Monday, March 05, 2018

Leadership 2018 Reference Page

A one-stop source for general links on the 2018 Saskatchewan 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
Saskatchewan NDP Constitution (PDF)
Leadership Rules (PDF)
Leadership 2018

Candidate Information
Candidate Website Twitter Profile Platform Ranking
Ryan Meili RyanMeili.com @ryanmeili Profile

Trent Wotherspoon Trent4Leader.ca @WotherspoonT Profile


Other Resources
Wikipedia

Posts
All Posts By Label

Discussion
Twitter: #skndpldr

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

On consistent patterns

It's certainly worth being cautious about leadership campaign polling which is met with a challenge almost as soon as it's first released. But the NDP side of Mainstreet's new poll may nonetheless be worth noting, particularly as it fits in with other indications as to the state of the race.

In particular, the "Meili has a lead of 25 per cent!" theme may sound surprising because of how it's framed. But a 62.5%-37.5% lead now would be entirely consistent with the comparative vote share the two candidates won in the first ballot in the 2013 leadership campaign (61.5%-38.5%). And it's not so far off of Meili's 55.5%-44.5% lead in current fund-raising (PDF) as to look out of place either.

Of course, we'll have a better idea how Mainstreet's attempt to reach the voter pool holds up once polling is conducted based on the NDP's actual membership list, rather than an analysis limited to federal donors. And it's entirely possible that a similar critique of Mainstreet's Saskatchewan Party methodology may apply to some extent to its NDP poll.

But for now, there's at least some indication that relatively little may have changed from members' prior voting preferences. And if that holds true, then Meili looks to be in a strong position as the voting window approaches.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Elizabeth Kolbert comments on the psychology of inequality, and particularly how the current trend in which a disproportionate share of gains goes to a small number of wealthy individuals produces no ultimate winners: 
As the relative-income model predicted, those who’d learned that they were earning less than their peers were ticked off. Compared with the control group, they reported being less satisfied with their jobs and more interested in finding new ones. But the relative-income model broke down when it came to those at the top. Workers who discovered that they were doing better than their colleagues evinced no pleasure. They were merely indifferent. As the economists put it in a paper that they eventually wrote about the study, access to the database had a “negative effect on workers paid below the median for their unit and occupation” but “no effect on workers paid above median.”

The message the economists took from their research was that employers “have a strong incentive” to keep salaries secret. Assuming that California workers are representative of the broader population, the experiment also suggests a larger, more disturbing conclusion. In a society where economic gains are concentrated at the top—a society, in other words, like our own—there are no real winners and a multitude of losers.
...
(Payne) has come to believe that what’s really damaging about being poor, at least in a country like the United States—where, as he notes, even most people living below the poverty line possess TVs, microwaves, and cell phones—is the subjective experience of feeling poor. This feeling is not limited to those in the bottom quintile; in a world where people measure themselves against their neighbors, it’s possible to earn good money and still feel deprived. “Unlike the rigid columns of numbers that make up a bank ledger, status is always a moving target, because it is defined by ongoing comparisons to others,” Payne writes.

Feeling poor, meanwhile, has consequences that go well beyond feeling. People who see themselves as poor make different decisions, and, generally, worse ones.
...
Preschoolers, brown capuchin monkeys, California state workers, college students recruited for psychological experiments—everyone, it seems, resents inequity. This is true even though what counts as being disadvantaged varies from place to place and from year to year...

Still, there are choices to be made. The tax bill recently approved by Congress directs, in ways both big and small, even more gains to the country’s plutocrats. Supporters insist that the measure will generate so much prosperity that the poor and the middle class will also end up benefitting. But even if this proves true—and all evidence suggests that it will not—the measure doesn’t address the real problem. It’s not greater wealth but greater equity that will make us all feel richer.
- Timothy Taylor charts the state of inequality in countries around the globe. And Branko Milanovic comments on the farce that is a discussion of inequality at Davos by the people who have put in place the policies most responsible for its spread.

-  David Olusoga discusses the return of Victorian-era slums to the UK, while Lucy Pasha-Robinson reports on declining life expectancies arising out of austerity.

- Rajeev Syal reports on a study from the UK's National Audit Office showing how privatization has resulted in the government paying more to get less. James Bloodworth notes that the Carillion privatization model amounted to little more than a Ponzi scheme which depended on a continually-increasing flow of public money to enrich its executives. Tom Pride observes that one of the prime culprits in (and profiteers from) Carillion's collapse has been rewarded by being put in charge of nuclear safety. David Climenhaga discusses the connection between Carillion, the Klein government and Alberta's privatized highways which rely on a now-failed corporation for their maintenance. And Will Hutton rightly questions why we'd ever trust the corporate sector to manage public services again.

- Finally, Thomas Walkom questions Justin Trudeau's determination to keep the NAFTA dispute resolution provisions which have been used primarily to tie the hands of Canadian governments.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Jim Hightower writes about the importance of a popular movement to build the policy foundation for middle- and working-class prosperity. And Doug Henwood notes that the U.S. union movement managed to hold its ground in 2017.

- Ellie May MacDonald points out how austerity imposes a disproportionate burden on women:
Firstly, austerity measures are likely to decrease the ability of women to gain employment – the most effective route out of poverty. Changes to Universal Credit provide greater incentives for single-earner households and penalise two-earner households through benefit reductions. Women, more often the ‘second earner’, will face disincentives to work. The cuts to the public sector (in terms of both jobs and the real value of earnings) harm women more than men, since around two-thirds of the public-sector workforce is female. 73 per cent of those that are affected by the public sector pay freeze were women, according to the Women’s Budget Group. The continuation of these cuts will decrease the incomes of many women or deplete them altogether.

Secondly, the welfare state cuts have unacceptable consequences for women. Women are more dependent than men upon the welfare state; care responsibilities prevent many from entering employment and earning an independent income. Even within employment, women may suffer in-work poverty because they are only able to maintain part-time, low-paid jobs whilst caring for dependents.
...
Thirdly, Universal Credit is changing the structure of the family – to the detriment of mothers. Universal Credit creates incentives for single-earner ‘breadwinner’ households, due to the withdrawal of benefits from two-earner households. Furthermore, UC is paid in one lump-sum into one bank account (usually the primary earner’s). These measures are likely to increase incidences of households with one primary earner and a partner that is either a second earner or not earning. Women are much more likely than men to be the latter, increasing their dependence upon their male partners.

