Saturday, April 22, 2017

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Eva Schaherl offers her take on how to fight against climate change:
  • Stop being distracted by the “Sad!” theatre of the Greatest Show on Earth across our southern border. In Canada our leadership debates should be focused on how to save the world’s life-support systems, not imitating the hateful squabbles of our U.S. neighbours.
  • Make climate the central issue in every byelection, election, leadership contest and international powwow. If our only sandbox falls apart, every other issue from migration to the economy becomes unsolvable.
  • Ask young people what they think. They’re going to be stuck with this overheated planet, rising seas and unstable climate. Maybe we should lower the voting age to 16. It’s their future we are deciding now.
  • We need to build a sustainable, renewable energy infrastructure that’s needed today and for the future. Not pour any more resources into extracting and burning fuels that will have to be phased out by the time our kids are having their kids.
- Meanwhile, in the "what not to do" department, Carl Meyer reports on the Trudeau Libs' decision to let oil lobbyists dictate environmental policy yet again, this time by delaying the implementation of methane emission rules past the next election. And Brent Patterson rightly points out that meeting a target 8 years down the road doesn't do anything to remove the added pollution which the Libs plan to allow in the meantime.

- Michael Harris writes that under Christy Clark's regime, the domination of policy choices by big and dirty business is equally apparent in B.C. And Laila Yuile points out the massive gap between the effort the B.C. Libs put into spin and empty promises, and their utter lack of interest in following through on anything that could benefit people.

- Similarly, Trish Hennessy notes that Kathleen Wynne is in election-year mode - which means trying to get Ontarians to forget how she's sold them out since taking majority power.

- Finally, Nick Falvo calls out Brad Wall for delivering a reverse Robin Hood budget which takes from the poor to give to the rich.

Leadership 2017 Links

The latest from the NDP's federal leadership campaign.

- The Canadian Press reports on Pat Stogran's official campaign launch. And Alex Ballingall highlights Stogran's criticism of Justin Trudeau's empty-suit governance, while Jeremy Nuttall focuses on his message about challenging politics as usual.

- Charlie Smith interviews Peter Julian about his "just transition" energy policy and its appeal to MPs from Quebec and elsewhere. Niki Ashton writes about the importance of economic justice - both as a campaign theme, and a focus for activism. Ben Leeson talks to Guy Caron about his plan for the NDP to set a different path and deliver on the change promised (but not delivered) by the Trudeau Libs. And Liam Casey reports on Charlie Angus' continued work to ensure a safe home for the Kashechewan First Nation in the wake of another evacuation.

- Tom Parkin argues that there's a need for the leadership candidates to tell a stronger story as to how many Canadians are being left behind by economic structures designed to benefit the few.

- And finally, Ian Capstick talks to Libby Davies about her experience working with Jack Layton as the NDP's leader, as well as her hopes for the new candidates to match both his authenticity and his interest in working with others.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Musical interlude

Suncatcher & Exolight - Memory of You

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Andrew Jackson discusses the problems with increased corporate concentration of wealth and power - including the need for a response that goes beyond competition policies.
In the 1960s, institutional economists like John Kenneth Galbraith described a world of oligopoly in which a few firms, such as the big three in auto, set prices in order to achieve profit targets. This cozy world was disrupted by increased international competition, and by deregulation and privatization of the utilities, transportation and financial sectors, but corporate concentration has staged a major comeback

Mr. Galbraith advocated countervailing power rather than competitive markets as a way to constrain large dominant firms. In his view, corporate power had to be balanced by the power of organized labour so that profits were shared by workers, and by the power of democratic governments to regulate prices, service quality, and product and environmental standards in the public interest.

A similar argument has been advanced by Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz in a publication of the Roosevelt Institute, Rewrite the Rules. Mr. Stiglitz believes that extreme income and wealth inequality in the United States is indeed closely associated with the increased market power of large corporations, and argues for increased regulation (especially in the finance sector), support for trade unions and stronger labour standards, and corporate tax reform.
In this new age of corporate concentration, we certainly need a much broader response than competition policy alone.
- Janine Berg and Valerio De Stefano discuss the need to provide regulatory protections for workers in the gig economy, while Rebecca Greenfield points out how a shorter work day can produce better results for workers and employers alike. And Laurie Monsebraaten highlights some of the hopes for Ontario's basic income pilot project in providing basic financial stability for people who currently lack anything of the sort.

