News for progressives

Andrea Horwath will be Ontario's next premier -- remember where you heard it first, Albertans

Rabble News - Fri, 2018-03-09 02:23
David J. Climenhaga

Andrea Horwath's New Democrats are going to win the Ontario provincial election on June 7.

I know this because I'm from Alberta and we've been through this perfect storm already.

In the early spring of 2015, Alberta's provincial election was looming. Polling suggested Alberta voters were growing tired of the Progressive Conservative Dynasty -- then led by banker and former Conservative MP Jim Prentice.

But since we'd all learned from our mamas that Alberta was "the most conservative province in Canada," and since the PCs had been in power for close to 44 years, change was hard to imagine.

In mid-March, Prentice, his caucus expanded by 10 Wildrose MLAs who had recently defected to his side, was projected to win a 64-seat majority.

Pundits, praying for a horserace, started to predict the even-further-to-the-right Wildrose Party holdouts might make a breakthrough, and, for a spell, Alberta voters seemed to go along with that notion.

Twenty-six days before the election, polling analyst Eric Grenier's usually reliable poll aggregation site cautiously predicted a Wildrose victory with as many as 48 seats. "That makes them the only party in the projection with a likely range surpassing the 44-seat mark needed for a majority government," he wrote.

The New Democrats might form the Opposition, Grenier suggested, with the PCs coming third.

Prentice seemed unfazed, though, serenely campaigning under the slogan "Choose Alberta's Future."

Well, we all know what happened on May 5. Alberta's New Democrats, led by the charismatic and obviously capable Rachel Notley, were picked by voters to lead Alberta into a future no one quite expected.

Voters apparently concluded they'd not only had enough of the Progressive Conservatives, they'd had enough of conservatives altogether.

Why did this happen? Well, nobody really knows, but it seems likely the Alberta electorate, more sophisticated than they were ever given credit for by all the usual suspects, were righteously sick of the Tories but uninterested in an even more extreme version of the same thing.

Notley was a familiar face in a new role, obviously capable, and genuinely progressive -- as were a great many Albertans, it turned out, just like voters in Ontario.

Some voters may have soon experienced buyer's regret, but they gave Notley a 54-seat majority and history was made, especially since the NDP Caucus had only four members on the day Prentice dropped the writ.

Now it is the spring of 2018 and Ontario is about nine weeks away from its next provincial election. The situation is not exactly the same as it was in Alberta in the spring of 2015, but the similarities are striking.

The government of Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne has grown long in the tooth, touched by scandal and voter fatigue. She has been in power since 2013. The Ontario Liberal Party has run the province without a break since 2003.

The prevailing narrative of pundits leading into the previous Ontario election, in 2014, was that voters were sick of the Liberals and would pick the PCs.

But Tim Hudak, who had become leader of the PC Opposition in 2009, came out as an anti-union obsessive, determined to turn the province into a Republican right-to-work state. This and other things apparently caused sufficient disquiet among Ontario voters for Wynne to hang on for another term in 2014.

Hudak then quit. After a spell under an interim leader, party members elected Patrick Brown, a federal conservative MP from Barrie, in May 2015.

In the past few weeks, things have gotten very interesting.

For those in Western Canada who haven't been paying attention to Ontario political developments with their jaw hanging open, in just the past two weeks, Brown has been accused by two women of sexually inappropriate behaviour, forced to resign his position as leader after rebellions by his staff and caucus, sued CTV for defamation over their coverage of the accusations, declared himself to have been cleared of the accusations, been permitted to run to replace himself as leader, is being investigated by the provincial Integrity Commissioner for not declaring all sources of income, is being investigated by the police for alleged forgery and fraud, and has dropped out of the race he just dropped into.

Now the media says Doug Ford, the similarly bombastic brother of Rob Ford, the never to be forgotten mayor of Toronto who died on March 22 last year.

It is, in other words, an absolute gong show, hard to keep up with, and, probably, everything will change again tomorrow!

The province's voters are doubtless still sick of Wynne's Liberals, but the PC Opposition is leaderless, in a state of open rebellion, and quite obviously incapable of safely operating a hot dog stand, let alone Canada's most populous province.

