Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Aaron Wherry reviews what the last week has told us about the functioning (or absence thereof) of our House of Commons - and points out that the most important problem is one which hasn't yet surfaced in headlines or memes:
(T)he most important sentence delivered last week about the state of our Parliament might’ve been found not on any screen, speaker or widely read page, but on page four of the Parliamentary Budget Office’s quarterly expenditure review: “The Government has refused to release data that is necessary for the PBO to determine whether the recent spending cuts are sustainable.”

That much didn’t inspire even a single question last week (though there was one question about a different refusal to provide the PBO with information). Maybe because this is such old news. But minding the collection and expenditure of public funds is arguably the primary reason we have a Parliament: the idea from which our Parliament began to grow in the 13th century. That we have a profound problem in this regard is hardly news. But to dismiss that concern is merely to dismiss 700 years of progress.
- And lest there's any doubt, the Cons are once again taking a stand against their ever having to answer for anything - this time, by opposing the NDP's simple motion to require the government to provide merely relevant answers in question period.

- Meanwhile, Michael Harris notes that recent days have also offered a continuation of some familiar and dangerous patterns when it comes to the Harper Cons' foreign policy choices:
The prime minister long ago used up any “benefit of the doubt” account he might once have had on foreign affairs. His analysis a decade ago would have had Canada front and centre in the last Iraq debacle — which anyone who takes a second to think about it knows set the stage for this latest ISIS fiasco.

The old thesis is back. One can bomb one’s way to peace in the Middle East without telling the folks back home what’s going on. You know, like Viet Nam. Only undemocratic war mongers believe that. And for that matter, only war mongers celebrate the beginning of the First World War, the way Harper did.
Harper has done this much for the country. He has shown us that even in an age as shallow as this one, marketing has it limits. Harper’s UN speech was in the same category as the contest to name his new cat. If he thinks that talking peace and motherhood will allow him to send Canadians to fight and die in Iraq without debate, if he thinks he can foist weeping losers on the public in important positions, if he thinks he can replace inconvenient facts with made-up versions, he has forgotten it is no longer 2006.
- And Mark Kennedy reports that truth and reconciliation aren't anywhere on Harper's agenda at home either - as he's refusing to meet with the chair of the commission he himself appointed to examine Canada's shameful legacy of residential schools.

- Finally, Tom Sullivan discusses how P3s are failing to live up to their promise of a free lunch around the developed world. And Jim Holmes notes that a combination of vanishing funding, false assumptions and broken promises is turning Regina's wastewater P3 into a bad deal as well.

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