Good morning America how are you?

                Posted: January 7th, 2021 | No Comments »

                FROM THE DESKTOPS OF THE COUNTERWEIGHTS EDITORS, TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA. JAN 7, 2021. 4:15 AM ET. We just want to make clear that, like so many others in so many parts of the world today, we are altogether appalled by the happenings at the US Capitol (and various state capitols as well) on Wednesday, January 6, 2021.

                At this point in the early morning of January 7, with the boardroom TV running overtime, we don’t have the energy to note down so many deeply disturbing details. Anyone interested in our more specific thoughts can consult the counterweights Twitter profile for the many re-tweets we’ve also indulged in, to provide some group record of how we reacted as the “attempted coup” or “insurrection” by pro-Trump activists unfolded.

                For public consumption, so to speak, we support the initial reaction of our prime minister and other Canadian democratic political leaders. (As in Prime Minister Trudeau’s 6:17 PM tweet : “Canadians are deeply disturbed and saddened by the attack on democracy in the United States, our closest ally and neighbour. Violence will never succeed in overruling the will of the people. Democracy in the US must be upheld — and it will be.”)

                We’d underline as well some remarks by Canada’s UN ambassador Bob Rae : “The stolen election thesis is actually a lie, and a dangerous lie. The fomented chaos tonight reflects that danger.” (We’d similarly agree with Senator Mitt Romney’s urging that the “best way we could show respect for the voters” who have been upset by this lie “is by telling them the truth.” And we say this without any prejudice flowing from Senator Romney’s family cottage and summer retreat in Grand Bend, Ontario, Canada!)

                We are disturbed by the results of an instant YouGov poll, suggesting that 21% of US registered voters — including 45% of Republicans — “strongly or somewhat support” the “storming of the Capitol building.”

                And then there are the Republican senators and members of the House still offering sustenance to what Bob Rae calls the “stolen election thesis” — even after the storming of the Capitol has shown just where refusing to take Mitt Romney’s advice to tell the voters the plain truth can lead.

                Whatever else, however, the most recent past in US politics does equally have its more forward-looking, getting-stronger, even buoyant notes, starting with the Democrats’ two new Senate seats in Georgia (thanks to Stacy Abrams and her many fellow street-level patriots and democratic organizers).

                Back down on earth, at our quick meeting to review and approve these hastily drafted notes from several hands, someone also remembered a “country folk” tune from the older generation so dominant among our counterweights editors’ numbers.

                It was written in 1971 by Steve Goodman, and then recorded most memorably twice — by Arlo Guthrie in 1972 and then by Willie Nelson in 1984. Somehow the haunting refrain seems to work as a conclusion for our quick comments here: “Good morning America how are you? / Say, don’t you know me? I’m your native son / I’m the train they call the City of New Orleans / I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.”

                (And btw it appears that the at-great-cost democratically elected US Congress has now made it completely official that Joe Biden has won the US presidential election of 2020, with 306 electoral votes and 51.3% of the popular vote from sea to shining sea. And here’s hoping, praying even, that the new Biden-Harris administration will manage at least five hundred miles further, on the great continuing journey of Democracy in America in the four years that lie ahead.)

                Happy New Year 2021 : (+ Jan 4: US politics really crazy now?), Indigenous Edmonton, Saul Alinsky’s democracy, Trump etc, old New York jazz clubs

                Posted: January 1st, 2021 | No Comments »
                “The Furies” by Toronto artist and political observer Michael Seward, January 2021.

                COUNTERWEIGHTS EDITORS’ VIRTUAL NEW YEAR’S PARTY 2021 (UPDATED 9 AM ET, MONDAY JANUARY 4, 2021), FERNWOOD PARK, ON. To start with, we’ve moved our January 4, 2021 update on US politics right up front here instead of at the end of our original comments as usual, for what we think should be obvious reasons!

                We feel driven to post something about Donald Trump’s gangster-style phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (a Republican), made public over the first weekend of the new year. We re-tweeted various eminent comments on this subject on Twitter yesterday (and much earlier this morning). And we’ll content ourselves with four of them here :

                First we commented briefly on Mr. Raffensperger’s historic response to the lame-duck president : “Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true. The truth will come out.” And we prefaced this with our own lonely question : “Will this become classic summary tweet on Trump presidency?”

                Second, we re-tweeted MSNBC historian Michael Beschloss’s comment on President Trump’s phone call to Mr. Raffensperger : “Can you imagine how many calls like this he might have made over the past four years that we don’t yet know about?”

