Saturday, August 22, 2020

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Sheila Block writes that Chrystia Freeland and the Libs have a golden opportunity to build a more equitable society in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic - though the onus is on them to demonstrate (and on the rest of us to ensure) that they're prepared to make the best of it. And Heather Scoffield discusses what it means to "build back better" in recovering from COVID-19 - while noting that it's essential to ensure that parents are able to fully participate in our social and economic redevelopment.

- Crawford Kilian reviews Mark Lynas' Our Final Warning as a powerful warning of what will happen if we can't reverse our impending climate breakdown. And Rolly Montpelier notes that oil and gas companies are recognizing that their assets will have to stay in the ground.

- But Martin Olzynski offers a reminder that neither Canada nor its provinces have anything to be proud of in regulating the climate and environmental damage done by the fossil fuel sector. And Charlie Smith points out that Bill Morneau's main legacy as the Libs' finance minister will be throwing tens of billions of public dollars at a pipeline.

- Morten Buttler reports on Denmark's move to increase taxes on corporations and the wealthiest few to allow for earlier retirement for workers in particularly arduous jobs.

- Finally, the Globe and Mail's editorial board calls out Justin Trudeau's disdain for Parliament and for Canadian voters in the face of his own politically-motivated prorogation in the midst of a public health emergency. And Jordan Press reports on the Libs' plans to govern by fiat rather than allowing other parties any say in the next set of support programs - locking in their plans to make them means-tested and convoluted.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Musical interlude

Sylvan Esso - Ferris Wheel

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Steven Greenhouse writes that COVID-19 may produce a wave of unionization as workers see how little they're valued, and how cavalierly they lives are put at risk. And Ed Yong follows up on the plight of coronavirus "long-haulers" who have faced a constantly-changing series of symptoms for a period of months.

- Smriti Mallapaty highlights the factors needed to safely reopen schools - with minimal community spread being the most crucial point, while masking, class sizes and hygiene also loom large. And Nicole Bogart reports on the school bus drivers who are being asked to take serious risks with little apparent consideration for their health.

- Victoria Gibson reports on the worrisome correlation between COVID-19 cases and eviction proceedings among Toronto neighbourhoods.

- Shelly Hagan discusses how a drop in immigration to Canada as a result of border restrictions may threatens our social and economic development. And Beatrice Paez and Palak Mangat report on a push by some MPs to ensure that farm labourers are able to seek permanent residency, rather than being trapped in precarious and temporary work.

- Stuart Trew is optimistic that the Libs' prorogation of Parliament can create space for discussion about a just recovery. Linda McQuaig argues that the NDP should use its balance of power to push for a Canadian Green New Deal. Jagmeet Singh writes about the importance of investing in child care. And Eric Hoskins offers a reminder of the net benefit to be won by investing in a universal pharmacare program.

- But Matt Korda points out that rather than investing a healthy population and environment, the Libs are instead pushing forward with expensive purchases of armed surveillance drones. Hawa Mire notes that the Libs have continued to stall on action against systemic racism. And Arnold August observes that the Trudeau government is one of the few international supporters of armed regime change in Venezuela.

- Finally, Grace Blakely offers some lessons from Jeremy Corbyn's tenure as leader of UK Labour - including the importance of fighting for social justice in the face of establishment opprobrium.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Ed Finn writes about the need to shift away from capitalist domination before the next major crisis strikes. And Larry Elliott laments the top-heavy recovery that's seen trillions of dollars pumped into inflating stock bubbles to further enrich the wealthiest few, while most people face the loss of minimal and temporary income supports.

- Meanwhile, Paul Taylor sets out a vision of turning recreational spaces into urban farms to ensure a supply of affordable and healthy food for the people who need it most. Dan Fumano reports on a push in British Columbia to ensure that rental housing stays in the hands of organizations who want to keep it affordable. And Patrick Condon makes the case to build small, modular houses in order to make sure everybody who needs a home has access to it - rather than presuming that homelessness can be solved merely by scattering makeshift camps. 