Dependence upon the income of a partner has two effects. Firstly, it may leave some women without sufficient resources to meet their minimum needs. Breadwinner ideology can affect who accesses resources within the household, because it can reduce women’s bargaining power if they are not seen to be contributing to the household income. Secondly, it is likely to increase the risk of future poverty, since economic dependence means that an individual’s continued economic stability and wellbeing depends on two conditions: their partners keeping their income, and their families staying together. Dependency reduces the ability of women to get a source of stable income after separation (either through a good job or from a pension), whilst also leaving her with fewer assets and wealth.
...
The problem of poverty should be the priority of policy makers, not only for those focused on social injustice but also for those seeking economic benefits. The cost of increased spending on public services, particularly child care services, is likely to be mitigated by the increased economic activity. In 2011, the IPPR published a report making the economic case for universal childcare: on the basis of their cost-benefit analysis, they show that universal childcare pays a return of £20,050 over four years to the government.

The government is not doing enough to combat the entrenched nature of women’s poverty. This is either through ignorance – since official statistics conceal the true extent of this poverty – or because neither women nor poverty are the priority of policymakers in a time of austerity. The current government should be held to account for this injustice, particularly given that the Equality Act of 2006 provides the legitimate grounds to do so. This is a legal obligation to pay ‘due regard’ to gender equality when making decisions relating to spending plans. This requires a long-standing commitment to social change, not quick-fix measures that improve poverty rates in the short-term.
- Gary Mason comments on the unacceptable abandonment of Sears' workers, as people who dedicated decades to their employer saw their pensions siphoned off by corporate profiteers. Jesse McLaren and Kate Hayman discuss how the treatment of workers by Tim Hortons franchises is antithetical to their health and welfare. And Talia Jane shares her story of seeing her career derailed for the crime of trying to seek out fair pay.

- Stewart Smyth writes that the only way to get housing policy right is to prioritize the availability of homes over the use of housing as a means to accumulate wealth. And William Rees discusses the role international capital has played in shifting us in the wrong direction. 

- Finally, Luisa D'Amato points out how Justin Trudeau is now insulting Canadians in trying to excuse his own broken promise of a fair electoral system.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

On permanent repercussions

When Trent Wotherspoon first announced that he was considering pursuing the Saskatchewan NDP's permanent leadership, I pointed out some of my concerns about how his previous tenure as interim leader - when he was elected after offering his assurance that he wouldn't seek the permanent position - might result in question marks over the leadership campaign. 

Now, a prime example of the problem with Wotherspoon's about-face has turned into a campaign flashpoint, as the administrators of the Save Saskatchewan Libraries group have issued an endorsement of Wotherspoon which couldn't be any more closely tied to his role as interim leader.

To be clear, I don't take issue with the administrators themselves taking a position in the NDP's leadership campaign.

The NDP should be eager to hear new voices participating in the leadership campaign, particularly ones who have so effectively marshaled widespread support for Saskatchewan's key public institutions. And the fact that a group was generally intended to be non-partisan doesn't mean its administrators should have any hesitation in applying their experience and opinions to the leadership campaign.

But that's an entirely separate issue from the need for fairness in the leadership campaign itself. And to see how that's been affected, here's Christine Freethy's own account as to how she came to endorse Wotherspoon:
I literally GOOGLED “Saskatchewan NDP” and said to the first person who answered the phone “I am running that library facebook group and I think you guys need to get your shit together and help us” Later that day was the first time I ever talked to Trent Wotherspoon.

At the time, Trent Wotherspoon was interim leader. And I am a political nobody who lives in Rabbit Lake. But he had seen the group and was plugged in enough with Carla Beck and the staff to know I was reaching out. I told him my plan - a non-partisan movement to bring attention to the library cut and force Brad Wall to reverse his decision. Trent listened and said “What can I and the NDP do to help your group?”
Needless to say, there's little reason to think Ryan Meili (or any other person who might plausibly have held a leadership position) would have done any differently given the opportunity. But only Wotherspoon enjoyed that. 

Because Wotherspoon was in the interim leader role based in part on his promise not to seek the permanent leadership, he was charged with leading the NDP's communication with Freethy, with the party's staff assisting him in that effort. And he was thus able to build a close relationship with an outside group which was doing widespread organizing complementary to that of the party - resulting in an endorsement which reached a wide range of actual and potential members just in time for the membership deadline.

There may not be much which can be done to alleviate that gap now. But in comparing the candidates, the NDP's members will need to test their own impressions of Wotherspoon to see how they might reflect the advantage he captured in the interim role. And there may be significant legitimacy issues for the party as a whole if the race ends up turning on a candidate's gaining an advantage from a broken promise.

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Jesse Winter is the latest reporter to tell the stories of a few minimum-wage workers who will see a raise as a result of improved employment standards. And Erika Shaker points out that a substantial minimum-wage increase is a long-overdue response to outdated statutory standards and stagnant wage levels, not a meaningful imposition on employers:
(W)hat’s truly surprising is that so many businesses didn’t seem to see it coming, even after a two-year $15 minimum wage campaign in Ontario. After all, increases have been studied, debated and implemented in several American states, Britain, and Australia (to name a few), not to mention Alberta. All this strikes me as something that might be considered “market research” or simply “planning ahead” for a business concerned with its bottom line.

So while this is certainly a significant change, Ontario businesses had time to rethink their decision to pursue a low-wage business plan in the broader socio-economic and political context (the Changing Workplaces Review was initiated back in February 2015 “to consider issues brought about in part by the growth of precarious employment”), seven months to adjust to being compliant with the legislation (if the mere desire to treat their workers well wasn’t strong enough), and another year before $15/hr kicks in.
...
The increase to the minimum wage shouldn’t be seen as a shock, but rather a long-fought-for correction…which suggests that those businesses arguing loudest had perhaps become too comfortable counting on an outdated business model whose profit margins depended on low-wage employees. The much-publicized decision by a few (“rogue”, according to Head Office) Tim Hortons franchises to find ways to gouge their workers betrays a somewhat Dickensian nostalgia for a time when the highest costs of doing business were borne by the worker — not the cutting-edge, forward-looking business acumen that we’re often told tax breaks will encourage.
- Lydia Dobson criticizes Ontario employers whose reaction to an improved minimum wage is to steal employees' tips. And Heidi Shierholz, David Cooper, Julia Wolfe, and Ben Zipperer document the billions of dollars workers stand to lose from Donald Trump's plan to let U.S. employers do exactly that.

