Saturday, August 24, 2019

Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- Ryan Nunn, Jimmy O'Donnell and Jay Shambaugh study how the U.S.' labour movement has been ground down by corporate-controlled governments - and how workers in all kinds of workplaces are worse off as a result. And Robin Tress cautions against allowing businesses to dictate what constitutes the "public interest".

- Meanwhile, Jolson Lim reports that the vast majority of Canadians recognize that businesses and wealthy individuals need to contribute more toward the cost of building a functional society.

- Kate Aronoff highlights how any effective climate plan needs to include some idea how to overcome structural barriers put in place by the fossil fuel sector, rather than presuming that it will be remotely willing to cooperate in saving a habitable planet. And the CP reports on Greenpeace's call for an end to trade negotiations which would not only validate Brazil's destruction of the Amazon, but provide further protection for corporations wanting to get in on the damage.

- Graeme Benjamin reports on the justified backlash against anti-immigration billboards being used to advertise for the PPC. But Victoria Gibson notes that the Libs' actions have been entirely in keeping with the philosophy of locking up newcomers to Canada, as the number of children in immigration detention doubled in just the last year.

- Finally, Meera Bains writes about the plight of Amrit Kaur and others who have been driven out of Quebec workplaces by Bill 21.

Bottom lines and shifting goalposts

I noted last night that there's no validity to complaints about the NDP ruling out support for a Con government. But if anybody wants to point out which party's stance on supporting anybody else as a possible government does seem problematic, there's yet more odd spin coming from the Greens:
Needless to say, the bottom-line demand to "protect human rights" would be far more meaningful if Elizabeth May hadn't previously declared recognition of fundamental rights to be optional among her own candidates. And if the Greens were somehow to end up holding what would be at best a narrow balance of power, it's hard to see a way out for May which doesn't involve breaking some pre-election commitment if negotiations in a minority Parliament end up running into the issues raised by Bill 21, including the possibility of federal intervention.

On the one hand, May could try to whip her members on a subject where she's currently telling them they're free to do as they see fit. But in the process, she'd confirm that any promise of MP independence is illusory. 

Or more likely, she'd end up discarding one of her only two core commitments on the altar of expediency. But if it's easily foreseeable that one of her "bottom lines" will be erased at the first opportunity, progressive voters have every reason for concern about her judgment - especially when she sees supporting the Cons as an option to be left on the table.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Musical interlude

Foals - In Degrees

On clear positions

What should have been considered an entirely uncontroversial bit of news - that, like his predecessors, Jagmeet Singh has publicly stated that he's not interested in putting a Con government in power - has instead given rise to a truly impressive display of projection and selective amnesia. So let's set the record straight.

No, it's not accurate to say "but Jack Layton would never have done that!". To the contrary, Layton did it as well, releasing this passage in his own book when he was still leading the NDP and strategizing about post-election options:
I was not about to participate in any scheme cooked up by the Bloc and the Conservatives that would put the country in the hands of Stephen Harper.
And it's even more preposterous to suggest that it's "rare for a party leader to take options off the table so early in an election cycle".

The previous three federal election cycles have all been marked by the Libs trying to lay the foundation for their strategic voting racket by loudly trumpeting a refusal to countenance any post-election coalition with the NDP, even if the result was to leave Stephen Harper in power. And at every opportunity, they've indicated after the fact that they didn't mean a word of that spin.

Similarly, while the Cons have regularly run on multiple incorrect and unprincipled claims (that the party with the most seats governs, and that coalitions of any kind are illegitimate), they've never held to those positions when they've perceived any hope of seizing power by discarding them.

If there's any difference between the NDP's position and that of competing parties, it's that the NDP can be counted on to base its level of willingness to cooperate with other parties on reasonable principles, and to follow through on its commitments. And Singh is rightly upholding that well-established tradition.

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Mia Rabson reports on a new Climate Action Network report card showing that Canada's plans for greenhouse gas emissions are as bad as any in the G8, projecting to lead to the same 4 degree temperature increase which would result from from Donald Trump's outright denialism. And Marc Jaccard concludes that the Cons' excuse for a climate plan will actually result in increases in Canada's greenhouse gas emissions over the next crucial decade.

- Meanwhile, Eliane Brum highlights how humanity as a whole is facing severe risks from Brazil's deliberate destruction of the Amazon rain forest in the name of short-term profits.

- Alicia Bridges reports on new research showing how even conventional oil production in Saskatchewan may be resulting in serious risks to drinking water. And Stephanie Tobin examines the false promise of offshore oil spill cleanup - where even ideal conditions result in 90% of what's dumped into water being left there to contaminate marine areas.

- Olivia Tobin reports on Jeremy Corbyn's warnings about the generation of young people being left behind by the UK's Conservative government, while Jagmeet Singh comments on the similar problem with the increasing precarity facing young Canadians. And Heather Scoffield writes about the experience of poverty among people being told they should be grateful for stagnant gaps between the wealthy and the rest of us.

- Finally, Jill Filipovic discusses new research showing how "pro-life" positions are primarily about asserting male dominance over women.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

New column day

Here, on how right-wing provincial governments across Canada are deliberately denying benefits to their constituents solely to try to avoid any credit going to the federal level in advance of this fall's election.

