Saturday, September 07, 2013

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Lana Payne discusses Unifor's goals in the wake of its founding convention:
The hope is that, collectively, working people can push back in new and profound ways against what has been a decades-long, anti-worker agenda perpetuated by both governments and corporations.

But just as importantly, the hope is that we can build social progress again for all Canadians. That progress has been virtually halted, stymied by the incredible growth and concentration in corporate power here at home and around the world and the subservience of governments to that power.

Corporations have been emboldened by globalization and trade deals that bestow on them staggering investor rights. They rode out the financial crisis (a crisis caused by their greed) and were not forced by governments to learn anything from it. Unfortunately, workers are still paying the price. Those same multinational corporations stockpiled cash and are continuing to rake in obscene profits while demanding that workers take less. The attack on young workers is particularly egregious.

The byproduct is unprecedented inequality.
Many of the gains we enjoy in society today were first negotiated at a collective bargaining table. Unions then fought for them for all workers. Maternity leave, same-sex benefits, vacation time and pensions are just a few in a long list of advances made by unions throughout the last number of decades.

More broadly, unions have been the key progressive force behind the building of a strong social fabric, including fighting for health care, unemployment insurance benefits, progressive health and safety laws and equality.

Today, unions spend much time defending these gains, not just for their members, but for all Canadians.
- But of course, the corporate domination of the past few decades hasn't been by accident. And it's worth noting that a publicly-funded P3 proponent is looking to make sure that our social fabric gives way entirely to a "standard" assumption that the business sector will control public services.

- Don Lenihan generously suggests that Justin Trudeau should get a pass on detailed policy based on his offering a "vision" instead. (Though I'm curious to hear what exactly that vision is - particularly since Lenihan's "engaging the public" premise doesn't exactly fit with Trudeau's few random positions so far.)

- And in contrast, Tom Mulcair highlights the economic themes most important to the NDP:
“The leader of the third party has announced he has nothing to say on the economy . . . . We have a lot to say on the economy,” Mulcair said.

That’s a reference to Trudeau’s refusal to be pinned down on economic policy at his party’s summer caucus retreat. Instead, Trudeau said detailed policy plans would be rolled out in advance of the election.

But the NDP leader said his party has detailed ideas for the economy, all part of a strategy to burnish the NDP’s economic credentials in voters’ eyes.

Those themes include household debt, mortgages, credit card fees, seniors’ poverty. Mulcair said Canada has yet to recover from the economic downturn that began in 2008: manufacturing jobs are disappeared and middle class wages are falling.

“On affordability issues, we’re the only ones who can talk seriously about it,” Mulcair said. 
- Finally, Laura Stone reports on the stunning declaration by newly-appointed Parliamentary Budget Officer Jean-Denis Frechette that after a week in the position, he's done everything he possible can to chase down information which the Cons prefer to withhold. And Colin Horgan's thesis that Frechette's surrender will force some future government to create a more powerful office doesn't exactly offer a great deal of hope - especially while we're still stuck with the Cons in power.

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