Saturday, August 10, 2013

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Lana Payne comments on the biggest of the Cons' many lies about the role and capacity of the federal government:
Canada’s $18.7-billion deficit has (its) roots in failed economic policies, decisions made before the world financial crisis, including reckless corporate tax cuts.

Remember, because the Conservatives would like us to forget, that this is a government that inherited $13 billion in surpluses.

They quickly emptied the cupboard with one tax cut after another.

Harper’s deficit has become, in many ways, a manufactured and convenient bogeyman. Bogeymen are useful especially when your goal is to convince Canadians we can’t afford public services or a social safety net, including universal medicare which is currently under immense attack.

A deficit is also handy if you are looking for an excuse to sell Canadians on more austerity, more public service cuts.

But the federal Conservatives have a few problems with the narrative they are so desperately trying to tell.

On the one hand they preach about their ability to manage the economy, and yet, when examined closely, their economic record is anything but stellar.

And a dwindling number of Canadians are buying into the big lie.
- But for those thinking big dishonesty is limited to the Cons, Karen Howlett offers a devastating look behind the scenes of Dalton McGuinty's exit from the Ontario Libs - featuring specific discussion about creating a "salacious" story around an opponent's wife in order to distract from the deserved public-relations fallout from scandal and cover-ups.

- Emily Chong is the latest observer to point out that the supposed trade-off between wages and jobs is illusory - as an increased minimum wage which helps workers stay out of poverty doesn't significantly affect the number of jobs available.

- And Carlito Pablo reports on the exploitation of migrant workers who are tied to a single employer (and thus unable to point out its abuses).

- Finally, Ryan Meili weighs in on the CMA's report on the social determinants of health:
We've known for decades, through Dr Marmot's famous Whitehall study and many others that health care is only one element in determining health outcomes; a far less influential factor than income, education, housing, nutrition, and the wider environment. However, this information has had little impact on how medicine is practiced, and this can be frustrating for doctors, uncertain of how to translate this understanding from the conceptual to the clinical.

A paper released by the CMA at that Yellowknife meeting on the role of the physician in achieving health equity tackled the issue head on, and encouraged doctors to think differently about how they can address the social determinants of health in practice. 
Pharmacare, Housing First, a national food security program and guaranteed annual income: these are ideas that could be considered quite radical.

They would certainly be outside of what most Canadian politicians would openly discuss as options. And yet, here they are, coming from what is thought to be one of the most conservative professional organizations in the country. Why? Because whatever self interest may influence physician politics, the purpose of the profession is still, at its heart, to work for the best health outcomes for patients. The weight of the evidence for the social determinants of health, and the need for creative, system-wide policy changes to address them, is simply too great to ignore.

On efficiencies

Nick Falvo offers one response to Tom Mulcair's latest comments on taxes. And I certainly won't argue with the position that it's utterly bizarre to see the leader of a progressive party declare that he's perfectly happy with the restrictive revenue streams (and associated lack of social programs) set up by an anti-tax zealot

But I'll point out that even if Mulcair himself doesn't share the view that there's reason to look for more revenue than the federal government currently takes in, he should still revisit the "never" language he's using at the moment. And I'll turn to no less an authority than...Tom Mulcair, from the same interview, discussing public administration and the delivery of programs:
He said the NDP would spend money on different things, and the NDP would make cuts, but they would be better cuts.

“Yes, you can order your priorities differently...” he said. “This is the type of thing that has to be done with a scalpel. They’re hacking away with a rusty machete. They don’t know what they’re doing. They’re lousy managers, and the NDP will provide really competent public administration.”
That take is generally consistent with what we've heard from Mulcair on public administration all along: that his primary interest is in making sure public services are delivered efficiently and effectively, and that he'd want to ensure that public money is both invested where needed, and cut where it can be.

Or in other words, that there's a need to consistently review government operations for efficiencies (without attaching the Cons' expectation that those efficiencies will be turned into cuts or diverted to ad spending).

Which is all well and good. But it also raises a rather obvious question: why wouldn't the same principle apply to our revenue system? Why shouldn't we consider whether new tax structures might better fit the model of both raising revenue and being publicly acceptable, rather than assuming that what we have now is carved in stone?

