Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Thomas Walkom discusses what the Cons' attack on unions through bill C-377 is ultimately designed to do:
Finance department figures show that the tax exemption for union and professional dues does indeed cost the federal treasury $795 million in lost revenue annually. How much is attributed to unionists and how much to others unaffected by this bill, such as doctors and lawyers, is not stated.

But the same figures show plenty of other revenue losses attributable to tax breaks. High rollers paid in stock options cost the treasury $725 million. Those claiming capital gains deductions cost $3.7 billion. So-called carrying-cost deductions reduce federal revenues by $1 billion.

Yet neither Hiebert nor any other Conservative is demanding a public accounting of how these taxpayer-subsidized moneys are spent.

Why focus on unions?...

The point of Hiebert’s bill is not just to strangle unions and their locals with red tape. Nor is it simply to limit their political activity. Beyond all of this, as REAL Women acknowledged, is compulsory check-off.

The unstated aim of this bill is to provide ammunition to politicians, like Ontario Tory Leader Tim Hudak, who would scrap the Rand formula and introduce U.S.-style right-to-work laws designed to sap unions.
- But Priya Sarin notes that the right's reactionary moves to attack labour rights through legislation can be answered at least in part by successful court challenges.

- Meanwhile, the latest in Con cartoon villainy saw the governing party vote down a bill to make drugs available to the developing world at no cost to the public - when even big pharma didn't have any concern with the bill. Which leads to Stephen Lewis' well-deserved response:
“It’s that they just don’t want to be seen to be supporting generics when they are spending so much time negotiating extended protection for pharmaceutical patents,” said Mr. Lewis. “So in the great choice in life, they have chosen patent protection over the lives of children. And that’s about as perfidious as you can get as a government.”
 - Which is particularly noteworthy since, as Andrew Coyne points out, drug patent giveaways look to be the biggest problem with the CETA in the form the Cons have chosen to develop it:
I said earlier the concessions we are asked to make at the negotiating table are “almost always” not concessions at all. But there is one exception that comes to mind: Europe’s demand that Canada accept longer patent protection for the pharmaceutical sector. That would make drugs more expensive in this country, at much cost to provincial drug plans. It might be worth standing firm on this one, then, or at least using it to extract concessions from the Europeans.

So it’s fascinating to learn the government’s actual strategy. “The leaked EU memo says Ottawa [is] preparing to at least partially concede on drug patents,” CP reports, “in order to protect supply management.”
- Finally, the CCPA has released an Environics poll showing broad-based support for upper-income and corporate tax increases, as well as significant public willingness to pay more personally in order to support a wide range of social priorities.


  1. In reading your link to the Stephen Lewis comments in the Globe, I noticed that none of the four Liberal MPs from Montreal, which is noted as the hub of the pharmaceutical industry, was present for the vote, including the putative saviour of the Liberal brand, Justin Trudeau. i guess you can dress it up all you want, but a politician is a politician is a politician.

    1. That may be a telling point alright. But when even the big pharmaceutical companies themselves didn't oppose the bill or buy the Cons' arguments against it, I have a tough time seeing why that should ever have been a factor.

  2. On the Coyne piece . . . giving way on drug patents to protect supply management?! Europe has supply management up the wazoo! Not to mention massive farm subsidies and a passel of brand protection measures. The only way they could kill ours would be by blatant double standards. A sternly worded offhand remark should be enough to protect us!

    Basically, they just want to give way on drug patents because they believe fervently in "intellectual property" controlling the world. And perhaps because they've been bribed. And because in any given case, Canada's interests are largely irrelevant to Cons--the point is to give more to whoever is currently the richest, whatever their nationality, by taking away from everyone else.

  3. they just want to give way on drug patents because they believe fervently in "intellectual property" controlling the world. And perhaps because they've been bribed.

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