                Third, we noted Ezra Klein’s compelling historical observation : “It’s always been lunacy to have a lame duck period this long and we’re really seeing why this year.”

                Canadian PM Jean Chretien and finance minister Paul Martin back in the mid 1990s.

                Finally, we also very much liked former Obama senior advisor David Axelrod’s high-minded and non-partisan comment, that showed there are still reasons to keep hope alive about Democracy in America in 2021 : “Here’s one other thing the latest Trump tape reaffirmed: Whatever else he has done or will do, @GaSecofState [ie the Republican Mr. Raffensperger] deserves enormous credit for standing up to the kind of pressure he has endured from the @POTUS [Mr. Trump] and his mob.”

                Now we return to our original post, while dedicating this update to the free and democratic futures of five very young American citizens currently resident in California (by age, Tatum, River, Skyler, Slater, and Sunny)!

                DEMOCRACY IN CANADA SINCE 1497. Our first [New Year’s party] assignment in between gulps of iced sparkling water was to extend the apologies of our senior editor (Dr) Randall White, who has not quite managed to complete the second or at least third last chapter of his work in progress on Democracy in Canada Since 1497 by the end of 2020, as once promised.

                The chapter is called “The Return of the Natural Governing Party, 1992–2006.” It focuses on the Canadian Liberal federal governments of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, after the defeat of the Charlottetown Accord in the fall of 1992. Mr. White is now promising that the chapter will be finished over the next few weeks — and posted along with everything else so far completed on “The Long Journey to a Canadian Republic” page of this site. And we almost believe him.

                Edmonton, Alberta in a -32’C deepfreeze. January 15, 2020! Tks to WaffleStompFantasy.

                EDMONTON’S NEW INDIGENOUS WARD NAMES. As further evidence that 2020 has not been a complete waste of time, we applaud the decision of the elected council for the capital city of Alberta to give its 12 wards for municipal elections Indigenous Canadian names.

                The story can be quickly reviewed in four articles available online. Two are from this past September when progress was first reported : Dustin Cook’s “’A return to the history’: Indigenous names recommended for Edmonton’s 12 new wards effective 2021 election” from the Edmonton Journal ; and “Proposed Indigenous names for Edmonton’s 12 new wards revealed” from the CBC News website.

                Two more articles are from December 2020, when Edmonton city council passed the earlier recommendations : “Indigenous Ward Names Approved … bylaw approving the new ward boundaries and Indigenous Ward Names … passed by Council on December 7, 2020” from the city government records ; and “A look at the Indigenous names for Edmonton’s 12 wards” from The Canadian Press, December 25, 2020.

                By Michael Seward. Late December 2020.

                SAUL ALINSKY AS POOR MAN’S MACHIAVELLI : Some of us have been lucky enough to recently secure public library copies of former President Barack Obama’s new book. Back when he was first elected president Obama’s history as a Chicago community organizer revived some interest in the work of the historic Chicago organizing wizard Saul Alinsky (1909–1972).

                The forces of progress in the USA right now could use some new Saul Alinsky (a thought first prompted by Bill Maher’s interview with Steve Bannon this past February). And we were pleased when friends recently drew fresh attention to Vijay Phulwani’s 2016 American Political Science Review article on “The Poor Man’s Machiavelli: Saul Alinsky and the Morality of Power.”

                Phulwani’s article “presents Saul Alinsky’s theory of community organizing as a democratic alternative to political realism’s fixation on the coercive authority of the state and the ethical problems of statesmanship … Organizing is realist, pedagogical, and democratic, and Alinsky’s ability to hold these ideas together makes him an important theorist of democratic agency in undemocratic times.”

                President Trump returning to the White House after the Army-Navy football game last month.

                TRUMP’S (AND ROD PHILLIPS’S) LAST STAND. Four December 31, 2020 gleanings from the Twitterverse suggest just a few of the problems the United States (and Canada) now faces in our current continuing undemocratic times.

                First, the great Ron Brownstein from The Atlantic apparently remembers seeing possibly somewhat instructive bumper stickers in the french quarter (?of New Orleans?) this past November 3, 2020 US election day. Their message was : “Vote for the Crook — It’s Important”!

