession. This country needs a dramatic change of direction.
- Daphne Bramham and CBC each note that the Cons' billions in giveaways do nothing to meet the actual need for accessible child care. Stephen Maher calls out the UCCB as blatant vote-buying, and Adam Radwanski doesn't see much indication that voters are impressed in the slightest.

- Alan Freeman writes that the Cons are well aware that their push for voluntary top-ups to the Canada Pension Plan will serve no useful purpose. And Andrew Jackson rebuts the Fraser Institute's attempt to make a case against actual improvements to the CPP.

- Warren Bell calls out Brad Wall for his habit of shilling for the oil sector rather than so much as noticing the interests of mere people. And Dave Cournoyer contrasts Wall's bluster against Rachel Notley's constructive approach.

- Finally, Ryan Meili interviews Maude Barlow about the importance of activism and the opportunity to build a healthier Canada in this fall's election.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging


Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Christopher Majka reviews Henry Mintzberg's Rebalancing Society as a noteworthy discussion of the need for balance between the public, private and "plural" sectors. And David Madland is pleased to see the U.S.' Democrats finally fighting back against the view that the corporate sector is the only one worth favouring through government.

- But there's far more to be done in putting the public back in public policy - particularly when, as Bill Tieleman points out, we're being asked to accept more and more strict "trade" agreements designed to ensure that democracy can't overcome corporate interests.

- Barrie McKenna writes about the absurdity of using public money to generate profits for private sports teams.

- Anne Kingston reports on a bizarre new set of conflict of interest rules the Cons have imposed on employees of Natural Resources Canada - where employees with such risk factors as friends in the workplace or an academic background are apparently seen as more of a priority for targeting than those actively lobbying for the oil industry. And the Vancouver Observer exposes the "delusional" Enbridge argument that First Nations are prepared to abandon their territories to the ravages of the Northern Gateway pipeline.

- Trevor Timm wonders whether the "tough on crime" theme has run its course in the U.S. - though once again if the rest of the world is headed toward policy aimed at achieving results rather than designating and bashing political enemies, the Cons will be the last to acknowledge the change.

- Finally, Dan Taekema and the CP each report on a much-needed court challenge to Bill C-51. And the CP also notes that by the RCMP's own account, the establishment of a secret police force may make us less safe.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Anna Leventhal warns against the danger that even the best-intentioned of charity drives might be seen as replacing the need for social supports:
Now campaigns are ubiquitous, and range from book tours to pet surgeries to basic subsistence for marginalized people in crisis. But with crowdfunding increasingly called on to plug the holes left by funding cuts (consider that in 2014 Canadians pledged over $27 million to Kickstarter alone, and that from 2013 to 2014 the amount crowdfunded globally jumped from US$6.1 billion to US$16.2 billion), the stakes are getting higher and the trouble with putting this support to the free market is becoming clear.

Do we back campaigns based on the perceived worthiness or importance of the project? The neediness of the asker? How well we know the asker and how bad we're likely to feel if their project can't be realized? Is it OK that we're being given the right, and the responsibility, to make these kinds of calls? Should the artist with the most Facebook friends win? Should the person to get support for a disability be the one with the best Twitter game? Letting the invisible hand guide these decisions seems not only flawed but dangerous.
Frustrated citizens who care about the community's well-being can skip the arduous process of engaging with the federal government and trying to convince it that First Nations communities are worth caring about, and just give directly to the cause. Such a move seems part resourceful community-mindedness and part Band-Aid-over-metastasized-cancer. As Chief Edwin Resky is quoted as saying on the campaign's page, “While we appreciate your intentions, at the same time we wonder what kind of country Canada is when safe access to essential services, when our right to clean drinking water, when access to basic economic opportunity, must depend on the kindness of strangers?”
- Meanwhile, Ryan Meili reminds us of the dangers posed by a growing income gap. PressProgress exposes a few of the most appalling right-wing excuses for the continued underpayment of women in the workplace, while Tom Boggioni tells the story of how Laura Browder's attempt to find work as a single mother (in the absence of reasonable social supports and child care options) led to her arrest.

- Steve Barnes discusses the Wellesley Institute's latest study on the connection between insufficient incomes and a lack of access to prescription drugs. 

- Mychalo Prystupa reports that First Nations are rightly concerned that Nexen's recent oil spill is just a small part of a larger pattern of environmental degradation. And Gemma Karstens-Smith notes that long after the English Bay oil spill was proclaimed to have been fully contained, evidence is surfacing of contamination in areas up to 12 kilometres from the site of the spill.