- Zoe Hyde and Med Aust study the spread of COVID-19 in schools, and find that there's little basis for the claim that children are less likely to become infected or spread the coronavirus than adults. Sarath Peiris highlights how the Saskatchewan Party's push to return students to school with few protective measures reflects a choice to prioritize politics over science and health. Sask Dispatch convenes a roundtable to respond to questions about the connection between public health and education. And Dennis Kendel, Anne Huang and Kyle Anderson also address some of the issues facing children and staff as the start of the school year approaches:

- Meanwhile, Zak Vescera reports on the record number of overdose deaths in Saskatchewan which are being met with a similarly callous response from Scott Moe and company.

- Finally, Sara Mojtehedzadeh reports on new research from the Decent Work and Health Network showing how Canada's lack of sick leave puts us all at risk.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Michal Rozworski writes that we need to respond to the coronavirus pandemic with investment in the society we want to build for tomorrow, not austerity to punish us today:
Our economy is ripe for transformative reconstruction. The key now will be both how much we spend and, crucially, how we spend it. First, we must ensure everyone can meet basic needs. Income supports, including CERB, cannot be cut off before the pandemic ends, and an overhauled unemployment insurance (EI) system is also urgently needed, one that covers all jobless Canadians and replaces more lost income. At the same time, sharply increasing public investment not dependent on the private market should be an immediate priority, starting with big expansions of healthcare, child care and public housing.

Women have been hit harder by this crisis in multiple ways—both losing more jobs and taking on more work in the home. We need a national childcare program with good jobs at its centre to both respond to the gendered nature of the crisis and start to revalue care work.

To prevent a lost generation among today’s youth who are also disproportionately affected, the government should launch a big public green jobs program with fair wages, training and union representation. Think how much introducing a generation of young workers to unions in their first job could do for reviving the labour movement—a movement that could then help ensure the recovery from this crisis isn’t as unequal as from the last one.

If we fail to do these things and more, it will be a choice, not because we could not afford it. The COVID-19 pandemic is largely an act of chance, but an economic depression on its heels would be largely of our own making.
- But Randy Robinson writes that the Ontario PCs, like their conservative cousins across Canada, are already looking for excuses to slash limited supports and impose grinding austerity.

- Perlita Stroh discusses how COVID-19 looks to be destroying decades of already-slow workplace progress for working mothers. And Matt Lundy points out how the impending end of the CERB may deflate the individual spending which has been kept up thanks to the presence of a reliable source of income.

- Jennifer Brown calls out Doug Ford for endangering the safety of children to try to save money on school reopening. And Alex Soloducha reports on the parents and students who aren't satisfied with shuffling deck chairs and calling it a Saskatchewan reopening plan.

- Finally, Max Fawcett writes about the recent removal of Sandip Lalli (former president of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce0 for the crime of insufficient praise for Jason Kenney as an example of the UCP's extreme crackdown on dissent in Alberta.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Tuesday Night Cat Blogging

Bouncer cats.

Tuesday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Paola Frelich writes about the uber-rich whose habit of being strictly isolated from anybody else has allowed for life to continue as usual while workers face the risks of a pandemic. And Dominic Rushe comments on the split in the U.S.' economy between those with concentrated wealth which is only growing thanks to massive capital injections, and those scrambling to make ends meet as minimal benefits have been allowed to expire.

- Patrick Butler reports on the results of an inquiry finding a direct link between poor housing and COVID-19 death rates in the UK.

- Lynn Giesbrecht reports that Saskatchewan's pediatricians are just the latest group of experts to raise the alarm over the province's lack of a plan to ensure student and staff safety as schools reopen. Arthur White-Crummey reports on the concerns of Saskatchewan teachers about the risks of poorly ventilated schools. Kristin Rushowy reports on Doug Ford's rejection of any attempt to reduce class sizes to protect against the spread of COVID-19. And Rachel Mendleson and Jennifer Yang highlight the need to ensure that before- and after-school programs don't become an unaddressed source of viral spread. 

- Finally, J David Hughes discusses how massive subsidies to British Columbia's liquid natural gas industry have proven disastrous both for the environment and the economy. 

Monday, August 17, 2020

Monday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Dan Guadagnolo calls out the spinmeisters trying to torque job availability numbers to portray workers receiving coronavirus relief as lazy rather than deserving. And Christian Favreau notes that in fact, the real danger is that any recovery plan will be used to further enrich the already-wealthy while inflicting yet another round of crushing austerity on the poor and working class.