                Second, at 10:50 AM David Corn from Mother Jones reported : “Trump is flying back from Mar-a-Lago today to the White House. He usually stays through the holiday. He will miss the New Year festivities at his precious club. The White House did not provide a reason for this early departure. So…watch out.”

                Third, re just what we’re watching out for, Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri (along with as many as 150 US House Republicans?) will apparently be challenging the 2020 presidential election result on profoundly vague grounds of voter fraud, when Congress officially receives the electoral college conclusions on January 6. Evidence has now surfaced that “Sen. Josh Hawley Committed Voter Fraud in Missouri” himself. Mmmmm … does it matter if the real slogan is “Vote for the Crook — It’s Important” ??

                Fourth, as evidence that Canada is not entirely immune, we counterweights editors ourselves offered a lonely Twitter commentary on the resignation of Ontario finance minister Rod Phillips, after it became clear he was holidaying in the Carribean while Premier Ford was telling the rest of us to stay at home and patriotically fight the pandemic.

                Our strictly professional view was : “Not a happy decision for Ford government, which Phillips (along with COVID-19) did so much to rescue in 2020.” Some with very long memories might also recall that W. Darcy McKeough had to resign at an earlier point in his 1960s-1970s career, but then went on to return to cabinet as a strong finance minister (Treasurer) for PC Premier William Davis, 1975–1978. And whatever else, all this is still a long way from what some considerable number of Republican members of Congress are apparently going to do on January 6 in Washington, DC.

                LOST WORLD OF THE NEW YORK JAZZ CLUB. What a welcome relief from all the raw political craziness of the USA today it was to read a December 23, 2020 piece from the online New York Review Daily by Sean Wilentz.

                “Charlie Parker with fans at the Royal Roost, New York City, late 1940s.” Collection of Marc and Mary Perkins.

                The piece is called “Souvenir of the Lost World of the New York Jazz Club.” A secondary headline summarizes the main message : “It was an era when this milieu of popular music seemed to herald a now-distant promise of what American life might be.”

                In fact Sean Wilentz is reviewing Sittin’ In: Jazz Clubs of the 1940s and 1950s, by Jeff Gold and published by Harper Design. This is a “book of photographs of, and memorabilia from, the club scene in its pre-1960s heyday.” It deals with 11 “cities on both coasts and in the Midwest,” but “New York clubs contribute the largest number of photos.”

                Several interesting photos also accompany Wilentz’s text in the New York Review Daily online posting. And, with perhaps some special reference to the widely acknowledged heights of the 1940s and 1950s jazz scene in New York City, his last paragraph points to something that may still have slightly more soft power than usually imagined :

                These images bequeath a rarely published view of Black American middle-class life at mid-century: relaxed, elegant, and urbane … You also come away struck by how singular this postwar moment was. Finally, though, you come away refreshed by the spirit of what once was, a spirit that rebukes and shames where we seem to be today.”

                Like the outdoor Christmas lights this season we’re working hard to remain hopeful (as well as realistic and even Machiavellian like Saul Alinsky). As we look around what we see up close (in Canada and the United States) there are more than enough good reasons to, as the Rev. Jesse Jackson urged long ago, “Keep Hope Alive.” So happy new year 2021.

                (And again Randall White has promised that his much meditated chapter on “The Return of the Natural Governing Party, 1992–2006” will appear very soon. That is his main new year’s resolution so far.)

                Citizen X plays fanfare for the common man on the weird year 2020

                Posted: December 15th, 2020 | No Comments »
                “Homo Ludens” by Michael Seward, December 2020.

                FROM THE DESKTOP OF CITIZEN X, BUCKHORN, ON., DECEMBER 15, 2020, 2AM ET : Over the past few years the counterweights editors have commemorated the end of another year on what remains a Western (if also African) Christian calendar (even when it’s called “Common Era”) by posting links to this political blogazine’s most popular articles over the past 12 months.

                This year being so strange, however, the editors have asked me — a floating contributor from the diverse masses — to offer my own brief views on what we have been somehow living through in 2020.

                President Donald Trump golfs at Trump National Golf Club on November 21, 2020 in Sterling, Virginia. Photo : Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images.

                TWO BIG EVENTS IN 2020 NORTH OF LAKES. Without doubt the two big events of this strange year north of the North American Great Lakes have been the plague of COVID-19, which began to settle into these parts in the middle of March, and what remains the still a little too strange US election on November 3.

                I am a partisan of the old Frank Underhill argument that Canadians almost always vote Democratic in American elections. And it makes sense to start my own brief views on 2020 with the in many ways unusual November 3 US vote.

