Prog Blog’s Flickr Photostream

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Frances Russell rightly asks whose freedom is supposed to be protected by free trade agreements such as CETA: Once Canada signs CETA (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) with Europe, federal, provincial and municipal governments will suddenly find their hands and feet tied. Suddenly, they will experience real push-back from foreign multinationals should they try to use their historic right to maintain civic, provincial and national autonomy in governmental decision making.

Simultaneously, Canada’s sub-national governments will suddenly discover they have lost the ability to protect the environment, create well-paying, long-term jobs and (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Marc Lee writes that British Columbia has learned nothing about the dangers of staple economics. But Christy Clark has certainly learned something from her predecessor’s playbook: one term after Gordon Campbell’s promise not to impose an HST fell by the wayside immediately after he’d secured another four years in office, Clark is abandoning her supposed concern for the environment in order to facilitate wholesale shipment of oil products by pipeline, rail and tanker.

- Meanwhile, Dallas MacQuarrie discusses the heavy-handed RCMP response to peaceful protestors challenging fracking on First Nations land in Rexton, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On meaningless spin

Far too many people who should know better have tried to find some significance in the B.C. government’s submission to the Harper Cons’ Northern Gateway rubber-stamping process. So in case anybody needs a refresher course, here’s why we shouldn’t see it as an important development.

To start with, B.C.’s announcement doesn’t represent a “decision” in any meaningful sense of the word. After all, the B.C. Lib government signed an equivalency agreement (PDF) three years ago in which they agreed to let Stephen Harper decide any environmental questions related to the Northern Gateway pipeline – meaning that (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- To the extent corporatist voices are pushing increased private involvement in funding Canadian health care, their main argument generally involves the claim that private insurers will be more willing to fund expensive courses of treatment which might be rationed out of public plans. But Don Butler reports that at least one of the major private insurers is taking exactly the opposite view in describing the future of private prescription drug insurance: Private drug plans that provide coverage to 19 million Canadians are not sustainable in their current form, according to an executive at (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Michael Babad takes a look at Bureau of Labor Statistics data on wages and employment levels – reaching the conclusion that the corporatist effort to drive wages down does nothing to improve employment prospects. But the absence of any remotely plausible policy justification hasn’t stopped the Sask Party from “modernizing” the province’s rules governing work by setting them back upwards of half a century.

- Meanwhile, Pat Atkinson rightly notes that the most important problem with the Cons’ push for temporary foreign workers is the “temporary” part. And Nicholas Keung and Dana Flavelle (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how all of Canada could lose out if Christy Clark’s B.C. Liberals are able to follow through on their plans to eliminate the Therapeutics Initiative which has provided needed information about the effectiveness of prescription drugs.

For further reading…- More background about the current status of the Therapeutics Initiative is available here and here. – And the efforts to reduce public purchasing costs for generic drugs discussed in the column include the national initiative reported on by CBC, as well as Alberta’s more recent push. – But hopefully my concern will be rendered moot by (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- The Broadbent Institute’s “Union Communities, Healthy Communities” report discusses the significance of the labour movement in achieving positive social outcomes. And Rick Smith concurrently writes that the right’s attacks on unions represent a solution in search of a problem: (W)hen unions are strong, the gains that they make for their members in terms of decent wages and benefits spill over into non-union workplaces. In the face of Canadian conservatives trying to portray unions as some kind of impediment to economic growth and productivity, actually examining this empirical evidence is instructive.

Economists agree (Read more…) the rapidly rising share of all income going to the top 1% in the US and Canada since the early 1980s is explained in significant part by declining unionization. US-style de-unionization would clearly make Canada a much more unequal society than is already the case.

And . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Jason Fekete reports on the growing recognition that tax evasion and avoidance are serious global problems – and the Cons’ attempt to be seen nodding at the issues. Needless to say, that posturing would be far more plausible if the same Cons weren’t simultaneously announcing their intention to slash the Canada Revenue Agency’s enforcement capability even further (in keeping with their past moves to attack the CRA).