Oh, and Caroline Mulroney, the daughter of old Basso Profundo himself, is also running for the party's leadership.

For the moment, it is not clear what Ontario voters are going to do.

Political commentator Warren Kinsella, a Liberal, gloomily reported on his blog that the Ontario PCs are still competitive. Mind you, that conclusion was based on polls taken before the latest parade of clown cars headed up Toronto's University Avenue toward the Ontario Legislature, honking their horns as men in fright wigs on tiny motorcycles buzzed around them.

Kinsella certainly knows the Ontario political scene better that I do. He lives there, after all, and I haven't for 30 years.

I have lived in Alberta, though, so here's what I think is going to happen:

Andrea Horwath, the MPP (as Ontario pretentiously calls its MLAs) for Hamilton Centre who has run the NDP caucus at Queen's Park (as Ontario pretentiously calls its Legislature) for nearly a decade without messing up dramatically enough for it to be noticed out here on the Prairies, will canter into power, just as Notley did.

She's a single mom, a responsible job if ever there was one. She's a former Hamilton city councillor. She's been an MPP since 2004. She's run literacy programs for unions. She's made a cause of social housing and injured workers' rights. She was honoured with the Woman of the Year in Public Affairs in 1999 the Hamilton Status of Women Committee. She knows how to act like a grownup.

You get the picture.

Horwath is going to look to a lot of voters like she's got what it takes to be premier. She's by definition not a right-wing loon who's going to act like an ideological bull and smash all the china. (Ontario's been there under Conservative golfer and premier Mike Harris. Nobody wants the T-shirt.)

Horwath is untainted by the scandals associated with the Wynne government. But she ticks most of the other boxes for stuff Ontarians liked about Wynne.

Like Notley, she's a familiar face seeking a new role, obviously capable, and genuinely progressive.

So why not vote for her?

Of course, people closer to the scene are going to have a thousand and one reasons why I'm wrong.

The polls Kinsella noted, for example, show the Liberals and the NDP in a statistical tie, each with lower support than the PCs. But that will change as election day nears and progressive votes shift toward the party most likely to keep dangerous clowns out of power.

We Albertans have already seen this movie and, no matter what the Opposition claims, the ending's still pretty good.

So Andrea Horwath is going to win on June 7, just like Rachel Notley did on May 5, 2015. Remember where you heard it first, Alberta!

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog,

Photo: Ontario NDP/flickr

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Categories: News for progressives

Build Canada's progressive future at the municipal level

Rabble News - Fri, 2018-03-09 00:51
March 8, 2018Politics in CanadaMunicipal victories: Rebuilding Canada's progressive futureFrom the Press Progress Summit 2017, an exploration of how to build Canada’s progressive future at the most local of political levels – our cities and towns.municipal governmentElectionscampaigns
Categories: News for progressives

Syrian War Report – March 8, 2018: Syrian Army Liberates Key Town, Advances Further In East Ghouta The Syrian Arab Army (SAA), the Tiger Forces and their allies liberated the town of Bayt Siwa, the Tank Base around Hawsh al-Ash’ari and imposed fire control over the
Categories: News for progressives

Spectacular flame-out of Derek Fildebrandt continues to pick up speed

Rabble News - Thu, 2018-03-08 14:22
David J. Climenhaga

It's all about Derek!

The spectacular flame-out of Derek Fildebrandt, a politician once touted (at least by himself) as potential leader of the united right in Alberta, continues to pick up speed, generating light and eerie noises in the night skies over Alberta.

It's mildly unnerving to watch the political career of the Independent MLA for Strathmore-Brooks and self-described "Liberty Conservative" trailing smoke and sparks as it plummets toward the surface of the planet.

Not long ago, the 32-year-old Mr. Fildebrandt was the fair-haired boy of the libertarian fringe of the Canadian conservative movement. The former stunt producer for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation had made good. He was an actual elected official with at least a long-shot chance of someday leading a sizeable number of the country's conservatives.

Then, in short order, came the Airbnb bust, the meal chits fiasco, the traffic fine for playing unauthorized bumper cars in an Edmonton parking lot, and the illegal shooting of a deer in a farmer's field near Sundre. Well, there's small comfort at least in the merciful fact it wasn't a farmer's prize quarter horse he blasted! Fines and such things followed.

