Saturday, April 11, 2015

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Andrew Jackson argues that contrary to the attempt of the Ecofiscal Commission to impose right-wing values like tax slashing and devolution on any action to deal with climate change, we in fact need the federal government to take a lead role:
While it is sensible in the current political context that provinces not wait for federal leadership, this does not mean those pushing for climate action should lessen our pressure on the federal government to lead. At a minimum, the federal government should be requiring all of the provinces to take some modest first steps to reduce emissions through carbon pricing along the lines set by BC and Quebec, perhaps soon to be followed by Ontario.

The Commission is right to point out that the emissions profiles of the provinces are very different, and that we would be wise to avoid levying carbon taxes in such a way as to set the stage for large transfers of fiscal resources between provinces. But it would be quite possible, as the report notes, to set a national minimum price on carbon that gives the provinces access to most of the revenue to fund their own climate change priorities.

The Commission’s report further notes that it would be “desirable” for the federal government to co-ordinate future provincial carbon pricing policies to ensure that businesses operate on a more or less level playing field. It could have added that there is a need for federal leadership in developing clean technologies and renewable energy generation and conservation programs, all of which have to be funded.

The clear failure of the Harper government to deal with climate change is no reason to give up on federal leadership writ large.
- Meanwhile, Ben Adler points out there's no reason to think that building new pipelines will reduce the risk of train explosions - particularly when the same people pushing for the pipelines are the same ones demanding lax standards for oil-transporting trains. And North Shore News writes that the English Bay fuel spill is as much a black mark on the Cons and the B.C. Libs as on the growing affected area.

- Patrick Caldwell highlights how cuts to tax collection agencies serve to undermine the public good on multiple levels - first by making them more difficult to deal with, then by reducing public revenues. And it's worth pointing out the final step, as the deliberate destruction of a tax collection service can only open the door for profiteers to take over the function of collecting revenue.

- Lynn Vavrick discusses the role of a presidential candidate in shifting votes in the U.S., finding that entrenched party loyalties far outweigh individual candidates. And Geoff Dembicki points out the potential for young voters to radically change Canada's electoral math.

- Finally, Tony Burman writes about the desperate lack of CSIS oversight even before it stands to be handed massive new powers under C-51, while Andrew Mitrovica draws a similar conclusion in interviewing CSIS' former inspector-general Eva Plunkett. And Gerald Caplan writes that while Tom Mulcair has been careful to avoid living up to the label his opponents have attempted to slap on him as the NDP's leader, Canadians have every reason to be angry with the Harper Cons.

On foundational assumptions

Shorter John Geddes:
Conservatism cannot fail, it can only be failed. And so the miserable results of Stephen Harper's consistent privatization, free trade obsession and corporate tax slashing don't count as a conservative record.

The definition of privilege

Connor Kilpatrick is right to observe that while we should be willing to take note of privilege in many forms, we should be especially concerned with organizing to counter the grossly outsized influence of the very few at the top whose whims are typically allowed to override the common good.

But there's a handy dividing line available to assess the difference. After all, there's already been plenty of work done in sorting out who has the most influence on the U.S. political system.

On the best evidence available, any privilege associated with middle-class status or involvement in mass movement has effectively no effect on government policy. In contrast, the privilege associated with belonging to the top 10% or the organized business lobby includes the capacity to overrule anybody else in how we're governed.

To be fair, the Gilens/Page data is based on the U.S. rather than Canada. But when the Cons' key policies like corporate tax slashing, individual tax havens and income splitting focus their handouts on the top 15% here, there's little reason to think a substantially different standard applies here than in the U.S.

So it's not hard to see who's in the currently-excluded class, and who has enough privilege to warp public policy in their favour. And anybody short of the top 10% should have every incentive to change the balance between public-interest politics and elite domination in favour of the former.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Musical interlude

Ty Segall - Tall Man, Skinny Lady

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- PressProgress exposes the Cons' utter detachment from the realities facing Canadian workers. And Kevin Page, Stephen Tapp and Gary Mason all expose their balanced-budget legislation as being at best a distraction tactic, and at worst an incentive for governments to do exactly what they shouldn't when the economy needs a boost from fiscal policy.

