Prog Blog’s Flickr Photostream

Accidental Deliberations: On half measures

Having written this column a couple of weeks back on electoral financing in Saskatchewan, I’ll take a moment to address this letter to the editor in response from R. Curtis Mullen.

It’s indeed true that Saskatchewan has spending limits which apply during an election campaign. But the Canada Elections Act does in fact regulate both donations and campaign spending, leaving little room for anybody to argue that it’s an “either”/or situation.

More importantly, though, campaign spending limits fall short of addressing the principled basis for donation restrictions on two fronts.

First, they do nothing about the problem of concentrated donations.

(Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta Politics: Notley NDP waste no time implementing popular progressive agenda in former conservative heartland

Banning corporate and union donations: Check. Restoring funding to health, education and human services: Check. Increasing corporate taxes: Check. Introducing a new climate change strategy: Coming soon. Phasing in a $15 per hour minimum wage: Coming soon. Reviewing Alberta’s natural resource… Continue Reading →

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how the Senate’s failure to provide any second thought on C-51 may serve as the ultimate signal that it has nothing useful to offer Canadians.

For further reading…- PressProgress’ look at the Senate’s sad history is well worth a read. The CBC reports on the Auditor General’s findings about the widespread abuse of public money. And Ian Austen offers a U.S. perspective on what comes next for the Senate.- Meanwhile, Karl Nerenberg explains why abolition is well within reach if anybody is willing to take a leadership role in pursuing it without reopening other (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Juxtaposition

Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party is trumpeting the “success” of a hiring freeze in which the entire government saved $8 million in a quarter – or roughly $32 million per year – by not hiring staff.

Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party has increased the cost of consultants in the Ministry of Highways alone by roughly $50 million per year by using more expensive outside contractors rather than hiring staff.

Anybody else think the Saskatchewan Party might be freezing the wrong kind of spending?

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the Saskatchewan Party’s devaluation of the music teacher (among other cultural and community-building parts of our schools).

For further reading…- CBC reported on the Prairie Spirit School Division’s decision to eliminate school bands here, and Janet French did likewise here.- The Star-Phoenix’ editorial board weighed in here. And now, even the Saskatchewan Party is pretending to oppose what its policy choices have wrought.- And for those looking to support the students trying to save their band program, Shawna Langer’s petition is here.

Accidental Deliberations: The mystery advantage

Shorter Brad Wall:

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how Brad Wall looks to face plenty of new political challenges now that he can’t rely on an Alberta PC dynasty to do much of his dirty work for him.

For further reading…- I briefly addressed the same issue with a particular focus on privatized MRIs in this post. – Wall’s history of relying on Alberta donors (with PC help) is discussed here, here and here among other places. – Finally, Dave Cournoyer wonders what will become of the Alberta PCs’ remaining patronage appointments. And David Climenhaga discusses the limited future of the PCAA – (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Evening Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Sara Mojtehedzadeh highlights how Ontario employers are exploiting temporary workers rather than making any effort to offer jobs which can support a life: Under Ontario’s antiquated Employment Standards Act, which is currently under review, there is no limit on how long a company can employ a worker as temporary before giving him or her a permanent job.

There is nothing to stop employers from paying temp workers less than their permanent counterparts, nothing to prevent them from hiring their entire workforce on a “temporary” basis if they so choose.

“If the employer knows (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On private choices

Among the other noteworthy impacts of Rachel Notley’s resounding election victory, right-wing governments elsewhere can no longer point to Alberta as the worst offender when it comes to breaking down universal public health care.

And it may not be surprising that Brad Wall is offering to play that role instead, with two-tier access to MRIs representing just the latest attack. But Wall may learn the hard way that if Alberta can topple a political dynasty over its corporatist preferences, Saskatchewan voters are even less inclined to serve as the thin edge of the wedge in destroying one of our province’s (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On personal protections

Where Brad Wall will admit just one “lapse in judgment” in his office’s deliberate release of Peter Bowden’s personal information for political purposes, I can count several – with a staffer’s working for Wall in the first place, following his instructions, and expecting not to be thrown under the bus for Wall’s decision looming high on the list.

Fortunately for Wall’s staffers, they’re apparently being granted far more privacy protection than the whistleblowers they’re being paid to attack.

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how the treatment of Peter Bowden’s concerns about patient care demonstrate that the Saskatchewan Party can’t tell the difference between partisan and public interests.

For further reading…- The background to the story, including Bowden’s comment on understaffing at his Oliver Lodge workplace, was reported on by Clare Clancy here. CBC highlighted the apparent retaliation against Bowden here. And Mike McKinnon reported on the privacy breach involved in the release of details of Bowden’s suspension here.- And Murray Mandryk has already weighed in on the privacy concerns here and here. (Though I’ll note that the Saskatchewan (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On radioactive proposals

Never mind Brad Wall’s hand-picked group of nuclear industry shills using public money to further their own profits found that nuclear power is not price-competitive even among an artificially limited set of options absent a substantial carbon price – and that Wall himself refuses to set one.

And never mind that a subsequent public consultation found that “the overwhelming response…was that nuclear power generation should not be a choice for Saskatchewan”.

When it comes to locking in a high-cost, high-risk nuclear plant just as renewables are emerging as a viable large-scale alternative, Wall won’t take “no” for an answer. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on Brad Wall’s appalling admission that the Saskatchewan Party’s plan for a low-carbon economy is to move into Ontario’s basement rather than pursuing sustainable development in Saskatchewan.