                Very briefly, President Donald Trump was clearly defeated by Joe Biden (in both the popular vote and the electoral college). Yet as long predicted by Bill Maher and many others the stable media genius who loved to say “You’re fired” on TV continues to prove unable and/or strategically unwilling to (altogether?) accept his 2020 defeat!

                He has been joined by all too many Republican colleagues. And anyone who cares about the 21st century future of democracy in America (and by extension in the rest of the world too) has yet another few more reasons to be worried, as we look out on what presumably can’t help but be a somewhat better journey in 2021.

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                Canada’s new finance minister tells it like it is (just after National Review attacks “Disgraceful Endgame” down south)

                Posted: December 2nd, 2020 | No Comments »
                “Out of Nowhere” by prize-winning Toronto artist Michael Seward, November 2020 (after the US election).

                FROM THE COUNTERWEIGHTS EDITORS, GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. WED 2 DEC 2020 : The main focus of our November 30 gathering was federal finance minister Chrystia Freeland’s economic and fiscal update for the Government of Canada — on cable news TV at or about 4 PM, direct from the Canadian House of Commons in Ottawa.

                The Government at the moment of course is struggling to serve the unusual global pandemic and other aspirations, needs, and plain wants of the Canadian people, to whom it ultimately reports.

                (In the “free and democratic society” invoked in Article 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in the Constitution Act, 1982. And especially in increasingly democratic elections under the earlier Constitution Act, 1867. Right now the smart money is also talking about an unscheduled snap federal election this coming spring or even earlier … )

                While we waited this past Monday for 4PM to arrive some tweeted news from the American side of the great lake prompted a brief surprised continental celebration as well …

                National Review attacks Trump’s “Flawed and dishonest assertions” … at last

                At 6:30 AM ET Monday morning (we later learned) the National Review — illustrious and notorious US conservative magazine founded by William Buckley in 1955 — published an editorial called “Trump’s Disgraceful Endgame.” And this at last happily suggests that there are some conservative democrats in the USA today who do not already work for MSNBC.

                As many have urged, it is important for American democratic political culture that especially conservative voices of this sort be raised. Our view is that, however much they may be wrong about most other things, the editors of the National Review in 2020 are just telling the plain truth at last when they say, eg : “The chief driver of the post-election contention of the past several weeks is the petulant refusal of one man to accept the verdict of the American people.”

                Similarly : “Almost nothing that the Trump team has alleged [in their massive voter fraud con-campaign] has withstood the slightest scrutiny … Flawed and dishonest assertions … pollute the public discourse and mislead good people who make the mistake of believing things said by the president of the United States.”

                Finally, the National Review editors succinctly explain : “Trump’s most reprehensible tactic has been to attempt, somewhat shamefacedly, to get local Republican officials to block the certification of votes and state legislatures to appoint Trump electors in clear violation of the public will. This has gone nowhere, thanks to the honesty and sense of duty of most of the Republicans involved, but it’s a profoundly undemocratic move that we hope no losing presidential candidate ever even thinks of again.”

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                Can “socialism” in Canada (er I mean “social democracy”) be any inspiration for Joe Biden’s USA today (and meanwhile will the pivot to Asia now revive) ?

                Posted: November 18th, 2020 | No Comments »
                Sophia A. Nelson, author of “E Pluribus One: Reclaiming Our Founders’ Vision for a United America.”

                FROM RANDALL WHITE, FERNWOOD PARK, TORONTO, WED 18 NOV 2020 : Sophia A. Nelson (who might qualify as one seasoned guide to the new political middle ground many Americans apparently now yearn for) published an interesting piece on the Daily Beast site this past Sunday.

                Her article is called “The Authoritarian Threat in This Country Isn’t Socialism … Socialism reverberated like crazy in this election, but it was ironic that Trump supporters couldn’t recognize what a threat to democracy he posed.”

                The delusional American right-wing view of “socialism” can seem especially eccentric if you live in Canada — and, like the majority of your fellow Canadians, almost always vote Democratic in American elections. Yet in reviewing my own favourite authors on the subject, I find that no less astute a political prophet than George Orwell put Americans and Canadians (and possibly even Mexicans?) together in the global picture.

