Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Leadership 2017 Reference Page (Pinned)

A one-stop source for general links on the 2017 NDP leadership campaign, to be updated as the race progresses. Please feel free to add additional suggestions in comments. (And note that new posts will appear below this one.)

General Information
NDP Constitution (PDF)
Leadership Rules (PDF) - Voting Process
NDP Leadership 2017
Leadership Debates: Ottawa (March 12) - Montreal (March 26) - Sudbury (May 28) - St. John's (June 11) - Saskatoon (July 11) - Victoria (August 2) - Montreal (August 27) - Vancouver (September 10)

Candidate Information
Candidate Website Twitter Profile Analysis Ranking
Charlie Angus CharlieAngusNDP.ca @CharlieAngusNDP Profile

Niki Ashton NikiAshton2017.ca @NikiAshton Profile

Guy Caron GuyCaron.ca @GuyCaronNPD Profile

Ibrahim Bruno El-Khoury n/a @wiseexpert Profile

Peter Julian PeterJulian.ca @MPJulian Profile

Jagmeet Singh JagmeetSingh.ca @theJagmeetSingh Profile


Other Resources
NDPLeaderVote

Posts
All Posts By Label

Discussion
Babble threads: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4
Peter Julian Forum
Twitter: #ndp - #ndpldr

Monday, June 26, 2017

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Greg Leiseron discusses why the abject failure of Kansas' anti-social experiment with trickle-down economics shouldn't have come as a surprise to anybody:
Claims of supply-side growth from labor income tax cuts rely on the idea that people will be more willing to work when their after-tax wages are higher. This theory posits that labor income tax cuts result in growth because people who could increase their earnings choose not to because tax rates are too high, but it does not take much to see why cutting tax rates for middle- and higher-income families does not create jobs through this mechanism. Middle- and higher-income families already have jobs, even if they are not the jobs they necessarily want.

Claims of supply-side growth from tax cuts on business profits rely on the idea that those cuts will increase the level of investment and that, in turn, will increase productivity. Under this theory, a tax cut on business profits could increase employment by spurring investment, increasing wages, and attracting people into the labor force who are not willing to take a job at current wage rates. For this theory to work, however, it would need to be the case that cutting statutory business tax rates would meaningfully reduce the effective tax rate on an incremental investment such that the tax cut causes businesses to increase investment. Second, it would need to be the case that the reduced tax rate causes businesses to increase investment in a way that increases the wages they would be willing to pay to people who currently choose not to work because wages are too low. Third, it would need to be the case that this increase in wages would be large enough to spur people who currently choose not to work to enter the labor force and seek jobs. And finally, the deficits resulting from the tax cuts would need to be small enough that they increase businesses’ cost of capital by less than the reduction resulting from the lower tax rate, as a higher cost of capital would cause businesses to reduce investment rather than increase it.

These conditions are highly unlikely to hold in practice. Businesses already pay relatively little tax on the incremental return from investments in tangible capital due to tax benefits such as accelerated depreciation and interest deductibility, and they often pay no tax—or even receive a tax subsidy—on marginal investments in intangible capital. Moreover, reducing the statutory tax rate on business income actually increases the effective tax rate on debt-financed investment, which is a common source of financing for investments in tangible capital because businesses deduct interest payments from taxable income.
- Jonathan Rauch makes the case for conservatives to support collective bargaining to ensure that social stability is possible - rather than seeking to undermine labour at every turn as right-wing parties are currently wont to do. And Stephen Tweedale comments on the value of card check certification to give effect to workers' rights to organize and bargain collectively.

- CTV reports on the limits of capital's interest in a market with full information, as Montreal landlords are complaining about tenants sharing information about the rent they're paying. And Jonathan Garber examines how markets have been consistently - and systematically - off the mark in their estimates of something as basic as bond rates.

- Rob Ferguson reports on Ontario's long-overdue limitation on employer sick note requirements - which is actually meeting little objection even from employers themselves.

- Andrew Jackson examines the relationship between increasing rents and inequality in making cities unaffordable for all but the most privileged workers.

- Finally, Morna Ballantyne writes that Ontario's latest child care announcement represents a significant step forward compared to what the federal government has on offer.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Lana Payne writes that austerity bears much of the blame for the Grenfell Tower inferno - as well as for the increased dangers facing all but the wealthiest of people:
Grenfell Tower was not an accident. It is what happens when austerity becomes entrenched government ideology.

Grenfell Tower is the tragic consequence of an economic system that no longer works for most people, but instead fuels inequality and greed.

Grenfell Tower is the tragic consequence of government indifference and arrogance and, yes, even contempt for those struggling to make ends meet every single day, working multiple jobs and still unable to move up the so-called mobility ladder.

It has nothing to do with how hard they work, because for the most part they work too much and too hard, and yet the system is stacked against them. And then governments, acting on behalf of the few rather than the many, make those circumstances worse. They push a university or college education out of reach. They slash and burn and cut back on all the programs that allow people to have a chance at a better life. And they do it while slashing taxes for the rich and global corporations.

And then they cave to the lobbies that complain that health and safety regulations are red tape.
- And Oolong argues that austerity is best viewed as today's form of human sacrifice in the name of a false religion.

- Erika Shaker examines the spread of precarious work in Ontario's education sector (as well as in the broader economy).

- Nora Loreto points out how Canada's big banks are raking in billions in profits while slashing jobs - and wonders why reporting on one of those facts seldom mentions the other. And Tom Murphy discusses how multinational corporations are lobbying to sneak implicit approval for tax evasion into the UN's sustainable development goals.

- Meanwhile, Noah Smith observes that decades of corporate giveaways have been rewarded with a decline in business investment in the U.S.

- Finally, Thomas Walkom highlights how Justin Trudeau is following in Stephen Harper's footsteps by expanding an unaccountable security state at the expense of Canadians' privacy. Jeremy Nuttall points out how the Libs have broken their promises on access to information. And Kelly McParland writes that broken promises and sudden reversals represent the main theme of Trudeau's stay in power.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Ryan Meili writes about the fundamental importance of trust in both politics and medicine - and the corrosive effects of corporate donations in both:
When we talk about the problems with political donations, we're not really talking about campaign financing. We're talking about something much more fundamental. We're talking about trust.
...
We're talking about the way that the public views political leaders. Do they trust us to do the right thing? Do they trust us in our interactions with companies, in our interactions in handing out contracts, to be objective? To make the best decisions for this province and its people, rather than for companies seeking favourable laws and contracts?

