Saturday, April 06, 2013

On topics of discussion

In advance of next weekend's Montreal convention, the NDP has released the resolutions (PDF) to be voted on by delegates. And for all the distraction created by a non-binding constitutional preamble, the more interesting point to watch will be the treatment of substantive policy resolutions which look to confirm the NDP's position as Canada's true progressive party.

For those who want to see concerted action against tax havens and unbridled financial speculation (including a Robin Hood tax), an increased focus on social and community ownership and employment rather than capital interests, and a move away from corporate self-regulation, the NDP's economic resolutions address all of those issues.

For those interested in social issues typically ignored by Canada's other political parties such as focusing on intergenerational fairness, basing policy on the social determinants of health, expanding and strengthening of the Canada Health Act, and eliminating mandatory minimum sentences, those subjects will also be up for discussion within the social investment panel.

And for those wanting a trade policy which doesn't handcuff Canadian governments, a system to protect the rights of temporary foreign workers or an explicit focus on diplomatic measures over military action, the panel on Canada's place in the world will address all of those possibilities.

What's more, the particularly progressive motions in each of the above policy areas will include resolutions put forward by the NDP's Quebec section (among other groups within the party). Which provides a strong indication that the province which gave the NDP its 2011 electoral breakthrough is fully on board with the type of social democratic principles which have long motivated the NDP's base across Canada.

Of course, there will be some obvious areas of debate: the group of resolutions on the environment and sustainable development in particular includes a number of competing proposals, while a number of resolutions across a wide range of areas will challenge conventional wisdom and past NDP policy alike.

But that only means there will be plenty of opportunity to hash out exactly where the NDP wants to go as a party. And the contrast between the flood of progressive ideas on display in Montreal and the Libs' continued choice to consciously stand for nothing should serve the NDP and its members well in building enthusiasm for the years to come.

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- The Star makes the case for a serious crackdown on offshore tax avoidance:
Thanks to a spectacular data leak Canadians are getting a glimpse into what some have dubbed the “black hole” of globalization: The $20 trillion or more in unreported income thought to be stashed in offshore tax havens by the world’s richest people to avoid taxes. It’s not a pretty sight.
At a time when Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is struggling to eliminate a $26-billion deficit and when governments around the world are starved for resources, the seismic leak to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists based in Washington can only add to the growing clamour for a crackdown on offshore accounts.
This predatory exploitation of gaps in cross-border tax rules has enabled a small, super-rich elite to shelter their wealth and avoid paying their fair share, leaving working people to shoulder the burden of sustaining the services we all rely on. It’s the kind of unfairness that fuelled the Occupy movement and shakes public confidence in the tax system. In March the CRA reported on its website that a landscaper, mortgage broker and homebuilder were fined for tax offences. But there was no evidence of the agency going after bigger, offshore fish. That’s got to change.
- And Ranjit Sidhu notes that offshoring has played a major role in exacerbating inequality around the globe - effectively ensuring the failure of any trickle-down theory of wealth.

- Josh Eidelson discusses how the state-facilitated abuse of guest workers serves as a bellwether for the treatment of workers generally. Trish Hennessy's latest numbers document the continued gender gap in Canadian workplaces. And the Economist notes that while governments have done plenty to protect elites' property rights, they're often entirely willing to take away whatever modest holdings a worker can put together in order to boost corporate profits.

- Craig and Mark Kielburger ask how citizens can influence policy decisions between elections. But I'll add that one of the most important contributions one can make involves social communication rather than direct pressure on politicians: indeed, it's only by discussion important issues with a wide enough range of people to push a government into action that the direct-contact strategy figures to be effective.

- Finally, Tabatha Southey's latest features this important retort to the Cons' divide-and-conquer approach to politics:
In the past, Ontario Conservatives have sometimes contacted her asking questions about whether, as a senior citizen, she resents paying school taxes when she has no children at home and is on a fixed income.

If they know she is retired, she reasons, they should know she has a bit of time on her hands as well.

