- Joseph Stiglitz makes the case for free trade talks to be based on the public interest rather than the further entrenchment of corporate power and siphoning of wealth to the top. But there's little reason to expect a meeting of corporate and government figures to produce that result - particularly when (as the New York Times editorial board points out) the main area of agreement between the U.S.' main political parties involves a mutual willingness to make public services and regulatory bodies subservient to the immediate interests of the business sector.
- Meanwhile, Leigh Phillips offers a suggestion to ensure that health is properly treated as an issue of social benefit rather than private profit, proposing that the U.S. shift toward a public model for pharmaceutical development and production.
- CBC reports on the spread of unpaid internships in Canada - with a six-figure number of workers being exploited based on a lack of paid opportunities, while others see career paths recede when they can't afford to work for free.
- Finally, further to this morning's post, the Star weighs in on Stephen Harper's deception over his party's Senate coverup scandal:
(T)hanks to the RCMP we now know that the Conservative Fund Canada was prepared to repay what Duffy owed when they thought it was $32,000, but $90,000 was deemed too much to ask the fund to cover. That appears to shatter two fictions: that Wright’s offer was a spontaneous act of personal generosity, and that it was all about making sure taxpayers weren’t on the hook.
In fact, it looks like a Plan B to extricate Duffy from a problem. And had the Tory fund stepped in, taxpayers would indeed have been “on the hook” insofar as political parties benefit from per-vote taxpayer subsidies, and donations that are subsidized by tax credits. The RCMP documents note as well that Wright’s lawyers indicated that part of his role was to “deal with matters that could cause embarrassment” to the Conservative party.
This is no private, isolated matter between Wright and Duffy. It reaches deep into the PMO and into the party.
And it has left the RCMP believing that the Wright/Duffy agreement was part of a deal to see that a Senate committee probing Duffy’s improper expenses would go easier on him, “constituting an offence of frauds on the government.”
Given the gravity of all this, Harper had a duty to tell Parliament all that he knew or could reasonably have found out. He could have found out that the Conservative Fund was prepared to step in and help, but didn’t. He could have found out that Sen. Gerstein and three members of PMO knew of Wright’s offer. He could have tabled the bank draft. He didn’t have to float the fiction that Wright had only the taxpayer in mind.
Instead, he stonewalled Parliament and misled the public. It will take more than a cabinet shuffle to restore trust in this government.