Our primary goal is not to help any particular business or any particular company. Our primary goal is to achieve the best for the people of this province. One way to measure this is to look at the health outcomes of our policy choices. In fact, the health field offers us some important insights on this question of trust.
...
Physicians realize that trust is our greatest asset, with the public and with our patients. If we want our patients to take our advice and change their behaviour, we need to have their solid trust. Those of us in elected life should also want to be trusted as a profession. For the good of the public, we want people to be able to trust that we are not being influenced, and corporate donations impede that trust.
- Ian Gill and Robert Jensen each review Naomi Klein's forthcoming No Is Not Enough, particularly in its recognition that Donald Trump's election represents a logical progression in the growth of politics based on dominance and distraction rather than the public interest. And Dawn Foster emphasizes that the lesson to be drawn from Grenfell Tower fire is to end the culture of deregulation and austerity which creates greater risks for everybody - not to tear down towers which can provide desperately-needed housing when properly maintained.

- CBC reports on Monika Dutt's work educating physicians about the social determinants of health. And Doug Saunders and Tom Cardoso explore the connection between childhood geographical backgrounds and income later in life, while Miles Corak examines the distribution of poverty in Canada. 

- Erica Alini reports on the Northern Policy Institute's latest research on the role a basic income could play in ensuring food security for people with low incomes. And Tanvi Misra discusses the growing recognition of the importance of unions in reducing inequality.

- Finally, Jorge Barrera reports on the Trudeau Libs' decision to go to court to escape the federal government's obligation to stop discriminating against Indigenous children.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Musical interlude

Odds - Truth Untold

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Patrick Gossage discusses the desperate need for Canadian governments at all levels to take meaningful action to eliminate poverty:
The reality is that low-income Canadians are invisible and lack political clout. In Toronto, they are concentrated in downtown areas close to the gleaming bank towers, in huge clusters of dilapidated rental towers not far from the crosstown expressways, or in pockets of subsidized low-rise units near major intersections. Tens of thousands drive by these areas daily, ignorant of the lives led there. In the nation’s capital, where politicians cook up policies to relieve their plight, Canadians living under the poverty line are totally unseen.
...
At the very sharp end of the poverty issue are youth at risk: those who grew up in poor living conditions, often in single-parent families, who have dropped out of school and have little hope of employment. Governments are notably absent from programs to help them. The myriad of government training programs and assistance for students mean nothing to this cohort, because few graduate from secondary school. They are forgotten.

With no way to make money, many are lured into drug dealing at an early age and join gangs. They are the stuff of sad headlines. A young man who was in one of Dixon Hall’s youth programs went to jail for a minor offence. When he got out, he went home, where he was confronted by a gang member and shot through the screen door. These crimes are seldom solved.

Programs for youth in poor communities are woefully understaffed. Believe me, it’s hard to raise money for them. Society largely gives up on youth at risk, and they are dramatically detached from the much-vaunted programs to solve poverty that politicians brag about.

The volunteer and social service sector is often their only avenue of support and training. It was long ago, under Prime Minister Paul Martin, that Ottawa killed federal support for women’s and youth training programs run by these agencies. It is long past time for governments to take up this role again, and to get serious about relieving the crisis in affordable housing.

As citizens, we must leave our comfortable suburbs or downtown enclaves and find out about the reality of poverty through the agencies that work in poorer neighbourhoods. We must be outspoken advocates for disadvantaged Canadians and insist that our politicians learn first-hand how poor people struggle. Only then will governments stop planning, studying and promising and start acting.
- Solomon Israel reports on the Parliamentary Budget Office's new report showing how Canadian consumer debt is skyrocketing. And David MacDonald's study of the issue finds that in an unfortunately first, Canadian individuals and corporations are racking up debt faster than their peers anywhere else in the developed world. 

- Meanwhile, Geoff Dembicki highlights a few realities about the real estate sector which go a long way toward explaining the combination of soaring housing costs, rising debt and increasing paper wealth for a lucky few. And Conor Darcy discusses how increased nominal wealth in the UK is doing nothing at all for most citizens - while pointing out how a wealth tax could help to ensure a more fair distribution of gains.

- Don Pittis writes that Canadian wages aren't keeping up with what would be expected in light of a low unemployment rate - while also noting how economic policy aimed at favouring capital over labour has contributed to the gap.

- Finally, CUPE points out the many problems with the Libs' plan to turn large public infrastructure into a private profit centre. And Andrew Coyne writes that subjecting the infrastructure bank to sorely-needed scrutiny would have represented a useful role for the Senate - so naturally, it chose to amend the Libs' budget only on the far less significant issue of liquor tax inflation.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Alex Collinson discusses how insecure work makes it impossible to reliably structure an individual's life:
Many respondents told us about how difficult it is to budget without knowing how much you’ll be earning from one week to the next.
The number of hours we are given every week changes, which sometimes makes it difficult to make ends meet.
Concerns about bills and budgets causes sleepless nights. These concerns also force those in insecure work to take any shift they’re offered, regardless of the personal impact.
It isn’t steady and I hardly get work but always have to be available to work just in case they phone. When they do phone I have to drop everything and say yes otherwise I can’t pay bills.
The precarious financial situation created by insecure work puts all of the power in the employers’ hands. It provides employers with the freedom and financial benefits of a flexible workforce, while burdening workers with financial risks and worries.
...
It’s not just the worker that loses out from insecure working.

The rise of low-paid self-employment and zero hours contracts is costing the economy billions every year in lost tax revenues.

That means we all lose out as a result of employers using zero hours contracts and shady “self-employment”.
- McKinsey examines the economic gains which would result from fairness for women in the workplace. And Michael Reich, Sylvia Allegretto and Anna Godoey are the latest to find that Seattle's minimum wage hike produced substantial wage gains while doing nothing to limit the availability of jobs, while Doruk Cengiz, Arindrajit Dube, Attila Lindner and Ben Zipperer find (PDF) similar results over a large number of U.S. minimum wage increases.

