Stephen crosses the Rubicon as Justin jumps the shark

Bill C-51: It's Shake 'n BakeAfter a near decade-long conquest of Gaul, which many of the senators who would later stab him to death considered illegal, Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon river on his way back to Rome with his one remaining legion. His intentional act of insurrection paved the way for the republic’s fall and for his own eventual assassination. Continue reading

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What will an NDP Alberta mean for Canada?

Mayes - Edmonton Journal

Cartoon by Malcolm Mayes – Edmonton Journal

It may come as a surprise to Canadians who do not maintain a dangerously dependent relationship with Twitter when they wake up Wednesday morning to an NDP government in Alberta. Indeed, convincing Albertans themselves of this surprising turn of events has been an undoubtedly challenging yet seemingly quite enjoyable project for supporters of Alberta’s NDP. Continue reading

#LifeWithNDP Looking Better and Better in Alberta

Alberta's NDP Leader Rachel Notley reacts to Alberta Premier's mischaracterisation of her corporate tax position - Global News

Alberta’s NDP Leader Rachel Notley reacts to Alberta Premier Jim Prentice’s misrepresentation of her position – Global News

The hashtag #LifeWithNDP finished a strong second Sunday in Edmonton, trending for 22 hours and five minutes, just behind #UFC186 (23 hours) and ahead of #ResistCapitalism (15.5 hours). Why does this matter? I’ll tell you why it matters! It matters because #LifeWithNDP, with a little help from #MathIsHard, may turn what many observers see as an orange ripple in Alberta into an orange wave. Continue reading

Canada’s Fair Elections Act: Deliberately Devolving Democracy

John Fewings

John Fewings

Elected in May 2011 with 39.6% of the vote[1] and, accounting for the 38.9% of eligible Canadian voters who did not cast their ballots,[2] only 24.2% of all available ballots cast in its favour, Stephen Harper’s majority Conservative government has been often characterized as undemocratic. The notion that a party supported by less than one quarter of Canadians was able to claim 166 seats in our House of Commons[3] has emboldened advocacy efforts of groups like Fair Vote Canada in favour of moving toward an electoral system more reflective of an increasingly diverse electorate.[4] Beyond the curious circumstance of its rise to power, this government has employed its mandate to persistently and fundamentally alter Canadian democracy. From phasing out the approximately $2-per-vote subsidy for registered political parties[5] to stifling the speech of scientists and other civil servants[6] to further consolidation of messaging in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Privy Council Office (PCO), including Parks Canada having to seek PMO/PCO approval of a release on the mating season of black bears,[7] this third Harper government and the two that preceded it have aimed to diminish the public sector’s role in Canada’s political landscape while failing to keep its campaign promises of greater government transparency and accountability. Whether undemocratic or not, these and other changes, such as new and stricter voter identification requirements introduced in 2007,[8] lay the foundation for a different democracy in Canada. Conservatives will maintain it is a more fair system, partially because it is a more natural one, with greater emphasis on private contributions, less public meddling, and clear rules without exception. Yet can it be said that nature truly tends toward fairness, or is a more natural system merely less evolved? Continue reading

Income splitting and the myth of child-care choice

A dominant topic in yesterday’s House of Commons Question Period was the government’s new income-splitting plan, which they adamantly and repeatedly insisted benefits all Canadians with children and against which they contrasted the NDP’s recently announced plan to move toward universal child care. ‘Choice’ was the watchword, with the government again and again accusing critics of wishing to deny parents the choice of how best to raise their children. But just how available and how viable is that choice for Canada’s low- and middle-income families? Continue reading

From #JUNOS2014 to #UnfairElxnsAct: 5 ways to engage Canadians on #Twitter

A Tribe Called Red celebrating JUNO win - photo by Winnipeg Free Press

A Tribe Called Red celebrating well-earned JUNO win – photo by Winnipeg Free Press

This year’s Juno Awards in Winnipeg made its mark on Canadian social media, with over 14,400 Canadians tweeting the hashtag #JUNOS2014 over the course of the event, leaving aside near-misses – #JUNO2014 & #JUNOS14, #JUNO. While no-show Justin Bieber can muster over 100,000 retweets of the youthful wisdom below, in a nation of 35 million, 14,400 of anything is kind of a big deal. From Tegan and Sara’s hat trick to Bieber’s boos, moments were multiplied exponentially by our desire to share. Continue reading

The ‘real’ Rob Ford and our ‘there, but for the grace of God’ complex

Toronto Mayor Rob FordMonday night, Twitter exploded for reasons unrelated to either Ellen Degeneres or Kevin Spacey. Mayor of Canada’s largest city, the unbearably infamous Rob Ford, joined Gonzo the Great on Jimmy Kimmel Live. In LA for what was billed by the mayor as a publicity tour, Mayor Ford proved yet again proved he has what it takes to get the job done. “Customer service,” as he insistently put it. “I’m a business man, Jimmy. I run it like a business. No nonsense.” Nonsense? Perish the thought! “Rob f-ing King Ford” could never be accused of nonsense. He’s “just a normal, average, hard-working politician that’s real.” To be sure, ‘nonsense’ is not the word to describe Mayor Ford. The word is ‘real’ – terribly and unmistakably real. Continue reading

As Ontario’s minimum wage freeze thaws, some hearts remain cold

ACORN Minimum Wage Rally - 20140215

Photo by Martin Roy, Le Droit

A frigid day outside an empty Toys “R” Us parking lot on Merivale, with two hearty bands huddled against the elements, competing for the loudest chant of “we are gonna put up a fuss, a living wage is a must!” Ottawa ACORN Members from around the city organized the event Saturday in response to continued public pressure by the Retail Council of Canada for the Ontario government to rethink its recent commitment to end a four-year freeze on the minimum wage and raise it a modest 75 cents to $11/h, a far cry from the $14/h called for by a coalition of community, poverty, and labour groups in the province. Continue reading