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Accidental Deliberations: Monday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Alyssa Battistoni writes that a universal basic income could go a long way toward solving environmental and economic problems alike by placing a focus on sustainable quality of life rather than increasing consumer consumption: If overconsumption is actually the problem, we can’t fix it by consuming more, however eco-certified the products. Indeed, the very idea that green jobs will drive economic recovery is closely tied to notions of continued American hegemony: green tech is the next big thing, the rhetoric goes, and America needs to get ahead in the global race to innovate. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Stewart Prest writes about the Cons’ war against experts: (I)n modern democratic states one of the most important sources for non-partisan information and expertise is the government itself. Government bureaucracies are the only institutions in the world today with the access, the resources, and the motivation to systematically monitor and study the entirety of a country’s population and the extent of its human and natural environment.

Examples are legion, from statisticians to health officials to diplomats to environmental scientists. They exist throughout the much maligned but nonetheless vital bureaucracy of the country. Crucially, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Bruce Livesey discusses Tony Blair’s role in corporatizing social democracy. And Stephen Elliott-Buckley writes that there’s little reason to listen to the policy prescriptions of a financial elite class which is conspicuously ensuring that its future bears no resemblance to that of the general population.

- Jane Taber interviews Donald Savoie about the importance of our public service – and the decline it’s seen in recent years: What happened?

It was wrong to think that we could make the public sector look like the private sector. Well, frankly, it started with Margaret (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Chris Hall notes that Brad Butt’s admitted fabrications can only hurt the Cons’ already-lacking credibility when it comes to forcing through their unfair elections legislation. And Ed Broadbent sums up what’s at stake as the Cons try to rewrite the rules to prioritize their own hold on power over public participation and the fair administration of elections: Inspired by the tried and tested voter suppression tactics used by the Republicans to disenfranchise marginalized groups in the U.S., the new election law would make it harder for certain groups to vote. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Donovan Vincent reports on the Institute for Social Research’s study showing Canadians are highly concerned about income inequality: “People think the income gap has gotten worse. What was surprising to me was the universality of this belief. Younger people, older, higher levels of education, lower, men and women. The fact is, a wide cross-section of Canadian society believes that the income gap has gotten bigger, or much bigger in the last five years,” survey author David Northrup said in an interview.

“Usually we see a lot more variation in opinion in social (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Shining you on: Alison Redford calls for a little selective sunshine on civil service salaries

The scene in February 2014: CBC investigative journalist Charles Rusnell pores through a list of senior Alberta civil service salaries as horrified deputy ministers and university professors look on. Actual Alberta public employees may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Associate Minister of Accountability, Transparency and Transformation Don Scott, left, with some guy his party would just as soon you forgot about. (Image grabbed from the Internet from country933.com.) I wonder what the yellow gloves are for?

Have the calls Alberta’s Progressive Conservative MLAs are getting from modestly paid unionized civil servants, furious about having their salaries frozen (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Duncan Cameron writes that Stephen Harper’s CETA triumphalism may result in serious long-term damage to Canada for the sake of a temporary political reprieve: Promoting the big bamboozle means Harper is gambling with Canada’s economic future. The PM is touting a deal not yet finished. Making himself its chief sales agent encourages the Europeans to get tough in negotiating the hard parts to come, knowing Harper has overplayed his hand, just like Mulroney did before Canada signed a bad deal in 1988.

Harper has made himself politically vulnerable by his penchant for secrecy (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Nadir Khan interviews Linda McQuaig about her choice to run for the NDP in Toronto Centre – and confirms that McQuaig’s commitment to progressive politics fits neatly with her participation in a caucus: NK : You mention that you’ve been outspoken and taken a strong stance on issues you care about. Certain research groups like Samara have found, through interviewing MPs, that MPs are surprised by how much party discipline is present in Parliament.

What are your thoughts on that? If you’re elected, do you see your outspoken and combative approach changing within the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Blacklocks reports (PDF) on the abuse of a corporate tax credit which served as an “open bar” allowing businesses to have the public fund their basic operations. And it’s surely worth noting that after that abuse was identified, the Cons’ reaction was to cover up the resulting report in order to keep the bar open (with slightly watered-down drinks).

- Meanwhile, David Martin highlights the Cons’ attempts to break longstanding promises to public employees by slashing pension benefits after they’ve long since retired.

- And the Star’s editorial board laments the Cons’ (Read more…)

A BCer in Toronto: What happened to Harper’s cheques for whistleblowers?

In the 2006 election, the Conservatives talked some good talk about whistleblowers. They got a whistleblowing former federal civil servant to run for them as a candidate, and they made protecting whistleblowers a key part of their election platform.

Here’s what they promised:

 

They won that election, and several since. And how are they treating whistleblowers? Here’s just the latest of many examples:

A federal fraud investigator has been suspended without pay, after she leaked documents showing that investigators had to cut people off their employment insurance benefits in order to meet quotas.

Sylvie Therrien told CBC News (Read more…) . . . → Read More: A BCer in Toronto: What happened to Harper’s cheques for whistleblowers?

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Murray Dobbin writes about the crisis of extreme capitalism: (T)he “free economy” romanticized by Friedman and his ilk is anything but. Completely dominated by giant corporations whose wealth outstrips all but the richest nations, economic freedom does not exist for anyone else, including the vast majority of businesses who are at the mercy of financial institutions and mega-corporations. This is to say nothing of workers whose “freedom” to sell their labour now means they are free to compete with those who earn a few dollars a day thousands of miles away from their (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Frances Russell weighs in on the Cons’ continued contempt for democracy: The Conservatives under Stephen Harper are running an effective dictatorship. They believe they are quite within their rights to muzzle Parliament, gag civil servants, use taxpayer money for blatant political self-promotion, stand accused of trying to subvert a federal election and hand over much of Canada’s magnificent natural heritage to the multinational oil and gas lobby.