- Ben Doherty reports on a new study showing that Australia (like many other countries) is failing to adequately plan for the security and humanitarian consequences of climate change. The Economist discusses how our oceans are being used as dumping grounds rather than being treated with any respect or foresight. And Lynda Collins, Dayna Scott and David Boyd argue that we should ensure potentially dangerous chemicals are restricted until proven safe, rather than encouraging their deployment until their harms are indisputable.

- Marc Lee notes that British Columbia has plenty of fiscal room to fund the social policies which form the basis for the NDP/Green governing agreement. But Nick Falvo points out the challenges facing Saskatchewan and other oil-reliant provinces which have failed to account for the volatility of resource prices - but which still have a long way to go in meeting basic social requirements.

- Finally, Tammy Robert highlights the gap between Brad Wall's long-cultivated image, and the arrogance and gloom that surround his government. And Geoff Leo connects the dots between the Global Transportation Hub, Brightenview and the continued abuse of pay-for-play immigration schemes.

New column day

Here, on how a misguided war against "red tape" contributed to the deaths of dozens in the Grenfell Tower fire - and how we're at risk of becoming casualties as well.

For further reading...
- Details about the UK's obsession with red tape can be found in archives including the home page and housing and construction page.
- The Telegraph offers a summary of the Grenfell Tower fire. Robert Booth and Calla Wahlquist report on the safety concerns which had been brushed off for five years, while Samuel Osborne highlighted how two women who attempted to call attention to fire safety were threatened with legal action before becoming victims of the blaze. Sarah Knapton and Hayley Dixon set out some of the failures which led to the Grenfell tragedy, while Knapton also reports on the cheaper, fireproof cladding which contributed to the deaths of dozens. The Huffington Post offers eyewitness accounts of the fire, including the desperate attempts of residents to save their children while being unable to escape themselves. And Ann Pettifor discusses the role of deficit hysteria (another hallmark of regressive government) in causing the tragedy.
- Ontario's Red Tape Challenge site is here, while its express reference to the UK's precedent is here (h/t to Joshua Mandryk). And Nora Loreto discussed the dangers of the Wynne government's anti-regulatory stunt here.
- Finally, a list of the Saskatchewan Party's attacks on regulation (in the guise of both red tape and "modernizing") is here, while "Red Tape Awareness Week" continues to be a regular feature of the Saskatchewan Party's governing PR apparatus. And the statute requiring ongoing reporting on the latter front is here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Richard Seymour follows up on Jeremy Corbyn's electoral success by highlighting the importance of a grassroots progressive movement which stays active and vibrant between election cycles:
Labour needs only a small swing to win a majority if there were to be another election, and current polling suggests they would get it. On top of this, the government’s appalling handling of the Grenfell fire, in contrast to Corbyn’s widely welcomed intervention, has blown apart May’s already shaken personal authority. It has also exposed a wider crisis of legitimacy for the growth model that has dominated British society since the 1980s – neoliberalism, wherein markets and competition are sacrosanct. There is a moment of radicalisation taking place, such as we have not seen in years, and it could propel to office the most radical, reforming government since 1945. So, the ‘eyes on the prize’ mentality makes sense. 

But proximity to government raises urgent strategic problems, unique in Labour’s history. The current Labour leadership is, for the first time, systematically trying to drive British politics to the Left. Its method of doing so has been to lever into political activity and electoral engagement large groups of people long abandoned by the political system, by making them a political offer they haven’t heard in years. It relies on people being excited enough by the alternative to fight for it. And it is how Labour turned Tory seats red, marginals into safe seats, and safe seats into towering majorities, with thousands of activists ignoring the defensive campaign run by Labour HQ and campaigning through Momentum.
...
Labour’s manifesto is a compromise between a traditional Labour agenda, and that of the radical left. It is rather that the compromises Corbyn would be forced to make would be determined, largely, by the political momentum within the country. 
 
A Corbyn-led Labour government would, quite unusually, need an activist, critical base to hold its feet to the fire. Activists, of course, are always free to go further than their leaders, to build support for ideas going further than ministers are able to go. But in the event of a Labour government, paradoxically, as Corbyn and his allies negotiate with far more powerful institutions, activists may need to build public pressure and even protest in support of government policy.

Corbyn is right to call for permanent campaign mode. But if he is to lead the most reforming government since 1945, the campaigning must not end after election day.
- In one area where there's room for public protest to make a significant difference in government policy, Kathleen Harris offers a look at the Libs' security state legislation - which among other things goes beyond even the spread of state authority under C-51 by extending disruption powers to the Communications Security Establishment. And Ryan Maloney reports on the Libs' broken promises on access to information - as well as Thomas Mulcair's pointed critique in response.

- Karl Nerenberg writes that disrespect for Parliament is just one more area where it's impossible to tell the Trudeau Libs apart from their predecessors.

- Finally, Bill Tieleman writes that the Clark Libs are standing in the way of desperately-needed governance by clinging to power as temporary placeholders. And Mike Harcourt argues that B.C. needs to put an end to the Site C debacle for once and for all.

Leadership 2017 Links

The latest from the NDP's federal leadership campaign.

- Kristy Kirkup reports on the release of Jagmeet Singh's climate change policy statement.And Charlie Angus has offered his road map toward a transition to renewable energy, while the CP reports on his plan for a more fair relationship with Indigenous peoples.

- Meanwhile, Len Gillis reports on Angus' focus on winning support beyond party lines based on his role as a voice for Northern Ontario.

- Guy Caron has unveiled his first major endorsements of the campaign, including ones from Jean Crowder, Chris Charlton and Ruth-Ellen Brosseau

- Tom Parkin discusses how the race has featured meaningful policy discussions which are sorely lacking elsewhere in Canada's political scene.

- Finally, Robin Sears argues that the candidates should be careful to make sure that their positioning within the leadership race don't cause undue harm to the broader party. But while I somewhat agree with what I take to be his underlying sentiment, I strongly disagree with his examples.

Surely it's fair to ask candidates to answer questions about their position on major campaign issues - as Singh has done since the debates where he previously demurred on questions about pipelines. But Sears not only seems to expect candidates to avoid asking questions about fellow contenders' positions, but also to shelve their own proposals merely because they might not be convenient for all groups within a party. (That's surely a recipe for politics utterly devoid of values and content - exactly what Parkin laments outside the NDP.)