If it's possible to raise more revenue equally efficiently in a way which involves some increase in personal taxes, then surely the same principle has to apply: the public interest should come first. And likewise, if it's possible to raise roughly the same revenue more efficiently, surely it's worth looking at how to do that rather than adhering to the type of dogma that even Republicans are starting to abandon.

And the issue goes beyond the consistency of Mulcair's own message. It seems fairly clear now that the NDP's contrast against the Libs for 2015 will include a heavy dose of rightful concern over Justin Trudeau's policy depth (or lack thereof). But the more Mulcair himself relies on sweeping oversimplifications which don't stand up to scrutiny, the harder he'll make it to criticize Trudeau for doing the same.

In sum, Tom Mulcair is smarter than he's apparently willing to sound when it comes to tax policy. And the more he pretends otherwise, the more he'll contribute to irresponsible government - no matter who's Prime Minister after the 2015 election.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Musical interlude

Olive - You're Not Alone

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Henry Blodget recognizes that the systematic corporate squeeze on mere workers represents a deliberate choice rather than an inevitability:
One of the big reasons the U.S. economy is so lousy is the American companies are hoarding cash and “maximizing profits” instead of investing in their people and future projects.

This behavior is contributing to record income inequality in the country and starving the primary engine of U.S. economic growth–the vast American middle class–of purchasing power. (See charts below).

If average Americans don’t get paid living wages, they can’t spend much money buying products and services. And when average Americans can’t buy products and services, the companies that sell products and services to average Americans can’t grow. So the profit obsession of America’s big companies is, ironically, hurting their ability to accelerate revenue growth.

One obvious solution to this problem is to encourage companies to pay their people more — to share more of the vast wealth that they create with the people who create it.

The companies have record profit margins, so they can certainly afford to do this.

But, unfortunately, over the past three decades, what began as a healthy and necessary effort to make our companies more efficient after the malaise of the 1970s has evolved into a warped consensus that the only value that companies should create is financial value (cash) and that the only thing managers and owners should ever worry about it making more of it.

This view is an insult to anyone who has ever dreamed of having a job that is about more than money. And it is a short-sighted and destructive view of an economic system...
- And Kendra Coulter makes the case for a retail revolution to ensure that the employment of the future provides a reasonable standard of living for workers:
Most retail jobs epitomize the scourge of precarious work. Retail jobs usually mean poverty-level wages and income insecurity. Schedules are erratic, volatile and provided at the last minute. Retail workers are often disrespected and dismissed as lacking skill, education or value. In other words, retail does not simply reflect inequities. Retail contributes to increasing inequality. This needs to change.

More retail workers are joining a growing movement of low-wage service workers who recognize the need to transform lousy jobs into better jobs. Workers at Sirens in Brampton have just chosen unionization as a way to raise the standards at work, for example. These young workers believe retail jobs can and should be good jobs, regardless of who shops in the stores and which brands are sold. Notably, Holt Renfrew workers have repeatedly told me that high prices do not automatically translate into high quality jobs. 

Undoubtedly, the retail terrain will change, but retail jobs are here to stay. It is high time to look beyond the brands and the boardrooms, to how retailers of all kinds treat us. We are not numbers, nor are we disposable. We are workers, citizens, and people who matter.
- Sum Of Us is rightly challenging Eli Lilly's attempt to sue Canada for following an unbiased patent approval process rather than simply handing over half a billion dollars in public and patient money.

- Don Lenihan discusses the difference between the "political" and "policy" types of politicians - and I'll readily approve of his implied view that we should encourage more of the latter. But I do think it's worth noting that the few Cons who have ever ventured into that territory have faced more reprisals than just being denied cabinet positions, while having no apparent role in shaping legislation - meaning that there's only so much power to be taken back by individual MPs without some more concerted push.

- And finally, Glen McGregor's story on Stephen Harper's continued refusal to allow repairs at 24 Sussex Drive might serve to perfectly sum up the Cons' philosophy: Harper and company are perfectly happy with their current life of luxury, and aren't about to let trifles like the public interest interfere.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Stephen Beer argues that the UK's Labour Party should take the lead in arguing for a financial transactions tax oriented toward reducing inequality:
The banking sector is incorrigible. It cannot alone reform itself or repair its relationship with the rest of society. For example, just before his retirement, Bank of England governor Mervyn King reported that banks were lobbying government ministers against action by regulators. It is almost as if the financial crisis never happened; banks are still lobbying for lighter touch regulation.