                As Orwell explained in his 1947 meditation on why socialism was only possible in Europe : “In North America the masses are contented with capitalism, and one cannot tell what turn they will take when capitalism begins to collapse … It may be that Europe is finished and that in the long run some better form of society will arise in India or China. But I believe that it is only in Europe, if anywhere, that democratic Socialism could be made a reality in short enough time …”

                Socialism in North America and Canada

                “The Grand Tour” by prize-winning Toronto artist Michael Seward, November 2020.

                In her thoughts on conservative, Republican, and right-wing demonization of “socialism” in the 2020 US election Sophia Nelson points to a 2019 Daily Beast article by veteran journalist Jack Schwartz. It argues that socialism was a deeply rooted force in American political culture long before Bernie Sanders revived its secular gospel in the age of Donald Trump.

                Schwartz’s still well-worth-reading historical article is called : “How Socialism Made America Great … As a nation, we seem to have forgotten the circumstances that turned rock-ribbed Americans into labor activists, social reformers, populists, and, yes, socialists.”

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                On Biden-Harris victory at last : some gains for American democracy ; some new lessons to figure out

                Posted: November 8th, 2020 | No Comments »

                COUNTERWEIGHTS EDITORS, TORONTO, NOV 8, 2020, 2 AM ET : As with so many others our first reaction was just relief. At least some big enough part of what you wanted to happen was probably going to happen. But until it was confirmed …

                Most of our fellow workers, friends, and neighbours, in this North American city where most residents do not vote in American elections, seem more relaxed. Whatever other new truths liberals and democrats must make some new peace with, Joe Biden will be President of the USA — starting this coming January 20, 2021 and lasting the ensuing four years.

                As often noted, what could happen on the losing side between now and two-and-a-half months from now (during the bizarre lame-duck feature of the USA’s late 18th century American constitutionalism) could be disturbing at best. But at the moment there does not seem too much altogether serious evidence that this is likely to get altogether out of hand.

                Back just before election day our own Citizen X observed that whether any “seminal grand victory for American democracy and American progress is in the cards of who knows just what lies ahead … is the great remaining mystery.”

                With some losses in the House, and a Senate whose final composition will depend on two run-off elections in Georgia early in the new year (and a genuinely impressive if not winning final surge of support for Donald Trump himself ), it is now clear enough that this seminal grand victory for the side of US political culture we like best did not happen.

                Not entirely unlike the 2018 midterms, however, there does seem some sense in which as the depths of the 2020 election start to set in, the gains made for American democracy and American progress start to improve. The “Biden-Harris” ticket is ahead by more than 4 million (or almost 3%) in the popular vote, as matters stand. And it has decisively won the electoral college.

                Whatever else, Democrats do still have the majority in the House, and they could in theory even win the barest edge in the Senate early next year. There is a woman and a Black Asian as vice-president for the first time. Whatever finally happens in Georgia, Democrats strongly backed by African Americans have opened new ground for the future in the Old South.

                Just how badly President Trump and his most ardent supporters will behave between now and January 20, 2021 remains a mystery that will only be solved as it happens. But the happy, peaceful celebrations in the big cities the Trump Republicans are so afraid of have sounded one upbeat note. And President-elect Biden has already started reaching out to the many Americans who voted for Trump — and to the pandemic now especially raging in many red states. We keep remembering 1960, when Richard Nixon came a lot closer to beating the legendary John F. Kennedy than Donald Trump has come to beating Joe Biden in 2020.

                (And to summarize a final report just phoned in, a day later : One side of 2020 is the Republicans have survived, to even their own surprise. But the other is now the Democrats have the momentum … for as long as they can figure out how to keep it … starting well with public health in a pandemic … .)

                NOV 6 : Biden closer to winning ; Banon, Graham, and Trump closer to crazy! (And Kayleigh McEnany will always be …)

                Posted: November 4th, 2020 | No Comments »
                “Winter is icumen in/Ezra Pound” by prize-winning Toronto artist Michael Seward.

                UPDATED NOV 4, 10:30 AM ET ; NOV 6, 3 AM, 12 NOON : COUNTERWEIGHTS EDITORS’ NOTES : 3 NOV 20, 11:40 PM ET : Just under an hour ago David Coletto at Abacus Data tweeted : “We won’t know what the outcome is tonight. Feels like it’s best to go to bed, try to sleep, and refocus tomorrow.”

                At 11:35 ET Mr. Coletto tweeted again : “I’ll dream of this map” — where Biden gets 290 electoral college votes to Trump’s 248. (It takes 270 to win.) This assumes Biden will finally win Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin — where he is currently running behind Trump.