Then came the final humiliation, the Ottawa native's permanent banishment to the Siberia of Canadian politics -- the Independent benches.

The unkindest cut of all was that he was sent into exile by Jason Kenney himself, leader of the United Conservative Party and, like Mr. Fildebrandt, a former CTF operative. It happened just as Mr. Fildebrandt thought he was about to be welcomed back to the embrace of the Opposition, although never again as finance critic.

So, yesterday, there was Mr. Fildebrandt at a one-man "news conference" in the Legislature Building in Edmonton, holding forth on how he would introduce a private member's bill saying Alberta MLAs should give up 5 per cent of their salaries until the provincial budget is balanced. Never mind that it's a silly idea, a typical CTF stunt, the government must be tempted to endorse it just to get up Mr. Kenney's nose.

The thing is, it's always all about Derek! No one in the Legislature is less self-aware than Mr. Fildebrandt.

It is quite likely he missed entirely that the media reporters who showed up yesterday did so to see an entertaining diversion from the more serious business of this afternoon's Speech from the Throne, in which the NDP Government of Premier Rachel Notley will introduce its legislative program for the crucial final year before the 2019 general election.

Becoming maudlin, Mr. Fildebrandt bitterly declared: "Politics is full of bullshit."

He was so heartbroken by the astounding news Mr. Kenney might prefer a prefer a capable and politically presentable woman like UCP Deputy Leader Leela Aheer for the nomination in what was left of his old riding that "I pretty much locked myself in my apartment with scotch for a few weeks." He went on for the benefit of the wondering press: "I didn't even pay a parking ticket I had." (Now there's a surprise!)

He accused the impartial Electoral Boundaries Commission of scheming against him. He said he'd been approached to join the Alberta Party. The Alberta Party swiftly fired off a tweet of denial.

Readers will get the picture. You just can't make this stuff up. Mr. Fildebrandt thinks he's starring in a movie. He doesn't seem to realize it's a comedy, a dark one that's going direct to video.

To put this in cosmic context, Mr. Fildebrandt is like a large hunk of interstellar ice hurtling toward the Earth. When he hits the atmosphere, sparks will fly … but there will be no impact.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog,

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Categories: News for progressives

No. Russians Did Not Hack The FCC Comments.

A member of the Federal Communications Commission, Jessica Rosenworcel, wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post. bigger It is unlikely that the headline was chosen by the author of the op-ed. The editors of the Washington Post opinion page wrote...
Categories: News for progressives

We're hiring! seeks Editor in Chief

Rabble News - Thu, 2018-03-08 03:01
rabble staff

Are you a Canadian news junkie who knows the keyboard is more powerful than the sword? Do you understand the power of media in making political and social change, and working towards decolonization and anti-racism -- and do you want to do something about the need for powerful alternative progressive media voices in Canada? If this sounds like you, read on., one of Canada's leading alternative progressive media sources, seeks a dynamic Editor in Chief to direct and edit day-to-day news and feature operations, and integrate multimedia and social media functions into the work of rabble on a daily basis, while managing an energetic and engaged staff and writer team.

The Job

The Editor in Chief (EIC) is the senior editorial role at, and at 28 to 35 hours per week (negotiable), is the position most regularly on the website during weekday hours.

The EIC is a strong communicator, excellent print editor, with senior digital news media, editing and management experience.

The EIC is a Canadian news buff, who thrives on keeping up with and engaging in discussion of mainstream media, in addition to the alternative press, while developing an understanding of rabble's positioning in the media landscape. The EIC is the primary editorial voice of rabble, and leads this 17-year-old progressive non-profit media site. The EIC has a passion for media democracy, and understands the power and possibilities of independent media in the face of the changing landscape of news production and dissemination.

Broadly, the EIC deploys's editorial vision and strategies, manages the news features, opinion sections, and works with beat editors, section editors, guest editors, as well as regular staff writers, interns, bloggers, podcasters and freelancers.

The major editorial responsibilities for the EIC are the "news & features" section of rabble -- which includes news reports, feature stories, interviews, and series. The EIC also selects commentaries and opinion pieces to be published in "The Views Expressed" opinion section.