There has been little remorse from the sector during a time when living standards have been falling and the country has been stuck in an economic depression for more than half a decade.

Moreover...if we are going to talk about remorse, we should also look for repentance. Repentance is more than saying sorry. It is about turning away from the old way of doing things and going in a new direction.
- Uniglobal discusses a recognition strike by Amazon's employees in Germany.

- Chris Severson-Baker considers the Cold Lake blowout to be the first real test for Alberta's new industry-operated regulatory system. Needless to say, the results so far aren't encouraging.

- Meanwhile, having extracted as many profits as it could by operating unsafely, MMA has managed to cloak itself in court protection to avoid liability for blowing up much of Lac-Mégantic.

- Finally, Michael Geist comments on the U.S.' continued attempts to force ever more draconian copyright laws on Canada and other countries - primarily to preserve cash cows for Disney and other corporate conglomerates.

New column day

Here, on how the City of Regina's wastewater treatment referendum campaign is based on either a major omission as to the costs of privatizing services, or a dangerous assumption that the City doesn't need to have any idea how its own treatment plant works.

For further reading...
- I take my math and assumptions from the report (PDF) endorsed by City Council - which includes the following privatized payment model (emphasis added):
h. In principle, a commitment to providing a performance-based payment for operations, maintenance and availability of the facility, compensating for a range of DBFOM service over the 30 year term, with an estimated cost of:
i. $378.0 million (assuming 3.5 % inflation) in the operation and maintenance portion of the payment to P3 Contractor (“Project Co.”) for the WWTP. These costs are currently an ongoing part of the utility program;
ii. $117.2 million in the major maintenance portion of the payment to Project Co., to ensure that the WWTP’s assets are maintained and upgraded appropriately through the WWTP’s lifecycle; and
iii. $265.0 million towards the capital payment portion of the payment to Project Co. 
I'm not sure how that can be read to suggest anything other than that the money which would otherwise be used to fund the City's wastewater system is intended to be diverted entirely to the private contractor - leaving a gaping hole when it comes to the City's continuing expenses in monitoring the contract and maintaining reserve capacity.

- Meanwhile, Tina Beaudry-Mellor echoes my question as to why it's the City's publicly-funded staff - rather than elected councillors - who are being used to sell the privatized system.

- And Simon Enoch questions some more of the math behind the privatization push.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Matthew Yglesias sums up the effects of four decades of U.S. union-busting, and points out how the supposed benefit from pointing a fire hose filled with money in the general direction of the corporate sector hasn't materialized:
If you turn back 30 or 40 years, the policy rationale for crushing labor union influence went something like this: In the short-term crushing private sector labor unions is going to lead to a surge in corporate profits, but profits are the fuel of investment and long-term economic growth. Companies with high profits have the capital necessary to invest. And the existence of large profit margins means there are profit opportunities to be exploited with new investment. It makes perfect sense. But it hasn't happened, and profits have soared far in excess of investment.
(S)everal decades into this experiment, we're seeing much more of the "profits surge" than the "surging profits lead to an investment boom" dynamic. One explanation for this that's growing in popularity on the right is that the rise of more capital-friendly politics in the mid-1970s coincidentally occurred at the exact same time as a structural slowdown in the rate of technological progress, so while it seems like anti-labor politics has failed to deliver the goods, it's really all just a stroke of bad luck.
And maybe that's right—just because an (unfalsifiable) proposition seems conveniently conducive to the interests of very rich people doesn't mean it's false. But it sure seems false to me.
- Duncan Cameron comments on the Harper Cons' latest transparent attempt to attack anybody still making anything approaching a decent living - in this case, striking foreign service officers. And David Bush points out the need for an active rank-and-file membership to bolster the effectiveness of unions.

- Miles Corak discusses how income inequality has been exacerbated in Canada over the past few decades - and how we shouldn't see temporary resource price spikes as an alternative to income security:
I don’t see commodity prices increasing indefinitely, and don’t see the last 15 years revealing the changes in the underlying structure of the economy and the jobs market.