                At 11:26 ET the former NDP member of the Ontario legislature Cheri DiNovo tweeted : “We should probably all go to bed, but who can? Now 192 to 114. It’ll be awhile. It’ll be close. I see many lawyers in the future.”

                At least it is now very clear why Trump has talked so much about wanting the counting of votes to end on election night!

                4 NOV 20, 12:05 AM ET : In the results reported on the Globe and Mail and CTV websites (conservative at least for Canada in both cases) Biden (49.8%) has now moved ahead of Trump (48.6%) in the popular vote. At this point Biden has 213 electoral votes to Trump’s 118. By 12:25 it’s Biden 223, Trump 145. By 1 AM Biden is still at 223, but Trump has moved up to 174.

                At 1:03 AM ET Biden himself tweets : “We feel good about where we are. We believe we are on track to win this election.”

                The Michigan law professor and TV legal analyst Barb McQuade has already tweeted, to those in the Twitterverse that share her (and our) views : “No need to stress, friends. This is what we have been expecting all along. The election comes down to a handful of key states where the vote count may take a few days. As mail-in ballots get counted, the numbers will shift toward Biden.”

                XYZ by Michael Seward.

                But now by 2:30 AM ET Trump has spoken from the White House, and it is very clear his strategy is to contest the legitimacy of the mail-in ballots that are almost certainly more for Biden than Trump, and are still to be counted.

                It is very hard for us to see at this point how this Trumpian strategy can portend anything but great grief for the United States — and many other parts of the global village.

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                Waiting for the 2020 US election from just across the lake (while also thinking about Canadian public finance)

                Posted: November 1st, 2020 | No Comments »

                FROM THE DESKTOP OF CITIZEN X, GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. NOVEMBER 1, 2020. One thing Canadians never quite understand about their friendly-giant neighbours in the USA is how they ever manage to remember even the bare political geography of their federal system.

                Memorizing the 10 provinces of Canada and their capital cities at school or otherwise takes some mental effort. But it is no great ordeal. Memorizing all 50 states of the union and their capital cities is a major intellectual exercise.

                Among many other things, Americans are blessed by the almost crazily diverse geography of their federal system (the legendary North and South Dakota, eg, or North and South Carolina, or Virginia and West Virginia, etc) In my advancing age (and with cumulating visits among friends, neighbours, and relatives next door) I have come to understand that the answer to how Americans manage to remember all this is that they don’t.

                “Final NPR Electoral Map: Biden Has The Edge, But Trump Retains Narrow Path” — Biden = blue & light blue ; Trump = red & pink ; Toss-up = yellow.

                And that it seems to me, as I look at the leaves outside my office window, in between staring at “2020 Electoral Map Based on Polls” on my PC screen, is what makes this November 3, 2020 election still so moody and uncertain.

                ELECTORAL COLLEGE BLUES : For better or (most likely) worse, it’s not the nation-wide popular vote that counts. It’s results in an Electoral College where each state gets the number of seats it has in the House of Representatives and the Senate combined.

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                If BC NDP can win a stable majority government to manage COVID-19,what about the Liberals in Ottawa?

                Posted: October 25th, 2020 | No Comments »
                At 9:12 PM PT Steve Faguy at the Montreal Gazette tweeted “That was quick.” By 10:10 PM PT the NDP was up to 54 seats. A bare majority in the Legislative Assembly is 44!

                UPDATED OCT 26. FROM THE COUNTERWEIGHTS EDITORS. TORONTO, OCT 25, 12:15 AM ET ; OCT 24, 9:15 PM PT : Surprise, surprise (not, of course). Despite the large volume of mail-in votes that will only be counted “a couple of weeks later,” both CBC and CTV have now projected an NDP majority government in today’s very interesting snap provincial election on Canada’s Pacific Coast.

                FURTHER NOTES FROM THE BOARDROOM, OCT 25, 2:00 AM ET : Both CBC and CTV have been assigning Premier Horgan’s NDP 55 seats. (With, on the CBC numbers eg, just under 45% of the popular vote. The Liberals have 29 seats with just under 36% of the vote, and the Greens only 3 seats with 15%.)

                “Night Vision” by prize-winning Toronto artist Michael Seward, October 2020.

                The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia has 87 seats, making 44 a bare majority. (So at as many as 55 or even somewhat fewer seats, the NDP … etc.)

