Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Stuart Trew fleshes out the Cons' new(-ly explicit) Corporate Cronies Action Plan - and it goes even further in entrenching corporate control over policy than one might have expected at first glance:
- The makeup of the advisory panel that consulted with Trade Minister Fast skews the new Action Plan in favour energy- and water-intensive agricultural export sectors, multinational business represented by the CCCE, and the energy sector. There was no worker representation on the advisory committee. And the involvement of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business is arguably more of a cover for Harper than a sign that Canada's trade policy is designed to help small- and medium-sized companies the most. The Action Plan says SMEs are the "backbone" of the Canadian economy and yet only 41,000 of 1.09 million companies are engaged in external trade. That is a very domestically oriented backbone.

- This corporate advisory committee will become, under the Action Plan, a permanent "advisory council" that "will include two standing subcommittees, one on emerging markets and the other on established markets. Comprising business and industry leaders, experts in international business and key representatives from the SME community, the subcommittees will bring together the voices of all businesses, big and small. They will provide strategic insight, advice and real-world perspectives on how to keep the market access plans relevant to Canadian business needs." Will the meetings be private, like Minister Flaherty's corporate summer retreats in Wakefield? The advisory council meetings were (see below).

- The government-business merger will work both ways. The Harper government will place "embedded Government of Canada personnel within key industry associations in order to gain better insight into sectoral needs and ensure these are reflected in services provided." Why spend money to hire a lobbyist in Ottawa when you can have the government spending the public's money to attending your meetings?
- Meanwhile, CBC reports that the Cons are breaking yet another promise to regulate oil-sector greenhouse gas emissions. And the most they've learned after constantly scrapping their promised timelines is not to bother offering any more commitments.

- David Climenhaga writes that Alison Redford's PCs are attacking precisely the voters who allowed them to hold onto power by imposing draconian wage freezes on public-sector workers. But I'm not sure it's fair to be surprised that an anti-social party is imposing anti-social policy - and indeed the more important lesson may be one about the dangers of settling for a "lesser of the evils" government which will gleefully turn against workers when it sees an opportunity to do so.

- The Star again laments Canada's utter failure to live up to its 1989 commitment to end child poverty, while Carol Goar similarly criticizes the right's attacks on unemployment benefits. And Tim Harford recognizes the case for a guaranteed annual income - which would go a long way toward ending poverty in general.

- Finally, Keith Reynolds discusses what happens when P3s and offshore tax avoidance intersect - with a B.C. hospital serving as a clear example:
Partnerships BC considers the taxes paid by the private P3 partner when it is deciding whether or not to choose the public-private partnership method of project development. Partnerships BC claims these private sector taxes as an advantage of P3s, but what happens if the project is moved to a tax haven and taxes paid decline dramatically?
So how is B.C. reacting to this? What are they doing about the possibility the tax revenues they projected from P3s are disappearing into tax havens like Luxembourg? As it turns out, absolutely nothing. An earlier blog post found the Ministry of Finance in response to a Freedom of Information request asking about the impact of tax havens and P3s said "although a thorough search was conducted, no responsive records were located. Your file is now closed."

Partnerships BC provided 75 pages of material in response to the same request. None of it dealt with the tax impact to government if a project moved to a tax haven.

Now one more B.C. public-private partnership has seen its ownership move to Luxembourg. What is the cost to taxpayers? Nobody knows and the results from FOI requests suggest the government isn't looking.

1 comment:

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