Saturday, October 03, 2015

Saturday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your weekend reading.

- Alex Himelfarb highlights the vicious circle the Harper Cons have created and driven when it comes to public services:
Today’s austerity is not a response to fiscal crisis. The 2012 budget demonstrated that it’s about redefining the purpose of government, about dismantling, brick by brick, the progressive state built by governments of quite different stripes in the decades following the Second World War. Implied is a very different notion of our shared citizenship, of what binds us together across language, region and community. The message was clear: government will ask less of Canadians and Canadians should expect less from government, a kind of bargain-basement citizenship.

We see this in the extent to which cuts target services for the most vulnerable: refugee claimants cannot get medical care; migrant workers cannot access benefits they’ve paid into; prisoners lose the meagre wages that might have helped them reintegrate when released; the unemployed have less access to employment insurance; veterans have less access to essential services.
We lag in tackling inequality and poverty.

We see this in the retreat from federal engagement with the provinces. Gone are the days of co-operative federalism, yes, often messy and combative, that nonetheless brought us pensions and Medicare. The tone was set when, among its first steps, the government cancelled the child care agreements signed with every province and the Kelowna Accord signed by the premiers and aboriginal leaders.

How did all of this get done without much political pushback or public outrage? In some cases, the cuts don’t kick in for years. In other cases — the gutting of our environmental regulations, cuts to basic science and statistics, weakened enforcement of health and safety regulations — the consequences are often subtle and play out in the long term or when things go wrong, and by then we may not make the link to austerity. In fact, our collective failures may simply undermine our trust in what government can accomplish.
- Joshua Ostroff discusses the importance of supportive housing - along with the desperate need for more investment in it. And David Ball turns to child care as another of the policies people are hoping for out of this fall's election.

- Murray Dobbin offers some hope that the era of precarious work is over. But Sara Mojtehedzadeh exposes how privatization and contract-flipping serve to undermine organized labour, suppress wages and eliminate job security. And Tyler Cowen points out that while the U.S.' employment numbers still seem relatively strong, they're once again failing to translate into any wage gains.

- Patricia Aldana describes how the Cons turned her into a second-class citizen. And Rick Salutin suggests that an election centred on the meaning of citizenship might be exactly what we need to confirm its importance - in contrast to the Cons' effort to make it something that can be stripped away for political gain.

- Finally, Rachel Browne reports that Canadian Muslims are understandably organizing in advance of an election where their rights are being shredded in the name of stoking prejudice. Aaron Wherry observes that the poll results pointed to as an excuse for a niqab ban are based on deliberately-false assumptions about the government's actual policy choices. The Globe and Mail encourages voters to get past the Cons' prejudice to decide based on real issues. Martyn Brown sees the Cons' hatemongering as demeaning Canada as a whole, while Tom Regan argues that it's the barbaric cultural practice we should be concerned about. Susan Delacourt rightly notes that we should expect all parties to want more than to win votes based on bigotry. And Martin Patriquin credits Thomas Mulcair for taking a much-needed stand against Harper and his strategy of fear and division.

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