Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Michael Harris rightly tears into the Cons for turning our federal government into Versailles on the Ottawa:
The Harper government has more than a touch of Queen Nancy. It has already morphed into Versailles on the Ottawa. The facts, and the rules, are being made up as this crowd goes along – the usual decline into middle age of a government headed for the exit.
A professional public service is what gives bone and muscle to the idea that we are ruled by institutions and not men – a notion now in abeyance in Canada. In places where democracy is not at bay, that is what keeps public policy from becoming the means by which a government rewards its cronies and punishes its opponents – blandishments and enticements for on-siders, lumps of coal and worse for the less auspiciously aligned.
What happened to the man who, when confronted with the autocratic machinations of a doomed Liberal minority, said on a spring night in 2005, “When a government starts trying to cancel dissent or avoid dissent is frankly when it’s rapidly losing its moral authority to govern.”

When a government loses that, all it has left is Versailles until a din is raised around the Bastille.
- Sixth Estate nicely sets out how the Cons want to exercise Big Brother-style surveillance and control over EI applicants, while Kayle Hatt points out that the actual regional division in federal politics is the Cons' determination to force workers from elsewhere into the Western resource sector. And Thomas Walkom sums up what's behind the Cons' attacks on the unemployed:
Behind this week’s changes to Canada’s Employment Insurance system lie bone-headed ideology and contempt.

The bone-headed ideology stems from the Conservative government’s primitive, Economics 101 view of the world.

The contempt is that of comfortable, well-heeled politicians who, deep down, assume that those unfortunate enough to have lost their jobs lack moral fibre.

The government’s new rules deal with none of the program’s real problems. As the University of Toronto’s Mowat Centre suggested last year, aid to fishermen (which represents less than two per cent of benefits paid out) might be better handled through the kind of support programs available to farmers than EI.

But this government’s solution is to force 60-year-old Atlantic fishermen to pick fruit.

If there is a theme to the changes announced this week by Human Resources Minister Diane Finley, it is wage reduction. To this Conservative government, anything that might interfere with the mythical free market — and particularly with the market’s downward pressure on wages — is anathema.

Are cash-strapped farmers forced to bring in desperately poor workers from South America to harvest crops? Then the answer is not to reform the food system so that farmers — and farm labourers — can make a living wage. It is to make more Canadians so desperate that they will take be forced to take these Grapes of Wrath jobs.
- Cindy Harnett reports on just one more of the Cons' attacks on the environment - this time the shuttering of any monitoring of ocean pollution by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

- Finally, Tabatha Southey duly compares Con MP David Wilks to those who actually show some leadership and vision:
Before we mock Mr. Wilks, let's take a look at the big picture. Let us consider those who have led and inspired humanity, and then let us sit back a moment and picture just how much more stable the world would have remained had it only contained a few more men like the affable Mr. Wilks.
I imagine, for example, there would have been far fewer people burned at the stake had Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg's Castle Church and the sixth one had been, “Look, I don't think we should dismiss the selling of indulgences by the Catholic Church out of hand. Nay, I am firmly convinced that these initiatives will bring jobs and growth measures to the Canadians of Kootenay-Columbia.”
Who would have forgotten Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Abject Apology and Endorsement of the Economic Action Plan?
And there's a certain understated charm to the immortal words, “We will serve them daiquiris on the beaches. That way they will stay longer and maybe later we can get a game of Frisbee going.” Much, I imagine, as there would have been to the unassuming, “I have a dream, but I won't bore you all with it, because I know other people's dreams are never very interesting.”

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