The fact that a sustained resource boom has not increased median incomes higher than they were at the past economic booms suggests an underlying structural change that is working against the typical household.
An awareness of the experience and policy discussion in the United States sheds light on the impact of policies like falling real minimum wages, increasing low-skilled immigration, less investment in high quality accessible education in the early years, higher tuition fees, and limited parental leave.

And as a result I see more clearly the need and the possibilities for fundamentally changing tax and social policies, and promoting human capital investment in a way that favours families who have made little or no progress over the course of 30 years, others who have witnessed outright declines in their standard of living, and even others who in spite of their overall income levels face increased insecurity.
- Finally, both Les Whittington and Nick Taylor-Vaisey discuss the Cons' continued refusal to set greenhouse gas emission regulations for the tar sands. 

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Extended cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Michael Harris offers a theory for the Cons' handling of the Clusterduff - from their willingness to pay him off to their subsequent decision to cut him loose:
Why were the CPC and the PM’s chief of staff willing to risk what would be an explosive scandal if the facts leaked out, as they did on May 14, 2013? The answer that seems most likely is this: To stop an audit into Senator Duffy trailing back into the 2011 election.

In the early innings of this story, Conservative strategists took the view that if the Duffy expenses were paid back, then there would be no further reason to “review” Duffy’s expenses.
If the audit could be stopped, it would cut off further embarrassment for a government that was beginning to smell of corruption. Scandals involving a handful of key Harper appointments — Bruce Carson, Arthur Porter, Dean del Mastro, Peter Penashue, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau — were beginning to take a toll.

The government also was labouring under the shadow of dirty tricks in the last election, from robocalls that had Elections Canada investigating 56 ridings where voter suppression had been alleged, to the use by the CPC in 14 Conservative campaigns of the U.S. firm Front Porch Strategies, an campaign organizing group with close ties to the Republican Party. The law is murky on whether it is legal for foreigners to campaign on the ground in a Canadian election, as Front Porch did in the campaigns of Julian Fantino and Rick Dykstra.

As the custodian of the party, Nigel Wright didn’t need to have the PM’s most important fundraiser adding to Tory problems — particularly since Duffy played such a key role in the 2011 election, campaigning for 17 Conservative candidates during the writ period and helping the Tories to their majority.

Could the party’s use of Duffy’s services during that election stand up to scrutiny? Was that the part of the story Nigel Wright’s payment was designed to bury? Is that why it was so important to change the channel? 
- Gloria Galloway reports on the Cons' choice to let polluters write a new set of laws to expose Canada's fisheries to destruction.

- David Olive makes the case for a substantially higher minimum wage to make low-wage employment less precarious. And Thandiwe Vela writes that younger workers are turning toward unions as a means of winning some say over their workplace.

- Finally, you'll find WinkProgress as a new addition to the U.S. blogroll to the right - but I'll highlight it here as well as being worth a look.

On test cases

Not surprisingly, Linda McQuaig's entry into the NDP's Toronto Centre nomination contest against Jennifer Hollett has set off plenty of discussion this morning. And much of the focus has been on a possible by-election battle between McQuaig and Chrystia Freeland - the authors of the two most prominent recent books highlighting the gap between the rich and the rest of us.

But I'll suggest that neither The Trouble with Billionaires nor Plutocrats figures to be the most important piece of reading material for the Toronto Centre by-election. While the campaign will hopefully raise the profile of economic inequality as an issue, I'm not sure either candidate can expect to gain much leverage against the other - and in particular, McQuaig's better-developed policy prescriptions may not stand out in a short campaign.

In contrast, McQuaig's It's the Crude, Dude offers a vital starting point for debate in the area where there's plenty of room for both clash and shifting positions among the opposition parties.

As I and others have already noted, the Cons seem determined to turn cheerleading for resource extraction into the core of their economic message. And the NDP and Libs have thus far taken significantly different positions in response: while the NDP has made the case for a more sustainable economy which includes eliminating public subsidies for pollution from the tar sands, Justin Trudeau's main line of attack has been that the Cons are putting the wrong shade of lipstick on the pig in making foreign bitumen sales the centrepiece of Canada's economy.

Now, it looks like those two positions are set to clash in Toronto Centre. And while the issue figures to be an important point of contention no matter who emerges from the nomination contests, McQuaig's presence in particular could present a direct challenge to the Libs' attempt to be the friendlier face of the tar sands.