- Meanwhile, the fallout from Peter Penashue’s acceptance of illegal corporate campaign donations continues. And it’s well worth highlighting the fact that the financial agent

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has unveiled its alternative federal budget – which highlights the choice between the Cons’ needless austerity, and the 200,000-300,000 extra jobs which could be created alongside important social improvements which could be brought about through well-placed public action.

- Meanwhile, Murray Dobbin worries that the use of interest rates alone as an economic growth strategy is feeding an unsustainable housing bubble – offering anpther indication as to why we should work on expanding socially productive activities rather than hoping that unfettered (and indeed exacerbated) market forces

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Bea Vongdouangchanh reports on Kevin Page’s concerns that the Cons are set to effectively destroy the PBO. And the Star’s editorial board slams Stephen Harper’s war against transparency and accountability in general: Stonewalling, foot-dragging and contempt for Parliament pay. At least that’s what the federal government appears to have concluded in the wake of the 2011 election. Toppled two years ago after being found in contempt of Parliament for failing to disclose fiscal information, the Conservatives were nonetheless rewarded in the polls with a majority government — a victory that has served as . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Lawrence Martin discusses how the B.C. Libs, Harper Cons and other governments have responded to transparency requirements by deliberately refusing to record what they’re doing and why: News from the government of British Columbia. Sorry citizens, we have no files. There is no written record of our decisions. You want to know how we operate? Sorry.

It’s no joke. A report from Elizabeth Denham, the province’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, says the rate of ‘no records’ responses to freedom of information requests is soaring. At the premier’s office, no less

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Chrystia Freeland comments on the disproportionate influence of the super-rich in a democratic system which is supposed to value citizens equally: “I think most Americans believe in the idea of political equality,” Callahan told me. “That idea is obviously corrupted when in 2012, one guy, Sheldon Adelson, can make more political donations than the residents of 12 states put together.”

The Demos study draws in part on the quantitative research of Martin Gilens, a professor of politics at Princeton University and author of “Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Tim Harper writes about Scott Vaughan’s final report as the federal environmental commissioner: Scott Vaughan doesn’t have the profile of some of his contemporaries but as the environmental commissioner bowed out with a final report Tuesday, he reminded official Ottawa how much he will be missed.

Vaughan is leaving after five years of what he calls — in typical understatement — identifying “gaps” in the environmental policies of the Conservative government. More often than not, those gaps are more like chasms.

He also departs at a time when the environment and the economy

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Raz Godelnik challenges the all-too-conventional wisdom that corporations (and indeed individuals) should see tax avoidance and evasion as virtues: One of the most common arguments is that the tax-avoidance techniques used by corporations like Starbucks or Google are legal and therefore they’re not to be blamed, but the tax systems that make them possible.

Apparently these techniques are indeed legal, but here are couple of other things that are legal, such as: cutting down trees in rainforests, sourcing blood minerals from Congo, working with suppliers in China that release hazardous materials into rivers

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Accidental Deliberations: On dubious partners

I’ve mostly avoided commenting on the federal Libs’ leadership race based on the need for the party’s own membership (and supportership in this case) to decide on a future direction for itself. But with one of the candidates explicitly running on a platform of cross-party dealings, I’d think there’s some room to analyze whether she has much prospect of reaching out to other parties.

Which brings us to this: With one lonely exception, the top tier of contenders for the Liberal helm has veered sharply to the right, much to the private consternation of some of the stalwarts of

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On dubious partners

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how the Gateway pipeline serves as a prime example as to why governments shouldn’t be too quick to minimize environmental assessment processes.

For further reading…- Robyn Allan’s latest discussion of the Gateway pipeline is here.- Kevin Logan documents Christy Clark’s position prior to her latest desperate call for attention.- And David Anderson delivers his view of Enbridge and the Gateway pipeline.

