Category Archives: Liberal Party of Canada is NOT progressive

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.”


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.”

"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

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. 

The Real Assault on Democracy

While Stephen Harper has provided obvious fodder in the last few months for the assertion that our democracy is crumbling, we ought not to lose sight of the fact that the real assault on democracy is being perpetrated by the Liberals. Harper throws wrecking balls at democracy, but Liberals are the water damage that erodes the foundation. Which is more insidious? I believe the duplicity and surreptitiousness of the Liberals is ultimately worse. Firstly, because Liberals are no better than Conservatives and secondly because the public, sadly even “progressives”, repeatedly fall for the illusion that Liberals are an answer to the erosion of democracy and the future of Canada. Two examples come to mind from today’s news.

In a real democracy, there ought to be a functioning progressive and critical voice represented in the spectrum of mainstream media. In Canada, for instance, even red necks, beer guzzling populists, and potbellied army loving mullet wearing males who revel in the destruction of the planet regularly are reflected The Toronto Sun and the National Post. Similarly, smarmy careerists and opportunists of middling intelligence burdened by colonial guilt but not really willing to do anything substantive about it and who equate democracy with Liberalism and conflate pragmatism with entitlement will find themselves reflected in The Toronto Star. What about a critical Left perspective? Wholly absent from mainstream media (yes in part owing to failures of the Left as well).

To anyone who has ever doubted that The Star is anything but a shill for the Liberal Party, you need to look no further than than today’s paper which leads with a vicious, calculated and sensationalistic attack on Adam Giambrone. That an alleged affair by a mayoral candidate would make the news is not surprising. What is surprising is the newsbroker. If the Toronto Sun (which I’m sure is relishing piling on Giamrone) or Sue-Ann Levy (expect her hysterical contribution soon) had led the charge of such an attack, I wouldn’t have blinked, but this was perpetrated by The Star; and in a fashion meant deliberately not only to sully his character but to destroy his political campaign. For right-wing Puritans the news of an affair would have been enough, but you add the revelations of the political staging of his live-in relationship and you add a whole new layer of dishonesty and opportunism. And what do Liberals notoriously excel at? Yes, staging, co-ordinated photo-ops, creating false appearances, and win at all costs opportunism.

Here’s another take on events, about as substantiated as the Star’s revelations. This entire episode reeks of gutter politics, precisely those not unknown to that prototypical Liberal, George Smitherman. Wonder if he’s ever used his office inappropriately. The Star story is far too crafted and is deliberately nuanced to undermine the political campaign. This is clearly not done in the interests of the public, but transparently politically motivated. While various candidates stand to benefit from this crippling blow to Giambrone, Smitherman has the most to gain in that it virtually makes him an uncontested front runner. I’m not suggesting that the Smitherman goons have paid this woman to come forward (not that it’s beneath them), rather that the changing political culture at the Star, as the unabashed mouthpiece of the Ontario Liberals, is such that it too now shamelessly engages in the same sleek, demeaning and nefarious kind of politics that characterize the modern Ontario Liberals.

I mean, even if what is reported is accurate, is it really that reprehensible that Giambrone would attempt to minimize his relationship if trying to seduce someone else? I certainly hope we never reach the day when all of our correspondences, especially those about which we have an expectation of privacy, become public. You can bet, however, that if someone did come forward with allegations about Smitherman’s inappropriate sexual or professional behaviour, The Star would not take the lead.

Lastly, I understand that tomorrow across Ontario will be held a forced ratification vote amongst the province’s 9000 or so “full-time” faculty, a majority of whom are really not at all full-time but partial-load (which means no class limits, no job security, no pay for prep or evaluation). My understanding also is that the average annual salary of these faculty is just over 30000. My sense is that the dispute is hardly about a bunch of overpaid facultyThere are also about 8000 part-time & “sessional” teachers who do the bulk of the teaching, but that’s a whole other story.

For the membership to accept the imposed final offer is quite simply is a capitulation to the continued undermining of collective bargaining and democracy in this province. The attack on this constitutionally protected right was brazenly started by Mike Harris who shamelessly repealed anti-scab legislation, made union certification more difficult and decertification easier, even repealing a law that had allowed farm labourers to unionize. Here’s my problem: The current Liberal government swept into power promising to reverse the damage only to surreptitiously continue the assault on organized labour. Each time workers are legislated back to work, each time a forced ratification vote is granted, it only naturalizes these insidious assaults on democracy. And it is precisely in recessionary times that we must not cede ground.

For the record, a forced ratification vote is nothing but a calculated attempt to circumvent a duly elected representative union executive and its bargaining team by ignoring its legitimacy and attempting to sway the membership directly. It is neither endemic nor helpful to reaching negotiated settlements.