Daily, the EIC updates rabble's editorial calendar -- juggling the planned editorial schedule with emerging coverage priorities. The EIC selects, edits if necessary, and posts a daily front-page photo feature. The EIC ensures social media promotion for content is highly shareable and up to date, following rabble's social media posting guidelines, and ensures a daily auto-generated email newsletter is sent.

The editor will be part of a virtual office environment, and may work from a rabble office space in Toronto, Vancouver or Ottawa -- however, for the right candidate, this position can be based anywhere in Canada.


- Candidates should have strong organizational and management skills, extensive editing experience in a news media environment, a demonstrated ability to multi-task and to meet deadlines, a collaborative approach to teamwork, comfort with web editing in Drupal, an affinity for social media and for learning new technology and software, and a creative approach to working with limited financial resources;

- At least three years' experience in a senior editor role in a news media organization;

- A journalism degree or equivalent experience;

- Knowledge of and demonstrated interest in progressive politics, social movements, and current national affairs, including Indigenous movements, environmental justice, and migrant justice issues;

- A passion for all the digital tools available to journalists and experience in putting them to use.


Familiarity with Basecamp, Chartbeat, Slack, and photo-editing software. rabble's content management system is Drupal-based. 

To Apply:

Please send cover letter, resume, references and a short writing sample outlining your vision for the future of (one-page maximum) to:

Managing Editor Michelle Gregus c/o jobs[at] noting "Editor application" in the subject line.

In the spirit of the virtual office, only electronic applications will be accepted.

Please note: we thank all who apply, but only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted. Interviews for this position will take place on a rolling basis, so don't delay sending in your application. is committed to equity iand anti-racism n its policies and practices, supports diversity in its journalistic and work environments, and ensures that applications for members of underrepresented groups are seriously considered under employment equity. All qualified individuals who would contribute to the further diversification of the community are encouraged to apply.

Image: Ryan Wiegert/flickr

Categories: News for progressives

Canada’s Envy: Russia and China

by Cameron Pike for the Saker Blog I attended a presentation entitled “Rising China: What Lessons Can We Learn From the 19th Party Congress?”, given by Guy Saint-Jacques, former Canadian
Categories: News for progressives

Remember the fun with Harper hashtags? We can do that again

Rabble News - Wed, 2018-03-07 23:01
March 7, 2018Politics in CanadaA reminder that good words can make good political responses -- and lead to better political possibilitiesCanadian politics
Categories: News for progressives

“La Rua Madureira” by Nino Ferrer

One of his most beautiful songs, and since I am currently working on a version for 2 guitars (and enjoying every second of it), I wanted to also share this
Categories: News for progressives

How Zionist is the New World Order

by Laurent Guyénot for the Saker Blog Laurent Guyénot is the author of From Yahweh to Zion: Jealous God, Chosen People, Promised Land … Clash of Civilizations, 2018.  ($30 shipping included
Categories: News for progressives

Budget Fails to Crack Down on Private Corp Tax Shelter

Progressive economics forum - Wed, 2018-03-07 05:10

The federal Budget changed the rules a bit re the taxation of passive investment income in private corporations, but falls well short of what was promised in terms of extra revenues and more tax fairness. The “small business” lobby helped the wealthy big time.



Categories: News for progressives

Syrian War Report – March 6, 2018: Militants Retreat Under Syrian Army Pressure In Eastern Ghouta The Syrian Arab Army, the Tiger Forces and their allies have advanced on positions of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) and other militant groups in the areas of
Categories: News for progressives

Five things to know about the 2018 federal budget and housing

Rabble News - Wed, 2018-03-07 00:02
Nick Falvo

The 2018 federal budget, while not as transformative as last year's, had important new initiatives related to housing and homelessness.

Here are five things to know:

1. New housing investments were announced for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.

Specifically, the budget announced $600 million over three years for on-reserve housing; $400 million over 10 years for housing in the Inuit regions of Nunavik, Nunatsiavut, and Inuvialuit; and $500 million over 10 years for housing for Métis people. In each case, this targeting funding is intended to accompany the respective federal housing strategies for each group, none of which have been released. From an urban perspective -- it's important to remember that, while Indigenous peoples make up just three per cent of Calgary's general population, they make up 20 per cent of Calgary's homeless population. Several other funding announcements were made for Indigenous peoples, valued at $5 billion over five years. This includes funding for child welfare services, employment and skills training, nursing services in designated First Nations communities, addictions treatment and prevention in First Nations communities, and funding to build administrative and fiscal capacity in First Nations communities.