- Meanwhile, Ivona Hideg points out how the Libs' plan to draw out maternity leaves only helps families who can afford to have a parent out of the workplace for an extended period of time. And Evan Johnston rightly rebuts the anti-worker proposals being made by corporate groups participating in Ontario's workplace consultations.

- CBC reports on this week's new research study showing how Christy Clark's Site C debacle represents a waste of billions of public dollars. And Carol Linnitt highlights five particularly egregious realities about the project.

- Finally, Geoff Leo exposes the shady connections between Saskatchewan Party MPs and holding companies whose purposes haven't been publicly disclosed. And Murray Mandryk notes that tolerating glaring conflicts of interest is business as usual for Brad Wall and his party.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Martin Patriquin takes Saskatchewan's increasing recognition of the Wall government's institutional corruption to the national stage:
Politicians who navigate a corrupted political system have some of the easiest jobs in the world. With the weight and legitimacy of the state behind them, they need not sell anything more than access to themselves. And it is a seller’s market.
To be fair to Quebec’s political parties, it took over 30 years to perfect the scheme. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and the party he leads have figured it out in about 10 years — and they didn’t have to break a single law to do it.

Political parties are generally discreet about fundraising on the backs of their leaders. The Saskatchewan Party, which has ruled over the Land Of Living Skies since 2007, does so with the cheeseball gusto normally reserved for televangelists and used car salesmen.
In Quebec, companies and corporations had to break the law to donate to political parties. In Saskatchewan, it is entirely out in the open, and there is no limit to the amount an individual or a corporation can give. Hell, even companies based outside of the province can donate — and they have, including Calgary-based Trans Canada Pipelines and Vancouver-based Telus Inc., among dozens of others.

Wall himself is so nonplussed at the rather disastrous optics of all of this that he could barely muster a shrug when it was revealed that he owned shares in an oil company his government was lobbying to come to the province.
In politics, you eventually become what you profess to hate. The Saskatchewan Party was born out of a sense of austere populism in 1997 — the hardscrabble laypeople rising up against the entrenched establishment. After barely a decade in power, it has become quite the opposite: a political entity that proudly sells access to its leader, just as it does to the naming rights on its golf carts.
- Jordon Cooper recognizes that the most alarming part of Eric Olauson's plan to document and attack constituents who dare to question government actions is the fact that it seems to be standard practice for the Saskatchewan Party.  And the Treaty 6 Justice Collective reminds us of the importance of fighting back against austerity and antisocial policy. 

- Jim Sinclair rightly pushes back against the desire of Brian Day and other corporate health care promoters to scrap equal access to care in favour of pay-for-play health. And CTV reports on Mohammed Hajizadeh's research documenting the unfairness which already exists in favour of the wealthy in seeking out care, while Jane Gerster points out how "prominent" Manitobans are able to jump the queue.

- Meanwhile, Peter Goffin discusses Health Quality Ontario's study showing the lack of adequate care in northern Ontario. And the CP reports on the Canadian Human Rights Commissions' latest annual report - which deals particularly with how children are being left behind on many crucial rights issues.

- Finally, Neil MacDonald comments on the absurdity of the Trudeau Libs continuing to jail people for marijuana-related offences while (supposedly) charting a path toward legalizing its use. And Rob Gillezeau examines how the Libs' planned changes to the Parliamentary Budget Officer's mandate will insulate dubious policy choices from important checks and balances.

New column day

Here, pointing out that the New West Partnership Trade Agreement (PDF) serves no useful purpose even on the terms of its advocates following the unveiling of the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (PDF) - and asking whether we'll see any action to eliminate its downsides.

For further reading...
- I've previously discussed how the TILMA (which was of course rebranded as the NWPTA later on) in fact includes none of the balance or interest in harmonized and high regulatory standards promised when it was introduced.
- And it will particularly be worth comparing the Wall government's willingness to allow corporations to sue for damages against its refusal to allow municipalities to do the same in the face of breaches of contract.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Blanketed cats.

