Friday, February 08, 2013

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- While we may sometimes lose track of the continuing differences between Canadian politics and those in the U.S., here's a reminder of how we're familiar with a far wider and more progressive range of public policy choices: while we've seen plenty of discussion about improving the standard for retirement benefits available under our national pension plan (even if public support for that expansion has been ignored by a right-wing government), Duncan Black's call to do the same for Social Security is being raised as a voice in the wilderness:
If the consensus is that we need policies in place to ensure that the vast majority of people have at least a comfortable retirement, then we need to adjust our current failing policies. Expecting people to save sufficiently for their retirement, even if those savings are subsidized by our tax code, is unrealistic.

The 401(k) experiment has been a disaster, a disaster which threatens to doom millions to economic misery during the later years of their lives. Proposals to improve our system of private retirement savings -- even good ones -- will offer little to no help for the baby boomers who are currently nearing retirement, and are also unlikely to be of sufficient help for current younger workers. We need to increase Social Security benefits, now and in the future. It's the only realistic way to provide people with guaranteed economic security and comfort post-retirement.
- Chris Selley sums up the cynicism behind the Cons' latest attempts to make Canadian citizenship revocable:
They’re rarely subtle, these Tories. And they’ve perfected a brand of politics so unashamedly coarse, and so transparently manipulative, that it boggles the mind that anyone could be won over by it.

Take C-245, Calgary MP Devinder Shory’s private member’s bill — titled An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (honouring the Canadian Armed Forces) — which would strip Canadian citizenship of anyone who “engage[s] in an act of war against the Canadian Armed Forces,” provided he holds another passport.
There is no doubt such a law would be challenged in the courts, and the Conservatives wouldn’t give a fig if it lived or died. Regardless, assuming the opposition parties opposed the bill (which they had better), the Conservatives would have yet another dumb-dumb talking point. (“Do you support the Liberal-NDP-Bloc Québécois coalition’s soft-on-terrorism agenda?”) It would all cost millions, but hey, it’s not their millions. If the law dies, they can shrug and move on.
(I)f you gain citizenship legitimately, it’s yours unless you give it up. You have rights in Canada, and responsibilities to Canada; and Canada has a responsibility to you, including dealing with you if you blow up a bus in a faraway land. That’s the way it is, and the way it should be. The rest is just fundraising bait.
- Meanwhile, Chris Hall discusses how the bill would be designed to create two-tiered citizenship, with new Canadians left in a permanent state of limbo:
Canada doesn't have [wide-ranging authority to revoke citizenship]. (Nor does the U.S., unless citizenship was acquired by fraud.) And opponents say there are important policy reasons for that.

One is that the Shory bill, should it pass, would create two tiers of citizenship and so provide greater protection to people born in this country than those who choose to come here and become citizens.

Another is that the proposed changes would recognize only the privileges of becoming a naturalized citizen (like travelling on a Canadian passport, and having the opportunity to vote), and would not be a right that no government could take away.

As well, opponents argue that the two-tier approach violates Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees that every Canadian is entitled to equal treatment under the law.
- Michael Harris discusses the Cons' latest attempt to stifle scientific research.

- And finally, I can only hope John Ibbitson and Tasha Kheiriddin are right in suggesting that Stephen Harper's Senate end game involves abolishing the house of patronage. But I still strongly suspect it's something else entirely.


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