Thursday, October 04, 2012

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Mitchell Anderson's final report on Norway's highly successful management of its oil resources puts Canada's current philosophy to the test:
Seen through this lens, how is Canada doing? Abysmally...:

1. Dependency. Even with our vast oil wealth, Canada currently relies on other countries for about 50 per cent of our supply -- so-called "unethical oil" from the volatile Middle East. Proposals to pipe unrefined bitumen from western Canada to Asia will increase this dangerous dependence since Alberta will have to import vast amounts of condensate from the Middle East to dilute thick bitumen enough for pipeline transport.
2. Staying in the red. Alberta has been unable to balance the books since 2007, burning through $17.7 billion of past oil wealth, with another $3 billion deficit forecast for the coming budget.
3. Draining at full tilt. Labour and production costs are through the roof, at least until the next employment bust. Both the Alberta Federation of Labour and the late premier Peter Lougheed have both called for slower (sic) the pace of oil sands growth. Ten proposed upgrades have been cancelled since the 2007 recession, replaced instead with pipeline proposals for unprocessed diluted bitumen. With resource values rising relative to global currencies, what's the rush?
4. Getting global black eye. The oil sands have such a credibility problem the Alberta government spends $25 million a year countering "baseless" criticism from environmental groups. 
 - Ken Coran and Ken Lewenza highlight the value of allowing unions and management to reach deals that make sense for a particular workplace, rather than having decrees issued from on high. But sadly, the only negotiations the McGuinty Libs seem prepared to accept are their own dealings with Tim Hudak and his party to eliminate workers' right to bargain collectively.

- Thomas Walkom describes the XL Beef E. coli disaster as the Harper Cons' Walkerton moment - and it would indeed seem to be about time to recognize the practical consequences of ineffective regulation. But Postmedia reports that the Cons aren't done making matters worse - planning instead to cut food safety programs by tens of millions of dollars more.

- Finally, Polly Toynbee discusses Ed Miliband's new "One Nation Labour" theme - with a particular focus on how it serves to promote cooperation rather than competition in public services:
Watch [the Conservatives] writhe as One Nation Labour encapsulates everything divisive they do, from Cameron's tax bonus for millionaires to his cruellest cuts for the disabled. Divide and rule is the Cameron hallmark, north against south, the in-work against the workless, private against public employees, young against old, exam-passers versus plebs. How clever to pilfer a Tory phrase with no intention of blurring boundaries or triangulating into Tory turf.

Subtlety is Miliband's style. So when he said to voters he understood "why you turned away from Labour", that was enough, everyone knows the reasons why. Of Cameron, he said he understood "why people gave him the benefit of the doubt" – but then he walloped him from here to kingdom come for inflicting all this pain to cut the deficit only to send it soaring higher than ever.

His words on the NHS brought the hall to its feet. A One Nation NHS means repealing the act that forces hospital to compete with hospital, instead of co-operating in common cause. Banks, businesses, schools, jobs – that One Nation phrase will suit everything Labour needs to say. It stands for the squeezed middle as well as the poor.

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