Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Gerald Kaplan discusses how the privileges of power have contributed to the utterly callous response to the Lac-Mégantic rail explosion by Stephen Harper and Ed Burkhardt:
For me, of all Burkhardt’s outrageous statements nothing surpasses his public accusation that the train’s engineer, Tom Harding, was responsible for the disaster, suspending him without pay. Among the victims of the train derailment, Tom Harding must now be included.

In truth, of course, Burkhardt had no more clue than you or I or Lord Acton how the derailment happened and who might be responsible. Indeed, his own company policies have very pointedly been questioned. Yet he simply invented the culprit, because I suppose that’s what rich and powerful people are able to do.
Prime Minister Harper is the other powerhouse who showed last week that he knows he can get away with just about anything. First, he named Pierre Poilievre as his new Minister of State for Democratic Reform, an oxymoron by any standard. Globe columnist Lawrence Martin describes Poilievre as “one of [Harper’s] most belligerent, thuggish, MPs”. Next to the Prime Minister himself, with his obsession about “enemies”, no member of this government has demonstrated contempt for the spirit of democracy more than Mr. Poilievre. As Lawrence Martin wrote, this was one of Mr. Harper’s well-known “in-your-face moves.”

Second, Mr. Harper appointed to the sensitive post of Canadian ambassador to Jordan (with responsibility to Iraq) one Bruno Saccomani, who until that moment was his bodyguard, or, more formally, the RCMP man who headed his security team.

It is surely not too much to expect a Canadian ambassador to know something about the complex world of diplomacy and all that entails. And if you’re being assigned to be our country’s chief representative in two turbulent countries in a dangerously volatile region, shouldn’t you have a soupcon of background in the area? Or is that just me?
- Meanwhile, Miles Corak points out the disturbingly tight relationship between family background and economic outcomes in the U.S. And while Canada serves for now as a contrast, it's well worth noting that the Harper Cons are doing their best to push us down the same path of walled-off wealth for a few and a precarious living for the rest.

- Paul Krugman highlights the dishonesty and anti-worker bias behind the Great Pension Scare. Which, needless to say, is presented a propos of nothing.

[Update: Let's add Doug J's take:
The war against public pensions reminds me of the Iraq War. Even if one accepts that there is/was a big pre-existing problem in either case, the constant stream of lies is troubling.]
- Also, the Cons make clear what happens to honest civil servants who allow truth to undermine their deliberately false talking points. 

- The Ottawa Citizen recognizes and laments the shameful exploitation of hungry First Nations Canadians for experimentation. Bernard Valcourt isn't so big on shame, and considers the matter closed by an apology for other monstrous attacks on First Nations culture.

- Finally, Susan Delacourt comments on why the Cons' departmental enemies lists may go far beyond politics as usual - particularly if information intended for government use only is being illegally loaded into CIMS for partisan purposes.

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