For further reading...
- Murray Mandryk, Sarath Peiris and plenty of letter writers have already pointed out the pettiness of Scott Moe's refusal to fund projects in Regina.
- Mia Rabson reported on Brian Pallister's refusal to accept funding for energy efficiency in schools (along with the subsequent federal workaround), while Sean Kavanagh has reported on the lack of funding already suffered by Manitoba's education system under an austerian regime.
- John Geddes reports that gas station owners proposed less misleading stickers about fuel prices - but that Doug Ford was unwilling to do anything other than force them to feed into anti-carbon tax messaging.
- Finally, David Climenhaga has also pointed out the similarities between Canada's right-wing clique and a decade of Republican obstructionism.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Alex Hemingway writes about the need for Canada's federal election to include a discussion about democratizing ownership and control of our economy. Nicole Aschoff notes that any discussion about industrial policy needs to include a serious analysis as to who benefits from economic development. And Tristan Hughes argues that the SNC Lavalin scandal represents only a tiny slice of the problem of government subservience to the corporate sector - and that we can't ignore the structural problems in favour of disputes over the scandal's specifics.

- Gamechangers points out how federal corporate tax cuts - like those in so many other jurisdictions - have failed to produce any promised returns for anybody outside the shareholder and executive classes. And Allan Lanthier notes that estate freezes represent one more mechanism for wealth to accumulate across generations without helping to fund the society which enables it.

- Mae Nam writes about the need for unions to push for better workplace conditions. And Kayla Blado rejects the claim that "self-care" is any substitute for collective action.

- Finally, Elizabeth McSheffrey reports on the systemic culture of cover-ups when it comes to health and safety dangers caused by the fossil fuel sector. Justin Nobel discusses how North Dakota's regulator helped an operator misreport the size of an oil spill by a factor of a million. The Canadian Press reports on the new Bonterra spill which has dumped oil into a creek feeding into the North Saskatchewan River and Edmonton's water supply. And Morgan Krakow reports on a cyanide spill which affected drinking water in Michigan for days before the public was made aware.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Tom Parkin talks to Toby Sanger about the utter failure of corporate tax cuts to produce anything other than concentrated wealth and increased inequality.

- Steven Greenhouse offers suggestions both as to how governments can level the playing field between workers and employers to reduce inequality, and how workers can have a voice even before those structural fixes are made.

- Alan Freeman examines the dangers associated with the Boeing 737 Max as a prime example of the consequences of deregulation.

- Robert Benzie reports that groups helping people with disabilities in Ontario are the latest to find out that Doug Ford isn't prepared to provide the funding needed to perform their work. And the Canadian Press reports that the same municipal cuts which were hastily reversed due to their devastating effect on communities are now set to be imposed again beginning in 2020.

- Martin Regg Cohn points out the absurdity of Ford ordering gas stations to display political propaganda.

- Finally, James Cairns writes about the selective nature of right-wing "free speech" messaging - which is in fact designed to do nothing but silence anybody other than their own reactionary movement.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Aditya Chakrabortty writes about the consequences of the UK's choice not to fund its or social infrastructure:
We are right in the middle of an infrastructure breakdown – we just haven’t named it yet. You’ll know what I mean when we list the component parts. More than 760 youth clubs have shut across the UK since 2012. A pub closes every 12 hours. Nearly 130 libraries were scrapped last year, and those that survive in England have lopped off 230,000 opening hours.

Each of the above is a news story. Each stings a different group: the books trade, the real-ale aficionados, the trade unions. But knit them together and a far darker picture emerges. Britain is being stripped of its social infrastructure: the institutions that make up its daily life, the buildings and spaces that host friends and gently push strangers together. Public parks are disappearing. Playgrounds are being sold off. High streets are fast turning to desert. These trends are national, but their greatest force is felt in the poorest towns and suburbs, the most remote parts of the countryside, where there isn’t the footfall to lure in the businesses or household wealth to save the local boozer.
When it comes to transport or energy or sewage, Britain has a National Infrastructure Commission that monitors the country’s needs and guides parliament on where to direct spending. After all, the quality of such hard infrastructure influences where multinationals set up shop: it is money-making. But parks and libraries don’t generate cash. Social infrastructure has no lobby, no registry of assets and certainly no government agency. No Whitehall official monitors how much of it has closed or withered away – that relies on civil society groups to file freedom of information requests or badger town halls with survey. Everyone knows we need it, yet just as our economic model prizes shareholder returns over investment in the National Grid, so our politics relies on drawing in the voters with unfeasibly low taxes. Until one day, something breaks and all hell breaks loose.

So here is a suggestion for Jeremy Corbyn or Nicola Sturgeon or Adam Price or whoever else fancies it. Talk about the importance of social infrastructure. Promise to set up a commission explicitly to audit what we have and help protect it. Commit public money to it, alongside gentle pressure on the private sector to do its bit. That way, we can publicly mark the public institutions we all know we need – and show the esteem due to the people who keep them going and use them. The spirit we need is that summed up by the librarian who rhapsodises to Klinenberg about his branch: “The library really is a palace. It bestows nobility on people who can’t otherwise afford a shred of it. People need to have nobility and dignity in their lives. And, you know, they need other people to recognise it in them too.”
- Chris Varcoe reports that the UCP's corporate tax giveaways are predictably leading to no economic benefit to anybody other than shareholders and executives. And Jessica Elgot reports on UK Labour's plans to give municipalities the power to restore abandoned shops to public use.

- Andrew Mitrovica highlights the significance of Justin Trudeau's ethical violations. The Globe and Mail's editorial board lists the many failings which went into the Libs' attempt to twist laws and constitutional principles to serve SNC-Lavalin. And Andrew Coyne zeroes in on the deception involved in Trudeau's interventions - including toward the Attorney General he'd appointed to uphold the rule of law.

- Ben Smee reports on a prime example on the contempt fossil fuel spokesflacks have for the lives of people affected by a climate breakdown. And Rick Salutin calls attention to Canada's appalling support for anti-democratic corporate repression in Honduras.

- Finally, Oliver Franklin-Wallis discusses the limited effectiveness of plastic recycling.