Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- A Gandalf Group poll finds (PDF) that Canadians have come to perceive and expect a disturbing level of self-serving action by our political leaders. And while Dale Smith is right to note that we've largely limited the most obvious forms of corruption, there's still plenty of reason for concern that public policy is being driven by a few insiders and political cronies at the expense of the public.

- On that front, Gerald Caplan reminds us how the CRA is being used to silence only charities who promote social justice - while at the same time cutting back on collecting taxes from the people who owe the most:
The government somehow found an extra $13.4-million for the CRA to audit charities to ensure they were using tax dollars properly. As far as anyone can tell, all the new funds have been used to audit the government’s critics, none to audit its friends. The first wave of such audits mostly focused on environmental groups, but the net was later widened to include anti-poverty, international aid and human-rights groups that drive the Conservatives – and apparently the CRA – crazy.
Indeed the Harper government has never hidden its opposition for certain charities, like the very ones the CRA has chosen to audit. For a while, for example, outrageous attacks on “radical” environmental groups that opposed new pipelines became de rigueur for members of the Harper government.

There’s a scandal within a scandal here as well. While the CRA is disrupting the work of often tiny NGOs, the government is simultaneously laying off international tax auditors who specialized in investigating the tax avoidance strategies of 1-per-cent-ers and corporations. Tax dollars lost to the public treasury are estimated in the multi-billions, which is why the G20, including Canada, has formally made cracking down on tax evasion a priority. Except when it’s not.
- And the CRA's selective attacks on charities fit all too well with the oil companies' own strategy of bullying dissenting voices into silence.

- PressProgress points out how the Cons' climate change negligence is sinking to new depths, with spokesflacks trying to pretend that Environment Canada's own scientific data is merely an "opinion" (to be ignored since it might be inconvenient for the Cons' oil baron base). And Aaron Wherry raises plenty of worthwhile followup questions which we can count on the Cons similarly refusing to address.

- Frank Soodeen highlights how secure housing for everybody serves both social and economic purposes.

- But of course, the Cons are instead determined to destroy the federal government's capacity to help people with boutique tax baubles - which lead to Stephen Tapp's call for a more sensible tax system.

- Finally, Salvator Cusimano and Nath Gbikpi write that the Cons are following the UK's model of deliberate exclusion and marginalization for refugees.

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