- Matt Bruenig points out the problems with fetishizing small businesses, rather than focusing on the importance of workers' protections and needs regardless of the size of their employer.

- The Star's editorial board argues that Google and Facebook should be required to pay a fair share of taxes proportional to the corporate revenue they accumulate from their Canadian operations.

- And finally, Mary Papenfuss reports on the Koch family's six-figure payout to Paul Ryan (and other donations which represent a small portion of the Republicans' tax giveaway) as a prime example of the corruption inherent in politics dominated by big money.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Simon Ducatel writes about the unfairness of attacking people living in poverty rather than looking for ways to improve their circumstances:
(I)n the real world, it is unfortunately not unheard of for some employers to financially or otherwise exploit workers, albeit legally mind you, by offering substandard living wages or clawing back benefits despite accumulating record profits.

And I would like to think anyone who cares the slightest about his or her fellow human being would be concerned by this kind of exploitive behaviour.

Ever since slavery was abolished, child labour was ended, labour rights were created and 40-hour workweeks introduced, titans of industry shrieked furiously every single step of the way, predictably declaring all of the above would destroy the economy. Yet last I checked, multinational behemoths are doing better than ever before.
...
So many people seem to get all upset over the dastardly proposition to ensure anyone earning the minimum wage doesn’t live in abject poverty. Yet they have no objection to the obscene accumulations of mass, unprecedented wealth that pools up in offshore havens.

They’ll blame the poor for failing to pull up their bootstraps and work hard enough — despite the fact many people who struggle to make ends meet work multiple jobs — while making every excuse possible for the 0.01 per cent, who have not enjoyed such a bountifully flowing gravy train since the gilded age of robber barons.

There’s apparently no problem with average wages stagnating or barely growing over the past few decades while top-paid CEOs see their compensations skyrocket
- Nick Purdon offers a glimpse at the stories of a few people struggling to get by on minimum wage. And Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on the growing protests against Tim Hortons after its stores used a long-overdue minimum wage increase as an excuse to slash their already-meager benefits.

- Meanwhile, Kathryn May takes note of PSAC's push for paid domestic violence leave to ensure workers aren't trapped in abusive situations. And Haroon Siddique points out how unrealistic work demands clash with the needs of parents.

- Jennifer Wells discusses how the collapse of Carillion offers a reminder of the dangers of privatization and corporate outsourcing. And Heather Stewart and Anushka Asthana report on Jeremy Corbyn's plans to put public services back in public hands in the UK.

- Finally, Lana Payne sets out just a few of the reasons why people are starting to take to the streets through the World Women's March and similar action.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Thursday, January 18, 2018

On last chances

I'll offer one last reminder that tomorrow at 5 PM is the membership deadline for the Saskatchewan NDP's leadership race.

Sure, the Saskatchewan Party will soon be deciding on a new hood ornament for their continuing trip to nowhere. But only the NDP's leadership campaign offers the prospect of a much-needed change in direction - and whether one is partial to either of the candidates or still undecided, it'll be well worth the investment to participate in helping to shape it.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Kenneth Rogoff writes about the dangers of presuming that economic growth (at least in stock markets if not wages) can withstand political upheaval. Marco Chown Oved reports on the strong support for Democracy Watch's petition to raise corporate taxes and close loopholes. Rajeshni Naidu-Ghelani reports on the latest consumer survey showing a large number of Canadians barely managing to keep afloat financially even in the face of what's supposed to be good economic news. And Stella Lord offers a how-to guide to fight poverty through improved wages and benefits.

- Meanwhile, Erika Shaker and Trish Hennessy list a few of the reasons why we shouldn't let anti-worker voices dictate the terms of our minimum wage debate. And Jeremy Nuttall confirms that the arguments to suppress wages lack any basis in reality. 

- Vann Newkirk argues that the arguments being used by Republicans to strip health care and other necessities from people who can't find work would be far better applied toward a jobs guarantee. 

- Marc Lee discusses the small steps being taken by the federal and B.C. governments on housing - as well as the compelling need to do much more.

- Finally, Andre Picard makes the case for clearing criminal records based on the possession of marijuana.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Comfy cats.





Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Bernie Sanders comments on the need to take back political power from the wealthiest few:
Now, more than ever, those of us who believe in democracy and progressive government must bring low-income and working people all over the world together behind an agenda that reflects their needs. Instead of hate and divisiveness, we must offer a message of hope and solidarity. We must develop an international movement that takes on the greed and ideology of the billionaire class and leads us to a world of economic, social and environmental justice. Will this be an easy struggle? Certainly not. But it is a fight that we cannot avoid. The stakes are just too high.
...
A new and international progressive movement must commit itself to tackling structural inequality both between and within nations. Such a movement must overcome “the cult of money” and “survival of the fittest” mentalities that the pope warned against. It must support national and international policies aimed at raising standards of living for poor and working-class people – from full employment and a living wage to universal higher education, healthcare and fair trade agreements. In addition, we must rein in corporate power and prevent the environmental destruction of our planet as a result of climate change.

Here is just one example of what we have to do. Just a few years ago, the Tax Justice Network estimated that the wealthiest people and largest corporations throughout the world have been stashing at least $21tn-$32tn in offshore tax havens in order to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. If we work together to eliminate offshore tax abuse, the new revenue that would be generated could put an end to global hunger, create hundreds of millions of new jobs, and substantially reduce extreme income and wealth inequality. It could be used to move us aggressively toward sustainable agriculture and to accelerate the transformation of our energy system away from fossil fuels and towards renewable sources of power.