2. This budget announced the further expansion and rebranding of the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB).

This is a wage supplement for workers who have a fragile toehold in the labour force. Some readers will recall that the federal government provided a $250-million enhancement to the program in 2016 (to take effect in 2019) in an effort to offset CPP expansion. In the 2017 Fall Economic Statement, the Trudeau government further announced the enhancement of WITB by an additional $500 million annually. Today's budget announced that, beginning in 2019, this benefit will be known as the Canada Workers Benefit; it will also be more generous. For some workers, this will mean up to an additional $500 annually.

3. The budget announced an increase in loans provided via the Rental Constructive Financing Initiative.

Over the new three years, the amount of loans available will increase from $2.5 billion to $3.75 billion. According to the budget: "This new funding is intended to support projects that address the needs of modest- and middle-income households struggling in expensive housing markets" (p. 40). The impact of this initiative on homelessness will be indirect at best.

4. Canada's official unemployment rate is now the lowest it's been in decades.

Since November 2015, it's gone from 7.1 per cent to 5.9 per cent. This strong labour market performance is good for the respective bottom lines of federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments -- not only does it mean more tax revenue each year, it also means some social programs (e.g., social assistance) can be drawn on less.

5. Canada's federal debt-to-GDP ratio remains (by far) the lowest of all G7 countries.

While our federal government is projecting annual federal deficits in the $10-$20 billion range for at least the next five years, our federal debt-to-GDP ratio remains by far the lowest of all G7 countries. What's more, our federal government is projecting a further reduction in our federal debt-to-GDP from 30.4 per cent (2017-18) to 28.4 per cent by 2022-23. This favourable macroeconomic context makes it easier for the federal government to invest in important social programs.

In Sum. From the vantage point of Canada's affordable housing and homelessness sectors, the good news in this budget is its important new funding announcements for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. This investment was announced in a context of low unemployment and an improving macroeconomic context overall. Going forward, I look forward to seeing further details pertaining to the many important initiatives announced in last fall's National Housing Strategy.

Nick Falvo is Director of Research and Data at the Calgary Homeless Foundation. This blog was first posted on the Calgary Homelessness Foundation.

Photo: KMR Photography/flickr

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Categories: News for progressives

Survivors of Parkland shooting are leading the movement for gun control

Rabble News - Tue, 2018-03-06 22:11
Political ActionUS Politics

The National Rifle Association didn't see it coming. It could have predicted yet another school shooting, like so many that have happened before in the United States. But what the NRA couldn't predict was the immediate and unrelenting response of the student survivors. They channelled their rage and sorrow over the killing of 17 of their classmates and teachers against the gun lobby and the politicians in their pocket. Pushed by this new momentum for change, President Donald Trump held a bipartisan meeting of congressional lawmakers Wednesday afternoon. The senators and representatives took turns laying out their policy prescriptions while heaping praise on Trump, who took credit in advance for what he said would be a "beautiful" bill that would pass the Senate with so many votes over the required 60 that it would be "unbelievable."

Whether any of the proposed policies make it into a comprehensive gun control bill remains to be seen. There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical, including the $54 million the NRA spent on presidential and congressional races during the 2016 election cycle. Democratic Congressmember Elizabeth Esty of Connecticut offered one undeniable truth at the bipartisan meeting, saying, "We're at a tipping point, because of the students." The student survivors of the Valentine's Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are the heart of the movement for gun control. They are embracing one of the strongest currents in United States history: the tradition of youth activism.

By now, many of the Parkland, Florida., survivors are nationally recognized: Emma Gonzalez, whose fiery speech days after the shooting ignited the movement; David Hogg, director of the school's student-run TV station, whose impactful media appearances contributed to a disgraceful right-wing conspiracy theory that he and others were actually trained "crisis actors"; and Sam Zeif, who at the White House "listening session" told the president: "These are not weapons of defence; these are weapons of war. … I still can't fathom that I, myself, am able to purchase one."