That is, unless Freeland has enough clout within Trudeau's inner circle to try to change her party's direction to improve her own chances. But the more likely course of events looks to involve Freeland trying to sell petro-politics in downtown Toronto against an opponent who's literally written the book on the dangers of that strategy. And the question of whether the NDP can gain ground by being on the right side of that contrast may go a long way toward shaping our choices for 2015 and beyond.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your holiday reading.

- Paul Buchhelt discusses eight areas where privatization has proven to be a disaster in the U.S. - with one holding particular interest for Regina residents:
A 2009 analysis of water and sewer utilities by Food and Water Watch found that private companies charge up to 80 percent more for water and 100 percent more for sewer services. A more recent study confirms that privatization will generally "increase the long-term costs borne by the public." Privatization is "shortsighted, irresponsible and costly."

Numerous examples of water privatization abuses or failures have been documented in California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, Texas, Massachusetts, Rhode Island -- just about anywhere it's been tried. Meanwhile, corporations have been making outrageous profits on a commodity that should be almost free. Nestle buys water for about 1/100 of a penny per gallon, and sells it back for ten dollars. Their bottled water is not much different from tap water.

Worse yet, corporations profit from the very water they pollute. Dioxin-dumping Dow Chemicals is investing in water purification. Monsanto has been accused of privatizing its own pollution sites in order to sell filtered water back to the public.
- Robert Reich responds to three lies used to push for corporate tax giveaways. Bernie Sanders discusses how anti-worker employers have built their obscene wealth on effective subsidies from the public. And Chris Hedges comments on the U.S.' prison-industrial complex.

- Meanwhile, Bob Weber reports on an attempt to label a closed assembly of oil-backed governments and tar sands lobby groups as a "Pan-Canadian" discussion of pipelines. And Greenpeace's Keith Stewart offers the appropriate response:
Keith Stewart of Greenpeace said it’s telling that no environmental or aboriginal groups have been invited to help determine the group’s goals and objectives.

“Industry says, ‘Oh yes, of course we’ll engage people — after we’ve set everything up.’ The people who have been expressing concerns aren’t getting any say on setting terms of reference, the types of things that are going to be looked at, how it’s going to operate.”
Noting Alberta has yet to release a long-awaited report on pipeline safety, Stewart suspects the collaborative may be aimed more at public opinion than anything else.

“We’ve see this around the world, where companies who are under fire launch these types of initiatives to try and allay public concern and avoid new regulation,” he said. “They treat it as a public-relations problem rather than an operations problem.”
 - Finally, Adam Radwanski identifies the NDP as the big winner in last week's Ontario by-elections. And while Nora Loreto is rather less optimistic, she's right in pointing out how that result should help the party influence the province's wider political system:
Assuming that government holds long enough to even consider a budget, the pressure on the NDP to deliver a budget with the Liberals that reflects some progressive values will be their greatest test in nearly 20 years. The Liberals will need NDP support. The New Democrats cannot rely on weak, populist policies if they’re going to prove that they’re a viable alternative. They’ll have to demonstrate that they can play politics: make serious demands or force a general election.
If the NDP picks their big issues now (public childcare? lower tuition fees? new energy policies?), pulling a Liberal budget to the left won’t be politically difficult.
There are many, many months for the NDP to clean itself up internally and find the best political minds and organizers they can mine from the left. With an activist Ontario Federation of Labour, this shouldn’t be a hard task.
[Edit: fixed typo.]

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- David Atkins comments on the ever-growing disconnect between the interests of a few making a killing on Wall Street and the lives of people stuck in the real economy:
(T)the entirety of supply-side economic thinking is based on the idea that inflating the assets of the wealthy will lead to more jobs for working people. If inflating middle-class assets like housing leads to dangerous bubbles while boosting stock values that largely benefit the rich does nothing for the greater economy, the entire edifice of conservative economics comes crashing down.

But it's not just the way conservatives describe the economy. Even progressives and liberals in Congress use language that suggests the link between Wall Street and Main Street still exists, but that it has simply become blocked or frayed. "Gains on Wall Street haven't reached the middle class," one often hears--as if it should naturally happen but for some evil gremlin getting in the way.