For the record, my mother – who pretty much resents paying for almost anything – doesn’t resent “paying a tax to support a system that educated my four children,” as she puts it to the Conservatives. But she does resent “any implication that because I’m older now, I’m so shortsighted and mean as to have no interest in the education of my neighbours’ children …”


Shorter tar sands shills trying to get the general public to do their PR work:
Our oil industry affects every single Canadian from coast to coast to coast. Speak up in defence of your corporate masters - it's your patriotic duty!
Shorter tar sands shills when it comes to assessing the potential environmental damage from new pipelines:
If we can't see oil dripping off of you, we don't care what you have to say.
[Update: And by the way, take a look at Alison's Dilbit cartoons if you haven't yet.)

Friday, April 05, 2013

Musical interlude

Sneaker Pimps - Half Life

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Frances Russell weighs in on the Cons' continued contempt for democracy:
The Conservatives under Stephen Harper are running an effective dictatorship. They believe they are quite within their rights to muzzle Parliament, gag civil servants, use taxpayer money for blatant political self-promotion, stand accused of trying to subvert a federal election and hand over much of Canada's magnificent natural heritage to the multinational oil and gas lobby.

What is even more disturbing is that the national media, with a few notable exceptions, has underplayed or ignored these developments that are a clear assault on Canada's democratic institutions and processes.
Even more frightening is the code's proclamation that federal employees owe "duty of loyalty" to the "duly elected government" and spells out how offenders can be reported.

This is a historic -- and very disturbing -- development. In genuine democracies, the civil service is expected to be non-partisan and loyal to the Crown (the nation and its citizens), not to the politicians of the current government.

How long will Canada be able to claim to be a first-world democracy if this anti-intellectual, anti-science and clearly anti-democratic climate persists in Ottawa's corridors of power?
- Meanwhile, Bill Curry and Stuart Thompson take a look at the number the Cons have left out of the budget and find that they're again attacking the Canada Food Inspection Agency - slashing 15% of the budget from an organization which is already being told to accept an honour system from operators rather than actually functioning as a regulator.

- Glen McGregor provides a desperately-needed bit of sunlight into the shady operations of the Fraser Institute - but notes that the bulk of the organization's budget comes from millions in untraceable money from other foundations, along with seven-figure foreign donations.

- And finally, Erin Weir highlights how the Saskatchewan Party's business tax giveaways have nothing to do with economic development and everything to do with freebies for Brad Wall's corporate sponsors:
Saskatchewan already has a lower rate of 10 per cent for manufacturing and processing - the industries most able to relocate among jurisdictions. Corporate taxes do not explain Saskatchewan's loss of 4,200 manufacturing jobs in the past seven years. For example, several meat-packing plants moved to Manitoba, where such manufacturing facilities actually pay a higher provincial rate of 12 per cent.

Krawetz proposes to cut the general corporate tax rate, which applies to large resource, financial, construction and service companies. Clearly, a potash mine cannot move to another province in pursuit of lower corporate taxes.

Similarly, a construction contractor working on that mine must operate in Saskatchewan. Businesses that exploit local resources or serve local markets do not leave because of modest differences in corporate taxes.

A common misconception is that businesses can simply report their profits in whichever province has the lowest tax rate. In fact, the Canada Revenue Agency apportions each company's taxable Canadian profits among provinces based on the actual location of its sales and employees.

A corporation operating in a province must pay its corporate tax there.
(C)orporate tax rates have very little effect on private investment financed by debt, Canadian equity or American companies. However, corporate tax cuts reduce the revenue available to fund public investment in highways, bridges, schools, universities and other economically important facilities.
Statistics Canada concludes: "Between 1962 and 2006, roughly one-half of the total growth in multifactor productivity in the private sector was the result of growth in public infrastructure." The government of Saskatchewan should cancel planned corporate tax cuts and instead invest in needed provincial services and infrastructure.

On adaptation

Murray Mandryk's Wednesday column serves as a downright painful example of Monday morning quarterbacking - cherry-picking examples from seven decades of Saskatchewan governments to criticize "rash decisions" without recognizing the difference between reasonable experimentation and blatant cronyism. And under Mandryk's implicit standard for public-sector risk aversion (that if something could possibly prove to be anything less than an unqualified success, it's not worth doing), Saskatchewan's legislative assembly would be meeting around a donated table in a barn situated in the middle of the still-undeveloped prairie.