- Lu Wang reports on the ever-increasing gap between salaries and stock returns. Kaylie Tiessen points out the gap between the actual wages paid to far too many low-income workers, and the living wage required to get by in Toronto. And thwap highlights the choice we face between inclusive democracy and elitist capitalism - with the latter all too often forming the basis for policy choices.

- But as Scott Santens writes, a basic income could address many of the problems facing workers both in terms of making ends meet, and exercising personal rights and freedoms. 

- John Cartwright laments the spread of a two-tiered work structure designed to strip wages and benefits away from younger workers. Chris Kirkham and Tiffany Hsu write about the difficulty employees face trying to recoup their losses at the hands of employers who violate labour standards.

- The CDC examines the link between income and sleep as just another example of the greater difficulties facing lower-income citizens.

- Finally, Justin Ling reports that after being exposed to public scrutiny, the Cons' terror bill is now looking thoroughly unpopular.

On trial and error

It may be true - as argued by Lawrence Martin - that Mike Duffy's expense fraud trial will serve as the most prominent point of discussion about the Harper Cons' stay in power. But we should be careful not to rely on it too much as a counterweight to the Cons' self-promotion - nor to allow broader concerns about the Cons to be drowned out by the minutiae of Duffy's actions.

The need for caution arises out of the nature of the trial. It shouldn't have come as any surprise that the main points to be aired and decided involve relatively narrow issues as to Duffy's own state of mind - and while the trial will certainly shed some light on Harper and his PMO in addressing those points, it will take some substantial work to link the trial to the myriad of other outrages mentioned by Martin (though his abuse-of-power theme does seem like a useful one to take up).

More importantly, though, the fate of the trial is far beyond their control.

By all means, opposition parties and progressive Canadians need to be prepared to respond to developments - and it's possible that some might make Harper utterly toxic to voters.

But the timing and content of the trial is subject to change at any time based on how Duffy, the Crown prosecutor and the court see the trial proceeding: for example, Duffy himself could avoid taking the stand if his counsel thinks his best chance is to rely on weaknesses in the prosecution's case as to the clarity of the Senate's expense rules, or the Crown could agree to a plea bargain before the defence starts presenting its promised expose of the Harper regime. So anybody planning to build an election strategy around the expectation that the trial will result in blame sticking to Harper personally may wind up disappointed.

Again, it's worth pointing out how Duffy's sense of entitlement is just one example of the Cons' overall disdain for the law and for the interests of Canadians at large. But there's a significant danger in counting on the Duffy trial to bring to light all the issues that ought to count against Harper - and we should be working on ensuring the latter receive ample attention even if the former doesn't live up to its advance billing.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Surely, Kinder Morgan is celebrating the increased economic activity in English Bay

Just think how many cleanup- and remediation-related profits might be lost if we'd retained the capacity to contain a fuel spill before it spreads.

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Alison picks up on Armine Yalnizyan's important question as to whether the Cons have a Plan B other than hoping for factors beyond our control to boost oil prices. And Brad Delong argues that based on the foreseeable direction of our economy, we need a stronger public sector now than we've ever had before:
(A)s we move into the twenty-first century, the commodities we will be producing are becoming less rival, less excludible, more subject to adverse selection and moral hazard, and more subject to myopia and other behavioral-psychological market failures.

The twenty-first century sees more knowledge to be learned and thus a greater role for education—and if there is a single sector in which behavioral-economics and adverse-selection have major roles to play, it is education. Deciding to fund education via very long-term loan-finance and thus to leave the cost-benefit investment calculations to be undertaken by adolescents has been a disaster.

The twenty-first century will see longer life expectancy, and thus a greater role for pensions. Yet here in the United States the privatization of pensions via 401k(s) has been an equally great disaster.
The twenty-first century will see health-care spending as a share of total income cross 25% if not 33%. Enough said. Sooner or later some insurance plan is going to start saying that we do indeed cover cancer treatment as part of our essential health benefits—but we believe that the proper and state-of-the-art treatment for cancer is via aromatherapy.

The twenty-first century will see information goods a much larger part of the total pie than the twentieth. And if we know one thing, it is that it is not efficient to try to provide information goods via a competitive market for they are neither rival nor excludible. It makes no microeconomic sense at all for services like those provided by Google to be funded and incentivized by how much money can be raised not off of the value of the services but off of the fumes rising from Google’s ability to sell the eyeballs of the users to advertisers as an intermediate good.