                As one sign of why both TV networks seem confident about the NDP majority, P.J. Fournier of 338Canada (and often enough in Maclean’s magazine) has tweeted about a recent Mainstreet Research poll. It shows voters who mailed in their votes as considerably more likely to vote NDP than those who did not. As M. Fournier says : “When the votes by mail get counted in two weeks, the NDP could run up the score.”

                WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT BC? (In the eyes of ill-informed but nonetheless interested observers on the northwest shore of Lake Ontario) : Whatever else, this is a big win for Premier John Horgan — the “only consecutive two-term premier in his party’s history.” It’s a big win for Premier Horgan’s BC New Democrats as well. (Even if their most aggressively progressive factions, some TV commentators suggested, are doomed to disappointment.)

                Two other quick thoughts strike us. First, with this genuinely impressive big victory BC and its provincial New Democratic Party has altogether superseded Saskatchewan as the western heartland of the most left-wing brand of left-wing politics in Canada — founded, as it were, by the legendary Regina Manifesto of 1933. More practically, John Horgan seems to have found an NDP governing strategy that’s working, and probably deserves still further study elsewhere. (Especially if he can keep his act up in BC.)

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                We’re having pandemic elections in New Brunswick, BC, and Saskatchewan. Why not in Canada too?

                Posted: October 21st, 2020 | No Comments »
                “After the Rain” by prize-winning Toronto artist Michael Seward, October 2020.

                UPDATED 4 PM ET, OCT 21 ; 2, 9 PM ET, OCT 22 ; 11 PM ET, OCT 23 ; 12 NOON PT, OCT 24. RANDALL WHITE, TORONTO. TOO EARLY IN THE MORNING, OCTOBER 21, 2020 : This Wednesday, October 21, 2020 marks the one-year anniversary of the October 21, 2019 Canadian federal election that gave us the perhaps not-stable-enough configuration of political forces that prevails in Ottawa today, in the time of the coronavirus.

                Already, according to calculations advanced in the Wikipedia article on “Federal minority governments in Canada,” the Justin Trudeau Liberal minority government bequeathed by the 2019 election has lasted longer than six of the 14 minority governments that have so far marked the now long-enough history of the Canadian confederation of 1867.

                When Jagmeet Singh’s New Democrats finally backed the September 23, 2020 Liberal Throne Speech, while the other opposition parties turned thumbs down, it did seem that Justin Trudeau’s 2019 minority government might conceivably last as long as his father’s 1972 variation on the theme — kept in office until 1974 by David Lewis’s New Democrats.

                As matters stand right now, however, the Conservatives seem determined to scandal-monger over the WE charity controversy that almost certainly cost Liberal seats in the October 21, 2019 election. Both the Bloc Québécois and possibly enough even the New Democrats seem unwilling to confront the Conservatives rather than the Liberals once this issue becomes the focus of debate. And all this has raised the prospect that another federal election not much more than a year after the last one might finally be the most sensible way of dealing effectively with the worsening pandemic across Canada.

                From Michael Seward’s Toronto street scene photos, October 2020.

                As the Legislative Assembly of Ontario showed recently, when it unanimously supported a motion from Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter to not hold any snap election in Ontario before the June 2, 2022 fixed date, the prospect of any major democratic vote in the midst of the current COVID-19 does strike many as weird, considered in the abstract.

                Similarly, “NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus” recently urged that treating opposition demands for a parliamentary committee on the WE controversy as a confidence motion that could lead to a fresh election would be “one of the most irresponsible things anybody’s ever done in the history of Canada.” (And “Conservative Leader @erinotoole says he does not have confidence in the Liberal government, but he does not want an election.” Mmmmm … how does parliamentary democracy work again?)

                Yet what all arguments against a Canadian federal election in the time of the coronavirus must seriously come up against is the recent provincial snap election in New Brunswick, that allowed a Conservative minority government to win a more stable majority — and the BC provincial election this coming Saturday, October 24, in which a NDP minority government will be reaching for the same objective.

                (There is also a Saskatchewan provincial contest on Monday, October 26, but it is at least a fixed date rather than a snap election. The Saskatchewan Party has had a majority government for the past four years, and it will almost certainly win another this coming Monday. The prospect of a snap election soon in Ontario also seems especially weird, since the present Ford government has a stable legislative majority that can at least in principle manage the pandemic until the next June 2022 fixed date.)

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