Saturday, September 29, 2018

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Oliver Milman reports on new indications that we're far beyond any reasonable pace in trying to rein in climate change. 

- The Star's editorial board discusses why lower-income Ontarians are right to feel like they're under attack from Doug Ford's government. And Noah Smith writes about the combination of income inequality, immobility and stagnation that's leading to millenial dissatisfaction with the U.S.' economy.

- Meaghan Craig reports on new research showing how unstable housing alone correlates to a large proportion of health care costs in Saskatoon.

- Finally, Andrew Coyne points out that New Brunswick's election result provides one of the best arguments yet as to the problems with first-past-the-post politics. The Globe and Mail's editorial board is also recognizing that we should be demanding a more representative electoral system. And Tom Parkin draws a connection between proportional representation and a return to genuinely responsible government:

Under first-past-the-post, legislative majorities are too easily given, sometimes with as little as 37 per cent support.

And now fixing that problem has added urgency—because the political right now often rejects the norms and customs that previously held a check on majority power.

While well-meaning people debate which things Ford really won a ‘mandate’ to do, Ford is using his 75 MPPs as proxy votes to do whatever he wants.

Ford never mentioned anything about changing municipal elections—which normally would be discussed in the campaign and Throne Speech. But his 75 proxies stood ready to carry out his wish.

When a court quashed his bill, his 75 proxies stood ready to support a replacement bill suspending some charter rights and freedoms. When the opposition said his replacement bill violated rules of the legislature, his 75 proxies stood ready to change the rules.

And when Ford stood for pictures with a group of white supremacists—and took four days to give a half-assed denunciation under duress —none of his 75 proxies objected.

This is new. Very new.

On the right, legislative majorities are now being interpreted as a right to one-man rule—with the power to suspend charter rights and freedoms. Because he can.

So our legislatures and parliaments need to matter again. Proportional representation would result in less frequent majorities and make premiers more accountable to the legislature again. A premier’s need to find support in the legislature can play the role norms and customs used to.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Musical interlude

PVRIS - What's Wrong

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Matt Bruenig discusses how UK Labour's plans to ensure workers have an ownership stake in major corporations fits into the wider principle of common wealth:
The Labour Party’s John McDonnell recently unveiled a policy that would require large corporations with more than 250 employees to gradually place 10 percent of their shares into Inclusive Ownership Funds (IOFs) owned by workers. Under the plan, workers in each firm would exercise the ownership rights of the IOF shares and annually receive up to £500 of their shares’ dividends.

Along with nationalizing certain utilities, giving workers representation on corporate boards, and reinvigorating the trade union movement, collectivizing the ownership of a portion of company stock through the IOF scheme is meant to be a step towards democratizing the ownership and control of the UK economy.
(T)he need to come up with practical socialist governing ideas seems to be what is motivating the recent renaissance of the idea in the last 6 years or so. The surprising success of Jeremy Corbyn in the UK Labour Party has prompted policy organizations like IPPR to reinvigorate the idea so that it can be adopted ahead of the next UK election. In the US, a burgeoning socialist movement sparked by Bernie Sanders has pushed think tanks like People’s Policy Project to do the same thing.
Nonetheless, it is heartening to see the Labour Party pick up this long-standing socialist idea and run with it in earnest. The Inclusive Ownership Funds offer a promising strategy for gradually shifting ownership of the economy out of the hands of an oligarchic class and into the hands of Britain’s workers and its society as a whole. It is not a panacea to all that ails the British economy, but it does set it down the path towards a democratic socialist future.
- Bill Curry reports on the latest report of Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux indicating that while the federal government has money to spare, there's an urgent need for increased transfers to ensure provinces can meet their responsibilities. And the CCPA's Alternative Federal Budget offers a road map toward ending poverty and transitioning toward a sustainable economy in the relatively near future.

- Meanwhile, Katherine Scott points out the need for far more than sporadic awareness and action in pursuit of gender equity.

- Emilee Gilpin reports that the Libs' response to the Trans Mountain court decision about insufficient consultation and regulation has been to give interested parties a grand total of a week in which to register for a new hearing. And Jim Bronskill reports on the federal government's attempts to stifle any public knowledge of the steps taken to spy on environmental activists.

- Finally, Thomas Walkom writes that Canada should be walking away from NAFTA talks ather than keeping up the laughable pretense that the U.S. - particularly under Donald Trump - can be counted on to respect its continental commitments.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Patrick Kingsley points out how children are feeling the effects of the UK's austerity, including by being driven into avoidable poverty. And Michelle Bellefontaine reports on the predictable damage to Edmonton's schools even from the cuts being bandied about by Jason Kenney long before an election.

- Marshall Auerback discusses some important warnings that the use of political and financial power to further enrich the wealthy few while ignoring inequality only stands to push us toward predictable economic crises.

- Thomas Walkom writes about the rise of right-wing populism in New Brunswick as an example of the type of campaign which tends to be used as cover for corporatist policy. And Anita Anand discusses how Doug Ford is looking to undermine investor protections in the name of enriching the financial sector, while Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on Ford's choice to hand billions to employers at the expense of injured workers (even as he also plans to halt a legislated minimum wage increase).

- Finally, George Monbiot argues that we can't expect to make a needed transition away from fossil fuels without challenging the industry-funded assumption that perpetual growth - including in polluting industries - is the only available economic goal.

