Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Angella MacEwen offers her suggestions as to what a fair and progressive trade agenda should look like:
Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms are especially unpopular, as they prioritize investor rights over investor responsibilities. Canada and Mexico have had similar dismal experiences under NAFTA — while the US has never lost a NAFTA investor-state case. ISDS chapters should be eliminated from progressive trade agreements, and any new investor protections should be subsidiary to national judicial processes and privilege state-to-state settlements.

The most effective way to compensate and transition people who lose out from economic shocks — whether from trade, automation or a variety of other sources — is to have a well-financed social safety net and universal public services. Employment Insurance and associated active labour market policies are important, but so are universal health care, child care, affordable housing and other elements of the welfare state. This is why public services must be fully carved out.

Transparency and accountability are missing from the current trade model. We need more than token stakeholder meetings or vague gender chapters to correct this gap. Environmental, human rights and gender audits can reduce exploitation and guide policy-makers toward better policy. Initial audits would be enhanced by a public system for regular monitoring and assessment of specific outcomes over time.

Finally, economic development strategies, such as strategic government procurement and community benefit agreements, must be available to domestic governments at all levels.

All of these areas represent untapped opportunities for significant improvements based on an alternative vision of a real “progressive trade agenda” — one that truly puts workers and the environment first.
- And Jim Stanford discusses how Canada is better off for Petronas having pulled away from its plans for a giant, unsustainable LNG project.

- Christine Saulnier takes a look at the lessons which should be learned from Nova Scotia's disastrous experiment with P3 schools. But Kelly Grant reports that the Trudeau Libs aren't much interested in being informed of the dangers of privatization run amok, as they pushed ahead with approvals for private plasma donations in the face of warnings from Canadian Blood Services.

- Which is to say that the Globe and Mail's understandable push for the Libs to put human rights ahead of profits when it comes to arms exports is likely to meet with something less than a receptive audience.

- Finally, Phil McDuff points out how a shift from first-past-the-post politics to a proportional electoral system would actually offer the public control whose absence resulted in the UK's Brexit vote (among other signs of citizen discontent).

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