Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Bea Vongdouangchanh reports on Kevin Page's concerns that the Cons are set to effectively destroy the PBO. And the Star's editorial board slams Stephen Harper's war against transparency and accountability in general:
Stonewalling, foot-dragging and contempt for Parliament pay. At least that’s what the federal government appears to have concluded in the wake of the 2011 election. Toppled two years ago after being found in contempt of Parliament for failing to disclose fiscal information, the Conservatives were nonetheless rewarded in the polls with a majority government — a victory that has served as positive reinforcement for their modus operandi of obfuscation.

Things have only gotten worse. As Kevin Page, Canada’s first parliamentary budget officer, prepares to leave his post later this month, he remains locked in a legal battle with the government — the culmination of a year-long struggle to access details on the specific nature of the deep cuts contained in the last federal budget.
Evidently, the Conservatives are tired of fighting with the PBO. The job description for Page’s replacement, released last Thursday, seems to be a direct rebuke to the outgoing watchdog. The suitable candidate will be “tactful and discreet,” it says, and capable of “achieving consensus.” (Though why an economic analyst whose job is to crunch numbers would ever need to “achieve consensus” is a mystery to us.)
Until the government starts to show some respect for Parliament and the transparency necessary for good government, we can only wonder what it has to hide.
The compensation issue, which had previously more or less been confined to boardrooms and corporate insiders, was no longer about income clarity and disclosure of packages, perks and products. Instead, the debate shifted to themes of inequity and lack of fairness, spilling into public space, both physical and virtual. In Canada, the disgraceful behaviour of Nortel corporate executives who ran off with inflated bonuses while Nortel pensioners were left to salvage scraps, served as a stark reminder that we too must be mindful.

It’s ironic that Jim Collins’ well-regarded 2001 business book Good to Great concluded: “We found no systematic pattern linking executive compensation to the process of going from good to great... the purpose of a compensation system should not be to get the right behaviours from the wrong people, but to get the right people on the bus in the first place, and to keep them there.”
In other words, are we really sure there’s a link between excessive compensation and higher performance?
- Finally, Thomas Walkom highlights how the Cons' obsession with oil exports over all other forms of economic development has made all of Canada vulnerable to the bust cycles inherent in resource economies.

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