Others helped organize a trip of over 100 survivors from Parkland to Tallahassee, Florida, to push the state legislature for an assault-weapons ban. While the effort failed, the students emerged more determined than ever.

Youth activism goes back a long way in the U.S. In 1903, Mary Harris Jones, the legendary Irish labor organizer known popularly as "Mother Jones," led a march of hundreds of striking child labourers and their parents from Philadelphia to New York City. They were fighting against the scourge of child labour.

The civil-rights movement was propelled by youth activists. Claudette Colvin was just 15 when she refused to give up her seat for a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama -- nine months before Rosa Parks did the same thing. Colvin told us on the Democracy Now! news hour: "I could not move, because history had me glued to the seat. … Because it felt like Sojourner Truth's hands were pushing me down on one shoulder and Harriet Tubman's hands were pushing me down on another shoulder … and I yelled out, 'It's my constitutional rights!'"

One of the principal architects of the nonviolent strategy used by Martin Luther King Jr. was James Lawson, who received his ministry license in high school in 1947. He in turn trained countless activists, including John Lewis. Lewis was a leader of the Nashville Movement to desegregate lunch counters in the South, and was one of the original Freedom Riders, who braved beatings, arrests, angry mobs and death threats as they rode buses to force the desegregation of the interstate bus system.

John Lewis was just 23 when he addressed the 1963 March on Washington, where King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. In deference to suggestions made by King and fellow march organizer A. Philip Randolph, Lewis edited his speech. He took out the lines: "To those who have said, 'Be patient and wait,' we must say that 'patience' is a dirty and nasty word. We cannot be patient. We do not want to be free gradually. We want our freedom, and we want it now."

The Parkland students have called for a national March for Our Lives on March 24, in Washington, D.C., with sister marches around the country. They have raised over $3 million to support the organizing effort. Emma Gonzalez wrote in Harper's Bazaar: "March with us on March 24. Register to vote. Actually show up to the polls. Because we need to relieve the NRA of its talking points, once and for all." There are concurrent calls for nationwide high school student walkouts to demand gun control on March 14, as well as April 20 -- the 19th anniversary of the Columbine massacre.

TAmy Goodman is the host of Democracy Now!, a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,300 stations. She is the co-author, with Denis Moynihan, of The Silenced Majority, a New York Times bestseller. This column originally appeared on Democracy Now!

Photo: Lorie Shaull/flickr

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mass shootingsgun controlNational Rifle Associationyouth activismU.S. politicsAmy GoodmanDenis MoynihanMarch 6, 2018After Parkland shooting, students march for their livesThe Pentagon is in our public schools, recruiting students to the military. At its side is the NRA, putting guns into the hands of children.High school students demand action on gun control following Parkland shootingAfter the latest school shooting in Parkland, Florida, this week, students are demanding change from legislators, but many Republicans remain indebted to the NRA.Myth of American exceptionalism prevents policy change on gun controlWhy don't Americans ever learn from these things? It's a price they pay for their "exceptionalism"-- they have nothing to learn from others.
Categories: News for progressives

Hydro One privatization is the reason voters distrust Kathleen Wynne

Rabble News - Tue, 2018-03-06 21:36
ElectionsPolitics in Canada

Liberalism in all forms, including left-liberalism, seems exhausted. It ceded to neoliberalism long ago: inequality, free market worship, anti-government, etc.

What else explains the right's ability keep trotting out empty ideas and phrases -- and win elections! Wednesday's Ontario PC leadership debate was remarkable for the lack of anything fresh or even … cogitative.

You had candidates who believed the clichés -- Ford and Tanya Granic Allen. And those who -- I'd bet my house -- don't: Elliott and Mulroney. But they all know the only way to win their party is by channelling Mike Harris via Trump, then run on those bromides and probably succeed, since polls say anyone can beat Kathleen Wynne. Argggh.

Who killed liberalism? The Clintons, Blair, Martin and Chrétien, above all Obama. They talked liberalism and delivered neoliberalism. Raise hopes, then dash them. Then, when your term's over, having not done all the things you promised, take the money, run, and sunbathe on David Geffen's yacht in Tahiti.