And it's off base to suggest that any candidate - and particularly a female leadership candidate - should shy away from raising legitimate policy questions merely because they don't serve the interests of a female premier.

Where Sears' point does have some validity, though, is in more personal questions which seem aimed at treating candidates as out-group members.

On that front, I'd particularly point to Angus' line of questioning pushing Singh to commit to running federally regardless of what happens in the leadership race or elsewhere.

That might create an exploitable soundbite in the leadership contest. But it's not at all fair to push that expectation on a candidate who has demonstrated his federal bona fides by running - and nearly succeeding - in a seat which was seen as a long shot for the NDP before he started working for it. And indeed, Angus' demand would seem to be counterproductive: Singh's current position and profile within the Ontario NDP might well do more to help the party at both the provincial and federal levels than a non-leadership role federally.

In sum, we should expect and encourage leadership candidates to identify and debate genuine differences of policy and principle. But we should take care not to let the leadership campaign sink to the level of unfair personal criticism - both because we should expect more out of our politicians generally, and because of the importance of all candidates and their teams being able to work together once the campaign is done.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Feline face-offs.



Tuesday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Aditya Chakrabortty describes the Grenfell Tower fire as nothing less than social murder of the UK's poor:
Austerity is at the heart of the Grenfell story. Think of the firefighters, who have seen stations closed and colleagues laid off by May, when she was home secretary. Consider the nurses treating the dying and the maimed, who will be on lower pay now than they were in 2009.

Most of all, remember this: the cuts made since 2010 were the poor picking up the tab for the venality of rich bankers. The two are jammed up next to each other in Kensington and Chelsea, one of the richest and most unequal patches of land in the world. Just minutes away from Grenfell, you can find a house for sale at £30m (albeit “in need of full modernisation”). The residents of the investment-starved Tower died last week did so partly because of the greed of their neighbours.

To judge by the nods and winks since the election, May’s government is preparing for the beginning of the end of austerity. I’ll believe it when I see teaching assistants getting a pay rise or benefits for the working-age poor going up. In any case, it will be too late to undo the damage already done. In their book, The Violence of Austerity, the academics Vickie Cooper and David Whyte collect the evidence. Together with their co-authors, they record how the disability assessment process in England is “associated” with an extra 590 suicides. How cuts to local government funding mean that Liverpool council no longer has a single dedicated health and safety officer. How austerity has meant more people dying sooner.

Spending cuts, deregulation, outsourcing: between them they have turned a state supposedly there to protect and support citizens into a machine to make money for the rich while punishing the poor. It’s never described like that, of course. Class warfare is passed off as book-keeping. Accountability is tossed aside for “commercial confidentiality”, while profiteering is dressed up as economic dynamism. One courtesy we should pay the victims of Grenfell is to drop the glossy-brochure euphemisms. Let’s get clear what happened to them: an act of social murder, straight out of Victorian times.
- Larry Elliott reports on the Resolution Foundation's research showing that higher property values are severely exacerbating inequality in the UK. And Kate Wilson examines the realities facing Vancouver's renter class - with even full-time professionals facing the threat of imminent homelessness as housing becomes less and less affordable.

- Which goes a long way toward explaining why large numbers of B.C. voters are now eager to see Christy Clark accept her expected defeat.

- Meanwhile, Alex Hemingway offers advance warning of the anti-social hysteria which is sure to accompany a new NDP government. And Simon Wren-Lewis discusses how austerity can't be justified in honest terms.

- Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood studies the fossil fuel dependency of Canada compared to its international peers, noting in particular that there's plenty of room for developed countries to reduce their dependency while maintaining a high standard of living.

- Finally, Duncan Cameron discusses how the Trudeau Libs' foreign policy is virtually indistinguishable from the Harper Cons'.

Monday, June 19, 2017

On shows of confidence

As British Columbia's MLAs decide how to respond to the Clark Libs' latest attempt to avoid the results of an election which plainly showed that voters wanted change, let's offer this reminder.

In 2008, Stephen Harper's Cons established that they held the confidence of Parliament through a vote on a throne speech which made no mention of austerity, nor of kneecapping the Cons' competition.

After introducing a fiscal update which ran contrary to that basis for claiming confidence, Harper then used the earlier vote as his excuse to shut down Parliament and escape a vote of non-confidence which would otherwise have brought down his government.

In other words, the throne speech vote has to be based not merely on agreement with some words (including in this case ones which the Libs deliberately refused to utter when they had a chance to try to earn support), but confidence that approving them is worth being stuck with Christy Clark evading any democratic accountability. And on that standard, there's no reasonable choice for any non-Lib MLA to do anything but vote for change.

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Phillip Inman discusses how austerity has proven to be an all-pain, no-gain proposition for the general public which is facing stagnant wages and higher consumer debt.

- Pedro Nicolaci da Costa is duly skeptical of employer complaints about "skills gaps" which in fact arise out of their refusal to offer reasonable wages. And Daniel Tencer reports on a new BMO study suggesting that stagnant wages (particularly at the lower end of the income scale) are largely a production of automation.

- Mariana Mazzucato comments on the dangers of treating the concept of infrastructure as an economic cure-all, especially when it's designed to promote corporate profits rather than public interests. And Peter S. Goodman notes that there are plenty of cautionary tales about the dangers of turning public goods over to big business.

- Meanwhile, Katherine Tyler examines the possibility that corporations could be held accountable for facilitating human rights abuses under a proposal from the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

- Finally, Evan Wood discusses what a new British Columbia government can do to address that province's opioid crisis. And Alicia Bridges highlights how a lack of education and awareness is resulting in both the spread of HIV/AIDS in Saskatchewan, and far worse outcomes for the people who become infected.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

On interim measures

I haven't yet posted on Trent Wotherspoon's announcement that he's stepping down as the Saskatchewan NDP's interim leader to consider joining the permanent leadership race. But I'll take a moment to note why I hope he'll decide not to follow through on the possibility.

At the outset, it's true that while some parties have set explicit rules against interim leaders pursuing the permanent job, the NDP chose not to do so. And indeed, I didn't want to see that type of restriction imposed when Wotherspoon was elected to the interim position.