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Evening Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Robyn Allan notes that there’s plenty of weakness in Christy Clark’s position on the Gateway pipeline. But Barbara Yaffe writes that Clark has little choice but to stick to at least the requests she’s made so far – and Vaughn Palmer points out that those alone may be enough to derail the project. And there figures to be little that shadowy committees of oil barons and Alberta and federal politicians can do to change that political reality in British Columbia.

- John Ibbitson and Janyce McGregor both discussed some fascinating Nanos polling

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Evening Links

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Vaughn Palmer discusses the unfortunate gap between the outrages that may lead to a government being pushed out of power, and a new government’s ability to actually reverse what’s been done. Which, a propos of nothing, makes it rather important to push lame-duck incumbents to respect the democratic will of citizens rather than pushing through controversial plans without even the bare pretense of public consultation.

- I don’t have any problem with the idea of “hardheaded socialism” as a successful economic and political model, particularly as it fits the NDP’s

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your weekend.

- Will Hutton discusses how the increasing gaps in economic equality are leading to radical differences in opportunity – with the U.S./U.K. push toward private schooling serving as a particular source of exclusion: (T)he middle class of whatever ethnic background is spending more on what Putnam calls its children’s “enrichment activities” so important for psychological wellbeing and character building; in fact they are spending 11 times more than those at the bottom. In 1972, working-class children from the bottom quartile of earners were just as likely to participate in a wide

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Bruce Johnstone reminds us that much of Stephen Harper’s low-wage, anti-worker agenda has been rather poorly hidden for a long time: Everything from growing trees for farmers to processing immigration applications to inspecting meat to examining evidence in criminal investigations, all of the activities being cut are providing an important, even critical, service to the public. How does that increase efficiency, reduce redundancy or improve service?

The short answer is: it doesn’t. That’s not even the point.

The point is Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants Canadians off the federal feed bag. Whether its

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Alex Himelfarb laments the Cons’ dismantling of a progressive state in Canada. But lest we lose all hope, Annie Lowrey reports on the Piketty/Saez economic work that’s paving the way for fairer taxes in the U.S. And Kelly McParland has to admit that more progressive taxes are entirely supported by the public even as he registers his disapproval for having the wealthy pay a fair share.

- Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher report that Robocon has predictably been traced back to the Cons’ central campaign. And Sixth Estate looks in more

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Afternoon Links

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your weekend.

- pogge rounds up last week’s news on the Robocon front – while the outside attack on the NDP’s leadership vote suggests that the block-the-vote crowd isn’t limiting its work to general elections.

- Meanwhile, Dave connects some dots between the Harper Cons, the B.C. Libs and two IT service providers.

- Gerald Caplan points out that it’s the most amoral gamblers earning the largest returns from our current version of casino capitalism.

- Finally, in other NDP convention followup notes, Cathie is optimistic that Thomas Mulcair can fight back against the Harper

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- pogge points out that the Cons’ response to the perception that judges aren’t fully onside with their efforts to impose top-down control has been to eliminate the judiciary’s ability to ensure fair results: Where the institutions of government have put constraints on Conservative ambitions, this government has tried to game them, sabotage them or roll right over them. If a regulator like Linda Keen gets in the way, she gets fired. Legislation from Jason Kenney and now Vic Toews has attempted to give the ministers ever-wider latitude to act on their own

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Paul Krugman comments on how Republicans’ cheerleading for total corporate control – which has of course been matched at every turn by Canada’s Cons – has resulted in their declaring war on any policy which could possibly result in environmental improvements: (T)he payoff to…new rules (on mercury emissions) is huge: up to $90 billion a year in benefits compared with around $10 billion a year of costs in the form of slightly higher electricity prices. This is, as David Roberts of Grist says, a very big deal.

And it’s a deal

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Good riddance

At long last, B.C.’s HST has met its end. Vaughn Palmer reminds us why, while Iglika Ivanova looks at what comes next. . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Good riddance