A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘politics

[LINK] “The silences of Argentina’s election”

with one comment

Daniel Voskoboynik at Open Democracy is critical of the model of economic development in Argentina particularly, concentrated on the extraction of natural resources. As a Canadian, this sounds altogether too familiar.

Over the last two decades, Argentina and much of Latin America have seen the entrenchment of extractivism, a particular economic model based on the intensive exploitation of natural resources to be sold on the global markets. Under extractivist policies, the economy centres on the production of primary exports, and on the location of new sources of natural wealth.

While this model can bring vast windfalls when commodity prices are high, many social movements and scholars have raised significant questions about the impact, sustainability and social value of extractivist projects in the medium term. Such scrutiny, however, has hardly penetrated the mainstream media discussions or the political chatter mill.

Extractivism is no new phenomenon in the region. Under the colonial dominion, Latin American territories were essentially the object of plundering of raw materials. Contemporary extractivism, however (also known as progressive extractivism), tends to be wrapped in beneficial alibis: governments assert that the revenues accrued through commodity royalties and taxes will be distributed and devoted to social projects. In other words: the more they can extract, the more money they raise; and the more money they raise, the more they can fund.

During the twelve years of Kirchnerista rule, extractivism has become the prevailing feature of Argentina’s economic development. Prompted by global commodity prices and government policies, the country has experienced a major boom in extractive sectors such as agribusiness, mining, and hydrocarbon extraction.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 8, 2015 at 8:46 pm

[LINK] “Why Ukraine needs its own Harvey Milk”

leave a comment »

Open Democracy’s Anton Dmytriiev argues that, to start to make headway, LGBT Ukrainians need to start engaging with wider civil society.

Let’s start with copying: during Gay Pride in Kyiv this summer, there was a lot of talk about Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person to be appointed to public office in the USA in 1977. But what’s important here is that this only happened eight years after the Stonewall Riots in New York. During those years, the American public had gradually become aware of LGBT rights.

Milk served just 11 months in office in San Francisco, but in that time he sponsored an important anti-LGBT discrimination law for the city, and prevented the passing of a discriminatory amendment to Californian state law. This campaigning led to the assassination of Milk along with San Francisco’s mayor George Moscone in 1978.

Now here’s a question: how many Ukrainian and Russian gay activists – not just ordinary guys but the ones that give media interviews, lead organisations and spend grant money – were assassinated in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed? The answer is: none.

Do you know why? Because none of these gay activists and their organisations present any threat whatsoever to public life, the government or the ethical values of any part of the population, and nor do they bring anything new to the political or everyday life of their fellow Ukrainians.

None of our gay activists or organisations present any threat to our public life or government.

This is not to say that people should aim for martyrdom,. But it’s all very simple – not one gay rights organisation represents the interests and hopes of even 1,000 people. It can aspire to this, but in Ukraine, more often than not, NGOs (including LGBT ones) are like Potemkin villages – pure facades, set up to satisfy somebody’s own personal interests.

It’s an interesting argument.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 8, 2015 at 8:43 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “In North America’s Costliest City, Rich Chinese Take the Blame”

leave a comment »

Bloomberg’s Jeremy Van Loon writes about how exceptionally high housing prices in Vancouver, driven at least in part by the heavy immigration of well-to-do Chinese, is becoming a political issue.

James Hankle, a 50-something software engineer sporting blue jeans and a Green Party T-shirt, is explaining his fix for Vancouver’s runaway property prices when he’s interrupted by an eavesdropping passerby: “Stop allowing people from China to buy our houses and leave them vacant,” she says and walks away.

Despite British Columbia’s aversion to pipelines and affection for pot, housing affordability has pushed both aside as the number one issue raised by area residents in the run-up to Canada’s election this month. It’s not completely surprising given that Vancouver has become North America’s most expensive city.

Surging purchase prices have triggered protest movements like #donthave1million, started by a group of young professionals frustrated at being shut out of home ownership. They complain of having to delay starting families as they remain bunked in with roommates, often into their 30s and beyond.

The affordability issue speaks to broader campaign themes: the difficulty young people face getting established in the labor market, the economic anxieties of the middle class, growing concerns about income inequality, support for families with children. Residents also increasingly point fingers at wealthy Chinese immigrants and investors whose lavish embrace of the Pacific metropolis of 2.5 million has inspired reality TV shows with such gaudy names as “Ultra Rich Asian Girls in Vancouver.”

Vancouver, with its C$2.23 million ($1.7 million) average price tag for a detached home is playing an unusual role in the national election to be held Oct. 19. British Columbia is the only place where all four national parties are competitive — the Conservatives, Liberals, New Democrats and Greens — and, given the tightness of the race, its choices could spell the difference. As of now, the New Democrats and Liberals look likely to take some seats away from the Conservatives in the region, according to poll aggregator ThreeHundredEight.com.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 7, 2015 at 9:06 pm

[LINK] “Tories dump candidate who touts therapies to turn gay youth straight”

leave a comment »

The CBC carries Jennifer Ditchburn’s Canadian Press article reporting on the Conservatives’ dropping a candidate who wrote in favour of anti-gay therapies. This, as noted on Facebook, likely means the riding has been lost for the Tories.