At that time, my primary concern was uncertainty as to whether there would otherwise be a leadership vacuum. And Wotherspoon's own assurances that he didn't intend to seek the permanent leadership seemed consistent with the expectation that any change in direction would be the result of external factors, including a meaningful concern about what other alternatives might be available.

Now, the leadership campaign is beginning to come together. One strong candidate is already in the race, while a substantial movement is working to draft another well-respected MLA.

Moreover, the NDP's improved position in the polls figures to open the door to other potential leadership candidates who might be more interested in what now looks to be a far less daunting political situation than what the party faced a year ago.

That is, as long as the result of the leadership campaign itself doesn't seem to be a foregone conclusion.

If Wotherspoon were to enter the leadership race, however, the likely result would be a two-person contest between himself and Ryan Meili - with very little room for anybody else to gain much traction. And so a Wotherspoon candidacy now would risk limiting the benefits of a leadership campaign in attracting new potential leaders and supporters.

It's for the best that Wotherspoon has avoided jumping directly from the interim leadership into the race. And indeed, I'd take that as a signal that the timing of his announcement reflects a genuine effort not to hold the interim position while there's any thought of running for the permanent job.

But to the extent he's still weighing his options, it would be best if he ultimately takes a pass on the leadership campaign - ensuring that the important work he's done as interim leader serves as a benefit to his party and province, rather than casting a question mark over the NDP's leadership campaign.

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Nina Shapiro comments on the price of privatizing public goods. And George Monbiot weighs in on how the Grenfell Tower fire confirms that what corporatist politicians deride as "red tape" is in fact vital protection for people:
For years successive governments have built what they call a bonfire of regulations. They have argued that “red tape” impedes our freedom and damages productivity. Britain, they have assured us, would be a better place with fewer forms to fill in, fewer inspections and less enforcement.

But what they call red tape often consists of essential public protections that defend our lives, our futures and the rest of the living world. The freedom they celebrate is highly selective: in many cases it means the freedom of the rich to exploit the poor, of corporations to exploit their workers, landlords to exploit their tenants and industry of all kinds to use the planet as its dustbin. As RH Tawney remarked, “Freedom for the pike is death for the minnows.”
...
Crucial public protections have long been derided in the billionaire press as “elf ’n’ safety gone mad”. It’s not hard to see how ruthless businesses can cut costs by cutting corners, and how this gives them an advantage over their more scrupulous competitors.

The “pollution paradox” (those corporations whose practices are most offensive to voters have to spend the most money on politics, with the result that their demands come to dominate political life) ensures that our protections are progressively dismantled by governments courting big donors.

Conservative MPs see Brexit as an excellent opportunity to strip back regulations. The speed with which the “great repeal bill” will have to pass through parliament (assuming that any of Theresa May’s programme can now be implemented) provides unprecedented scope to destroy the protections guaranteed by European regulations. The bill will rely heavily on statutory instruments, which permit far less parliamentary scrutiny than primary legislation. Unnoticed and undebated, crucial elements of public health and safety, workers’ rights and environmental protection could be made to disappear.

Too many times we have seen what the bonfire of regulations, which might sound like common sense when issuing from the mouths of ministers, looks like in the real world. The public protections that governments describe as red tape are what make the difference between a good society and barbarism. It is time to bring the disastrous deregulatory agenda to an end, and put public safety and other basic decencies ahead of corner-cutting and greed.
- Jane Philpott rightly points out how double-billing is contrary to the spirit of the Canada Health Act and the goal of an effective universal health care system - though it's worrisome that her response to the growth of the practice is merely to express concern, rather than taking real steps as the minister with authority to actually implement a policy response. And The Sunday Edition discusses how overtreatment and overdiagnosis create both dangers for patients, and added costs for our health care system.

- Gary Younge writes that Jeremy Corbyn has fundamentally changed the rules of UK politics by mobilizing voters who had previously been ignored. Naomi Klein discusses the importance of offering the public a substantial vision worth voting for. Rick Salutin looks at the parallels between Corbyn and Bernie Sanders in winning over younger voters with unabashed left-wing policy, while Matt Taibbi hopes that corporate-focused centrists will no longer be taken seriously when they claim they're the best progressive voters can hope for. And Sam Kriss takes Corbyn's success as an opportunity to recognize that socialist policies are in fact broadly popular.

- Finally, Brett Murphy explores how the trucking industry is set up to exploit drivers. And Graeme Wood reports on a push to ensure that contracting-out arrangements don't serve as a means to evade paying fair wages at Vancouver's airport.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Danny Dorling sets out how a more equal society leads to benefits for everybody. And Annie Lowrey discusses Richard Reeves' take on the separation between the top 20% of the income spectrum and the rest of the U.S. - particularly in preventing social mobility.

- Meagan Gilmore points out how the Libs' sad excuse for a child care plan falls short of the principles of universality and accessibility which would actually result in a fair start for children across Canada. And Peter Whitaker writes about Bill Morneau's plans to further erode workers' retirement security by attacking their pensions.

- Raisa Deber raises the broad question of what we should be funding through our public health care system, while Amy Corderoy looks at Australia's similar issues with medical care being treated increasingly as a profit centre rather than a matter of social justice. The CP reports on the needless prescription drug costs we're paying due largely to a failure to adequately regulate or negotiate drug prices. And Jason Chung and Kelvin Ian Afrashtehfar highlight the consequences of dental care being unaffordable for many Canadians - including the development of more serious problems due to a lack of access to preventative care.

- Ipsos examines the generally positive view Canadians have of the concept of a basic income. And Insights West surveys the public's impressions of professions - with business and political professions ranking well toward the bottom.

- Finally, Samuel Hyman comments on the need to call out tax evasion for the socially-destructive activity it is, rather than burying it in euphemisms and excuses. But Marco Chown Oved reports that the Libs are backtracking on their past promises to start coming clean about how tax havens are used to siphon money away from Canada's public purse.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Musical interlude

Queens of the Stone Age - The Way You Used to Do

Friday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Wanda Wyporska writes about the scandal of growing inequality and the separation of the ultra-rich from the rest of society. And Richard Reeves calls for the people with the most wealth and privilege to stop denying the advantages they enjoy compared to the vast majority of people.

- Meanwhile, Amy Minsky reports on the continued stagnation of Canadian wages - which have now been mostly stalled for a period of 40 years.

