Monday, February 18, 2013

Monday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your Family Day.

- Gerald Caplan comments that it's long past time to put the Senate out of its misery:
Who knew that when well-known Canadians in 2011 begged old acquaintances now turned Conservative Senators to back a bill for cheap generic AIDS drugs for Africa, the senators would follow party orders instead? The bill had passed the House in the face of opposition by Stephen Harper's minority government. Even many Conservative MPs supported it. Yet the Conservative majority in the Senate made sure it failed.
(T)here they were deliberately thwarting the wishes of the democratically elected representatives of a majority of Canadians on a crucial humanitarian issue. Some wondered how they could look themselves in the mirror ever again. But those who accept appointment to the Chamber of Taskless Thanks are not easily given to shame.

After all, hadn't the same dependable gang already played the same unethical, anti-democratic card only a year before when they buried, without debate, a climate change bill that had similarly been passed by the House? Before that moment, the Senate had not killed a bill without a debate in 70 years. Maybe the poor dears were just too pooped to participate. Travel is so exhausting, doncha know.

But then, this has always been the Senate's role, as the late Christina McCall taught us in her brilliant book Grits. For decades the major responsibility of Hon. Senators was to be bagmen for the party that appointed them (hello Senators Zimmer and Gerstein) or its campaign director (take a bow, Senators Smith and Finley), and to defend corporate interests against mob rule, a.k.a. the House of Commons.
Little has changed. It's true there've always been a few of the Chosen who slipped in some good work while no one was looking. But when it comes to protecting Big Pharma from the depredations of generic drug companies, the PM knows perfectly well whom he can count on.
- Trish Hennessy nicely contrasts the ugly reality of tar sands exploitation against the Cons' publicly-funded oil industry propaganda.

- A group of political scientists from the University of Saskatchewan has responded to the Cons' attacks on Saskatchewan's federal electoral boundaries commission (PDF) by calling for them to respect the commission's findings. And while I have yet to see much reason for hope that the Harper Cons have any interest in correcting their regular diet of deceit, Larry Sanders is petitioning Stephen Harper to set the record straight on the views of Saskatchewan citizens and allow for more representative boundaries.

- Natalie Brender writes that there are obvious reasons why the Cons have having trouble finding anybody to take responsibility for their poorly-thought-out Office of Religious Freedom.

- Finally, Hamida Ghafour reports that the OECD is recognizing the effects of profit shifting as a form of multinational tax evasion and avoidance.


  1. Anonymous5:47 a.m.

    To all,

    Many 'AD' readers know that I am rarely impressed with Gerald Caplan. His television appearances are usually ineffective, and his articles usually tend towards absurd.

    But in this case, he has hit it out of the park. The article Greg has shared is not some mechanical discussion about the senate. What Caplan is summarizing is the corruption inherent in our political culture.

    Pay particular attention to the tale of incest that begins Caplan's article.

    For those who need such things to be made "obvious", watch NetFlix's new series 'House Of Cards'. While it fails as an accurate depiction of the American political retains enough of its British inspiration to have relevancy for Canadians.

    Dan Tan

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