Infrastructure and R&D. Enough said.
- And Paul Krugman follows up on the reason why government intervention is valuable due to predictable and well-documented gaps between individual decision-making and social goods.

- Of course, we're being told on far too many fronts that we have to put up with just the opposite - such as in Alberta where everybody short of the massive-donor class is facing cuts and cost increases. But Jeff MacLeod and James Sawler explain why austerity represents a path to ruin rather than development, while Stella Lord addresses the connection between government cuts and individual poverty.

- Finally, Duncan Cameron writes that the Cons have gone out of their way to turn Canada into an outlaw state. Frances Russell laments that the Cons have turned contempt of Parliament into the normal state of affairs in Canadian politics. And Antonia Maioni warns Australia against following in Stephen Harper's evidence-destroying footsteps by gutting their own census.

New column day

Here, discussing James Coleman's research paper on the different messages corporations send to regulators as opposed to shareholders when it comes to proposed regulatory policies - and how it signals the need to be extremely skeptical when the business lobby complains that a policy will affect jobs or economic development.

For further reading...
- Isolda Agazzi discusses how the CETA is designed to force governments to take corporate spin at face value.
- Matthew Yglesias points out how Jeb Bush figures to continue his brother's habit of handing Wall Street everything it could possibly ask for.
- And Robert Reich notes that the same wealthy few who are misleading governments about the effect of public policy have largely bought the silence of much of civil society.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Now we're just haggling over the price

Others have rightly wondered whether the Wildrose Party's new promise to make floor-crossing MPs pay a price to the party will be enforceable at all. But it's also worth examining how it might affect MLAs' decision-making - with the result potentially being the exact opposite of what Brian Jean intends.

Previously, the bar to Wildrose MLAs crossing the floor was a moral one: the promise, to constituents and party alike, that MLAs would resist the temptation to join another party. And while that bar may have failed to stop Danielle Smith and others from breaking their promise, it certainly seems to have had an impact on the political prospects of those who made the switch.

In contrast, Jean has made floor-crossing into a financial issue. The sticker price tag to buy a Wildrose MLA is now being advertised publicly - and it's hardly inconceivable that the benefits of a cabinet position or a more secure seat would outweigh the financial incentive to stay even if it's otherwise enforceable.

Indeed, Jean may be setting up a political example of a familiar experiment in behavioural economics: just as a price on anti-social behaviour in the case of late daycare pickups actually increased violations by causing parents to think in economic rather than moral terms, so too might it allow MLAs to claim they owe constituents nothing more than to buy out their party status.

And the problem is expanded since Wildrose is also changing the question as to who's entitled to raise concerns about a violation of expectations. The new contract makes it explicit that it's the party, not constituents, which holds a duty of loyalty and which has the power to enforce an MLA's obligations. And by implication, the party will also have the power to decide an MLA isn't worth pursuing - no matter what voters may think.

Of course, as long as the surface financial deterrent helps to convince voters that Jean is more serious about sticking it out with Wildrose than Smith was, it will serve a political purpose. But for anybody who would prefer that the relationship among parties, candidates and voters be based on principles rather than dollar signs, it shifts MLAs' incentives in exactly the wrong direction.

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Noah Smith writes that the renewable energy revolution is further along than was projected just a few years ago:
Each of these trends -- cheaper batteries and cheaper solar electricity -- is good on its own, and on the margin will help to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, with all the geopolitical drawbacks and climate harm they entail. But together, the two cost trends will add up to nothing less than a revolution in the way humankind interacts with the planet and powers civilization.

You see, the two trends reinforce each other. Cheaper batteries mean that cars can switch from gasoline to the electrical grid. But currently, much of the grid is powered by coal. With cheap solar replacing coal at a rapid clip, that will be less and less of an issue. As for solar, its main drawback is intermittency. But with battery costs dropping, innovative manufacturers such as Tesla will be able to make cheap batteries for home electricity use, allowing solar power to run your house 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

So instead of thinking of solar and batteries as two independent things, we should think of them as one single unified technology package. Solar-plus-batteries is set to begin a dramatic transformation of human civilization. The transformation has already begun, but will really pick up steam during the next decade. That is great news, because cheap energy powers our economy, and because clean energy will help stop climate change.
- Roderick Benns interviews Jonathan Brun on the value of a basic income to ensure that everybody benefits from a society's economic development.