Taking on the greed of Wall Street, the power of gigantic multinational corporations and the influence of the global billionaire class is not only the moral thing to do – it is a strategic geopolitical imperative. Research by the United Nations development programme has shown that citizens’ perceptions of inequality, corruption and exclusion are among the most consistent predictors of whether communities will support rightwing extremism and violent groups. When people feel that the cards are stacked against them and see no way forward for legitimate recourse, they are more likely to turn to damaging solutions that only exacerbate the problem.
- Tom Parkin examines the woeful track record of neoliberal economic predictions, as low taxes and wages and constant austerity have done nothing but ensure stagnation for most and growing inequality. And Toby Sanger discusses the problems with the federal Libs' plan to privatize infrastructure development, while the AP reports on how Carillion's unraveling will affect the services of Canadian jurisdictions who bought the false promise of transferring risk.

- Jen Gerson looks at Sears' history of privatizing profits while dumping risks on the public (along with their longest-serving workers). And Erica Johnson exposes how telecommunications workers are pressured to pressure and cheat customers.

- Meanwhile, Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on the franchise arrangements such as the ones used at Tim Hortons which serve to concentrate corporate control while leaving workers with little prospect of following suit.

- Finally, Geneva Abdul points out that we shouldn't let the successes of the minimum wage movement paper over the continued lack of pay equity. And Alan Jones discusses how inequality in the UK is being driven by a hollowing out among male workers.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Leadership 2018 Links

The latest from Saskatchewan's NDP leadership campaign as the entry deadline has passed and the membership deadline approaches.

- While I haven't tracked endorsements all that closely, it's certainly worth keeping track of any changes since previous leadership campaigns between two candidates who have run before. And on that front, it's worth noting that 2009 and 2013 Meili endorser Dion Tchorzewski has joined 2013 campaign manager Nicole White in supporting Wotherspoon. 

- Meanwhile, Trevor Herriot offers his take on the importance of leadership which can build bridges rather than merely keeping us where we are - which Herriot himself notes is an expression of support for Meili.

- Tanner Wallace-Scribner reports on Meili's visit to Swift Current, including his take on the use of the proceeds of marijuana sales:
"I think there is some debate to be had about the best way to retail it," he said. "One thing I would say is, the money that comes in, we should make sure that every cent goes to support mental health and addictions. To support anyone who is struggling with any addictions but also to invest in that really under-resourced part of our health system."

Meili added they need to focus the money they make off of the sale of marijuana and put it towards making peoples' lives better.
- Brian Zinchuk interviews Wotherspoon about his plans for the energy sector, including the need for regular royalty reviews to ensure the public receives fair value for our resources.And Nykole King previews tonight's debate at the University of Saskatchewan.

- Finally, Meili has unveiled his arts and culture policy ahead of a series of music events.

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Axel von Schubert notes that the effect of Donald Trump's giveaway to his billionaire buddies will be to turn the U.S. into a tax haven itself. And Michelle Chen discusses how the growth in inequality has been the result of political choices at the behest of the people who already had the most:
Wherever you live in the world, here’s a newsflash: You’ve been robbed. Not by a hidden bandit, but a global kleptocracy: the super-rich who’ve managed to rob the poor blind in every corner of the globe for the past seven decades. And a research team led by pioneering economist Thomas Piketty, the World Inequality Lab, has mapped out how that theft has played out on a global scale.

Not surprisingly, America was near the top of the list in terms of how unequal our country is, in addition to being far richer as a whole than any other nation. Still, while inequality is universal—polarizing countries and dividing individual nations internally—some countries are, surprisingly, more unequal than others.
...
The wealth gap is epidemic but not inevitable. Policy choices still make a difference. In the United States, deeply ingrained antipathy for the welfare state and regulation has pushed a harsh neoliberal agenda since the late 1970s—a pattern that is now being reproduced across the Global South as poor countries attempt to capitalize on global trade but in the process are becoming more exposed to extreme market volatility and devastating poverty and social strife.
...
We can mitigate the worst effects of capitalist overproduction through mobilizing what’s left of our democratic institutions at the local and state levels, where social spending and education investment are often concentrated. Mobilizing grassroots campaigns to boost the minimum wage, expand union representation, institute universal health care, or guarantee retirement security obviously can’t overturn the global trend in wealth accumulation, but will at least move struggling communities toward a fairer social contract.
...
To ensure that future generations are better prepared to stop and reverse wealth polarization, developing a socially conscious, educated citizenry is key. On the other hand, given the number of college graduates working low-wage jobs and facing debt, Chancel emphasized, “education can’t do everything against inequality. This is where minimum wage policies, support to trade unions, work regulation policies, [and] laws to ensure that workers are represented in corporate governance institutions can play an important role” in balancing out structural inequality. 
- Meanwhile, Tracy Sherlock points out the increase in inequality in British Columbia over the past decade, with poor workers being paid less while the wealthy see their income soar.

- Ben Casselman writes that a turn toward full employment is offering a real opportunity for people who previously faced barriers to work.

- Finally, Mariana Mazzucato discusses the importance of creating wealth in multiple forms, particularly public ones. And Murray Mandryk comments on the Saskatchewan Party's reflexive refusal to allow the public to share in any new economic development, as epitomized by its choice to release a half-baked plan for corporate distribution rather than using existing retail infrastructure for marijuana sales.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Julian Cribb reports on new research as to mass exposure to chemicals and pollutants:
Almost every human being is now contaminated in a worldwide flood of industrial chemicals and pollutants – most of which have never been tested for safety – a leading scientific journal has warned.

Regulation and legal protection for today’s citizens from chemical poisons can no longer assure our health and safety, according to a hard-hitting report in the journal PLOS Biology, titled “Challenges in Environmental Health: Closing the Gap between Evidence and Regulations”.

The report describes a chemical oversight system corrupted from its outset in the 1970s when 60,000 chemicals were registered for use in the US, mostly without being safety tested. Many of these chemicals were subsequently adopted as ‘safe’ around the world.

Over the years, public health protection has stagnated – despite mounting scientific evidence that many chemicals are damaging whole classes of organisms, say report editors Liza Gross and Linda Birnbaum.
...
“Evidence has emerged that chemicals in widespread use can cause cancer and other chronic diseases, damage reproductive systems, and harm developing brains at low levels of exposure once believed to be harmless. Such exposures pose unique risks to children at critical windows of development - risks that existing regulations fail to consider.”