- Angus Reid studies public health compliance among the supporters of different parties, and unsurprisingly finds that conservatives are far more likely to be "cynical spreaders" putting people at risk for no good reason. And Tyler Barton and Anand Parekh offer some lessons from around the world about reopening schools - with the rate of community transmission serving as the most importance factor in avoiding outbreaks.

- Jeff Lewis and Rod Nickel discuss how improved measuring systems are revealing that the Canadian oil and gas sector is spewing out far more dangerous methane than previously recorded. And Laura Hurst reports on the increasing number of oil and gas companies doubting that there's any point in seeking out new projects. 

- Finally, David Roberts examines new research showing to effectively use carbon pricing as part of a set of policies to avert climate breakdown - rather than relying on it as a climate policy unto itself.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Lori Fox writes that the COVID-19 pandemic reflects a fundamental break with what had been business as usual - making it essential that we both grieve what's behind us, and work on developing what comes next:
Things aren’t going to go back to “normal.” There’s no “normal” to go back to.

More importantly, this pandemic has kicked open the factory doors of our culture and allowed us to see how the sausage is made: on the backs of the people whose labour, time and bodies we deem to be worth at or around minimum wage, but without which we absolutely could not – cannot – make it through this crisis.

Current conversations around the “safety” of going back to work right now are simply not for the lower classes. While many middle and upper class people worked from home, working class wage earners – grocery store clerks, delivery drivers, food and agriculture folk – continued on as “essential workers,” dispensing and producing the goods and services on which our entire culture runs, all the while risking continuous public exposure. They went to work – and continue to go to work – because they have to, and will continue to have to, even as we see infections spike, something we should prepare to happen, given what we are seeing in other nations, such as Germany and Australia.
The destabilizing effect of this pandemic has laid bare the economic inequality on which our society functions. Class disparity, the resistance to universal income, systemic racism, the militarization of the police and the rhetoric of the current political climate are not the result of the pandemic; they are the endgame of capitalism. We’ve merely paused the machine long enough to see them clearly.
(W)e might ask if the world we have lost is really as good as we remember, if it was serving the life we hoped we would have. I’m working class. I’ve experienced homelessness and poverty. I’m queer. I’m non-binary. I’m female. I know – have known for most of my adult life – that in this world some bodies are worth more than other bodies. Some lives are worth more than other lives. Some happiness is worth more than other happiness.

What we are seeing, now, in this crisis, is a perfect distillation of that, of the ways the world before did not serve – did not care about – everyone equally. This is a chance to rethink that; perhaps not only can we not return to the world before this, but maybe we don’t really want to.
...Even if we did all agree to go back to the way things were, they can never actually really be that way; the illusion has been dispelled.

So go ahead and grieve now. Think carefully. Fill in the holes the world before has left.


Be good to your neighbours and friends. Take care of them as best you can. Don’t let them go without, if it’s possible. We’re going to need each other more than ever.
- Meanwhile, Madeline Leung Coleman comments that Yun Ko-Eun's The Disaster Tourist anticipates the plight of workers told they're essential while continuing to be exploited. And Bruce Livesey discusses how the richest few are only getting richer thanks to the pandemic, even as nearly everybody else is struggling just to tread water.

- Andre Picard writes about the need to have at least some means for children to be back to school this fall, while acknowledging we need to do everything in our power to ensure the health and safety of kids, teachers and families alike. Theresa Kliem and Alicia Bridges report on the lack of any mention of ventilation issues in the Saskatchewan Party's instructions for a return to school. Amina Zafar follows up to find plenty of parents and experts worried about that glaring omission, while Kristin Rushowy reports on new polling showing the preferences of Ontario's parents. And Derek Turner points out the increased uncertainty and risk for substitute teachers who are expected to deal with different cohorts of students from day to day.

- Finally, Doug Cuthand writes that any solutions to Saskatchewan's suicide crisis among Indigenous peoples need to be based on community control, rather then merely reflecting the portions of settler-centred consultations that fit with the Saskatchewan Party's political plans.