- But Dana Milbank points out that the Cons' Republican cousins are instead imposing ever more inexplicable conditions on insufficient social programs to ostracize the poor, while Emily Badger discusses the double standard being used to cause extra harm to people living in poverty. And Robert Reich exposes how non-profit organizations are taking orders from their wealthy donors to avoid discussing the inequality at the root of the problems they're supposed to ameliorate, while David Suzuki comments on the big money behind climate denial campaigns.

- The Star calls for updated employment standards to protect all workers, not only those in traditional employment relationships. 

- Finally, Shannon Gormley writes that the entire purpose of the Cons' terror bill is to normalize human rights abuses under Canadian law - meaning that secret oversight mechanisms would do nothing to solve the fundamental problem with the legislation. Michael Geist follows up on the theater of the absurd that was the committee hearings into Bill C-51. And Matthew Coon Come discusses how the combination of new secret police and increased surveillance threatens aboriginal rights.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Personal assistant cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Lawrence Ezrow writes that the disconnect between the public and policymaking that's done so much harm to the U.S. isn't quite as severe in more equal countries. And the Equality Trust is looking to ensure that the UK's political parties make the reduction of inequality into a core policy objective.

- Jordon Cooper comments on Saskatchewan's desperate need for a seniors' care plan - rather than the current practice of matching photo ops with selloffs and failing services. And Robert McMurtry reminds us of the dire need for a strong federal role in a national health care system.

- Ralph Heintzman reports on how federal civil servants are being forced to use their positions to serve as Con talking point dispensers. And the Star calls for some oversight to ensure that public money isn't used for partisan advertising purposes - though we might want to start by allowing our existing watchdogs to do their jobs rather than having to jump through a ridiculous set of hoops just to get basic information from the government.

- Meanwhile, Kathryn May exposes the Public Service Commission's refusal to allow a federal prosecutor to run for office, signalling just one more area where avoiding "politicization" seems to mean nothing more than silencing anybody who might challenge the Harper Cons.

- Matthew Behrens notes that C-51 represents just one more step - if a particular obtrusive one - down a longstanding path of intrusion into personal activities based on specious spin about terrorism.

- Finally, Michael Harris offers the Harper Cons a sure-to-be ignored lesson in mercy.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Dean Baker reminds us that we shouldn't let ourselves get distracted from the serious problems with inequality when defenders of the status quo try to change the subject to mobility:
(M)any of the policies that would most obviously promote equality also promote growth. For example, a Fed policy committed to high employment, even at the risk of somewhat higher rates of inflation, would lead to stronger wage growth at the middle and bottom of the wage ladder, while also likely leading to more investment and growth.
It is also important to remember that the well-being of children depends to a large extent on the well-being of their parents. If the minimum wage had kept pace with productivity growth since 1968 (as it did between 1938 and 1968) it would be over $17 an hour today. The children of a single parent earning $34,000 a year would have much better life prospects than the children of a single parent earning $14,500 a year. In this sense there is a very direct relationship between inequality and mobility.

The long and short is that we know of many measures that can both reduce inequality and increase growth. And, if we want to make sure that everyone's children have a shot at a better standard of living in the future then we should make sure that their parents have a better standard of living today.
- Nina Glinski discusses how the rich are the only people seeing any income gains in the U.S. Vijay Das comments on the desperate need for laws to reduce worker exploitation by at least ensuring employees aren't bound to be at an employer's beck and call even when there's minimal hope of receiving actual work. And Murray Dobbin examines how corporatism is threatening Canadian workers in an era of soaring profits and stagnating wages.

- Meanwhile, Paul Krugman takes a look at the damage done by austerity in the UK - even as the Cameron Cons try to claim victory based on the fact that morale improved slightly after their floggings were reduced.

- Joanna Kao offers a range of accounts as to how the U.S. (like other countries) is set up to add to the burden of people already facing the challenge of homelessness. But Arthur Delaney reminds us that the solution to homelessness is as obvious as it is effective.

- Alexander Panetta reports that plenty of people within the CIA had their own misgivings about the decision to render Maher Arar for torture which were ignored due to the sheer stubbornness of single officer. And Jim Bronskill discovers that CSIS is already working on sharing yet more questionable "intelligence" internationally with no apparent concern for the people caught in their net. Which means that there's all the more reason for worry about the implications of C-51 identified by Michael Kempa.