P.S. Sociopathic military leaders? That’s only the second place I’d go looking for sociopaths. Number #1 location in Canada for sociopaths: Bay St., Toronto.

To all who call themselves "progressives" yet vote Liberal, Please Read!

I would like to think that being “progressive” entails a whole series of critical renegotiations (one’s relation to capitalism, to democracy, even to politics itself) as well as certain political demands (electoral reform, justice, civil rights etc.). Yet, I’ll settle for this one. To all self-styled “progressives” who vote Liberal, please re-examine your assumption that the Liberals are in fact “progressive”. That may be the most singularly dangerous piece of unquestioned self-evidence circulating out there. Thanks to Jan from the Bruce for drawing my attention to this excellent piece exposing the federal Liberals led by Ignatieff as hollow and false champions of the “Left”.

I urge “progressives” to read fully and carefully the linked article, particularly those who voted “strategically” in last year’s election (one of the casualties of which was incumbent Peggy Nash being ousted by Gerard Kennedy- that is, a first rate parliamentarian and true champion of the Left, respected by all, being replaced by a second rate politician and false “progressive”). Here’s a sample:

On Friday, the Liberal Party of Canada threw down the gauntlet and submitted a vote of no confidence in the minority government led by Conservative PM Stephen Harper. Many progressives might think “why not?” Harper is, after all, a wolf in wolf’s clothing, managing to run a neoconservative, neoliberal government with voter support of his party in the mid-30 percent range, and all the rest of Canada to his left.

Unfortunately, Harper’s challenger, Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff, is just as much a wolf, but poses a much greater danger to the Left because he dresses as our shepherd…

Until Friday, Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals had supported the Conservative government in 79 consecutive confidence votes since 2007. That wouldn’t be so concerning if the Liberals had been winning major concessions for progressives, but no such luck.

At a basic level, Ignatieff has acted in ideological accord with the Conservatives. Ignatieff is short on details of how he would have behaved any differently than Harper, even when agitating for an election. If he is a progressive at all, it is in hindsight only: whether in the States or in Parliament, Ignatieff goes along when policy is being made, denies problems as they occur and complains unconvincingly about the consequences.

Now we know why the Liberals aren’t running on electoral reform!

While desperately groveling for the “progressive” vote, Liberal hack Jason Cherniak unwittingly tells the truth about why the Liberals refuse to run on electoral reform, and, incidentally, why McGuinty did everything possible to make sure MMP didn’t come to pass in Ontario. Cherniak writes:

Progressive voters need to understand that the seat distribution in Canada favours the Liberals over any other party.

Oh really! Actually, what “progressive” voters need to understand is that the Liberals are NOT running on electoral reform, which, in my view, disqualifies them from any claims to the term “progressive.” Strategic voting is a symptom of the flaw in the system, not a cure!  In fact, if we’re going to play to a strength of the FPTP system (i.e. local representation) we should all simply vote for the candidate which best represents our interest and desires.

Actually, what “progressive” voters need to understand is that if the Liberals were at all interested in genuinely advocating “strategic voting”, they would be urging voters to vote for the “progressive” option (be it NDP, Green or Liberal)  that best stands a chance at beating a Conservative candidate.  Cherniak is advocating all progressives vote Liberal everywhere except, and this is a howler, where Liberals have been at 10% in the past. Then, and only then, vote freely for a “progressive” option. Give me a break, this is an insult to “strategic voting”, which is itself already an insult. 

Actually, what “progressive” voters need to understand is that the Liberals abdicated a fundamental responsibility in any democracy: that of the Official Opposition. Their arrogance and sense of entitlement to being the naturally governing party resulted in an Absent Opposition that is a breach of democracy itself. Gerard Kennedy has the audacity to publicly claim the Liberals sat idly by (while a mission in Afghanistan was being extended, while budgets slashing funding to literacy programs, women’s programs, to social programs were passed, while freedom to information and the court challenges program was attacked) for the benefit of Canadians.
Actually, what “progressive” voters need to understand is that it was the Liberals that put us in this position in the first place. A vote for the Liberals is a vote to reward the party that best stood a chance at stopping Harper for making sure Harper returns to government virtually unchallenged.  A vote for the Liberals is a vote for a selfish choice of leader (one which couldn’t have played better into Harper’s hands), a vote for a “professorial” uncommunicative leader who was unable to rein in the huge resentful egos that stood to his left and right nor do anything to heal the old rifts in the party.  A vote for the Liberals is a vote for a caucus in disarray.
Actually, what “progressive” voters need to understand is that Liberal governments and Conservative governments are much more similar than is commonly assumed!

Actually, what “progressive” voters REALLY need to understand is that the LIBERALS ARE NOT “PROGRESSIVE.”