Saturday, April 11, 2015

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Andrew Jackson argues that contrary to the attempt of the Ecofiscal Commission to impose right-wing values like tax slashing and devolution on any action to deal with climate change, we in fact need the federal government to take a lead role:
While it is sensible in the current political context that provinces not wait for federal leadership, this does not mean those pushing for climate action should lessen our pressure on the federal government to lead. At a minimum, the federal government should be requiring all of the provinces to take some modest first steps to reduce emissions through carbon pricing along the lines set by BC and Quebec, perhaps soon to be followed by Ontario.

The Commission is right to point out that the emissions profiles of the provinces are very different, and that we would be wise to avoid levying carbon taxes in such a way as to set the stage for large transfers of fiscal resources between provinces. But it would be quite possible, as the report notes, to set a national minimum price on carbon that gives the provinces access to most of the revenue to fund their own climate change priorities.

The Commission’s report further notes that it would be “desirable” for the federal government to co-ordinate future provincial carbon pricing policies to ensure that businesses operate on a more or less level playing field. It could have added that there is a need for federal leadership in developing clean technologies and renewable energy generation and conservation programs, all of which have to be funded.

The clear failure of the Harper government to deal with climate change is no reason to give up on federal leadership writ large.
- Meanwhile, Ben Adler points out there's no reason to think that building new pipelines will reduce the risk of train explosions - particularly when the same people pushing for the pipelines are the same ones demanding lax standards for oil-transporting trains. And North Shore News writes that the English Bay fuel spill is as much a black mark on the Cons and the B.C. Libs as on the growing affected area.

- Patrick Caldwell highlights how cuts to tax collection agencies serve to undermine the public good on multiple levels - first by making them more difficult to deal with, then by reducing public revenues. And it's worth pointing out the final step, as the deliberate destruction of a tax collection service can only open the door for profiteers to take over the function of collecting revenue.

- Lynn Vavrick discusses the role of a presidential candidate in shifting votes in the U.S., finding that entrenched party loyalties far outweigh individual candidates. And Geoff Dembicki points out the potential for young voters to radically change Canada's electoral math.

- Finally, Tony Burman writes about the desperate lack of CSIS oversight even before it stands to be handed massive new powers under C-51, while Andrew Mitrovica draws a similar conclusion in interviewing CSIS' former inspector-general Eva Plunkett. And Gerald Caplan writes that while Tom Mulcair has been careful to avoid living up to the label his opponents have attempted to slap on him as the NDP's leader, Canadians have every reason to be angry with the Harper Cons.

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