New column day

Here, on the Frontier Centre for Public Policy's unapologetic role in trying to minimize the harms of residential schools - to to mention otherwise undermining any attempt at truth and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

For further reading...
- Tammy Robert's post exposing the recent radio ad is here, with CBC following up here and here. And the Frontier Centre's only apparent response is the statement reproduced here absolving Roger Currie of any editorial role - but acknowledging no concerns about its own content. 
- Beyond the latest ad and related report, the Frontier Centre's own content on Indigenous issues includes such gems as other posts minimizing the effects of residential schools and the Sixties Scoop; a call to relocate First Nations to unwanted settlements; a push to take away socially-funded housing on reserves; a statement of opposition to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and an apparent endorsement without comment of the White Paper calling for an end to any official status.
- For some other background on the Frontier Centre and its funders, DeSmogBlog has a handy summary here. And Barrick Gold's contempt for Indigenous rights has been well documented.
- By way of contrast to the Frontier Centre's response to its cavalier attitude toward residential schools and the racism behind them, see Alberta's response to the inclusion of a similarly-ahistorical question on a distance learning assignment. And Robyn Pitawanakwat and Garret Smith contrast the Saskatchewan government's forcible removal of the Justice for our Stolen Children camp against Calgary's welcoming of a similar initiative.
- Finally, Greg MacDougall discusses how colonialism continues to be a cause of alarming Indigenous suicide rates, while Kathleen Martens reports on the RCMP's stunning treatment of Brittany Martel's death as non-suspicious as an example of how Indigenous lives continue to be treated as disposable. And anybody looking for a reminder as to how residential schools actually fit into Canada's treatment of Indigenous peoples would be well-served to give another read to the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Update: See also Murray Mandryk's column today. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jean Swanson writes about the success of Vancouver tenants in pushing to limit the rent increases which can be forced on them. But any win for collective action will come attempts to stifle more of the same - and Dan Taekema reports on the move by a landlord in two Hamilton high-rises to wall off the common rooms which had served as gathering places for striking tenants.

- Alex Therrien reports that for the first time since the UK began keeping track, overall life expectancy is stagnating rather than increasing - with some areas seeing decreases. And Lucie Russell and Carl Packman comment on the need for fairness by design to ensure that people living in poverty don't face inflated expenses.

- Douglas Todd discusses the problem of wasted votes as one of the main issues to be solved by a proportional electoral system.

- CBC News reports on the inability of smaller, community-based liquor retailers to compete with large corporate chains due to the selective availability of supplier discounts.

- Finally, Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on the pay equity victory achieved by Ontario midwives. But Andre Picard writes that there's still plenty to be done to address pay equity in health care work.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Cats at play.

Tuesday Evening Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Aditya Chakrabortty discusses how UK Labour is pursuing genuine and positive class politics by promising to ensure that workers have a share in both the decision-making and the spoils of major corporations.

- Duncan Cameron offers a reminder of the lack of any meaningful distinction between the Libs and Cons on many points, including their ultimate devotion to capital over people. And Tamara Khandaker discusses the Trudeau Libs' choice to sign on to a U.S. declaration renewing the deadly "war on drugs", even as the Global Commission on Drug Policy calls for responsible controls through legalization and regulation.

- Kelsey Litwin reports on new research measuring the effect human-caused ozone depletion and greenhouse gas emissions have had on the warming of Antarctic waters - and showing that their impact exceeds that of all other causes. Josh Gabbatiss reports on a new study documenting how lobbying funded by fossil fuel money has overwhelmed U.S. politics. And Carl Meyer notes that scientists haven't yet begun to quantify the damage Donald Trump is inflicting with his administration's climate-destroying policies, while Marieke Walsh writes that it's not too soon for Ontario's Environment Commissioner to weigh in on Doug Ford's destruction.

- Meanwhile, Trish Hennessy and Ricardo Tranjan highlight how a Ford-ordered report is purely an ideological excuse for austerity to come, rather than an honest or reasonable assessment of Ontario's finances.

- Finally, Paul Krugman discusses how Republicans aren't even pretending to be able to defend their policies.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Monday Evening Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Evelyn Forget discusses the international outrage at the Ford PC's cancellation of a basic income pilot. And Paul Waldeman writes about Republicans' shock that voters are smart enough to recognize their giveaways to the wealthy for what they are.

- Doug Cuthand makes what should be the obvious point that residential schools intended to suppress Indigenous culture didn't have any redeeming features. But Tammy Robert's post makes clear that not only is there a worrisome lack of consensus on the basic harms of genocide, but right-wing ideologues are spending money to try to undermine the development of anything of the sort. And Steven Zhou reports on similar attempts to cultivate racism within Chinese Canadian politics.

- Meanwhile, Nick Loenen notes that a shift to proportional representation will help to ensure that extremism and bigotry aren't rewarded with artificial majorities.

- Anne Price and Jhumpa Bhattacharya write that a public wealth fund should account for and close existing racial wealth gaps.

- Finally, Michael Harris writes about the Libs' failures on the environment - and David Suzuki's role in holding them to account.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Ann Pettifor discusses the need for a Green New Deal to build an economy that's both socially and environmentally sustainable. And Sharon Riley writes about the economic and environmental implications of impending public hearings into what might be the largest tar-sands mine ever.

- George Eaton comments on the ambitious futurism of UK Labour under Jeremy Corbyn - in contrast to the failed, backward-looking campaigns under other recent leaders.

- Allan Clarke points out that both reconciliation and the alleviation of poverty among Indigenous people will require a federal government which recognizes and engages with historic Indigenous rights.

- Umair Haque highlights how social democratic policies in Europe have led to broad-based prosperity, while corporatist US policies have utterly failed to accomplish the same. And PressProgress points out how corporate interests which already receive billions in federal tax giveaways have the nerve to be demanding even more to match the Trump administration's preference for the wealthy over everybody else.

- Finally, Denise Balkissoon offers a reminder that "voter fraud" is nothing more than a myth used as an excuse for real and wide-range voter suppression.