- Finally, Suzanne Legault calls for a much-needed update to Canada's access to information laws.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

On youth outreach

David Akin claims that Canada's political parties should ignore youth turnout in an election year and focus on older citizens who are more likely to vote. But it's worth taking some time to examine the issue in a bit more detail.

At the outset, I'd think there's little doubt Canada's main political parties have a far more sophisticated view of potential voter pools than Akin. Yes, older voters may turn out in larger number as a whole, but all age groups can be split into numerous subgroups based on other demographic subgroups - and there are certainly some younger ones which would have a higher turnout than some older ones.

But let's put that issue aside and ask: what does a political party have to gain in making a strong effort to win younger supporters? And the most important answer arises from exactly the factor which makes Akin think it's worth focusing on older voters alone.

Younger voters may not yet have developed the habit of voting at all. But by the same token, it's equally true that they're less likely to have developed the habit of voting a particular way.

So even for the current election cycle, if a party is calculating the value of outreach efforts based on the likelihood of winning votes, there's a simple trade-off to be made. The value of reaching a voter is presumably defined by how that contact can change in the voter's likelihood of going to the polls, and how it can change the voter's preference as between parties and candidates.

Akin effectively hand-waves away the possibility that participation rates can be improved. But it's not clear that he has any basis for doing so based on the factors which actually affect youth participation rates. The best evidence suggests that younger voters who have contact with candidates and parties are in fact far more likely to make the effort to vote - so a refusal to try may represent little more than a self-inflicted injury.

Moreover, even if one assumes that rates of voting won't change, younger voters will have less-entrenched voting patterns than people who have participated in elections (and formed preferences among parties) over a period of decades. Even if the youth turnout rate is then half that for older voters, that gap could be cancelled out entirely by a proportional willingness to consider a wider range of options rather than following past voting habits.

And that's before we get into the potential spinoff effects of reaching younger voters from a partisan perspective.

For one thing, younger voters figure to be at the point of forming habits for the longer term - meaning that an investment in earning support today is disproportionately likely to offer continued benefits in future campaigns.

What's more, the existence of a large pool of younger non-voters means that a successful pitch may have greater effects in the current election. Given the importance of personal connections in influencing voter behaviour, a single young voter persuaded to take democracy seriously is likely to have at least some impact on friends and family. And the large pool of non-voters means there are far more new votes to be gained than by similarly reaching a single older voter whose personal connections are less likely to be subject to persuasion.

Of course, there are also broader civic benefits in encouraging people to join the voting pool. But even if we assume our political parties place no value on that outcome (which it itself a questionable view, particularly for parties with relative strength among Canada's youth), they still have ample reason to make a strong effort to reach out to younger voters.

For further reading, see Frances Woolley on the disproportionate input political parties receive from older Canadians, David McGrane on the factors shaping youth voting preferences, and RossK on Brigitte DePape's work to mobilize younger voters.

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Joe Gunn argues that it's long past time for Canada to live up to its climate commitments. And Carol Linnitt writes that further delay will do nothing but damage to our economy and our democracy as well as our planet:
Taking meaningful climate action would mean increasing green infrastructure, prioritizing sustainable cities and investing in renewable and low-carbon sources of energy.

It would also mean slowing the rate of expansion of oil and gas projects including the oilsands, which would eventually put a stop to new pipeline projects. That would come with the added benefits of respecting the rights of local municipalities fighting pipelines and First Nations actively engaged in legal battles against both the provincial and federal governments for industrial incursions on traditional territory.

These are called co-benefits. They're something the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlighted in a recent report, saying climate action comes with a host of "co-benefits, synergies and tradeoffs" that naturally result from responsible and practical long-term thinking.

In general, countries getting serious in the fight against climate change are setting themselves up to enjoy all sorts of co-benefits that Canada might miss out on, like energy efficiency, clean energy, pollution reduction, water conservation, greener cities, increased recycling, sustainable agriculture, forest preservation, healthier communities, stronger human rights practices, better protection for indigenous peoples and their way of life, cleaner oceans, more democratic and collaborative politics and more.
- Paul Krugman reminds us that it's entirely possible to push for fair wages while helping the broader economy:
(T)he market for labor isn’t like the markets for soybeans or pork bellies. Workers are people; relations between employers and employees are more complicated than simple supply and demand. And this complexity means that there’s a lot more wiggle room in wage determination than conventional wisdom would have you believe. We can, in fact, raise wages significantly if we want to.