But Mandryk is far from the only voice suggesting that such a standard should apply to government decision-making. As much as I agree with Donald Savoie's overall criticism of the viewpoint that government should be run like a business, he too takes as a given that the public sector should be held to an impossibly high standard:
It doesn’t much matter in the private sector if you get it wrong 40 per cent of the time so long as you turn a handsome profit and increase market share. It doesn’t much matter in the public sector if you get it right 99 per cent of the time if the 1 per cent you get wrong becomes a heated issue in Question Period and the media.
But the consequence of accepting that view is that we're bound to be stuck with a sub-optimal set of choices. Private actors will effectively be free to go ahead even with projects which have a near-certainty of causing public harm (since a government can't be certain it will do good by intervening to stop them). And public projects with even a strong possibility of success and a minimal opportunity cost will be rejected out of hand.

So what alternative model can we use to make sure that government decision-making best serves the public interest - both in avoiding bad ideas, and encouraging the development of good ones?

I'll suggest that we should want our governments to apply substantially the same lens to regulatory and public policy decisions. In either case, we should consider the costs of both action and inaction - and recognize that stagnation in a system which fails to try new ideas is itself a detrimental outcome.

Fortunately, that lens is nicely described by Tim Harford in Adapt. Without getting into too much detail, I'll summarize his philosophy as applying an evolutionary model to public policy development: encouraging new ideas which have a plausible (if far from certain) chance of success, while ensuring that risks are taken only on a scale where their failure won't significantly affect the broader public interest.

As a corollary of that view of public policy, a single failed program doesn't necessarily signal a failed government. (In fact, the reasonableness of a government can be found in large part in its willingness and ability to evaluate its own decisions - including acknowledging the failure of pilot projects while recognizing how the lessons learned may lead to future success.)

Instead, the fundamental question is whether a government orients its activities toward a reasonable set of opportunities. And that should include both making choices at the cabinet table, and devolving survivable amounts of decision-making authority to lower levels.

Of course, the evolutionary model for public policy development also implies that we should look to preserve the positive results of successful adaptation. And it's here that Saskatchewan's right-wing governments have done the most damage: from giving away Crowns which could have held tens of billions of dollars of value for the public to taking a wrecking ball to a well-developed film industry without even a hint of reasonable explanation, the PCs and Sask Party have proven to be more interested in demolishing anything which might speak to the NDP's good decisions than in maintaining and improving ideas which have obvious benefits for the province.

In sum, we should expect our elected representatives to look for opportunities to advance the public interest. And while it's indeed essential for governments to make reasonable choices, we won't get those if we presume that doing nothing is the only safe option - or indeed a viable choice in general.

[Edit: fixed wording.]

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- John Greenwood and CBC News both report on the offshore tax avoidance being revealed through the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. And Susan Lunn observes that Canada's federal parties are all at least paying lip service to the issue - though of course the Cons' cuts to tax enforcement speak louder than their spin.

- Meanwhile, Paul McLeod notes that income inequality will also receive at least some much-needed attention in Parliament. And Danyaal Raza's discussion of the damage done to public health by inequality looks to offer one important point worth studying:
Not only are we falling behind when compared to our past selves, but also when compared to other high-income countries. For example, in the case of income inequality and child wellbeing, we are stuck in the mediocre middle behind countries like Denmark, Spain, Finland and Belgium. The same pattern is repeated for mental health, obesity, drug abuse and a multitude of other health ills.

In the United Kingdom, where research first established the link between income inequality and health, the issue has received cross-partisan support. In 2009, Prime Minister David Cameron of the Conservative Party acknowledged that “among the richest countries, it’s the more unequal ones that do worse according to almost every quality of life indicator,” while the Labour Party’s Ed Milliband stated, “The gap between rich and poor does matter. It doesn’t just harm the poor, it harms us all.

Here at home, Canadians mirror such cross-partisan support. A recent Broadbent Institute study found that 58% of Conservative supporters, 71% of New Democrats and 72% of Liberals are all willing to pay more to protect social programs and make reducing income inequality a higher priority.

As a family doctor who sees the impacts of these public policies on the front lines, I find myself nodding in agreement to these sentiments and calls to action. While there are some clinical interventions I can use to address income and health, systemic policy change will be the ultimate lever of change. It is time for both federal and provincial governments to raise additional revenue from those most able to afford it in order to support social programs that help redistribute income and provide immediate health benefits for all people in Canada. In the face of mounting evidence of this growing problem and its consequences for our health and the health of our patients, our governments can no longer sit on their hands. The time for leadership on this issue has come.
- Pat Atkinson notes that the hidden effects of the Cons' budget include an attack on small credit unions.