The Conservatives have dumped Jagdish Grewal, a candidate in suburban Toronto who defended therapies that attempt to turn gays straight and who penned an editorial that referred to homosexuality as “unnatural behaviour” and heterosexuals as “normal.”

“These comments do not reflect the views of the Conservative Party of Canada. We believe that all Canadians — regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation — deserve to be treated with respect and dignity,” the Conservative Party said in a statement. “Mr. Grewal is no longer an official candidate for the Conservative Party.”

Grewal, running in Mississauga-Malton, wrote an editorial in the Punjabi Post earlier this year entitled “Is it wrong for a homosexual to become a normal person?”

He describes an NDP private member’s bill passed unanimously in the Ontario legislature in June that removed public funding for services designed to “change or direct the sexual orientation or gender identity of a patient.”

Grewal writes in the piece that some psychologists blame a “shock” during childhood for causing a person to become gay, but that the change “can be corrected.”

Written by Randy McDonald

October 7, 2015 at 9:02 pm

[LINK] “U.S. comic Sarah Silverman endorses Canadian NDP candidate”

leave a comment »

This Toronto Star report amused me.

American comedian Sarah Silverman made an unexpected foray into Canadian politics on Sunday, when she praised NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and urged voters to support one of the party’s candidates in British Columbia.

The New Democrats welcomed her endorsement, despite questions about whether she may have violated an obscure federal election law that prohibits foreigners from influencing how Canadians vote.

In a Twitter message sent Sunday morning, Silverman, a veteran actor and former Saturday Night Live cast member, appeared to back the NDP’s position on the niqab.

The Conservative party has sought to prohibit Muslim women from wearing the face covering during citizenship ceremonies, while the NDP believes women have the right to wear it. The issue has become one of the defining debates of this year’s election campaign.

“Kudos to @ThomasMulcair 4 supporting a woman’s right to wear what she wants w/out discrimination,” Silverman wrote.

She also urged voters to cast their ballots for Mira Oreck, the NDP candidate in the Vancouver Granville riding.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 7, 2015 at 9:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto’s 905 suburbs turning into race between Tories and Liberals”

leave a comment »

The Globe and Mail‘s Campbell Clark writes about how, in Toronto’s suburbs, the NDP is dropping out of contention.

A lot of this election has already been decided in Toronto’s suburbs. A lot of it remains to be decided there, too.

The so-called 905 is where the Orange Wave crested, the place where Thomas Mulcair’s NDP needed to make inroads if it wanted to keep climbing into a clear lead, but didn’t. It’s where Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have rebounded. And it’s where Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have proved resilient.

It is now a region with a mostly two-horse race between the Conservatives and the Liberals. And a small shift, perhaps 5 per cent of voters, can have a big impact on who wins the national election, flipping 30 or 40 seats one way or the other. In election math, that’s like sweeping Alberta or British Columbia. In 2011, Stephen Harper won a majority by winning the 905.

There are other places with potential to alter the national race, of course, notably in British Columbia’s three-party dynamic and in Quebec, where an NDP slip could resuscitate the Bloc Québécois and revive the Conservatives. But even before the NDP slid in Quebec, its hopes faltered in Toronto’s suburbs.

In August, as the campaign began, the New Democrats were riding high in national polls and still targeting breakthroughs in the 905, notably in “inner” suburbs of Mississauga and Brampton just west of Toronto’s city limits – areas where they surged in the 2011 campaign. Mr. Mulcair made early campaign stops in those places. But now, as October begins, their real hope for a gain in the west side of the 905 is in one riding, Brampton-East.

“For a while there, the NDP was in the race in the 905, but they’ve dropped off significantly,” said pollster and political strategist Greg Lyle, president of Innovative Research Group. In the GTA suburbs, the NDP fell from from 32 per cent just before the campaign to 16 per cent in late September, according to his firm’s surveys.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 6, 2015 at 5:44 pm

[LINK] “Why terrorist should keep his Canadian citizenship”

leave a comment »

I agree wholeheartedly with Thomas Walkom’s Toronto Star column about the profound flaws with the idea that denationalizing people for crimes could ever be OK.

“A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian,” an impassioned Trudeau said during Monday’s televised leaders’ debate.

“You devalue the citizenship of every Canadian in this place and in this country when you break down and make it conditional for anybody.”

Mulcair chose to say nothing on citizenship in the debate. But on Sunday he made much the same point, accusing Prime Minister Stephen Harper of playing a dangerous game.

“He’s dividing Canadians one against the other,” said the NDP chief, “creating two different categories of citizenship.”

Indeed, that is one of the problems of the new law. Those who possess only Canadian citizenship have an ironclad guarantee that they cannot be sent into exile.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 1, 2015 at 10:02 pm


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 470 other followers