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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘federalism

[ISL] “‘We’re not Australian': Norfolk Islanders adjust to shock of takeover by mainland”

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Writing in The Guardian, Melissa Davey describes–with photos by Zach Sanders–the circumstances that have led to the suspension of the autonomous government of Norfolk Island by the Australian government. In all honesty, if the island is unable to finance services adequately from its own resources, some degree of greater involvement by the national government is probably necessary. (Surgery is impossible to perform on the island due to the lack of facilities, for instance.) This much more involvement? I’m also wondering if parallels can be made with policy on the Australian mainland, specifically with Aborigine settlements that are facing the end of government services and thus depopulation.

The threat of coming under Australian government law, order and taxation has been looming over the island for decades, with the commonwealth claiming the local government is broke, and that it lacks the money and resources to deliver health, education, justice and welfare services to an Australian standard.

Already, memorandums of understanding exist between Norfolk Island and the mainland for the delivery of services including education and healthcare.

But for many islanders, including [Norfolk Island’s chief minister, Lisle Snell], the decision to abolish the Norfolk Island government has hit hard. All Norfolk Island laws will now be rolled in to New South Wales ones, with any legislation on the island that Australia considers outdated or inappropriate removed or replaced.

Australians know little about Norfolk Island, an idyllic, tax-free haven, even though it is just over a two-hour flight from Sydney and advertises itself as an ideal tourist destination. Despite its status as an external territory of the commonwealth, getting to the island requires an international flight, immigration clearance and a passport.

It doesn’t take much time on the island to realise that many Norfolk Islanders, too, have little knowledge of the Australian systems that will soon be imposed upon them. That will no doubt change now the transition period has begun to bring the island’s 1,277 residents under the federal taxation, immigration and welfare system.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 25, 2015 at 6:28 pm

[LINK] “Why The SNP Is Poised To Win In Scotland”

At Five Thirty Eight, John Curtice makes the case why the Scottish National Party is expected to sweep the country come the impending British elections. Despite the referendum setback, the party is credible in a way its peers simply are not.

[M]any voters who back Scottish independence have hitherto not voted for the SNP in a U.K. general election. According to the Scottish Social Attitudes survey, only 55 percent did so in the last election in 2010, for example. Consequently, the SNP won only 20 percent of the total vote in Scotland (and six seats) on that occasion, well below the 45 percent it was to achieve in the devolved election just 12 months later. Labour, in contrast, maintained its dominant position in the 2010 election, with 42 percent of the vote and 41 seats.

However, the referendum has served to make support for independence and backing the SNP more or less synonymous, even in the context of a U.K.-wide election. Last September’s ballot focused voters’ minds — and especially the minds of those who voted for independence — on the future of Scotland. The question of who might be best able to govern Britain as a whole has been put in the shade. Consequently, supporters of independence see little reason why they should not follow up their “yes” vote with a vote for the SNP in May’s general election.

Recent polling evidence suggests that as many as 84 percent of those who voted “yes” in September (and who are willing to indicate how they will vote in May) now say they intend to vote for the SNP on May 7.1 Included among these “yes” supporters are the 40 percent or so of 2010 Labour voters who voted for independence, over three-quarters of whom are now backing the SNP.2 Conversely, only around one in 10 of those who voted “no” in September are now backing the nationalists — though that is still more or less enough to compensate for the limited number who voted “yes” in September but are now not backing the SNP.

However, the increased salience of the independence debate in voters’ minds is not the only reason that many former Labour supporters have switched to the SNP. During the referendum campaign, the SNP was also able to lay out its vision for the country, claiming that an independent Scotland could be a more equal Scotland. This argument directly challenged Labour’s position that it was better able to bring about greater social justice, not least by using the resources and the institutions of the U.K.

