- Jim Stanford examines what Canada's federal election says about our attitudes toward economic choices:
(P)rogressives need to advance our own economic agenda, to fill the vacuum left by the failure of the Conservative vision. The modest infrastructure spending and small, temporary deficits that form the centerpiece of the Liberal macro plan certainly do not constitute an alternative agenda. So we have a lot of work to do.- Karen Ho examines how the myth of meritocracy serves only to lock in entrenched privilege. John Bingham reports on new research showing that the gap in life expectancy between the rich and the poor is growing rapidly in the UK, while Geoff Leo reports that cardiac rehabilitation in Regina is being limited to the people who can afford to pay for it. And Desmond Cole makes a compelling case against giving in to the threats of the rich who don't want to contribute to a stronger society.
In conclusion, I believe that the power of progressive economic ideas has become modestly stronger in Canada. The federal election campaign both reflected progress that was already underway (on issues like inequality and climate change), and incrementally contributed to that progress (through the way that some key issues, like deficits and pensions, were addressed by the competing parties and received by Canadians). Of course, the new Liberal government has a modest agenda, it will be receptive to business demands, it will compromise and abandon key promises, and its vague commitment to “change” will soon be tarnished. Alex Himelfarb, speaking to the Ontario CCPA’s excellent post-election roundtable, summed it up perfectly: This government will do less harm, and be open to more good, than the last one. But how much good it does, depends totally on how much it is pushed by us.
My judgment on whether the election advanced or undermined progressive economic ideas is not based on who won, so much as on how economic discourse among Canadians – so-called “common sense” – has evolved and is evolving. That is more important in the long run. The end of the election is just the beginning of our continuing work as advocates on all of those issues, as we continue to engage in the ongoing “battle of economic ideas.” But I am somewhat more optimistic about the prospects of that work than I was a year ago.
- Meanwhile, Glen Pearson makes the case for a basic income to ensure everybody has some measure of income and life security. And Tom Cooper discusses the spread of living wages as another way to ensure economic progress is shared more widely.
- Ashley Renders and Hilary Beaumont confirm that Justin Trudeau doesn't plan to bring anything more than Stephen Harper's climate change plan (or lack thereof) to the Paris conference this month. And Jenny Uechl reports on the sorry state of environmental regulation in Canada by looking at the treatment of whistleblowers who have raised concerns about pipelines with the National Energy Board.
- Finally, Andrew Mitrovica offers some suggestions to create oversight under Bill C-51 - though his most important point is that the proper solution would be to scrap it entirely.