What is even more disturbing is that the national media, with a few notable exceptions, has underplayed or ignored these developments that are a clear assault

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

Accidental Deliberations: On adaptation

Murray Mandryk’s Wednesday column serves as a downright painful example of Monday morning quarterbacking – cherry-picking examples from seven decades of Saskatchewan governments to criticize “rash decisions” without recognizing the difference between reasonable experimentation and blatant cronyism. And under Mandryk’s implicit standard for public-sector risk aversion (that if something could possibly prove to be anything less than an unqualified success, it’s not worth doing), Saskatchewan’s legislative assembly would be meeting around a donated table in a barn situated in the middle of the still-undeveloped prairie.

But Mandryk is far from the only voice suggesting that such a standard should apply

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: On adaptation

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how the CFIA’s inability to do anything about tainted horse meat exemplifies the problems with weak and under-resourced regulators.

For further reading…- Again, Mary Ormsby’s original story is here. – Andrew Nikiforuk’s take on the appointment of oil lobbyist Gerald Protti to set up Alberta’s new regulatory system is here. – And for those who haven’t given it a read in awhile, Matt Taibbi’s feature on the role of financial institutions and their alumni in causing repeated crashes is worth another look.

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Edward Greenspon discusses the importance of a public service whose focus extends beyond the narrow interests of the government of the day: The hundreds of thousands of Canadians who work for governments, particularly those employed – in the evolving argot of recent decades – as knowledge workers or symbolic analysts or members of the creative class, are, in a sense, servants. They owe a duty of loyalty to carry out the programs and policies of the elected government of the day. But they also have a broader public duty to the pursuit . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Friday reading.

- Jennifer Ditchburn reports that the Harper Cons are making ample progress in their goal of removing Canada from any list of socially-developed welfare states, as Canada has dropped from being the world’s leader in the UN’s Human Development Index to a position outside the top 10 countries by that measure.

- Peter Penashue’s resignation in the wake of a campaign financing scandal will open up plenty of lines of discussion – as well as an opportunity to flip a seat into opposition hands. But let’s ask another question arising out of his stepping

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

Accidental Deliberations: On sick strategies

Shorter Harper Cons:

The public-service beatings will continue until employee wellness improves.

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: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Molly Ball writes about the false assumptions underlying far too much political discussion – with one looming as particularly significant for Canadian purposes: 5. Campaign ads really, really, really don’t make much difference.

In this part of the paper, Fiorina’s exasperation becomes palpable. Political scientists have studied the effect of campaign media for decades and consistently found it to be very small. But that doesn’t stop commentators from talking endlessly about the potential effects of ads. “I shall say no more about this, because given the long history of the disjunction, it

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

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Friday reading.

- In addition to providing my latest tagline, Alex Himelfarb takes aim at the austerians who seem happy to attack social well-being and economic development alike in the name of government-slashing: (A)usterity had never been driven by fiscal policy or economics or evidence.  It was driven by ideology.  Market fundamentalism.  A desire to make government much smaller, eliminate or reduce, as much as politics allowed, so-called entitlements, create a “pro-business” climate of less regulation, less government, and, above all, lower taxes.

Think about the irony of this: that the huge recession-induced deficits

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

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your Monday reading.

- Michael Harris discusses the impending moment of truth for the Cons in owning up to their substantive failures toward Canada’s First Nations: Whether it’s Canada’s natives or its health ministers, Stephen Harper’s preferred place for his opponents is under his thumb. He has replaced the alternating current of democracy with the direct current of oligarchy. Ordinary people remain as invisible to him now as they have been since 2006.

For that reason, Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike has been a disaster for the man who doesn’t like to negotiate, let alone negotiate with

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

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.- Bill Curry reports on the Cons’ latest public-sector slashing. But there hasn’t yet been much discussion of the most alarming number: upwards of 30% of the Cons’ cuts are coming from the Canada Revenue Agency… . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Thomas Walkom discusses how the McGuinty Libs are going beyond imposing immediate pay freezes on the public sector, and instead passing what’s better seen as the War on Workers Measures Act – giving Ontario’s government the power to dictate labour outcomes by decree without any forum for review: If approved by the legislature, the Protecting Public Services bill would allow the government to not just freeze the wages it pays to unionized employees — ranging from nurses to home care workers to hydro linemen — but roll them back.

It would give cabinet

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

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Althia Raj reports on the Cons’ concerted effort to undermine organized labour in Canada (along with anybody else who might object to putting the interests of dirty oil and dirty money above the needs of citizens): Behind the rhetoric about “union bosses” and “transparency” lies a strategy, political observers say, that stokes controversies and throws up red herrings in order to force key opponents on the defensive — in this case, Canada’s labour movement and the NDP.

“The whole approach is not to push your guy but to totally demean and to discredit

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

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- If there’s anything missing from Mark Weidbrot’s musings about the possibility of a U.S. debt downgrade, it’s that the only significant threat to the country paying its bills has been the Republicans’ reckless willingness to block routine approvals in the name of exactly the austerity policies the bond raters are pushing. But he’s right on in his suspicion about the raters’ motives:

It is clear that these credit rating agencies have a political agenda. Like most of Wall Street and the politicians that they can buy, they want the US government

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