It is an argument that seems to have hit home.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 10, 2015 at 9:49 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • The Big Picture has photos of the winter snowtowns in New England.
  • blogTO has old photos of various Toronto intersections.
  • Centauri Dreams notes how atmospheres can break the tidal locks of close-orbiting planets.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze suggests Fomalhaut b is a false positive, speculates on the evaporation time of hot Jupiters, and wonders if planetoids impacting on white dwarfs can trigger Type Ia supernovas.
  • The Dragon’s Tales considers the status of the Brazilian navy, notes the Egyptian purchase of 24 Rafale fighters from France, and observes that Russia no longer has early-warning satellites.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog looks at the sociology of the red carpet.
  • Far Outliers assesses the achievements and problems of Chiang Kai-shek.
  • A Fistful of Euros notes intra-European negotiations over Greece.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the progress of a same-sex marriage bill in Slovenia.
  • Languages of the World argues that of all of the minority languages of Russia, Tuvan is the least endangered.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the Confederate diaspora in Brazil.
  • Marginal Revolution suggests that the larger the American state the more likely it is to be unequal, notes that South Korean wages have exceeded Japanese wages for the first time, and looks at anti-Valentine’s Day men in Japan.
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  • Out of Ambit’s Diane Duane notes how a German translator of her Star Trek novels put subtle advertisements for soup in.
  • The Planetary Society Blog shares photos from Rosetta of its target comet.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer is skeptical about the Nicaragua Canal, wonders about Greece in the Eurozone, looks at instability in Venezuela, and suggests an inverse relationship between social networking platforms–mass media, even–and social capital.
  • Spacing Toronto wonders if the Scarborough subway will survive.
  • Towleroad notes popular American-born Russian actor Odin Biron’s coming out and observes that Antonin Scalia doesn’t want people to call him anti-gay.
  • Understanding Society’s Daniel Little looks at the forces which lead to the split of communtiies.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that the non-Russian republics of Russia will survive, argues that Putin’s Russia is already fascist, and notes that Russians overwhelmingly support non-traditional families.

[LINK] “Oil’s swoon sparks Alberta schadenfreude in rest of Canada”

CBC’s Paul Haavardsrud wrote recently about Canadian schadenfreude directed towards Alberta, now that its oil-driven economic boom has come to a halt. The questions this raises about Canadian identities and Canadian national unity and Canada’s prospects are tiresomely familiar. Good essay, though.

Right now, the same low oil prices that are knocking Alberta from its economic perch are also once again waking up the familiar call-and-response of inter-regional rivalry. For Exhibit A, Anastakis says, just listen to a call-in radio show or scroll to the comments section of nearly any newspaper or web story that touches on oil.

If lower oil prices mean petro-rich Alberta gets served with a little comeuppance and gasoline prices fall at the same time, then, a common line of thinking goes, what’s not to like?

As a Globe and Mail reader recently offered: “I guess we can start calling Alberta ‘Detroit West’ now. Where did all that oil money go over the last few decades anyway? Didn’t the Conservatives put some aside for a rainy day? Get your umbrellas out in Alberta!”

A commenter on a recent story on CBC.ca was even more direct: “Everybody here, let’s all raise our hands in the air and cheer. It’s about time that Alberta suffered.”

The rebuttals from the Alberta side of the border often make for a smart match: “Hows [sic] Nova Scotia been doing these last few decades? Not so hot economically according to all the Nova Scotianers [sic] I talk to that have been supporting families back home with the money they make right here, in Alberta.”