- Finally, I'm fairly sure this was the headline the Alberta PCs wanted in order to change the narrative about the Cons' environmental neglect. But there's still ample reason for skepticism about a system based entirely on "intensity" targets rather than real ones - retaining the possibility that the tar sands can continue to ramp up their greenhouse gas emissions without paying a dime (or even collect credits for doing so).

New column day

Here, on how the CFIA's inability to do anything about tainted horse meat exemplifies the problems with weak and under-resourced regulators.

For further reading...
- Again, Mary Ormsby's original story is here.
- Andrew Nikiforuk's take on the appointment of oil lobbyist Gerald Protti to set up Alberta's new regulatory system is here.
- And for those who haven't given it a read in awhile, Matt Taibbi's feature on the role of financial institutions and their alumni in causing repeated crashes is worth another look.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

On contradictions

Aaron Wherry nicely points out some of the jaw-dropping contradictions in the Cons' climate change messaging. But let's not forget a few more worth adding into the mix.

Having refused to implement any meaningful regulations or carbon pricing at the federal level, the Cons have tried to take credit for provincial attempts to fill the vacuum - even ones they've fought against with every fiber of their being. And they've not only scrapped the public organization which dared to highlight that difference, but they've since gone out of their way to hide its work.

Which is to say that in climate change as in other policy areas, the Cons' consistent pattern is one of offering misleading statements of fact, and perpetually chasing credit and refusing to accept any blame - regardless of whose orders resulted in either result.

But thanks in no small part to the Village, they've managed to cling to power. Mostly competent government indeed.

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Stephen Hume rightly mocks the Fraser Institute for using its tax-exempt status to whine about individuals who don't earn enough to pay income taxes. But I'll take the opportunity to reiterate a point I've made before: progressive governments in particular will do far better to consider how public resources can be used to benefit people of all income levels, rather than buying into the "get people off the tax rolls" rhetoric that only allows corporate interests to make arbitrary distinctions between "makers and takers".

- Meanwhile, Canadians for Tax Fairness catch bank officials trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the public on the use of tax havens to shelter financial profits.

- Alison discusses how yet another spate of spills and tough questions has caused problems for oil industry shills. But I doubt they're complaining so long as they're still in charge of setting public policy.

- And there isn't much indication that the corporate sector will lose the ability to warp legislation in its own favour anytime soon.

- Finally, Mia Rabson, the Winnipeg Free Press, the Toronto Star, and the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix all weigh in on Stephen Harper's muzzing of his MPs (and how it reflects a deeper democratic deficit). And Tim Harper muses that the Cons may be well past their (however sad) prime as a government.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Sunbeam cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- George Monbiot proposes a basic income as one of the great ideas needed to challenge corporatist orthodoxy:
A basic income (also known as a citizen's income) gives everyone, rich and poor, without means-testing or conditions, a guaranteed sum every week. It replaces some but not all benefits (there would, for instance, be extra payments for pensioners and people with disabilities). It banishes the fear and insecurity now stalking the poorer half of the population. Economic survival becomes a right, not a privilege.

A basic income removes the stigma of benefits while also breaking open what politicians call the welfare trap. Because taking work would not reduce your entitlement to social security, there would be no disincentive to find a job – all the money you earn is extra income. The poor are not forced by desperation into the arms of unscrupulous employers: people will work if conditions are good and pay fair, but will refuse to be treated like mules. It redresses the wild imbalance in bargaining power that the current system exacerbates. It could do more than any other measure to dislodge the emotional legacy of serfdom. It would be financed by progressive taxation – in fact it meshes well with land value tax.

These ideas require courage: the courage to confront the government, the opposition, the plutocrats, the media, the suspicions of a wary electorate. But without proposals on this scale, progressive politics is dead. They strike that precious spark, so seldom kindled in this age of triangulation and timidity – the spark of hope.
- But Digby notes that it shouldn't be much challenge for a renewed set of progressive ideas to stand out in comparison to free-market doctrine - as three decades of conservative political dominance in the U.S. have led to nothing but miserable policy outcomes for anybody but the corporate elite.