Kathleen Wynne fits awkwardly. She sounded sincere. She said she'd be the social justice premier. She's different, I'd say, in one, commendable sense. She came through well on many fronts: pensions, tuition, minimum wage, equal pay, pharmacare.

She blew it severely on just one: she sold Hydro (Hydro One actually, but everyone says Hydro). She stumbled blatantly only there. Yet it leaves a bitter taste people seem unable to shake. How does this compute?

On a cold night in Montreal recently (bear with me) I shared an Uber back from dinner with a millennial I know. He had an account. I don't. I have a generational reluctance because Uber undermines hard-won union rights. But I can recognize a great technology. (They come in minutes, no money changes hands.) I mentioned my qualms about Uber to the millennial. "That's why I think it should be nationalized," he said. "Along with Airbnb, Spotify and Netflix."

His is a generation so disillusioned with the garbage rhetoric of politicians left and right that they talk freely about socialism. (You must go that far back to escape the stains of liberalism -- as Sanders and Corbyn have.)

They know they'll never live at the level of their parents. Their dream isn't homeowning. At most, they hope to rent reasonably. They don't expect to ever have much private property so they don't fetishize it. They're open to public ownership. Neoliberalism failed them. And they distrust Wynne too. Why? She sold Hydro.

The sell-off of public goods is the quintessence of neoliberalism. Where did the computer and internet come from? Mostly from U.S. military research, funded by taxes. All key elements of the iPhone, Mariana Mazzucato has shown, came from that research. So why not nationalize payoffs like Uber, instead of exploiting those whose taxes made it all possible? Nationalizing Uber isn't theft, it's rectifying theft. It's taking back for the people, what came from them.

Hydro stands in the same relation. Water is the soul of all life. (Hydro means water.) It's our bloodstream. It's a social necessity. Ontario Hydro was a public undertaking funded by the public that returned benefits to all. You can't sell it, you can only swipe it and hand it over, as Wynne did.

The buyers won't do anything to improve it; they'll just squeeze it to extract profits. Classical economists of the 1700s and 1800s would've called them rentseekers -- the ugliest players in capitalism. Worse, she did this in the name of acquiring money for another public good: transit. It's robbing Peter to pay Paul. It's a scam.

(There was one stunning moment in that PC leadership debate. Host Althia Raj asked if anyone would renationalize Hydro, followed by TV's rarest event: prolonged silence. No candidate had the guts to say either yes or no.)

I think people sense a deep betrayal of principle in Wynne's Hydro sell-off. Something's very wrong and if Wynne was capable of it then she's not to be trusted either, no matter what else seems to prove her worth. She belongs to them, not us. To me the great mystery of this fascinating political season in Ontario is the loathing of Wynne. This is my attempt to understand it.

I think it's a harsh judgment on her, too harsh. But we live in an age of hideous betrayals and emotions far beneath the rational level are churning.

This column was first published in the Toronto Star.

Photo: Premier of Ontario Photography/flickr

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Ontario electionKathleen WynneOntario Politicsneoliberalismhydro oneONRick SalutinMarch 6, 2018Neoliberalism is a spent force in electoral politicsThe alternative to socialism is no longer neoliberalism; it's Trumpian racist populism, which is probably a nonstarter in Ontario.The three key moments in Canada's neoliberal transformationThe last three decades have witnessed a far-reaching neoliberal transformation of the Canadian economy, politics and culture that has been dramatic, thorough and socially destructive.Neoliberalism and the ongoing economic assault on ordinary Canadians Since the mid-1980s, the guiding principle of neo-liberalism seems to have been, "Ask not what your economy can do for you, ask what you can do for your economy."
Categories: News for progressives

<I>The New Yorker</I> Attempts But Fails To Boost The Steele Dossier

Yesterday The New Yorker published a 15,000 word piece about Christopher Steele, the former British spook who created the "dossier" about alleged Russian interference with Trump. Written by Jane Mayer the piece is designed to let Steele shine in the...
Categories: News for progressives

Brian Jean, former Opposition leader and unsuccessful UCP leadership contender, quits Alberta politics

Rabble News - Tue, 2018-03-06 13:36
David J. Climenhaga

Brian Jean -- once the leader of the Opposition and arguably the man who saved the conservative movement in Alberta from self-immolation in 2014 and 2015 -- quit politics for good yesterday.

