- Gerald Caplan follows up on one of the anecdotes from Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks' The Trouble With Billionaires, and finds that it's even worse than first suspected:
As it happens, two weeks after their book was completed, Ms. McQuaig received the actual Memorandum of Agreement between the Munk Foundation and the governing council of U of T, dated Nov. 23, 2009 and duly signed by both. (It’s now been made accessible by the university here.) The memorandum, which I hope will be reproduced in the paperback version of The Trouble With Billionaires, makes the book’s concerns quite plausible.- Jim Meek points out that the government telling Canadians to cut down on their expenses is choosing not to take basic steps to allow them to do so:
The funds from the Munk Foundation (with generous tax reductions) are to be donated over time. Only a portion will be donated up front. After that, “the university shall provide to the Donor in each year a detailed report indicating … a description of the program initiatives and activities of the School.” Then the school’s director “shall meet annually with the Donor’s Board of Directors” to discuss these matters “in greater detail.” Beyond all this, an additional tax-deductible gift of $15-million will be handed over if the Munk Foundation determines the university has achieved certain assigned objectives. “The determination of whether the University has achieved the Objective shall be solely that of the Donor and ... shall be conclusive and binding on the University.”
The university insists these words really mean nothing. But look at them again. These are carefully sculpted clauses. Why include them at all if they’re inconsequential? Why isn’t it a reasonable interpretation that further Munk Foundation donations will depend on whether it approves the programs the new school – sorry, Munk School, as the memorandum rigorously stipulates – is running? Is this institution likely to initiate a major project on the operations of Canadian mines in poor countries? What’re the chances it might consider adding to its faculty a certain Linda McQuaig, one of Canada’s indispensable public intellectuals who’s published far more than the great majority of tenured academics?
Everyone from Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney to Prime Minister Stephen Harper is cautioning Canadians about their "debt problem," and asking us to fix it. We’re being told to stop spending, or risk going to the poor house.- Sadly, Stephen Maher is probably right in his suggestion as to what the Cons likely want out of their appointed "watchdogs":
I find this more than passing strange, inside a country whose citizens pay their fair share of taxes to debt-laden governments. Those governments, in turn, fail to take obvious steps to ease consumer debt. A good start would be tackling Canada’s high-priced credit card fees, mobile phone costs and management charges on mutual funds. (We’re world leaders in letting these sectors act like monopolies in ripping off consumers.)
Government should clean up its own act, instead of wagging its Big Brother finger at consumers.
And while our moral prefects on the Rideau are fixing the country, here’s what they should really do about debt: Bring sane regulations to bear on the nation’s predatory credit card, telecommunications and mutual fund industries. And instead of telling Canadians how to live, government should learn to manage its own out-of-control spending. After all, Ottawa’s debt is now soaring by $124-million a day.
Ouimet received 228 complaints of wrongdoing by civil servants, but launched only five investigations and found no wrongdoing, accepting weak excuses from managers over the complaints of whistleblowers. Rather than defending vulnerable public servants from reprisals, she actually launched a reprisal campaign against one of her employees because she suspected he had gone to Fraser.- Finally, let's note the results of some of Barack Obama's fund-raising experiments - showing among other lessons that a "learn more" button does better in attracting than a more overt reference to signing up for a list. Though I'm curious as to whether the same results would apply among all types of voters, or whether they may have had something to do with the type of voters who were predisposed toward interest in a candidate like Obama to begin with.
Because he didn’t keep his promise to set up an appointments commission, Harper is responsible for her appointment, although the blame likely belongs with the Privy Council Office mandarins, who chose Ouimet — a lifelong public servant — likely in the belief that she would be a cautious and respectful watchdog.
Instead, though, she brought the office into disrepute. They — and Harper — would no doubt have preferred it if she behaved like ethics commissioner Mary Dawson, who creates the illusion of oversight while inventing creative loopholes for the politicians whose doings she is supposed to oversee.