- Finally, Bruce Johnstone asks what comes next now that Canada is facing a recession. And Konrad Yakabuski writes that the response to the latest downturn represents a rare point of contrast between Stephen Harper and Tony Abbott - as even the Cons' Australian cousins aren't so blinkered as to push through more cuts as the economy falters.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

On governing alternatives

As David Climenhaga points out, Brad Wall has positioned himself as the heir to Stephen Harper's throne as the voice of the anti-democratic corporate elite. But let's note that Wall and his mindset aren't without some jarring approval within the media.

For example, I've already highlighted John Ibbitson's argument that the federal NDP should be concealing the fact that it's talking to people who can help with preparations in the event that voters choose to elect it. (As an aside, that theory is as politically inexplicable for a party focused on being "ready" for government as it is offensive to the concept of voting by an informed public - but let's stick with the latter point for now.)

But it isn't only the NDP that's being instructed that people should have neither knowledge of, nor input into, the parties running to govern them.

It would be one thing for L. Ian MacDonald to find reason for concern in the fact that one of Stephen Harper's cabinet ministers wasn't well enough connected with her riding to earn a nomination. It's quite another for him to explicitly ask "why wasn’t Yelich protected by the party?" against democratic processes - making the default position one in which members get no say in nominating the candidates who are to represent them.

All of which is to say that Climenhaga is right in pointing out the dichotomy between political actors dedicated to treating the public as a problem to be managed in the service of the wealthy (and their apologists pleading to be cut out of democratic processes themselves), and those who actually see value in serving the public:
Mr. Wall’s frustration reflects the opinion of many on the right, including his ideological fellow travellers in Ottawa, at the challenge mounted by Ms. Notley and Alberta’s new NDP government to their neoliberal approach to governance. No doubt they are particularly vexed by what this might mean for their attempts to eliminate the ability of citizens within the Canadian federation to control the energy industry in their own jurisdictions.

Mr. Wall and like-minded conservatives elsewhere in Canada, including here in Alberta, have long attempted to erect, if readers will forgive me, a Saskatchewan Wall between the public face of democracy and the ability of citizens to influence fundamental policies undertaken by their governments.

In other words, in the neoliberal worldview, democracy is only about the periodic selection of leaders expected to carry out economic policies already determined by an “expert” leadership consensus.
From Mr. Wall’s point of view, building pipelines to all points of the compass and catering to every whim of the energy industry is not just sound policy, it is simply non-negotiable. Asking other provinces – or, God forbid, their ordinary citizens – what they think about it must seem deeply subversive to someone who believes such perspectives ought to be irrelevant.

The idea Ms. Notley was seeking consensus to help Alberta apparently appeared so outrageous to Mr. Wall he let his mask of congeniality slip in public. Well, he wouldn’t be the first person to mistake Ms. Notley’s engaging manner for a lack of steel. This is a serious error, as some have discovered already.

Ms. Notley, by contrast, has a fundamentally different, much more traditional, view of democracy in which political parties are needed to act as brokers of conflicting ideas to build consensus on policies that a majority of voters can support.
Which means in turn that this fall's election isn't only about electing a New Democratic government, but also a newly-democratic government. And in order to accomplish those goals, we'll need to push back hard against people who have no taste for either.

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Matthew Brown and Matt Volz report on the latest oil train derailment in North Dakota. Justin Giovannetti discusses how fracking is leading to regular earthquakes in previously-stable parts of Alberta - which looks doubly dangerous given the presence of pipelines in the affected area. Garret Ellison examines Enbridge's blithe disregard for the safety of 60-year-old pipelines which it wants to keep operating indefinitely. And Chris Mooney comments on the link between climate change and wildfires.

- All of which leads nicely to Tzeporah Berman's point that we need to start a real discussion of how to transition away from our addiction to oil.

- Julia Belluz interviews Amy Kapczynski about the TPP's impact on drug prices - which includes entrenching restrictions on the development of generic alternatives which even the U.S. wants to reverse in its domestic policy. And the Star's editorial board makes the case for a national pharmacare plan to tilt the balance in favour of citizens and the public purse.

- Wayne Kondro reports that the Cons' own hand-picked panel of health experts confirmed the need for federal leadership in health care - even in the face of direct pressure from the PMO to say otherwise.

- Finally, Jeremy Nuttall discusses the Cons' relationship with the media. (Though I'm not sure there's much more to it than simple projection on each side: the Cons believing the media to be every bit as biased as themselves, the media being surprised the Cons don't share any interest in talking about facts rather than spewing propaganda.) And Michael Harris follows up on #CPCJesus by comparing the Cons to their supposed inspiration.