This is the second time in his political career Jean has quit politics forever, so don't necessarily write the guy off completely.

Perhaps Jean will rise a third time as mayor of Fort McMurray just in time to reinvent it as a spaceport or a planetary centre of excellence for solar energy. I'm not entirely joking about this, even if I'm not entirely serious.

Jean had some of the essential qualities that make a successful political leader, among them personal charm and a vision of where he wanted to take his party and his own political career.

Alas, after being chosen 11th hour leader of the Wildrose Party with 55 per cent of the vote in March 2015, he proved he didn't have them all. He lacked both the ruthlessness and what we used to call stick-to-itiveness essential to being a winner in the game of politics, which he must have known is played with the elbows up.

Jason Kenney, who lacks neither of those qualities, schooled his former Harper government caucus mate in the hard realities of politics during the race to lead the United Conservative Party last year.

Jean also lacked the force of personality required to keep caucus rebels like Derek Fildebrandt under control, especially when the Wildrose Party's nutty libertarian fringe screamed at him for trying to make the rebel MLA behave. Kenney proved he could handle that challenge too last month when Fildebrandt got in trouble with the law of the land and the law of politics one too many times.

Likewise, it was Kenney, not Jean, who enjoyed the support of their boss in their Ottawa days, the still-influential former Conservative prime minster Stephen Harper.

When the UCP leadership race was over, it didn't matter that the former member of Parliament for the Athabasca and Fort McMurray-Athabasca ridings brought the Wildrose Party back from the brink in 2014, after former leader Danielle Smith had tried to lead it lemming-like into Jim Prentice's Progressive Conservative government caucus, or that he'd prevented the party from being crushed utterly in the provincial election of 2015, which could have happened.

Indeed, it lived to fight again as the UCP thanks in large part to Jean's energetic campaigning -- which was marred principally by Albertans' infatuation with Rachel Notley and her New Democrats and by his own wooden television performance, a potentially fatal flaw in this digital era.

Still, the result of the May 2015 Alberta election was none too shabby for the Wildrosers when you consider the party was on the eve of destruction when Jean reconsidered his rather mysterious decision in January 2014 to quit his once-promising federal political career and get back into politics.

Had the planets lined up a little more favourably for the scion of one of Fort McMurray's most successful families, he could easily have been premier of Alberta, later, if not sooner.

But the ruthless, focused and well-connected Kenney put paid to that dream. It was obvious from the get-go Jean stood no chance against the Kenney juggernaut. And his departure from provincial politics was pretty much a certainty from the moment he lost the UCP leadership to Kenney on Oct. 28 last year.

Jean's defeat was literally tearful, all the more stinging in that he appeared to have really persuaded himself not only that he could win, but that he was going to.

Once he had lost, the writing was on the wall. Jean was the only United Conservative MLA to decline a shadow cabinet position in Kenney's caucus -- assuming, that is, that Kenney offered him one. Kenney quickly purged Jean's supporters from the new party's staff. There was a strong sense, after the dust from the leadership race had settled, there was no love lost between the two men.

Notwithstanding that, Jean gracefully wished Kenney well in a social media post last night.

When the shadow cabinet posts were handed out, Jean said he already had an important job: serving the people of his Fort McMurray-Conklin riding. Now he has given that up too.

The reason he gave yesterday was the same as the one he gave in January 2014, when he stepped down as MP for Fort McMurray Athabasca: to spend more time with his family. He married his former Parliamentary special assistant, Kimberley Michelutti, in August 2016.

He has faced personal challenges since entering provincial politics. His 24-year-old son died of lymphoma shortly before he was chosen Wildrose leader. His family home was destroyed in the devastating Fort Mac Fire in May 2016. He recently told a local newspaper in his hometown that three family members have been diagnosed with cancer.

Premier Notley thanked Jean for his service to the province yesterday. "As former Leader of the Official Opposition, Brian Jean took over his party at a difficult time and led it ably and conducted himself in a manner that demonstrated it is possible to disagree without being disagreeable."

This seems fair, and it certainly can't be said of his successor as Opposition leader.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog,

Photo: David J. Climenhaga

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