Monday, April 01, 2013

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Lori Theresa Waller provides her own take on the Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights' study on labour rights and inequality:
In the 1970s, all provinces used the simple card check system, whereby an employer must legally recognize a union if the majority of workers sign membership cards. Since then, B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia have moved to requiring that workplaces also hold a vote before the union will be legally recognized.

...Studies have found that the additional requirement of holding a vote decreases the success of union organizing drives by between 9 and 20 per cent.
A 2012 study by five UBC economists concluded that roughly 15 per cent of the growth in income inequality in Canada throughout the 1980s and 1990s was directly linked to falling rates of unionization.
- Meanwhile, the Canadian Labour Congress offers up a handy quiz about corporate tax giveaways.

- Thomas Homer-Dixon observes that the Obama administration could do Canada a favour by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline and encouraging some much-needed thought as to how to build a sustainable economy:
There is a less obvious but no less important reason many Canadians want the industry stopped: it is relentlessly twisting our society into something we don’t like. Canada is beginning to exhibit the economic and political characteristics of a petro-state. 

Countries with huge reserves of valuable natural resources often suffer from economic imbalances and boom-bust cycles. They also tend to have low-innovation economies, because lucrative resource extraction makes them fat and happy, at least when resource prices are high. 
Both the cabinet and the Conservative parliamentary caucus are heavily populated by politicians who deny mainstream climate science. The Conservatives have slashed financing for climate science, closed facilities that do research on climate change, told federal government climate scientists not to speak publicly about their work without approval and tried, unsuccessfully, to portray the tar sands industry as environmentally benign.

The federal minister of natural resources, Joe Oliver, has attacked “environmental and other radical groups” working to stop tar sands exports. He has focused particular ire on groups getting money from outside Canada, implying that they’re acting as a fifth column for left-wing foreign interests. At a time of widespread federal budget cuts, the Conservatives have given Canada’s tax agency extra resources to audit registered charities. It’s widely assumed that environmental groups opposing the tar sands are a main target.

This coercive climate prevents Canadians from having an open conversation about the tar sands. Instead, our nation behaves like a gambler deep in the hole, repeatedly doubling down on our commitment to the industry.
- And Kate Allen reports that the Cons' muzzling of scientists has earned them an impending investigation by the federal Information Commissioner.

- Finally, Dr. Dawg comments on Stephen Harper's decision to turn Canada into a hermit kingdom rather than a significant international actor. And Paul Heibecker writes that the Cons' withdrawal from the international community goes far beyond the drought treaty that's received so much recent attention:
There is a disappearing character to contemporary Canadian multilateral diplomacy. Like Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire cat, soon all that may remain of our country at the UN is a grin or, more accurately, a scowl.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:01 a.m.

    Thanks for the links.

    I doubt that the Information Commissioner will have any more success than, say, Kevin Page. The Conservatives will stonewall, obfuscate and harass her as they do to any other public service watchdog who presents facts that are contrary to their ideological agenda.

    When/if a report is presented, the Conservatives will trot out parliamentary secretaries with bogus numbers and talking points, who will claim that the bogus numbers and talking points prove that "this government is the most open, honest government ever in the history of Canada". The Conservative base will lap it up, the main stream media will report the talking points as facts, willfully ignorant Canadians will shrug their shoulders and informed Canadians will know the Conservatives are lying again.

    The whole exercise seems almost pointless, but it is necessary. It is important that Conservative incompetence be documented for future reference.