As might be expected, Albertans are starting to circle the wagons against attacks from other parts of the country that seem just a shade too gleeful. While the keyboard stylings of a few commenters, as well as the odd internet troll, are certainly not a robust gauge of the mood of the entire country, the renewed visibility of both camps raises any number of questions.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 12, 2015 at 8:44 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Centauri Dreams reports on a small satellite observatory, Twinkle, which will be studying exoplanet atmospheres.
  • D-Brief notes the magnetism of the Earth’s inner core.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze has links to two papers cataloguing ten thousand potential exoplanets found by Kepler.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper examining the age of some features on the surface of Mars.
  • Joe. My. God. notes Madonna is going to promote her new album by chatting with fans on Grindr.
  • Language Log notes that people have been complaining about the impact of foreigners on the English language since at least the 14th century (Danes and Normans, then).
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the bizarre suits against Obamacare.
  • The New APPS Blog wonders if the tendency among philosophers to immediately classify new events as examples of an established trend is a way to silence discussion.
  • Otto Pohl links to a paper of his describing how deported peoples lost and regained social capital in the former Soviet Union.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer wonders if China might support the Nicaragua Canal for security’s sake in the case of war.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog lists the dates on which the Russian Federation’s national territories (Tatarstan, Chechnya, et cetera) were created in the early 20th century.
  • Towleroad notes that a same-sex male couple was the first chosen to welcome the U.S.S. San Francisco to its home port, with a kiss.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the spread of Ukraine-related violence into Russia and looks at regionalism in the Kuban area of Russia.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • 3 Quarks Daily writes about the ways in which Cuba, and Havana, have been seen in the American imagination.
  • Antipope Charlie Stross solicits suggestions as to what he should print with a 3-D printer.
  • Crooked Timber is alarmist about the United States, making comparisons to Pakistan and to Weimar Germany.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining the simulated atmospheres of warm Neptunes.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that Russians are leaving France without their Mistral carriers and that Russia is talking about building its own space station.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that an Argentine court has given an orangutan limited rights.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that transgendered workers now have legal protection in the United States.
  • Marginal Revolution reflects on the new Nicaragua Canal and is skeptical about Cuba’s economic potential.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw links to an essay examining how New Zealand set the global 2% inflation target.
  • The Search looks at one effort in digitizing and making searchable centuries of book images.
  • Towleroad looks at Taiwan’s progress towards marriage equality and notes the refusal of the archbishop of Canterbury to explain the reasons for his opposition to equal marriage.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the different effects of the collapse in oil prices on Russia’s different reasons, looks at language conflicts in the Russian republics, and observes the revival of Belarusian nationalism.

[LINK] “Stephen Harper, a son—and antagonist—of Ontario”

Veteran political journalist Paul Wells writes in MacLean’s about how for Stephen Harper, his birth province of Ontario plays a unique role. He looks to particular Ontarian traditions of small-c conservatism, as Wells explains at length, and is disappointed when these are not only unactivated but Ontario is actively undermining his national goals.

This preoccupation with the fate of Ontario goes back a long way. Much of it is simple conviction. After 11 Liberal years, the province is paying $11 billion a year in debt servicing. Nobody knows how Wynne plans to meet her 2018 target to eliminate the provincial budget deficit. Don Drummond, the former bank economist, was hired by McGuinty to find answers and proposed really serious cuts to the size of the provincial government. Wynne has explicitly charted a different course, preferring “growth” (pronounced “magic”) as the path out of deficits.

Harper would not have governed the way McGuinty did, and certainly not the way Wynne has. But he was brooding over politics in Ontario before either of them were around to annoy him. In 2000 the Canadian Alliance, led by Stockwell Day, lost the only federal election it would ever contest under that name and leader. Harper had publicly predicted the Alliance wouldn’t do well, but the predicted result still made him furious. The object of his anger was “eastern Canada” — basically, Ontario.

Eleven days after the election, the National Post published a bitter column from Harper. Sure, the Alliance had no clear strategy, policy or tactics, Harper admitted, and yet he clamed “this had little if anything to do with the election result.” The real fault lay with the Reform movement’s “rejection by the very electorate that, in creating the Canadian Alliance, it had twisted itself into a pretzel to please.” Which electorate? “Eastern Canada,” which “appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status.”

[. . .]

You start to see Harper’s irritation with an Ontario government that is often portrayed as being allied with a new Quebec government and which, in style and philosophy, is far closer to David Peterson and Jean Chrétien than to Mike Harris, Ralph Klein, or Stephen Harper. It is a longstanding (and perfectly reasonable) belief of Western conservatives that divergent philosophies held in Ottawa and Queen’s Park dilute the effectiveness of one government, if not both. I remember a Preston Manning news conference, perhaps 15 years ago, at which he argued that since Mike Harris felt one way about some issues and Jean Chrétien felt another, Chrétien should smarten up. Manning used to throw the odd Hail Mary pass like that.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 16, 2014 at 11:02 pm


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