Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday Morning Links

Content goes here.

- Les Whittington nicely summarizes the fiscal consequences of five years of Con government:
More than two decades later, Harper is still pursuing the goal of transforming Canada into a more right-wing nation along the lines envisioned by the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

During five years in power, the Prime Minister and his colleagues have relentlessly anchored their economic strategy on this goal. They have done so by shedding government programs, shifting cash resources to the provinces and, above all, hamstringing Ottawa’s ability to act in future by reducing its financial clout through personal and corporate income tax cuts.

“I said for a long time, and nobody listened to me for the longest time, that my goal was to make conservatism the natural government philosophy of the country,” Harper said in a published interview during the 2008 election campaign. And he believes it’s working, he told reporters.

In practice, this five-year campaign has quietly reshaped the socioeconomic face of the country by altering the way Canadians pay for programs and services funded by the national government.

Altogether, tax cuts decreed by the Conservatives since 2006 will result in foregone federal revenues of $220 billion between 2007 and 2013. Of that, $60 billion in tax savings go to Canadian corporations.

And much of these tax reductions will be paid for with borrowed money. Over the same period, Ottawa will record a cumulative $169 billion deficit.
The overall impact of the Conservative tax reductions in Canada has been to intensify the inequalities in wealth across society.

According to Toronto research agency Investor Economics, the richest 3.8 per cent of Canadian households controlled 66.6 per cent of all financial wealth (not counting real estate) by 2009, up from 60.6 per cent in 2005 just before the Conservatives came to power.

And the agency predicts the portion of financial wealth controlled by this richest group of Canadians is headed for 70 per cent by 2018.
- Frances Russell leads the response to the Cons' attempted spin about "ethical oil".

- Apparently Thomas Walkom is celebrating five years of Harper government by recycling ideas that became far-fetched within weeks of the Cons taking power. Which isn't to say that looking at PR as a huge part of the price for supporting the Cons didn't make some sense before the Bloc and Libs permanently destroyed any opposition leverage - but at this point the idea couldn't look less plausible.

- Finally, while there's been plenty of talk about the CRTC's move to permit false news, I'm not sure there's been enough attention paid to the standard for enforcement even once a broadcaster fails to clear that low bar:
The CRTC is not empowered to fine or imprison radio or TV executives who breach regulations.

The agency typically tries to persuade broadcasters to change bad behaviour and only takes punitive action — cancelling or refusing to renew broadcast licenses — when a broadcaster systematically and deliberately flouts the regulations.
So even "news" which is both false and damaging under the new test won't figure to result in any consequences if a broadcaster puts on even the slightest show of innocence or inadvertence.

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