Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Evelyn Forget makes the case for a national basic income which would provide a more stable fiscal base for Canada's provinces as well as its citizens. And Dennis Raphael writes about the social murder resulting from the wanton destruction of income supports and other policies which save lives. 

- Meanwhile, the CP reports on the recommendation of British Columbia's provincial auditor that it actually track the effects of tax expenditures, rather than merely taking for granted that they serve any useful purpose.

- Mel Watkins writes that the mistakes Canada made by giving up sovereignty in previous trade deals laid the groundwork for the latest NAFTA concessions. And Brent Patterson notes that the USCMA includes special protection for GMOs in order to benefit US agribusiness regardless of the risks for Canadian producers and consumers.

- The CP takes note that our current emission reduction targets fall far short of what's needed to rein in catastrophic climate change. And in case we needed more reminders of the immediate dangers associated with fossil fuels, Jesse Ferreras reports on the explosion and fire caused by an Enbridge pipeline rupture in B.C., while Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon talks to one of the workers in the immediate vicinity of the Irving Oil refinery explosion.

- Finally, Ed Broadbent and Hugh Segal argue that it's long past time for Canada to pursue electoral reform:
What used to be unusual occurrences in our system – minority governments – are fast becoming the norm both provincially and federally. Three of the past five federal elections have produced minority governments. With a first-past-the-post electoral system, this can be a recipe for increasing instability.

The reason for this is that such a system exaggerates the effects of even tiny swings in voting: Just a few votes in a single riding can be the difference between a majority and a minority government. As a consequence, parties that find themselves in a minority situation often engage in a constant game of “chicken,” continually jockeying for advantage with an eye to a snap election. In proportional systems, such gamesmanship is rare. A small change in the vote for a party only results in a small change in the number of seats. There’s no point in triggering a snap election. So people get on with governing. And, knowing a number of parties are likely to be elected causes leaders to be more collaborative and less confrontational with each other. This makes for better government.

The evidence of the past few months is clear. Given the realities of Canadian voting trends, converting our provincial and federal electoral systems to proportional ones needs to be an immediate priority. We hope that Quebec, B.C. and PEI get the ball rolling and we look forward to seeing other Canadian provinces and the federal level following their example as soon as possible.

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