The report underlines a recent finding by The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health which concluded nine million deaths (or 16% of the total) every year worldwide are due to diseases caused by the human chemical environment – 15 times the number killed in wars.
- In another reminder of the consequences of failing to take into account the future costs of exploitative industries, Alex MacPherson reports on the nine-figure (and mounting) public costs arising out of the abandoned Gunnar uranium mine. And Joe Romm reports on NASA's latest research showing the connection between fracking and global warming.

- Charlotte Aubin discusses Africa's energy transition which figures to see long-term development oriented toward renewable sources (even in the face of continued subsidies of fossil fuels in the near term). And Agence France-Presse takes note of the price advantage clean energy already holds compared to burning fossil fuels.

- Meanwhile, Naomi Klein writes that New York City's divestment from the oil sector (and concurrent claim for climate damages) may offer a turning point in the balance of power between citizens and the oil industry. And Gary Mason writes that Canada's climate change laggards - including Brad Wall and his heirs - are kidding themselves about the shape of future development.

- Finally, Aditya Chakrabortty discusses the imminent collapse of the UK's largest P3 profiteer - which also plays a prominent role in the privatization of Canadian infrastructure and public services.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Marty Warren highlights why Tim Hortons workers - and other people facing precarious and low-paying work - need union representation to ensure their interests are respected. And Christo Aivalis writes that the current discussion of minimum wage pairs fairness issues about distribution of wealth with the economic importance of shared prosperity, while Alan Freeman notes that a liveable minimum wage improves matters on both counts.

- Dani Rodrik argues that while exclusionary political populism is dangerous, some economic populism may be entirely appropriate in response to the risk of institutions which only entrench the privileged position of the wealthy. And Ian Buruma theorizes that Japan's stronger collectivist culture may be playing a part in limiting the perceived need for populist demagogues.

- Nicholas Sowels takes a look at the current state of inequality in the UK. Rachael Burford reports on the unconscionable adoption of - and hasty retreat from - a plan to explicitly segregate playgrounds based on parents' ability to contribute to fund-raising campaigns. And Dawn Foster laments the strategy of trying to hide the people who live in poverty, rather than ameliorating their lives:
It should be obvious that banning begging or criminalising rough sleeping will do little to combat homelessness. In July Oxford council considered fining rough sleepers up to £2,500 and attached notices warning of the incoming fines to the bags and belongings of homeless people. Most people in work couldn’t afford a £2,500 spot fine without a considerable impact on their day-to-day finances: someone forced to sleep in a shop doorway because they can’t afford their rent cannot possibly have the cash to hand. The fine is thus about engendering fear, rather than anything one might regard as a workable solution. When homelessness and poverty is hidden from the high street, you can pretend it no longer exists.

It seems foolish and unfathomable, but it also lends us a vision of local and national government for the next few years. With town halls finding budgets whittled down to the bone and struggling to fund the most basic services, addressing the root causes of poverty becomes an impossibility.

Street homelessness has more than doubled since 2010, when the coalition government was formed, but so, too, has the number of people in temporary accommodation and people approaching councils for help due to eviction and losing their home. But councils have few options when it comes to rehousing. Predictably, many are ending funding for domestic violence and homelessness services and hostels. With no resources to combat the causes of poverty, some councils adopt this backwards approach of criminalisation.

Threatening people with fines or legal action may temporarily move the sight of rough sleeping away from British high streets, but those people don’t evaporate, they can’t be coerced into a more acceptable lifestyle; they won’t rise up and rent a house on a whim. Without the resources and support, they will remain homeless, but under the radar, in the shadows. We will not see them, but they will still exist.
- Finally, in the wake of a series of broken promises and scandals, Michael Harris rightly questions whether Justin Trudeau's words mean anything at all. And Stephen Tweedale offers some suggestions as to what Trudeau could do if he wants to genuinely strengthen democratic engagement, rather than substituting a traveling road show for public participation.

[Update: added link.]

Friday, January 12, 2018

Musical interlude

Philosopher Kings - Charms

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Gwynn Guilford discusses how dependence on coal and other resources has left the U.S.' Appalachian region both poor and ill-equipped for the future after enriching a few corporate owners. And David Dayen notes that a national tax giveaway to the rich is leading to a new round of layoffs and attacks on workers papered over with one-time announcements:
(T)his may end up being the most aggressive corporate public relations scheme we’ve seen in America since a bunch of movie studios got together during the Great Depression to run attack ads smearing Upton Sinclair’s progressive campaign for governor of California. The money flowing to workers in these announcements are like a nickel in a tin can compared to the bounty rushing into corporate treasuries. In many cases, they seem to have been pre-planned prior to the tax bill, done to reap a tax write-off, or announced to mask layoffs elsewhere in the business.

Consider the one-time, $1,000 bonuses for employees that many companies, like Comcast and AT&T, have announced. First of all, one-time bonuses, while nice to have, are not wage increases. The promise of the tax cut was not that it would let companies throw a few bucks in the employee tip jar, but permanently raise pay. Bonuses don’t make up for stagnant wages, as Southwest Airlines’ mechanics union, which has been locked in a contract battle for over five years, told the company.

The Comcast and AT&T bonuses were also announced late last year, allowing them to be written off as a business expense in 2017. If a business gave a bonus in 2017, it went against the 35 percent corporate tax rate then in effect. If were to give one this year, the bonus would only go against the new 21 percent rate. In other words, it was cheaper for businesses to announce bonuses in December than January, suggesting we may not see much of their kind again.

But Comcast and AT&T in particular serve as the poster children for dishonesty in this matter. Because around the same time that they made a big show of rewarding employees with bonuses, both companies quietly engaged in layoffs. Comcast fired 500 members of its sales department before Christmas, and AT&T is eliminating “thousands” of jobs, according to its union, the Communications Workers of America. “We believe there's more than 4,000 people AT&T has (notified of layoffs) across the country,” Larry Robbins, vice president of CWA Local 4900, told the Indianapolis Daily Star.

