Late August 2020 : Universal Basic Income, Conservative Party of Canada, and climate-change wildfires in California

Aug 25th, 2020 | By | Category: In Brief
Amazing photographic capture of the authentic President Donald Trump at RNC 2020? Tks to The Hill in Washington, DC .

FROM CITIZEN X ON STAYCATION IN EAST YORK CONDO. TUESDAY, AUGUST 25, 2020. 10:45 PM ET/7:45 PM PT. We do live in uncertain times. Just as I was stumbling across welcome news that some Canadian New Democrats are contemplating a workable Universal Basic (or Guaranteed) Income, I also stumbled across less happy evidence on the concept’s current unpopularity in the USA.

On the welcome news, this past Sunday morning former Ontario NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo retweeted Everett Coldwell’s tweet on the new UBI trial study in Germany with “Need a #UniversalBasicIncome now!”

Just a few hours later on Sunday afternoon Christo Aivalis tweeted his recent podcast interview with current Manitoba NDP MP Leah Gazan, who has “introduced a historic motion to implement a Basic Income Guarantee in Canada.” (And on this see M-46 GUARANTEED LIVABLE BASIC INCOME, seconded by BC NDP MP Paul Manly.)

On the less happy story stateside see René Bocksch at the frequently fascinating statista site, on a “new survey from Pew Research Center” which “shows 54 percent of US adults either strongly or somewhat oppose a UBI of $1,000 to all adult citizens.”

Two possibly redeeming findings are that “two-thirds of those between the ages of 18-29 … favor … a $1,000 UBI,” as do “73 percent and 63 percent of Black and Hispanic Americans.”

Still more redeemingly, an Angus Reid survey this past June 2020 found that 59% of Canadians support a Universal Basic Income (and at any of $10K, $20K, $30K annual funding levels).

“#24081220” by prize-winning Toronto artist Michael Seward, August 2020.

It is also true that 54% of Canadians feel the concept in practice could prove “too expensive.” Not surprisingly as well, Angus Reid found that : “Political preference drives opinion: three-quarters of those who supported the Liberal Party in the last federal election support a UBI. More than four-in-five New Democrat voters do as well. Past CPC voters are not in favour.”

Meanwhile, speaking of past CPC voters, what about the mild surprise of Erin O’Toole as new Conservative Party of Canada leader (once the votes were finally counted much later than they were supposed to be this past Sunday night)?

Steve Paikin at TVOntario feels that “black woman” Leslyn Lewis’s “getting almost 1/3 of the 2nd ballot votes” is “the huge story that emerges from the leadership race.” But the rather right-wing white man who will lead the CPC in the next federal election will still be Mr. O’Toole. And, while anything probably can happen in our current unusual times, right now you have to be a Conservative partisan to seriously see Erin O’Toole as Canada’s next prime minister.

To take one minor illustration, another recent fascinating statista chart showed “Percentage point change in job approval of selected world leaders (March 1 to August 18, 2020).” And Justin Trudeau placed second among leaders with job approval increases.

As I watched Erin O’Toole on TV this morning he did not look like someone who could match Justin Trudeau’s international profile – whatever that might mean in an election. (Though the leader in first place on this particular statista chart is the quite conservative if officially “Liberal” Australian PM Scott Morrison!) The CTV News site headline “Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he will not campaign for new Conservative leader” also sounds interesting.

To end this Tuesday evening on a still harsher note, I had the opportunity of sitting in on the counterweights’ weekly consultations with technical staff in Northern California last night. It lent more immediately visible real human experience to such media headlines as :

Firefighters battle record wildfires in California after thousands of lightning strikes” ; “California’s wildfires have burned through Big Basin Redwoods State Park, toppling some of the 800- to 1500-year-old trees” ; “This is not normal. This is #ClimateChange” (science journalist Laurie Garrett) ; and “If you don’t believe in climate change, come to California” (California Governor Gavin Newsom).

Northern California today : “The virus is indoors; the fires are outdoors. There are few places left to go. Photograph by Noah Berger / AP / Shutterstock.”

For more interpretive reflections see : “17 August 2020 … In San Francisco” by the American poet from Jersey City, August Kleinzahler, on the London Review of Books blog ; and “An Apocalyptic August in California” – an August 24, 2020 summary by New Yorker tech correspondent Anna Wiener.

Meanwhile again, sitting in on the latest consultations with technical staff in Northern California did something to me. I could hear and (virtually) see the experience of living where the smoke outside is too thick to go out (even if actual fires are still far away).

Then the COVID-19 pandemic is still causing trouble. You aren’t supposed to be moving anywhere because of it. But you still have to get and stay ready for some state or local official to say it’s time for you to evacuate, to avoid encroaching fires, caused by lightning from the sky.

We are for the moment more fortunate up here, north of the Great Lakes. But the “Apocalyptic August in California” has nonetheless burst upon some of us in its own way. My best current guess is that it will somehow remain in my thoughts for quite a while yet.

CW EDITORS UPDATE, SAT, AUG 29, 2020 : On our companion music and culture site,, see “Wynton Marsalis and Bill Maher accidentally help celebrate the 100th birthday of the Charlie Parker who largely invented modern jazz.” And our own very best wishes on his 100th birthday today to the ghost of the late great Charles Parker Jr., wherever he has been since his untimely death in 1955.

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