How do we know that labor markets are different? Start with the effects of minimum wages. There’s a lot of evidence on those effects: Every time a state raises its minimum wage while neighboring states don’t, it, in effect, performs a controlled experiment. And the overwhelming conclusion from all that evidence is that the effect you might expect to see — higher minimum wages leading to fewer jobs — is weak to nonexistent. Raising the minimum wage makes jobs better; it doesn’t seem to make them scarcer.
(I)t shouldn’t be all that hard to raise wages across the board. Suppose that we were to give workers some bargaining power by raising minimum wages, making it easier for them to organize, and, crucially, aiming for full employment rather than finding reasons to choke off recovery despite low inflation. Given what we now know about labor markets, the results might be surprisingly big — because a moderate push might be all it takes to persuade much of American business to turn away from the low-wage strategy that has dominated our society for so many years.

There’s historical precedent for this kind of wage push. The middle-class society now dwindling in our rearview mirrors didn’t emerge spontaneously; it was largely created by the “great compression” of wages that took place during World War II, with effects that lasted for more than a generation.

So can we repeat this achievement? The pay raises at Walmart and McDonald’s — brought on by a tightening job market plus activist pressure — offer a small taste of what could happen on a vastly larger scale. There’s no excuse for wage fatalism. We can give American workers a raise if we want to.
- Amy Minsky reports on the Cons' cuts to transport safety, while Kelsey Johnson exposes the Cons' concurrent cuts to meat inspection which are raising the risk of another listeria crisis. And Andrea Huncar reports on Alberta's actions to cut injured temporary foreign workers off from needed health care, while Ethel Tungohan introduces us to some of the people the Cons have declared to be illegal in Canada.

- Susan Delacourt argues that a focus on the Duffy bribery scandal is largely serving to distract us from more important issues. And Marina Hyde laments that the UK's election seems to be running on little more than auto-pilot in terms of both candidates' actions and the press' coverage.

- But the Independent writes that at least UK voters are enjoying far more choice as a result of years of coalition government.

On conventional choices

Following up on this post, other commentators are starting to raise questions about what will happen after the impending federal election.

Based on the Harper Cons' track record, the default assumption has to be that they aren't about to consider themselves bound by mere conventions or if there's a chance to cling to power by using their incumbency to their advantage.

In a worst-case scenario, that could mean that regardless of how Canadians vote, the Cons could continue to exercise all manner of executive power (as bolstered by the ability to "disrupt" peaceful activity under C-51), while freezing out any replacement government by:
- refusing to recall Parliament for a period of up to a year;
- seeking prorogation to buy time if they stand to lose a confidence vote; and
- restarting the cycle by calling another election rather than allowing any other government to establish that it has the confidence of the House of Commons.

To be clear, I doubt any constitutional scholar would consider any of the above actions to be appropriate, particularly if there's a replacement government ready to demonstrate it can win a confidence vote.

But the question of what's appropriate is rather different from that of what the Cons will try to get away with. And considering that Con insiders are happily trumpeting that they consider themselves entitled to overrule voters as to who should be able to represent the interests of Canadians, we have reason to fear the worst.

So in challenging Harper and the Cons on their willingness to accept the verdict of voters, here are the questions to be asked.

Will they commit not to using the spoils of power, including any new powers granted to CSIS under C-51, to disrupt opposition parties or movements during and after the election?
Will they commit to convening Parliament in short order regardless of the results of the election?
Will they commit not to use prorogation to avoid any more confidence votes?
And in a minority Parliament, will they commit not to calling another election until after other parties have received an opportunity to form a stable government?

Unfortunately, it's not obvious what the opposition or the public can do in response if the answer to any or all of those questions is "no".

But at the very least, we'd best press the Cons to answer one way or the other now. If they'll go on the record with at least a surface commitment to peaceful transition now, that could help to sway the decisions of the Governor-General later. And if not, then we can start figuring out how to counter their refusal to accept democratic accountability before it's too late.

[Edit: fixed typo.]