For further reading…- Wall’s comments and other provincial positions in the lead up to this week’s premiers’ meeting can be found here. – Geoffrey Vendeville reported on the earlier cap-and-trade agreement between Ontario and Quebec. And Yasmine Hassan discussed the massive Quebec climate change rally.- The Saskatchewan greenhouse gas bill which has been passed but never proclaimed in force can be found here (PDF).- Joe Romm reports on (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the Saskatchewan Party’s choice to turn the graduate retention credit into a purely political goodie rather than a program which could conceivably retain Saskatchewan graduates, while at the same time devaluing the very concept of education for its own sake.

For further reading…- The province’s explanation (such as it is) can be found here. And CBC reported on the changes here. – I allude in the column to Ontario’s choice to put tuition policy directly in the hands of employers as reported by Simona Chiose here. – And Kevin Milligan’s analysis of the problems with the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the need and opportunity to show some vision in our provincial budgeting and planning – even if the Wall government has no interest in bothering.

For further reading…- I posted previously on the Sask Party’s habit of locking Saskatchewan into ill-advised long-term contracts which serve nobody’s interests but the corporations involved. – Karri Munn-Venn discusses the UK Energy Research Centre’s report on which fossil fuels we can afford to exploint here. – Likewise, Ivan Semeniuk and Shawn McCarthy report on the Acting on Climate Change study showing how Canada can eliminate the use of non-renewable power (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On unwanted obligations

Mike McKinnon reports that austerity elsewhere isn’t being applied to continued seven-figure spending on a Lean tour. But it’s particularly worth noting how that particular money pit is still drawing Saskatchewan citizens’ money even as the provincial government cries poor at every other opportunity: The Saskatchewan government’s freeze on non-essential travel does not include costly trips to the United States for staff to be trained in Lean methods.

Seven of the so-called “Lean tours” were planned between Jan. 1 and Mar. 31, at a cost of $8,900 per person, per trip. With 20 people on each tour, the total cost (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how the Saskatchewan Party’s manipulative consultation designed to push liquor retailing into the private sector only managed to highlight the fact that our current system is working just fine.

For further reading, the consultation materials are here, including the survey results here (PDF). And even though those don’t include the thousands of people who expressed their support for keeping liquor public, they indicate little interest in a larger number of retail locations or increased hours of availability – which of course represent the main difference in pursuing a plan aimed at letting private operators open (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On misappropriation

Shorter Don McMorris: You might think that a publicly administered and funded consultation process would be intended to inform provincial public policy decisions, and that partisan platform development should be funded by a political party instead. But let me assure you that Brad Wall’s government has no such scruples.

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- 24 Hours offers a debate as to whether or not we should pursue a basic income – though it’s striking that the “con” case is based almost entirely on a message that a secure income for everybody can’t be achieved, rather than any argument that it shouldn’t.

- Gabriel Bristow writes about the next battle against austerity, this time arising out of general strikes in Belgium. And Tara Ehrcke muses about what a Canadian equivalent to Syriza could pursue by way of people-friendly policies, while Trish Hennessy looks at the middle-class economics which (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Last chance to weigh in

While there’s always reason to be skeptical of the Wall government’s consultation processes, there’s also plenty of risk in not participating – as a lack of expressed opposition will all too likely be taken as agreement with the Saskatchewan Party’s plans.

Which is to say that I’ll strongly encourage Saskatchewan readers to participate in the province’s consultation on liquor retailing before today’s deadline passes.

If you’re looking for a strong general message to send as to the importance of preserving our current system, you’ll find one at Keep Liquor Public. I’ve chosen instead to focus on the opportunity to build (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how Saskatchewan residents should be able to count on secure housing, rather than being shunted into stopgap social housing by the Wall government.

For further reading…- The provincial government’s announcement that affordable housing in Saskatchewan is no more can be found here. And the NDP’s response is here. – For information on the temporary nature of the social housing program that’s left, see here (PDF): For families, social housing is intended to be short-term until a family is able to afford to buy or rent a home in the private housing market.

- The background to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how the now-infamous story of Eric and Ilsa bears a disturbing resemblance to how Brad Wall has handled Saskatchewan’s finances.

For further reading…- Again, the original Eric and Ilsa story is here, with Rob Carrick following up here. And the story was picked up (with appropriate criticism) here, here and here among other places.- I’ve also commented in this post, and I’ll note that the point applies equally when it comes to Saskatchewan: in fact, Saskatchewan’s GDP has more than tripled since 1990 without generating much more than the insistence that we (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on the Wall government’s secret attack on overtime pay for retail workers – and how it reflects a preference for the rule of lobbyists over the rule of law.

For further reading…- See my previous posts here, here and here for background on the story – including the Ministry’s directives to staff at the second link.- And I’ll note that selective “flexibility” – defined as workers bending over backwards to serve their corporate overlords – is the Saskatchewan Party’s main excuse for cutting workers’ overtime pay. And Katie Mazer discusses how that same principle applies (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On overtime losses

Those readers who follow my law blog will already be familiar with this week’s news about the Saskatchewan Party government’s attack on overtime pay for retail workers. But I’ll take some time to assemble the full story here.

Historically, a “day” for the purpose of calculating overtime for Saskatchewan workers has been defined as any consecutive period of 24 hours. All Saskatchewan workers have been entitled to overtime if they are required to work more than 8 hours in any such period.

As part of its response to the Saskatchewan Party’s employment law review process, the Retail Council of Canada (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- Reviewing Darrell West’s Billionaires, Michael Lewis discusses how extreme wealth doesn’t make anybody better off – including the people fighting for position at the top of the wealth spectrum: A team of researchers at the New York State Psychiatric Institute surveyed 43,000 Americans and found that, by some wide margin, the rich were more likely to shoplift than the poor. Another study, by a coalition of nonprofits called the Independent Sector, revealed that people with incomes below twenty-five grand give away, on average, 4.2 percent of their income, while those (Read more…)