- Edwin Heathcote notes that the tragic Grenfell Tower fire provides a prime example of the dangers of thoughtless deregulation, while TLE points out that Labour's attempt to push for safer housing just last year was rejected by Theresa May's Conservatives. And Nahlah Ayed reports on the role of classism and racism in devaluing the lives of people living in social housing.

- Andrew Scattergood points out how cuts to fire services in the name of austerity also put the public at risk.

- Finally, Mitchell Cohen discusses how social procurement can ensure that corporate wealth turns into benefits for the community at large.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

New column day

Here, on the current state of the federal NDP's leadership race - and how the potential outcomes would figure to affect Canada's broader political scene.

For further reading...
- L. Ian MacDonald discusses how the NDP's campaign (unlike the Conservatives') is actually offering meaningful debate and choices. 
- Eric Grenier takes a look at what we know about the state of the race so far - though the unknowns looks to dominate the picture for the moment.
- Finally, Dan Hancox examines how UK Labour's movement politics helped to radically reshape the existing electoral map. And Colin Horgan wonders whether the UK's election signals an end to the perceived effectiveness of microtargeted ads as a means of winning over voters.

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Sarah O'Connor examines the inconsistent relationship between job quantity and quality as another example of how it's misleading to think of policy choices solely in terms of the number of jobs generated. Angela Monaghan discusses how wages continue to stagnate in the UK despite a low unemployment rate. And Patrick Butler writes about the "relentless financial tightrope" which keeps far too many households from ever avoiding the stress of imminent ruin:
Low-income families are going without beds, cookers, meals, new clothes and other essential items as they struggle to cope with huge debts run up to pay domestic bills, according to a survey highlighting the cost-of-living crisis experienced by the UK’s poorest households.

Clients of the debt charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP) had run up an average of £4,500 in debts on rent or utility bills, forcing them on to what the charity described as a “relentless financial tightrope” juggling repayments and basic living costs, leaving many acutely stressed and in deteriorating health.

The pressure of coping with low income and debt frequently triggered mental illness or exacerbated existing conditions, with more than a third of clients reporting that they had considered suicide and three-quarters visiting a GP for debt-related problems. More than half were subsequently prescribed medication or therapy.
...
There are widespread concerns about rising pressure on living standards for low-income households as wages fall, working-age social security benefits remain frozen and inflation rises. The survey’s findings indicate that households are increasingly turning to high-cost credit to stay afloat, which CAP said was “an unsustainable solution”.

Nearly seven out of 10 clients helped by CAP in 2016 had fallen behind with payments for gas, electricity and rent, and 90% had taken out loans, run up overdrafts or used credit cards to meet domestic bills. There was a year-on-year increase in the proportion of clients using credit cards stay afloat, from 49% to 64%.

Damon Gibbons, director of the Centre for Responsible Credit, said: “Once again this report lays bare the human costs associated with debt problems. Debt affects health, including mental health; contributes to relationship breakdown; makes it harder to get back into and sustain employment, and has a host of negative impacts for children.

“With the continuing squeeze on household incomes and the failure of the Financial Conduct Authority to curb irresponsible lending resulting in greater indebtedness, we desperately need a national strategy to raise wages, restore the welfare safety net and provide better debt solutions.”
- G. Elijah Dann implores Canadians not to be taken in by Justin Trudeau's public relations schemes when they're being used in support of Trumpian policy. And Bob Baldwin and Richard Shillington examine how the Libs' retirement income changes may do nothing - or even be outright damaging - for low-income earners in particular.

- Brent Patterson highlights how the Libs are insisting on including corporate-biased dispute resolution provisions in trade deals even as our trading partners seek more balanced options. And Dean Beeby reports on Canada's role in facilitating tax evasion through lax disclosure requirements, while Canadians for Tax Fairness highlights how the federal government is rewarding tax haven users with public contracts.

- Meanwhile, Michael Hiltzik examines the role of tax cheating in exacerbating inequality. Annette Alstadsæter, Niels Johannesen and Gabriel Zucman discuss how global inequality is even worse than has previously been assumed once hidden wealth is included in the picture. And Robert E. Litan and Ian Hathaway comment on the U.S.' growing tendency toward rent-seeking rather than productive entrepreneurship.

- Finally, Andrew Sheng writes that our political and social systems have failed to keep up with an increasingly complex world.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Ellie Mae O'Hagan writes about Jeremy Corbyn's much-needed work in addressing the loss of hope by young people in the UK:
For the first time in a good few years, I’ve stopped worrying about money. I can imagine living somewhere nice without having to move to another country. I feel less worried about my parents, who could now be cared for by a properly funded NHS as they get older. I have hope that we may start taking climate change seriously, and people my age and younger won’t be left scooping out buckets of murky water from our living rooms every year. I may finally stop being a member of a sprawling precariat without sick pay, holiday entitlement or job security. It’s amazing to think my parents took those things for granted, and only now do I realise how low my expectations have been.

I know these things won’t happen overnight – maybe they won’t happen at all – but finally there is the possibility of them. Hoping for a better world doesn’t feel like a cruel and futile process any more. It feels rational; it feels like something we deserve.

Last night, when I was out celebrating, I met a 25-year-old woman who was in a two-year unpaid internship and still living with her parents. I spoke to a man in his 30s who said he felt like he was still living like a student. Is it any wonder that the surge for Labour was driven by people under 45? This demographic doesn’t care that Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t look like a conventional politician (they like it), or about things he did before they were even born. They just want the constant tension that pervades their lives – the tension that comes with having virtually no financial security – to be lifted.
- Meanwhile, Amy Traub highlights the widespread U.S. wage theft which transfers massive amounts of money from the workers who make the least to the corporations who already have the most. And Erik Loomis points out how the Trump administration is going out of its way to make work as hazardous as possible.

- The B.C. Health Coalition points out a new survey on the spread of private clinics and extra billing in Canada's health care system. And Andre Picard weighs in on the longstanding failure to deal with double-dipping and other practices which lead to both unfairness and poor results for patients.

- Marc-Andre Cossette reports on the Libs' painfully small first step toward child care funding.

- Finally, the Star's editorial board calls out the Trudeau Libs for their miserly attitude toward foreign aid.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Couched cats.




