Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Alex Himelfarb writes about the urgent need to reverse the vicious cycle of austerity. And Toby Sanger takes a look at the economic records of Canada's political parties, and finds that the NDP ranks at the top of the class not only for balancing budgets, but also for reducing unemployment and raising wages.

- Meanwhile, Shawn Katz calls out the Libs for being all PR and no substance when it comes to progressive values:
In the media echo chamber, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s most substantive claim to the mantle of “change” in this election is his rejection of the balanced budget orthodoxy that has been used by neoliberal politicians as the premise for slashing social programs. It's a shrewd target for Liberal strategists.

Dig deeper, however, and we find it has been the victory of austerity politicians to successfully confuse the two: the real source of austerity policies is less the smokescreen of balanced budgets than the emptying of the public purse by decades of massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.
The problem with this shallow narrative, as well as Trudeau’s absurd attack line about the NDP adopting “Harper’s budget” by promising to balance the books, is that it focuses only on the bottom line — and media headline — while ignoring the actual programs and policies that compose the government agenda.

A truly progressive program is one that aims for the reduction of social and economic inequalities in society and the strengthening of solidarity. In this election, that mantle goes indisputably to the NDP, who are alone in proposing the first major expansion of Canada’s social safety net in decades.

True to the traditions of social democracy, the NDP’s signature proposals for new universal child care and pharmacare systems are transformative social policies that would help those at the bottom of the economic ladder the most, as would their massive reinvestments in health care, which earned the party first place in the electoral report card issued by the College of Family Physicians of Canada
They would pay for these investments through a range of measures targeting those at the top, including a two-point increase to the tax rate on large corporations and the closing of tax loopholes used by CEOs.

Taken together, these policies would amount to the most significant push in a generation to rebuild the tattered public domain. They would signal the end of the austerity era in Canada, and a modest first step in reversing the tide of corporate power and privilege that is undermining our democracy.

Next to these robust efforts to reduce the inequalities that soared under the Liberals’ watch in the 1990s, Trudeau’s vow to tax “the 1%” is akin to striking a coup in the bumper sticker wars: the measure is laudable, but the Liberal plan will do precious little with the acquired funds aside from shifting it slightly down the ladder towards the upper middle class.
- Elizabeth Thompson and BJ Siekierski shed more light on Daniel Gagnier's role lobbying for Trans-Canada (and seeking to position himself to keep doing just that) while acting as the Libs' campaign co-chair.

- Lynell Anderson and Iglika Ivanova compare the federal parties' child care plans to an expert proposal for $10 per day care in British Columbia. And Susana Mas reports on the Assembly of First Nations' review of the parties' platforms.

- Jordan Press reports on Joe Oliver's habit of wasting public money for his own luxury (like so many of his fellow Cons). And Jorge Barrera writes about the connection between drug financiers and cash donations to the Cons.

- Max Cameron writes about the prospects for co-operation in a new Parliament.

- Finally, Michael Hollett argues that Jack Layton's message of "don't let them tell you it can't be done" is particularly important as we approach what could be a historic election day.

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