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Bill McKibben highlights Justin Trudeau's disingenuousness in pretending to care about climate change while insisting on exploiting enough fossil fuels to irreparably damage our planet.

- Juliet Eilperin examines how Donald Trump is letting industry lobbyists trash any protections for U.S. workers. And Dave Jamieson reminds us of the human cost of the human cost of deregulation.

- Matt Stoller looks at the airline industry as an example of how reduced government involvement only ensures that other powerful actors make choices which affect - and predictably harm - the public. And Erica Johnson reports on Canada's financial industry as another example in which customers' interests take a back seat to employer demands.

- John Geddes interviews Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault about her unsuccessful attempts to get the Trudeau Libs to keep their promise to modernize access to information.

- Finally, the Courage Coalition has released the results of its survey as to the future of progressive Canada, notably featuring this view of the NDP's role:
“Things I'd like to see the NDP do”:
Mobilize members between elections: 84%
Engage in non-electoral campaigns: 83%
Hold educational events: 69%
Attend protests: 69%
Training and leadership development: 64%
Give more control to EDAs: 39%

Monday, April 17, 2017

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- The Star's editorial board writes that it's long past time for governments to stand up for people facing precarious work:
(P)recarious workers, many of them millennials, have been largely left behind by legislators who say the shift is inevitable and there’s nothing much that can or ought to be done about it.

But the consequences of this complacency are cruel. Two new studies paint bleak portraits of the economic circumstances of young workers and others struggling to get by in the new economy. Together, they suggest that while governments may not want or be able to stop the evolution now underway, they must move quickly to address widening gaps in worker protections, lest the better part of a generation fall through the cracks.
Ontario’s current experiment with a basic annual income is a welcome acknowledgement of this need, whether or not it’s the right policy. Ottawa, meanwhile, deserves credit for its investments in affordable housing, though it should reconsider its apparent aversion to universal daycare, pharmacare and dental-services programs, all of which have the power to protect workers from the worst threats of precarity.

The choice between workers and progress is a false one. Of course, governments can’t and shouldn’t want to stop innovation. But neither are they powerless to shape it or to protect workers from its worst consequences.
- Meanwhile, Michael Corkery reports on the disappearance of tens of thousands of jobs in the U.S.' retail sector as another area where workers are losing out. And Bill Curry reports on the Senate combination of Cons, Libs and independents who have teamed up to block workers in federal jurisdiction from organizing.

- Helen Ries and Jihan Abbas discuss the poverty traps designed to ensure Ontarians with disabilities can never achieve any personal financial security. And Emily Mathieu writes about a new study on the risk of homelessness among seniors.

- Stefani Langenegger reports on the Saskatchewan Party's unilateral decision to slash funding to community-based organizations with no regard for either health impacts or longer-term costs. And the CP reports on Ryan Meili's call to instead close our existing health gaps by providing proper funding both for health programs and community supports.

- Finally, David Reevely comments on the Trudeau Libs' insistence on keeping in place (or even expanding) every irrational element of the war on drugs while pretending to work on legalizing marijuana.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Neil Irwin writes that many progressive policies - including child care and income tax credits - serve the goal of facilitating economic participation far better than their right-wing "supply side" counterparts.

- Ann Pettifor examines the future of globalization, and warns that a failure to properly regulate financial markets may be stoking public resentment toward the flow of people and goods.

- Daron Acemoglu and Pascual Restrepo study the effects of automation in cutting into both available employment and wage levels. And Vili Lehdonvirta writes about the role a basic income could play in countering the problems with the gig economy.

- Poppy Noor suggests that we treat housing as a human right rather than primarily a market good - and discusses the far more fair society that would result. And Gary Younge points out how austerian politics lead to a direct humanitarian toll.

- Ezra Klein discusses new research showing that the U.S.' political polarization is worse among older people (who make less use of social media, and rely more on television or radio echo chambers) than younger ones who are exposed to at least some different viewpoints.

- Finally, Linda McQuaig calls out Justin Trudeau's refusal to participate in talks on unclear disarmament, taking Canada well outside its self-perceived role as a leader in multilateral peacemaking.