Tuesday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Martin Lukacs contrasts Justin Trudeau's hype machine against the genuine hope offered by Jeremy Corbyn, while Paul Mason sees the election result as just a first battle against the UK's ruling elite. And Thomas Walkom discusses how left populism is the real winner of the UK's general election, while Jonathan Hopkin points out how austerity and inequality can lead to all kinds of unpredictable results.

- Meanwhile, SaskForward reminds us that Saskatchewan has a choice whether to put up with Brad Wall's preference for austerity and service cuts:


- And Eugene Robinson offers the latest update on how Kansas' corporatist tax-slashing blueprint (which Brad Wall remains determined to follow) has led to nothing but ruin.

- Chuck Collins discusses the increasing amount of wealth being hidden away from governments and public responsibility. But the EU is rightly cracking down on professionals who contribute to tax dodging - in stark contrast to how the Trudeau Libs have dealt with those whose firms contribute to offshoring.

- Finally, Nicole Williams tells the story of Lize Keenan, who soon stands to be homeless in P.E.I. due to a lack of affordable housing - even as investment in new units could provide both economic and social benefits.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- The Star offers some lessons from the UK's election, including the powerful appeal of unabashed social democratic policy. Aditya Chakrabortty discusses how Jeremy Corbyn has changed his country's politics for a long time to come. And Gary Younge observes that the gains achieved by Corbyn and Labour represent a victory for hope where voters had previously been told for far too long not to expect anything to get better.

- Meanwhile, Murray Dobbin slams the Trudeau Libs for turning a mandate from voters seeking a more progressive government into a plan to ramp up spending on war.

- Doug Cuthand argues that it's long past time for Canada's federal government to start living up to Jordan's Principle and ensuring fair supports are available for Indigenous children. And the Current discusses how childhood trauma creates health repercussions which last a lifetime.

- Kathy Tomlinson and Justine Hunter follow up on the flagrant flouting of the Canada Health Act with an expression of outrage from Jane Philpott, coupled with a claim that the federal government is powerless. But lest anybody think this is somehow a new issue which the Libs can be excused for not having recognized, it was a refusal to deal with exactly the same problem *12 years ago* which contributed to the fall of their previous government.

- Finally, Suzanne Goldenberg writes about the massive amount of food which goes wasted even as far too many people face food insecurity.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

On comparative advantages

In the federal NDP's previous leadership campaign, Tom Mulcair managed to release numerous policy proposals without offering any hint of what he'd do as leader.

Starting from the (correct) assumption that a frontrunner could likely find his way to victory simply by minimizing controversy, Mulcair released policy planks which were based almost entirely on the NDP's previous election platform.

That left little for his opponents to criticize: any direct questions about Mulcair's plans could be attacked as critiques of Jack Layton's judgment. But it also offered little information for voters who genuinely wanted to know about Mulcair's own judgment and priorities. 

This time around, there was some question as to whether Jagmeet Singh would similarly try to neutralize policy as a basis for decision rather than offering any distinctive vision. But to Singh's credit, he's making a strong effort to drive policy debate both within the NDP and in the broader political scene - most recently by releasing an income security agenda built around three guarantees.

But if Singh's latest proposal offers a valuable basis for discussion and debate, it also highlights the distinction between Singh's plans and the more ambitious ones on offer in the leadership campaign.

In particular, Singh's plans fall well short of Guy Caron's in two key ways.

First, Singh's limited guarantees leave open the implied statement that many people don't deserve a secure living, including for reasons beyond their control.

It's fair to say that nobody working full-time should live in poverty, nor any senior or person living with a disability. And Singh's plan addresses those specific circumstances.

But Caron has already offered up the much stronger - yet to my mind, also more defensible - statement that nobody should live in poverty.

In effect, Singh's plan makes the debate about poverty one which seeks to redraw the lines as to who receives support - while relying on an underlying assumption that some people aren't deserving of income security. That figures only to help other parties looking to persuade voters that income supports shouldn't be extended at all, while also offering reason for hope to far less people than Caron's. 

And even if one assumed it's better to leave some out-group on the wrong side of an anti-poverty policy, it's far from clear that Singh has drawn the line in the right place.

In particular, a wage tax benefit wouldn't seem to offer support to people who can't find traditional work due to economic or personal circumstances - meaning that the people most excluded from work opportunities might continue to be left out.

Second, Singh plans to roll more of the existing social safety net into his plan, leaving less additional supports available where they're needed based on individual circumstances.

While Caron's plan would overtake only the Guaranteed Income Supplement among existing seniors' supports, Singh's would usurp the place of several more. And Singh also explicitly plans to roll the existing Working Income Tax Benefit into his plan.

Lest there be any doubt, Singh's combined plan for improved income supports would still make for a major improvement on the status quo. And it's for the best that he's managing to get the media talking about egalitarian messages even if his policy doesn't fully give effect to them.

But it also does reflect some meaningful differences in principle and policy compared to what other candidates have put forward. And Singh will need to justify his more limited proposals in order to win over voters looking for a leader who can win on principle.

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- David MacDonald discusses the need to start tackling some of Canada's most expensive and least justifiable tax handouts to the rich:
The richest 10 per cent of Canadians enjoy an average of $20,500 a year in tax exemptions, credits, and other loopholes. That’s $6,000 more than in 1992 and it costs the federal government $58 billion—double what it paid in tax expenditures in 1992.

The cost to the federal government for all preferential personal income tax treatments, not just for the rich, has ballooned from $90 billion in 1992 to a projected $152 billion in 2018. That’s a 69 per cent cost increase since 1992.
...
This is about taking a clear-eyed look at how Ottawa has been prioritizing tax expenditures that disproportionately benefit a few at the expense of the many.

Meanwhile, government after government puts off making proper investments to ensure clean water and decent housing on Aboriginal reserves as well as delaying bold action on poverty reduction and homelessness.

In some Canadian cities, some working families are paying the equivalent of a second monthly mortgage just to get their children in child care.

Millennials are being asked to pay record-high tuition in order to get a university degree, only to graduate with record-high student debt and limited work opportunities.

The case for closing tax loopholes, shutting down tax credits and exemptions tilted heavily in favour of the rich and corporate Canada is really about diverting that money to pay for programs and services that benefit everyone—even the rich and corporations, because they benefit from a healthy, well-functioning society.
- Meanwhile, Benjamin Locke points out that Donald Trump's plan to favour the rich over the public includes his refusal to sign on to international efforts to combat tax evasion.