There's a reason that even liberal politicians won't say the chain has been broken, and a reason why the media largely refuses to even report on the phenomenon: the implications are terrifying. If helping Wall Street doesn't actually help Main Street, then the foundations of the capitalist economy are shaken to their roots. Capitalist economics is supposed to be a virtuous circle: companies generate profits which generate reinvestment, which generates employment, which boosts demand, which in turn generates higher profits. When certain industries take on too much weight or grow obsolete, or when supply outstrips demand, there are temporary but necessary corrections called recessions that keep the system in check.

But what if profits don't generate reinvestment and companies simply hold onto the loot? What if "reinvestment" takes the form of financialization rather than real product development? What if boosting productivity means mechanization that leads to job gains, rather than job losses? What if the few job gains that do accrue, happen in countries with such depressed wages that middle-class workers in advanced economies (the ones who create the demand for high-cost, profitable products) simply cannot compete?

And what if, in order to disguise this phenomenon, policy makers attempted to bribe the public with free trade agreements that lowered the cost of electronics and plastic toys while quietly destroying jobs? What if policy makers' next step in a failing wage environment was to boost asset prices like housing so that the currently middle-class homeowner could feel artificially wealthy, all while obliterating any prospect that the next generation could afford even a modest home in areas with strong job markets without help from their parents? What if the low-skill job market deteriorated to such an extent that young people needed an outrageously expensive college education or more--and only in the "right" fields--to attain any sort of job security, all while policymakers refused to lift a finger to help make that education more affordable? And what if policy makers made it easier for underwater Americans with failing wages to take on debt via credit cards, while doing nothing to prevent predatory lenders from taking advantage of them?

In that world, the virtuous circle of capitalism becomes a death spiral. Recoveries become shorter and more jobless. Recessions and depressions become longer, even as asset markets remain curiously "healthy." This happens a few times until eventually supply-side Wile E. Coyote runs out of demand-side cliff and comes crashing at terminal velocity into the canyon below.
- Thomas Walkom highlights the Harper Cons' sellout of Canadian sovereignty - including their willingness to declare U.S. police officers operating in our country to be above Canadian law:
The U.S. government wants American police agents working in Canada exempted from Canadian law. If this is a surprise, it shouldn’t be.
The secret American demand was unearthed this week by Canadian Press reporters looking into Ottawa’s much ballyhooed border deal with the U.S.
A 2012 RCMP briefing note obtained by The Canadian Press points out that Washington and Ottawa have been at daggers drawn over whether U.S. agents and police officers who commit crimes in Canada would be subject to Canadian law.
Under a 1951 treaty, even Canada has ceded some rights over U.S. and other NATO troops operating inside this country.
But the 1951 treaty does give Canada the right to arrest and try NATO soldiers or their dependants who have committed non-military crimes such as murder.
It seems now that the U.S. wants more. According to the RCMP memo, Washington is demanding that its police agents operating in Canada be entirely exempt from Canadian criminal law.
- And Dr. Dawg provides the appropriate response - if coupled with justified concern that the Harper Cons are perfectly happy to allow the U.S. to control Canada with impunity.

- Jeff Jedras offers his take on party discipline and the role of elected representatives:
I also think a larger issue is one of public perception, or misconception, about the role of the parliamentarian in our political process. Technically, we're electing an individual representative to speak for us and act on our behalf; there may be a party name on the ballot, but we're electing Joe Blow the individual. More and more though, people see the individual and secondary and irrelevant next to the party brand and vote based on the leader. This is because discipline has rendered the individual indistinguishable from their peers, further fueling the argument for discipline because the individual owes their position to the party and leader, not the people...
Several times during the debate, party leaders were called to “give” or “allow” more freedom for parliamentarians. It’s not something for leaders to give – parliamentarians have the freedom already. They just need to take it.
- Don Lieber discusses how Suncor's rip-and-ship plan includes a deliberate choice to cut down on safety checks and maintenance in order to extract as much bitumen as possible - presumably before the damage done by insufficient planning and maintenance catches up.

- Finally, Doug Cuthand criticizes the Cons' narrow focus on colonial history - pointing out the gap between a multi-million dollar campaign surrounding the War of 1812 and a complete lack of recognition of the treaty relationship between First Nations and the Crown.