Just to do the math on this, $1,000 bonuses to 200,000 AT&T workers is $200 million. Cancelling 4,000 jobs at the median US compensation of $59,000 per year (some of the workers affected likely earned less) would actually amount to a higher number, and unlike the bonuses, those layoffs are permanent. More to the point, any $1,000 bonus for workers is a drop in the ocean compared to chopping the corporate tax rate by 40 percent, as the Trump tax cuts will. AT&T, according to calculations from economist Dean Baker, will see $2.4 billion in annual savings from that tax cut, more than ten times the likely cost of its the one-time bonus.
...
(T)hese announcements are worse than a joke. They represent a deliberate strategy to curry favor with the public and President Trump while executives gorge themselves on tax cuts, most of which won’t trickle down to anyone. Corporations simply don’t make decisions based on taxes, and certainly not decisions to benefit workers over the long-term. These corporate PR departments are deceiving America to preserve an ideology of ultra-low taxes, and hoping nobody notices the truth.
- Erica Alini reports on the lack of uptake on Canada's disability tax credit (and associated benefits) due to the difficulty involved in applying. And Julie Ireton exposes the reality that the Phoenix pay system was designed all along to fail - including by using customized settings to pay employees the lowest possible salary for their pay band, rather than the amount actually offered.

- Jessica Ross points out why Ontario's plan to limit prescription drug coverage to people under the age of 24 falls far short of both keeping people healthy and making effective use of public resources.

- Finally, Richard Power Sayeed reports on Jeremy Corbyn's plan to ensure that UK Labour is a constantly-active mechanism for community activism - not only an electoral machine to be brought out of mothballs every few years.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jerry Dias writes that a new year has already seen far too many examples of corporate greed rampaging out of control. Elizabeth Bruenig highlights the contrasting treatment of poor people who face increasingly stringent requirements to access even meager benefits, and the wealthy who are being handed billions for doing nothing. And Elizabeth Kolbert discusses the psychological underpinnings of inequality - including the predictable harm done to people who face less than fair treatment.

- Meanwhile, Roderick Benns looks at some early data on Ontario's basic income pilot which shows low-income workers as the primary registrants so far.

- Philip Oltermann reports on the push by German workers for reduced hours in a standard work week.

- Danyaal Raza weighs in on the need for plasma collection to serve the public interest, not a profit motive. And Melissa Davey discusses the possibility of a sugar tax to raise revenue and improve public health.

- Finally, Zach Dubinsky compares the effects of the Panama Papers on tax enforcement in several countries, and notes that Canada is far behind our international peers in recouping money sent offshore.

New column day

Here, on the positive natural effects of minimum wage increases - and why we shouldn't lose them to the threat of artificial problems being created by employers looking for excuses to exploit their workers.

For further reading...
- The Bank of Canada's staff analytical note on the effect of planned minimum wage increases is here (PDF). And again, Michal Rozworski discusses the difference between the note's actual conclusions, and the media spin about job impacts.
- PressProgress debunks a few of the right-wing attacks on improved wages.
- Gillian Steward and Ian Hussey have both noted that Alberta is prospering while taking steps to make sure lower-income workers receive a fair wage.
- Finally, Aaron Saltzman reports on the Tim Hortons franchises and other Ontario employers who have tried to use a minimum wage boost as an excuse to attack workers. And Edward Keenan discusses how Tim Hortons in particular is undermining its own brand due to franchisees' treatment of employees. [Update: And Joel Harden calls for an end to employer retaliation against lower-income workers.]

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Wednesday Evening Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Gerald Caplan writes about the existential threats to humanity which are being either escalated or ignored:
We are rapidly approaching the same kind of escalation that led the world to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, with humankind on the very brink of nuclear war and nuclear destruction. I still recall it quite vividly. It was a uniquely terrifying moment in the lifetime of the world. Like everyone else, I too kept a sharp eye out for the very latest news to see how long we had left to exist.

If it sounds preposterously melodramatic now, it was real enough then. In the end, we were saved by both sides agreeing to back off. But it took the cool heads of the two most powerful men on earth, U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, to spare us to try again one day.

Has that day now arrived? Surely no one would willingly entrust Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump with the future of humanity, yet neither seems controllable in the slightest. Who knows where their bizarre game of chicken may end up? It's perfectly plausible that one or another may stumble his way into launching the armed missile that would demand immediate retaliation by the other. The consequences, as we all knew back in the Cold War days, would indeed be mutual assured destruction. Who believes Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump can be trusted to choose sanity over nuclear Armageddon?

In any event, there are other roads to doom. For a start: the updating of nuclear weapons, climate wilding and Mr. Trump's America spinning out of control. Take the third: there's no reason to believe that this summer's outbreak of violent anarchy in Charlottesville, Virginia, will be the last. Countless Americans are ready to erupt. It's estimated that hundreds of heavily armed neo-fascist militias threaten to unleash their power, knowing they have an ally in the White House. Both furious African-Americans and frustrated whites have had enough. America feels ripe for its second civil war, which, like the first, would unleash forces that can hardly be imagined. How can any normal sensible person fail to be shaken? I include me.

Frankly, these feel to me like the apocalyptic End Times that the hysterical Old Testament prophets foresaw many millenniums ago. As Mr. Trump has provocatively warned, "fire and fury" are next. Perhaps my dear old Mama understood human nature better than Professor Steven Pinker.
- Paul Buchheit discusses how inequality in particular is reaching levels which are resulting in the wealthiest few being almost entirely detached from everybody else. David Dayen reminds us that the largest private fortunes in the world are largely the product of capturing public investments. And Christopher Ingraham notes that matters are only projected to get worse absent a major change in course. 

- Meghan McCabe reports on the plight of Sears employees who have seen their promised pensions disappear due to corporate raiding.

- Finally, Andray Domise highlights Harper Senate appointee Lynn Beyak as an example of how bigotry is passed between generations even in the face of social progress.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Cats with companions.




Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Tom Parkin writes that job numbers inflated by part-time employment shouldn't distract us from the consumer debt and wage stagnation which are living more and more people with precarious financial situations. Ben Leubsdorf reports on the recognition by members of the American Economic Association that upper-income and corporate tax cuts won't lead to any meaningful economic improvements. Jeffrey Jones and Jacqueline Nelson take a look at the pile of dead capital already sitting around unused in Canada. And the Star's editorial board endorses Jagmeet Singh's plans for a more fair and progressive tax system as part of the needed response to burgeoning inequality.