- Andrew Jackson points out the connection between inequality and poor health. And Owen Jones worries that the UK's National Health Service may already be dead thanks to concerted Conservative efforts to destroy it.

- Finally, John Ivison makes the obvious point that the most important factor causing Canada to be a climate change laggard is Stephen Harper's obstinate refusal to do anything but maximize short-term oil industry profits - and even Tasha Kheiriddin tears into Harper for his constant strategy of pitting economy against environment. But the most important reminder of the dangers of short-sighted resource exploitation comes from Yellowknife, where the public is now on the hook for a billion-dollar cleanup bill as a toxic mine falls apart long after the corporate sector lost interest.

[Edit: Added Ivison link.]

On impending failures

Lest anybody see the high-profile Atlanta example of standardized testing fraud as an isolated incident, Valerie Strauss writes about how Sask Party-style mandatory testing has produced similar problems across the U.S.:
In the past four academic years, test cheating has been confirmed in 37 states and Washington D.C. (You can see details here, and, here, a list of more than 50 ways that schools can manipulate test scores.)  The true extent of these scandals remain unknown, and, as Michael Winerip of The New York Times shows here in this excellent article, it is very hard to get to the bottom of these scandals. In Atlanta, it took the will of two governors who allowed investigators to go in with a lot of time and subpoena power.

Atlanta, in fact, is the tip of a national test-score manipulation “iceberg,” according to Bob Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, or FairTest, a nonprofit dedicated to ending the misuse of standardized tests. The cause? Pressure by politicians on educators to boost standardized exam results “by hook or by crook” to meet the requirements of laws that purport to promote student achievement but don’t.
Anyone following school reform over the past decade knows exactly what happened. Under No Child Left Behind, president George W. Bush’s chief education initiative, and then Race to the Top, President Obama’s central education program, placed increasingly high stakes on standardized test scores. They had to go up, or else there would be negative consequences not just for students but schools and teachers and principals.

Those mandates became coupled with a “no excuse” management push by school reformers who said teachers had, well, no excuse not to raise their students’ test scores. Not a lack of materials. Not an overcrowded classroom. Not students who were hungry or sick or traumatized from living in violent communities. Nothing.

Then we started hearing story after story about so-called “miracle schools” where scores shot up, seemingly overnight. The miracles never really panned out.
Needless to say, the same message which created incentives to cheat is exactly the one being pitched by the Sask Party: that student and school progress alike are somehow better measured by one-off testing than by longer-term development which isn't so easily reduced to a single number. And this even as international testing results show early childhood development and social supports, not constant testing, to be the most consistent contributor even to testing outcomes.

In the end, then, one can't describe the Sask Party's obsession with universal testing as anything particularly new or innovative. Instead, it's a well-worn racket whose flaws have already been thoroughly exposed in the United States - and the only question for now is whether Brad Wall will lurch ahead even in the face of the evidence.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Lori Theresa Waller provides her own take on the Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights' study on labour rights and inequality:
In the 1970s, all provinces used the simple card check system, whereby an employer must legally recognize a union if the majority of workers sign membership cards. Since then, B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia have moved to requiring that workplaces also hold a vote before the union will be legally recognized.

...Studies have found that the additional requirement of holding a vote decreases the success of union organizing drives by between 9 and 20 per cent.
A 2012 study by five UBC economists concluded that roughly 15 per cent of the growth in income inequality in Canada throughout the 1980s and 1990s was directly linked to falling rates of unionization.
- Meanwhile, the Canadian Labour Congress offers up a handy quiz about corporate tax giveaways.

- Thomas Homer-Dixon observes that the Obama administration could do Canada a favour by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline and encouraging some much-needed thought as to how to build a sustainable economy:
There is a less obvious but no less important reason many Canadians want the industry stopped: it is relentlessly twisting our society into something we don’t like. Canada is beginning to exhibit the economic and political characteristics of a petro-state. 

