Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Gordon Hoekstra reports on a study by British Columbia determining that Canada lacks any hope of containing the types of oil spills which will become inevitable if the Cons' pipe-and-ship plans come to fruition. But once again, the Cons' response is to make clear that they consider an ounce of self-delusion and denial to be worth a pound of cure.

- Meanwhile, the Star-Phoenix' editorial board recognizes the desperate need for resource-rich provinces to handle their wealth responsibility:
(P)rovinces such as Saskatchewan and Alberta are dipping ever deeper into their one-time resource revenue to pay their bills. Saskatchewan, for example, now depends on resources for about 25 per cent of spending, up from less than 10 per cent in the 1990s.

Alberta is in even deeper trouble. This led University of Calgary economist Jack Mintz to recently recommend that Alberta adopt a 13 per cent HST. Rod Love, former premier Ralph Klein's adviser, responded by saying westerners would destroy any politician who proposed any sort of taxes.

That illustrates why Alberta and Saskatchewan's governments would rather squander their future than introduce a rational tax strategy. It's worth noting that after nearly four decades, Alberta has an estimated $16 billion in its wealth fund while Norway has socked away more than $600 billion over the same period.

Norway had the advantage of being a national government. Canada's resource wealthy provinces must better manage their advantage before Ottawa is compelled by its Constitution to do the job for them.
- The Wellesley Institute takes a closer look at minimum-wage earners in Ontario - and finds hundreds of thousands of adults aged 25 and up trying to make a living at or near the minimum. Vincent McDermott reports on the replacement of hundreds of employees in Fort McMurray with temporary foreign workers in an attempt to lower wages and undercut unions. And the Canadian Press discusses a push for stronger enforcement of workplace safety standards in Manitoba - including real consequences for employers who suppress employee injuries.

- Andrew Mitrovica points out why we should be particularly concerned to know that a surveillance apparatus set up in the name of security is being used for all kinds of other purposes:
So what that they suck at catching the bad guys? (Anyone remember the murderous Tsarnaev brothers?) So what that the CSEC, NSA and Britain’s GCHQ can invade, unchecked, every aspect of our lives in the electronic ether? So what that together these agencies can, as The Guardian newspaper aptly put it, “harvest, store, and analyze millions of phone calls, emails and search engine queries,” every day? So what that they can keep that information about you for however long they like? So what that they break every bit of encryption you might use to afford you even the illusion of security?

I think what Shorten and Snowden have done is a courageous and eloquent rebuttal to the so-what crowd. This stuff does matter, and we need to know about it. We need to know about it because publicly the powers that be insist, like Boisvert, that the CSEC and its sister agencies exist to protect you and me from the bad guys. But we now know, courtesy of Shorten and Snowden, that we’re the real targets. They’re spying on us.
- And finally, Dr. Dawg discusses Canada's ignominious week resulting from the Cons' choice to use government resources for the exclusive benefit of private resource extractors:
Doing some industrial espionage in Brazil for private corporations—and getting caught. Instructing the Maldives on how to run clean elections. Threatening the Commonwealth.

Why is the Canadian state running errands for mining companies? Well, it’s not the first time, of course. Our trade alliance with the bloody narco-state of Colombia was based upon mining interests. The deep-sixing of a private member’s bill to enforce mining company ethics abroad is another example. (No surprise, the Harper government was supported by the Liberals in each case.) But when our government grossly misuses the public service—CSEC is supposed to be ensuring national security, not working to enhance corporate profits—we’ve gone well past the usual pro-business politics. Even as a gofer, the state has no place in the boardrooms of the nation. And to be caught at it—thank you, Edward Snowden—is plain cringeworthy.

No comments:

Post a Comment