Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Tavia Grant reports on the most recent world happiness report from the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. And David Doorey points out a rather striking similarity among the countries at the top of the list, while Dan Gardner highlights Stephen Harper's longstanding goal of removing Canada from the group.

- CBC reveals that thousands of Saskatchewan employers - including hundreds of restaurants - have received permission to use temporary foreign workers rather than paying a fair wage to attract local workers.

- David Climenhaga reveals which public servants are next on the hit list of the Manning Centre and its corporate backers:
Getting back to the original point of all this, right there on the list for consideration were "the problem with municipal public consultations" and "confronting overbearing urban planners."

Given the well-known habit of right-wing think tanks and their ilk to respond compliantly to the wishes of their funders, plus the Calgary development industry's extremely generous contributions revealed by Wenzel, what do you want to bet that we can count on the next MNC to devote considerable attention to these matters?

And what, do you think, will they find to be the problem with municipal public consultations? That they're too democratic? A cynic might wonder, but it's important to remember that the people who finance and staff the Manning Centre, and indeed Preston Manning himself, don't necessarily define democracy the same way you and I do.

They are big on "economic democracy" -- which might cynically be described as the right to get rich as stink any way you please and not pay taxes while you’re about it. They are not so enthusiastic about your right to decide your fate through the ballot box without interference or deception, especially if your preferred representatives are not of a mind to "swing their way."
- And sadly, the attack on public involvement in policy decisions sounds all too familiar to those who read Bruce Johnstone's weekend tirade against Regina's wastewater referendum. Meanwhile, Paul Dechene interviews Michael Fougere (or possibly a random corporate buzzword generator) in an effort to get some explanation for Fougere's position - with predictable results.

- Finally, Aaron Wherry recognizes that the disclosure of relatively small office expenses on the part of elected officials makes for just a tiny (if perhaps necessary) part of a transparent picture of our political scene:
It is, for sure, for our MPs to explain and justify how they spend the public’s money. But we should always be careful to avoid lazy outrage. Or at least we should be mindful to focus on the real enemy—flagrant abuses of the public trust that lack justification. Perspective is also important. Parliament’s ability to scrutinize the billions in spending that it approves each year should, I will earnestly suggest, generally be of greater concern than however much parliamentarians spend on coffee-makers.

Of course, the possibility that we might be distracted by coffee-maker purchases is no excuse to avoid detailing the exact cost, shape and usefulness of every coffee-maker purchased with public funds. I suspect that after some fussing over coffee-makers, we’d all adjust to a world in which we understood our MPs to sometimes both consume coffee themselves and provide it for their staff and guests. Or so I dare to dream.

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