- Stephen Tweedale responds to Andrew Coyne by discussing how fair minimum wage levels and a basic income can work together. Miles Corak discusses how to think about the minimum wage from the perspective of an economist (as distinct from the corporate mouthpieces who pretend to discuss economic effects). Sara Mojtehedzadeh debunks some laughable numbers from Tim Hortons franchisees complaining about paying fair wages to their employees, while Vanmala Subramaniam offers some perspective on the Bank of Canada's numbers which have been twisted beyond recognition. And Joe Lofaro reports on the efforts of the Ottawa and District Labour Council to monitor and expose any employer attempts to exploit workers as Ontario's minimum wage increases.

- Matt Elliott points out that Toronto's shelter crisis is the product of austerian design. And Kenan Malik discusses the class stratification of the UK's education system.

- Finally, Adrienne Tanner writes that an electoral reform campaign which is actually supported by multiple parties may finally be what British Columbia needs to lead the way toward proportional representation.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Leadership 2018 Links

The latest from the Saskatchewan NDP's leadership campaign as the January 19 membership deadline approaches.

- CBC and Colton Praill each reported on this weekend's debate in Moose Jaw, with both reports focusing on a combination of general similarities with slight nuances.

- Devin Wilger reported on Trent Wotherspoon's visit to Yorkton, while the Parkland Review noted his time in Nipawin.

- Meanwhile, Brian Zinchuk interviewed Ryan Meili in some depth about about his plans for energy and the resource sector, while Meili also launched an updated version of his book A Healthy Society. (For those interested, I've discussed the first version in previous blog posts.)

- Finally, Jason Hammond offers his take on how the Saskatchewan Party's leadership process might influence NDP voters - and theorizes that the styles and backgrounds of the two candidates could have substantially different effects depending on the Sask Party's choice of leaders.

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Bloomberg View discusses how the U.S. is becoming a major tax haven. And the Economist reminds us of the role Canada's pitiful corporate disclosure requirements play in facilitating offshore tax evasion.

- Danny Vinik writes about the future of work - which includes plenty more "alternative" work arrangements designed to insulate businesses from both any responsibility for the well-being of workers, and any means of being held to account for their actions. And Stuart Trew notes that we should be eager to see and encourage genuine disruption of the trend toward precarious work and living.

- Ian Hussey examines the effect of Alberta's minimum wage increases, and finds that the service industries which have shrieked the loudest about paying fair wages have actually benefited the most from improved consumer spending power. Michael Coren discusses why Tim Hortons and other businesses trying to take benefits away from workers aren't deserving of sympathy, while the Star's editorial board points out how the move conflicts with supposed corporate values. 

- Andrew Coyne argues for a basic income as an alternative to an increased minimum wage, though there's no particular reason why the two can't coexist as means of raising the floor for lower-income workers.

- Finally, Johann Hari writes about the social and economic factors behind depression - and the implicit need to develop social structures which don't push people toward avoidable stressors.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

On entrenchment

Following up on my earlier post and column, let's start taking a look at some of the more distinctive policy proposals on offer between Saskatchewan's NDP leadership candidates.

Probably the most noteworthy single promise so far is this from Trent Wotherspoon as part of his platform on Crown corporations:
Lock down our Crown Corporations and ensure they’re around for generations to come by putting the requirement for a referendum before any sale into the constitution…
Of course, the previous NDP government took steps to protect the Crowns through legislation, with decidedly mixed results. The Saskatchewan Party was cowed into acceding to the Crown Corporations Public Ownership Act. But it eventually felt entirely comfortable both selling off any public assets that weren’t specifically named, and indirectly attacking or ignoring the legislation itself after acceding to its terms once (PDF).

The major advantage of Wotherspoon’s proposal would then be to avoid allowing a single provincial government to sell off a Crown on its own to the extent a sale fell under the new constitutional definition.

But even if the NDP found a federal government willing to cooperate in passing a constitutional amendment to protect public ownership (which is far from clear with either the Libs or Cons in power, plus a requirement for Senate approval), it would face some logistical difficulties.

In order to lock down all Crowns, a constitutional amendment would need to be extremely specific in limiting all means of disposing of or reducing the public ownership of a clear and expansive list of assets. But there's some point where wording intended to protect against ill-advised sell-offs would also limit the ability to operate Crowns effectively by deciding whether some assets and lines of business might no longer fit within the public interest.

Meanwhile, it's also not clear that any protection would be extended to future Crowns which might be developed absent another set of constitutional amendments. And so any debate over a constitutional amendment, as well as any actual implementation, would likely be backward-looking rather than forward-looking.

Finally, the same process used to apply a constitutional amendment could eventually be used to reverse it - meaning that a single term of right-wing government at both levels could undo it in an instant. (And unlike the legislation still on the books, that process wouldn't necessarily involve any public consultation.)

To be clear, some of Wotherspoon's other proposals do rightly address broader issues and opportunities in the Crown sector. But they rank lower in priority and prominence than the constitutional proposal.

In contrast, Meili's platform plank on Crowns includes substantially more discussion as to where it's possible to expand on the services and industries currently included in the sector. And the future of our common wealth likely lies more in confirming for the public how the province benefits from treating Crowns as a valuable part of our economy and political system - not focusing on process to save them in form.

In sum, while it's well worth discussing how to protect and build Saskatchewan's Crown sector from corporatist politics, it's also worth questioning whether a constitutional amendment is the place to start.

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Wanda Wyporska highlights the UK's corporate executive fat cats, and argues that it's long past time for the public to stop rewarding them:
So let’s put fat cat pay in context. Yes it has come down slightly, as Sir Martin Sorrell has seen his pay cut from £70 million to a mere £40 million and organisations such as The Equality Trust have campaigned for pay transparency. But excessive CEO pay is also a hygiene issue for business and has been highly criticised throughout 2017. However, as we have calculated, the average CEO earned 242 times the wage of a minimum wage worker, 197 times the wage of a care worker, 108 times the salary of a nurse and 91 times the salary of a teacher. An indictment of the huge gap between those choosing Ferraris and those visiting foodbanks.