Countries with huge reserves of valuable natural resources often suffer from economic imbalances and boom-bust cycles. They also tend to have low-innovation economies, because lucrative resource extraction makes them fat and happy, at least when resource prices are high. 
Both the cabinet and the Conservative parliamentary caucus are heavily populated by politicians who deny mainstream climate science. The Conservatives have slashed financing for climate science, closed facilities that do research on climate change, told federal government climate scientists not to speak publicly about their work without approval and tried, unsuccessfully, to portray the tar sands industry as environmentally benign.

The federal minister of natural resources, Joe Oliver, has attacked “environmental and other radical groups” working to stop tar sands exports. He has focused particular ire on groups getting money from outside Canada, implying that they’re acting as a fifth column for left-wing foreign interests. At a time of widespread federal budget cuts, the Conservatives have given Canada’s tax agency extra resources to audit registered charities. It’s widely assumed that environmental groups opposing the tar sands are a main target.

This coercive climate prevents Canadians from having an open conversation about the tar sands. Instead, our nation behaves like a gambler deep in the hole, repeatedly doubling down on our commitment to the industry.
- And Kate Allen reports that the Cons' muzzling of scientists has earned them an impending investigation by the federal Information Commissioner.

- Finally, Dr. Dawg comments on Stephen Harper's decision to turn Canada into a hermit kingdom rather than a significant international actor. And Paul Heibecker writes that the Cons' withdrawal from the international community goes far beyond the drought treaty that's received so much recent attention:
There is a disappearing character to contemporary Canadian multilateral diplomacy. Like Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire cat, soon all that may remain of our country at the UN is a grin or, more accurately, a scowl.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Sunny Freeman reports on the Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights' study into the effects of anti-labour legislation:
The CFLR argues that [right-to-free-ride] laws would contribute to greater income disparity by undermining union strength and rights to collective bargaining, which they say leads to improved wages and benefits for employees.

The authors cited statistics suggesting that the wage premium for Canadian unionized workers over non-unionized employees in comparable jobs is between seven and 14 per cent. Workers in U.S. states that have adopted the laws earn an average of $1,500 less annually and have lower rates of employer-sponsored health and pension plans than workers in regions that have no such laws, they added.

The CFLR suggests that any such legislation would be the culmination of a trend in the past three decades that has brought an increase in anti-union labour laws.

“The attack on labour rights is being ramped up by the federal government and various provincial governments,” it said, adding that government interference in labour relations has become more prevalent.
- Mary Ormsby's expose on drug-tainted horse meat making its way into Canada's food chain all too aptly highlights how honour-system "regulation" tends to operate:
Priest signed the federal government’s mandatory Equine Information Document — a type of horse passport that must accompany all horses destined for slaughter — and stated that as owner, he had “uninterrupted possession, care and control” of Backstreet Bully for the past six months.
In fact, he had owned him for about 24 hours.
In signing the passport, Priest also attested that Backstreet Bully had been drug free for the past six months and had not been given any “not permitted” substances listed on the government’s website.
Critics of the passport system say the form is confusing and open to misinterpretation or outright fraud.
Priest, who has been in the horse business for more than 40 years, said he rescues and sells horses to good homes. He told the Star he falsely claimed he’d owned Backstreet Bully for six months because “everybody does” this on the horse documents.
The federal government relies heavily on the accuracy of the passports, which have been in existence since 2010 and are the first line of defence in keeping tainted horse meat from the human food chain. The government does not require owners selling a horse for meat to provide additional medical history such as veterinary records.
Dr. Martin Appelt, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s national veterinary program manager, acknowledged the government relies on an honour system and hopes that the documents are “a reflection of the truth.”
In other words, the entire regulatory system is based on hoping for vendors to accurately describe the products they're selling - even as "everybody" within the system considers false answers to be just fine. Which sounds like an ideal recipe for exactly the kind of misinformation which seems to be the norm under the Cons' anti-regulatory schemes.

- Meanwhile, the oil industry is leaking various toxic fluids all over North America. Pipeline proponents are bullying landowners while leaving communities to clean up their messes. And the Cons' latest corporatist giveaways may include the establishment of a right to frack. But it's your patriotic duty not to notice.
- Finally, Kate Webb reports on the lone charity deregistered as a result of the Cons' McCarthyite attack on progressive issue advocacy: the nuclear disarmament group Physicians for Global Survival. And we surely shouldn't miss the opportunity to criticize the Cons' war on global survival as a core governing principle.