Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Michael Harris continues to highlight some of the fundamental problems with the Cons' view of politics, this time identifying Stephen Harper as being afflicted with "master of the universe syndrome":
When you control all the levers of power, when you have no scruples, when you are surrounded by nutters who will do anything you say without thinking, when you conceive of language as disconnected from objective reality, when you believe biz bull and Beatle songs are enough to bamboozle the Great Unwashed, it’s understandable in certain personality types that the conviction begins to take hold that you are a master of the universe.

Here are the main symptoms of MOUS. You stop caring about what others think about you. They are merely the Plankton People – Vladimir Putin’s ringing coinage for the human flotsam and jetsam who throng to those soon-to-be terminated protests against his dark dominion in Russia. The kind of people, I might add, who now find themselves under arrest when a Harper cabinet minister is heckled...

When you have MOUS, it never crosses your mind that people would like more from their government than a cattle prod in their junk. That’s because being Boss is in your blood. You, and you alone, know what’s good for everybody. And what’s good for everybody? Well, it just happens to be what’s good for your friends. The pipeline people, the military, and of course, the Harper Party.
- NUPGE identifies several pieces of the Sask Party's labour and employment plans which violate well-established and internationally-recognized labour rights:
Implementing any of the following legislative changes would be seen as a violation of Canada's (and Saskatchewan's) commitment to adhere to ILO fundamental principles of freedom of association:
  • excluding some employees from the right to collective bargaining;
  • restricting unions from democratically deciding how they spend dues revenues;
  • allowing individual members to opt out of paying dues;
  • allowing individual members to make decisions on what their dues are used for that are contrary to the financial decisions made democratically by the majority of union members;
  • eliminating 'dues check off', the process where an employer deducts union dues from employees' pay on behalf of the union; and
  • denying essential employees the right to strike without access to impartial third party arbitration.
- Vass Bednar and Mark Stabile comment on the Cons' continued attacks on evidence-based policy in general and Statistics Canada in particular:
We would argue that there is a strong case to be made for a publicly funded and administered statistical agency that collects the kind of robust information required for government, business and individuals to make the best decisions they can.

For without being able to accurately describe the characteristics and trends of what that "problem" is, society will simply have to make policy in the dark.

Evidence-based policy-making requires just that - evidence - standard, reliable metrics whose quantification and legitimacy is widely agreed upon. In their absence, policy-making at all levels and in every sector will be as expensive as it is hopeful, while policy actors are forced to gingerly "guess and check" over time.

In the absence of good data, our ability to fully comprehend complex policy issues will grow anecdotal and inconsistent. As admirable as the quest for efficiency in the public sector is, it can't be worth the confusion that it will promise in the future. Truly realizing the kind of savings that Statistics Canada claims to strive for in this budgetary cycle means continuing to invest in the foundational information that has wisely informed our nation for decades.
- Stephen Maher reports on the latest in Helena Guergis' defamation claim. But the most noteworthy part of the story may be the one tossed in as an afterthought: all investigation and discussion of the criminal case against a past Conservative MP - who was married to a then-current MP and cabinet minister - was shot down by yet another future MP and cabinet minister in Julian Fantino.

 - Finally, the Star-Phoenix editorial board has some pointed questions about the plan for a new Regina stadium.

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