Furthermore, as an insurmountable bank of evidence shows, in countries with high levels of inequality (the UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world), there are also higher levels of physical and mental ill health, obesity, incarceration and crime and lower levels of social mobility, educational attainment and trust. So there’s a wider story than just fat cat pay.

Income inequality is a component of and result of a range of other inequalities, such as pay gaps experienced because of barriers such as race, gender and disability. The Equality Trust welcomes the Government’s commitment to legislation forcing companies to disclose their pay ratios and we shall be campaigning on this issue at our Pay Compare campaign. By highlighting the difference in pay between a footballer and the groundsmen, a CEO and the cleaners and the Vice Chancellor and university staff, we hope to demonstrate how unequal our pay systems are, how differently society values individuals, and how we can change this.

Inequality is not inevitable and we can reduce it.
- Meanwhile, Eric Levitz discusses the U.S.' increasing levels of poverty and consumer debt even as economic indicators linked to high-end wealth are seen as positive.

- Jo Littler asks what a more equal society should look like, with particular emphasis on the need to achieve improved equality of actual outcomes rather than pointing to theoretical opportunities. Stephen Tweedale writes about the importance of recognizing the intrinsic dignity and humanity of all people, rather than allowing meritocratic principles to excuse treating some people as more equal than others. And Peter Hicks comments on the value of a range of measures of poverty for different purposes - particularly to distinguish between alleviation and prevention.

- David Suzuki asks that we finally heed longstanding warnings about the environmental damage we're doing to our planet.

- Finally, Michael Harris hopes that 2018 will see Justin Trudeau and his party grow up - though I'd be inclined toward the view that Trudeau has already developed into exactly what he'd planned.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Lana Payne discusses the divergence between an upper class with soaring incomes, and the bulk of the population facing stagnation and precarity:
(W)hile the nation’s wealth or GDP looks good, less of it is getting shared around and more and more of it is hoarded at the top end.

Governments are collecting less from the rich and corporations, limiting their ability to share wealth and invest and build things that benefit everyone.

At the same time, household debt levels are at their highest, sitting at 168% last year.

Many Canadians are feeling less secure in their employment, experiencing deteriorating job quality, with almost two-thirds earning less than the average wage. Indeed the share of Canadians earning less than the average wage has continued to climb over the past two decades.

This is directly linked to a rising share of low-wage jobs, according to the CIBC Capital Markets’ job quality report issued in late 2016. So while the job market on the surface looks good, wages are lagging.

Late last fall, Ekos pollster Frank Graves did a deep dive on this widespread feeling of economic insecurity.

Fewer Canadians, he found, identify with being in the “middle class” and more and more Canadians are feeling pessimistic about their futures.

A multitude of tax cuts has not helped assuage the economic angst.
...
The 2018 World Inequality Report says progressive taxation is crucial to stop rising inequality.

The fact is there is plenty of money in the economy. It’s how that money is not getting shared.
- Michal Rozworski rightly critiques the media's response to minimum wage increases, both in reproducing anti-worker propaganda and in spinning economic analyses to ignore the positive effects of increased wages. David Moscrop offers a reminder of the importance of looking at the effect of policy on people's lives - and particularly workers benefiting from high wages. The Hamilton Spectator weighs in on the obvious benefits of a more fair minimum wage. And CBC has followed up on the treatment of workers at Tim Hortons as a prime example of how unscrupulous employers are trying to twist positive public policy changes into an excuse to further exploit workers.

- Graham Riches writes that John Horgan (and others in power) should be working on ending reliance on food banks, not merely promoting them. And Luke Savage discusses how Toronto's cold snap and resulting discussion of homelessness have laid bare its blithe acceptance of avoidable poverty and insecurity.

- Finally, Brent Patterson argues that the federal Libs need to stop stalling on legislation to reverse the Cons' voter suppression tactics. And Ian Boekhoff reports on the possibility that Prince Edward Island might break new ground in Canadian electoral reform.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Brent Patterson rightly worries about the prospect that Justin Trudeau will choose to emulate Donald Trump's anti-social agenda (just as he's too often done with Stephen Harper's):
At the time of last year's federal budget, Finance Minister Bill Morneau commented he would exercise prudence "to ensure that we have the capacity to deal with the environment that we find ourselves in". That was widely interpreted in the media as the federal government recognizing that Trump's corporate tax cuts were on the way and that those cuts would have implications for Canada.

There will also very likely be corporate pressure to cut regulatory protections for Canadians. Wudrick says, "It's not as if Canada can count on other advantages to mitigate being competitive on taxes; regulatory uncertainty, for example, helped kill large projects such as Energy East."

John Manley, the former Liberal cabinet minister who now heads the Business Council of Canada, says, "Initiatives such as tax reform, changes to environmental policy and deregulation [in the United States] could have serious consequences for Canada's economy." His prescription? Cut corporate tax rates to stay competitive, streamline the regulatory approval process, negotiate free trade agreements with Japan, India and China, and adopt less restrictive climate policies.

We'll see what the Liberals do regarding corporate tax rates in the upcoming federal budget (expected in March), but it has already signalled its intention to streamline the regulatory approval process, is pursuing 'free trade' agreements (including the Trans-Pacific Partnership that could be signed by March of this year), while its so-called "restrictive climate policies" have allowed for the approval of the 890,000 barrel per day Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and the 760,000 barrel per day Enbridge Line 3 pipeline - that together would generate 39-52 megatonnes of upstream carbon pollution a year.
- Owen Jones discusses the knighting of Nick Clegg as a prime example of how utter failure is no obstacle to lionization within an elite political class.

- Andre Picard writes that Canada can learn from California's experience in managing the legalization of marijuana. But of course that would involve some level of governmental interest and competence - both of which are sorely lacking within Brad Wall's Saskatchewan Party administration.

- Meanwhile, Jeremy Barreto comments on Rachel Notley's success in developing affordable renewable power for Alberta.

- Finally, David Moscrop makes the case for an offer of guaranteed seats in the House of Commons for Indigenous representatives.