Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Bruce Livesey discusses Tony Blair's role in corporatizing social democracy. And Stephen Elliott-Buckley writes that there's little reason to listen to the policy prescriptions of a financial elite class which is conspicuously ensuring that its future bears no resemblance to that of the general population.

- Jane Taber interviews Donald Savoie about the importance of our public service - and the decline it's seen in recent years:
What happened?

It was wrong to think that we could make the public sector look like the private sector. Well, frankly, it started with Margaret Thatcher. She arrived in 1980 and she said, ‘I don’t want bureaucrats to tell me what I ought to do to do in terms of policy. We won a majority mandate so we will define policy. What I want the bureaucracy to be good at is to be good managers.’ Mandarins are not known to be good managers. So when Thatcher arrived and said, ‘I want you to become better managers,’ she drew a blank. They didn’t have any ideas about management. So, she said, ‘Right, I am going to go to the private sector.’ So, she got a lot of private sector advisors in as did Ronald Reagan and Brian Mulroney. We didn’t realize that the private sector plays by its own rules and businesses are good at what they do but they don’t have to deal with 12 officers of Parliament, they don’t have to deal with the [media]. The private sector remedy did not work. It demoralized the public sector.

Why should we care?

Show me a weak country and I will show you a country with a weak public service. Every country needs a referee and the referee has to be the public service. No country can operate without a referee. You take the public service out of Canadian society and you will have chaos.
- pogge discusses what looks to be a glaring loophole in Canada's Access to Information Act - as a recent decision has determined that a government institution can delay an initial reply indefinitely without recourse. Meanwhile, Pat Martin is leading the charge to fix a few additional problems with our access-to-information legislation. And Newfoundland and Labrador are conducting a thorough review of their legislation - albeit only after the government rammed through highly dubious changes which made the system far more opaque than it was before.

- Alison contrasts the Cons' cringeworthy partisan ads against Elections Canada's entirely unobjectionable messages about voting which the Cons want to ban.

- Finally, Thomas Ponniah discusses the founding and first steps of the Tommy Douglas Institute.

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