- Kathy Tomlinson exposes the widespread double-billing practices which make Canada's health care system far less universal than it's supposed to be. And Theresa Boyle reports on how medical care is influenced by secret payments from the big pharma to Canada's doctors.

- Ian Mulgrew points out that anti-SLAPP legislation is just one of the progressive steps forward British Columbia can expect once a Green-supported NDP government has a chance to get to work.

- Finally, Alex Boutilier reports on CSIS' illegal retention of all the metadata about people not under investigation which it collected without authority for a period of a decade.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

On selective sacrifice

Brad Wall's definition of shared sacrifice:

Public service workers are expected to do their jobs plus more to cover for a hiring freeze, while also getting hit with a 3.5% pay cut.

At the same time, specially-selected Saskatchewan Party MLAs get handed new titles without any accompanying work, plus $3,000 free to go with it.

Somehow this looks familiar as Wall's corporate cronies take large tax breaks while people are asked to pay more. And in both cases, there's every reason for the public to put an end to the one-sided demands.

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Larry Elliott is optimistic that the UK's election result will lead to an end of destructive austerity. James Downie comments on the example Jeremy Corbyn's campaign provides for progressives in the U.S. (and elsewhere). And Karl Nerenberg writes about the importance of youth turnout in boosting Labour's fortunes.

- But Polly Toynbee offers a reminder as to how a first-past-the-post electoral system prevents voters' interests from translating fully into government decision-making.

- Gareth Hutchins reports on a new study showing that in Australia like in many other countries, any economic growth has been more than skimmed off the top by a well-connected few. And Jordan Brennan offers this chart on the similar effect in Ontario:


- Lana Payne discusses how a $15 minimum wage (and a living wage generally) would change workers' lives for the better. Meagan Gilmore highlights how unions are leading the way in pursuing domestic violence leave to ensure that work demands don't trap people in abusive relationships. And Nora Loreto points out the importance of building social movements in order bring about political change.

- Finally, Ed Finn writes that the business lobby's knee-jerk anti-government position misses the vital role of a strong public sector in building a functional economy and society:
The public and private sectors have become so interdependent that one cannot be attacked or diminished without hurting the other. Public expenditures often stimulate private sector activities. Many industries could not get started or keep going without government services and infrastructure. And of course governments need a robust economy to boost employment and generate the revenue they need to provide social services.

Public funds spent on making workers healthier and better educated provide the private sector with a more efficient work force. Public funds spent on roads, airports, and other utilities are essential to the operation of private industry.
...
That's the absurdity of the neoliberal assault on the public sector. Somehow more private industrial development is supposed to flow from less public education and research. More private X-ray machines, MRIs, and other hardware is supposed to be made for fewer public hospitals. More private cars and trucks are supposed to be driven on fewer public highways. A smaller public police force is supposed to guard larger private fortunes.

What is more likely to happen -- and what in fact has happened in recent years -- is that restraints on growth in the public sector cause overall national production to be slowed down, rather than causing a shift in growth from the public to the private sector.

You would think that, by this time, our political leaders would realize just how illogical, inequitable, and impracticable this self-defeating business dogma really is. Instead, they submissively continue to aid and abet the corporate kingpins in their deranged attacks on the public sector and public employees.

As long as this ignorance of public and private sector interdependence prevails, so will the cancers of social and economic deprivation, inequality, poverty, deregulation, privatization, crumbling infrastructure, and environmental degradation.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Musical interlude

CHVRCHES - Now is Not The Time

Friday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Owen Jones writes that UK Labour's bold and progressive platform was crucial to its improved electoral results. Bhaksar Sunkara rightly sees Labour's campaign - in both its firm defence of the common good, and its determination to reach young and marginalized voters rather than assuming they won't turn out - as a blueprint to be copied elsewhere. And Charlie Smith suggests that the federal NDP in particular should look to follow in Labour's footsteps.

- Daniel Tencer reports on Evelyn Forget's estimate of the cost of a basic income at a reasonable $15 billion per year nationally. And Rosana Salvaterra writes about the health benefits of a stable and secure income for everybody. But Jared Knoll interviews Armine Yalnizyan about the opportunity costs of a basic income as opposed to other policy options aimed at equalizing access to actual goods and services, rather than income alone.

- Meanwhile, Donald Hirsch discusses the reemergence of living wage as a widely recognized policy goal. And Michael McKnight highlights the value of Vancouver's living wage as a step toward reducing poverty and inequality.

- Bernie Sanders offers a look (PDF) at how Donald Trump's privatized infrastructure plan figures to enrich Wall Street at the expense of the American public. And Pedro Nicolaci da Costa reports that many other U.S. Democrats are offering the same necessary critique - signalling that the Justin Trudeau Libs' copycat Canadian version is taking them far past the level of corporatism of a party which is itself subject to valid criticism as driven too much by appeasing the financial sector.

- Finally, Andrew Nikiforuk laments Trudeau's decision to facilitate years of avoidable methane pollution.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Christopher Hoy reminds us that as much as people are already outraged by inequality, we tend to underestimate its severity. And Faiza Shaheen writes about the dangers of unchecked inequality which erodes social bonds.

- Meanwhile, Andrea Hopkins discusses how Canadians are taking significant financial risks in borrowing against home values in order to paper over a continued lack of wage gains.

- Daniel Leblanc and Steven Chase report on the Libs' plans to burn tens of billions of dollars on military equipment in the name of "hard power". And Marie-Danielle Smith reports on Justin Trudeau's preference to leave nuclear threats in place rather than lifting a finger toward disarmament.

- But Chase and Robert Fife note that even as they try to push an every-country-for-itself defence policy, the Libs are simultaneously greasing the skids for Chinese capital to take over a sensitive satellite communication network.

- Julie Know reports on the provincial auditor's criticism of the Saskatchewan Party's continued refusal to regulate pipelines. And D.C. Fraser points out that privatized health services predictably haven't led to any promised reduction in wait times.

- Finally, Julia Belluz comments on the unfairness of fee-for-service medicine, with a particular focus on price gouging in U.S. emergency rooms.